Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Bob Keller's Jazz Page

This page has TONS of jazz related links to academic articles, mp3's, instruction, theory, info on musicians & instruments, workshops, and more. By far, this is the biggest collection of jazz related links that I've ever seen. (Thanks to Duncan for the photo).

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Fake States

Today, in one of the free newspapers handed out on the Madrid subways, I saw a great article on unrecognized states proclaimed by crooks, idealists, and rebels. Fortunately, most of these nations have websites. Here are some of the island descriptions (translated from the article):

Sealand: This nation is only a platform outside British waters that the Bates family occupied and declared an independent state. While its status was being argued, more that 150,000 fake passports were issued by mafias from all around the world.

Gay & Lesbic Kingdom: In June of 2004, a group of gay and lesbian activists left the coasts of Australis towards the coral reefs as a protest against the Australian government for failing to legalize gay marriage. Dale Parker was proclaimed emperor with the name Dale the First.

Conch Republic: The habitants of Key West in Florida were fed-up with the police closing the highway united them to the continent. In 1982, they declared themselves independent from the US and declared war. Mel the First is their king.

United Kingdom Atlantis (no link): A micronation created for fraudulent purposes. The nation was supposedly composes of several small islands in the Pacific. Many investors were swindled by the promise of a tropical tax haven.

The Hutt River Province: Leonard George Casley was a farmer in the west of Australia arguing with the government over the price of grain. Claiming authority under a 15th century law, he declared independence in 1970 and proclaimed himself Prince Leonard the First. Today, he profits from souveniers and tourism.

New Utopia: A desert island in the Carribean. An American investor named Prince Lazarus with a vision for the future. This is New Utopia and the image of an airport over the ocean that he wants to construct. Hotels, tax paradise, and consultation all in one place.

Seborga: With eyes fixed on nearby Monaco, this small Italian town of Seborga on the French border argues historical rights to proclaim independence.

Kalakuta Republic: Fela Kuti is an African music legend. A legendary saxofonist, activist, and great lover of live. In response to the repression of the Nigerian military regime, Kuti founded his own republic in the local bar. It was raded and overthrown by the police.

Araucania: Orelie-Antonie de Tourens travelled in 1860 to the land of the Mapuches (south of Argentina and Chile) and demanded the kingship. His reign was brief, but his heirs maintain the crown and title.

Monday, May 29, 2006

On the Wheel & Not Reinventing It

Over the past few weeks, Jason Turgeon, Charles & Steve from Free Curricula Center, and I have been discussing whether to create a "yellow pages" portal of free educational resources. Ultimately, we decided against it.

Between Merlot and the OER wiki from UNESCO-IIEP, there are already two high quality resources. So, instead, we are focusing on making these sites as complete as possible. Of course, we encourage all of you check them out and lend a hand.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Fly Little Bird

Flashback to the mid-90's with Pet Shop Boys' "Can You Forgive Her?". I loved this album and love it even more after seeing this bizarre video.

Since we're on the topic of graduation speeches, flylittlebird is a site worth visiting. The dropstone group gathered a 150 graduation speeches together and attempted to code and extract "meta-advice" by combining the insights together. I'm not sure if the results are really all that interesting: volunteering, life-long learning, democratic participation, etc., but the site does contain a great archive and detailed documentation of the process.

Playing With Time
contains time-lapse videos of changing seasons, building constructions, cats lapping milk, and much more. The site, which accompanies a travelling exhibition, also contains a toolkit and ways to participate.

For those David Aronofsky fans that see the music behind elegant mathematical proofs, the Metamath Music Page is with you. The site contains midi represenations of famous proofs along with explanations of the processes.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Wayne Coyne Commencement Speech

Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips was asked by his former Oklahoma City high school to give a commencement speech to the graduating class. Much like their music, the unusal speech tends to meanders a bit, but contains some entertaining and clever moments: Wayne encourage graduates to combine their knowledge with experience and to view their future selves as a product of each action they take: "We cannot know what we will become, but we can control what we do".

Part 1

Part 2:

Also check some of these other Flaming Lips gems on You Tube such as their appearance on Beverly Hills 90210 and this 1992 live footage of Talking 'Bout the Smiling Deathporn Immortality Blues.

