Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Top Ten Places I Follow Outside of Books

This week the Broke and the Bookish are taking a pause from books and asking: what NON-book related sites do you most frequently visit?

1. Forums (CivFanatics, TrekBBS)

In my first year online, I quickly ditched chatrooms for forums. While I've joined too many to name in the years since, the two listed are the only ones I invariably visit. Though my initial motivation for joining CFC was to talk about Civilization III, its non-gaming forums attract a lot of intelligent conversation about various issues.

2. LiveScience | Science20

These are both science-news websites targeted toward the general reader. LiveScience's style is more 'hip' than thorough; over the years I've seen more lists and pictures and less content, hence my switching to Science 2.0.

3. EconTalk.org

This may be cheating; it's a podcast that features a lot of authors. I never expected to become a fan of an economics podcast, let alone one that's so staunchly free market, but so help me if I don't spend my Mondays thinking, "Ooh, yeah! EconTalk updates tonight!"  The lure, for me, is that the host and his guests have long, intelligent conversations, the kind I can learn from listening to even if I don't agree with the point one of them is trying to make. It's hard to find that kind of sensible approach these days -- and the books the podcast features are fantastically interesting.

4.StrongTowns.org & KunstlerCast

These are both about urban design: one is a nonprofit run by an engineer and urban planner, the other a podcast featuring a journalist who despises modern architecture and has a rich and colorful vocabulary for describing the many things wrong with it.  Although the KCast is more entertaining, I rather prefer StrongTowns. The root point of both is that America's current building pattern of suburban sprawl is uneconomical, unsustainable, and unfit for human habitation in general.  The author of StrongTowns updates the blog three times a week, and always provides something meaty to chew on.

5. News (BBC, NPR, The Economist, The Atlantic)

I don't go to any of these daily, but through a mix of radio/podcasts, online reading, and magazine reading, I hear from one of them at least once a day. The Economist is one I've only discovered in the past few months.

6. Comics (Frazz, QuestionableContent, XKCD, Unshelved)

All four of these are unique to the web: some I've been following for years (Unshelved, XKCD), and others I've only found recently.  Unshelved is set in a library;  QuestionableContent is about a group of twenty-somethings and their odd lives;  Frazz is set in a school, where an intellectual janitor and an extremely bright kid bounce off a tired teacher with humor and insight that remind me of Calvin and Hobbes; and XKCD pretty much speaks for itself.

7. Eleven Points

A blog of top ten eleven lists on ecclectic topics, rangng from the predictable (movies, games) to the odd ("11 Strangest Things on Amazon). Although I don't follow any sports, I've grown to like his NFL predictions; during football season he attempts to pick a random NFL game through eleven methods, most of them utterly off the wall. He'll have his dog choose between two treats, with each treat representing a game. He'll model the game on a twenty-year old NES platform, or call in a phone psyhic. Last season he tried it based on Handsomest Player -- and the season before that, on the cheerleaders.

8. The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe | StarTalk Radio

SGU is a panel podcast about science/technology news and general skepticism; the standard panel is a trio of brothers with medical degrees and a couple of their friends, often joined by a 'guest rogue'. Excellent show for those interested in critical thinking or concerned about the popularity of quacks and superstition.  StarTalk Radio is somewhat similar; hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, it's more of a discussion show with two hosts and a guest. The general theme is science and society. The most  recent episode is an interview with Mark Kurlansky, the author of Salt: A World History. I'm jazzed to have discovered it before Tyson!

9. TvTropes

TvTropes is a...aw, just look at this XKCD comic about it,

10. LameBook and People of WalMart

...guilty pleasures!


  1. Interesting list. :)

    I used to have LiveScience on my Reader. 11 Points looks pretty interesting.

  2. Never heard of tvtropes before, but now I will probably spend there all evening....thanks! :)

  3. This is the first time I hear of Questionable Content and I really like what I've seen of it so far. Thanks for recommending it!

  4. I love your list, because it's so different from all the other ones I've seen today! And I'm definitely going to check out a couple of sites you've listed.

  5. The eleven points one looks really interesting! I'll have to check it out.
    I do check news sites (cnn, npr, google news) pretty frequently.

  6. I just clicked on Eleven Points. I'm hooked. Thanks for sharing :)
    Angela @ AJ Arndt Books Blog


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