The World in a Satirical Nutshell

Greece and Ireland are down. Portugal is teetering. And Spain may soon be the biggest domino to fall. All of this makes this satirical clip a little timely – perhaps a bit too painfully timely. Featured here are two Australian satirists John Clarke and Bryan Dawe…

Early Experiments in Color Film (1895-1935)

Hollywood didn’t start producing color feature films until the mid 1930s. (Becky Sharp, the first Technicolor film from 1935, appears in our collection of Free Movies Online.) But experiments with color filmmaking started long before that. Earlier this year, Kodak unearthed a test of Kodachrome color film from 1922 (above). But then you can travel back to 1912, when a filmmaker tested out a Chronochrome process on the beaches of Normandy. Or how about moving all the way back to 1895? Here we have footage from Thomas Edison’s hand-painted film Anabelle’s Dance, which was made for his Kinetoscope viewers. For more on the history of color film, visit here.

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H.G. Wells’ 1930s Radio Broadcasts

H.G. Wells (1866-1946) gave us The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds and practically invented science fiction as we know it. (Find his classic texts in our Free Audio Books and Free eBooks collections.) Now, thanks to the BBC, you can travel back in time and get a glimpse into Wells’ creative mind. During the 1930s and 1940s, Wells made regular radio broadcasts for the BBC, where he had the freedom to range widely, to talk about “world politics, the history of the printing press, the possibilities of technology and the shape of things to come…” Nine recordings now appear online. You can start listening here, or dip into an archive of Wells’ personal letters.

Finally, don’t miss one of my personal favorites. Orson Welles reading a dramatized version of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds in 1938. It’s perhaps the most famous radio broadcast in American history and it drove America into a bout of mass hysteria, at least for a night …

H/T to @fionaatzler for flagging these BBC audio recordings.

A Darwinian Theory of Beauty, or TED Does Its Best RSA

You have undoubtedly seen one, if not many, of RSA’s catchy videos during the past year. They feature the words of thought leaders accompanied by the fast-moving animation of Andrew Park. Along the way, we have featured RSA talks by Daniel Pink, Sir Ken Robinson, and Barbara Ehrenreich, among others.

The RSA videos have always struck me as a good alternative, or perhaps complement, to the more well-known TED videos. TED developed its style of presentation – speakers presenting on a live stage in a crisp 18 minutes (or less). Then RSA rolled out its distinctive animated videos. And now this: TED has Andrew Park animate Denis Dutton’s talk – A Darwinian Theory of Beauty – in RSA style. Intriguing talk. But a strange move on TED’s part. Hopefully, it’s just a one-off, and not a jump-the-shark moment…

Why Can’t We Walk Straight?

When we’re blindfolded, we’re doomed to walk in circles. The same thing happens when we drive and swim without the benefit of sight. Around and around we go. Robert Krulwich, the cohost of the excellent Radiolab show (iTunes – FeedSite), breaks this all down with some intriguing animation. But let me add this little spoiler alert. What makes us spin in circles still defies scientific explanation. H/T to Mike in Cambridge.

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Developing Apps for iPhone & iPad: A Free Stanford Course

Looking to design apps for the iPhone or iPad? Stanford University now has a course online that will help you do just that.

Simply called Developing Apps for iOS, the course features 20 video lectures (the last installment was uploaded just this week) and, somewhat fittingly, they’re all available on Apple’s iTunesU.

Paul Hegarty teaches the course, and he assumes that you have experience programming in C, and some familiarity with UNIX, object-oriented programming and graphical toolkits.

You can find Developing Apps for iOS in the Computer Science section of our big collection of Free Online Courses, along with two previous Stanford app development courses, both called iPhone Application Development.

Donald Duck Wants You to Pay Your Taxes (1943)

During World War II, some of the greatest living filmmakers put aside their commercial aspirations and directed propaganda films for the Allies. Frank Capra, Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, John Ford, John Huston – they all made a cinematic contribution to the war effort. (More on that here.) And so did Walt Disney, big time. 90% of Disney employees produced propaganda films for the American government, creating 68 hours of continuous film, including this short film for the Treasury Department. The Spirit of ’43 puts Donald Duck in the always unenviable position of asking Americans to pay high taxes to fund their wars. (Imagine doing that today!) Some 26 million Americans viewed the short film, and apparently 37% of those interviewed in a Gallup poll later admitted that the film affected their willingness to pay Uncle Sam. You can find this Disney film and other wartime propaganda films (among other goodies) in our collection, 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..

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Freddie Mercury, Live Aid (1985)

Queen frontman Freddie Mercury died 19 years ago today. So a quick remembrance seems in order. We bring you Mercury and Brian May (now astrophysicist and university chancellor) driving along the crowd at Live Aid, the mega concert staged in London and Philly, back in 1985. Get the remaining parts of the virtuoso rock performance here, here, and here. And keep an eye out for the upcoming film that will feature Sacha Baron Cohen in the Mercury role.

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