Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye To 2016

The last day of 2016 has arrived.  I know that in previous year-end posts, I've mentioned the curse about living "in interesting times", but this year seems to have been as interesting as any since I've started this blog.  And that includes both the ups and the downs.

The year 2016 will be remembered for the deaths of numerous notable celebrities, especially in the fields of music and show business.  The list includes musicians such as Glenn Frey, Paul Kantner, George Michael, Greg Lake and Leon Russell; actors such as Robert Vaughn, Florence Henderson, Gene Wilder and Carrie Fisher; and people such as David Bowie, Prince, Debbie Reynolds and Charmian Carr, who both acted and made music.  There were also sports figures such as Arnold Palmer and Muhammed Ali, and political figures such as John Glenn (who had also been an astronaut) and Nancy Reagan (who at one time was an actress).

In the field of collegiate sports, my Virginia Tech Hokies rebounded to a 10-4 season in football, their best record since 2011.  The season concluded with a 35-24 victory in the Belk Bowl over Arkansas, in which VT overcame a 24-0 deficit.  This success comes in the first year of new head coach Justin Fuente, who so far looks like a worthy successor to the retired Frank Beamer.

I point out the next item not with the tiniest amount of pleasure, but with sadness and horror, as Virginia Tech lost its distinction of being the site of the worst mass shooting in America by a single person when a Muslim terrorist killed 50 people, including himself, at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida.  Other terrorists used vehicles in attacks in Nice, France, in Berlin, Germany, and on the campus of Ohio State University.  The country of Turkey has been struck at least seven times by terrorists this year, including an attack on a club in Istanbul earlier tonight.

In 2016, refugees and migrants, some of the latter passing themselves off as refugees, continue to flood into Europe.  The vast majority, it seems, continue to be young Muslim men, which again begs the question, "If they really are refugees, where are the women, children, old people and Christians?"  The United States has also taken in refugees from Syria, the vast majority of whom are Muslim, and a record number of Muslim refugees overall, but has also taken in more Christian refugees over the past decade than of any other religion.

In the world of foreign politics, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, in a referendum known as the "Brexit".  Considering that the British people have been living more under rules coming from the E.U. than from their own government, this is a move that even a bloody Yank like myself can support.

Meanwhile on my side of the Pond, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton, herself a former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State.  Like the Brexit result, Trump's victory was largely unexpected, an upset, to use the sports term.  Like George Bush the Younger in 2000, Trump won the vote in the Electoral College (which counts) while losing the popular vote (which doesn't).  Almost immediately afterwards, left-wing protestors took to the streets, some allegedly being bussed in.  Among the tantrums thrown by people who don't like the president-elect was a sign at a restaurant telling Trump voters that they couldn't eat there.  There were also reports of death threats against some of Trump's electors.  One airplane passenger wouldn't even leave Trump's daughter alone.  Right now, I don't know what to reasonably expect from a Trump presidency, but if nothing else, Trump's victory means that Hillary Clinton will not become president.

The 2016 Summer Olympics took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with the United States taking home the most medals.  The games took place despite health concerns such as the zika virus, which has also turned up in the United States.  This has been a concern, but so far, not a disaster.

The above stories, of course, are just a small sampling of the things that went on during the past 366 days.  With that in mind, I'm hoping for a happy, but maybe just a bit less interesting, 2017.

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