Around the web: Donating blood, the Yugo, Google and the flu, TV heroes

A regular roundup of stuff that wouldn’t necessarily make it on the blog, but is worth noting:

• Had to come to this, given the state of the economy. I saw my first donating blood to make ends meet story, in the Chicago Tribune. Said one person at a plasma donation center: "Instead of sitting at home watching TV, I can spend a couple hours and make some extra gas money. Everything is hard, it’s all getting more expensive: gas of course, just the cost of living."

• Those of us a certain age remember the Yugo, quite possibly the worst car ever made. It ended production recently, and to much fanfare. Apparently, in its native Serbia, the Yugo is still well-respected: "This is driving in its most natural form," said one enthusiast. "You feel every bump, squeak and jolt, and one can enjoy the sweet smell of gasoline and exhaust fumes. No car can replace it."

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• Want to know if we’re having a flu epidemic? Check with Google. Google.org, the search company’s philanthropic unit, says it has a tool that may be able to detect regional outbreaks of the flu 10 days before they’re reported by the federal government. The tool tracks hits on flu-related web sites, figuring that someone who is sick will search Google for symptoms, cures, and the like.

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• Ed Bark, local TV critic and blogger extraordinaire, rates the toughest TV heroes of all time. Gunsmoke’s Matt Dillon is No. 1, which seems a bit high. I’d think NYPD Blue’s Andy Sipowicz (No. 7) could take Matt just by sneering at him.

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