Drugs in de Hersenen

This Dutch site has detailed flash animations on how various drugs affect the brain. The animations are very informative and easy to follow - even for those without much background in biology. Drugs covered include ecstacy, speed, cocaine, marijuana, heroine, alcohol, and nicotine.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Celebrity Textbooks

After a half-hearted, losing battle with my wife, we've changed our computer homepage from the BBC to Popsugar. I liked this graphic posted today for a mock celebrity textbook of the future, reminiscent of the funny (but legitimately informational) Britney Spears' Guide to Semiconductor Physics.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Throw Away Your TV

Normally, this would be a Friday Club at Stu's type post, but no one should miss this index of hundreds of complete cartoons on YouTube.

Or try these links to more serious videos:
Internet Archive: Moving Images
The Open Video Project
Throw Away Your TV
Google Video: Genre=Educational/Duration=Long

Monday, May 22, 2006

Truly Free Content

Over the past few weeks, I've been subscribing to an UNESCO list-serve discussion on the development of a "Do It Yourself" guidebook for open educational resources. One of the participants, Professor Derek Keats, raised an interesting discussion on the different Creative Commons licenses and the distinction between what he calls "open materials" and "free materials". Derek created this flash animation to explain the
difference and to encourage educators to release their materials without the non-commercial restriction.

At first, the non-commercial restriction seems like a fair compromise: the materials are made available while remaining safe from leeches wishing to profit off your work. In the long run, however, Derek believes that any restriction impedes the free flow of materials and ideas within a system. For instance, while I may feel like I'm making my materials available but student can't turn my materials into a play and sell tickets. Publisher who can't reach me won't be to adapt the materials. Ultimately, these materials tend to fall to the wayside while truly free materials continue to flourish.

From personal experience, I can see the effect of impediments in the images I select from While it's not much work to inform and thank photographers for their images, I tend to pick the pictures that don't require this formality. By placing this example in a larger context, one can appreciate the effect of even the most minimal restrictions in the flow of information. Think about the success of Wikipedia - sure there are some leeches trying to copy the entries and make a quick book. But compare that small negative in comparison to the success of the project.

So check out the animation and come up with your own opinions. The creative commons movement has been very positive and it's great to see so many educators making their materials available. However, the knee-jerk reaction to keep the work non-commercial might be a larger disservice than it seems. If you want to foster the "rip, mix, learn", don't impose restrictions, even if they, at first, seem reasonable. How can you anticipate what someone might want to do with your stuff?

To view the presentation, click on this link and choose "Free and Open Resources for Education" from the View box on the bottom-left of the screen. Next, select "Prof Derek and the NonCommercial Restriction on Freedom in Educational Content". Also, here's the link to the UNESCO IIEP Virtual University projects and lists.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Nouveau Western

Nouveau Western by Mc Solaar

Another Friday, another batch of good links.

Here's a "free stuff hall-of-fame" list from Joanna, a very active member of the Learn Out Loud forums. Some more good recommendations are listed in the response. Feel free to add more - think I will over the weekend. (Picture by Nick).

From the University of Minnesota, Flash Learning Games lets you make and play sharp-looking educational quizzes. Sign-up is restricted to educators.

The Literature Network has the full text of more than 1200 full books and 2000 short stories and poems. Most (if not all) of these materials are available at and other locations, but this site has a very active forum that links nicely with the author profiles. For example, click on Wordsworth and alongside his poetry you'll also find a number of forum discussions. One stop shopping for lazy high school students.

z360 shows high-resolution quicktime panoramas for beautiful and/or interesting sites around the world, such as Signal Hill in New Zealand and the Gaza Strip. Here's another site with Quicktime tours of Pompei.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Death Mask Collection

Although somewhat morbid, the Laurence Hutton Collection of Life and Death Masks at Princeton University is pretty cool. Within this collection are castings of Oliver Cromwell, Dante, Goethe, Beethoven, James Dean, Tolstoy (pictured) and many other historical figures. Tons more death masks are available here. And here's a site on sculptural forensics. I feel so goth.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Great, Sketchy eBook Archive

