Saturday, January 1, 2011

mikey's Obligatory Best of 2010 List


Book of the Year:

Matterhorn.  Seriously.  I promise you that once you read the first chapter, you will not only NEVER forget it, but will think about it multiple times daily for the rest of your life.  You won’t learn any huge lessons from it, but you’ll be amazed and appalled that as recently as the 1960s American troops fought in conditions like that.

Person of the Year:

Michelle Bachman.  Cautionary tale or harbinger of our inevitable collapse and dystopian future?  That’s actually dependent upon us, but she represents the path we on which we are now embarked.  This is where the unholy symbiosis of politics and media is leading us.  It’s a dark place, where the truth cannot be identified and the most powerful motivators have been identified as fear and hate.

Operating System of the Year:

Ubuntu 10.04.  The latest Long Term Stable release, it is truly the future of the OS.  Useful, friendly, easy to install and use, broadly compatible, relentlessly modern and free, this is the quintessential example of what can be done when people create for reasons other than personal gain.

Gadget of the Year:

Pogo Plug Pro.  The final piece of the puzzle that truly frees you from the tyranny of local storage.  Now, finally, the vision is complete - all you need is a browser.  Any browser, anywhere, on any computer, running any operating system.  Now, at long last, there is infrastructure on which to build the future.

Technology of the Year:

iPad.  Oh, I wanted to hate it.  There is much in the corporate philosophy and commercial framework behind it to loathe, and it’s way too expensive.  But make no mistake - iPad is a breakthrough device, demonstrating to all the other would-be tablet makers what is possible, and setting the bar for performance, usability and quality at an insanely high level.  This is the next form factor, it’s going to be ubiquitous for generations, just as the clamshell notebook has been ubiquitous, and thanks to Apple we can expect to make far fewer compromises in the transition.

Where the Buzz got Real:

The Cloud.  Sure, when even Microsoft uses the term to sell computers to suburbia it’s lost any and all meaning, but the combination of ubiquitous broadband to all device formats, web applications running as a remote service and cloud storage big enough and fast enough to useful changes everything about the way we live.  With applications available on-demand and all our data available and sharable all the time, concepts as fundamental as publishing, marketing and distribution begin to lose not just significance, but value.  

Gun of the Year:

Smith & Wesson Model 325 Thunder Ranch Revolver.  A 4” lightweight 6-shot revolver chambered in .45 ACP.  Yes, I am a very strong .357 partisan but I’ve gotten to the point where my autos are exclusively .45 (ok, with a couple exceptions), so having the option of a standardized round required either a .45 revolver or a .357 auto (thanks but no thanks, MR).  Out of the box the factory grips and sights were excellent.  The DA trigger is a little heavy, but light and crisp on SA.  With 185 gr. hollow points or 230 gr. ball the gun is more accurate than I can shoot it.  Altogether a very-close-to-perfect combination of power, accuracy and reliability in a lightweight package.

TV Show of the Year:

Justified.  Great characters, terrific sense of place, brilliantly written under the auspices of Elmore Leonard, this story of a US Marshall with a tendency to resort to gunplay sent back home to Eastern Kentucky is intense, quirky and engrossing.  Timothy Olyphant is perfect as Raylan Givens, and he is surrounded by a cast that is simultaneously an indictment of and a love letter to the modern rural deep south.  Even the theme song is notable for it’s genre, a blend of Gangsta Rap and Bluegrass called, predictably enough, Gangstagrass.

Sporting Event of the Year:

The Giants won the world series.  Honestly, even now can you say that without shaking your head and checking on the Internet to make sure you didn’t dream it?  Beyond the fact that it was the Giants, and it was more than half a century in the making, it was an enjoyably unlikely story of castoffs and ne’er do wells coming together to punch well above their weight, led by a tiny longhaired splinter with a ton of heart.

Movie of the Year:

I’m really not qualified to make this call, as I watch so few movies.  But for me, at least, I’m going to go with “The Town”.  On it’s face, this Ben Affleck vehicle is a cops and robbers story, but it had a very nice underlying message about love and redemption, and was a very nice juxtaposition of the costs of staying and the costs of walking away.