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Ranking Presidential Surnames as First Names

One of my colleagues recently announced they’re expecting a baby. That got me thinking of historical names. So in the spirit of Deadspin’s “underexplained lists” — including their traditional penultimate selection — here’s a ranking of all Presidential surnames by their adaptability as first names.

  1. Madison
  2. Taylor
  3. Tyler
  4. Arthur
  5. Lincoln
  6. Jackson
  7. Wilson
  8. Grant
  9. Carter
  10. Pierce
  11. Harrison
  12. Truman
  13. Reagan
  14. Kennedy
  15. Garfield
  16. Jefferson
  17. Cleveland
  18. Clinton
  19. Roosevelt
  20. Washington
  21. Monroe
  22. McKinley
  23. Ford
  24. Hayes
  25. Adams
  26. Obama
  27. Buchanan
  28. Taft
  29. Coolidge
  30. Van Buren
  31. Nixon
  32. Hoover
  33. Bush
  34. Harding
  35. Polk
  36. Fillmore
  37. Johnson
  38. Eisenhower
  39. Naming your kid Adolf, who then gets hit by a car
  40. Trump



A List of Harry Potter Lists

Today is the 20th anniversary of the publication Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the UK. Though I didn’t start reading the series until the next year, the series has been a major part of my life ever since. As my high school friends joked, I’ve spent over $1,000 on the series including all the books, movies, soundtracks, video games etc… I bought. And that was before I went to the Universal theme park. So following up on my previous post sorting the presidents, here are 20 lists of Harry Potter lists, focusing on the original 7 books/8 movies.

1. Favorite Books

  1. Prisoner of Azkaban
  2. Goblet of Fire
  3. Deathly Hallows
  4. Half-Blood Prince
  5. Sorcerer’s Stone
  6. Order of the Phoenix
  7. Chamber of Secrets

2. Favorite Movies (based off my personal in-theater experience and rewatchability)

  1. Prisoner of Azkaban
  2. Order of the Phoenix
  3. Deathly Hallows Part 1
  4. Deathly Hallows Part 2
  5. Half-Blood Prince
  6. Sorcerer’s Stone
  7. Chamber of Secrets
  8. Goblet of Fire

3. Movies by Faithfulness of Adaptation

  1. Deathly Hallows Part 1
  2. Sorcerer’s Stone
  3. Prisoner of Azkaban
  4. Order of the Phoenix
  5. Chamber of Secrets
  6. Goblet of Fire
  7. Half-Blood Prince
  8. Deathly Hallows Part 2

3. Favorite Video Games (I only played 5)

  1. Order of the Phoenix
  2. Prisoner of Azkaban
  3. Goblet of Fire
  4. Sorcerer’s Stone
  5. Chamber of Secrets

4. Best Soundtracks

  1. Prisoner of Azkaban
  2. Chamber of Secrets
  3. Order of the Phoenix
  4. Half-Blood Prince
  5. Deathly Hallows Part 2
  6. Sorcerer’s Stone
  7. Deathly Hallows Part 1
  8. Goblet of Fire

5. Worst Movie Changes

  1. Harry’s “spidey sense” to detect Horcruxes
  2. Voldemort vs. Harry battle in courtyard not Great Hall, and lack of explanation
  3. Snape making eye contact with Harry on Astronomy Tower since he wasn’t wearing the invisibility cloak
  4. Psychological Maze instead of creatures for Third Task
  6. Neville doesn’t kill Nagini at the same time Harry disappears and battle recommences
  7. Ginny’s lack of chemistry with Harry
  8. Harry doesn’t go to Ravenclaw Tower, get discovered by Carrow and get defended by McGonagalll
  9. No First Battle of Hogwarts in Half-Blood Prince, but there is an attack on the Burrow (which still doesn’t make any sense)
  10. Epilogue doesn’t give much context to people outside Harry and Ginny’s family

