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A Little Weird: Shitshow in review

By Eddie Whitlock

​This is my second attempt at an end-of-2023 column. Just as Nikki Haley failed to mention slavery as the cause of the Civil War, I failed to have fun with the shitshow that this year has been.

​Let me assure you – just as Nikki Haley assured you that we all know slavery caused the Civil War a mere 24 hours after being asked the question – that the year was filled with opportunities for humor. Generally, it was dark humor.

​Early in the year, a new threat appeared: Balloons.

​The United States noticed that Chinese weather balloons were drifting across our spacious skies with the potential of harming our amber waves of grain. Maybe these weren’t weather balloons, after all, we thought.

​After some public debate, we shot them down.

​With so much money invested in technology that went fast, we ignored balloons.

​Inspired by this, Vladimir Putin is currently sending giant tortoises carrying spy cameras across the Bering Strait. They should arrive by the time Congress reaches a bi-partisan agreement on the budget.

​My wife and I took the Chinese Spy Balloon thing very seriously. Lots of “what if”scenarios prompted us to establish an emergency food stash just in case. Then grocery prices surged, and we ate all of it.

​Russia continued its occupation of parts of Ukraine. That war was interrupted during the summer when Yevgeny Prigozhin – the head of a Russian military contracting company – rebelled against Putin.

​The regular Russian army didn’t join in. Putin told Prigozhin to back down or he’d be charged with treason and prosecuted. Prigozhin backed down.

​A couple of months later, a plane in which Prigozhin was a passenger crashed, killing everyone on board. The crash was apparently caused by a window that could not be opened so Prigozhin could accidentally fall out.

​Artificial Intelligence was a news item in 2023.

​Or at least, it looked like it was a news item. Maybe it wasn’t, but the computer-generated news stories merely made it appear to be a news item.

​Either way the use of artificial intelligence to generate is of great concern to artists.

The Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG/AFTRA) went on strike in July.

The SAG/AFTRA strike really worried me. A previous strike led television networks to shift to unscripted programming. That shift led to “The Apprentice,” the television show that made some people think Donald Trump was a smart businessman.

​The strike was primarily about the impact Artificial Intelligence is going to have on the entertainment industry. Personally, I think there’s no stopping the use of AI. I think the union was right to demand limits on the use of computer-generated voices and images of its members.

​[Note: I must throw in an admission here. I really love the AI creation that has Hank Williams singing a version of “Straight Out of Compton.” I’m not making that up.]

​We all love a good rescue story. The TV show “Lassie” was built around a collie constantly saving the life of little boy named Timmie. You cannot forget Baby Jessica who fell in a well back in 1987, was rescued, and to this day is hounded by media folks wanting to do a “Whatever happened to…” about her.

​The summer of 2023 had its own twisted rescue story.

​There was a company that thought they could make a ton of money by putting people into what was called a submersible and taking them to see the wreckage of the Titanic. Well, building a submersible isn’t cheap, so the only folks who could afford such a jaunt were rich.

​Initially, there was a search. We were told there was a search anyhow. It turns out that those in the know knew there was nothing to search for. The submersible, which had been originally given the questionable name Cyclops 2 before being renamed Titan, had imploded.

​I have a dark sense of humor, but even I was surprised at the way people piled on with jokes about this event. With a few months distance from the tragedy-that-wasn’t, I think I know why: We are finally starting to hate rich people.

​Maybe it’s because we’re becoming less religious. Napoleon allegedly said something to the effect of “Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.” Well, Napoleon. I don’t even think most of us would see it as murder these days. It’s drifting into “justifiable homicide” territory on a social level and “he needed killin’” on a personal one.

​To be clear, I’m opposed to killing anyone. I’m just to the point where some obituaries (I’m looking at you, Henry Kissinger) aren’t really tear-jerkers.

​Toward the end of 2023, our House of Representatives was in chaos. Speaker Kevin McCarthy had gotten the job through a contract with the Devil, who exercised an option within the agreement and terminated McCarthy’s speakership.

​Finding another speaker took more than three weeks. The world, understanding that sometimes America needs a few minutes to collect itself, hit the pause button and waiting.

​Actually, that’s not true. Things kept happening.

​Hammas attacked Israel. Israel retaliated. For the first time in fifty years, Israel declared war. More than 21,000 people have been killed. Half a million people in the Gaza Strip are facing starvation.

​The Republicans in the House finally selected QBE Mike Johnson as their new Speaker. He believes that in government based on the Bible. What could possibly go wrong?

​Another thing that continued in 2023 is global warming. It’s getting hotter faster. Kurt Vonnegut said, “We could have saved the Earth, but we were too damned cheap.” I love Uncle Kurt, but I think it’s not all of “we.” It’s a comparative handful of greedy shxts who could improve things but don’t.

​NASA scientist James Hansen noted in an interview with The Guardian, “Not only did governments fail to stem global warming, the rate of global warming actually accelerated.” It turns out that July was the hottest in 120,000 years. I don’t know how they know that, but I believe them. It was certainly the hottest I’ve seen in 65 years.

​I could tell you about the mass shooting numbers for 2023, but you’ve probably been sufficiently depressed by my notes so far. Oh, and “QBE” stands for “quiet, but evil.”

​I’ll tell you a final bit of good news from 2023.

​For the past few years, I’ve followed news about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This is a swirling wad of trash in the Pacific Ocean that covers 620,000 square miles. Understand, please, that this is not an island, but a swirling wad that is comprised of pieces and particles.

​All of our pollution is harming the planet, killing the animals, and poisoning the waters. The GPGP is just a huge concentration of this problem.

​The good news about this bad thing is that in 2023, the organization Ocean Cleanup removed 25,000 pounds of garbage from the patch.

​The group believes they will be able to remove 90 percent of plastics from the oceans by 2040.

​Knowing that a group of people made this happen cheers me a bit.

​I’m not looking for any of the billionaires who got rich on the backs of the working class to allow a rising tide to lift all boats. It’s going to take working folks putting aside small differences to work together and make life better for all of us.

​It would be really cool if 2024 could end with our saying, “Wow. We made it a little better.”

Eddie Whitlock is a Georgia native, a graduate of UGA, and wannabe writer. He retired in 2021 from the Athens-Clarke County Library, where he worked as coordinator of volunteers, community service supervisor, and vending machine scapegoat.

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OC_DadOfSix
OC_DadOfSix
Dec 30, 2023

Good grief with the doom and gloom…why do folks like you love to bitch?

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Replying to

Well, one person’s attention to fact driven reality, is another person’s bitching.

fondly,

” Another of “those folks”

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