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February 20, 2015

Watch HBO's The Weight of the Nation

In this excellent HBO documentary series being offered for free through YouTube, HBO filmmakers focus on the American obesity epidemic. Throughout the documentary health and nutrition experts are interviewed along with everyday people that are overweight or obese. The filmmakers travel the whole country to collect stories about all sorts of topics related to food and obesity. The documentary is in four parts but the episodes are basically all separate documentaries unto themselves so you can choose whichever ones you're most interested in.

This 4-episode documentary starts out in "Part 1: Consequences" cataloging the massive health consequences of obesity from heart disease to type 2 diabetes. They look at why since the 1980s the amount of overweight and obese individuals in the US has risen to over two-thirds of the population.

In "Part 2: Choices", the documentary takes a turn in the self-help direction focusing on what individuals can do to combat obesity including reducing caloric intake, eating healthier, and exercising more. Many obese individuals who have significantly lost weight are interviewed and they present the many creative ways in which they have gone about losing weight and keeping it off.

In "Part 3: Children in Crisis", the documentary turns its eye on the astonishing rise of childhood obesity and the many health dangers posed by this epidemic, including the sobering fact that this younger generation may have shorter life spans than their parents. The episode covers the pernicious and predatory marketing of junk food to children, the sad state of school lunches, and the decline of required physical education in schools. It also looks at how certain parents are getting involved in these matters and taking active roles confronting obesity when it comes to their children.

In "Part 4: Challenges", the documentary covers the history of the food industry in the United States and the current climate of food production we live in. It looks at the fast food industry and the cheap processed foods that are keeping prices low, but escalating health care costs in the long term. The role of government is addressed as they continue to provide farm subsidies for corn, soy, and the cheap foods that are generally contributing to making the population obese. In the end the nation faces a series of difficult challenges when it comes to addressing obesity, but this documentary does offer some signs of hope.

Watch over 2000 more free documentaries in our free documentary section:

Browse Over 2000 Free Documentaries in Our LearnOutLoud.com Free Documentaries Collection


February 13, 2015

Top 5 Romantic Novels, Plays and Poetry on Audio

Each Valentine's Day, many of us rely on the written word to back up the love we feel for each other. Whether they be read in the brief passages we share in greeting cards or heard in the lyrics of just about every classic pop song, words are often an essential complement to a hug or a kiss. Still, Hallmark, the wordsmith behind the "Be Mine" candy heart and even the Beatles are arguably nothing compared to what world literature has given us on this universal subject. Indeed, when it comes to literature, love and the pangs of romantic longing have fueled some of the best novels, plays, and poems ever written. For Valentine's Day, we've collected some of our favorite "books of love" that are available for free on audio download. We hope listening to some of these will help you cultivate a little more love in your life, whether it be with your significant other, your family, or your even your dog or cat!

Pride and Prejudice

Even in the 21st century, the story of Elizabeth Bennet and her tortured courtship with the reserved Mr. Darcy has retained its status as one of the greatest romances of all time. What might account for Pride and Prejudice's enduring appeal is in part due to how modern Elizabeth is in her attitude towards a patriarchal society that seems determined to cage her willful nature. Ultimately, while she does find a way to work within the confines of her culture, what might at first glance be read as a cynical appraisal of marriage in the early 19th century becomes a celebration of the equality that can come about when two lovers are well-matched. All that, and Austen is still unrivaled when it comes to a clever turn of phrase.

Jane Eyre

Part character study, and part parable of one woman's tenacious zeal to live honestly without regret, Jane Eyre also manages to sneak in a message about the healing power of love. When the orphaned Jane Eyre comes to Thornfield Hall to become a Governess, she collides with the world-weary Rochester, and slowly but surely he falls for her simple yet sincere virtues. Of course, Rochester is covering up a lusty past of romantic mistakes that blow up in his face when they come to light, leading Eyre to question his motives and for the couple to fracture just at the moment they've found each other. Pulsing descriptions of Jane's inner world drive a plot that tries to weigh a moral code of ethics against what the heart wants, and the result is a classic novel that proves just how much of a battlefield love can sometimes be.

