Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year In Review 2011: Winning?

For the past few years, I've themed my year-in-review features after a certain quote from a movie or something.  This year's theme comes from an unlikely source you've probably forgotten about.  Charlie Sheen, who bragged about himself in interviews after getting fired from the show Two And A Half Men, threw around lines like "winning", "tiger blood", and "Adonis DNA".  Truly, this a man who has no idea when he's beat, and man is he beat.  So let's examine who and what really does or doesn't deserve these accolades.

Middle East: Winning. Almost the entire year saw the Arab Spring, a wave of protests encompassing almost the entirety of the Middle East and North Africa.  Thousands of lives have been lost in the protests, but they resulted in the removal of long-standing leaderships in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and soon Yemen.  That said, I am concerned about the moderate Islamist parties that have won elections in Tunisia (Renaissance) and Egypt (Freedom and Justice), although those parties have at least stated some intent to separate mosque and state.

Syria: Weak.  Somehow, Syria was the one exception to the successes of the Arab Spring. Civilians protesting the regime of president Bashar al-Assad have found themselves fired upon by the army.  Depending on the estimates, anywhere from 3,500 to 6,000 have died - which could be more than the number of Americans killed from the Iraq war, all in less than one year.  Oh, and we're done with Iraq now.

Dictators: Weak.  "Celebrity" deaths in 2011 included Osama bin Laden, leader of the terrorist organisation al-Qaeda (killed by US forces on 1 may); Muammar Gaddafi, leader of Libya (killed by Libyan rebel forces on 20 October); and Kim Jongil (heart attack on 17 December).  Add that to the Arab presidents who had finally left after 30+ years in office, and 2011 was not a good year to rule with an iron fist.

The 99%: Winning.  Never one to be left out of international affairs, Americans kicked off the Occupy Wall Street protests, which spread across the nation and world, including one here in Philly.  You would think protesting against the financial robber barons would be out of date by now, and unlike the Arab Spring it hasn't really gotten any results yet, but dang if "We are the 99%" was a powerful slogan.

Japan: Weak.  Going into 2011, some of us were fearful of the "anti-Otaku" bill Tokyo Youth Development Ordinance passed by Shintaro Ishihara, governor of Tokyo Prefecture, which went into effect in June and honestly didn't have much of an impact.  But a different kind of "impact" made us forget about all that: the combination earthquake/tsunami/nuclear plant meltdown that struck northern Honshu on 11 March.  Witnessing a disaster that would eventually overshadow Chernobyl - on its 25th anniversary, no less - unfold was one of the most powerful and sombering scenes I remember from this year.  Oh, and Mega Man Legends 3 was cancelled.

3-D: Winning.  Like it or not (and for the record, I like it in moderation), 3-D movies and media showed no sign of slowing down in 2011.  The technology has improved as well; in March, Nintendo released the 3DS handheld, which can display 3-D images without the need for glasses.  I still think it's too early to pass judgement on the thing itself, although a US$80 price drop (three months into its lifespan, no less) seems to have helped.

Tablets: Winning.  Last year, my view on the Apple iPad was one of skepticism, but it seems to have carved out a successful market niche for itself and all its competitors.  It must be nice to run all those wonderful apps on a larger screen.  Still, wake me when you can run an honest-to-blog Windows or Mac OS.

Pop Music: Winning.  Whereas the hits from 2010 were consistently so-bad-it's-good fare, in 2011 the bad got worse and the good got better and more plentiful. The bad news: about half of the stuff on the pop charts is club bangers espousing a world of free-flowing sex, alcohol, and bad pick-up lines.  But the other half hosted far more innovative fare, with seemingly out-there acts like Adele, Foster the People, and Cee-Lo Green having hits.

My Life: Winning.  After almost a year of searching, I finally found a job.  And little did I know how much it would transform my life.  In some ways it was a drag; more than once I've gone long stretches without any work and anywhere to go.  But to be in charge of my own money and transportation makes the metamorphosis into adulthood that much sweeter.  Oh, and I was able to keep up my output on the SDP during my lunch breaks, so it's not all bad.

2012 will see the introduction of the year-end James Bond 50th anniversary celebration, plus the long-awaited(?) video spinoff!

This is IchigoRyu.

God bless America.  And everyone else.

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