Dave Barry provides at Miami Herald his usual droll witty take on events Dave Barry’s Year in Review: Wait, wasn’t 2021 supposed to be better than 2020?. Some excerpts in italics along with my added comments and images.
Year in review 2021
Fortunately in 2021, we followed the Science, which decided that the coronavirus does not observe floor arrows. On the other hand, the Science could not make up its mind about masks, especially in restaurants. Should everybody in the restaurant wear them? Should only the staff wear them? Should people who are standing up wear them, but not people who are sitting down, which would seem to suggest that the virus can also enter our bodies via our butts? We still don’t know, and we can’t wait to find out what the Science will come up with for us next.
Anyway, our point is not that 2021 was massively better than 2020. Our point is that at least it was different. A variant, so to speak. And like any year, it had both highs and lows.
No, we take that back. It was pretty much all lows, as we will see when we review the key events of 2021, starting in…
The spotlight now shifts to incoming President Joe Biden, who takes the oath of office in front of a festive throng of 25,000 National Guard troops. The national healing begins quickly as Americans, exhausted from years of division and strife, join together in exchanging memes of Bernie Sanders attending the inauguration wearing distinctive mittens and the facial expression of a man having his prostate examined by a hostile sea urchin.
Bjorn Lomborg: Joe Biden will rejoin the Paris climate agreement soon after being inaugurated as president of the United States. Climate change, according to Biden, is “an existential threat” to the nation, and to combat it, he proposes to spend $500 billion each year on climate policies — the equivalent of $1,500 per person.
For Americans, President Barack Obama’s Paris promises carried a price tag of nearly $200 billion a year. But Biden has vowed to go much further, with a promise of net-zero by 2050. There is only one nation that has done an independent cost estimate of net-zero, namely New Zealand. The Kiwis found the average best-case cost is 16 percent of GDP, or a US cost of more than $5 trillion a year by mid-century.
These figures are unsustainable. Moreover, the US and other developed countries can achieve very little on their own. Imagine if Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries stopped all their emissions today and never bounced back. This would be utterly devastating economically yet would reduce global warming by the end of the century by less than 0.8 degrees.
There is a smarter way: investing a lot more in green-energy research and development. As Bill Gates says, “We’re short about two dozen great innovations” to fix climate. If we could innovate the price of green energy below fossil fuels, everyone would switch, eventually fixing climate change.
Joe Biden’s climate agenda is all about creating a crisis — not actually fixing one
A massive ice storm blasts much of the nation, taking an especially brutal toll on Texas, where record-setting cold temperatures knock out power to large areas and wreak devastating havoc upon millions of cells in the brain of Sen. Ted Cruz, who, despite being (Just ask him!) the smartest person on the planet, decides this would be a good time to dash off to Cancun. Meanwhile the management of the Texas power grid is harshly criticized by members of Congress who could not personally reset a home circuit breaker without the help of at least four consultants and a pollster.
The Mars rover Perseverance collects scientific evidence proving that Mars is mostly dirt. AP
In the month’s most positive news, the NASA rover “Perseverance,” after traveling 293 million miles through space, lands safely on the surface of Mars. Technically it was supposed to land on Venus, but as a NASA spokesperson observes, “a planet is a planet.” The rover sends back breathtaking video revealing that Mars has an environment consisting — as scientists have long suspected — of dirt.
Congressional Democrats pass the Biden administration’s COVID-19 relief package, which will cost $1.9 trillion, which the United States will pay for by selling baked goods to foreign nations. In a prime-time address after signing the bill, President Biden says there is “a good chance” that Americans will be able to gather together “by July the Fourth.” He does not specify which one.
Three hundred years ago, Vivaldi wrote “The Four Seasons.” It portrays the natural world, from birdsong to summer storms. But the warming climate could radically alter the natural world by 2050, so a new version of “The Four Seasons” has been altered, too.
“We really wanted to walk that line between being too ridiculously catastrophic and kind of meaningfully changing this to make it sound what we think it might feel like to live in that time,” says Tim Devine of AKQA.
The design agency partnered with composers and scientists to develop an algorithm that translates projected environmental changes into musical changes. It allows them to create localized versions for any place where the piece is performed.
In the version played by Australia’s Sydney Symphony Orchestra, missing notes reflect declining bird populations, and the summer storm is more intense and prolonged.
There is some welcome news on the COVID-19 front as the CDC declares that it is not necessary to wear a face mask “provided that you are fully vaccinated, and you are outdoors, and you are part of a small gathering, and everybody in this gathering has also been fully vaccinated, and all of you periodically, as a precaution, emit little whimpers of terror.” The CDC adds that “we, personally, plan to spend the next five to ten years locked in our bedroom.”
President Biden, in his first speech to Congress, promotes his infrastructure plan, which would cost $2.3 trillion, and his American Families plan, which would cost $1.8 trillion, with both plans to be funded by what the president describes as a “really big car wash.”
The CDC further relaxes its COVID-19 guidelines in response to new scientific data showing that a lot of people have stopped paying attention to CDC guidelines. At this point these are the known facts about the pandemic in America:
— Many Americans have been vaccinated but continue to act as though they have not.
