Archeologists Find a Missing Pyramid An Egyptian pyramid was lost, then found, then lost again - and more of the most the most emailed, viewed and commented on stories on the web.
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Archeologists Find a Missing Pyramid

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Archeologists Find a Missing Pyramid

Archeologists Find a Missing Pyramid

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MIKE PESCA, host:

Welcome back to the Bryant Park project from NPR News. Online all the time at npr.org/bryantpark. The Germans have a word for it. The Germans have a word for everything, including the tendency of the ring tailed lemur to be attracted to the oak tree. It's 17,000 letters long. The German word in this case is zeitgeist. It means the spirit of the time. We at the BPP have another word for it and in the same vein we call it The Most. What it is, is a collection of the most emailed, most viewed, most everything everywhere especially on the internet. Luckily they keep tabs on this and Dan Pashman.

DAN PASHMAN: Hey how are you?

PESCA: I'm good, how are you doing?

PASHMAN: I'm doing pretty well.

PESCA: Have you been keeping tabs on what they've been keeping tabs on?

PASHMAN: Always.

PESCA: So you read to us from what, a tab?

PASHMAN: Yes a tab.

PESCA: Well it's actually the New York Times, isn't it?

PASHMAN: Yes.

PESCA: It's more a broadsheet.

PASHMAN: I get it in tab form.

PESCA: Oh you do?

PASHMAN: Yeah.

PESCA: They tabletize it for you?

PASHMAN: Yeah. They do.

PESCA: They rewrite the headlines with words like dishonor and Slavic?

PASHMAN: Yes.

PESCA: OK.

PASHMAN: I've got a most emailed here from the New York Times science section. Cell phone tracking study shows we are creatures of habit. Good lead here on this article by John Schwartz, the first sentence. News flash, we're boring. Basically...

PESCA: You kept reading?

(Soundbite of laughter)

PASHMAN: Yes, actually, ironically, that lead made me want to read more. Basically what the study did is followed people in Europe around, a 100,000 cell phones. Basically they looking at where they were making their calls from, followed the moving patterns of people, where do they go. And what they found, more than anything else, is that people don't go far from home. We pretty much just stay in a small localized area and even when we go on vacation we stay in one small localized area. We might make a big jump across continents, but we still end up in one small place and stay there.

PESCA: Oh, you mean while on vacation.

PASHMAN: While on vacation.

PESCA: Huge leap and then we stay in a local area.

PASHMAN: Exactly and so they do say, you might say well that seem kind of obvious and that was one criticism that was brought up, but the researchers say that actually this work can be used for new frontiers liked disease tracking and urban planning. There is a bit of a controversy afoot in Europe over the study, because they are upset about the actual tracking of cell phone calls that was done under questionable circumstances.

IAN CHILLAG: I can't blame them for that. That freaks me out a little bit.

PASHMAN: Where do you go, Ian?

CHILLAG: I pretty much come to work.

PASHMAN: Yeah, if you don't go anywhere exciting, then you shouldn't have anything to hide.

CHILLAG: It's true.

PESCA: It's only people who go strange and interesting places that would object to that survey.

PATRICIA MCKINNEY: ACLU direct all complaints to...

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: Mark.

MARK GARRISON: I have...

PESCA: where do you go for your most?

GARRISON: In this case, it was most emailed at Yahoo News. Matt Martinez is kind of senior among producers of the world. He assigned me this new beat of missing enormous structures. So yesterday, we had the missing lighthouse, something that would be hard to lose. Today, we have a missing pyramid. A real life size pyramid. About 4,000 years ago it was made. Somebody found it 200 years ago and then it got lost, basically buried in sands, and apparently nobody bothered to make a map to find it again. They did dig it up this week. It belonged to a kind of B-list pharaoh.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PASHMAN: A JV pharaoh.

GARRISON: Yeah, he only ruled for 8 years. So that's my guess and to why nobody bothered to write it down where this thing was.

PESCA: Total Ramses the II wannabe.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: So.

MCKINNEY: Hey wait I just had an idea. Maybe this is a new show for John Walsh.

PESCA: Missing big things?

MCKINNEY: Yeah.

CHILLAG: The world's most missing large objects.

PASHMAN: It reminds me you remember when David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear?

PESCA: That's right.

PASHMAM: that was awesome.

PESCA: Yeah that was good

(Soundbite of laughter)

CHILLAG: Thanks, Chris Farley.

PESCA: Yeah thanks, Chris. Why can't they just track the pyramid's cell phone usage. They could have found out that it hadn't traveled far, Tricia?

MCKINNEY: Hey I have searched the Google trends this morning, and number four search term this morning on Google was "Sarkar Raj."

PESCA: Who is that?

MCKINNEY: Which is actually a film. It' s a Bollywood film that is premiering today and it stars, and I'm going to try this pronunciation. I tried to verify it, so here I go. Abhisheck Bachchan.

PESCA: Ooh, you just said something very dirty in Hindi.

MCKINNEY: No, I don't think so. And Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Why do they all have the same last name? There are this film dynasty in Bollywood. It's a father and son, and then Aishwarya Rai was a film star in her own right. I don't know if you know her. She's just the most beautiful woman I've ever seen.

PESCA: Oh yes.

MCKINNEY: And she married the son, so they're this power couple. The father is the top selling - the top selling Hindi film actor of all time. And this one article I read, he's called patriarch of Bollywood's first family. All time highest grossing film star of 134 films. And he's the face of 20 brands, which I guess is important. But anyway so this film is - it's actually got an interesting U.S. connection. It appears to be based on a real life story. It's about a building of a big power plant in rural India, and so people are comparing it to the situation with Enron back in the 90s when they built that huge 2.8 billion dollar power plant in rural India. And it's about a political figure and his son and this woman who comes into their life to try to persuade them to get involved with this power plant.

