49 and a half reasons to give thanks

If I'm conscious, I'm usually complaining about something. But because it's almost Thanksgiving I've decided to list some of the things I'm grateful for, in and slightly outside the world of tech.

1. Open source software. Because without Firefox, Thunderbird, Open Office, and all the rest, I'd be stuck using Microsoft products.

2. Bill Gates, for retiring from his day-to-day duties at Microsoft.

2.5. Bill Gates, for retiring from making commercials with Jerry Seinfeld.

3. Churros.

4. Apple fanboys. No group is more slavishly devoted, sycophantic, obsessed, or squeals louder when tweaked.

5. Steve Jobs, who despite the supersized ego makes this gig a lot more interesting than it otherwise would be. Somebody needs to clone him -- fast.

6. The Fake Steve Jobs, aka the Real Dan Lyons. For calling Yahoo's PR team “lying sacks of [excrement]” on his Newsweek blog after they assured him Jerry Yang was not headed out the door. Dan isn't blogging for Newsweek any more.

7. Yahoo. For surviving, barely.

8. Eliot Spitzer, for revealing the horrible plight of $3,000-an-hour hookers around the world.

9. That the “Steve Ballmer sex video” has never hit the Internet.

10. The 65,781,938 Americans who voted for change. Because we need all the change the world can spare.

11. The 57,678,355 Americans who voted for the other guy. Thanks for not sitting this one out.

12. Sarah Palin. Love her or hate her, she made the last three months a whole lot more interesting. Can you see Tina Fey doing a Romney impression? I don't think so.

13. Jon Stewart. For making the last eight years bearable. Good luck wringing some humor out of the new guy.

14. Red Bull. Because I've got eight deadlines a week and fewer brain cells each morning.

15. Iron Man. For restoring my faith in superhero movies.

16. Robert Downey Jr. For never going “full retard.”

17. The late great Heath Ledger. Best. Supervillain. Ever.

18. The late great Emru Townsend. Who taught everyone who knew him a lesson in courage. I miss you, man.

19. Google. Despite the insatiable ambition and the occasional face plant, they make a pretty mean search engine.

20. Microsoft. Because every story needs an evil yet incompetent villain.

21. Mad Men. For making alcoholism and lung cancer sexy again.

22. Pandora. For being the radio station that's been playing inside my head for the last 20 years.

23. Josh Marshall and Talking Points Memo. For proving that bloggers can also be damned fine reporters.

24. TiVo. For saving me from watching those $#%#$!! commercials.

25. Netflix. Because I hate Blockbuster and I'm too damned lazy to leave the house.

26. Hulu.com. For excerpting the best bits of Saturday Night Live this fall, keeping me from having to program my Tivo or wait for Netflix.

27. Whatever benign alien race that sent us Adriana Lima. Because no earthwoman could possibly be that hot.

28. Tina Fey. Not as hot as Adriana, but still hot – and much smarter and funnier.

29. Mark Zuckerberg. Yes, he's the obnoxious rich kid you always hated in school. But in 30 years he'll look back at his CEO youth and wish he'd spent more time skateboarding. I'm thankful for that.

30. The “Vista Capable” class action law suit. For the many gloriously juicy email nuggets it has unearthed.

31. Senator Ted Stevens. One last time: “The Internet is not a big truck, it's a series of tubes.” OK, he can retire in disgrace now.

32. All the YouTubers with too much time on their hands who took Stevens' infamous quote and mashed it up into a dance beat [video].

33. Paris Hilton. Normally I'd say something snide here, but those faux campaign commercials really turned me around. Even if she didn't write them, Hilton's ability to make fun of her own image is laudable.

34. The security wonks who shut down rogue ISP McColo, temporarily turning the spam deluge into a trickle.

35. The security wonks who intervened on behalf of Connecticut schoolteacher Julie Amero, keeping her from doing 40 years in the big house due to an undetected spyware infestation.

36. Twitter. For being both pointless and utterly addictive. Heck, even the terrorists like it.

37. Federal judge Dale A. Kimball. For (hopefully) putting the final nail in SCO's coffin by telling them to shut up and pay up in that endless Linux infringement suit against Novell.

38. Netbooks. Two-pound wonders with 9-inch screens, Web-based apps and connections up the wazoo – all for less than $400. Some even run Linux. Where have you been all my life?

39. The “cloud.” Though it's not really ready for prime time yet, I believe it will be when we all truly need it.

40. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), for trying to hold the White House accountable about those 5 million emails it “misplaced.”

41. Factcheck.org and PolitiFact's Truth-o-Meter, for keeping both presidential campaigns honest -- or at least accountable for their fabulations and fabrications.

42. A new administration that seems sincere in its desire to put technology issues on the front burner – along with the two dozen others already cooking there.

43. Attorney Ray Beckerman and the EFF, for fighting the good fight against rapacious record companies, despite occasional capitulation by state and federal governments.

44. “Anonymous.” For reminding us all what a whackjob Tom Cruise truly is; not so much for all the hacking, dDOSing, and harassing.

45. Tom Cruise. For being freakin' hilarious in Tropic Thunder, even if he is a total whackjob.

46. The Sonos wireless music system. For taking something that seems to flummox every other technology company and making it look easy.

47. Simon Pegg. The Shaun of the Dead star is Scotty in next summer's Star Trek movie. I can't wait for him to say “she canna go na faster cap'n, she's gonna blow.”

48. My loving family, for putting up with me (most of the time).

49. All you out there in blogland who take the time to read and comment, even if you don't like what I have to say. Have an extra slice of turkey on me.

What are you thankful for this year? Post your thoughts below or email me: dan (at) dantynan (dot) com.

One day a year Dan Tynan gives thanks, the rest of the time he tends his blogs, Culture Crash and Tynan on Tech.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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