So here we are, at the end of 2013. Back in January, I declared 2013 an unruly teenager, and decided to review and assign each month a grade. As I recall, January got a C. Needless to say, my resolve to grade each month lasted about as long as teenaged boy’s resolve to remain master of his domain, to wit, less than 3 hours. But in the spirit, I think it’s only fair that I review and grade the year as a whole. Since I’d dropped it for so long, I’m going to cut the year a break and let it go Pass/Fail. Let’s see how 2013 did, shall we?
We started well, with a Starbucks opening in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It took a long time, but we’ve won, and Jane Fonda owes us all Venti Caramel HoChiFrappaMihnos. Shortly after that, the Almighty tried to pick up a spare when the most powerful meteor to strike Earth’s atmosphere in over a century exploded over Russia, injuring 1,491 people. International reaction was swift, calling for studies regarding the vulnerability of all humanity (with the obvious exception of Keith Richards) to meteor strikes. The Russian reaction boiled down to, “Was that a nuke? Eh, it must be Friday.”
In science news, 3D printers came into their own when scientists were able to print a human ear, and some yahoo shared his plans for to print a handgun. The idea is that someone could someday have an organ printed to order, and then get shot for having funny-looking ears. Also in February, Benedict XVI resigned, and about damn time, and King Richard III was exhumed in Leicester. On feeling the first sunlight on his old bones since his internment in 1485, he was heard to mutter something about the winter of his discontent being made glorious summer by this sun of York; the University of Leicester chaps buried him right back up again.
March came in like a lamb with the first Jesuit pope, and it’s a good thing the weather was nice that day because March also saw Canada become the first country to withdraw from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. Because, you know, Canada’s really just inches away from being the next freaking Kalahari. Whatever. March went out like a lamb, too, with the death of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, and not a moment too soon.
On tax day, two loons bombed the Boston Marathon. I have to wonder, who thinks it’s a good idea to piss off Bostonians? These two failed their history exams, is my guess. April sucked, really – we saw the demise of Roger Ebert, Margaret Thatcher, Jonathan Winters, Richie Havens, George Jones, and Deanna Durbin. On the plus side, in May, researchers from Oregon Health & Science University created human embryonic stem cells by cloning. Can you imagine a clone made from Margaret Thatcher and Jonathan Winters? My head hurts just thinking about it.
In June, Edward Snowden decided that he was smarter than the NSA, and promptly moved to Russia. (The Russian reaction was, “Are you crazy? Eh, it must be Friday.”) Later in June, flash floods in India kill more than 5,700 people. For further proof that nature is better at killing people that people are, Richard Ramirez, who killed around 2 dozen people, died in prison before California could get around to killing him. Just pull the trigger already, you know?
In July, Croatia joined the European Union, which made Greece jealous, and Prince George of Cambridge, future King of England, graced the world with his royal presence, which made Prince Harry jealous. On the downside, Helen Thomas is now attending press conferences in the hereafter. Also in the hereafter are Elmore Leonard, Seamus Heaney, and Frederik Pohl, three great writers who now have being dead in common.
In another example of science advancing the sum total of human knowledge, September saw the publication of a world-rocking study showing that guys with smaller nuts are better dads. The Internet couldn’t leave those headlines alone for a week. October, of course, treated us to a government shutdown, with Republicans blaming Democrats, Democrats blaming Republicans, and everyone blaming the media. They only go through all this because they know we’re watching. If they thought no one was looking, they’d work together and just get things done. Mind you, they’d screw us all, but they’d get things done. October also saw the signing of a UN treaty to protect human health and the environment from emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds. The 140+ signatories of the treaty were promptly sued when Mercury Records stock nosedived the next day.
October was a busy month: Saudi Arabia became the nation to reject a seat on the United Nations Security Council. (The Russian reaction was, “Are you crazy? Eh, it must be Friday.”) Plus, October 22nd was the 16,000th day of Unix time. No one will ever know if Tom Clancy knew that, except for him and the CIA spooks who killed him for his latest plotlines. (You can imagine the Russian reaction.)
In November, Typhoon Haiyan “Yolanda”, proved once again that nature an kill more people faster than we can, with a death toll higher than 6,100. On the plus side, Iran agreed to limit the number of nukes it will try to build if only we start letting them buy food and cigarettes again.
As we round out the year in December, we have to note three deaths: Nelson Mandela, whose name became synonymous with peaceful resistance; Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK-47, whose name became synonymous with armed resistance; and Peter O’Toole, whose name was double-phallic. Finally in December, we saw the Chinese spacecraft Chang’e 3, carrying its Yutu rover, become the first spacecraft to soft-land on the Moon since 1976. There were questions about why China wanted to land a rover on the moon; the Yutu is widely seen as “Me Too.”
And so, despite disasters both natural and otherwise, despite twerking and Justin Bieber, despite deaths both small and large, I think I have to give 2013 a Passing grade – but only just barely. 2014 starts on academic probation, and if it starts skipping classes, I’m going to know about it. I’m happy to see 2013 in my rear-view mirror.
In the meantime, I wish you, Gentle Reader, a fantastic New Year.