2014. A summary

IMG_0224It’s the week before Christmas and all through the house…etc etc. It’s a funny Christmas, this one. I don’t think I’ve ever felt less Christmassy. I think it’s the dramatically disrupted year I’ve had personally. I won’t bore you with that. I’ve also written much less on here this year than previously. I’ve been busy doing stuff outside and life kept getting in the way. I got a bit of flak for not writing enough. Apparently people like this nonsense and I like to make people happy, so here I am, again.

I thought a quick summary of the year might be in order. I like to sum things up and it gives me the chance to say Merry Christmas. Even if I’m not feeling very Christmassy.

So what did we learn this year, globally? We found out that the Americans find Ebola to be the most terrifying thing ever despite it posing less risk to the general population than their own policemen. Certainly if you are black it would seem. Ebola kills people because of crappy sanitation conditions and tribal lifestyle choices rather than stalking Americans in the street, but our mates in the land of the free seem to be a lot more easily spooked than they used to be.

We also found out that if you wave an Islamic flag during a hold-up, the fear quotient increases exponentially. We are globally terrified of the terrorists beyond their wildest expectations. Yet we are still at greater risk of being struck by lightning than being executed on the internet by the disaffected youth of Mesopotamia, or British visitors to the region for that matter.

A key health and safety lesson was also evidenced in 2014. Don’t screw holes in your ski helmet to attach a camera to your head. Michael Schumacher found this out the hard way and what should have been a minor tumble became most likely the last thing he will ever remember. A tragic end to the fully functioning life of one of the greatest ever racing drivers, who survived a career at 200 miles per hour but lost his future for the sake of a wanting to capture a moving image in the snow.

The hashtag came into its own this year when social media activism came to life in a big way. Twitter was awash with the #bringbackourgirls hashtag when Boko Haram in Nigeria took a couple of hundred girl’s hostage from a Christian school. Boko Haram regularly murder, kidnap and enslave thousands of Nigerians but that’s not news it seems.

There are a couple of issues here though. The campaign has gone; the next trendy bandwagon has come and gone. The girls aren’t home and too few of the people busily tweeting #bringbackourgirls would be able to identify Nigeria on a map. Nor do they seem to care enough to tweet their continuing outrage as Boko Haram go about their daily campaign of murdering or enslaving anyone they encounter who might not be sufficiently enthusiastic in their embrace of fundamentalist Islam. The hashtag is the modern representation of a topic of conversation. It’s not going to change the world, not even if you tweet it a number of times a day about things you can’t be bothered looking up the big picture on.

I flew Malaysian Airlines once. It’s a good airline and they’ve been spectacularly unlucky. If they lose a third plane though I’ll start to wonder if they are doing it on purpose. We learned this year that too many people will attach a conspiracy theory to anything out of the ordinary.

We had the curious spectacle in New Zealand of much media hype over the release of a book. That’s unremarkable in itself but it was the content of the book which generated so much debate. The book was all about how politicians behave in an underhand manner to hamper the opposition parties. I’m not sure how this was seen as such big news or why anyone thought that wasn’t something politicians did on a daily basis. I can only assume the author of the book had numerous friends in the news outlets who wished to help him with sales. The book was based on the contents of hacked emails. Don’t get me started.

Speaking of breaking news about something we all assumed happens all the time, the release of the CIA report about torturing detainees. The only shocking thing about this report, and the reporting of the report was that anyone thought the CIA weren’t torturing terror suspects.

The Germans won the Soccer World Cup in Brazil. The Brazilians were dire and the Dutch might have won it if they weren’t so keen on having a lie down so often in the middle of a game. Seriously, soccerists, just back yourself to win the ball instead of a penalty. How about playing the game instead of the playing the victim of an imaginary infringement?

