Yet another New Year’s Eve

2022 ended up being a most unusual year, both for me, and I suppose, for everyone else. In my case, the year in which I turned 60 began last January with my testing positive for COVID-45, evidently contracted when I was ordered to a live court appearance in Manhattan shortly before Christmas, literally just as the Omicron variant was ramping up to a full crescendo. As a result, we abruptly canceled our usual Christmas visit to an aging relative, who we obviously did not want to expose. Because apparently the universe saved a bunch of Jokers in the deck for 2022, about a month later, that very same aging relative had a difficult recovery from a surgery, and ended up moving in with us to complete recovery. A month after that, said relative broke their hip while in the care of others. As this is a very close relative of Mrs. TD, after an unpleasant hospitalization and two months of in-patient rehabilitation at a nursing facility, they have now moved in with us permanently, in what had been our bedroom (with en suite bath). We have effectively been displaced within our own house (fortunately, Stately Dog Manor permits us enough room to accommodate such an event).

Meanwhile, the Loquacious Pup, who had moved back into the house after graduating college and then getting two different excellent jobs related to her humanities major both in New York City moved out of the house (again), to take a job in another city (an Eastern city featuring a number of cultural institutions and the seat of our national government, a city that, hilariously, both Mrs. TD and I both spent some unpleasant time in after graduating school back in the 80s).

Hilariously, this year also saw me obtain a pretty significant promotion at work, which came with a minor salary increase, but also a cool corner office (at least on those couple of days a week I go to the office) and allegedly higher profile work (not that I seek out this sort of thing). At the beginning of the year, I also maintained my prior position (amounting to “assistant manager”) as well as my new one. And… as much of the year has been devoted, of course, to dealing with said ailing relative, I confess to seeing much of my work duties as kind of a blur, given what else was going on.

In the meantime, I also decided to go “all in” on the distance running thing, at least in terms of, well, distance. And hence, besides running the Berlin Marathon (my third of six “World Marathon Majors”), and my fourth Marine Corps Marathon in Washington and my twentieth consecutive New York City Marathon (I’m tied for 130-something longest active streak now), and the Long Island and Brooklyn marathons in the spring, and some other stuff, I managed to squeeze in four of the five longest runs of my life. Since December of 2021, I managed to get in runs of 47 miles, 50 miles twice and 62 miles. All of this is leading up to the big kahuna, a race in two weeks time in an undisclosed location (about two miles from where my famous college classmate went to high school)… considered one of the five most difficult one-hundred mile races in the world… an event where the majority of entrants generally do not finish, and in which I am both too old and too unprepared to even think about doing well. To quote Chairman Mao, “Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent.”

Well, that’s enough about me (LOL… there’s NEVER enough about me!)… so we can talk about the world writ large. As I intimated in this space shortly before the November election, I thought that the real danger to our republic was not the hair’s breadth/coin flip in the Congress (which literally came down to a split decision in each house of Congress, Dems holding a slim margin in the Senate and the GQP holding a slim margin in the House), but the combination of a corrupt (my God IS IT CORRUPT) U.S. Supreme Court giving credence to the bullshit “independent state legislature” theory (because it favors Republicans), which still might happen, and because enough state legislatures, state election officials, attorneys general and so forth were in Republican hands and were utterly in the thrall of Trumpism, and hence, blatantly dishonest enough to disregard the results of popular elections just to enable Republicans to win. And while the results in a number of key states (like Arizona, for example) did not bear this out, the possibility still looms. The mid-terms proved shockingly indecisive, though of course, rumors of a red wave were, rightly, grossly overstated (thanks again, Clarence). Fact is, most non-Republican voters aren’t terrified of drag shows, wokeness or the words “defund the police.” And while the Democrats do a half-assed job of trying to improve delivery of healthcare, the Republican platform now seems to be focused on exterminating the Jews. In short… what is shocking is that in this lunatic asylum of a political structure, we ostensibly have an evenly divided government between these two parties.

