From PSY to Kate Middleton: Lessons we should have learned in 2012

December 26, 2012 

If it’s true that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it then we have some serious cramming to do.

A lot of stuff happened this year.

Some of it was good — for example, we all survived the end of the world. Nice try, Mayans.

Some of it was not so good. Was anyone really clamoring for that No Doubt reunion?

But a new year presents new challenges and will no doubt supply a fair share of its own teachable moments that will only be overcome with the experience gained from our prior mishaps.

With our collective societal growth in mind, I thought it necessary to take a look at some of 2012’s biggest moments and examine the takeaways and lessons learned from each of those events:

• PSY performs “Gangnam Style” on “Today.” What we learned: David Gregory should be legally prohibited from dancing on television as long as he is host of “Meet the Press.” Tim Russert never did The Cabbage Patch on live TV. And that guy could move.

• The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency finally catches up with cyclist Lance Armstrong. What we learned: Water is wet. The sky is blue. Come on, folks. Cycling is the dirtiest sport on Earth and we were expected to believe he ascended to the top of that sport without a little help?

• Some more American gymnasts won some more gold medals. What we learned: Their names. For now.

• Facebook goes public. What we learned: That a company — offering a free product — constantly being accused by government and Internet watchdog groups of violating its users’ privacy might not be the best investment.

• Voters re-elected President Barack Obama. What we learned: That we are friends with some annoying and mostly ignorant people on Facebook. By Nov. 6, we didn’t care who was elected president as long as our Facebook news feeds would cease being filled, seemingly by the hour, with half-informed political commentary.

• Apple releases the iPhone 5. What we learned: That any time the advertising campaign for a highly anticipated new product focuses on the ability to take panoramic photos and the shape of the earbuds, you should brace for disappointment.

• An amateur artist in her 80s ruins a 19th century Spanish fresco of Jesus Christ. Then demands royalties. What we learned: We have some very funny comedy writers working in this country. Segments on “Saturday Night Live” and “The Colbert Report” report on this story made me laugh as hard as anything else this year.

• Prince William and Kate Middleton are pregnant. Well, Kate mostly. What we learned: A lot of people were elated to learn that these two people they don’t know were having unprotected sex.

This past year was also a particularly strong one for music.

This year’s playlist is a super-sized mixtape of the year’s 10 best songs.

I’m particularly proud of myself for managing to avoid any mention of Honey Boo-Boo in this column. That counts, doesn’t it? Ugh.

10. The Vaccines, “Teenage Icon” — The Vaccines have yet to make a record that I don’t totally love.

9. The Lumineers, “Stubborn Love” — Their massive hit, “Ho Hey,” may have gotten more run but this is probably the Denver folk trio’s best song.

8. Bruno Mars, “Locked Out of Heaven” — Yes, Bruno Mars looks like a wax figure of himself but if he continues making music like this, we can handle being slightly creeped out by his appearance.

7. Dr. Dog, “Lonesome” — Toby Leaman sings from the bottom of his soul on this track and provides a great vocal on a track that went unheard by too many people this year.

6. The Gaslight Anthem, “Here Comes My Man” — The Gaslight Anthem is maturing into one of the great American rock bands right in front of our very eyes.

5. Taylor Swift, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” — Yes, really. There is nothing not to like about this song. A little stompy and rebellious with a chorus that you can’t help but sing along to. Don’t fight it.

4. fun., “All Alright” — fun.’s “Some Nights” is the best album of 2012 and is full of really incredible, heartfelt pop songs, this most especially.

3. Grizzly Bear, “Yet Again” — We waited three years for a new Grizzly Bear album, and it was totally worth it.

2. The Shins, “Simple Song” — I’ve listened to this song hundreds of times and I’ve never not sung along like it was the first time I heard it.

1. Japandroids, “The House that Heaven Built” — Not an original choice but the best choice. A terrific rock ’n’ roll song.

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