My Favorite Online Reading of 2012

I love lists. I love to make weekly lists of what we’ll have for dinner, and then build a grocery list from it. I make a weekly to do list and daily to do lists. So it should be no surprise that the end of every year makes me giddy with all this list-making. Top 10 albums! Most Moving Photos of 2012! Biggest Social Media Fails! Eh, well, they can’t all be winners.

All year I’ve been using SpringPad to dog-ear great things I read online. Some of these things are funny, some are incredibly sad, and some are just really good pieces of writing. Grab a corner of the couch (this is a long one) and enjoy:

photo from readwrite

Let’s All Shed Tears For The Crappy Startups That Can’t Raise Any More Money
by Dan Lyons

photo from ReadWrite

Of course I’m biased about startups. I work at one. My husband founded one. And I’m a huge fan of building a solution to a currently solution-less problem, instead of whining about it or waiting for someone else to fix it. So when Dan Lyons dreams of a world where, instead of following get-rich-quick ideas young people instead try to figure out how they can solve real world problems, maybe as entrepreneurs but probably not, I want to stand and cheer.

Love this:

In my dreams I imagine them leaving the Valley and going off to accomplish something meaningful. Using those brains to do medical research, develop new drugs or eradicate poverty. I imagine them teaching in public schools, providing health care to poor kids. Joining Tesla or SpaceX. Pushing AI a few steps forward. Solving big problems, the kind that can’t get solved in three days on a StartupBus.
They might not get rich, but at least they’d be doing something useful.

Muppets Animal

Chaos Theory: A Unified Theory of Muppet Types
By Dahlia Lithwick

photo from Muppet Wiki

Hat tip to my friend Matt on this one, as usual. Matt is not the sort of friend to clog your stream or inbox with the same crap everyone else is talking about, so when he shares something he likes or has thought of, you know it’s going to be good.

I’m an Order Muppet, no question. But I like to think I’m an Order Muppet 90% of the time so I can be a Chaos Muppet 10% of the time without setting my house on fire or letting my budget get away from me or forgetting to feed my child.

Love this:

My 7-year-old told me last night that he is most definitely a Chaos Muppet. He’s not. To tell the truth he and I are both Faux Chaos Muppets—Chaos on the outside, but with hard, rigid, inflexible caramel centers. Like Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, we sow chaos throughout the land. But like the good doctor, we do so in an effort to better organize the world.

patrice oneal

The Comedian Comedians Were Afraid Of
by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc

photo from New York Magazine

I’m picky about my comedy. I’m not a huge fan of standup, but the comics I enjoy I quote often, and will always laugh at. (I won’t list them all here, but if you’ve never seen it do yourself a favor and go watch Paula Poundstone’s Cops, Cats, and Stuff. There is nothing in the world more true than her bit about Pop Tarts.) I’m not very familiar with Patrice O’Neal’s stand up, but this story published after his death about him and about his comedy intrigued me not just about O’Neal but about comedy as art.

Love this:

“He was an artful dodger who kept researching himself,” says Robinson. And he expected others to make the same effort. His fiancée, Vondecarlo Brown, said it wasn’t unusual for him to lay into a cashier at Marshalls about her bad attitude; Brown would return from her shopping 40 minutes later to find the duo strategizing about ways the cashier might pursue her dreams. Talking led to what Patrice called “the reveal”—­whatever tender or humiliating fact an honest conversation might unearth. Civilians didn’t always have the stomach for it, but comedians usually appreciated the insight. As comic Amy Schumer explained, “The only things he would say were things I didn’t see about myself.”

patton oswalt vote

Voter Apathy, Ice Cream, and Why I Could Not Be More Excited To Watch The Debates This Month
by Patton Oswalt

photo from

I love Patton Oswalt. He’s funny. His standup is funny. His characters are funny. He plays the voice of Remy the Rat in one of my favorite films of all time (fun trivia: did you know that Janeane Garofolo plays the voice of Colette, the hard-as-nails French chef and Linguini’s love interest? I KNOW.) His Twitter account is both hilarious and thoughtful. And this post on his blog is brilliant.

Love this:

What if…what would happen if Every. One.  Voted?

As far as I can see, that’s the one thing we haven’t tried yet.  Every single person who can votes actually goes out and votes.  For whoever they want.  Not even necessarily Romney or Obama.  Whatever Green or Libertarian or undeclared candidate they truly feel speaks to them.  What if every single person who can vote in this country went out and voted.  What effect would it have on our elected leaders, knowing that every single adult of voting age made their voice heard and is waiting and watching to see what happens now?  Would it change the way we’re governed – the fact that, for the first time in the nation’s history, our leaders have unshakeable proof that every single one of us is present and involved?  What would happen?  Wouldn’t it be cool to find out?  Just once?

Meeting A Troll…
by Leo Traynor

This is the first thing I’ve ever read from Leo Traynor. I followed it from a link on Twitter, and although I’ve read a few stories this year of people confronting their trolls, enemies, and hackers face to face this one frightened me the most. My favorite part is actually a spoiler, so I won’t post it here, but it’s really an incredible story and not a really long read, so click on through.


When the Queso Dripped Like Honey
by Sarah Hepola

I’m as surprised as you are that I don’t have more food writing on this list. I’ve never eaten queso, mostly because I didn’t grow up with Ro-Tel, but I know completely the pull of nostalgic foods and what bittersweet joy (and sometimes disappointment) it can bring to taste it as an adult.

Love this:

“I craved Little Debbie Snack cakes, all gooey, gummy chocolate, and marshmallow fluff scooped out of the jar with one eager finger. “Why can’t we have frozen dinners like normal people?” I would think when she made lentil soup, with its upchuck tint, or when she forced us to eat liver every Tuesday. My kingdom for a Pop-Tart, man.”

What have you read and loved in 2012? Share links in the comments!

By Jennifer Spencer

I'm a storyteller, food lover, book collector, and a Southerner at heart. I love connecting people.