Weekly column by Daniel Kalder
As everybody knows, the media doesn’t make its money by telling everybody what’s right in the world. Throughout the year we have been fed a steady diet of scandal, disaster, tragedy and horror. But as Lou Reed once sang: it’s easy enough to tell what is wrong, but that’s not what I want to hear all night long. So as 2012 draws to a close, I’d like to focus on five of the year’s uplifting events, to inspire us for the year ahead.
1. George Lucas sold the Star Wars franchise
I’m not one of those types who whines that “George Lucas murdered my childhood” with his atrocious Star Wars prequels. Indeed, the older I get the more irritated I become with man-boys of my generation who can’t let go of the things they enjoyed as 7 year-olds. But even so, The Phantom Menace really was appalling, and I’ve blotted out my memories of the other two films. What shocked me most however was to watch as a formerly talented man systematically negated every correct decision he had made a few decades earlier. It was depressing to see such an anti-mojo at work. Could that happen to me? I wondered. Could I lose all judgment? Thus we may rejoice that Lucas flogged his franchise to Disney, and be happy for him that he realized he didn’t have it in him anymore (however he may justify the sale personally). May we all gain that level of insight, may George Lucas enjoy his $4 billion and may the new films be at least mediocre.
2. It was an awesome year for the political status quo
That nothing much was going to change became clear early on in 2012 when Vladimir Putin returned to the Russian presidency 12 years after first winning it, while in November Americans spent $6 billion to re-elect exactly the same president and almost the same Congress as before, guaranteeing that the country would be in exactly the same mess as it had been before the election. Over in Europe, Angela Merkel continued to call the shots, in China the Communist Party renewed itself, while even Silvio Berlusconi looks set to make a comeback in Italy. For all its change and upheaval the Middle East remains reliably volatile, violent and unstable. Why is this uplifting? Well, fear of the unknown is one of humanity’s greatest terrors so at least we know what to expect!
3. We are far too fat
In November The Lancet, the world’s leading medical journal reported that obesity is now killing three times as many people as malnutrition. Even in the developing world, people are getting fatter and fatter. On the surface this may look like bad news, but as a few shrewd commentators pointed out, it is also stupendously good news. In The Book of Revelation it is Famine, not Type 2 diabetes that is numbered among the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. For the first time in history, we have too much to eat, and it’s all the fatty, sugary, meaty stuff that for millennia only the elite could afford. Think about that this Christmas and New Year as you suffer postprandial trauma on the couch, and celebrate your ability to enjoy excesses your ancestors never dreamt was possible. But don’t forget their wisdom either, summed up in the hoary-but-correct maxim all good things in moderation.
4. The Mayan apocalypse was a bust.
I never expected the world to end, so that’s not why I celebrate the prophecy’s failure. No, what really cheered me up was the sight of descendants of the Mayans fleecing ultra-wealthy San Francisco liberals in front of some stepped pyramids in Guatemala. It has to be at least slightly irritating to watch as the sacred beliefs of your ancestors are rendered empty and facile by macrobiotic millionaires in another country, as they dribble on about “consciousness” and the coming New Age, etc. Thus I was overjoyed to watch on my TV as a Mayan in an elaborate headdress milked the hype for all it was worth. Wring every last dollar out of that rich white dude with the gray ponytail my friend, I thought, and use it to buy a truck, or to repair the roof on your house, or to provide for your kids - whatever it is that you need.
5. The Mars Rover found nothing
As regular readers of this column will be aware, I consider space exploration to be excruciatingly boring, but it did provide us with at least one very good piece of news in 2012. NASA’s Mars Rover found ABSOLUTELY NOTHING other than a lot of dust and rocks, which we all already knew were up there anyway. This is indeed dull but at least we can sleep secure in the knowledge that are no alien pods in a cave, containing face-hugging aliens that will implant Xenomorphs in our bodies which will subsequently come bursting out of our chests.
So those are some reasons to be cheerful. Thank you for your kind attention and have a Happy New Year when it comes!
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.
What does the world look like to a man stranded deep in the heart of Texas? Each week, Austin- based author Daniel Kalder writes about America, Russia and beyond from his position as an outsider inside the woefully - and willfully - misunderstood state he calls “the third cultural and economic center of the USA.”
Daniel Kalder is a Scotsman who lived in Russia for a decade before moving to Texas in 2006. He is the author of two books, Lost Cosmonaut (2006) and Strange Telescopes (2008), and writes for numerous publications including The Guardian, The Observer, The Times of London and The Spectator.
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