The most hootworthy blogs of 2008

I’ve been posting about everyone else’s top ten such-and-such of the year, so now it’s our turn.
Below are links to blogs that at we like. This is the chief and sole criterion for inclusion in this off-the-cuff collection. Some of these blogs are, at least in part, science- or technology-driven, but given that the Refuge features contributors whose primary writing interests lie outside the realm of hard science and thus has no clear or consistent theme, our choices are an eclectic lot.
Like too many blogs run by capable wordsmiths and erudite critics, a lot of our picks fly undeservedly far below the radar, victims of the sheer glut of personal online yapspaces swamping every genre. Being a part of Science Blogs has boosted the Refuge’s traffic by perhaps a factor of one hundred or more, so we like to think calling attention to stuff we enjoy can help our blogging friends attract more scholarly (or at least entertaining) readers themselves. Christ, that was maudlin. Anyway, here they are, in no special order:
Edited to add Doc Bushwell’s Blogs of Hootworthiness 2008


The Indigestible. Part raw agitation, part artwork, part glib cynicism, this blog is maintained by a published novelist who is also one of out favorite commenters; by managing to say something clever about even my most mundane and irrelevant offerings, he gives us as well as other readers a reason to, as they say in the 12-step world, keep coming back. I’ll add a hearty second to this one. The Indigestible is a most palatable morsel. And Warren knows about my dirty little secret. I think. ~ Doc B.
The running blogs: Because running accounts per se only vary so much, they simply do not make for entertaining daily reads; therefore, blogs in this niche that rise above the cyber-rabble are, by obligation, those that are kept by unusually creative and humorous people with an eye for things most folks miss, and as a result of these qualities they appeal to non-runners as well.
Races Like a Girl is written by Julie Threlkeld, a sardonic latecomer to marathoning who vividly describes what it’s like to train in the New York City area year-round. Her companion object haiku blog is worth a visit as well; I’m as quick to conclude that there’s only so much humor to be found in a 17-syllable poem, but stuff like this is just great. (And, I assume, a real issue for women runners.)
Matt Fitzgerald and I go back over twenty years, as we were high-school rivals in track and cross-country. We may be the only two people in the history of New Hampshire to pursue careers in running journalism, and Matt, in fact, has published a small heap of books in addition to working full time for Triathlete Magazine. It doesn’t take long to recognize that Matt knows his stuff and is a skilled communicator with a great background in sports science and a pleasantly skeptical edge. Nevertheless he has entrusted me to help him run 6:00 pace at the Boston Marathon in April, a responsibility I enjoy and take very seriously.
Roads, Mills, Crass is, in effect, operated by at least four people. However, Duncan Larkin of greater Philadelphia is the sole proprietor, and it’s his florid analogies and often scathing and unimpeachable commentaries on various cultural and sporting matters that make the various things Duncan posts–his paintings, his fiction and nonfiction work, his training-run reports, and his race plans and results–compelling indeed.
Finally, Wake Up and Smell the Asphalt is the stubborn journal of “joe positive,” a former multi-pack-a-day smoker who is now one of the faster 40-and-over road racers in the Tampa Bay area. Hers is an apt moniker given that Karen (joe’s meatspace nom de guerre) has so often struggled with injuries but has gamely kept the world apprised of her plans and hopes without hiding any of her frustration. This is someone with an engineering degree who has worked in IT and as a massage therapist, and also plays bass in at least one band. In terms of multiple talents, among people I know, only Doc Bushwell herself can give Karen a run for her money.
There are actually many more faves to be found buried in the links in the left sidebar (a slate that needs to be updated, actually). And the Doc is tied up today, so she’ll have to come back and edit this post to include her picks (some of which I share) or toss up a companion to it in order to properly round things out.
Doc Bushwell here! Yes, yes, I know you were all waiting with bated breath for me to arrive. Without further adieu, here is the list of Doc Bushwell’s Blogs of Hootworthiness 2008.
I will note there are some “celebrity blogs” which I read, like Jennifer Ouellette et al.’s Cocktail Party Physics and David Dobbs’ Smooth Pebbles, both of which are erudite treasure troves of excellent writing on scientific topics, but in the following list, I’m highlighting some blogs which might not otherwise come to the attention of the typical banana-stained denizen of the Chimp Refuge. Some are already brachiating quietly in the side bar. Others will be added in an update as per Kevin’s remark above.
In PharmaGossip, “The Insider” (a fellow who, if I had functional ovaries and were young and attractive, I would beg to be the sire of my offspring – yes, he is that witty and smart) offers scathingly hilarious and insightful observations on the pharmaceutical industry. And you know what? It’s funny ’cause it’s true. Well, most of it. Maybe. But it is clever and brilliant as those posh Brits say. The proprietor of PharmaGossip is known to diverge into other venues – politics and pop culture – with equal acidic aplomb.
Kissing Corporal Kate is a sassy smart lesbian-flavored blog which has started such weekday trends as Oral Orgasm Thursday and Masturbation Monday. Additionally, it has oh-so-deliciously trashed and thrashed creatures like Ken Hovind. Sex, skepticism and spanking. What’s not to like? Not necessarily safe for work unless you’re an employee of a bondage and discipline boutique that also sells whoopee cushions.
Lisa Paitz Spindler, a science fiction writer, draws me into her orbit as she and her alter ego, Danger Gal revel in the intersection of science, literature and other aspects of pop culture with unabashed geekiness. Her blog also provides an excellent resource for both fans and would-be writers of a certain genre. Not that women would know anything about science fiction.
Then there’s The Amused Muse. I love Kristine’s blog. Her sense of humor is nonpareil (especially for a a woman), and she dances giddily in that overlapping Venn diagram space of science, pop culture and rationalism. Look at her blog intro:

Graduate student, working stiff, proud Darwinian Dawkobot, and pirate librarian belly-dancer bohemian secret agent scribe in training, on a mission to rescue bloggers from the wholesome clutches of the pious girl fridays of the world.

