Tag Archives: December

2022 is done. Thoughts and rambling on the last 365 days (i.e. the December 2022 edition)

Another year over. A semi-pandemic year, in a sense. Covid is still with us, but we did not (so far) get slammed with a bad new variant like we did last year with Omicron. Instead the pandemic is lesser than it was, but greater than the flu in terms of the sickness and death it brings. We still get vaccinated, though less than before. Schools are attended (though  affected),  restaurants are dined in, parties and special events are attended.

You could say things look….normal. But then you can look towards China: they seem to be struggling to deal with COVID lately. Who knows what 2023 will bring? More normal or more like China?

But that’s for 2023. As for last year and what was trending, we can look to  Google which has all its data. One place that was trending alot in 2022: China. China is struggling with both Covid and Xi’s approach to it, as this shows. As for the Chinese leader himself, it was a bad year for Xi, as well as Putin and other global bad guys, sez VOX. And it’s not just the Chinese residents that are having to deal with Xi and his government: Canada has been investigating chinese police stations in Canada. More on that here. I expect China will also trend in 2023. Let’s hope for better reasons.

Other trending events in 2022? Crypto. There was lots of talk about it and people like Sam Bankman-Fried after the collapse of his crypto currency exchange and subsequent arrest. We had stories like this: How I turned $15 000 into $1.2m during the pandemic and then lost it all. Tragic. The overall collapse of the industry has lead to things like bans on crypto mining. That’s good. It has lead to questions around the fundamentals, like: Blockchains What Are They Good For? Last, to keep track of all the shenanigans, I recommend this site: Web3 is Going Just Great. I expect crypto to remain a shambles next year. Time and money will tell.

Elon Musk also managed to trend quite often due to his take over of Twitter and more. He still has fans, but many are disillusioned. After all, his campaign to win back Twitter Advertisers isn’t going well. He was outright booed on stage with Dave Chapelle. (No doubt being a jerk contributed to this.) Tesla stock is tanking. Even his  Starlink is losing money. What a year of failure. I can’t see his 2023 improving either. Hard to believe he was Time’s Man of the Year in 2021!

Because of Musk, people are looking to join other networks, like Mastodon. (BTW, here’s some help on How to Make a Mastodon Account and Join the Fediverse). Some are looking to old networks, like this: the case for returning to tumblr. Some are looking at new ways to socialize online, like this.

Musk was not alone in trending this year due to being a bad guy. Let’s not forget that Kanye West trended as well due to his freakish behavior and antisemitism.

AI was another big trend this year, with things like ChatGPT and stable diffusion (here’s how you can set it up on AWS). We also had stories like this: Madison Square Garden Uses Facial Recognition to Ban Its Owner’s Enemies. Not good. What’s next for AI?  This takes a look. I think we may get an AI winter, but we have 12 months to see if that holds true.

For what it’s worth, Newsletters like Matt Yglesias’s are still going strong, though levelling off I think.

Trends and development aside, here’s some other topics I found interesting and worth being up to close the year:

Assisted death was a grim topic in 2022 in Canada. I remain glued to stories like this: We’re all implicated in Michael Fraser;s decision to die, and  this and this. It all seems like a failure, although this argues that assisted dying is working.

Here’s two good pieces on homelessness Did Billions in Spending Make a Dent in Homelessness? And ‘It’s a sin that we all had to leave’: Moving out of Meagher Park.

Need some advice for the new year? Try this: How Much and Where Are You Really Supposed to Tip? Consider this a good approach to  reading. Here’s a good approach to  slowing down, while here’s a good discussion on  Boundaries. Things to avoid:  the biggest wastes of time we regret when we get older.

Things I found interesting in sports this year:

Things I found interesting in general this year:

Finally, here’s some good advice to close out the year: Don’t Treat Your Life as a Project.

Thanks for reading this and anything else you read on this blog in 2022. I appreciate it. I managed to blog about roughly 3000 things on the internet this year. I hope you found some of them useful.

Happy New Year!

Another pandemic year is done. Here’s my highlights and ramblings for December 2021 (a newsletter, in blog form)

Happy New Year’s Eve to you! Raise a glass of cheer for another year of pandemic nonsense down the drain. Last month I said: it’s hard to believe we are in the pandemic, like it was about to be finished soon. Now what we got in December was almost a throwback to the beginning of the pandemic! Painful. I hope the reading of this newsletter brings something other than pain.