6. Worst Movie Omissions

  1. Little background on Tom Riddle’s past in Half-Blood Prince
  2. Explanation of the Taboo on Voldemort’s name in Deathly Hallows Part 1
  3. No SPEW, and thus Hermione and Ron’s first kiss is different
  4. Winky (related to 3)
  5. More Quidditch games
  6. More details during Snape’s Worst Memory
  7. The Other Rooms in the Department of Mysteries at the end of Book 5
  8. Ludo Bagman
  9. Rita Skeeter as a beetle, as well as appearance in Book 5
  10. The Other Minister

7. Favorite Things at Wizarding World of Harry Potter

  1. Quidditch Shop
  2. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Ride
  3. The Hogwarts Castle that houses Forbidden Journey
  4. Three Broomsticks
  5. Gringotts Ride
  6. Forbidden Journey queue entertainment
  7. Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes
  8. Butterbeer
  9. Fortescue’s Ice Cream
  10. Leaky Cauldron

8. Best Hogwarts Houses

  1. Ravenclaw
  2. Hufflepuff
  3. Gryffindor
  4. Slytherin

9. Favorite performances in the movies

  1. Alan Rickman
  2. Maggie McGonagall
  3. Emma Watson
  4. Ralph Fiennes
  5. Richard Harris

10. Best Covers (standard American versions by Mary GrandPré)

  1. Goblet of Fire
  2. Sorcerer’s Stone
  3. Half-Blood Prince
  4. Chamber of Secrets
  5. Deathly Hallows
  6. Order of the Phoenix
  7. Prisoner of Azkaban (a little too repetitive of CoS)

11. Best Harry Potter names

  1. Daedalus Diggle
  2. Minerva McGonagall
  3. Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
  4. Rufus Scrimgeour
  5. Phineas Nigelus Black
  6. Severus Snape
  7. Augustus Rookwood
  8. Justin Finch-Fletchley
  9. Filius Flitwick
  10. Wilkie Twycross

12. Biggest Crushes I had

  1. Book Ginny
  2. Movie Hermione

13. “Bad Guys” ranked by how much I wanted to punch them

  1. Umbridge
  2. Bellatrix
  3. Malfoy (books 1-5, start of 6)
  4. Voldemort
  5. Marge Dursley
  6. Snape (books 1-6)
  7. Lockhart
  8. Fenrir Greyback
  9. Vernon Dursley
  10. Pettigrew

14. Non-canon Outputs of J.K. Rowling

  1. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie
  2. Pottermore
  3. Tales of Beetle the Bard
  4. Quidditch through the Ages
  5. The production of Cursed Child (I guess, haven’t seen it)
  6. Fantastic Beasts book
  7. The story in Cursed Child

15. Podcasts

  1. Mugglecast
  2. Quibbler
  3. Pottercast

16. Best Harry Potter Sporcle Quizzes

  1. Chapter Titles
  2. Top 200 characters
  3. Harry Potter Periodic Table

17. Best lines in the movies that weren’t in the books (as far as I can remember)

  1. Ron: Did you and Ginny do it, then? Harry: What? Ron: You know, hide the book?
  2. Umbridge: Please, tell them [the Centaurs] I mean no harm! Harry: Sorry Professor, but I must not tell lies
  3. Slughorn: Harry! Harry: Sir! Slughorn: It’s nearly nightfall. Surely you realize I can’t let you wander the grounds by yourself Harry: Well then by all means come along sir.

18. Most-competent Hogwarts Teachers/Staff

  1. McGonagall
  2. Madame Pomfrey
  3. Flitwick
  4. Lupin
  5. Sprout

19. 10 Least-competent Hogwarts Teachers

  1. Umbridge
  2. Lockhart
  3. Trelawney
  4. Quirrell
  5. Mad-Eye Moody
  6. Mr. Filch
  7. Dumbledore as Headmaster
  8. Snape
  9. Binns
  10. Hagrid

20. Harry Potter foods/drinks

  1. Butterbeer
  2. Chocolate Frogs
  3. Pumpkin Juice
  4. Pumpkin Pasties
  5. Fire Whiskey
  6. Bertie Botts Every Flavored Beans

Sorting the Presidents into Hogwarts Houses


This Presidential election season has had a lot of strife, angst, anger and hate. So I want to enter the fray–but with some frivolous fun: I am going to sort all U.S. Presidents into the Houses of Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series.

