Looking Back At 2014

2014 started, as most years do, with a bang. Several bangs in fact, as the firework displays went off around the world. That was immediately followed by the howls of those who were too drunk to realise exactly what they were celebrating but “Oh, look at the pretty lights in the sky.”

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It was an odd year, to say the least. People were Happy with Pharrel, Flappy with rage, scared of Ebola, and wondering which countries would suddenly find themselves at war next. Planes went missing (Aliens, I’m telling you!) while others were shot down. People poured buckets of ice water over themselves so that they didn’t have to donate to ALS, all the while patting themselves on their suddenly cold backs that they were raising awareness. In tragic health news, all but one of the patients who had been cured of AIDS died this year as the disease returned to them.

It was the year we laughed at a humanoid horse and then were sadly moved as he reflected on a life that could have been (that damn doe – sniffle). The year that a woman couldn’t get a job teaching because all Irish are alcoholics. The year that Isis, a group that Al Queda thinks are extreme, rose. Seriously, when the people who have no problem killing over a hundred schoolkids in an attack and who have become a household name for terrorism worldwide think you’re extreme, chances are you’re not one of the good guys.

On the subject of villains, this was the year that Justin Bieber went so far in his quest to show the world that he’s a bad little girl, that Americans voted in droves to have him deported back to his native Canada. Canada, upon hearing this, let the world know in no uncertain terms that they didn’t want it back. This was also the year that the genetic stock of the British royal family was called into question and the Queen started looking at other thrones to take.

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Over in the US, flames rocked cities that rioted due to a perceived culture of racism in the police. It’s no surprise as we’ve been hearing about unarmed black men being shot by cops all through the year. However, that hasn’t been the whole story in a lot of these cases. I’ve noticed a trend in the media where they run headlines such as “Cop Kills Unarmed Black Man” and worse, followed by stories where the cop actually had no choice in the matter. That was the actual headline on the tale of the drug dealer who was known to carry a weapon (it was actually in his car at the time), fled from cops, fought the one who caught up to him and the fight burst through the door of a flat where two young children were suddenly in the firing line. But, of course, that doesn’t sell as many papers as making it sound racist does. They’re fanning the flames of a race war simply to sell ad apace at higher prices.

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Now, I’m not saying that there are no racist cops, or that every single case over in the US has the cop in the right. Far from it as I’ve seen some truly tragic cases that shouldn’t have occurred. What I’m saying is that the media has made sure that things seem more unbalanced than they actually are. Cases like the Rumain Brisbon case I mentioned above are being reported as if a cop was victimising a guy for being black, and not trying to protect two children from being shot by a drug dealer who is showing himself as violent and simply forgot to bring his gun out of his car this one time. On top of that, the media has all but buried the cases of unarmed white guys being killed by black cops, has not named those cops in the same ways it has in the race reversed cases and is exacerbating a very real feeling of “us versus them” by their actions. Perhaps if we lived in a world with less sensationalist reporting, the slogan on the banner in the image above would simply read “All Lives Matter”, and maybe it wouldn’t be right next to a spray-painted “Kill Cops”.

Of course, maybe I’m over complicating things here. Maybe it has nothing to do with rising racial tensions fanned by a media who knows that nothing makes them money as much as appealing to outrage. Maybe something simpler started the riots.

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Can you believe we still live in a world where that is thought about two people who love each other? Sadly, I can. Russia, under fire from most of the world, reluctantly allowed gay people to come to the Olympics this year but warned them to stay away from their kids, showing they don’t actually know what it is they were banning in the first place. Now, I know there are those who will point with their non-evolved opposable thumbs to the Bible and say that “Jesus loves the whores but hates the fags!”, but do try to remember that this is a book that says any linen touched by a women on her period must be burned for it is unclean, and any woman who has sex before marriage must be killed. Basically the whole book looked down on all the begatting that took place in the earlier parts of it and seemed to have a problem with anything that could contain a penis (worryingly including shellfish), which is bad news for this kid.