Pandemic: Last month I wondered what the Omicron variant would bring. Now I know: it brought us an incredible amount of sickness. Cases have shot through the roof and it seems like COVID, once preventable with reasonable measures taken, is less so. Worse, even with vaccines people are still getting ill. The one piece of good news so far is hospitalization seems to be manageable.

That said, Omicron has been hard on us.  Like this piece says, the week Omicron arrived was  the week that Covid sucker punched the world. Alot of our hopes and dreams have been dashed because Omicron is rewriting the COVID plan for 2022. Not surprisingly, across the world Covid anxiety and depression take hold.

But people have also been making an effort. People are getting test like crazy, and not surprisingly, this has led to test backlogs. The challenge here is sometimes the backlogs are due to overwhelming demand and sometimes it is due to underwhelming supply. People are assuming the problem is the latter, but even the most efficient supply chain can get overwhelmed by too much demand. That said, some places (Nova Scotia) are really good at distributing tests, while other places (Ontario) not so much.

Before omicron, the number of hot takes on COVID had seem to die down. Now they have fired back up again. Uncertainty provides fuel for all these spicy opinions. My boring take is that people should continue to mask up, avoid crowds, and get fully vaccinated as soon as they can. Heck wash your hands for 20 seconds still…it can’t hurt.

I get that people are sick of the pandemic. We all are! But pretending it isn’t happening is ridiculous. Unfortunately we have organizations like the NBA limping along because money, I suppose. I mean here are the Raptors with 10 of their players out due to COVID.  So we have these ridiculous events with 10,000 people in the stands to watch pickup basketball. No wonder we are stuck. I understand restaurants trying to get people into them: it’s do or die for many of them. The rich NBA? I have less understanding.

Christmas: it’s Christmastime, despite the pandemic. Here are three pieces on that time of year that aren’t necessarily festive, but are certainly interesting: first, here’s a story on how Irving Berlin’s ‘White Christmas’ helped U.S. fight fascism in WWII. This was interesting: Christmas and slavery: The holidays were the best time to escape. Finally, this was fun: Christmas shopping the IBM way: computerized gift selection in 1962.

Non-Pandemic: In the US, lots of people writing off Joe Biden due to Joe Manchin putting a pin in his Build Back Better legislation.  My take is: we shall see.  It’s certainly benefited Manchin in the short term. But the cliche that a week in politics is a long time is a cliche for a reason. Biden has time. He’s already achieved a lot, but it is hard to feel that. This article attempts to understand that and is worth a look.

Elsewhere in the US, unions are having a moment. So says Time. Time also says Elon Musk was man of the year. Meh to that. Every year brings my opinion of the man down a level.

Speaking of technology, there’s lots of talk lately about web3. Frankly I am highly skeptical of it. It seems like a bunch of overhyped schemes to make money. If I had to recommend one thing to read on it, it would be this.

The other thing people were talking about technology-wise were the multiple outages at AWS and the log4j vunerability. The former I was surprised by: the latter not so much. People do not realize how exposed we all are to the soft underbelly of open source: the log4j problems were a good reminder/wake up call.

Entertainment wise, I continue to avoid going to movie theatres, concerts or anything with crowds. I made an exception for television/streaming. While I rarely watch TV, there were a few things I did watch this December, including Don’t Look Up and Get Back. I thought the former was a hot mess. and this piece aligns with my views. As for Get Back, there was a lot I liked about it, including how it changed my  opinions of the band. Although a huge Paul McCartney fan, my opinion dropped of him after watching it. Same with George Harrison. My opinion of John and Ringo rose, as did my opinion of Yoko. I still love them all, but I was surprised to see my opinion still change despite all these years of being a big fan.

I also watched  some of American Crime Story on the Clinton Scandals. Bill Clinton does not come out well in it, however sympathetic you are to him. The women generally come across as human and multidimensional, which I liked. If you are into such drama, I recommend it.

Other things I enjoyed and continue to enjoy is the twitter account Canadian Paintings.  Whoever curates it does a superb job. There is such a wide range of art displayed and it is often topical. I love it every time the account posts.

Cooking-wise,  my new  favorite instagram account and web site is Salt & Lavender. Good RICH food. The account does not shy away from high fat ingredients and frankly, I love that. If you need to treat yourself, visit their website.

The other food person I follow is Carolina Gelen on IG. A very entertaining account with good recipes. She is a superb communicator.

