1. Tina Fey
With her portrayals of Sarah Palin, Tina Fey almost single-handedly made SNL good again.
2. Joss Whedon
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. If you haven’t seen it, you owe it to yourself to do so, because it is simply so off-the-wall laugh-out-loud funny. And the music rocks, too.
Honorable mentions to Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day for this also.
3. Barack Obama
The exhilaration of Obama’s victory still hasn’t faded in all places. The Blagojevich affair, the continued economic crapness and the violence in Gaza have largely overshadowed it, but Obama allowed a great many people to believe in something better, inspired many people to get out and vote for the first time, and stopped the election from being a quasi-Hobsonian choice between Hillary Clinton and John McCain.
4. Harry Redknapp
As I mentioned in my “2009 won’t suck” post, the new Tottenham manager has been turning the team around and getting some good results under the collective belt. Here’s hoping we see more of the same.
5. Juande Ramos
The previous Tottenham manager. Although things turned sour later on, Ramos steered the team to a Cup win and thereby ensured our continued competitive presence at a continental level as well as national. But enough was enough.
6. Anne Mulcahy
While Xerox’s CEO didn’t have a direct hand in the decision to hire me, her continued support for my department is a big part of what made it possible. 2009 has brought layoffs, it’s true, but 2008 was still made better for me. And while the layoffs have stung all over the company, the aforementioned support was probably also a major factor in keeping the attrition down to the levels we ended up seeing.
7. Aaron Sorkin
I know The West Wing has long since finished its run. That said, it is still one of the greatest shows ever to air, and watching it on DVD for the third or fourth time through was still great. Especially knowing that certain of the West Wing characters were based on actual politicians who figured strongly in the 2008 campaign.
8. Nate Silver
A less well-known name, but one which made a few headlines in 2008 and which I believe will make more and more, Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com made a name for himself using statistical models and a huge amount of polling data to predict the results of the 2008 election, which he did with remarkable accuracy. His efforts inspired me to make my own predictions – using less advanced math, of course – which also went rather well.
9. Arianna Huffington
2008 was the year in which The Huffington Post shed at least some of its liberal bias and made an effort to become a very credible news source. While many of the articles, particularly the op/eds, continue to show a strong liberal slant, the more objective “HuffPo” overtook The Drudge Report as my news site of choice.