Meanwhile, the Former Guy, just in time to be blamed for a lackluster GQP mid-term performance, announced his 2024 presidential campaign. Shortly thereafter, he announced his latest g̶r̶i̶f̶t̶ commercial venture. Of course, the Former Guy also got the news that General Zod had been appointed as special counsel to investigate (but Heavens, not to prosecute!) his failure to return classified documents despite being asked nicely, as well as other stuff. And Liz Cheney and the Gang finally had to close up the January 6th Committee with a criminal referral of TFG to… General Zod. For no reason, Jared Kushner and Elon Musk were spotted at the World Cup in Qatar together. Discuss.

Speaking of Herr Musk, it is kind of gratifying to see that living out one’s fantasy of being the world’s biggest troll (and a troll of your primary customer for your exploding virtue-signalling signature vehicle, the upscale liberal) has (hopefully) impacted his personal wealth.

Meanwhile, while Americans screwed around with our “mid-terms” and decades high inflation followed by decades high interest rate increases, along with a “great resignation,” “quiet quitting” and assorted other nonsense, even as the empire strikes back to crush unionization lest successful efforts at Amazon or Starbucks become any kind of trend, the ongoing threat to life on Earth posed by industrial capitalism has reached “code red” status (whatever that means), so naturally, we can expect capitalist governments to do… not very much. We have managed to make sure that well over $100 billion in aid (largely to American military contractors, btw) has flowed to Ukraine to enable that country to continue its bleeding-on-our-behalf proxy war against the invading Russians. That war, in turn, has resulted in a serious energy situation in Europe (and everywhere else), and soon, a serious food situation, well, just about everywhere.

Meanwhile, that war itself has apparently resulted in over 200,000 casualties (all sides), and in terms of refugees, the largest war refugee situation ever, with 8 million refugees having fled Ukraine and an additional 8 million internally displaced. Obviously, shit is happening in other places, such as Yemen (casualties reaching almost 400,000 dead civilians by the end of last year) or Syria (over 300,000 dead civilians in that country’s “civil war”). Humans kind of suck, when you get right down to it, even before we start talking about Israel’s most right-wing government ever or escalating protests and state violence in response in Iran or a massive COVID outbreak and an indeterminable number of deaths in China, which abruptly reversed three years of “zero-COVID” policy.

Going back to Chairman Mao, if you like utter chaos, the present situation is, indeed, excellent. For 2023, I assume we can expect dueling inflation (see above re energy and food shortages caused by Russia/Ukraine war and supply-chain issues caused by China Covid situation) and recession (see above re Fed interest rate hikes). We can expect further environmental degradation as we hurtle toward whatever climate catastrophe we have baked into the capitalist cake, because the world’s 2,000 or so billionaires (the only people on the planet who actually matter in our system) just don’t give a shit for yielding any part of their privilege so that people survive in the intermediate to long term, even themselves. I just don’t see this changing, because I don’t see the pitchforks and torches coming out in an FB, Instagram, Twitter, etc. dominated world. The circuses seem too compelling even amidst an actual bread shortage. And of course, in ten days or so, the special jail-for-Muslims we set up at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba will have been open for 21 years… I’ll be at an event in mid-town Manhattan for the occasion, and encourage others interested to do the same. The complete moral lapse of our nation as represented by GTMO seems small beer compared to some of these other things (and let’s not forget how much of our knowledge of these things came from martyr-to-journalism Julian Assange, a man our government evidently wants to torture to death for the highest crime imaginable: embarrassing the powerful).

OK… in short, another year in which we must all try to do our best to improve the world in whatever way or ways that we can. Because the rich and powerful have no intention of doing anything of the kind. Happy new year. And God willing, during the course of next year and culminating around this time then with a “2023” after it, we’ll all get together and take stock again. Best wishes to you all for the coming year.