Well that’s it for the newsletter. Remember, last year in January we were still waiting for the vaccine: we have made tremendous progress since then! We still haven’t put the pandemic behind us (I am a terrible predictor!) but I think we can soon. Hang in there!

Speaking of hanging in, if you got this far, thank you! I appreciate it! I hope you have a good and safe New Year’s Eve, and despite the challenges, you manage to have a good year next year. You deserve it. We all do.

December pandemic highlights and ramblings (a newsletter, in blog form)

Well well well, it’s the last month of 2020, and my last not-really-a-newsletter newsletter! I appreciate you taking a moment to read my latest not-a-newsletter of highlights and ramblings since the one in November.

I’m not sure if I will continue these here and in this format in the new year. Let’s see. Something for me to consider as the year closes. But for now, here’s things I’ve been thinking on since the last one:

Pandemic: It’s hard not to think about the pandemic. Since November, the pandemic has only gotten worse in many places. My town and province is no exception. Cases are up, deaths are up, efforts to flatten the curve seem to be going nowhere. My son’s school was shut down then the rest of the schools were shut down. As for leadership, it seems very reactive these days. A good analysis of that is here: With the pandemic surging, we need more leadership and less urging – The Globe and Mail. Also this piece: Why Doug Ford is stumbling during COVID-19’s second wave? Too often governments thought they could somehow manage the disease and open the economy. They couldn’t.

One of the reason deal with COVID has been so frustrating is well captured in this image:

Governments everywhere keep fiddling with the dial as if to find the right setting, and then find there is none. (Image from xkcd: Covid Precaution Level)

Some places have managed better than others, but even there it has not been perfect. Not long after this came out,  Living in Nova Scotia’s Covid-Free World – The New York Times, they had an outbreak in cases. Nova Scotia is still doing very well, but it is hard to stay perfect. (I’m looking at you New Zealand.)

Besides the health costs, there are the economic costs of the pandemic too. Articles like this come out every month in Toronto: Toronto rent prices are down 15% since last year at this time. Since that one, the rents have dropped to 20%. Meanwhile, places like The Gap are calling it quits in parts of the city: The Gap is closing its flagship store in Toronto

It may be a sad reality that many of storefronts will be boarded up  when the pandemic is over. Indeed, many are boarded up now.

And it will be over, this awful time. Vaccines are rolling out now. Here are places you can use to track it:

In the meantime, stay safe and try to stay healthy this winter. If you are in Toronto, consider this:  A New Way to Play: Recreation During COVID-19 – City of Toronto

Non-pandemic items:

The US: This newsletter is not just about the pandemic. It’s also time to send out a big Bronx cheer to the current president of the United States. I often argued that he was not the worst president in American history. I am wavering in that belief. Just the number of unnecessary deaths resulting from his inaction make him truly terrible. As we lift up the rock and uncover more about him, I think he will only seem worse. Meanwhile, here’s a good piece on his ending: Trump’s Final Days of Rage and Denial – The New York Times.

I would settle for Biden just being not-Trump. But he has a chance to do more. I hope he will. Here’s one way he could do it: Biden transition: How he could act fast and outrun Republican opposition to his presidency – Vox

The economy: One thing we are doing to hear a lot about is the deficits and debts now. This is not the time to do that. There is still much needs to be done for the world to recover. Not only that, but interest rates for some nations are essentially negative. See this for details: China Borrows at Negative Rates for the First Time – WSJ

One group in Canada you might hear banging on about the debt is the Fraser Institute. So here’s a reminder from PressProgress: pay no attention to anything the Fraser Institute says. Even if you are a right winger, at least find some source that doesn’t manipulate the facts.

Newsletters: they have become old hat now. So much so I think I will not comment on them any more. I would like to highlight one last one, though.  David Lebovitz has moved to Substack. Here is his.. He also has a great blog. He’s been an excellent user of social media for some time (not to mention a fine cook and author). Go check him out. Meanwhile, for anyone tired of turning bananas into banana bread, check out this: Banana and Chocolate Chip Upside Down Cake (Lowfat) – David Lebovitz

My blog: ICYMI, I wrote earlier on this blog about friluftsliv (a concept you should know), Ikea,  cardigans and why they are great, Betty Godwin and why she is great, various cocktails (and why you should drink them), as well as being moderately gifted,  being good  and being Paul McCartney.

Thanks for reading this, as well as anything else on my blog. I always appreciate it.

And for those celebrating it: