Thursday, December 29, 2005

See you guys next year

So this is likely going to be my last post of the year and the last post for a while. A while meaning a few days. Tomorrow I'm making my way back to Georgia...Fayetteville on Friday, Athens on Saturday and part of Sunday, then back to Fayetteville. Hopefully I'll have plenty of pictures and stories to blog about upon my return. If anyone would like to see me on my whirlwind trip, you know how to get in touch with me. My flight leaves Wednesday morning.

Otherwise, have a Happy New Year, don't do anything too stupid, and I'll be in touch. In the meantime, here's the raw copy of the 'Year in Review' editorial I wrote for Monday. I have no idea how it's going to turn out after it makes its way through the editing gauntlet, but here you go:

As 2005 comes to a close, we should all reflect on the things learned in the past year, as it can be quite educational.

First, we learned — or, more accurately, were reminded — that mankind is still at the mercy of Mother Nature. And, as happens from time to time, Mother Nature was a little moody in 2005.

Following the most active hurricane season on record, the threat of an avian influenza pandemic and devastating earthquakes, in 2006 we can likely look forward to plagues of locusts and an increase in wooly mammoth stampedes.

We learned that building a major American city below sea level may not be the most prudent of ideas, especially when said city is surrounded by significant bodies of water. In learning that lesson, we were also reminded of the inherent ineptitude of government bureaucracy. Former President Ronald Reagan was spot on when he said “the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” What he didn’t say, however, was that those words are so terrifying because they’re usually said four days too late and when the “help” isn’t exactly, well, helpful. We also learned that when it comes to preventing such disasters, politicians can’t be bothered. Sure, the New Orleans levee board diverted millions of dollars away from construction projects, but otherwise they couldn’t have had that nice Mardi Gras fountain.

But in 2005, we did learn what can spur politicians into action. No, not a ballooning national debt, a bankrupting Social Security system or looming energy crisis — they don’t seem to be enough to grease the gears of government. Congress will, however, convene a special session to pass non-binding, non-precedent setting legislation for a brain-damaged Florida woman and subpoena professional athletes on the pressing issue of steroid use. Sleep soundly, America — your children won’t have social security, but Barry Bonds will never hit 60 home runs again.

We also learned that some Supreme Court nominees can get confirmed by saying little, if anything, regarding legal opinions. With other Supreme Court nominees, we learned that the buddy system is not always the best policy.

We also learned that California juries are still incapable of convicting celebrity defendants, though it’s still being debated whether Robert Blake can be considered a celebrity. Michael Jackson’s trial, on the other hand, was the circus that everyone hoped it would be — complete with pajama pants, dancing on cars and that kid from the “Home Alone” movies. As Michael would say, it was charming, really charming.

In the sporting world, we learned that the National Hockey League can endure a ten month labor dispute and resume play before anyone in America notices it was gone. In baseball, we learned that when the World Series doesn’t involve the Red Sox or Yankees, it might as well not take place. We also learned that a cancer-surviving American can beat the bicycle shorts off the rest of the world — for the seventh time in a row.

We learned that journalists like Judy Miller are willing to go to jail for their principles, even if it’s unnecessary.

We learned that, even when faced with literal threats of violence and death, the Iraqi people will turn out to vote in greater force than the American people.

We learned that a mother who loses her son in war can become an instant icon of the anti-war movement, but people will stop paying attention to her once she opens her mouth on television.

We learned that the French don’t have to go to Iraq to battle militant Muslims — they can do that right at home. Though it does pose an interesting paradox when they try to surrender to themselves.

We also learned that the British are not ones to be intimidated by acts of terrorism on their own soil. Nothing funny here, just an admiring observation.

We learned that when the Catholic Church is looking for a change of pace in the papacy, they’ll replace an elderly Polish Pope with an elderly German Pope.

We also learned that when it’s a slow news day, you can’t go wrong with an adorable picture of a panda cub.

As the old cliché goes: those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. So hopefully we’ve all made it through 2005 a little older, a little wiser and with a better understanding of the world. In 2006, we’ve got plenty to look forward to — the winter Olympics, Supreme Court confirmation hearings and midterm elections, just to name a few. Here’s hoping it’ll be just as exciting and interesting as 2005, but maybe with fewer natural disasters. After the year we’ve been through, it’s only fair.


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