I'm going to make a leap of faith and say this massive collection of free pdf eBooks is completely legit. I'm also going to lock my windows to keep the leprechauns from beating the tooth fairy to those molars under the pillow. But hey, if this is piracy, this is Blackbeard caliber work. A near limitless collection of business books, programming resources, comic books, and more. So get them while they last...or take a moral stand...whatever. As they always say, piracy is the highest form of flattery.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Readers with children will enjoy the new blog Kiddley Although Claire Robertson and Co. just started two weeks ago, the site is already brimming with fun activities to do with kids. With posts such as growing a pineapple plant, DIY juggling balls, and 5 Minute Potato People, Kiddley looks like a site with a ton of potential.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Hippie Re-enact Protein Synthesis

Since Boing Boing is such a widely read blog, I don't usually mention good links from the site. However, since Friday they've posted several really excellent links:

Science Video 1971, Hippies Re-enact Protein Synthesis
History of Human Migration
Worldmappr Cartograms
Space Colony Art
Quantifying Hot Topics in Physics

Also, if you haven't seen Super Mario Physics, check it out.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Before Monty Python

Llorca featuring Nicole Graham - "Indigo Blues"

Before Monty Python - This AskMeFi post contains answers to the question: "What did geeks quote before Monty Python?". The responses are full of links to sites with classic comedy such as the Goon Show, Laugh-In, and Firesign Theatre.

UK Museum Games - Show Me UK has links to museum sites with educational games. Although a handful of links are dead, this site is a treasure trove of fun sites teaching history, art, biology, fashion, and other topics.

World Cup Education Resources - Are you a teacher looking to make the most of the World Cup in your class? Then check out this collection of resources from Sunderland Schools. This is also a good chance for kids to learn about metatarsal injuries (sorry, that's just cruel).

Best Recent American Fiction - In this New York Times articles, various experts are asked to name the best work of American fiction in the past 25 years. Among those listed appear Toni Morrison, Phillip Roth, John Updike, Don DeLillo, and Cormac McCarthy. Whether or not you agree with the answers, this makes an excellent reading list.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Yacklearning is a site encouraging educators to use Yackpack as a teaching tool. With Yackpack, teachers can record and save audio feedback on a webpage accessible by the students.
While Yackpack isn't the first or only tool for sending audio messages, there are several reasons why teachers should consider it. First of all, the web-based interface resembles "classroom", making it easy to contact specific students by photo. Additionally, since the site saves prior audio comments, it's easy to log-on later to review student progress over the semester. Watch the video to learn more.

Audiofeedback can be a great way to cut down on the time it takes to manually grade papers. Students also appreciate the more "social" and "personal touch" to comments. ("Hope you're handy with a deep-frier" seems so much more pleasant as audio commentary).

For professors still mastering the technological hurdles of the telephone, consider Gcast. Although there isn't the same portal/community interface, you can easily dial an 800 number and have your comment sent to students as an audio file. Both of these services are free, but ad-supported. If you don't want ads in your comments, consider Skype or even the new Skypecast. It's just like a group study session, but you can do it at home in your underwear. Actually, that's kind of creepy. Don't do that.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

U.S. Army Survival Manual

Battling sharks in the ocean? Want to know if that snake in your tent in poisonous? Download the US Army Survival Handbook from 19 chapters and 8 appendixes are available as free pdfs. Situations include "Cold Weather Survival", "Expedient Water Crossing", "Food Procurement", and many more. An updated, HTML-only version is also available.

As for you bleeding-heart peaceniks, don't be turned off by the fact this books comes from the US Army. It's just a survival handbook.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Darfur Is Dying

We've seen several examples of "Serious Games" that educate as much as they entertain. Here's another stellar example of interactive media for educational purposes. Darfur is Dying was created to increase awareness of the Sudan genocide. The site brilliantly uses gaming and video to put you inside the crisis, effectively conveying the rough situation to desensitized visitors.