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From racial tension and begatting up the wazoo (which is what they have a problem with, I think) to something a little more strange. This was the year that a man tried to gain $10 via crowdfunding so that he could make some potato salad and ended up with over $50,000. Shocked at how much money he’d ended up with, he used the money to make his potato salad and then set the rest up in an ongoing fund that will help projects to feed the homeless in years to come. An amazing outcome from something that should only have been a silly bit of fun.

On the subject of silly bits of fun, did anyone else see the Columbian Womens Cycling Team and their new uniforms? Call me needlessly pedantic, but if I was designing something for a national team I’d have someone else just quickly look at it to see if there’s anything I’d missed. You know, just some way of looking at my product that I hadn’t considered…

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It never ceases to amaze me how hypocritical we are as a species. The image above made so many of us laugh and yet, when a man wore a shirt that was decorated with images of scantily clad cartoon women, the internet was out for blood. Dr. Matt Taylor was one of the people responsible for landing a probe on a live comet for the first time in our history. He was elated to be part of that and was shown on television reports wearing the following shirt. This was immediately painted as an attack against women and the poor man was forced to apologise on television, during which he broke down in tears.

Meanwhile the comet mission wasn’t given as much publicity as you’d think it would get. You see, some fat arsed girl called Kim Kardashian had decided to “break the internet” by posing completely naked and putting a photo of that arse on the front page was apparently more important than such an amazing scientific breakthrough. Somehow she wasn’t forced to apologise for her nudity and its attack on women, men and anyone with eyes (I’m sure you’ll all be thankful that I’m not including that in the images for this post.). Instead there were some who said it was a step forward for female empowerment.

Like I said, hypocritical. And the shirt that caused such a ruckus and criminalised this scientist? Yeah, it’s just so awful isn’t it? I can see how that became the issue rather than the great scientific achievement in the year that Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj sang the female empowerment anthem Bang Bang. Like I said, hypocrites.

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In sadder news, this was also the year that we said goodbye to Robin Williams. Tormented, as many funny men are, for so many years, Robin finally took his own life. For weeks we waited for the autopsy and, when the results were in, breathed a sigh of relief when we learned his hard earned sobriety was intact at the moment of his death.

It was tragic and yet, like so much of Williams work, something unexpected happened. We’d been living for so long in a world where the vocal majority considered suicide victims as “cowards” and, all of a sudden, a mature dialogue was opened about depression in ways that hadn’t been possible before. It seems fitting to me that someone so tortured who has brought joy to so many people should, in his last act, set something so wonderful in motion.

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Of course, Robin Williams wasn’t the only one to die this year. We saw some particularly moving tributes to Harold Ramis after we lost quarter of the Ghostbusters as well. Joan Rivers, in a move that somehow still didn’t expose how celebrity endorsements really work, told people how much she was enjoying her new iPhone 6 a good month after she had passed away. It was almost as if she’d been paid to endorse a product and threw a tweet together then scheduled when it would post.

This year marked the hundred years anniversary of the World War One, or the Great War as it was known in the day. I was talking with one of Kims sisters about it and was shocked to find out that they don’t teach anything about it in schools anymore. She didn’t even know about that amazing time on Christmas when the German troops sang Silent Night and climbed from their trenches into No-Mans Land, and both sides had a game of football together. When an advert for Christmas showed that event happening and I mentioned how weird it seems now that they’d do that, she was astounded to find out it had happened.

There were celebrations all around this country, and even a debate going on in the background. How long should we remember this? I’m personally torn about this debate. On the one hand it was a war like no other and shouldn’t be forgotten, but on the other it was a hundred years ago. Anyone who fought in it is dead now. Most of the children of those who fought in it are dead. If the details of this war are no longer being taught in school then how long until those who are expected to remember it don’t actually know what they’re supposed to remember? I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to how much longer we should remember the Great War or, if there is, it’d take a smarter man than me to find it.