So there's like this Enron thing going on. But wait, I have one more thing to say about this family. The son and Aishwarya Rai have apparently bought property in Dubai, because everything ends up in Dubai, so they bought this huge place last month. I thought that was interesting.

PESCA: Well when they go to Dubai they won't be traveling far from that huge place, the cell phone surveys show.

MCKINNEY: Yeah exactly.

PESCA: Ian.

CHILLAG: Hey.

PESCA: Hey dude.

CHILLAG: This is a most sent from ABC. It's about this company, Daddy Dolls, and apparently kids that have a military parent overseas, young kids especially, have a really hard time with the separation of course. So this company, they had these sort of 12 inch high dolls that have a photo image of the parent that's overseas on the doll. So it's like a miniature version of your parent. And then they have a little recording in it, so when you hug it, they are also called hug-a-hero dolls. So when you hug it you can also hear the voice. So you know, I think especially when you're really young you might get kind of the distance, sort of an out of sight out of mind thing, and it sort of helps you maintain a connection to your parent.

PESCA: That's crazy. It's a good idea, I guess.

CHILLAG: Yeah. It was started by two military moms.

PESCA: Yeah. What I'm going to say military moms did wrong.

GARRISON: And to be clear, this is not the company that makes the she'll call you daddy dolls. That's something else.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: Thanks Mark for going there. I was just told don't go there, and then Mark went there. Hey Matt.

MATT MARTINEZ: Hi.

PESCA: We're going to go to you now.

MARTINEZ: Well, we started the show in 2006 we came back to 2008, now we're going to go back to 2007. One of the most viewed stories at npr.org right now at number three on the list, this is a story that aired almost a year ago by NPR's Chris Arnold. The headline is "U Try Being Utube." I don't know why it popped up on the list right now, but it's about a company called Universal Tube getting confused with YouTube. online. It's gotten so bad .

PESCA: So i it's a u tube, with a u, the letter u, versus YouTube with the y-u-o.

MARTINEZ: And Chris will explain this in a bit. It got so bad that Universal Tube brought a lawsuit against Google, they own YouTube. They threw out most of the case, but here is Chris' piece from June 20th 2007.

CHRIS ARNOLD: In a big warehouse outside of Toledo, Ohio, Ralph Girkins is walking through his heavy equipment refurbishing operation. Welders are working on 40-foot-long pipe-making machines. They look sort of like giant, green tractor engines.

Mr. RALPH GIRKINS (Universal Tube): Everything we're doing out here is machines that make tube and pipe.

ARNOLD: Tube and pipe. And that's why Girkin's company is called Universal Tube or UTube.

Mr. GIRKINS: This is kind of the other UTube, the first UTube. This is the original UTube.

ARNOLD: That is UTube spelled with a letter U for Universal Tube, not y-o-u like the popular video site. Girkins has had his utube.com website since 1996. It's a small company with just 15 employees. But over the past year, as the video YouTube site got popular, many web surfers trying to go to there type in the wrong address and wind up on this company's website.

Mr. GIRKINS: It slowly built. We thought we were doing a great marketing job. But they weren't really looking for us.

ARNOLD: Before y-o-u-tube came along, how many monthly visitors were you getting before that.

Mr. GIRKINS: Oh maybe 1,000 a month.

ARNOLD: So those are like your real customers.

Mr. GIRKINS: Those are our real customers.

ARNOLD: Today, Girkins says, there are about 150,000 people a day typing utube the wrong way, and winding up on his site.

Mr. GIRKINS: When we couldn't keep our server up. That's what happened.

ARNOLD: You might think that's not such a big deal. This company is rebuilding industrial machinery. It's not exactly an internet company. But Girkins says that 75 percent of his sales come in over the website. And with each one of these big tube-making machines costing a few hundred thousand dollars, he just can't have his website going down. And there's just the nuisance factor. Some confused people looking for the YouTube videos call the phone number on this company's website.

Mr. GIRKINS: They can't find the video, and they don't know what they are doing. They are trying to download a video to our site. And how they would think this is a video website, I have no idea.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ARNOLD: Yeah there's nothing too video about it. I know it's got pictures of machinery and such.

Mr. GIRKINS: Big old green machines.

ARNOLD: Girkins says he's now paying upwards of 1,700 dollars a month to pay for server space. And these unwanted visitors often fill out sales request forms seeking more information in a vulgar and belligerent manner. Exhibit one is a message left by one visitor who asks, quote "Where the f*** are the videos? 1.5 billion for this piece of s*** website? Google got taken."

Ms. LAURA SMIRIN (Manager, Universal Tube): Just the people calling on the phone and then sending emails like that. When Ralph wasn't here I'd open them up, a lot of them were very, very rude.

ARNOLD: Laura Smirin is a manager at the company who has gotten some of the phone calls and emails.

Ms. SMIRIN: They were just nasty.

ARNOLD: Ralph Girkins has hundreds of them on his computer in his office. He sits down and scrolls through them. Some just repeat insults over and over

Mr. GIRKINS: Idiot, idiot, idiot.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ARNOLD: What does that have to with anything?

Mr. GIRKINS: It doesn't.

ARNOLD: Meanwhile Girkins is trying to take advantage of the extra visitors to his UTube site. He's got ads up selling ringtones or dating services to meet hot singles. Girkins says so far the banner ads are covering his legal fees and website hosting costs.

PESCA: And that was NPR's Chris Arnold reporting from the year 2007. You can get a link to that and all the stories you hear on The Most on our website, npr.org.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

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