Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Ten Top 2009 Top Ten Lists

Sweet December, the time when editors scramble to use up the last of their vacation days by the end of the year, when their temps and interns abandon forward-looking news and recycle the content from days past. In short, December is the time for lists of the best and worst of everything from the past year.

And so here I follow suit, offering my choices for (and links to) the best "Top Ten of 2009" lists out there on the Internet. Some of them are informative, some fun, some beautiful (and at least one that's all three). And in order not to be a total spoiler, I offer up the number two item for each list.

10. Top Ten Sports Moments from

I don't follow a lot of sports, so this type of highlights list is perfect for me. Why watch the whole forgettable game/match/round/inning when I can just skip to the cool parts and then go back to reading and writing? (The pix of bikini- and underwear-clad babes are a plus as well.)

  • Roger Federer regains his #1 position after defeating Andy Roddick in a marathon 4 hour, 16 minute final match encompassing 30 sets at Wimbledon.

9. Top Ten Google Doodles from InventorSpot

You never know what you'll find on the Google home page from day to day. Over the years, the "standard" Google logo has been artistically replaced with so-called "Google Doodles" to mark holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries of all sorts.

  • #2: On November 4, GoogleUK marked the 20th anniversary of Wallace & Grommit with this search page image.

Note: This is currently listed as #2, but when you get to the end of the list, you'll find a poll that lets you vote for your favorite. Vote now to move your favorite to the top spot!

8. Top Ten Books of 2009 from The Book Maven

Everyone and their brother has posted a list of the top ten books of the year, from book-biz mainstays like Amazon, Publisher's Weekly, and the New York Times to readers, writers, and influencers like Stephen King and Oprah. Although I haven't read any of the books on any of these lists yet, I prefer The Book Maven's list for her relaxed writing style and succinct yet informative summaries.

  • The Book Maven lists her books in no particular order, so there really isn't a "#2" to list here. From the descriptions, though, Zoe Heller's The Believers goes near the top of my to-read list.

7. Top Ten 2009 Cryptozoology Deaths

This is a strange one, yes, but it is interesting to see what insiders have to say about the frontiersmen of fringe science. This list includes people who searched for Bigfoot, people who spotted the Mothman, and even the recently deceased director of the X-Files episode in which the word cryptozoology was first uttered.

The deaths are listed in the order in which they occurred. The first, James Colvin, who died January 4, was the director of two expeditions in search of the Loch Ness Monster, funded by World Book Encyclopedia in the late '60s and early '70s.

6. Top Ten New Species of 2009, from the International Institute for Species Exploration

We so often hear about the effects of global climate change and the endangerment of various species around the world that we sometimes forget that scientists are discovering (or creating) new species all the time. I'll give you #2, but you've really got to see #1; it's just difficult to believe without seeing.

  • #2: Coffea charrieriana:
    A new caffeine-free coffee bean from Cameroon.

5. National Geographic's Top Ten Discoveries of 2009

This list is based on the popularity of the coverage and not on the decisions of Nat'l Geographic Researchers or any other scientific (or intern-packed) committee. The list is in large part taken up by large, dangerous, and downright weird animals that were discovered, rediscovered, and sometimes eaten.

  • #2: Fish With Transparent Head Seen Alive for First Time

4. Discover Magazine's Top Ten Astronomy Pictures

As new technology for studying the heavens is created and improved, the images we get of the outer reaches become clearer, more useful, and more beautiful. To quote the blog itself, "Colorful stars, wispy, ethereal nebulae, galactic vistas sprawling out across our telescopes . . . it's art no matter how you look at it."