Players assume the role of various Darfurians as they struggle to forage for water and protect the refugee camp from Janjaweed militants. The website then mobilizes players to take action through links to activist groups and additional information from non-profits such as Amnesty International. MtvU, the Reebok Human Rights Foundation, and the International Crisis Group have done a great job with this site.

For more serious games, see these prior posts:
Serious Games
McDonalds Anti-advergame
Knuckles in China Land
Stingy's Spain 4: Subversive Bank Games

Monday, May 08, 2006

YouTube HowTo's Vol. 2

Some classic Fito Paez, El Diablo de Tu Corazon.

Sorry for not posting on Friday. As always, a cute puppy in exchange (this one's really cute).

After some initial success, I'm finding less videos with educational merit and more tips on how to make a killer gravity bong. On the bright side, it looks like the magic words for Google Video are "duration:long genre:educational". More on that later...

(1) How to Make a Beat

(2) How to Change Oil

(3) How to Clone a Sheep

(4) How to Remove a Stain from a Carpet (Japanese Style)

(5) How to Do a Backflip

(6) How to Make Lockpicks

(7) How to Kickflip a Skateboard

(8) How to Play Clocks by Coldplay on the Piano

(9) How to Breakdance

(10) How Not to Be Seen

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Eyewitnesses to Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Damn Interesting has an article on atom bomb survivor testimonials. Here's a sample:

"One of my classmates, I think his name is Fujimoto, he muttered something and pointed outside the window, saying, "A B-29 is coming." He pointed outside with his finger. So I began to get up from my chair and asked him, "Where is it?" Looking in the direction that he was pointing towards, I got up on my feet, but I was not yet in an upright position when it happened. All I can remember was a pale lightening flash for two or three seconds. Then, I collapsed. I don t know much time passed before I came to. It was awful, awful. The smoke was coming in from somewhere above the debris. Sandy dust was flying around. I was trapped under the debris and I was in terrible pain and that's probably why I came to. I couldn't move, not even an inch. Then, I heard about ten of my surviving classmates singing our school song. I remember that. I could hear sobs. Someone was calling his mother. But those who were still alive were singing the school song for as long as they could. I think I joined the chorus. We thought that someone would come and help us out. That's why we were singing a school song so loud. But nobody came to help, and we stopped singing one by one. In the end, I was singing alone."

Some good links at the end, too, including videos of the interviews. Damn Interesting is a great blog with tons of detailed information on a wide variety of topics.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Skypecast Lectures?

Skype's new service, Skypecast, allows up to 100 participants in an internet conversation. Plan a lecture, tag it, and link it to your webpage. Users can also locate your meeting via the directory. While group VoIP discussions aren't new, this could be the service to open up classes and lectures over the internet. I hope that we'll soon be able to make an index of upcoming Skypecast lectures from major universities...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Chomsky Audio & Video

To accompany Noam Chomsky's recent audiobook "Failed States", Learn Out Loud has created an archive of key Chomsky audio and video. This is a great resource for learning more about the famed linguist's contributions to language, psychology, and politics. For more free resources, visit two massive sites: and (By the way, Learn Out Loud missed a key interview - see below).

Monday, May 01, 2006

King Kong, Fugues & ASCII Rock,

From the Music Animation Machine, an interesting computerized representation of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D-Minor. Once it gets going, it's quite mesmorizing.

's Art Base is a treasure trove of new media merging art and technology. Most of these projects have websites that enable you to observe and often even participate in the art. For example, ASCII Rock brings classic rock videos to the tiny green screen. Legible Nature has videos merging text and nature. myMondrian generates a Mondrian styled image based upon personal data (my wife's data is pictured - I'm apparently rather dull as a Mondrian). I'm not going to pretend that I've scratched the surface of this 1600 project database. I'll definitely be wasting lots of time here in the weeks to come.

From the BBC, this "Senses Challenge" presents 20 questions based on classic optical illusions, such as the crooked room, as demonstrated by King Kong and Godzilla. After each question, the quiz explains why we have trouble unraveling the images.

Finally, Learn Out Loud released their most recent professionally narrated audiobook of the month, the Autobiography of Benjamin Frankin. Jon Bischke and gang continue to choose great classic and contemporary works for the series.