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In a sense, the Opinion page will diverge from the stated intention of the kudostothat.com website.  While every source mentioned on this page is one that pleases me, there might be opinions expressed on some sites which offer criticism. I may enjoy the sites but do not necessarily appreciate all the ideas put forth on them. I view these sites as I would a fondly regarded relative:  there is much offered but not all of it is agreeable.  That said, I will do my best not to mention a source which is patently offensive in any way.  The possibility exists that some offensive comment may exist on a site; usually offense is in the subjective opinion of the reader. If I fail to detect overtly offensive material, I apologize.  I do not endorse any opinions but my own. If, on a site I link to, there are instances of racism, religious intolerance or statements meant to incite violence, I renounce that.  Remember, only good things on kudostothat.com.  Never is there room for hatred, violence or prejudice.

Wikipedia
 
I begin with Wikipedia, for, where would I be without this resource? I understand that controversy surrounds the content on this site: people can edit so that information is favorable to their point of view.  But  then, when does any critical person accept what is offered from one source? Of course, after I have read something on Wikipedia I check other reliable places.  My operating principle is this: even honest, well-intentioned people can be wrong. Therefore, accept nothing at face value.  Check and double check. Cross reference.  Read opposing views. After doing that, I might be reasonably confident of approaching the truth;  the truth itself will always be elusive.

Wikipedia is free.  It is the result of efforts by many very bright, skilled people to open the Internet and information to the public.  If this site is subject to corruption, that’s OK.  In every enterprise caveat emptor always prevails. I love Wikipedia.

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy  
I’m grateful when people share knowledge and ask nothing in return except the pleasure of sharing.  This website reflects the efforts of just such a group of people. Cooperating scholars have pooled their energies to impart the wisdom of the sages.

On the home page, a menu runs down the right hand side.  Here the casual visitor can choose from tempting headings such as The History of Philosophy, Philosophical Traditions and Value Theory.  Of course, if you’re not interested in philosophy, none of this may tempt you.  But I am tempted and am sure I will dip into this rich well of knowledge many times in the future.

The picture below is an illustration of an experiment said to have been conducted by Blaise Pascal, one of the philosophers you can read about on the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy website.

  
From the BooK : The Forces of Nature
Author
Amadee Guillemin
Uploaded from Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain, Copyright Expired

Wikimedia 
I often use images on my websites to illustrate a point or enliven an article; when doing so, I always exercise extreme care in respecting copyright regulations.  Wikimedia Commons offers a trove of excellent images and also reliable advice on copyright issues.  Wikimedia is an invaluable resource for me and I am grateful to all those who upload images for the public’s benefit.
Kudos to Wikimedia.

National Park Service, U. S. Department of the Interior 
Even if you don’t live in the U. S. you might find this website a rich source of information.  Not only are there articles on aspects of U. S. history and culture, but there are references to publications on a wide variety of subjects.  Among the areas covered  are history, archeology, geology and wildlife studies. As an example of how diverse the available topics are: I once was trying to find information on Father Damien, the priest who dedicated his life to treating leprosy patients on the Island of Molokai. The National Park Service website provided a font of information.

Another aspect of this site some may enjoy: it appears to be very family friendly.
Kudos to the National Park Service website.

Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
National Park Service, Public Domain

Zero Hedge 
I like this site because the contributors try to cut through all the packaged news we get from mainstream media.  Zero Hedge may sometimes offer articles or opinions that seem far-fetched or counter-intuitive, but the very fact that there are alternatives is valuable.  Many of the articles are written by well-informed people.  If you want to read something different from what is parroted on major networks, every day, then Zero Hedge might make interesting reading.
Kudos to Zero Hedge for providing news alternatives.

