Websites That Will Enlighten and Entertain You - Issue 12

Issue 12

World Wide Web
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Here is this months list of entertaining and enlightening Web sites. Each month I provide a new list of fascinating Web sites that you are probably not aware of. The reason you are probably not aware of them is that unless you search quite specifically for them, a Google search of millions of sites is unlikely to reveal them, especially not as one of the top ten or twenty. And really, how many times do you click "next" after you get your Google results?

Be sure to check back every month to find the new list of interesting Web sites I found for you. Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page, too. You'll be informed when the list is ready and posted!

Hemingway App makes your writing bold and clear

Clear, effective writing is a skill that needs to be developed. This clever app will help you (or your child) develop that skill. All you have to do is paste your writing into the app and it will help you edit it. How? Different elements are highlighted in different colors so that you can see where potential problems are. For example, the passive voice is highlighted in green while hard to read sentences are highlighted in yellow. There are a couple other elements that will be highlighted, but none of them grammar errors like fragments or subject-verb agreement errors. In other words, this app isn't a grammar or spell checker. For that, stick with a program like Word.

What this app will do is show you what makes your writing weak or hard to read. It will give you a reading level, too, so if you are aiming for readers with a 10th grade reading ability and your prose gets a rating that readers need a 10th grade reading ability to comprehend it, you're good. Of course, you can still make your writing stronger by eliminating the passive voice and getting rid of useless adverbs.

And of course, you are free to break any rules for stylistic purposes, but at least you'll be more likely to do that well if you break rules purposefully.

10 Strange Things About The Universe

The universe was one of the favorite topics in our house for study and exploration. We had lots and lots of book about the universe and everything in it. If your house is like ours, you might be interested in this site. I'm not a physicist, so I admit a few things went over my head a bit, but they were still quite interesting. These brief discussions of these 10 strange things about the universe would have sent us to the library looking for more information. For example, did you know that negative energy can cause a black hole to evaporate? Or how about quantum tunneling? This is the effect "where a particle can pass through a barrier it would not normally have the energy to overcome." In other words, a partical can penetrate an impenetrable barrier. Those are just two of the strange things about the universe discussed on this site.

An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments

If you want to teach your child critical thinking skills, then you'll definitely want to teach him or her about logic fallacies. That's what the bad arguments are in this book. Although the title says it's an illustrated book, don't mistake it for a children's book. It's not. It does, however, provide some simple explanations for some of the most common fallacies, such as the strawman argument or the false dilemma. The book, available in full on this site, does illustrate the fallacies, making it more fun to read about the fallacies, but don't expect younger children to understand it all. If you aren't sure what logical fallacies are, you will appreciate this online flipbook.

1100 Free Online Courses from Top Universities

It can cost a lot of money to take a college course. But these days you can find many college courses available online for free. The courses are on nearly every topic from archeology to engineering to physics to psychology to.... There are far too many subjects to list. The courses are available either as audie or video (or both) and can be found primarily on itunes or youtube. The courses are usually recorded at a university and then made publicly available. The universities offering their courses for the public include, among others, Harvard, Berkley, MIT, and Standford. I enjoyed the course on Game Theory from Yale. If you are interesting in learning about some subject, or your child has moved beyond what is available in school, this is a great site to help you find a good course. Keep in mind, though, that while some of them offer some course materials to use, there is no online support. That is, there is no homework to be evaluated, no tests, no discussions. It is essentially the same as auditing a course. You can sit through the lectures, learn all you can, but you don't get credit.

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