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Niche Blogs for the Dog Days of August

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Are you tired of the Olympics already? Are you tired of U.S. presidential election news? Are you bogged down with back-to-school preparations? Then maybe you need some lighthearted distraction! Of course, you'll always find interesting and informative posts at mental_floss, but in addition, here are some wacky and oddly specific blogs that might bring you a smile or two during the hot month of August.

Let's Polka is a blog about "all things accordion." Ha! You thought I was going to say it's about polka music, right? Yeah, those things often go hand-in-hand, but if you enjoy accordion music, play one, or are thinking about taking up the accordion, you'll want to read this. Let's Polka, by Anna and Chris Saccheri, isn't updated very often, but has a lot in the archives. Pictured is accordion player Christina Hendricks.

We told you earlier about the blog Goths in Hot Weather; now you need to check out Goths Up Trees. Goths Up Trees is run by the blogger known as Verity or changelyng. Goths submit pictures of themselves or friends in trees, and they are posted with the story behind them (if provided) and commentary from changelyng.

Babies at Concerts has the tagline "Pretty much the cutest thing next to puppies rolling in ice cream." If you enjoy either music or babies or both (and who doesn't?) you'll find something to make you smile in this picture blog. The photo shown was taken at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in 2009 and submitted by Kimber.

Nostalgia blog Growing Up Heroes has photographs of children in their superhero play clothes or costumes, often submitted by those children themselves years later. Jeff Gurwood contributed this photo of Superman and the Flash. I love Superman's white gloves and the Flash's cowboy boots!

Do you feel the need to keep up with what's going on in the world of puppetry? Then check out Puppet Vision. Curated by a Toronto puppeteer named Andrew, this blog has news stories, videos, profiles of puppeteers from all over, and more about the art of puppetry than you ever thought you needed to know! It even has links to more puppetry blogs. The picture here is from a post on the first puppet show produced by Al Jazeera Childrens Channel in Qatar.

Posting pictures of cats is what 95% of bloggers do. To be a real niche blog, you have to have a narrower theme. Ca$hCats fills the bill, so to speak, as all the pictures contain both cats and cash. The cats, however, don't seem to care. It's all about the Benjamins, so this blog will take your photo submission.

The same idea is behind OMG Cats in Space!!! except that the cats in this picture blog appear to be quite excited to be in space. They are all animated gifs of cats superimposed on celestial backgrounds, and the site has an infinite scroll so you can conceivably see them all at once. Cosmic.

News Cat Gifs! is obviously run by a journalist who prefers to remain anonymous. He/she does have an extensive collection of animated cats to explain the business. The gif shown here is titled "When someone complains about breaking Olympic news on Twitter."

If you prefer your news silly, but without cats, here's something for you. Onion-like Headlines in Real Life is exactly what it says on the tin, but most importantly, those headlines are all links to the story to which they refer. Otherwise, you'd think they were made up of whole cloth just for the blog. This headline goes to a story that we had in the Morning Links a week or so back. It was a slow news day, I guess.

Okay, most of this list is for those who are looking for something besides Olympic coverage, but there are a few blogs that are there only for the London 2012 Olympics, and that's a pretty narrow niche. They probably won't be updated much after the Games are over. One is ROFLympics 2012, which is part of the Cheezburger network. Strangely, there is rather little "rolling on the floor laughing" content, but instead a lot of news, scores, and results updated quite often. Oh yes, there's the occasional funny photo, as you can see. Warning: this blog contains spoilers.

Fourth-Place Medal is a subsidiary of Yahoo News that looks at the lighter side of the Olympics, plus trivia that is just a little too obscure for a full news story. For example, where else would you hear about a newspaper that published results featuring North and South Korea labeled as "Naughty Korea" and "Nice Korea"? Still, I'm glad to find a breaking story about an Olympic athlete we met last week. Warning: this blog contains spoilers.

If that's not enough to keep you busy for a while, check out our previous posts on Niche Blogs.

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CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty Images
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Animals
India Now Has a Private Ambulance Service Just for Cows
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CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty Images

In India, where the majority of residents are Hindu, the cow is sacred. Just how sacred? So sacred that one state recently launched a private ambulance service for injured cattle.

