Everyone is busy predicting what’s going to happen in 2017. So, while the eternally optimistic are having their annual conflab with the doom-and-gloom tribe, I’ve just had a peek over my shoulder to remind myself of what’s just gone.
January saw both Alan Rickman and Terry Wogan shrug off their mortal coils, while scientists finally completed row 7 of the periodic table of elements (and thus one of my favourite temporary names, ununpentium, is no more). The departure of Irish stars continued in February with Frank Kelly (feck!) and we had another General Election, which was inconclusive and resulted in weeks of negotiations before a government was formed. We also had LIGO’s announcement of the first observation of gravitation waves! In March, Diffie and Hellman are finally recognised by the ACM for their PKI work, DeepMind becomes the supreme Go master and Ireland commemorates the 1916 Easter Rising. (And Ronnie Corbett dies, in what starts to look like a busy departure lounge at gate 2016.) We finally got a government in April, the Paris Agreement was signed, SpaceX landed a reusable booster and Prince found himself in the departure lounge. (HRMQE2 turns 90 and shows no interest in said lounge.) I was busy forming my consultancy business in May, while the many global conflicts and tensions continued to whirl around. Scientists were calling for the Rio Olympics to be relocated because of the Zika virus outbreak, and the UK was gearing up for the Brexit vote with arguments on both sides getting increasingly nasty. Burt Kwouk found gate 2016. Brexit happened in June (while I was in Berlin), or at least started to happen, because the narrow decision to leave the EU is still being processed and could take several years to work out. Like many others, I thought they’d decide to stay in and work hard to improve things for everyone. It would not be the last time the polls of 2016 got it wrong. (Ali to the gate…) The global hubbub was background noise for me during a couple of weeks in Singapore in July but it was hard to avoid noticing the UK get a new PM, Russian athletes being banned from Rio and Solar Impulse 2 finally making it around the globe on a single tank of sunlight. The Rio Olympics kicked off in August, but the only bit I saw was Bolt get the triple-triple. Apple is told by the EU that it owes Ireland €13b in taxes, to which the Irish promptly say “no thanks”. Meanwhile Neil Armstrong snagged a Golden Ticket and left the Cosmos. September saw the total recall of the Note 7, which appeared to be a very good mobile device with a very bad battery. We also get the first Clinton/Trump presidential debate. (It doesn’t make for good TV.) While the Americans are busy shouting at each other, the Chinese complete the FAST dish to peer deep into space. The US won the Ryder Cup in October as a brief distraction from the electioneering. There’s more bad news for Europe when the Schiaparelli lander crashes into Mars. November becomes the worst day for pollsters when Trump declares victory, thus guaranteeing that 2017 will be an interesting year. On the plus side, Ireland beat New Zealand in rugby for the first time in 111 years. Last month, December, Yahoo! revealed that 1.5 billion user accounts are affected by two massive breaches a few years ago. Oops. It snows in the Sahara while the Totten Glacier is found to be melting fast. John Glen joins Neil at the gate, and then Carrie Fisher dies and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, follows a day later. With such rapid-fire bad news you’d think we couldn’t wait to finish 2016, but scientists decided we needed to add a leap second, prolonging the agony.
That’s just a mere flake on the peak of the tip of the iceberg that was 2016, and I’ve intentionally omitted the many overarching stories of misery that plagued the year, and continue to burden us today. Many people have lost their possessions, livelihood, dignity and even their very lives in the past twelve months, and for many more there is much uncertainty ahead.
Hello 2017. Let’s see if we can do better this time.