Stuff I Like: mental_floss

mental_floss did a swimsuit issue a few years ago. Seriously.

It’s incredible that I first heard about mental_floss, the now nine-year old magazine, because I was too lazy to look up a word in a dictionary. Back when I was a member of my high school’s debate team (which seems like many, many moons ago), I had to look up a word for who knows what reason. Instead of going to Dictionary.com, which seems like the official online dictionary of lazy folk, I went to the Merriam-Webster website. Merriam-Webster, I’d find out, was and is a frequent advertiser in mental_floss – so I saw their website, read their incredible blog posts (posted weekly in our Link Slurry – which we didn’t publish last night, but I assume that you, reader, pressed on), and decided to subscribe.

I’m a fan of many magazines – WIRED, Discover, Consumer Reports – but I only subscribe to mental_floss. Its writing is quick, biting, and often hilarious – it’s become a model for my own writing on this fine blogging establishment – and the facts are often, incredible.

Few magazines have features on great works of art or interesting scientists. Even fewer have trivia quizzes, supplemented daily – often three- or fourfold – on their website. Only mental_floss has columns from A.J. Jacobs (writer of Know-It-All) and Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings and Michael Stusser’s Dead Guy Interviews. And, while not wanting to judge a periodical by its cover, it needs to be said that they have great art design and organization (just look at this cover and behold its awesomeness). It’s become a great resource for expanding my knowledge, spending time reading (I lament that it’s only bimonthly – so I read each issue at least twice), and striking up conversation (I joke (okay, half-joke…alright, I’m not kidding at all) that when it comes to conversation, I get  by on trivia alone).

The folks at mental_floss – who often partner with HowStuffWorks.com and Maggie Koerth-Baker at BoingBoing – are insanely clever, and they know it, branching off to e-newsletters, witty and intellectual t-shirts (I have two!), board games, iPhone apps, ten books (with an eleventh on American History on the way), and Graduate Schools in a Box, where you can earn your MBA, JD, or MD in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost (note: not actually recognized, but fun!). 

In short, mental_floss a bastion of intellect that is both concise and in-depth- it is, to quote the title of their first book, Condensed Knowledge.

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