Archive for the ‘Websites’ Category

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iApprove: What’s the Harm?

April 26, 2009

It’s an argument you will here many times in your life.  What’s the harm in fundamental religion?  What’s the harm in alternative medicine or Scientology?

Now you can know.

What’s the Harm is an online list detailing some harms that have been brought about by faith healing, alternative medicine, New Age magical practices, and conspiracy theories.  Some of them are reasonably benign, and not really the fault of the practice.  Others are quite dangerous.  All are fairly eye-opening.

Learn exactly what the harm is at http://www.whatstheharm.net/

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iApprove: Script Frenzy.

March 26, 2009

There, I’ve said it.

As of… well, some days ago, actually, I’ve decided that I will be participating in Script Frenzy this year.  A month-long scripting event brought to you by the creators of NaNoWriMo, Script Frenzy differs in that it asks you not to write a novel in November, but a script in April.

I hadn’t been planning on doing it at first.  (Ironically, that’s what I said about NaNoWriMo.)  But when it occurred to me that this would be the perfect opportunity to script out a game for RPG Maker, which my mother has been rather gently reminding me to use, I had to jump at it.

It will be challenging.  I will have to come up with new plot elements on the fly and juggle scriptwriting with early gardening.  I will have to deal with my sister whining because I’m not helping her with the project that we are supposedly collaborating on.  There will be moments of joy, moments of stress, and moments of pure panic.

All in all, it should be a lot like NaNoWriMo.

Interested in Script Frenzy?  Read about it at http://www.scriptfrenzy.org

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iLOL’d: Secret Finger Trick.

March 14, 2009

I learned about this one the other day, via my little brother.  It turns out that if you hold your index finger in the right position and hold your camera so it cuts off your knuckle and fingertip, you end up with a pretty convincing photograph of a rear end.

This is, as you may imagine, a source of great lulz – particularly if someone else catches you looking at photographs of “finger butts”.

Check out the maneuver and some photographs – including a couple that have drawn-on “underwear” – at http://www.xenophilia.com/fingertrick1.htm

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iApprove: TV Tropes.

March 12, 2009

Ever find yourself watching a TV show, and realizing that you’ve seen a plot device somewhere before?  Ever wonder where the “sword in the stone” myth started, and how many hack writers have hijacked it since?  Do you often refer to a favorite character type as “the Dr. McCoy”?

If so, TV Tropes is the place for you.

A vibrant community of fans of various movies, TV shows, books, and ancient legends, TV Tropes provides a handy basis for people to compare notes on everything from popular plot devices to… more popular plot devices.  As they say on their website, ” There Is No Such Thing As Notability, and no citations are needed.”  If you want to post an example of Brain In A Jar from an obscure Swedish cartoon series that was canceled after three episodes, go for it.

It’s kind of hard to give the site a proper description, so just check it out at http://tvtropes.org.

(Oh, yeah, one other thing: It’s a wiki.  Prepare to lose hours of your life.)

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iApprove: GED for Free.

March 9, 2009

Setting aside the grammatical error (it’s not “for free”; free is not a quantity), I heartily approve of this site.

Education is serious business.  A good high-school diploma opens up a number of venues: job opportunities, college options… feh, that’s basically it.  If you want to pursue it further, you can get a degree, which creates even more business opportunities.  And since educated people are in demand, the more education you get, the more prospective employers will be willing to pay to have you on board.

But suppose you never graduated?

Fortunately for the rest of us – the dropouts, the homeschooled, the children of paranoid conspiracy-theorists who are convinced that children are being brainwashed to obey the government in public school – there is an option.  We can pay some money, take a state-issued test, and earn our GED certificate.

GED (General Educational Development) certificates let the government – and prospective employers – know that, despite our questionable educational background, we are in fact capable of functioning in all the major areas of education.  Not only can we prove that we are capable of performing practical mental tasks, but we can provide actual evidence to our snot-nosed state-schooled cousins that we did receive a decent education so they can shut up about it already.  In essence, it’s a diploma for those without (although in some cases it isn’t quite as good).

Unfortunately, my home education has been a bit… shall we say, less-than-stellar.

