The northern summer is a time when one is meant to celebrate the exuberance of life; instead, commemoration of the dead was a significant theme this week, as the top three slots were taken up by the beloved poet Maya Angelou, dead this week at 86, environmentalist pioneer Rachel Carson, and Memorial Day, the US holiday for commemorating its war dead. Even Mark Twain's eerie prediction of his own death, in which he hoped to go out with Halley's Comet, got onto the list thanks to Reddit. Other than that, the usual dose of Game of Thrones; a show very familiar with death.
One of America's most popular contemporary writers, Maya Angelou died this week at the age of 86. Since delivering a recitation at Bill Clinton's inauguration (the first poet to give an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost) she became an intellectual celebrity across all boundaries.
The last Monday in May (that's May 26 this year), the day that the United States chose to honour its war dead, is perhaps better known as the traditional beginning of US summer vacation, and is thus eagerly anticipated by millions of people too young to serve but old enough to stand in line for action movies.
I came in with Halley's comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don't go out with Halley's comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: "Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together." So said Mark Twain in his autobiography in 1909, and it turned out he was right. He died the day after the comet's 1910 perihelion. This curious fact managed to spawn a Reddit thread this week (the original poster wondered, I hope jokingly, if the fact that he was born when Halley returned in 1986 meant he was a reincarnation of Mark Twain – respondents were lukewarm to the notion).
This article suddenly reappeared in the top 25 a few months ago after a long absence; it's always difficult to determine the reasons for the popularity of website articles (how many are simply missed clicks on the Google search list?) but there are a number of possibilities: first, it released its digital media player, Amazon Fire TV on April 2, and second, it is currently embroiled in a dispute with publisher Hachette, a spat with potentially world-shaking implications as to whether book publishers even need to exist in the post-digital world.
The third-person adventure game in which hacking is a significant game mechanic has been hyped to the roof as the showcase for the eighth generation of video game consoles. Well, it worked; the game has sold 4 million copies in its first week.