Your Friday Afternoon Brings A Smile To Robert Heinlein's Ghost

One hesitates to suggest that there could be a good higher than threatening to bomb one's political opponents, but human survival off this planet, indeed, human expansion into and conquest of the galaxy, may be one of those things.

As I type this, the SpaceX Dragon capsule has just docked with the International Space Station.  And you can watch it on the internet.

This is one small step for free enterprise, one giant leap for mankind.  The government won't ensure that humans escape this planet before the comet hits, giant tsunamis strike, the core reverses polarity, or the Daleks arrive.  The government couldn't find a clue if Colonel Mustard was appointed head of Homeland Security.

Private enterprise will save us, even if it has to destroy the earth to do so.

Your Friday Afternoon Doesn't Know What It Wants

If you like our Road to Popehat feature, then you'll like today's Waste Your Friday Afternoon Entry: Search of the Day, a site devoted to collecting bizarre and hilarious searches queries from some database somewhere.

My favorites so far are "why is my canadian not pooping" and "I want to have sex with my dog but she growls," both of which are stories unto themselves.

Your Friday Afternoon Swears More Than Your Grandfather's Friday Afternoon

It's time for Waste Your Friday Afternoon, the Popehat feature that seeks to give you an excuse (as if you needed one) to be unproductive.

This week it's all about words, and how they are used.

Google, in its ongoing quest to do vast, unfathomable, and vaguely frightening things, has announced a vast new word database, containing about 500 billion words from about 5.2 million digitized books from the last four centuries. The resulting Books Ngram Viewer lets you plot how frequently words, or names, have been used over the centuries, permitting a glimpse at both language and culture.

You can inquire, for instance: what happens when a previously innocuous word that meant an uncontroversial thing becomes re-purposed to mean a much-talked-about and controversial thing?

Search away.

Your Friday Always Appreciated Muscle Cars

It's been a little while since we did a Friday Timewaster, so for your entertainment I offer up Road of the Dead. It's a surprisingly deep little flash game where you commit vehicular zombie slaughter on a pretty epic scale. The graphics are impressive, and the game itself is good fun. I should warn our younger viewers (and recommend to the others) that this game has lots of blood and graphic scenes of bad driving.

I am not very good at the game, but it sure is fun. So, don't ask why you never run out of gas, just start running over zombies. Oh, and this tip, don't let a zombie get on your hood. Bad news there.

If Your Friday Afternoon is Wasted, Turn to Page 37

We have a reader submission this week, and it's a doozy! This could very well waste your entire long weekend.  Andrew turned me on to Seventh Sense – Lone Wolf. It's an online version of the Lone Wolf choose your own adventure books of my childhood.

If you don't remember Lone Wolf, the idea of the books was to take a standard choose your own adventure & add random combat. Some pages would cause you to fight monsters or gain items or cast spells. It required some mild record keeping, and cheating was rampant ("why yes, I do still have that fireball spell!") They (and the earlier (?) Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks were a revelation to me. Much better than the vanilla choose your own adventures.

This download has almost 20 books you can play. It may be the most dangerous Friday Time Waster ever. You have been warned. Thanks again Andrew! And feel to recommend Friday Time Wasters in the Hat's Forum.

A Year In The Life

buncha santas

At the beginning of the year, back when the world was full of hope and change, we wrote about our friend Rob's plan to document 2009, as he'd experienced it, with one photo each day.  That project is now a day from completion.

It's safe to say that 2009 didn't turn out so well for much of the world, but there were worse years this decade.  At the very least, Rob has produced a document that will allow him to remember 2009 in all its squalor.

Each image is explained by text, but after reading a while I just lost myself in the images.  Since this is a holiday weekend, please consider this your Friday time-waster, delivered in true Popehat fashion a day early.

Your Friday Afternoon Probably Involves Red & White

Usually our Friday time waster is a game or a large collection of photos or something that will use your entire day. Today, I offer more of an appetizer. Something to cleanse the old palate.

Despite my total lack of style or fashion sense, design fascinates me. Why things look like they do, and how different cultures take a specific spin on the same themes. Apparently, it's just as common in fashion as it is in Nationalism. I give you Flags By Colours.

Here, each nation's flag is pie charted to show the selection (and percentage) of colors in the flag. If you click on the pie chart, it reveals the flag. It's fun to try & guess what the flag is from the pie chart. At the very bottom is an inclusive pie chart that shows the color breakdown of all national flags. I was a little surprised how prevalent black is, given that it is hard to think of flags that have a lot of it (mainly Arab & African countries..)

It's not gonna take your whole day, but I thought it was fascinating. Enjoy!

For Your Friday Time Spending Pleasure

It can't be wasting time if it feels good to do it, right?

Obey the Game is the latest flash game effort from thoughtful author John (previous interesting efforts include: Achievement Unlocked and This is the Only Level).  The other games I mentioned offered some interesting if shallow looks at certain kinds of game mechanics.  Obey the Game is cleverer and more fun to boot.  The game places you in a series of challenges, each needing to be beaten before a short timer expires.  The goal is displayed in the center of the screen (e.g. "use the stairs" on a level with several spiked platforms and, yes, a stair case).  Follow the instructions and you advance to the next level.  Consecutive wins will net extra lives.  Some of the challenges are arcadish and they get harder as you go.  Simple right?  Well, the game (randomly?  I don't know) will sometimes tell you to "disobey", which means doing the opposite.  Don't take the stairs (dying is appropriate here!).  Don't collect the coins.  Stay alive (on the suicide level, natch). The only thing that costs a life is failing to obey (or, if the game so orders it, disobey) the goal.  The challenge escalates quickly often meaning a split second decision wins or loses the level.  The game is surprisingly fun.

Secondly, we have Elona Shooter .  A castle defense game based on the fascinating rogue like of the same name.  It features different classes, leveling and skill gain, lots of structures to build up in town which do different things, loot collecting.  It's difficult but pretty fun.  Hunter and Rogue are the suggested starting classes (both get an immediate helper you'll want to replace ASAP.  The hunter gets a bow gun, they rule.  The rogue is a money making machine).  You can earn achievements to help you on the current and subsequent play-throughs (if you're a masochist; I am).