A lot of the time, though, it’s this “newsmap” page.
Taking your typical linear scrolling news ticker to the next level, it shows a spectrum of news stories (configurable by topic and region). The "hotter" the story, the larger the item is on screen. It’s a few years old now (turns out I blogged about it in March 2004!), but still quite cool.
I guess I’m basically using these as glorified screen savers, but I’ll take up-to-date tidbits over flying toasters any day.