Now blogging at diego's weblog. See you over there!

end-of-year thoughts


What a year.

So many things happened.

On my personal sphere, I defended and submitted my PhD, released one product (share) and re-released another (pro), and then only a month ago we ran out of money...

We also had the US presidential election, which energized pretty much everybody, and lots of contentious issues, the ongoing struggle in Iraq, the "war on terror," with another terrible attack, this time on European soil, Madrid on 3/11, by crazed nihilistic psycopaths that somehow think that killing produces anything aside from death and suffering. Only a few months ago the Beslan Massacre and related terrorist attacks gave a terrible excuse to Russian president Vladimir Putin to tighten his grip on power in the country.

Then, this week brought us a tragedy of a different kind, the Earthquake/Tsunami in Asia, which will probably end up costing a quarter million lives and untold social and economic damage. This was just one region, 11 countries, and, in a global scale, comparatively "few" people affected, and even so the international aid system is under severe strain. You better hope that global warming doesn't materialize, or we're in for a lot more than this. Then just a few hours ago, in Buenos Aires, a massive fire in a crowded club has produced one of the worst results (in terms of casualties) on record for indoor fires.

And on and on.

Other things, like tech, picked up steam this year, even as economies everywhere kept giving conflicting signs. The tech revival was partly embodied by Google's IPO, partly by some resurgence in Silicon Valley, the definite establishment of weblogs, more WiFi everywhere, the smartphone explosion, distributed technologies, and the promise that the convergence of those things brings. But then a tsunami hits and all of that kind of goes away, doesn't it. And in the end it seems to add up to a gloomy year, and maybe it wasn't in the top ten... but...

But this week I've been thinking about how much the media is biased to report "bad things" and how we as consumers of that media seem biased by a morbid curiosity to follow them.

We don't get front-page news that say "50,000 people happy after concert ends without incident," or "millions of parents proud of children" or whatever. It's all about what went wrong, what didn't go well, and how people should be kept "safe" (when absolute safety is clearly impossible).

For everything that goes wrong there are things that go right, but we don't seem to linger on those. We tend to remember the bad, and shrug off the good. But the measure of our response to adversity has to reside partly in how we appreciate when things go our way, not just how we respond to disasters.

We still all could do better, and must do better. But that's life, both sides of it: joy, pain, love, anger, suffering, compassion, and even redemption. It wouldn't be worth living otherwise.

So: here's to the good things that happened this year, to my family and friends (past and present, "virtual" or not :)), to the spirit of good people everywhere, and to the millions of small acts of kindness and compassion that are all around us, every day.

"All things are inconstant except the faith in the soul,
which changes all things and fills their inconstancy with light"

-- James Joyce

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on December 31 2004 at 1:09 PM

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