It's time to take a brief break from politics. For yes, it's that time of the year again, when untalented people with too much time on their hands start compiling lists of things that talented peopled did during the year that we liked. And so we have the year in photos. I've tried to cast the net as wide as possible this year, and get as diverse a range of topics as I could muster. Of course, you (meaning me) could always do more, but I have spent about 14 hours researching this now and am starting to resemble one of those fish that live far below the surface of the ocean, where no light penetrates. And besides, there's laundry to be done:
Death Valley in Winter
Photo: Steve Sieren
Found on one of those websites where amateur photographers with great skills and flash cameras show off their relentlessly amazing pics. Immediately below this quite beautiful image, in the 'Comments' section, was a text argument between the photographer and someone else about whether he'd used the right camera settings to capture the moon properly.
Fly to Eye
Photo: Bence Mate
A green pit viper and a hummingbird come face to face in this 'National Geographic' prizewinning photo.
Photo: Lucas Jackson
The unpronounceable volcano from Iceland derailed travel plans worldwide (and thinned the hair of countless airline executives) but produced some of the years most spectacular photos. This photo was taken at midnight and shows the Northern Lights hovering over the ash plume.
Photo: Daniel Rericha
Mountainside church at the village of La Valle, Italy.
Photo: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/J.DePasquale; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Optical: NASA/STScI
62 million light years from Earth and more than a 100 million years in duration, the Antennae Galaxies slowly collide, triggering the birth of millions of new stars. This is a composite image formed from three - count 'em! - different telescopes, each measuring a different type of light; x-ray, optical and infra red.
Photo: Jodi Bieber
'The Taliban pounded on the door just before midnight, demanding that Aisha, 18, be punished for running away from her husband's house. They dragged her to a mountain clearing near her village in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan, ignoring her protests that her in-laws had been abusive, that she had no choice but to escape. Shivering in the cold air and blinded by the flashlights trained on her by her husband's family, she faced her spouse and accuser. Her in-laws treated her like a slave, Aisha pleaded. They beat her. If she hadn't run away, she would have died. Her judge, a local Taliban commander, was unmoved. Later, he would tell Aisha's uncle that she had to be made an example of lest other girls in the village try to do the same thing. The commander gave his verdict, and men moved in to deliver the punishment. Aisha's brother-in-law held her down while her husband pulled out a knife. First he sliced off her ears. Then he started on her nose. Aisha passed out from the pain but awoke soon after, choking on her own blood. The men had left her on the mountainside to die.' - From 'Time' magazine, August 9 2010.
Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova, 17
On March 29 2010, Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova, boarded a train on the Moscow Metro system with explosives strapped to her body. She detonated them at Park Kultury station, as part of a double suicide bombing that killed 40 people, including both perpetrators. Her husband, pictured above, was a Caucasus rebel who had been killed earlier in the year by Russian Special Forces.
Jose Humberto Castro, 26
Photo: Eliana Aponte
It's November 3, 2010 and Honduran citizen Jose Humberto Castro has made his way to the Mexican-American border to hop a freight train that will take him illegally into the United States, much as tens of thousands of Central Americans do every year.
Photo: Ivan Alvarado
On March 1, 2010 an Earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated coastal areas of Chile. This survivor from the village of Constitucion (75% of which was destroyed) told the photographer, 'I lost my home, the sea took my son and my wife, and this is all that was left. I can’t leave the dog here. He was my son’s.'
Photo: Feisal Omar
A man walks through the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia (sometimes referred to as the world's most dangerous city) carrying a grey shark. Sharks once infested the waters off the East coast of Africa, but overfishing is dramatically reducing their population.
Photo: Brian Gaberman
Levi Brown cuts it up in one of 'Skateboarder' magazine's snaps of the year.
Photo: Fabrizio Bensch
Christian Petersen admires the facade of the bike shop he co-owns in Atlandsberg, north east of Berlin.
Photo: Larry Downing
Well, I was hardly going to let a list like this go through without at least one Barack Obama photo. The former last, best hope of mankind endured a tough year, with his inherited wars overseas dragging on chaotically, while domestically a poll of US voters showed that 90% of them thought he had raised taxes while he'd been in power... when in fact he'd cut them. Tough crowd or what? Even the weather seemed against him, as we see here as he addresses a Memorial Day crowd at Abraham Lincoln Cemetery in Elwood. The question is, tough it out and let your audience get wet? Or wait and try again later? Either way, 'Fox News' would have him on toast: 'President Obama disrespected his audience of veterans and children by keeping them out in the rain today...' or 'President Obama disrespected his audience of veterans and children today by postponing his speech due to a drop of rain...'
