2004.03.26 Urumqi, China

Several people have cast their ballot for the likeliest spy. I'm going to declare March 31 the cut-off date for responses. Send e-mail prior to that date to make your voice heard.

I received lots of helpful feedback along with the votes. I now know better methods to detect techniques of actual spies and indications that someone might be a secret agent. A sampler:

BTW, "Who's the Spy?" is very interesting. To be honest, I thought that Joyce might be some kind of the Chinese version of CIA when I heard about her last December from you...

Please put up `Am I A Spy?' mugshots on your page. One can tell the female spies by their tight bikinis. Male spies often have telltale signs, like metal teeth.

Silly David - YOU are the spy :-)

Adila is an agent. You'll need to have a candle light dinner with her at her place (or on a large yacht at an undisclosed location), wait for her to 'freshen up' or 'slip into something more comfortable'. Then while she's in the next room, check her lip liner. If it's a poison dart dispenser - BINGO - You got yourself a real spy mister. Sleep with her and disarm her with your beguiling rugged handsomeness and witty American charm. But any funny stuff and . well, you are licensed to kill..

By the way, I vote for the Ivy League dudes...if they're not spys, they're certainly of some sort of questionable morals -- everyone else I know from an Ivy is.

In a 'phone call the other day Joyce denied that she could be the one. She used the tried-and-true, "I'm rubber you're glue," tactic to deflect the accusation and pin it all on me. While that proved temporarily effective, it boosts her Espionage Suspicion Level to a considerable 15%. A more effective tack might have been to use reverse psychology. Perhaps something along the lines of, "Anything's possible," would have notched her down a few percentage points on the E.S.L. scale.

Another 'phone call from a close family member told me that the E.S.L. rankings are far too low, and the probability that any of the folks profiled have a career in intelligence must be no less than fifty percent.

An additional shady character has emerged! I had lunch a week ago with one of the suspicious Japanese students, who goes by the alias "Dildar". (No, I'm not kidding.) She brought along "a friend," a bona fide Uighur student introduced as "Nisagul". We spoke in a mish-mash of Japanese, Chinese, and Uighur.

Now if I recall correctly X.U. has somewhere between thirty and forty-thousand students. Since the set-up over lunch, I've "bumped into" Nisagul often: first on one of the city buses, then later that same day at the Grand Bazaar. A few nights ago she "happened" to come work out at the gym fifteen minutes after I arrived. But most damning is her plying me with objects of interest: we crossed paths yet again after lunch today. She called out my name (my super-secret Uighur alias is "Dawud") and told me she had "something for me". She pulled a set of Uighur calligraphy practice cards from her bag. They had a battered, aged look to them: I've never seen anything like them in print today. She claimed that she'd borrowed them from her brother. I must have managed to express my interest in calligraphy at some point over lunch, though didn't recall specifically articulating that.

So, get your votes in by the end of the month. Additional candidates now include both Nisagul and me.