With the presence of the New Year occupying so much of the week it's time for a review of the Top Ten of 2008. To identify these in alphabetical order:
- August 22: everyone who had a part in this day, give yourselves a fresh round of applause without being unseemly about it.
- Cheddar II: Cheddiest. From out of nowhere, Connecticut, this new flavor, appearing in ouch-y sharp, dangerous in its pointedness, somewhat polyhedral, and mint, has taken over the world of cheese and opened up new avenues in being so much more than the inspirational cheddar that it's not hard to see why old-fashioned cheddar is expected within the next two years to go the way of the original, almost forgotten ched.
- once-in-shakespeare.com Where else but this scrappy new start-up can one get a convenient listing of all the words that appear in the canonical plays of William Shakespeare one time? Anyone can produce a list of all the words, just by shaking a collected edition on its side until the pieces fall out, but who's going to take out the duplicates and grow new authors with them?
- Raised Flooring. After years of drop-down ceilings being the cliche and overused answer to ways to make a room seem more claustrophobic we have this alternative. Unexpected bonuses have included having more things to count while bored and the improved sense of balance as people try to walk on those bar things from which the floor panels are hung. This will inspire grace in our walking if nothing will.
- Despite the obvious need the English language has no word for the feeling of uncertainty that accompanies thinking that one's socks are damp when there's no chance for taking one's shoes off to check or to change them. This single loss has saved millions of dollars and dozens of lines of newspaper type in just the past month.
- Flatware. There is nothing which soothes the desperate need to buy flatware quite like flatware, and we should all be glad the flatware industry exists to satisfy this need. Be warned: much so-called flatware these days is not in fact flat, but extends into a third or even a fourth spatial dimension. If you have no choice but to purchase this imitation flatware do speak to the steamroller operator with whom you're on good terms --- you are on good terms with at least one steamroller operator, aren't you? --- to arrange for the appropriate enflattening.
- Chipotle Automobiles. For the past five years chipotle has been slipping almost unnoticed into everything, starting with sandwiches, then cooking shows, then books, then consumer electronics, and now into the important industries of Navy ships and personal automobiles. We may not know where chipotle comes from or what it intends, but we can be sure that it's here and it's unavoidable, and that with the proper setup it can be used for good or at least to not be so frightening, and that earns it a place on this list.
- Adverbs. These sentence-stuffers had a great run and it's a shame that we'll be losing them as part of the Digital Conversion of February 2009. Still, anyone who's ever had to write to a specified word count has relied on their ability to be added to or removed from sentences and they will be missed, like when someone notices the `a' or `an' doesn't match with the next word anymore.
- People being buried with their cell phones. ``I'm sorry, you're breaking up --- I'm entering a long, dark tunnel with a bright light at the end.''
- Simple Thermometers. Despite fears no important features of the weather developed into the imaginary and then the complex number plane this year so that despite the shortages in Complex Thermometers none were needed, except for that stretch in fall where the temperature became one of the principal roots of a heptic polynomial. But for the most part we got along just fine with the old-fashioned thermometers and isn't that one of the ten things about the year just finished?
I think I may have mixed up the order.
Trivia: It was the enthusiastic review of Willy Ley, rocket enthusiast and early space historian, to editor John W Campbell that earned Isaac Asimov a bonus for writing the short story ``Nightfall''. Source: In Memory Yet Green: The Autobiography of Isaac Asimov, 1920 - 1954, Isaac Asimov.
Currently Reading: Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into The 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body, Neil Shubin.