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Other more personal anniversaries fell this year too. For me it was the thirtieth anniversary of Transformers. If you’ve been reading this for a while or know me at all, you’ll know that I love the Transformers. For a while in my childhood, immersing myself into the world of these gigantic robots was the only time I felt truly safe. Thirty years on and there have been many iterations of the concept, some of them good (the current IDW comics, especially More Than Meets The Eye) while others were a mockery of the very concept created by someone who has no interest beyond the dollar signs and the need to make things explode.

For my birthday, Kim got me a Transformer from the Masterpiece range. These are toys that have been created using todays engineering processes to make them as close to the original cartoons as possible, and much closer than was possible when they were released thirty years ago. For the most part, Masterpiece Transformers are truly wonderful things and it’s got me seriously collecting the toys again.

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A lot happened in the world this year and I probably haven’t even scratched the surface of the biggest headlines. To be honest, I’ve been concentrating a lot more on myself than the world. In another post I’ll explain the changes we’ve made to our budget and how it’s continuing to improve our lives, but there have been other changes too. I’ve started cooking a lot more like I used to and have been having tastier and healthier meals as a result. This has led to me dropping a good ten pounds over the past four months or so and I’ll probably drop a bit more over the next year. And then there’s the world which seems to have decided to take all my money recently.

I just told you guys that I rediscovered Transformers toys and have been collecting some old and new favourites now that I can get classic figures either reengineered or reimagined. That’s already taken a good chunk of the money we’ve saved with our new budget, but it makes me happy. And in the latter part of the year, after decades of licensing issues, the wonderfully camp 1966 Batman show with Adam West finally got a home media release. We bought the DVD version and it’s just as good as I remember from my days doing homework in front of the television at stupid o’clock in the morning. I know these may not sound like much but I’ve always been kind of spending money on things for the sake of something to do these past few years. These items though, represent some of the few happy times of my childhood and I feel like buying them is more of an investment in myself and my past than just for funsies. I don’t know, it’s tough to explain unless you’ve got something like that and doesn’t really need explaining if you have.

2014 was a pretty good year for me. While the world seemed to be falling apart and tragedy struck all around, I seemed to be coming back to myself a bit. To be quite honest I wasn’t aware I’d even left myself so it was a pleasant surprise. In 2015 I plan more of the same, but I hope that the world itself is a little bit calmer now that the Queen has taken the iron throne. For those of you affected by these horrific moments I can only offer this reminder, platitude though it may seem. Even through the darkest and ugliest moments, beauty and serenity can be glimpsed.

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43 thoughts on “Looking Back At 2014

  1. This was an excellent reading for a first day of a new year and thank you for that. When they start summarizing events at the end of a year, in both TV and newspapers, I usually change the channel or click to another link (yes, I am reading newspapers online); somehow I always have a feeling that they try to sell me something, again and again. And many of the events they think were major, doesn’t mean a lot to me.
    So, San and I wish both of you a happy and prosperous new 2015. In my old country they say that health and a good luck are the most important and the money will come (and probably go, as it always does 😛 ), so I will go with that as well. Hope we will read a lot of the good posts in a year(s) to come and stay in touch. Cheers!

    p.s. and yes, thank you for not posting a Kim Kardashian’s photoshopped oversized body parts in your post!

    • Happy new year to you and San too.

      Funny thing. It took getting the money sorted to get everything else in hand for me. Call it Irish blood. I’ll talk about that in more detail in a later post though.

    • My view is filtered through tech blogs, where I get most of my news in an effort to avoid celebrity crap. Yet still they report on things like Canada not wanting Bieber back and other non-tech news, often with the strangest connection to the blog topic. For example, I know that the Ferguson riots were mostly filmed on iPhones from within the neighbourhood. Bloody ridiculous, and I’m not just talking about the phone.