If that’s not enough to entice you into taking a look, then I’m a bonobo’s matron aunt with a swollen red bottom.
Also among the exalted hootworthy is SDC’s Words of Advice for Young People. SDC’s droll account of his visit to the Creation Museum is a fine example of his style. Living there in Hoosierland as he does, SDC is a bit like Garrison Keillor with a dollop of Lewis Black thrown into the mix.
A blog whose byline is “A fine mixture of intellectualism and fart jokes” surely makes the 2008 list. Saint Gasoline is enamored of wordcraft, as one can see by his not-so-short posts, but they are worth every word. St. Gas’s turns of phrase often send me over the edge, hooting away. And there are cartoons. Cartoons!
Anyway, thanks for making the whirling and inescapable time-waster that is the blogosphere a fun place to spend a lot of time. That goes to the regular commenters here, notably hopper3011, llewelly, Crudely Wrott, Pierce C. Butler, Lofcaudio, Big Dumb Chimp, Meatbrain, SDC and the various others who may show up only once, but bring far more knowledge to a given niche topic than I bring in introducing it–which is kind of the point.
What he said.
~ Doc Bushwell

Be well, hominids.
And Happy New Year, too.

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  1. #1 by Julie on December 31, 2008 - 3:35 pm

    This is a milestone — my first “best of” list appearance. I am honored. And I swear that there were no kickbacks, bling or other incentives involved in this highly coveted endorsement.

  2. #2 by Kevin Beck on December 31, 2008 - 3:47 pm

    I limited myself to five picks, operating on the idea that Doc might want to choose five of her own (Jim is too efficient in his day-to-day life to waste much time with blogs, preferring to hunker down in his basement and beat on things with sticks). You should know that in the end, it came down to a choice between you and Gribbit for the fifth and final slot; only after realizing that his running career is more or less in an a shambles did I give you the nod.

  3. #3 by Jennifer Ouellette on December 31, 2008 - 10:07 pm

    I’m a celebrity blogger? I blush…. :) But am also a huge fan of Danger Gal so glad to see that blog included here.

  4. #4 by Jennifer Ouellette on December 31, 2008 - 10:07 pm

    I’m a celebrity blogger? I blush…. :) But am also a huge fan of Danger Gal so glad to see that blog included here.

  5. #5 by Lisa Paitz Spindler on January 1, 2009 - 11:20 am

    Oh, wow. W00t! Thank you so much for including me in on this list. It often just feels like I’m bumbling my opposable thumbs as I type, so I’m glad to be entertaining a select few hominids who appreciate my “unabashed geekiness.” I have some great posts planned for Danger Gal in 2009, so please stay tuned. Also, thank you Jennifer for the kudos as well. I’d love to add Cocktail Party Physics to my blogroll, if that’s OK with you.

  6. #6 by JimFiore on January 1, 2009 - 11:29 am

    Jim is too efficient in his day-to-day life to waste much time with blogs, preferring to hunker down in his basement and beat on things with sticks
    To paraphrase an old XTC album, my basement is nothing but drums and wires (and a treadmill). I don’t know how well that speaks to my efficiency, but it may say something about obsessions and compulsions.

  7. #7 by Jennifer Ouellette on January 1, 2009 - 1:38 pm

    Sure, go right ahead and add us to the blogroll. Ours is always hopelessly out of date, but will add Danger Gal the next tie we do updates…

  8. #8 by David Dobbs on January 1, 2009 - 9:40 pm

    Thanks, Doc, for the inclusion. I should note for posterity’s sake that it’s David Dobbs (not Dobb) — so much for real celebrity!

  9. #9 by Doc Bushwell on January 1, 2009 - 10:59 pm

    Jennifer, of course you are a celebrity! I have referred quite a few folks to your blog. Additionally, I was tickled when I stumbled across this submission to the American Physical Society by Kristine Larsen and saw your name listed as associate editor when said article was submitted. (The inventor of the device described in the article is chafing to send in a nerdsome rebuttal.) That is celebrity status in my book.
    Lisa, your blog is fantastic! I’ve been dabbling in some writing outside of the formulaic type I apply for my job and also external to the Refuge. Danger Gal is a great writer’s resource in addition to being entertaining.
    David, my abject apologies! I’m mortified by that typo and have fixed it. And yes, I consider you a celebrity. You are a Real Writer!

  10. #10 by Warren on January 2, 2009 - 2:25 pm

    Golly, thanks for the mention; that was awfully nice to see!
    Though, since you’re pointing to other sites, I’m not sure why you’d tag this with “Self-Indulgent Wankery”… ;)

  11. #11 by duncan on January 8, 2009 - 8:33 pm

    Thanks to Doc and Kevin for giving my misanthropic turd pile the nod. You guys are well ahead of your time–giving my four personalities the dignity of being called “persons.” I apologize for not linking back to the Refuge. Though, when I do, I must warn you, you will start receiving tens of thousands of misdirected Austrian hits–Googlelost folks searching for that misfortunate, like-named D.J. who passed away recently.

  12. #12 by duncan on January 8, 2009 - 8:33 pm

    Thanks to Doc and Kevin for giving my misanthropic turd pile the nod. You guys are well ahead of your time–giving my four personalities the dignity of being called “persons.” I apologize for not linking back to the Refuge. Though, when I do, I must warn you, you will start receiving tens of thousands of misdirected Austrian hits–Googlelost folks searching for that misfortunate, like-named D.J. who passed away recently.

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