Over the last few years, people seem to have developed a vague disdain for lists, and their cousins, listicles (which are different … somehow).

I like lists. I obsessively maintain daily to-do lists, Amazon wish lists, shopping lists, and on and on.

As an editor, I find lists can be an effective and orderly way to present content. As a reader, I think they’re fun to make my way through.

The end of the year is always a time for introspection, which often means lists.

I’ve been poring through various outlets’ lists of the best books of the year — NPR’s is always amazing — and cursing the outlets that nonsensically include books from any year, as if it was news that “Pride and Prejudice” is a good read.

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MTV has a great package of stories from the year in music and pop culture. There are countless others.

Soon we, too, will be in list mode. Our Voice of the Year list will be out this week. (Reminder: It’s not an honor or an award. It’s not.) And between now and the New Year, we’ll have several lookbacks at our favorite stories, photos and podcasts of the year. Next Sunday, I’ll even bring it all home and hit you with a What We Learned This Year.

Lists are good. Embrace em. This guy does.

Image via Shutterstock
Image via Shutterstock

What VOSD Learned

I guess nobody told the news that it’s supposed to slow down close to Christmas

Ensuring our waterways are clean is hard. One way a regional water board is acknowledging that is by proposing that instead of cleaning up pollution in Chollas Creek, which flows through the heart of San Diego, we should simply change the definition of pollution. It’d save local cities tons of money in cleanup costs, but it wouldn’t make the creek clean.

They hit pause on that plan after Ry Rivard’s story this week, and are now also considering hitting businesses with new pollution testing requirements.


San Diego Unified has an ambitious long-term goal: to have a quality school in every neighborhood. One neighborhood where the challenge is greatest is southeastern San Diego. Lincoln High School in particular has been roiled with problems and an endless loop of efforts to remake the campus. There are schools in the neighborhood that do attract lots of families, though – they just happen to be charters. In his latest look at what’s going wrong and right in the neighborhood, Mario Koran finds that many families are drawn to The O’Farrell Charter School because of its stringent discipline policies.

The district as a whole stared down some sobering numbers this week – it’s got a $116.6 million budget hole. Though it doled out raises that take effect this year, the district is now facing “strategic layoffs.” Soaring pension costs haven’t helped. The school board will get more specific about the cuts it plans to make early next year – and San Diego Unified’s CFO has warned the district is “on thin ice” financially.


The Sheriff’s Department declined to get any input from the public or from the County Board of Supervisors before launching a drone program.

The reasoning is pretty hilarious: The department told our contributor that a few news stories ran earlier this year saying it was thinking about a drone program, and since there was no huge uproar about those stories, it figured it could bypass seeking any public input. Government by comment section!


The federal government is finally making moves to change the formula it uses to dole out funding to fight homelessness – the antiquated system severely handicaps San Diego. But three cities that like the system the way it is are trying to block any changes.

Other efforts to tackle homelessness in San Diego area also hitting roadblocks. Almost a year after Mayor Kevin Faulconer, pledged to house 1,000 veterans by March 2017, just 439 have moved into apartments or homes.

New numbers show that an astounding half of San Diego’s homeless population are people who are newly homeless.


The City Council’s letter to the Chargers this week wasn’t anything new, but the Council’s willingness to put the team on its heels was.

What I’m Reading

• Two excellent looooooooooooooong reads dominated the week: The New York Times published an exhaustive account of how Russia hacked into U.S. systems in order to aid the election of Donald Trump. And Ta-Nehisi Coates reflects on eight years under a black president – and what came next.

Bonus: The mother of one of my favorite pop culture writers wrote her own essay about reading Ta-Nehisi Coates from the heart of white America. (New York Times, The Atlantic, Medium)

• It’s no big surprise Kanye West met with Donald Trump this week. They’ve been sharing the same playbook for years. (The Ringer)

• The cancellation of Amazon’s excellent series “Good Girls Revolt” is yet another example of what happens when no women decision-makers are in the room. (The Atlantic)

• Jenée Desmond-Harris runs down a growing list of incidents “in which explicit racism appears to be getting a pass, a platform, or even a reward.” (Vox)

• A fantastic meditation on Britney Spears and the changing nature of fame. (MTV News)

Line of the Week

“What is the precise moment, in the life of a country, when tyranny takes hold? It rarely happens in an instant; it arrives like twilight, and, at first, the eyes adjust.” – From a piece on the rise of China’s Xu Hongci and the lessons it presents.

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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