I absolutely love the Harry Potter series. In fact, I recently went to Harry Potter World in Universal Studios (Florida) for vacation. While there, I couldn’t help but think of the sorting system at Hogwarts. For those that aren’t familiar with the series, the titular hero attends the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. At the start of the school year, each new student gets “sorted” into one of four Houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin, which are basically known as the brave, loyal, wise and ambitious houses, respectively. Here’s how the four houses are described in the first book:

You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart;

You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil;

Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
if you’ve a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;

Or perhaps in Slytherin
You’ll make your real friends,
Those cunning folks use any means
To achieve their ends.

Muggles such as myself can sort themselves into one of these four houses via a variety of websites. J.K. Rowling’s official website Pottermore lets you do it, though you need a free account for that. If you’d rather do it quick and easy (if unofficially), many websites offer sorting quizzes. (Full disclosure: I’m a Ravenclaw.)

So I thought it would be fun to sort all Presidents (plus this year’s candidates) into these houses. One important point before I get started. Because we see these houses in the books through Harry’s point of view, the perceptions of the houses often get skewed. Gryffindor can appear the “good guys,” versus evil Slytherin, while the other two houses might be considered nerdy (Ravenclaw) or losers/leftovers (Hufflepuff). For example, in explaining the Houses to Harry, Hagrid tells him “There’s not a witch or wizard who went bad who wasn’t in Slytherin.” However, we learn over the course of the series that there are “evil” wizards who didn’t go to Slytherinn (such as Prof. Quirrell1 or Peter Pettigrew) or Slytherins who stood up to Voldemort (Snape and Regulus Black come to mind). So in doing this exercise, I’m thinking of these four houses more neutrally than perhaps they’re often considered. Similarly, I don’t want to appear partisan in assigning houses to the presidents. Just because I disagree with a President doesn’t mean I’m automatically going to place him in Slytherin. Similarly, some of the more, shall we say obscure Presidents, aren’t automatically Hufflepuffs.

Join me as I sort the Presidents!

Read More…

Ranking the Oscars

Tonight’s the Academy Awards, an I’ll definitely be watching. My parents always host an Oscars Party, and growing up I’d try to stay up as late as possible to watch as much of the broadcast as I could. Unfortunately that meant I usually missed the Best Picture award, since inevitably I had to go to bed first. Of course, I eventually got old enough to stay up that late, and to this day I remain a big fan of the Oscars.

So I naturally was interested when I saw this BuzzFeed article ranking all 85 Best Picture winners. Some of the rankings are not surprising: Crash is 83; the Godfather and Casablanca are top three. Some of them are rather surprising: Forrest Gump is 62; All About Eve is ranked No. 1. Either way, like most ranking lists on the internet, there were strong opinions. (Sample comment: “To the author: You are either insane or extremely brave. Probably both”)

Well here’s more noise. Below you’ll find my top Best Pictures list. Two caveats about this list. First, it’s unclear if the BuzzFeed author, Kate Arthur, has seen all 85 movies herself, but I’m only going to rank the ones I’ve seen. Unfortunately, this is only 37 out of the 85 films, and the majority of those are from the last 35 years. (Probably the four most high-profile films I haven’t seen are American Beauty, Schindler’s List, Annie Hall and Gone with the Wind. I also haven’t seen All About Eve, so I can’t judge if that should be No. 1.) Second, this ranking does not reflect what I think the “best” Best Picture films are. It’s instead an inherently subjective list based on how much I enjoyed the film. So yes, I realize Amadeus and Gladiator are not two of the top three movies of all-time. But they definitely are two of my favorite movies.

See the list after the jump, including Arthur’s ranking, my ranking and some comments.

Read More…

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