Photo: Rich Pedroncelli
Barack's shadowy, spiritual opposite, Sarah Palin, had something of a charmed year however, entrenching herself as a 'Fox News' talking head, setting cable ratings records with her show about killing things in Alaska and getting the first vestiges of a tilt at the Presidency in 2012 under way. Confidence sky high, she had no problem owning up to the fact that she writes cheat notes on her hands before giving speeches (as demonstrated here, after an address to the commencing class at California State university). You can almost sense this sort of thing resonating with her supporters: 'She's a nitwit... just like me!' Hell, it worked for Bush for 8 years.
Photo: Herald Sun newspaper
I've posted this one before, but who could resist another look? Mild mannered internet geek (and WikiLeaks founder) Julian Assange recast as a Bond villain, replete with sinister 'lair.'
I'm always impressed by Americans and their desire to get out and protest things. And I'm even more impressed by their desire to protest things with fruity signs. Most impressive of all is the foresight, insight and sheer determination being shown by the bloke on the right.
In similar vein to the previous photo is this group of people dressed as Angry Monks from the annual San Fransisco 'Bay to Breakers' fun run. In fact, smart people will forgo the rest of my effort here and have a look at the gallery for that event instead.
Photo: Google Earth
The onset of the eye-in-the-sky service that is Google Earth seems to unearth previously unseen oddness every year, whether it was that US Navy building shaped like a swastika, or the mysterious blood red lake in Baghdad. This year, and quite incredibly, a Star of David was noticed on the roof of the 'Iran Air' building in Tehran. It seems that the building had been constructed by Israeli engineers in the 70's, when the Western friendly Shah was still in charge. Make that, constructed by Israeli engineers with a sense of humour.
Photo: Finbarr O'Reilly
View through the window of an abandoned caretakers hut at the cemetery at the Khayelitsha township, just outside of Cape Town.
Photo: Valentin Flauraud
The annual 'Hot Air Balloon Week' at Chateau-d'Oex, Switzerland.
Photo: Anthony Suau
Discarded objects outside neighbouring homes in Orlando, Florida, both of which have been abandoned after mortgage foreclosure. At the peak of the Global Financial Crisis, an American home was foreclosed every 7 seconds.
The Man They Call Tiger
Photo: Mark Pain
At the Ryder Cup this tear, Tiger shanked this shot out of the rough and collected cameraman Mark Pain, breaking his camera a split second after this photo was taken (and apparently earning a filthy look from The Champ too). Perhaps even better than this photo, is the sudden global fame afforded to the spectator to the right of Tiger, who the net community would soon come to know as 'Cigar Turban Man' and who would spawn a few photo lists of his own.
JUR - RAH!
Photo: Ray Titus
Yes, I'm undoubtedly biased (being a Melbourne supporter) but I could never get tired of looking at Liam Jurrah, AKA 'LJ,' AKA 'The Walpiri Wizard' at his best. Actually, now I have to look at the video too...
Photo: Marco Grob
Conan O'Brien fufilled his long held dream of taking over 'The Tonight Show' from Jay Leno... and then lost it again when Leno's new prime time show bombed and he wanted his old chair back. Conan did some live shows, grew a beard and took the most famous hair in television to another network.
Photo: Martin Schoeller
You've seen the movie... and maybe the Oprah interview... and you sure as shit use the website. The immediate future has arrived, and it's so innocuous looking that it almost calls to mind that 'banality of evil' thing they used to describe Eichmann.
Mac and I
Photo: Christian Charisius
30 years of technology in two hands, as Hans Henrik Duessel takes his old Apple Macintosh along to the Apple shop on the day iPads are released in Hamburg.
LCD Sound System
Photo: Will Deitz
LCD Sound System at 'Terminal 5' in New York City.
Photo: Merlin Bronque
The world's most unavoidable hermaphrodite pop singer gets in touch with her fans, crowd surfing at Lollapalooza.
I learned my media chops from the nightly TV network news: always end on something cute.