A Look Back at 2011

An attempt to make sense of a year that made little

S&P downgrades the U.S. credit rating on the basis of false information—a $2 trillion error.
S.M. Krishna, India’s External Affairs Minister, gets three minutes into a speech at the United Nations before realizing he is reading a speech given earlier by his Portuguese counterpart, who had left it on the lectern.
Qantas Airways tweets: “What is your dream luxury inflight experience?”—while its fleet is grounded by a labor dispute. Among the least caustic, #qantasluxury replies: “getting a pilot, a plane, …baggage handlers”
Kenneth Cole’s Twitter feed, commenting on the upheaval in Egypt: “Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is available.”
An Arizona utility worker damages a transmission line. Southern California suffers its biggest blackout ever.
British Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Letwin photographed dumping parliamentary papers, including letters from constituents, in public bins in St James’s Park.
Rick Perry, on national television, stumps himself, actually says, “Oops.”
Rudy Ruettiger, the former Notre Dame alum who inspired the 1993 tearjerker Rudy, was accused by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission of defrauding investors in his eponymous sports drink, Rudy Nutrition.
Topman markets range of T-shirts comparing women to dogs and offering a list of excuses for domestic violence.
Netflix raises its prices, starts Qwikster, outrages its consumers, bungles the damage control, ends Qwikster.
Bank of America imposes a $5 monthly fee for its debit cards, then rescinds it amid protest.
Two drunk and disorderly Research In Motion executives on a Toronto-Beijing flight chew through their restraints and force the plane to land in Vancouver so they could be kicked off.
AT&T drops $39 billion bid for T-Mobile USA because of regulatory opposition, eats $4 billion pretax accounting charge in fourth quarter.
Christina Aguilera messes up the lyrics to the national anthem at the Super Bowl, remains unrepentant: “Shoot me for appreciating the moment.”
Top 10 2011 Google Searches
1. Rebecca Black
2. Google Plus
3. Ryan Dunn
4. Casey Anthony
5. Battlefield 3
6. iPhone 5
7. Adele
8. TEPCO, owners of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, was the first non-Latin term to make it to the global fastest-rising list.
9. Steve Jobs
10. iPad 2
Data: Google
“Tivo shot. FB hacked. Is my blender gonna attack me next? #TheToasterIsVeryLoyal”
—Anthony Weiner (@RepWeiner), denying that he tweeted lewd images of himself
“October 21, 2011, will be the final day of this earth’s existence.”
—The Reverend Harold Camping
The economic stimulus created “zero jobs.”
—An ad by the Republican Senatorial Committee.
The vaccine to prevent HPV has “very dangerous consequences” and puts “little children’s lives at risk.”
—Michele Bachmann, who also implied the vaccine causes mental retardation
“I feel like where we’re at right now is the best time in my life.”
—Kim Kardashian in Marie Claire, days before her divorce from Kris Humphries
“I think we’re seeing almost weekly or even daily scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.”
—Texas Governor Rick Perry
“All my people love me. They would die to protect me.”
—Muammar Qaddafi to ABC’s Christiane Amanpour
Two of America’s biggest sports leagues were paralyzed by labor disputes this year.
NFL lockout duration: 127 days
At stake: A 10-year deal between players and owners to share the league’s $9.3 billion in annual revenues.
Outcome: “The NFL Players Won the Lockout” —Business Insider
NBA lockout duration: 149 days
At stake: 10-year deal between players and owners to share the league’s $4 billion in annual revenue.
Outcome: “Owners Won the NBA Lockout” —Slate
Top 10 mergers and acquisitions of 2011
1. AT&T — T-Mobile Deal value: $39b (See blunders above)
2. Kinder Morgan — El Paso $37.5b
3. Express Scripts — Medco Health Solutions $34.3b
4. Duke Energy — Progress Energy $25.5b
5. Nippon Steel — Sumitomo Metal Industries $22.5b
6. Sanofi — Genzyme $19.6b
7. Johnson & Johnson — Synthes $19.6b
8. United Technologies — Goodrich $18b
9. Brasil Telecom — Tele Norte Leste $17.2b
10. ProLogis — Prologis $16.4b
Earthquake: Christchurch, New Zealand, Tohoku, Japan
Tsunami: Japan
Hurricane Irene: Caribbean to New England
Tornadoes: Joplin, Mo., Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Floods: Philippines, Australia, Thailand, Louisiana/Mississippi
Broken in 2011
Most saves by a big-league pitcher: Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees (September)
Most venture capital ever raised: Groupon (January)
Greatest Black Friday sales in history (November)
400 points
Movement for four straight days—most volatility ever in the Dow Jones Industrial average (August)
Lowest mortgage rate on record for 30-year U.S. loans (December)
2 hr, 3 min, 2 sec
Fastest marathon in history: Geoffrey Mutal of Kenya in Boston (April)
All-time intra-day high for the Russell 2000 Index (May)
Lowest all-time yield for 10-year U.S. Treasury bonds (September)
Per troy-ounce—highest gold price on record (September)
25,088 per second
Highest frequency of tweets on one topic: Castle in the Sky, a Japanese cartoon (December)
Notable 2011 Jail Sentences
Blagojevich, Rod: 14 years for corruption
Bonds, Barry: 30 days house arrest for felony obstruction of justice
Chirac, Jacques: Two years (suspended) for embezzlement and misusing of public funds
Lohan, Lindsay: 30 days for parole violation
Lohan, Michael: Two years probation for domestic violence and violation of domestic injunction
Rajaratnam, Raj: 11 years for insider trading
Rule, Ja: 28 months for tax evasion
Words you cannot text in Pakistan
Brook, Budweiser, G-Unit, Pocket Pool, Shawtypimp, Weenie, Idiot, Athlete’s Foot, DamnDeeper, Four Twenty, Fornicate, Looser, Go to Hell, Flatulence, Quickie, Headlights, Jesus
Top hashtags
#Egypt, #Tigerblood, #ThreeWordsToLiveBy, #IDontUnderstandWhy, #Japan, #ImProudToSay, #Superbowl, #Jan25
See also: Bin Laden, Osama; @ReallyVirtual; 50 Cent
Snow-related portmanteaus from around the Internet:
Antarctibama, Snowpocylgeddon Snownado, Snowzilla, Snowicane, Snowapalooza, Snowalicious, Snowtorius B.I.G., Snowpcalypse, Snowmageddon, Snowtastrophy, Snownado, Snowzilla, Snowapalooza, Snowalicious, Snowtastrophy, Snowbliteration SnOMGasm, SNOMFG, Universal Snowcare

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