Our best stories from 2012 aren't necessarily tied to the biggest news events or the flashiest gear. You won't find the election or the Olympics or any tablets on this list. John McAfee is, though, as is David Pogue.

The posts range from explainers to rants to small news that got bigger. But what they all have in common is that they're quintessentially Gizmodo; they occupy that space at the intersection of technology, culture, and opinion that makes our modern lives so endlessly entertaining.

What Is SOPA?

The Stop Online Privacy Act was one of the most potentially harmful pieces of legislation to reach Congress in decades. This post explained what it was, why it mattered, and how ordinary people could help stop it. Which, just a few days later, they did. [More]

The Mind-Boggling Story of the Galactic Wonder That Didn't Exist When We Saw It

Limited by our understanding of time, we look at objects in space as if they were mountains or the ocean. These remarkable columns, though—dubbed The Pillars of Creation—have been dead for thousands of years. [More]

The Case Against Google

It's easy to take Google for granted, to forget that behind the search engine is a company working tremendously hard to monetize your every move. But it is one, and that—especially in 2012—has repercussions. [More]

How Many Calories You Burn Having Sex, Eating Pizza, and Smoking a Cigarette

The Nike Fuelband was one of our favorite new toys, but its use of Nike Fuel as a metric is useless on its own. So we tested it every which way we knew how. Yep, even that. [More]

How Yahoo Killed Flickr and Lost the Internet

Months of reporting yielded a fascinating look at how web institutions can fall so far, so fast. It's the most in-depth, inside look at Flickr you'll ever see, but more than that it's an examination of what happens when good companies get swallowed by bland ones. [More]

This Giant Ship Ships Ships

It's a ship. That ships. Ships. Not sure what else you need. [More]

The Secret Online Weapons Store That'll Sell Anyone Anything

Gun violence is top of mind these days because of so many recent tragedies, but this story got deep inside one of the major sources of instability: the ready availability of firearms, through the internet, for literally anyone who wants them. At the time it was prescient; today, it's just chilling. [More]

David Pogue Has Lost His iPhone

When NY Times tech reporter David Pogue lost his iPhone, we covered the story. And covered it. And covered it. And kept covering it through nearly 20 updates. It's ridiculous, sublime, and—oh yeah—it's what ultimately got Pogue his phone back. You're welcome! [

Exclusive: Confessions From the Most Corrupt Apple Store in America

Beneath the clean, friendly Apple Store exterior lie a few rotten, er, employees. The only thing more shocking than what these evil Geniuses did is that they got away with it. [More]

This Is Not Your F*cking Office, Dickheads

The ultimate put-down of coffee shop succubi everywhere. There are rules. Here they are. If you break them, you're a dickhead. [More]

Indentured Servitude, Money Laundering, and Piles of Money: The Crazy Secrets of Internet Cam Girls (NSFW)

If you think cam girls-those flirty naked characters that plague porn site pop-up ads-are raking in easy money, you're right. If you think cam girls are bleakly stripping online out of desperation, you're also right. This story got the heart of what it means to sell yourself on the internet. It's not pretty, but it's a living. [More]

First Head Cam Video of Supersonic Space Jump

This is what it looks like to jump from space. There's really nothing more to say. [More]

Windows 8 Review: Incredibly Innovative, Incredibly Important, Not Quite Incredible

Windows 8 is arguably the single most important mass technology of the year. And you won't find a better review of it anywhere. [More]

The Complete Story of Sandy: a Timeline of Horror and Recovery

Hurricane Sandy was an awful time, filled with confusion, misinformation, and dispair. This cut through all of that, tracking the storm from its formation all the way through the clean-up. It's the definitive story of Sandy, and while you may not want to relive it, there are certainly things we can learn from it. [More]

Exclusive: John McAfee Wanted for Murder

The story of eccentric antivirus millionaire John McAfee took a turn for the tragic when Belize authorities announced that he was suspected of murder. We broke that story, the start of a long, strange saga that still hasn't run its course. [More]