Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Return of the p3 year-end metalist

The p3 metalist is back!

It's a somewhat trickier process than in years past, simply because the internet has been flooded with that scourge of social media content, the listicle – many of them "insane," most of them containing things "you won't believe" (why read it, I wonder?), and not a few of them slathered with adolescent contrarianism (e.g., over at right this minute they're touting "5 Reasons Space Travel Is Going To Suck").

The p3 metalist elements – some traditional war horses, some one-of-a-kind – were chosen according to the criterion that each item should be useful, or if not useful then obviously an investment of time and trouble that is, of itself, still worthy of some kind of respect. Similarly, they should be authoritative, not arbitrarily glued together as clickbait by someone too lazy to really get a handle on a topic and write it up in an interesting way. For example, you may not find the first item –

1. Playboy ranks every episode of every Star Trek TV series – original, TNG, DS9, Voyager, Enterprise, and the animated series – from worst to best.

– terribly useful, but you have to respect the author's willingness to take on the big tasks, in this case the individual rating of over six hundred episodes. So without further ado:

2. Project Censored's top 25 censored stories of 2014. Project Censored, the little engine that could, got its start 38 years ago down at Sonoma State University.

3. The Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse 2014 list of formally challenged books in Oregon libraries. There are eleven items on the list, along with the reason for the challenge and the final disposition of the challenge. And it's always a delight to be reminded that the OIFC is maintained by the state of Oregon.

4. The Onion's AV Club lists the 20 worst films of 2014. A disturbing appearance on the list by Simon Pegg, as well as two (!) appearances each by John Cusack and Liam Neeson. Gentlemen, either listen to your agents or fire them.

5. The Rolling Stone's 40 most groundbreaking albums of all time. This one almost got bumped off the list for describing a Kanye West album as both "auto-tune heavy" and "emotionally naked" in the first entry. One or the other, please. But then it settles in a little more. Music lists tend to be a little like rating MAD Magazine – sometimes it doesn't amount to much more than noting that it was funniest in the days when you were reading it regularly. This one rises above that, I think.

6. Bill Moyers' list of underreported stories from 2014. These were chosen by "editors, journalists and friends of," as opposed to the academics – faculty and students – who assembled the Project Censored list, so the differences are interesting. And there are a number of them.

7. Ten classic German expressionist movies now available for free, via Because this is my metalist.

8. ThinkProgress' list of nine "travesties of justice that would be unbelievable if they weren't true." That clickbait title almost caused this item to get tossed off the list, but the content is worth going over, if only to see all of these American horror stories collected in one place.

9. Oregon AG Ellen Rosenblum's list of the 20 worst charities, based on the percentage of donations that go to administrative and fundraising costs, rather than going to the actual cause they claim to support. (Have we mentioned Portland's own Mercy Corps lately?)

10. iMediaEthics' list of the five most controversial cartoons of 2014. Somehow they missed this series of terrible decisions surrounding a piece by the Indy Star's Gary Varvel.

11. And finally, from Slate's Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern comes the 10 worst civil liberties violations of 2014. This was a tough year to be part of the Bill of Rights, unless you were the Second or Tenth Amendment, in which case you probably thought it was a pretty nice ride. But if you had anything to do with not establishing state religion, preventing unreasonable search and seizure, or guaranteeing due process, or contained the phrase "cruel and unusual," then not so much.

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