Welcome to 2017

So it’s a new year. Yay?

Many people have decried 2016 as the worst year ever. For some, the seeming abundance of celebrity deaths set the tone for the year. For others, politics overshadowed everything. And of course, personal experiences always trump (pun intended?) everything else. So was 2016 really the worst? Let’s see.

There were quite a few celebrity deaths, many of them notable (ie people I’ve heard of). For me, the most noticeable were Alan Rickman and Carrie Fisher.  Alan Rickman has been in quite a few enjoyable movies and has always put in a great performance. Dying at the beginning of the year he helped set the course of events. Meanwhile, Carrie Fisher rammed the idea home when she died right at the very end.  As a big Star Wars fan, the loss of her is pretty meaningful.

But in truth, both Carrie Fisher and Alan Rickman were in their 60’s. The vast, vast majority of celebrities who died also were even older than that. This trend of a large number of celebrity deaths is only going to continue as people get older and the amount of people who could be called “celebrities” continues to grow.

A hundred years ago, how many celebrities really existed?  Radio and movies were not really a thing yet much less television and the internet. For most people, a notable death would consist of national politicians, maybe a few news sensations and locals. The pool of potential people who could die and be note worthy just wasn’t very big.

Now, before we write off the idea that celebrity deaths could be used to define 2016 as the “worst” we have one more person to consider; Anton Yelchin. He wasn’t the most famous person on the list but as part of the cast of the new Star Trek he wasn’t an unknown either. What makes him so notable is his manner of death.

The poor guy was 27 years old and got crushed by a car. His own bloody car. That’s one hell of a freak accident. Baby-boomers surrendering to the inevitable, while sad, doesn’t really qualify as an indicator of an especially bad year. But a guy getting crushed by his own car? Yeah, that stands out.

Now, what about politics? If you’re American, this was a really contentious election year. And a really long election cycle that never seemed to end. As will probably surprise no one I am not a Trump fan. So ending the year with a president-elect Trump does not fill me with warm fuzzies.

Likewise, I’ve voiced my support for Bernie Sanders before. All the revelations about the shenanigans that the DNC pulled in support of Hilary Clinton fills me with frustation. Especially when there is a greater than zero chance that the very act of sabotaging Bernie is the reason we have president-elect Trump. We’ll never know for sure but I’m pretty confident that a showdown between Bernie and Trump in the general election would have been a lot different.

I don’t really have a reassuring counter to this feeling. Politics really make 2016 look like the worst. Even if you are a Trump supporter and are looking forward to a Trump presidency, rather than dreading it, the sheer division the election has highlighted can’t be comforting.

As for personal, well my Mom got cancer. I mean seriously 2016? You can’t really get worse than that. Except, she’s still alive and the cancer seems to be gone. It was a terrible year for her, and my Dad. Chemo is not pleasant. Surgery is no fun and her life will be drastically different now. But she’s alive.

Nice try 2016. You didn’t beat us. And now it’s 2017. We just have the rise of authoritarianism and a government that denies climate change exist to contend with.


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2 Responses to Welcome to 2017

  1. EvillMonkey says:

    2016 wasn’t a great year overall, I’ll agree. However, it was an amazing year for astronomy. Here’s some highlights.

    *Strong evidence for planet 9
    *Gravitational waves were detected
    *Tabby’s star was noticed as an oddity, prompting some to suggest a dyson-spehere
    *Kepler discovered over 1,200 new planets
    *Proxima b was discovered as a probable habitable planet
    *Rosetta said farewell by crashing into the comet it had been observing
    *Juno made its way to Jupiter’s orbit
    *Hubble detected the furthest object yet to be observed.
    *Mars has a large sheet of ice beneath its surface, which could help with future manned missions.
    *Pluto has a slushy ocean inside of it
    *The James Web Space Telescope was completed
    *The Universe has 10 times more galaxies than we initially thought
    *Earth has a second moon

    Also, Rogue One.

    Sidenote: really sorry to hear about your Mom. Glad that the cancer is gone, and hope she is recovering well!

    • Wayne says:

      Very good points. Astronomy is doing quite well. Looking forward to what we learn once James Webb is up there.