The best of times. The worst of times. The list of times.

This last collection of oddities from 2021 is awash with lists because, as one psychiatrist believes, lists satisfy four needs: catch-up, containment, crafting and creating ritual. That may be a little over-analytical, especially on this sleepy New Year’s Day when, for the second time, we’re locked down when we don’t want to be.

But what better way to pass the day than to dig deep into the first Omnium-Gatherum blog of the year?

1. In the first hours of this year, let’s not forget the first 6 months of last year. Here in pictures is how the first half of our last very odd year flashed before our eyes.

2. Top 10 new buildings of the year. If you live in Toronto, you’ll have noticed that entire cities have sprung up within the GTA, towers of power and glory and faith that, five years from now, may break-even.

Here are 10 buildings that opened with a splash, sadly none from Canada.

3. The best articles of 2021. I’ll stick with “a”, “an”, and “the.” But if you’re into long essays from Australia, here’s the best from Quillette. If you’re into weird stories closer to home, here’s The Guardian’s list of, well, Item #1 is this piece from The New York Times headlined: “When an Eel Climbs a Ramp to Eat Squid from a Clamp, that’s a Moray.”

Also, here’s one of the best “Best Books of the Year” lists from Ken Whyte, publisher at Sutherland House.

4. Go fast and make things. Including this 3-minute commercial for Go Pro. Makes me want to strap on the old snowshoes.

5. The whole world in your hand. Or rather, the entire $94 trillion world economy on your screen. America still produces the most stuff, $22.9 trillion, followed by China, $16.86 trillion. Canada ranks ninth in the world, at $2 trillion.

Oh, and the world’s richest person, Elon Musk, is worth $278 billion, though Morgan Stanley says he will become the world’s first trillionaire if his company, SpaceX, gets off the ground.

6. Sound important if you aren’t. Pretend you’re busy by using this bunch of app notification sounds. Click on all 10 and create a symphony of busyness.

7. 21 things that made the world a better place. Good things happen in bad times, too. Here’s Wired’s list of the most important, from software that’s revolutionizing the fight against child sexual abuse, to electric vehicles outselling diesel ones for the first time in Europe, to Donald Trump being banned on Twitter.

8. You have 15 minutes to save the world. Nuclear Biscuit is a simulated virtual reality wargame that lets US officials assess the devastating consequences of their choices in plotting a missile attack. It was created by researchers at Princeton and Hamburg.

9. Let’s not make this an annual thing, okay? Here’s a public service message produced by Toronto agency, Public Inc., to send a message to the past year. Notice it was posted on December 17, 2020 – not 2021.

10. Feel smart. Take this quiz. The Financial Times year-end quiz is the Nobel of year-end quizzes. See how you do.

Actually, it’s not. The hardest quiz on earth comes from King William’s College, a British high school on the Isle of Man. Its annual “general knowledge quiz has been frustrating and intriguing a select group of quiz connoisseurs since 1904.” And it’s been reprinted in The Guardian since 1951.

As Wikipedia notes: “It is well known to be highly difficult, a common score for the unseen test is just two correct answers from the list (180 questions in 2018).”

Here’s this year’s version. Easy-peasy, oui oui?

11. Finally, two great messages to start the new year. One about a family, the other about a man and his dog.

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