Initiation rituals are sacred for a good reason. And year-end lists in the era of social media explain that better than most. People who have read less than ten books in the year feel compelled to come out with top 10 lists.
1996 is not even that far away. If John Edwards had died in 2009, one can be reasonably sure Amit Varma would have written an year end tribute. If Joe Liberman had, not so much. But Jack Kemp did and we did not hear at all from Amits. And Jack Kemp was not an obscure one-term senator from North Carolina who plagiarized random European communists to deliver one speech. He instead ran against a person who’d plagiarized better in 1988 and won the bid in 2008. Before that, he’d been a member of the House of Representatives for nearly two decades and a football star at the AFL (Okay, the NFL had him as a third string quaterback and dumped him. And he ended up lucky as bored millionaires decided to challenge the NFL just then). The point is, he had way more accomplishments than John Edwards or Sarah Palin. Kemp was also an anti-tax fiscal conservative who randomly spouted supply side economics he did not understand, the kind Amits claim to love anyway.
Web 2.0 makes initiation into most aspects ridiculously simple and my fear is, that takes the charm away for those who can actually charm. Eventually.