The All Blacks continue to be the best rugby team in the world and are the most successful sports team ever in any sport. Just in time for another Rugby World Cup to come around and all the sports pundits to question if they peaked too early. I don’t think so, but the Irish will be backing themselves to get to the business end next year. Could be worth a flutter but don’t bet the house on it. Back them to come second. The All Blacks will win it. There I’ve said it and most likely jinxed them. I’ll expect the usual ridicule in the unlikely event that I’m mistaken.

Speaking of sport, there was the Sochi Winter Olympics and the Commonwealth Games apparently. I didn’t see any of either of them. They must have been on in the middle of the night. Let’s face it though, nobody really cares about the Commonwealth Games anymore, they should be called the Empire games as it’s just for the colonies and Great Britain. I can’t see the point of it among the endless world championships that seem to happen every weekend now.

As for the Winter Olympics. It’s only popular in cold countries. I’ve never seen the attraction of Alpine Sports as they require you to be much colder than you would otherwise choose to be if you wish to participate or watch. Not for me, I prefer to be inside by the fire in the winter, not standing about on a mountain watching people wearing body suits hurtle down it.

I think the most inspiring thing I saw this year came out of the worst atrocity we witnessed. The Pakistani Taliban murdering the school kids and their teachers. An act so heinous even the Afghan Taliban blanched and condemned it. The people of Pakistan poured into the streets to denounce the Taliban at great risk to their personal safety. As we know, the Taliban don’t take criticism well and react with brutal force on a personal level. The Pakistanis know that the Taliban will come to your house and shoot you and your family if you cross them.

The Pakistanis have had enough of this vile bullying organisation and maybe their evil tide has finally turned. As we have seen over millennia in Afghanistan, military might is only marginally effective against a guerrilla force and only by a concerted act of will among the people of Pakistan can the Taliban be denied an operating base or safe haven. They must be shown their actions bring only revulsion and the removal of any support anywhere is the way to render them impotent. The Taliban are a deeply religious bunch, their actions are driven by their desire to impose their will on everybody else. They are bullies, heavily armed religious zealot bullies, but bullies nonetheless and the people of Pakistan look to have had enough of being bullied. More power to them and they deserve our support.

On a brighter and final note. I’m back up in the North of New Zealand, where I feel my home is now. I love this bit of the country and am very pleased to be back. I’ve got an awesome new day job and I achieved a lifelong ambition of seeing and hearing one of the rarest and most elusive of our native birds in the wild this weekend. The Kokako. It was on my bucket list, I ticked at least one thing off. It might seem trivial to some but it was a huge deal for me. I love our native bird species and to see one of the rarest of them in its natural habitat and hear its uniquely haunting call was a spine tingling experienceIMG_0225.

I don’t know what 2015 will bring and I’m not even sure what I hope I’ll achieve. Seems odd to approach a year with no idea what the end of it should look like. I might have to start thinking of a project.

Thanks for sticking with me this year. You reading my stuff means the world to me as it’s why I do this. I’m not someone who would write stuff down for the hell of it. I like to know people read it.

Have an Oarsum Christmas break, or whatever holiday you get at this time of the year, if you get any at all. May your 2015 bring you the things you hope for..

Cheers!

12 thoughts on “2014. A summary

  1. margaretlouise999

    I am sooo pleased you have continued with your blogs, because I really enjoy what you write! Many thanks. Good wishes for a Happy Christmas.

  2. Bruce McDowell

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts again this year, Sandy, as well as your photographs (I take particular delight in your railroad portraits). You have, for me, summarized 2014 perfectly. On many fronts we can only hope for a better 2015.

    A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you!

  3. Erik S

    G’day Sandy it’s so nice to let my eyes on your views of the world in 2014. I can asure you that following the path you gave me for my trip around North land was my experience of a lifetime in 2014. Thank you very much. Pity we didn’t managed to share a rugby match and some beers. I’ll be back! Enjoy 2015, Sandy

  4. janeykate

    Speaking for myself, I LOVE this nonsense. If that’s what it is. Don’t stop, you really shouldn’t! Hey is that THE bird? xx

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