  • #2: Images from Mars: This is an image of the sand dunes of Mars, swirled and swept by the mysterious winds the tickle the Red Planet's plains, taken from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

3. Top Ten Fails of 2009 from FAILBlog

From cryptic signs and stupid warnings to crotch-crunching skateboarders and Darwin Award nominees, FAILBlog offers up the stupidest, silliest, and most unbelievable idiocy in the world today. FAILBlog offers not one, but three lists of this year's top fails:

  • Top Ten Most Memorable FAIL Moments: #2. Bolivian newscasts air a scene from Lost as actual footage from the last moments of Flight 447.
  • Top Ten Most Memorable FAIL People: #2. Jon Gosselin.
  • Top 10 Most Memorable Videos and Photos on FAIL Blog: #2. A photo of a playground slide that ends in a small pit about a foot deep — suitable for an episode of Parks and Recreation.

2. THE FUTURIST Magazine's Top 10 Forecasts for 2010 and Beyond

From the site itself:

Each year since 1985, the editors of THE FUTURIST have selected the most thought-provoking ideas and forecasts appearing in the magazine to go into our annual Outlook report. Over the years, Outlook has spotlighted the emergence of such epochal developments as the Internet, virtual reality, and the end of the Cold War. Here are the top ten forecasts for 2010 and beyond.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

  • #2: In the design economy of the future, people will download and print their own products, including auto parts, jewelry, and even the kitchen sink. (Neal Stephenson fans may recognize a hint of The Diamond Age in this forecast.)

1. Buzzfeed's Top Ten Flash Mobs

There's something heartwarming about a large number of strangers coming together for a single purpose, even if it is only to dance in a public place. (I assume that these are actually listed in reverse order qualitatively, considering that the video in tenth place is listed as "The apex of flash mobs. This is what all flash mobs strive to be.")

  • #2 (er, 9): Sweden's Tribute to Michael Jackson

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Wish List 09

Holiday season rolls around again! Last year's wish list did so well, I figured I'd give it another go. So, here are a few gift ideas to consider:


  • Tori Amos, Midwinter Graces
  • Amanda Palmer, Who Killed Amanda Palmer?
  • Coldplay, Viva la Vida
  • Stevie Wonder, Talking Book
  • The Tiger Lillies with Kronos Quartet, The Gorey End
  • Counting Crows, August and Everything After [thanks to the kids!]
  • Anything from Red Hot Chili Peppers


Other Stuff

  • An application to turn PowerPoint presentations into videos
  • An end to debt
  • A microSD card for my phone — the bigger the better [thanks, dad]
  • The new Star Trek movie [didn't get it for Christmas; couldn't wait so I bought it myself]
  • Spiderman 3
  • A house
  • A 32GB iPod Touch
  • Something I can use as a medicine cabinet [thanks dad, er, indirectly]
  • Bath towels — navy blue or a dark olive
  • Spore Heroes for the Wii
  • Nine ladies dancing
  • Whole-bean coffee
  • A fun calendar or two
  • A comfy office chair
  • A nice dinner
  • Pretty much anything from the ThinkGeek catalogue

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

We're Too Fat! Please Send Money!

I honestly hope someone can come along and prove that this article in the Telegraph is a hoax. Here's the short of it:

A family of four in Blackburn (somewhere in the UK) has a combined weight of 83 stone. A stone is (somehow) 14 pounds, so in total they weigh 1,162 pounds. The members of this family receive government assistance because of numerous medical conditions — all related to being overweight — in the amount of £22,508 a year, approximately US$37,500. They claim that their income assistance checks are too small.

But here's the rub: They haven't worked in 11 years! They claim that their hereditary weight problems keep them from working regular jobs. They believe that the government should give them more money, and that they shouldn't have to find jobs. Says the father, "It's not our fault we can't work. We deserve more."

Where does this overblown sense of entitlement come from? I'll admit to having problems with my weight, but I would never, never, claim that someone else is responsible for my livelihood because of it. Someone please tell me this is a hoax, that there really aren't people in the world like this!

(Sadly, the next "job" this family is likely to find is a reality TV show. Will we soon see The Couch Potatoes on BBC? Superfatties on FOX? Little Minds, Big Asses on TLC?)