According to The Guardian, the ambulance service in Uttar Pradesh was launched by Keshav Prasad, the state’s deputy chief minister. While it has the support of the government, it’s not a state-funded enterprise. It’s paid for by an NGO called the Gau Vansh Raksha trust, which operates several gaushalas, or animal shelters specifically aimed at housing old and unwanted cows to protect them from slaughter. (The Indian government also runs its own gaushalas, paying for the cows’ upkeep through state funds.)

The trust launched five ambulances in May 2017, and received hundreds of calls within the first week of operation. The ambulances are equipped with sirens and basic surgery supplies and are run by volunteers.

Though India has a secular government, more than a dozen Indian states have banned the slaughter of cattle out of deference to the Hindu majority. The laws are controversial for the country's beef-eating Christian and Muslim populations (who also make up the bulk of the country's large cattle-export industry), however. The same month the service launched, the Indian government instituted a full ban on selling cows for slaughter. The ban is currently on hold while India’s Supreme Court rules on whether or not it is constitutional.

[h/t The Guardian]

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Hieronymus Bosch / Hieronymus Bosch Work Memes
6 Niche Blogs You Should Read
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Hieronymus Bosch / Hieronymus Bosch Work Memes

We know you have a few blogs you go to every day for general information, news, and entertainment, and we’re glad that mental_floss is one of them. But every once in a while, you want to branch out to something new and different, something really crazy and good for a laugh. These single-subject blogs with a very narrow focus just might be what you’re looking for.

1. DEPRESSING FRIDGE POEMS

Rusty Epstein has a set of refrigerator word magnets, and he’s not afraid to use them. His word combinations are not the cheery, uplifting phrases your mom puts up for everyone to see; they are Depressing Fridge Poems. They are so sad, they will most likely make you laugh, at least a little. Then you’ll feel bad about laughing.

2. THE SETUP WIZARD

Here’s a blog that tech workers and Harry Potter fans alike will enjoy. The Setup Wizard puts those workers in the world of Harry Potter by giving us a first-person account of a Muggle IT guy named Jonathan Dart who works at Hogwarts. "It took them until 2016," he writes, "but both students and staff alike have finally caved and demanded that their cell phones work on school grounds, and with that request they had to find a 'muggle' (a term I’m quickly learning to detest) to install wifi and maintain any technology that functions on school grounds." He rolls his eyes at the students and professors who think a little magic will make everything all right, when the magic actually tends to make things worse. You can read the saga so far in chronological order, and then keep up with new entries in blog order.

3. EATS LIKE A DUCK

There’s been a lot of food featured on The Simpsons in its more than two decades on the air. Eats Like a Duck features those foods one at a time, with references to the episode a particular food appeared in and recipes that will allow a reader to make it. For example, in the episode “Homerpalooza” (season 7), Homer tries to sneak homemade Kahlua into a concert. (It's not the best idea—as the blogger behind Eats Like a Duck notes, "The stifling heat of an outdoor concert just doesn’t really pair well with the sweet coffee flavor of Kahlua, homemade or store bought.") Other recipes on the site include Bart’s Grilled Twizzlers, A Cool Glass of Turnip Juice, Blandoori, Clove Tom Collins Pie, and, of course, The Flaming Homer.

4. BOWIEBRANCHIA

Nudibranchs are ocean mollusks that come in a huge variety of shapes and colors. David Bowie was a music and art icon who, over the course of his career, flaunted a lot of colorful and creative looks. The Tumblr blog Bowiebranchia matches Bowie’s looks with a nudibranch.

5. HIERONYMUS BOSCH WORK MEMES

Do you ever feel that being at work is like one of the gory, torturous details in a Hieronymus Bosch painting? You know, like The Garden of Earthly Delights? The blog Hieronymus Bosch Work Memes knows that feeling, and will come up with an image macro that puts those feelings into words. (Note: Some images may be NSFW.) You’ll find an archive of older posts at the blog’s previous address.

6. HRH MARVIN, #THEROYALHAMSTER

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, along with their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte, have a hamster named Marvin. That inspired Christine Frazier to imagine Marvin leading the wonderful life of a royal hamster. She posts her illustrations at her new blog called HRH Marvin, #TheRoyalHamster. It contains pictures of the royal family in the news, and then Frazier's drawings of Marvin living out that image with a little narration, often wearing the same fashions as in the news image. Above, you see Marvin playing polo in the style of the Princes William and Harry, although you will more often see him in Kate Middleton’s newsworthy fashions.

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