Saturday, January 03, 2015


Now that we can close the books on 2014, one thing is certain:  It was a year that crept up on you.  Again and again, distracted by Something Big, we were blindsided like a Jets quarterback by something completely unexpected.

Iceland was poised to produce another volcano which would surpass all previous volcanoes, fouling the sky with ash and lousing up air travel for weeks.  They even named it:  Bardarbunga.  It belched and it fizzed and then we heard no more of it.  Nothing.  Six months later, on the other side of the world, a volcano in Hawaii woke up and devoured part of a village.  If it has a name, I've forgotten it. 

Ebola is a terrible disease which has devastated western Africa, probably the part of the world least capable of responding to such a disease.  The forces of stupid assured us it would soon be here...any minute it comes...ISIS suicide troops infected with the virus were poised to sneak across the Mexican border disguised as six-year-old Honduran refugees and make straight for New York where they would sneeze all over Ben Carson...except not.  Two people have died in this country from the disease, both of whom were exposed elsewhere and not diagnosed in time to save them.  Everybody else is fine, including the nurse Chris Christie wanted to isolate in a tent.  Meanwhile, there were outbreaks of pertussis -- whooping cough -- in Michigan and California, probably because ill-informed moms chose not to have their children vaccinated.  And then the National Hockey League was hit by mumps.

In September, a referendum was going to end the United Kingdom after three centuries.  There was much serious discussion about who would get the Queen and who would get the nuclear subs.  Would Scotland join the European Union?  If not, why not?  What about the North Sea oil?  Would Sir Sean Connery turn in his knighthood?  The polls showed the result was too close to call, until the day after the vote, when "Nae" prevailed by 55 to 45 percent.  So...what was all that about?

I don't think anybody was prepared for the sheer number of women who came forward to accuse Bill Cosby of drugging and raping them years ago.  A football player abusing his wife or child, somehow that's unsurprising.  Cos began (I'm old enough to remember) as the black comedian who never mentioned race in his act and went on to become America's Dad, Cliff Huxtable, the curiously underemployed OB-GYN who always had time to sit on the couch and dispense fatherly wisdom.  I could be wrong, but I don't remember him instructing Theo on the correct use of Rohypnol.  Was his star power so strong that none of these women went to the police before the statute of limitations ran out?  Or were they reluctant to be abused by his fans and defenders, even in those blessedly pre-Fox days? 

Nobody seems able to account for the steadily falling price of gasoline in recent months, least of all Vladimir Putin, who has pegged his entire economy to oil.  Suddenly the bare-chested Lion of the Crimea who so impressed the Rightzis last summer doesn't look so heroic, especially compared to our own law professor-in-chief.  From immigration reform to recognizing Cuba, it's been all Obama since November, when a tiny proportion of voters decided to put the lunatics in charge of both wards of the asylum.  Too bad Eric Cantor won't be there to see the fun.  He was blindsided -- "primaried" is the term of art -- by a Tea Party goon even more reactionary.  And if it can happen to Cantor, who is safe?  Before long, someone may decide to target Ted Cruz, pointing out that he read into the Congressional Record the work of a known leftist, Theodore Geisl, a/k/a Dr. Seuss.  That should make Texas heads explode.   

Speaking of Cuba, how about that pope?  For his Christmas Eve homily, usually an occasion for peace-on-earth bromides, Francis pulled out the Festivus Pole.  Apparently he has a lot of problems with the Curia and the cardinals, and with the world watching he accused them of everything but simony and grand theft auto.  I was impressed by the Airing of Grievances, but Festivus isn't over until the Feats of Strength.  Now we see why he chose communal life over papal isolation.  Did you see The Godfather, Part Three?

Will North Korea, a country that sometimes has electricity, unleash its awesome cyberpower against an ill-prepared West?  Or will it turn out that Sony has pulled off the greatest publicity stunt in the history of movies to sell another indifferent movie to an indifferent public?   I have a lot of questions.  Keep reading my irregular opinions and ill-founded conclusions and watch out for Bardarbunga.