Sick of Main Street, Going Green and Year-End Roundups

2008 was the year we all got weary of a lot of things, from the lousy economy to preachiness about going green, from the rarely genuine pretense of "reaching across the aisle" to the constant reminders of the threat of escalating conflict here, there, everywhere.

Many of us would now like to look ahead to what we hope will be better times.

But first we must suffer the barrage of media reflections on the 2008 stock plunge or the mother of all overviews about everything newsworthy (or not) that we ought to remember but prefer to forget.

Then there are the niche Web sites' navel-gazing, such as our own Predictions that (Thankfully) Failed to the Top 5 Amazing Astronomy Discoveries.

There's the 19 Best Movies you didn't see in '08, and a list that renders itself moot: Top Ten Crappiest Movies. You can feast on the very strange: 8 inventors who met their maker in '08 (guys like Kurt Eberling, who invented SpaghettiO's.)

And for those with truly too much time on their hands, there's the ultimate in narrow, sycophantic roundups like Apple's 5 Biggest Moments in 2008.

Go ahead, read them, then let's move on (some lists already have: 9 Comics to Watch in 2009).

One way to put the past where it belongs is to agree on some overused terms, and to try hard to stop using them. Lake Superior State University's annual List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen's English is a great start. These are words and terms that the media repeated incessantly in 2008 but which Joe the Plumber (yes, ban that one, too!) uses only mockingly, often by raising fingers to put them in "air quotes."

On the list, selected from 5,000 nominations (feel free to add your own air quotes): going green and all its variants, maverick, staycation and, of course, Main Street. And this year, an emoticon has been suggested for the online lexicon trash heap: <3 ... it represents a heart.

Another worthy (unworthy?) term on the to-go list: "It's that time of year again." In honor of that entry, perhaps for 2009 the media could resolve to find real news during the last two weeks of the year, thus obviating the need for year-end roundups to fill print's news holes and generate online traffic. :)

Robert Roy Britt is the Editorial Director of Imaginova. In this column, The Water Cooler, he takes a daily look at what people are talking about in the world of science and beyond.