The Raw Story 
I like to know what’s going on in the world.  Most mainstream news is derived from just a few sources, such as the Associated Press.  That means most mainstream news sounds pretty much the same and outlets tend to mirror each other–with of course variations in ideological slant.  Well, I think that’s a rather narrow prism through which to view the world.  So I look for alternatives.  It’s one of the reasons I studied foreign languages; I wanted to get a feel for the way reality looks from  different angles.  The Raw Story offers a different angle.  If you want that, if you want a slight change in perspective, maybe you’ll find reading The Raw Story  an interesting experience.
Kudos to The Raw Story for trying to cut through distractions and focus on substance

Il Siciliano’s Website 
I just discovered this website tonight.  My maternal grandparents immigrated from Sicily in 1906 so I always say I’m Sicilian.  I claim this heritage in the way many Americans claim an association with forebears who hailed from distant lands.  Of course, I’m not Sicilian; not only was I born in the U. S. but so was my mother.  Further, my father’s family has such a complicated ethnic background that it would be hard for me to identify each and every culture represented.  But Sicily won my heart when I was a child. I used to listen to stories at my mother’s knee about the land of her ancestors.  And so it is that I delight in this website, which is the work of a very interesting man.

Learn the language of Sicily here; learn about it’s history.  It doesn’t matter if your ancestors hailed from a different place, there’s a good chance one of them at least dropped anchor off the shores of the Mediterranean island. This small piece of land was host to so many different religions, races, nationalities that just about anyone can claim a connection.

For example, among my many colorful paternal ancestors was a farmer who came from a part of Germany known as Swabia. It turns out that in the 12th century, the Hohenstaufens of Swabia ruled Sicily.  They established a residence in Catania, which is the area from which my mother’s parents emigrated.  The Swabians–or one of their distant descendents–ruled Sicily for hundreds of years.

Interesting, how the world comes together like that sometimes, isn’t it?

Cefalu, on the Coast of Sicily 
Photographer Bernhard Scheuvens aka Bjs
From Wikimedia Commons

noplaceforrumors.com 
This site is run by one person and consists almost entirely of commentary.  There is a definite idiosyncratic bent to the pieces, which cover a variety of topics as varied as animal rights, prison reform and philosophy.  One thing that won’t be found on noplaceforrumors is packaged opinions.  The author researches every  article thoroughly and generally provides sound justification for whatever view is advanced.  According to the banner at the top of the site, the thematic inspiration for the blog is Diogenes, who, according to legend, spent his life looking for an honest man.  It seems that the author of this site spends a lot of time also in search of honesty.  Whether or not that pursuit is successful, I guess the reader will have to decide.

Counterpunch 
As the name of this online publication suggests, its coverage tends to counter what might be found in other news outlets
Counterpunch is not partisan, though it does have what some might characterize as a “liberal” slant.  There is a definite point of view put forth here, and even though the reader might not agree with that view, sometimes it helps to hear what people from all sides of the ideological spectrum have to say.  At least, that’s the principle I operate on.  I figure, if I’m not willing to listen to different points of view, maybe I’m not really confident about the foundations of my own.

Public Citizen 
There are some who might accuse this site of having an anti-corporate slant.  The authors of the site would likely agree.  But then, if the matter is to be considered fairly, it must be acknowledged that most mainstream media is corporate by its very nature.  It is corporate owned and operated.  So maybe it’s a good thing that there is some kind of countervailing voice, some advocate for a view that does not promote corporate interests.  If you have read my other recommendations on this site, you are probably recognizing a theme:  I am strongly in favor of open information.  I believe that people have a right–indeed an obligation to get the most reliable information possible.  Looking for alternative sources of news is one way to do that.

Webstatsdomain.com
 
I use this site frequently to check on unfamiliar websites.   I have no way of knowing how reliable the statistics of webstatsdomain are, but the metric is at least something with which to measure the legitimacy of a URL.  I do a lot of research on the Internet.  Sometimes there is a tempting heading that I almost can’t resist because it seems to contain information I need; however, before I click  I always wait to see how the site is rated by webstatsdomain.

The Roanoke Island Freedmen’s Colony
 

It’s bracing to be reminded of how much I don’t know.  Such was my experience when I discovered this website, which is the brainchild of Patricia C. Click, Associate Professor of Science Technology and Society at the University of Virginia.