      Oh, as we’re at the end of that mini rant, have a happy new year.

      • Yeah, news is mostly ‘noise’ now. 😦 I can’t even use Google’s search engine to find decent Linux documentation any more! The relevant links just get buried under tons of barely tangentially related crap now. :irked:

        • It’s all this SEO crap. The amount of times an ad service offers me a related post that has no possible connection to what I’m reading… Oh, it makes me so mad that my robot army seems justified.

  2. Yup, that pretty much sums up 2014 😉
    And I’m with Darko on the “thank you for not posting a Kim Kardashian’s photoshopped oversized body parts in your post!”.

    Wishing you all the best for 2015!

    • I considered not even mentioning her name, as they feed off being noticed. But this year has been filled with people doing stupid things for publicity so it would have been lost amongst them.

      Happy new year, Rosie.

  3. Somehow, I missed this. Haven’t celebrated New Years in years. When I was drinking, we would refer to it as “amateur night”, along with Paddy’s Day and Thanksgiving here in ‘Murica. In reading most news sites I, too find a paucity of real news, on occasion drawing the ire of regular posters by suggesting anything less than total professionalism and fairness in reporting.
    Re: The Kardashians, Beiber, Ferguson – Is America the laughing stock of the world yet?
    I digress… my sincere wishes for a happy year, not only to Kimmie and Mik, but all of you with many more to come

    • Missed it? It’s because you don’t love me anymore!
      *runs dramatically away, sobbing as he goes*

      America isn’t a laughing stock, but certain sorts of people who are given more media coverage there while other countries pretend we don’t have them, are. Having said that, so many people panicked over Ebola and started screwing with kids schooling that I did enjoy when Africa started blocking entry to the country for Americans. Made me laugh.

      Hope you have a better year than last, mate.

  4. Happy everything and merry the rest.

    Hven’t had time for any proper online activcity the last couple of weeks, and I’ve just this minute come around to looking up on blogs. Haven’t read your piece yet. Will do soon-ish, and then comment.

      • Years ago my promotions manager used to have a saying. “Get the hot girls in a place.” he’d say to me, doing a bad impression of our manager as he spoke. “Manage that and guys will pay anything for drinks so they can be near them.” He was right but had never had much luck consistently getting them in, until he saw my fanclub.

        I used to be even more of a looker than I am now, and there was a large group of girls who chose their bar based on where I was working (one of the reasons I ended up in demand later on). Seeing a guy who had that sort of pull with the ladies he added me to the promotions team and started sending me out to get as many women as possible interested in our place. It wasn’t long before I was known to all the trainee hairdressers and student nurses in the town. The plan, which the realist in me added to by giving these girls free entry tickets, worked like a dream and I was soon pulling in double my usual wage simply for going and having coffee with beautiful women every day.

        • Reminds me on my time back in the nineties where we were struggling to keep this monthly magazine going. I was the editor, so I had a lot invested in that struggle. My “Second In Command” (I used to call him that as a joke, nut he actually took pride in that title) was a man of many ideas, so when he came up with the idea to throw rave parties (they were the absolute shit back then, remember?) I said go without hesitating. Fortunately yhe city we lived in had a variety of educational institutions with students for the picking, so we notified the student organisations of most of them, including the nurse college, resulting in a massive attendance of women to our first party. the overrepresentation of females being so massive, we had to call some friends at the Maritime Academy (marine recruits) and demand their present at once, free thickets included. They showed up with twenty guys! It was the beginning of a whole series of raves and outdoor parties.

          And I didn’t even have to exploit my good looks!

          • Bah! Always exploit your good looks. If nothing else, it’s a delight to see the look on someones face when they realise you’re more than they’ve convinced themselves.

