tampabay.com

The skinny

By TIMES WIRES
Published May 9, 2007


WORLD WILD WEB

AMBITIOUS PROJECT MAKES INTERNET ARK

In a whale-sized project, the world's scientists plan to compile everything they know about all of Earth's 1.8-million known species and put it all on one Web site, open to everyone. The effort, called the Encyclopedia of Life, will include species descriptions, pictures, maps, videos, sound, sightings by amateurs and links to entire genomes and scientific journal papers. Its first pages of information will be shown today in Washington, where the effort is being announced by some of the world's leading scientific institutions and universities. The project will take about 10 years to complete.

CROSSWORD CRAZE

Clue writer for NYT magazine

What's a four-letter word for "words in some kvetching?" According to former President Bill Clinton, it's "veys." He supplied the clues to a crossword puzzle on the Web site of the New York Times Magazine, appearing this week. Jim Schachter, deputy editor of the magazine, said Tuesday that Clinton was given the grid with the letters and asked to provide clues for the words. The puzzle is part of a special issue on "the new middle ages" - as in baby boomers, not medieval times - and several clues poke fun at the boomer generation to which Clinton belongs. Answers will be posted this weekend.

DESIGNATED DRIVERS

Drunk? Don't drive - just tow and go

A new taxi service in a Chicago suburb doesn't come cheap, but it may be a bargain compared with the price of a drunken driving arrest. Smith Cos. plans to launch in Naperville this week a service called No DUI Tonight that allows intoxicated drivers to call for a ride home in a tow truck that will also haul their cars. An unscheduled pickup costs $85 plus $2 per mile, but drivers can save $20 if they make a reservation. It remains to be seen if the business takes off. As Naperville police Capt. Gary Bolt points out, there are plenty of regular cabs ready to haul drunks around for a lot less.

PEST CONTROL

Museum wants spare cockroaches

The Houston Museum of Natural Science wants cockroaches so badly, it's paying for them. The museum has offered to buy up to 1, 000 American cockroaches for a quarter apiece to stock a new insect exhibit set to open May 25. Twice each week, people can turn live, healthy roaches into cash at the museum. On Saturday, the first day of the roach roundup, the first bounty hunter earned $9.75 for 39 roaches wrangled over three days from one central Houston bungalow. Despite the promising start, the museum bought only 50 roaches Saturday. Ultimately, visitors to the insect exhibit will be able to turn on the lights in a darkened habitat to watch a thousand cockroaches run for cover.