Do you like primary sources, maps, documents?  This site has it all.  The Civil War was a defining event in American History.   It is often said  history is told by the victors; well, in this case there is offered a point of view that represents neither the Union nor the Confederacy.  The perspective offered here is that of participants who were largely silent, though by no means passive:  freed slaves.

I never realized that, by the end of the war, freed slaves represented as much as 10% of the Union Army.  There are historians who believe this 10% was decisive in determining the outcome of the war.

If you’re interested in an unsensational discussion of the Civil War, check out this site.  I’m sure I will spend a lot of there.
So, Kudos to Dr. Click and the Roanoke Island Freedman’s Colony

Union Soldiers at Dutch Gap, During the Civil War
From the Library of Congress
On Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain, Copyright expired

Gizmos Freeware
 
This site was just recommended to me by someone I trust.  I looked up its stats on webstatsdomain and the site seems to be legitimate.  Gizmos Freeware claims to be non-commercial–that is, nobody can pay to be featured on the site, although some income is derived from Google AdSense.  Gizmos Freeware seems to be a good resource for just about anything free on the Internet.  If you are looking for a free audiobook, for example, Gizmos Freeware can lead you there.  Since I have not used the site myself, I will certainly check it out further and if any problems become evident I will take this listing off kudostothat.com.

Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
 
 

The shell of a building in Letchworth Village, a notorious institution that warehoused the mentally disabled
Photo by Doug Kerr of Albany, NY
On Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution

The Bazelon Center exists to fight for a special class of people–those too powerless or too compromised to fight for themselves.  The Center represents clients who have mental disabilities–whether these be psychiatric or developmental in origin.  Clients vary in age and circumstance.

The Bazelon Center advocates for self determination and social integration.  I looked up the stats on this organization and, according to Charity Navigator, 90% of Bazelon’s budget is spent on program activities.  That means money goes directly toward helping people instead of paying for administrative expenses or PR.

Kudos to the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.  I can’t think of a more worthy cause.

South African History Online 
and AngloBoerWar.com 

I list these two websites together because that is how I find them most useful.  I first discovered the AngloBoerWar site.  I was looking at the time for information about the Boer War; I learned there were actually two Boer Wars, but that the second is the one most people refer to when they speak of..  This war, fought at the turn of the century (1899-1902), was historic in so many ways.  It was from this war that the term Concentration Camp has been handed down to us.  It was this war that determined the British would rule South Africa.  And it was in this war that Lord Kitchener cemented his reputation as a brutal and ruthless combatant.

As I culled information from the AngloBoerWar site, I realized that the source I was using was authored by English descendents of the conflict.  I wanted to be sure I was getting a balanced view of this war, about which I knew so little.  So I sought out another resource and came up with South African History Online.  This site gives a fuller view of the development of the disparate interests that eventually led to war.  I recommend that anyone interested in the history of colonialism–not just in South Africa but as a global 19th century phenomenon–refer to this site.  Of course, there is so much more to be learned about South Africa and its people than its colonization by Europeans.  However, for my purposes at the moment, it is a good place to start.

Moby –Almost Home

Unlike many of the sources listed on the Opinion page, Moby–Almost Home is a link to a youtube video.  While the music in the video is memorable, Moby and his fellow performers are unforgettable.  I have watched the video three times and will watch it again when I need a gentle cheering up.  The stars if the video, along with Moby, are dogs and cats.  The video proceeds in distinct frames, which are simply constructed.  Moby cuddles and nuzzles the animals, each in its turn, as music plays in the background and words to the song, Almost Home are displayed on the screen.

Each of the “actors”–except for Moby– is an animal in need of a home.  We fall in love with these animals as Moby draws them out, engages them, allows us to see their hearts.  At the end of the video we learn the status of each dog and cat.  Some have been adopted; some wait for that gift.

I don’t think I ever sat down and listened to a Moby record in my life.  I know I’ve heard his music but I never paid it much mind.  That will change.  The man not only showed us the hearts of the sweet animals in his video.  He showed us his.

Adopt a pet. Don’t buy.

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