          • I don’t know about that. It seems there’s something in my appearance that makes people think that I am either wealthy or powerful. My mother used to call it “natural authority”. My dad had the same. This, combined with a very deep voice, and people will treat you like you’re the next Pope. If I put on a suit I can get in anywhere and people will do what I say. This can come in handy when you work with journalism, but that’s another story from another time. It’s also practical if you work in barkeeping, but thats another story too. It has it’s downside, though. When people find out that I’m just a regular bloke, they go through a hard time, and they’ll sometimes blame it on me and start getting suspicious. Not my fault. I never told them I was King Solomon, did I? Discovering that reality has no stereotypes can be a traumatic experience for some people.

          • Some people will always be looking for someone to take control, while others have a naturally commanding presence. One of my old bosses, a balding guy who came up to my nipples on a tall day, was able to control an entire bar with one hand. Now, I’ve a commanding finger that can call for silence or get feet off furniture with a movement, but this guy was amazing. He’d be like a conductor, waving here, swishing there, and you’d always somehow turn to him just as he gestured for you to do something, then you’d do it without question. Best thing about that guy was that he was one of those that could take control of a load of alpha personalities who’re used to being in control, and they’d cede that control without any problems. I’ve known people who’d pay a fortune for an ounce of what he had. Hell, they’d pay for an ounce of what I’ve got, and this guy was to me what I am to them.

          • I have had the chance to prove my worth as a leader on a few occasions, but I have refused a great many other, because I just was not qualified to the position, no matter what every body else seemed to think. People will look for a leader, especially if things are collapsing around them. It’s just that I’m not the sort of leader that can restore a sinking ship and get everybody safe ashore. They’ll have to look for someone else. If the ship is sinking, I’ll tell people where the life boats are, tell them to get the Hell out and stay for as long as I can to salvage as much as possible. I had to do that once, and it made such an impact on my personality and psyche, that I went on a three year long pub crawl, and had to spent five years recovering after that. The whole thing rendered me a disability pensioner. Five years of success, one mistake (not mine, but I take the blame, because I was in charge), and my life took an entirely different course than planned. However, everybody else made it, and I know that some of the people that started their carreers under my supervision actually made it. I sometimes recognize certain names in the credits after television productions or under captions in magazines, and I also still have contact with a handfull of my former co-workers, so, even though I did not make it, I look back at that ship wreck with some consolation.

            I’m not risking that again. No more leading positions to me, please.

            So, don’t look my way when the alien motherships come out of hyperspace, and the dead rise from their graves.

  5. My 2014 was a bit messy. First our oldest son, Simon, did some acrobatics on his bike after a night out and broke everything (literally everything) in his ankle, so they had to attach a device resembling a small industrial crane inside his leg, secret cyborg experiment style. Now, he lives on the fourth floor in a room the size of a medium wardrobe, which means he had to stay at our place for six weeks, until he could walk again. He couldn’t stay at his mother’s because her husband was in the terminal fase of kidney cancer, and he actually died while Simon was recuperating at our place.

    When it rains, it pours.

    He was dicharged late August, and five minutes later (give or take a month) our youngest son started having problems, more of the mental/psychological sort. He is developmentally impaired, so we are always alert about signs of stress and such, because it can develop into depression real quick. So, we had to take care of this too, and we ended up having him around for a couple of months too, until he stopped this nervous tic cough he’d developed, and we’d established a plan for his near future.

    Both boys are alright now.

    Yeah, I know. The boys are both in their mid-twenties… It seems parenthood never stops.

    Well, let’s see about twenty-one-five. It’d better be a good one.

    Say hello to Kim.

    I’ll be around.

    • Wow, your lot have been through the wars eh? Hopefully it’s all about moving forward this year, although stepping back and adapting can sometimes be a part of that.

      I think that wardrobe may be my first rented place away from my family. Door that wouldn’t open all the way if you want to have a bed, and an immersion heater in the cupboard, yeah? It’s a good place, if you like the embrace of walls and sweltering heat.

