18 August 2011

Some blogs

I read a lot of blogs. Here are some of my favorites, that I think others might enjoy.

Alyssa - Alyssa Rosenberg is ThinkProgress' culture blogger. Well-educated and thoughtful, she thinks and writes about pop culture with a careful consideration of the material, both by itself and in context. She spends a lot of time on items of importance in geek culture and highbrow television, lavishing long paragraphs of contemplation on the major shows like Six Feet Under or The Sopranos and how one adaptation of a comic book compares with another, but her interests are sufficiently diverse that she hits that sweet spot where I am familiar with the topics of discussion but get introduced to new things that might interest me. She's at the nexus of familiar and novel, and very well-spoken. She also spends some time on funding for the arts, which is important and often overlooked. She doesn't really have any big opus-style essays, since she's part of a larger running cultural conversation, but a good taste of her style can be found in her recent discussion of criticism of True Blood's character Tara or in the first installment of Alyssa's review of Deadwood.

Ask a Korean - My wife pointed me towards this one. It's of special interest to people of Korean descent or who have lived in Korea, but even beyond that I think many people will enjoy it. The eponymous Korean was raised in Korea but is currently in America, and is both articulate and clever about the country of his birth and the issues facing Korea and Koreans today. You might enjoy his lengthy explanation of "fan death" and its origins or the particularly Korean phenomenon of eating dog.

Letters of Note - This is an amazing collection of letters from or about famous people and events. It's frequently updated thanks to its growing popularity, and includes telegrams, handwritten letters, or other forms of correspondence - each with a brief historical setup, a scanned copy of the original, and a transcription. Some of my particular favorites are Hunter S. Thompson writing a movie studio exec ("Okay, you lazy bitch, I'm getting tired of this waterhead fuckaround that you're doing with The Rum Diary.") and Albert Einstein corresponding about religion ("The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still purely primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.")

Language Log - A product of the University of Pennsylvania's Linguistics group, this blog is a collaborative one dominated by Geoff Pullum and Mark Liberman. They examine popular manifestations and fallacies of linguistics, such as the bizarre idea that the use of passive tense implies personal passivity or the ways in which our language is evolving even as we speak it. They are, like most linguists nowadays, more descriptivist than proscriptivist - they prefer to describe rather than command, and so they often mock such titans as Strunk and White (to my considerable discomfort). A good example of Language Log is their discussion of eggcorns (the peculiar result of slight misunderstandings of common terms) or their amusement at journalist attempts to pronounce the name of Icelandic volcano "Eyjafjallajokull."

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