One of the traits that separates humans from animals is our innate ability to reason, solving complex problems using a mix of logic and creativity. That, and our opposable thumbs.
Logic has helped us through some tough scrapes over the years. We solved the whole "Im cold and this meat tastes terrible" dilemma by rubbing two sticks together. We solved the "Im hungry and my feet are sore from all this damn foraging" quandary by domesticating animals and developing agriculture. We solved the "I cant remember how that story ends" conundrum by creating alphabets and writing things down.
But while logical minds were definitely an asset in our survival, logic also has an interesting side-effect a relentless compulsion to make lists.
Our love affair with lists probably started in Sumeria more than 4,000 years ago with the Ur-Nammu Law Code and blossomed from there. Now we have the Ten Commandments, the Seven Deadly Sins, the Bill of Rights, the Billboard Music Charts, Dave Lettermans Top Ten Lists lists for just about everything.
And at the end of every calendar year, we get slammed with year-in-review type lists of every description. Being a holiday season and quiet, the media cant run enough "Best of" or "Worst of" lists. A lot of it qualifies as filler, but for the reader its a trip back in time, and digs up a lot of subjects that might be worth a second look.
Many of the lists were bombarded with in the New Year relate to the entertainment industry in some way. As a music fan, I check out The Onion A.V. Club site every year at this time to check out two features: The Best Albums of 2002 and the Least Essential Albums of 2002.
Because of the alternative nature of this publication, the first list usually contains albums and artists youve never heard of, some of which are not too bad although the reviewers do come off as elitist, smug and pretentious.
The second list is good for a laugh, especially if you went out and bought any of the albums dubbed "Least Essential" last year.
The E! Network is tabloid trash, but theres no denying that it takes our obsession with celebrities to a new level whether its a new high or a new low depends on the viewer.
In its Replay 2002 E! Online has a Year In Review, and polls for Entertainer of the Year, Breakout Performer of the Year, Best Dressed, Best Undressed, and the top movies, CDs, news stories and celebrity stories of the year.
You may not be enlightened by the list, but youll have at least three opportunities to evaluate Christina Aguilera in yellow chaps and underwear.
After contributing to the E! lists, youll probably feel a little slower, so visit AlterNet.org and check out an article by AlterNet staffers titled 2002: The Good, The Bad, The Worst.
While the article focuses on the U.S., its a well-organized and thought-provoking look at the year gone by, and the issues that may affect all of us.
Every year Project Censored puts together a list of the top-25 censored news stories of the year. These are the stories that are either missed, not reported, downplayed, or only published in part because of the agendas of government and corporations.
At the top of the 2001 list is the story of the World Bank and various multinational corporations attempting to privatize and sell water.
Project Censored is still accepting submissions for the 2002 stories. The judges will narrow the list from more than 1,000 submission, beefing up the list with selected stories from a more than 700 alternative publications.
www.macleans.ca / http://www.canada.com/national/features/yearend2002/
MacLeans Magazine took an interesting approach to the year-end list. Rather than presenting lists based on box-office sales or the subjective opinions of various editors, they are running a 2002 wrap-up based on a series of polls on hot Canadian topics, such as the Kyoto Accord, Canada-U.S. relations, the war on terror, health care, the Liberal leadership, the decriminalization of marijuana, gay marriage, sex and attitudes towards Native Canadians.
While some of the polls are unique to this year, others can be compared to previous polls and show trends in the Canadian public.
Canada.com, a repository for the CanWest Global Communications media empire, goes a little further with the polls by analyzing the information. They have also put together a review of the Year In Pictures.
The editors of PC World have put together a list of the top 100 tech products, hardware and software in more than 20 categories. While the technology is moving fast, this list will still be relevant six months from now because the public at large tends to be a few years behind the technology anyway, buying when the prices for new technologies drop.
Other lists include the Top-15 Desktop PCs, the Top-10 Graphics Boards and an updated list of software bugs and fixes.
GameSpot is one of the top gaming sites on the Web and this is their list of the best and worst games of 2002.