The truly wise man must be as intelligent and expert in
the use of natural pleasures as in all the other functions of life...relaxation
and versatility, it seems to me, go best with a strong and noble mind,
and do it singular honor.
After wading through the myriad horribly out of date or poorly designed web sites, some really good stuff can be found—much of it very useful and even informative. There is also an extraordinary number of ways to wile away the hours doing nothing productive. Here are just a few places you might have fun checking out while trying to avoid doing something productive. I also have a selection of astronomy-related web sites if that's what you're after.
TED: Ideas Worth Spreading
Standing for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, TED is an invitation-only conference that has been bringing together the leading thinkers and innovators in these three areas since 1984. It's mission is simply spreading ideas on the belief that the power of ideas can ultimately change the world.
One of the most recognizable voices in recorded history. A man who in his prime had a name more familiar than that of the president of the United States. My primer begins at Sinatra 101.
While you're at it, go ahead and check out John Brown's website SinatraAlbumCovers.com, a veritable treasure chest of classic and rare Sinatra album artwork.
Wait, Wait...Don't Tell
Billed as the "oddly informative news quiz," this NPR program mixes a healthy does of irreverent humor with topics from the previous week's news. Each week a celebrity is invited to take the "Not My Job" quiz and demonstrate to a national audience that no one can be an expert on all subjects. It's not exactly a million dollars, but winning contestants are happy to win the opportunity to have NPR newscaster Carl Kasell record the outgoing message on their home answering machine. Available as a podcast.
Another radio quiz show with an old-fashioned feel. Described as "hyperliterate without being smug" by the New York Times, the panel of contestants are a fount of information about word origins and are able to make connections between seemingly unrelated names and events. Lots of humor is added at no charge. The complete hour-long version of the show can be heard on the University of Washington's KUOW where radio is streamed in RealAudio format or can be listened to through an iTunes stream. Check out the show's website for a list of all stations currently carrying the show.
Be seeing you!
Patrick McGoohan's surreal vision is unquestionably one of the most compelling and enigmatic shows in television history, and still a cult favorite 40 years after it went on the air in England. All 17 episodes (plus a companion docmentary, productions stills, and other goodies) are available in a DVD box set so that the entire serires can be enjoyed and scrutinized. For more information check out the Prisoner Appreciation Society or another great, comprehensive fan site at Retroweb.
Follow the most widely watched racing event in the world (sorry NASCAR fans, you're not even close) at Speed TV's F1 website or read more about the intrigue and political exploits of the teams at Formula1.com. A truly multi-national endeavor, what other sport involves a Japanese car manufacturer (Toyota) with a racing headquarters in Germany that employs an Italian driver who speaks English to his crew and at offical press briefings? Oh yeah, the aforementioned company reportedly spends $600+ million per year to compete with the likes of BMW, McLaren Mercedes, Renault, Ferrari, and Honda.
A Periodic Table of Comic
Every element (okay, almost every element) on the periodic table of elements cross-referenced to comic books in which the element is a mentioned as part of the story. Fun, but clearly developed by someone with a delightfully warped passion for organization and a lot of time on his or her hands.
Mandolin Brothers, Ltd.
Located in Staten Island, New York, Mandolin Brothers is one of the best guitar stores in the country, if not the world. Every type of instrument, from the basic work horse guitar to vintage instruments best suited to a museum instead of sitting around someone's apartment and handmade archtops by the best luthiers.