Keeping track of the Top 10

There seem to be people who will make lists when left to themselves and there are people who are not natural list makers.

I fall into the latter camp, unfortunately, and sometimes come unstuck due to the fact that things that are supposed to be done are not done or done in the wrong order, which is sometimes worse. I did make a resolution to improve myself but have so far not managed to locate exactly the right kind of diary.

The list keepers write detailed lists of everything and never arrive at the supermarket without a clue about what they went to get. They never have to buy toilet paper as a precaution in case they’ve run out and have to resort to newsprint or pages out of the telephone directory.

They even write lists for fun and, although I didn’t quite believe Harry when he told me, they can be amusing and informative for the rest of us. One that he recommended to me was List Universe at www.listverse.com, which has top-ten lists on just about any subject.

Want to know who the top ten people to die under the age of 25 were? List Universe can help. The site is the brainchild of Jamie Frater and you should be warned that it is seriously addictive and will likely steal more time out of your day than load-shedding.

Top 10 Famous Deaths Caused by Animals is a list which was recently added to the site and includes the fact that that King Alexander I of Greece died after being bitten by a monkey which attacked his dog while they were walking in the park. The list of the Top 10 Common Misconceptions reveals that, contrary to popular belief, a duck’s quack actually does echo.

Quite a number of the lists include video clips which you’ll need broadband to appreciate. One great list is of television news goofs and includes a clip of a presenter introducing someone with a unique quality who had been up Mount Everest; “…but he’s gay…excuse me, he’s blind.”.

Another very interesting site based on lists is Jonathan Harris’ www.tenbyten.org which samples international news sites on an hourly basis and displays a 10×10 grid of pictures corresponding to the 100 most frequently occurring words that hour in the news.

You can click on any of the pictures to see what word they represent and what story or stories they were contained in. There are links back to the original publications which carried the stories and you can read them if you want to.

I reckon 10×10 is a really clever little site for getting a feel about what is currently in the news and what was in the news at any point going back to November 2004. I would have liked a search feature to find stories containing a particular word, but that’s a small quibble.

Another of Jonathan’s sites is www.wordcount.org which contains a list of the 86800 most commonly used words in the English language, ranked in order of how commonly they are used. You only get one point if you guessed that the commonest word is ‘the’ but you get the grand prize if you knew that the 86799th most commonly used word would be ‘recrossed’ and that the 86800th would be ‘conquistador’.

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