— Many other Americans have not been vaccinated but act as though they have.
— Many of those who got vaccinated hate Donald Trump, who considers the vaccines to be one of his greatest achievements.
— Many who refuse to get vaccinated love Donald Trump.
What do these facts tell us? They tell us that we, as a nation, are insane. But we knew that.
Myth: Sars-CV2 is a new virus, and we have no defense.
Fact: Sars-CV2 has not been scientifically established as a virus.
Myth: Testing positive for Sars-CV2 makes you a disease case and a spreader.
Fact: PCR tests say nothing about you being ill or infectious.
Myth: Millions of people have died from Covid19.
Fact: Life expectancy is the same before and after Covid19.
Myth: Wearing masks prevents viral infection.
Fact: Evidence shows masks are symbolic, not effective.
President Biden goes to Europe to participate in an important and historic photo opportunity with the other leaders of the G7 economic powers, which are Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Google, Facebook and Mattress Giant. In a formal joint statement issued after the meeting, the leaders declare that everybody had, quote, “a nice time.” Biden also meets with Queen Elizabeth II, who has met with every U.S. president since we started having them.
COVID-19, which we thought was almost over — this is like the eighth or ninth time we have thought this — appears to be surging again in certain areas because of the “Delta Variant,” which gets its name from the fact that it is spread primarily by fraternities. The problem is that many Americans have declined to be vaccinated, despite the efforts of pro-vaccine voices to change the minds of the skeptics by informing them that they are stupid idiots, which is usually a persuasive argument. In response to the surge, the CDC issues new guidelines urging Americans to “do the opposite of whatever we said in our previous guidelines, not that anyone is paying attention.”
In the month’s most upbeat story, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos pioneer a new era in billionaire leisure travel by going up in private suborbital spacecraft. The two flights are radically different: Branson’s takes off in New Mexico and returns to earth in New Mexico; whereas Bezos takes off in Texas and comes down in Texas. Space enthusiasts say these missions will pave the way toward a future in which ordinary people with millions of spare dollars will be able to travel from one part of a state to a completely different part of that state while wearing matching outfits.
Athletes in the scaled-back Tokyo Olympics compete in the two-person flag-wave event. Koji Ito AP
In Tokyo, the pandemic-delayed 2020 Olympic games (motto: “Later, Smaller, Sadder”) finally get underway with the majestic Nasal Swab of Nations. This is followed by the ceremonial lighting of the Olympic Torch, which for safety reasons is a small vanilla-scented bath candle that is immediately extinguished to prevent it from attracting crowds. Let the games begin!
The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is similar to a soccer riot, but not as organized. Shekib Rahmani AP
American forces are withdrawn from Afghanistan, a country that, thanks to 20 years of our involvement, has been transformed — at a cost of many lives and more than $2 trillion — from a brutal, primitive undemocratic society into a brutal, primitive undemocratic society with a whole lot of abandoned American military hardware lying around. Most Americans agree that we have accomplished our mission, which is the same mission that the Russians had in Afghanistan before us, and the British had before them; namely, to get the hell out of Afghanistan.
The Biden administration, noting that the president has more than 140 years of experience reading Teleprompter statements about foreign policy, assures everyone that it has a Sound Exit Plan allowing for Every Possible Contingency, and insists that the withdrawal is going well. This assessment is confirmed by observers on the ground, particularly Jen Psaki, with the ground in her case being the White House Press Briefing Room. Observers who are actually in Kabul paint a somewhat darker picture of the withdrawal, more along the lines of what would have happened if the Hindenburg had crashed into the Titanic during a soccer riot.
Meanwhile global climate change continues to be a big concern as scientists release disturbing satellite images showing that the Antarctic ice sheet, for the first time in thousands of years, has developed a Dairy Queen.
Connor Harris explains in his City Journal article Try a Dose of Skepticism. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.
Ivermectin may or may not work against Covid-19, but media coverage of the drug has been sneering, inaccurate—and revealing.
“You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it,” read a recent viral tweet warning readers away from using a certain medication to treat Covid-19. The tone of affectedly folksy condescension would be expected from any of thousands of Twitter-addicted progressive journalists, but less so from the official account of the United States Food and Drug Administration. Perhaps even more surprising, the tweet linked to a warning advising readers not to take a drug, ivermectin, that has been used in humans for decades and is a standard Covid-19 treatment in much of the world.
The media’s recent reporting on ivermectin is a fitting sequel to their reporting on hydroxychloroquine near the beginning of the pandemic—but not, as received opinion would have it, because both are tales of red-state yokels duped into taking poisonous phony remedies. As in the earlier case, media coverage of ivermectin exemplifies how the liberal political class’s bias, and its confusion of respect for science with blind trust in a scientific establishment, impairs their skepticism and their capacity to appraise complex scientific questions. See Why the Leftist Backlash Against Ivermectin
Speaking of threats: American military and intelligence officials express concern over reports that China has tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile, although a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson states that it was “probably a bat.”
