Le Linkage #11

Ok, so the election has passed and I can now get back to regular blogging, right? Actually, the election’s been over for a while and I’ve just needed a break from real blogging (as if I’ve ever actually done any of that before). At any rate, it’s (about darn) time for another episode of Le Linkage! Today’s episode features all sorts of stuff, random bits I’ve been saving for the past few weeks. Like all Le Linkage episodes, I recommend you bookmark this then visit it whenever you’re bored or (hopefully) when you need something useful.

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Download Online Streaming Videos:As you can probably tell, I love watching videos on YouTube. Yes, I’ll admit, I tend to watch more bits of copyrighted material (like The Colbert Report and South Park) than I do stupid people tricks (with the exception of the Angry German Kid and the Numa Numa guy). Once in a while, however, I run into videos I’d like to keep, videos I can’t really purchase, like Chihiro Onitsuka’s Little Beat Rifle music video. KeepVid exists for times like that, by allowing users to download the FLV (Flash Video) file and play it like any other video. You’ll need to download an FLV player to view the videos, but you can find those just about anywhere (including KeepVid.com) for Windows, Mac, or Linux. For you Firefox users, however, there are also extensions that will allow you to download all sorts of media content.

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Comic Book Loving Political Junkies Rejoice! The Slate Online has published a comic book version of the entire 9/11 Report. Unlike just about every other comic out there, this one features real world situations, with very real heroes and villains. And unlike the ABC docudrama on the matter, this one actually sticks to the facts. Very well worth reading, especially if you want to read the 9/11 Report, but don’t care to slush through a thousand pages of government documents. More government documents should come in the form of comic books. Think about it, how much easier would doing taxes be if your forms featured Batman, simplifying the efforts The Confuser and TheObfuscator while keeping Mr. FreezeYourAssets at bay?

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Super Hero Thanksgiving: Speaking of comics, ever wonder what your favorite super heroes were thankful for during Thanksgiving? Probably not. Someone out there did, however. If you need a cheap laugh, this will probably do.

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Quantum Mechanics Made Relatively Simple: In this series of audio and video lectures, theoretical physicist Hans Bethe explains quantum theory and makes it simple enough for just about anyone to understand. These lectures were originally intended for the residents of his neighbors at the Kendal of Ithaca retirement community, but now you too can learn about the physics of the very small, even if you don’t have a full grasp of higher level mathematics.

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China and Copyright law: Ever wonder why the Chinese seem to take such a flippant attitude towards copyrights? Here’s a hint: a large part of it is cultural. AsiaBizBlog is a great resource for anyone planning to do business in China, and this particular podcast covers the issue of copyright in a way we in the west can easily understand. (Not that it’s a hard issue, but rather because it is very nuanced.)

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5000 Years of Middle Eastern History in 90 Seconds: No wonder these people are always fighting! This flash video goes through 5000 years of history, from the Sumerians to the current day political situation in the middle east. Very interesting video.

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Language Roots of Indo-European Languages: Most of us know that English came from a combination of Germanic and French dialects, and that Romantic languages all came from Latin, but did you know that Latin was a subset of something called Latino-Faliscan, and that this language had the same roots as Celtic and Indo-Iranian? This language map shows all of that and more. Very interesting for those into language philosophy and linguistics.

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Imagine Earth without People: There’s a saying that goes something like this: Get rid of all ants and parasites in the world and in 50 years everything dies. Get rid of all humans in the world and in 50 years everything flourishes. The sad part is that, for the most part, that’s true. But what if suddenly, tomorrow, every human on Earth disappeared (as in “off the planet” not as in “dead”)? What would the planet look like? What would happen to the bridges and buildings? How long would things last? Very interesting reading for anyone who likes to think about alternate realities.

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Lots of Classic Games in FLASH! Space Invaders, Asteroids, Pacman, Snake, Frogger, Simon and other classic games, all in flash. Like the classics? Get ‘em here.

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PlanetQuest: Help Discover New Planets: How thrilling would it be to discover a new planet? More than 100 planets having been discovered outside our Solar system. Why not get in on the fun? Using distributed computing — like what the SETI@Home project uses — PlanetQuest hopes to help discover even more planets, some of which may even hold life and be habitable for humans. The project isn’t done, so no software can be downloaded yet. Still, how cool would it be to someday have your descendants travel to a planet you helped discover?

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Google Reader: These days, it seems as if you can’t go more than ten steps without reading about what Google is doing. The problem is that, other than search, most of their efforts have met with little fanfare. That may not be the case for long, if Google Reader is any indication. If you’re looking for an RSS reader, especially if you’re looking to replace your current account, check out Google’s newest tool. Robert Scoble did, and it looks like he liked it. After seeing it in action for myself, I may jump the Bloglines ship and do the same. (I’d like to thank Roy for sending this tip.)

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Fark Search Engine: While Fark started out being nothing more than a site featuring a picture of a squirrel with giant testicles, it has quickly become one of the Internet’s most interesting “news” sites. Unfortunately, using their search functionality sucks. That’s why someone has come up with the idea of creating a Fark-specific search engine. Now, you don’t have to search the archives or tackle the thoroughness of Google to find that funny headline you saw three or four months back.