Wuthering Heights

An interesting counterpoint to Jane Eyre comes from Charlotte Bronte's equally talented sister, Emily. In a story that follows the socially marginalized, often despicable hero Heathcliff and his life-long love affair with the Lady Catherine, we see a love that goes beyond the confines of death. What remains interesting about what could have otherwise been the boilerplate story of two star-crossed lovers forever wedged apart by a rigid social system is how brutal these people are throughout the narrative. After the untimely death of the status-conscious Catherine, Heathcliff becomes so embittered by his lot in life, that he marries spitefully and maintains Wuthering Heights like a prison for anyone unlucky enough to become trapped in his toxic web. It is only when his long-lost love reappears as an apparition, that we see some semblance of his heart, and whatever goodness the man retains seems to exist somewhere beyond reality. Wuthering Heights remains a classic partly because of its uncompromising portrayal of two social misfits and partly because of how it treats love as the only transcendent form of freedom that some of us can ever attain.

Shakespeare's Comedies:

Rather than settle for the elephant in the room that is Romeo and Juliet, we also want to shed some light on Shakespeare's other comedies, which usually revolve around the various travails young couples must face in their search for love and marriage. Some are brisk, witty fun, such as the musical-chair love connections found in As You Like It, or the wordplay warfare that bristles through Much Ado about Nothing. Others come wrapped in a mystical air, such as the blissful A Midsummer Night's Dream, or blustery emotions roiling beneath The Tempest. That said, even when Shakespeare is taking on a lighter subject, he still manages to slip in poignant social commentary, bawdy humor and those famous phrases or moments that remind you why he was the greatest English writer ever.

Romantic Poetry 001

Finally, what would Valentine's be without a collection of love poems? Yes, novels and plays are able to tell sustained narratives that go into the gushy details of attraction, heartbreak, separation and cathartic reunion -- but good love poetry cuts to the chase. In this collection, you'll find work from the best, including William Wordworth, John Keats, Elizabeth Barrett Browning (of course), William Blake and Lord Byron. They didn't call most of these poets the Romantics for nothing, and the performances featured in this selection help the poems live up to their well-deserved hype.


February 5, 2015

1000 Best Documentaries on YouTube

manwithmoviecamerablog.jpgIf you've not checked it out yet, we encourage you to dive into our new LearnOutLoud.com Free Documentaries Collection featuring over 2000 of the best free documentaries that you can watch for free online. You can start browsing by clicking below:

Browse Over 2000 Free Documentaries in Our New LearnOutLoud.com Free Documentaries Collection

In this collection we feature many, many documentaries from YouTube. But we didn't just put up any documentary we found there, as there's a lot of junk. Instead we spent weeks sifting through YouTube docs to come up with the "1000 Best Documentaries on YouTube". We've compiled most of them together here:

Browse Over 1000 Free Documentaries from YouTube

In this blog we'll try to cover some of the best documentaries that we've added that are available on YouTube. Where should we start? Well there are many providers that offer numerous documentaries for free on YouTube, so let's start with some of those.

Great Museums Television - Offers a dozen documentaries on great museums in the United States.

National Geographic - Offers about 20 documentaries on a variety of topics.

New Atlantis - We've added 8 of their documentaries covering subjects around the World.

VICE Documentaries - We've added 7 of their most popular documentaries covering subjects around the World.

Other providers who feature many documentaries on their channels in playlists include:

The New York Times Documentaries

Naked Science Documentary Series

Pure History Specials

The Hollywood Biographies Collection

Treasures of New York

Truly Califorinia Documentaries

Learning Matters Documentaries

Now we'll get into some of the individual documentaries. We'll start with some of best longer documentary series we found:

Civilisation: Complete Series - 1969 documentary by Sir Kenneth Clark presenting an epic examination of Western European culture.

People's Century - This twenty-six part television series, broadcast on PBS in 1995, offers new insight into the turbulent events of the 20th century through the revealing personal testimony of the people who were there.

Simon Schama's Power of Art - 7-part BBC series covering famous artists from Caravaggio to Picasso.

Free To Choose - 9-hour 1980 PBS television series featuring Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman attempting to make people understand the close relationship between the ideas of human freedom and economic freedom.