In other disturbing developments, Facebook suffers a worldwide outage lasting several harrowing hours, during which billions of people are forced to obtain all of their misinformation from Twitter. Later in the month Facebook Chief Execudroid Mark Zuckerberg announces that, to better reflect Facebook’s vision for the future, the parent company is changing its name to the Washington Redskins.
One of the year’s celebrity space travelers is William Shatner, 90, whose suborbital voyage lasts 10 minutes, including two bathroom breaks. Mario Tama TNS
But there is also inspiring news in October, provided by 90-year-old actor William Shatner, who boards a Blue Origin suborbital capsule and successfully travels from one part of Texas to another part of Texas in a subhistoric mission lasting 10 minutes, including two bathroom stops.
Biden heads to Glasgow, a city located in Scotland or possibly Wales, to participate in COP26, a 190-nation conference on climate change attended by 30,000 political leaders, diplomats, bureaucrats, experts, spokespersons, observers, aides, minions, private-jet pilots and of course Leonardo DiCaprio. After an incalculable number of catered meals and lengthy impassioned speeches making the points that (1) the climate crisis is real, (2) this is an emergency, (3) the time for action is NOW, (4) we cannot afford to wait ONE DAY longer, and (5) WE ARE NOT KIDDING AROUND THIS IS SERIOUS DAMMIT, the participating nations hammer out a historic agreement declaring, in no uncertain terms, that they will definitely, no excuses this time, gather next year for another conference, which, in a clear indication of progress, will be named “COP27.” Take that, climate change!
On the economic front, the Biden administration, seeking to counteract the steep rise in gasoline prices, orders the Energy Department to release 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Within minutes a dozen towns in east Texas are flattened by an oil wave estimated to be 200 feet high. “Apparently,” states a red-faced department spokesperson, “you’re supposed to release the oil into a pipeline.”
Meanwhile, in response to a global shortage of maple syrup, the Quebec Maple Syrup Producers announce that they are releasing 50 million pounds of syrup from their strategic reserve. You probably think we are making this item up, but we are not.
As the month draws to a close, anxiety mounts worldwide over yet another coronavirus variant, called “omicron,” which we are pretty sure is also the name of one of the lesser villains in “Avengers: Endgame.” Everyone — government officials, medical authorities and the news media — assures the public that while the new variant is a cause for concern, there is no reason to panic because OHMIGOD THEY’RE BANNING TRAVEL FROM AFRICA THE STOCK MARKET IS CRASHING THE VACCINES MIGHT NOT WORK WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE POSSIBLY AS SOON AS THE MONTH OF …
… which begins with the nations of the world united in a heartwarming humanitarian effort to make sure that omicron stays in the other nations of the world. The U.S. government considers tough new restrictions on international travelers, including requiring their planes to circle the airport for seven days before landing, but eventually settles on a compromise under which the planes will be allowed to land, but the passengers must remain in the airport eating prepackaged kiosk sandwiches until, in the words of a CDC spokesperson, “all of their germs are dead.”
President Biden, in a reassuring address to the nation on his strategy for dealing with a potential winter coronavirus surge, urges Americans to “do what it says on the teleprompter.”
In a historic video summit, President Biden and President Putin discuss the issue of how the “mute” button works. Adam Schultz AP
Meanwhile the news media, performing their vital, constitutionally protected function of terrifying the public, run story after story documenting the relentless advance of omicron, with headlines like “First Omicron Case Reported in Japan,” “Omicron Now Reported In California,” “Omicron Heading Your Way,” “OMICRON IS IN YOUR ATTIC RIGHT NOW,” etc.
The big economic story continues to be inflation, which is the worst it has been for decades, with the hardest-hit victims being low-income consumers and major college-football programs, which are being forced to pay tens of millions of dollars to obtain the services of even mediocre head coaches. In another disturbing economic development, the Federal Reserve Board issues a formal statement admitting that it has no earthly idea what a “bitcoin” is, and it’s pretty sure nobody else does either.
Elsewhere abroad, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reports that a prestigious Saudi beauty pageant for camels, with $66 million in prize money, disqualified over 40 contestants because they received Botox injections, facelifts and other artificial touch-ups. We are not making this item up.
In sports, Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement expires, raising the possibility of a work stoppage next season, not that anyone would notice, inasmuch as the average professional baseball game this season lasted as long as the gestation period of a yak, but with less action.
In holiday-season news, travel in the Midwest is snarled when the U.S. Department of Agriculture, seeking to alleviate a shortage of Christmas hams, releases 17 million head of pig from the Strategic Pork Reserve, blocking every major road into and out of Iowa and causing the region to smell, in the words of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, “even worse than usual.”
Finally, mercifully, the troubled year nears its conclusion. As the nation prepares to celebrate New Year’s Eve, the mood is subdued and thoughtful. People are still getting drunk and throwing up, but they’re doing this in a subdued and thoughtful manner. Because nobody knows what 2022 will bring. Will it suck as much as this year? Will it suck more? Or will it suck a LOT more? These appear to be our choices.
OK, so that’s not very hopeful. But don’t let it stop you from ringing in 2022 on a festive note. For one night, forget about the bad things. Be festive, party hard, and, in the words of Dr. Anthony Fauci, “lower your mask before you throw up.”
via Science Matters
December 28, 2021