Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Year In Review

Near the end of each year, many newspapers publish stories about the “biggest news events” of the preceding twelve months. To produce this, editors devote many hours of research, planning, analysis, and review, poring through 52-weeks worth of clippings.

I thought I’d try to present my own version of “the year in review”… but frankly, I just don’t have the time to do all that research (since I’m actually writing this column on Christmas weekend, and I also have to start my gift shopping.) So, I’ll just have to try to give you my annual recap from my own personal recollections.

(Here’s one problem: My memory doesn’t always extend back a full year anymore… so my wrap-up of the year might seem more like the highlights of the last six or eight weeks… or maybe even the biggest news items from late-December!)

Anyway, here we go, with my own personal version of “The Year in Review”:

-- The race for the presidency. For the first time since Eisenhower, we have a truly “open” race for the presidency, with neither an incumbent president nor vice-president seeking election. Additionally, we have a reasonable likelihood of electing either our first female or first African-American president. Also, although overshadowed by the Hillary/Obama contest, we also have a chance to elect our first: a) Hispanic; b) Morman; c) Mayor of NYC; d) Baptist preacher; e) OBGYN doctor; or f) former POW. And -- let’s not forget Dennis Kucinich – our chance to elect: g) our first President who believes he has talked to space aliens. The primaries and elections are actually in 2008, but the campaigns here in South Carolina have been center-stage all year long.

-- I lost 35 pounds, and was runner-up in a weight-loss contest. While this probably doesn’t qualify as a big news item of the magnitude of electing the next president, bear in mind that these “top stories” are coming from what’s left of my own memory.

-- Gas is expensive. Most of the year, we paid up around $2.50 - $3.00 per gallon, meaning the cost to transport all goods are higher, and therefore, the prices we pay for all goods are higher. The price of gas spiked suddenly right after Hurricane Katrina, supposedly due to the interruption of Gulf Coast refineries. That was nearly two-and-a-half years ago, and the prices are still high. I may start riding a bicycle.

-- The economy is in rough shape. Well, duh-h-h! (See “Gas is expensive” above.) And I would guess it doesn’t help any that: a) we have now exported MOST of the jobs we once had in America to other countries; and b) the emerging industry in our nation now seems to be lending people money that they probably can’t afford to pay back, ranging from pay-day and title-loans, to sub-sub-prime mortgages, to billions in foreign aid from the federal government. And now you say our economy is struggling? Huh! Go figure!!!

-- Sanford-gate. The world’s most nearly-perfect living human being, our own Governor Mark Sanford, sort of got caught with his hand in the public cookie jar! Well, not exactly. He wasn’t stashing taxpayer cookies into his own pockets… but he was secretly slipping it to his rich and powerful buddies, to help promote their mutual “Lifestyles of the Rich and Powerful” agenda. Stay tuned, I’m sure, as the $101,000 transfer from the Governors Conference to his buddies was just the tip of the iceberg.

-- In Entertainment News for 2007: Marie Osmond fainted on Dancing with the Stars; Brittany’s too-young sister is pregnant; and the Hit Movies of the Year were: “Walk Hard” and “Charlie Wilson’s War”. (I gotta be honest… I haven’t seen either movie yet – they were both just released last week -- and I don’t know if they’re hits or not. They’re just the only movies I can recall, mainly because they’re new and still being advertised heavily. And while I’m being honest… I didn’t even know Brittany had a sister. The only entertainment news I can really remember from the whole year is Marie fainting… mainly because they showed it over and over and over and over.)

-- Al Gore won an Oscar. He also won the Nobel Peace Prize, and, I think, an Emmy. I’m happy for him. It suits me fine if they let him win every prize and award given – a Grammy, a Tony, Major League Baseball’s MVP, the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes, etc. – as long as he doesn’t ever win any more elections!

-- The Internets. It’s doing quite well in 2007. Let’s give Al Gore a special award for inventing it.

-- Sports Highlights of the Year. They big sports news story of the year is most likely the annual rivalry collegiate football game between the USC Gamecocks and the Clemson Tigers. But, as I mentioned earlier, I’m relying on my own personal memory for this “Year In Review”… and I can’t for the life of me remember back far enough to recall the outcome of this year’s contest. Oh, well… let’s just turn our attention to next year!

-- And the biggest story of the year: Monks no longer selling eggs in the Lowcountry! The animal-rights activist group PETA has succeeded in thwarting those sinister monks who live in their monastery on the banks of the Cooper River in Berkeley County. Selling eggs is cruel to chickens, PETA said. So now the monks have announced they will no longer sell eggs, which was their only means of supporting themselves. No eggs! I feel bad for the monks, I really do. It’s not enough that they devote their entire lives to their faith, and do without the things we all take for granted. They don’t have TV. They don’t have Al Gore’s Internets. They don’t dance. While we’re all New Years Eve Parties, they’ll be fasting in silence. And, of course, no sex. In short, they do without almost everything. And now PETA is taking away their eggs.

So, that’s the way it was in 2007.

Happy New Year! Here’s wishing you a safe and prosperous 2008, and the opportunity to build upon the experiences of 2007… the year PETA took eggs away from the monks.

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