Heritage: Civilization and the Jews - Monumental nine-part series spanning three millennia of Jewish history and culture from PBS in 1984.

Howard Goodall's Story of Music - 6-part BBC documentary chronicling the history of music.

Cold War - 18-hour documentary examining The Cold War, narrated by Sir Kenneth Branagh and aired on CNN in 1998.

The Weight of the Nation - 4-part HBO documentary series examining the obesity epidemic in America.

And we could go on and on listing these epic documentaries, but now we'll give you a list of some of the best feature length documentaries, generally lasting 2 hours or less. In order of year released, here is a list of interesting individual documentaries you can watch on YouTube that we've added to LearnOutLoud.com:

Nanook of the North (1922) - Considered to be the first feature-length documentary. Directed by Robert J. Flaherty.

Man with a Movie Camera (1929) - Voted in 2014 by Sight and Sound magazine as the best documentary film of all time. Directed by Dziga Vertov.

War Comes to America (1945) - Part seven of the orientation series "Why We Fight" called "War Comes to America" which tells the tale of a reluctant America drawn into battlegrounds of World War II.

Primary (1960) - Groundbreaking 1960 Direct Cinema documentary film following John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey in the 1960 Wisconsin Primary election. Produced by Robert Drew, shot by Richard Leacock and Albert Maysles, and edited by D.A. Pennebaker, the film was a breakthrough in documentary film style.
Ladies and Gentlemen... Mr. Leonard Cohen (1965)

Mahatma: Life of Gandhi, 1869-1948 (Abridged) (1968)

The Eagle Has Landed (1969)

Malcolm X: His Own Story as It Really Happened (1972)

Future Shock (1972) - Fun doc on the effects of "too much change in too short a period of time", hosted and narrated by Orson Welles. We feature a number of documentaries narrated by the great Orson Welles: Documentaries & Audiobooks Narrated by Orson Welles on LearnOutLoud.com.

The Great Ecstasy of the Woodcarver Steiner (1974) - Great documentary on ski-jumper Walter Steiner, from the great documentary filmmaker Werner Herzog. Check out more Werner Herzog documentaries we feature here: Werner Herzog Documentaries on LearnOutLoud.com

Scared Straight (1978) - Academy Award Winning documentary on inmates scaring juvenile delinquents out of a life of crime.

The Day After Trinity (1980) - Humbling documentary on J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Atomic Bomb.

Heavy Metal Parking Lot (1986) - A real fun time in the parking lot before a Judas Priest concert.

The Blind Watchmaker (1987) - One of a number documentaries we feature by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins.

The World Within: C.G. Jung in His Own Words (1990)

Krishnamurti: With a Silent Mind (1990)

A Brief History of Time (1992) - Documentary on cosmologist Stephen Hawking, directed by awarding-winning documentary filmmaker Errol Morris.

Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992)

Philip K. Dick: A Day in the Afterlife (1994)

The Quest: Discovering Your Human Potential (1996)

Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Man and the Dream (1998)

Friedrich Nietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil (1999) - Three-part "Human, All Too Human" BBC documentary television series on three great philosophers also includes:
Martin Heidegger: Thinking the Unthinkable
Jean Paul Sartre: The Road to Freedom

Anthony Robbins: The Secret of His Success (1999)

Philosophy: Guide to Happiness (2000) - Hosted by philosopher Alain de Botton.

Inside North Korea (2001)

A History of God (2001) - Hosted by Karen Armstrong.

Martin Luther: Driven to Defiance (2003) - Two-part PBS Empires documentary.
Martin Luther: Reluctant Revolutionary

Control Room (2004)

Jonestown: The Life and Death of People's Temple (2006)

Zeitgeist: The Movie (2007)

HOME (2009)

Living in the End Times According to Slavoj Zizek (2010)

How Weed Won the West (2010)

The Mystery of Memory (2011)

Life in a Day (2011)

Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States: The Bomb (2012)

The Clash: Audio Ammunition Documentary Series (2013)

And there are just way more documentaries from YouTube that we've added. But we'll stop there. You can continue browsing here:

Browse Over 1000 Free Documentaries from YouTube

Enjoy 1000 of the best documentaries available on YouTube!