Not that I’m not smart.  Not that I can’t understand things like the Pythagorean theorem and cellular mitosis.  But my education has been pretty self-steered, so instead of diving deep into subjects that I didn’t really care for, I studied The Cartoon History of the Universe and developed advanced writing skills.  In addition, everything I have learned is pretty rusty… so I need to brush up.

That is where, 313 words into this document, GED for Free comes in.

Simply sign up at their site (a slightly scary process, but nothing too dangerous) and you get access to their educational database.  They provide information on each of the five test areas: Language Arts, Reading, Social Studies, Math, and Science.  Included is a general overview of each category, the different topics that each test will cover, and a practice test to let you get a feel for your mad skills.  If you need to brush up, it’s a simple (if slightly embarassing) matter of going back to a previous installment and reading it again.

I’m taking the course currently (as mentioned in a previous post) and it’s been pretty interesting so far.  For instance, I’ve learned that I’m already pretty good at writing five-point essays (though they’re a little shorter than what I’m used to).  I haven’t gotten to the science or math sections yet, though, and that’s where I’m really lacking, so there’s always the chance that it will get scarier.

Need good brush-up material for your GED?  Look no further than http://www.gedforfree.com

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iApprove: The Barna Group.

February 22, 2009

For some reason, it always feels awkward to make a post on a Sunday.  It’s probably because I’ve grown accustomed to Sundays consisting of long, exhausting hours commuting to and from church (and the meetings in between), followed by an afternoon of feeling too tired to do anything.  Getting something accomplished – a blog post, for example – doesn’t fit so well into that itinerary.

Anyway…

The other day, I found an interesting site: The Barna Group.  It’s a Christian site dedicated to collecting statistics about Christians.  For example, 50% of a surveyed group (and possibly all Americans) believe that Christianity is no longer a default faith for people.  88% of evangelical born-again Christians voted for John McCain.

But here’s my favorite: Christian Parents Are Not Comfortable With Media But Buy Them For Their Kids Anyway.

According to studies, a large percentage of Christians who bought things for their children such as movies, music CDs, video games, and mobile phone downloads were not comfortable (!) with the content of the things they had purchased.  (Depending on the nature of the stuff purchased, between one quarter and two-thirds had misgivings about the things they had gotten for their kids.)

What I’d like to know is, wazzup? Why do parents (Christian parents especially) buy things for their kids when they’re worried about the content?  Do they even bother to look at the games before they buy them?  Why are they giving into their kids’ demands when what they should be doing is teaching their children to avoid that kind of content?

My mother raised two teenage daughters, and not once did we ask for something with questionable content.  In fact, when I was about thirteen or fourteen, we made a group-agreed decision to get rid of our Harry Potter books on account of the pseudo-witchcraft therein.  (I do kind of regret that now, because they were awesome books and I was fully intelligent enough to realize that witchcraft was Not Cool, but the point is that we understood why she didn’t want to keep them around, and we agreed with that.)  If you’re going to raise morally-sound kids – Christian or otherwise – you have to take an active role in shaping their tastes.  Let them know what kind of entertainment is acceptable and what isn’t.

Don’t just ban stuff from your house for no reason, though; explain to them why something is bad.  They’ll probably get it and as they get older they’ll probably learn to accept and even agree with it.

One of the most undervalued parenting skills of our time is the ability to Just Say No.  We need to learn that our children do not need to have everything they want, no matter how they plead for it.  If they ask for something damaging, be it movies with inappropriate content or junk food, tell them no, tell them why, and stand firm.  Both of you will be much better off.

(And don’t save this for their older years – start refusing them things when they’re young.  This may sound barbaric, but it’s very important.  Don’t refuse them everything; just say no often enough to let them know that they won’t always get their way.)

If you’re interested in more cool statistics, bop over to http://www.barna.org/

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CheeseSalad.org now raring for business!

February 5, 2009

I’ve given the site a slight overhaul, mainly by adding a “Writing” section under which can be found, in addition to some of my earlier creative works, lectures and articles previously featured on iApprove. To follow: more stuff in the Ocarina section and proper title banners for the new content.

Check it out at http://www.cheesesalad.org