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Saturday, May 23, 2020

An Unnecessary, Irrelevant, Redundant Ailment

Lifelong list makers: How would you compare the number of lists you currently start to the number you routinely started pre-Wikipedia? How many of your long-held lists have you discarded since Wikipedia rendered our obsessive need to maintain those lists unnecessary?

During a recent game in the Trivial Pursuit-athon my wife and I initiated after this health crisis began, I was reminded again how irrelevant my lists have become. But such is my ailment that soon after asking folks in that game which film depiction of a fictional US president was their favorite, my first thought was "Do I have a list of those films somewhere?" Honest. For the record, my favorite fictional president is Morgan Freeman in the cheesy Deep Impact. Henry Fonda is in second place in a better movie - Fail Safe - closely followed by Gene Hackman in Absolute Power, another good film. Which three fictional film presidents make up your holy trinity?

Turns out I had no list like this anywhere. Unfortunately, that sent my addled brain into overdrive soon after the ZOOM TP game ended. I began parsing other distinctions regarding movies and US presidents. Which is my favorite film depiction of an actual US president? (Which one is yours?) Which actors - other than Henry Fonda - have played both fictional and actual presidents? How many actors - other than Gene Hackman - have played a fictional president in more than one film? How many of our presidents have been depicted in movies to date? Which of our little recalled presidents has been depicted? When I got stuck on that last question - with no list of my own to consult - I was grateful Wikipedia had it covered; a few keystrokes and then...relief.


Pre-Wikipedia, this kind of ephemera would have driven this list making movie geek to distraction, devouring precious hours. Got to love a tool that frees up enough time for me to make a list of all my discarded lists that the same tool has now made redundant. 


  1. I'd like some clarity on "lifelong list makers." "List makers" should not be a general category of people. Although I would have described myself as a list maker prior to this blog, there exists no list of mine that can be discarded with the advent of Wikipedia. Can Wikipedia complete a task or accomplish a goal? Lists are not lists that cannot be crossed off.

    1. JM; So the lists you're talking about (to do's, groceries, etc.) are what I'd call utilitarian and can't - as you said - be discarded because of Wikipedia, obviously. And this "lifelong list maker" has lots of those all the time and gets immense (perverse?) satisfaction scratching stuff off of them. But ... for a list-making geek like me, those are just the tip of the iceberg list-wise. And that's where Wikipedia has helped lighten my "lifelong" burden. This is definitely the subject of a near-future conversation my dear JM.