Friday fun-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

December 21, 2009 No Comments »

Sorry about the late post on this one – I got the email ready early last week, and thought I’d posted it here, too… my bad.

This being the last Fun Friday before the holidays, I thought I’d try and tilt the theme that way as much as possible.  Unfortunately, while I did get some end-of-the-year links included, there was just too much else that was too good not to include.  So here’s the list, categorised:

Social:

  • 2009 in photos [Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] – This tripartite post chronicles the year in photos.  Some are innocuous, some are moving, some are graphic, but all held special meaning in 2009.
  • Unnoticed news – Every year, Foreign Policy magazine publishes a list of stories with great international impact that went largely unnoticed.  This year’s list includes a rise (!) in housing prices in the US, a “hotline” phone between China & India, and the opening of the Northwest Passage.  Great list, with big implications.

Science:

  • Fierce creatures – My 6-yr-old asked me, “Dad, what’s the fiercest animal in the world,” so like any all-knowing father, I turned to Google.  This page lists the top 15 toughest land animals, and the #1 might surprise you.  I expected wolverines to score higher, given their weight/toughness ratio, but they come in at #9.  With lots of fun facts and photos, along with the occasional video, this is an interesting list.
  • Green business – Pop geographer Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs and Steel) takes on the widely-held belief that big business is destroying the environment.  He points out three companies that you wouldn’t expect that have excellent environmental policies, then goes on to dismantle the standard arguments against big business and against businesses going green.
  • Universe to scale – This short video uses recent astronomical data to plot the positions of known objects in the universe, then shows the Earth and nearby celestial bodies to scale and zooms out to the light-boundary of the known universe.  You get an idea of just how big and empty space really is.

Language Arts:

  • Thesaurus – Quick, what’s another word for thesaurus?  Big Huge Thesaurus will not only answer that question, but also give you a list of words that rhyme, as well (though the rhymes for “orange” are pretty spare).  Also includes a set of writing prompts that changes every time you refresh the page.
  • The Big Idea – Possibly my new favourite blog, John Scalzi’s “The Big Idea” is a place where he asks authors to explain how they came up with, well, the big ideas for their novels.  They’re a fascinating collection of diverse responses.  It’s kind of like bonus features for your favourite books!

Media:

  • The Black List – Started in 2004, this is a list of the top unproduced scripts of 2009.  Fortunately for those stories you like, the list also includes whether they’ve been optioned by a studio for production.
  • Misney – Since Disney bought Marvel Comics earlier this year, I’ve been seeing this kind of mashup, but this poster certainly raised the bar.  Amazing job comparing classic Disney characters (and some more minor ones) with their Marvel counterparts, you begin to see the possibilities inherent in such a media juggernaut… (pun intended).
  • Foamy awesomeness – While some coffee shops will pour any old brew into a demitasse and call it espresso, some baristas go above and beyond the call of caffeine and create creamy art in a cup.  This blog features the best of the cream craft.

Miscellaneous:

  • Achievement gap – Jay Matthews explains what narrowing the achievement gap really means for high-end students: stagnation.  While it is laudable to hope that the bottom end of the achievement scale does better, it cannot come at the expense of the students in the top stratum.
  • Christmas Lights Hero – While Guitar Hero and Rock Band might own the marketing bragging rights, there’s a special place in the hall of musical fame for families that synchronise their Christmas lights with a video game.  Check out the video and marvel at what the power bill must be…
  • Beatbox – This Flash website allows you to play with beatboxing rhythms to concoct a multi-layered confection of sound.  Because of the wide variety of sounds and beats available, each creation is unique.  The “game” automatically synchs the sounds so you don’t even have to worry about when to add a new noise.  Lots of fun!
  • Gifts for Word Nerds – Who can resist a plush Socrates doll, or a Poe finger puppet?  Not I, and now they and many other items for the literary person on your gift list are available at the Shakespeare’s Den store.  Link courtesy of Michael Bowden.
  • Vacation ideas – Thinking of getting away over the holiday season?  Here’s some… unique ideas for vacations.  While some of these look like renders, they’d still be fun… except for the biking close to the edge of a cliff.  Too much cliff, not enough edge for me.

There you have it!  Have a fantastic weekend and an even better Christmas break, and remember, December 21st is National “Go Carolling” Day, so make sure you go a-wassailing!

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