    • Well, Simon absolutely had to move to bloody Copenhagen after he graduated. Every young person in Denmark seems to turn East the moment they graduate and start walking, like zombies, to The Big City.And when you ask them, they really have no rational reason, it’s normal kid-to-parent answers like “All my friends live there”. In Copenhagen renting one room will cost the same as buying an entire house everywhere else. So, he started with sharing a flat with a mate, one small room for each, shared kitchen and a bathroom so small that you’ll have to leave your shoes outside. Two years later they still live there, because they can’t find any new place(s). Anyway, he found a band, and this time it’s actually promising. They’ve had air time on national broadcast radio and just did a video. They have good gigs in Copenhagen and are coming on strong-ish. They may actually have a thing going on. So, it’s not all bad news.

      First place I lived in after leaving home was on top of a pub. And now they wonder why I developed an alcohol problem…

      • My money’s on the cat. She’s put something in the water that brainwashes the kids and makes them part of her army.

        I once moved into a shitty bedsit on top of a hairdressers because the pub I was working at had all the other facilities I needed. Shower for staff, lounge with television for staff, kitchen for customers and staff, even laundry facilities. I only slept in the bedsit (£30 a week when most digs cost upwards of £60) and then only occasionally. Never once put any money in the electric meter. I did however gain a slight addiction to trainee hairdressers. 😉

    • I usually get into semi-heated discussions with Copenhageners when I share my opinion on Copenhagen and the people living there. It’s not just because I come from an area where kids are raised with the belief that Copenhagen is full to the rim with dickheads and snobs, it’s also my experience from spending time in the said city. Like my dad always said, it can not be prejudice when it’s based on personal experience. As a consequence, I don’t go there if I can help it. Simon moving there has not helped me one bit.

      Last time, I was forced to go there was to pick him up at the hospital after his nocturnal cyclist adventure.

      I’m actually an optimist (I mean, deep down, under my otherwise carefully maintained surface of cynicism), so I always go to Copenhagen hoping that this time I will be surprised, and I will actually meet at least one person who hasn’t got his head up his arse. But first thing I see, the second my foot sets on a Copenhagen pavement is a cyclist (make no mistake, cyclist OWN the streets of Copenhagen) shouting words that can not be translated, the nativest of the nativest offensive words in the Danish vocabulary to an old woman, because she had one foot on the bike track, and his bike obviously was only designed to go straight ahead and not around small obstacles, like an old womans foot.

      That’s Copenhagen, Tourist Capital of The United States of Scandinavia. The only good thing to say about Copenhagen is that thanks to it being an asshole magnet the rest of Denmark is a fairly good place to stay.

      😉

      • Never visited, though my snipers tell me it’s nice. What I do know is that the worst parts of a place tend to be the loudest ones and they stand out while all the nice, normal parts get shoved to the back of your mind. It can make a place seem like Hell on Earth when it’s really just as bad or good as anywhere else. And, once you’ve experienced bad stuff and been put in that mood, everything else gets coloured by it so that the place seems even worse.

    • There’s some truth in that, and of course there are a few nice places in Copenhagen.

      There’s a certain Indian Restaurant where they serve the best curry I ever had (including what I’ve had in London), and there’s a few nice pubs too. Strangely enough (or maybe not at all strange) Simon told me the name of his favorite pub the other day, and I knew it, and it was actually my favorite Copenhagen pub back in the day when I had to go to Copenhagen a couple of times a month on workrelated business. Purely coincidental. Never told him about the place.

      The area we call “Sydhavnen” (or “Øen” – The Island – between friends) is also nice, but mostly because of the vintage atmosphere there. It’s like going 80 years back in time.

      Tivoli they can keep to themselves. It’s highly overrated.

        • So true. Back in Belgrade, me and my friends would find a nice pub and then, few months later, some other people I knew would end up in the same place.

          • That’s another thing, finally finding a good place that isn’t overrun by people you know, and a month later everybody has discovered your new hiding place, and you’re back to square one.

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