Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Out With the Old, In With the New (Version 63.2)

At the beginning of every year, I do a quick take on the effects of major events that transpired during the previous year, and this year is no exception. The main advantage to taking these backward glances is that it helps detect emerging trends in time to avoid—or take advantage of—their consequences. That, and for the rush I get, not at all unlike the rush I got (and this harkens back to my days as a long-haul trucker) whenever I crossed a Texas border—any Texas border—and saw Texas receding in my rearview mirror.

2007 was a net loser for billions of Gaia’s children. Iraqis didn’t fare well, nor did Pakistanis, Afghanis, the people of Darfur, the US military, the American lower and middle classes, the poor of almost every nation. Polar bears, whales, seals and sea lions, salmon and many other marine species, penguins, wolves, and various other wildlife species took a big hit, too. However, the top 20% of US income earners did better than okay, and the top 1% did especially well (as they always do).

Like many of her denizens, Gaia didn’t do so well, either. Storms raged, wildfires burned, rainforests continued to disappear, ice sheets continued to melt, the global temperature continued to rise. One sick puppy, Gaia. But, like every living organism, Gaia reacts to intrusive species in ways that tend to limit the damage they can do—hence, global climate change.

If there were any positives in 2007, I missed them all. The housing market tanked, the quality of education slid a little farther down the hill, air travel got a little suckier, energy prices escalated, the cost of healthcare went up, but the availability of healthcare didn’t. Consumer prices rose across the board, the trade deficit increased, the national debt grew larger, and consumer debt reached an all-time high.

Although the competency of government leaders has been slipping for years, every year of the Bush misadministration has set a new record for ineptitude. Just when I think that things can’t possibly get any worse, they do. 2007 saw further erosions of Constitutional protections and civil liberties.

As if to add outrageous insult to grievous injury (and I take this as a personal affront) 2007 terminated some gifted writers, among them Robert Anton Wilson, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Norman Mailer, Molly Ivins, Art Buchwald—and these are only the ones I’ve heard about; no doubt there are others. The collective loss of these talented individuals impoverishes us all.

But enough about last year; it’s history. We should be thinking about the year immediately ahead, and about what role we’ll play—if any—in the unfolding of next year’s history. It helps to make a New Year resolution or two (or ten, or twenty), which are instrumental in laying the groundwork for future accomplishments. I make several every year and, surprisingly, more of them stick than don’t.

Without further procrastination and with no excuses or apologies, these are my resolutions for 2008:

  • Read a little less, write a little more; (a) post to Petey’s Pipeline Blog more often; (b) resurrect Petey’s Pipeline E-zine (again); (c) finish a couple of e-book projects, one of which I started more than four years ago; (d) finish a minimum of six of the more than two dozen “flash” fiction projects that currently exist only as vague ideas somewhere near the back of my mind; (e) write more book reviews
  • Ride my bike more often
  • Make . . . whoa! Stop, already! Enough is enough.

If I try to put any more on my plate I’ll need a bigger plate. And we all know how that’s gonna end. Not well, I assure you.

It’s okay—good, in fact—to make a New Year resolution. A proper resolution provides exactly the right amount of incentive to help you reach your goal. Just make your resolution a realistic one if you want to keep it.