Wikipedia Find of the Week: List of unusual deaths. For example, “Draco, Athenian law-maker, was smothered to death by gifts of cloaks showered upon him by appreciative citizens at a theatre on Aegina.”
Earlier this month William Beutler, a D.C. based writer, started a blog about the landmarks in Boston that inspired the landscape of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. Beutler does a great job chronicling the real-life history of different buildings and explaining how DFW altered them to fit into his novel.
Short on insult fodder? In that case you’ll want to read Colin Burrow’s review of Melissa Mohr’s Holy Shit: A Brief History of Swearing. It includes such notables as: “slapsauce fellows, slabberdegullion druggels, lubbardly lowts … slutch calf-lollies, grouthead gnat-snappers, lob-dotterels, gaping changelings, [and] codshead loobies.” In the end, “swearing is one of the most basic human acts,” he writes.
“Bigger than the Zuckerberg Bump, bigger even than the Colbert Bump or the Oprah Bump—arguably the most historic bump in English publishing is the Sam Weller Bump.” A look at the surprising and overwhelming success of Dicken‘s first novel, The Pickwick Papers, from The Paris Review.
Researchers at Comanche Nation College and Texas Tech University are creating a digital archive to reconstruct the Comanche language before its 25 remaining speakers die out. Meanwhile, researchers from Moscow State University and the Russian Academy of Sciences have recorded audio and video footage of twenty isolated Alaskans who speak a unique form of the Russian language. (Bonus: An Australian researcher recently uncovered a whole new Aboriginal dialect.)