Twenty Thirteen

Let this sink in: We’re nearly 14 years into the 21st century. 2004 will soon be TEN years in the past. Hell, 2024 is *only* ten years away. Seriously, where has the time gone?

Twenty-thirteen flew by. It seems like yesterday House Republicans were throwing a bitch-fit about the Affordable Care Act and shutting down the government. It’s hard to believe that Congress’ most unproductive year – complete with sequestration and record-breaking obstructionism – is about to end. And how could anyone forget Miley’s twerking and her gang of merry, drugged-out teddy bears (no, really, how can we forget? I’m willing to pay)?

This year was a roller coaster and all of us were forced to ride it. However, it wasn’t all stupid political games and tawdry pop culture moments. This year also saw the continued, exponential rise of clean energy and transportation across the globe, a sign that governments and their citizens are beginning to take the threat of climate change seriously. Pope Francis, leader of the almost-always-conservative Roman Catholic Church, spoke out against runaway capitalism and inequality in the world, inspiring billions of Catholics and n0n-Catholics alike (myself included) and enraging perpetually-enraged wingnuts like Rush Limbaugh.

Gay rights surged…and by “surged” I mean “there’s no stopping it now.” The number of countries where same-sex couples are treated as equal citizens increased to 15. I expect that number to increase to at least 18 by this time next year; Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States have what can be thought of as checker-board equality – legal in some jurisdictions but not in others. After seeing how fast equality and acceptance of sexual diversity have increased in the Western world, it is inevitable that they will become non-issues. In the U.S., the number of states with marriage equality doubled, from nine in January to 18 as of December 31st.

The discriminatory and culturally irrelevant Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) essentially died in June after the Supreme Court struck down its key provision – that the federal government could not and would not recognize same-sex marriages as legally equal to heterosexual marriages. Proposition 8, originally struck down in 2010 and appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, was finally pulled off life support and allowed to die. Equality and justice for all are alive and well in its place.

My personal life also saw some incredible changes. Not only did I graduate with a B.A. in Communication from California State University, Fresno, but I also got an internship in Washington, D.C. with The American Prospect. In one week, I will move across the country and begin the next chapter of my life, initially as an editorial intern for an excellent publication. I still have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming, that I am really about to take a big step toward my dream life.

I met some pretty incredible people (you know who you are) and strengthened relationships with others (you also know who you are). One of my main motivations in life is to create and cultivate intimacy. It drives me, both to sanity and insanity. Aside from my wellbeing and career aspirations, I live for the incredible people in my life and the one-of-a-kind connections we have. As funny as it may sound coming from a 24-year-old, the older I get, the more I realize how vitally important these relationships are and how petty and stupid all the “drama” is. When I’m old and grey (and still looking fabulous), I want to look back and have little regret. I want to be able cry tears of happiness and joy after thinking about the good life I led.

In all seriousness, I expect to live to see and experience January 1, 2100. As a sci-fi-loving geek and someone living in an age of incredible medical/genetic breakthroughs, living to be 111 and even beyond really isn’t that far-fetched. However, even such a long human life doesn’t register on the timeline of the universe (more of a mindf*** – there may be multiple universes).

As a member of an advanced primate species, living on a planet that orbits the habitable zone of an average star in an average galaxy, my existence is pretty insignificant. However, I have the privilege of being self-aware and social. I’m just “star stuff,” as Carl Sagan famously said. The elements that make up my body were made in the hearts of ancient stars. This star stuff is able to reflect and ponder his own existence and place in the universe. That is absolutely incredible. I fully recognize that the meaning I draw from my minor existence comes, in large part, from the deep-rooted, interpersonal connections I have been fortunate enough to forge.

I’ve got one chance – ONE chance – to shine bright and enjoy my time in the sun. Life is full of meaning and I love interacting with it on a daily basis. It doesn’t matter what I achieve or how successful I become – I can’t make it without other people. So, bring on 2014. I’m ready to keep loving and caring, living (to the best of my ability) and experiencing every part of this life that I can.

“Live! That’s the message. Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!”

– Rosalind Russell as “Mame Dennis” in the 1958 film Auntie Mame

Micah's Two Cents

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Here’s to 2013

Suck it, Mayans. Not only was 2012 not the end of humanity, it was packed with major milestones and records. Every blog on the Internet and every columnist known to Man have written some sort of commemorative post or column to look back over the previous year and welcome in 2013 – nothing special here…and since the year is over, I figured I’d write SOMETHING to look back.

There’s so much that I’ve written about over the past year: more states legalized marriage equality and brought national equality closer to being a reality; President Barack Obama beat human cyborg Mitt “Cayman Islands” Romney and won re-election to the presidency; The one and only Queen of Pop (hint: her career is over 30 years old) performed at the Super Bowl halftime to a record-breaking number of viewers and topped the charts with her 12th studio album, MDNA, all over the world.

And…

All previous heat and extreme weather records were broken this year than in all the years that scientists have been studying global climate and planet’s oceans continue to become more acidic…because humans have absolutely no effect on climate change because it is totally fake, or something. The number of mass shootings in the United States continued to skyrocket with tragic results, and still America has grossly inadequate gun control policies – the National Rifle Association’s lobbyists have blood on their hands.

We must make 2013 a better, more responsible and unified year.

Throughout this chaotic and interesting year, my own life saw some changes and milestones. I’m still working and going to school and by 2014, I’ll have a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication with a minor in Mass Communication and Journalism from Fresno State. I may decide to go on for a Master’s Degree in Mass Communication and Journalism. I turned 23 in August, danced to “Gangnam Style” and realized I’m annoyed with the teens and children of today….and I’d just like to say that One Direction can go back the direction they came.

Having said/written that, here are a few highlights from my year:

 

I became a father………….to a beautiful kitten…

I am the proud father of the most beautiful, funny, adorable cat ever – FACT. I got little miss Lucy, named after Lucille Ball, when she was only a six-week-old bundle of fur. I fell in love instantly. For almost seven months, she’s brought be joy and a few headaches. Lucy has abnormally long legs and can literally jump over half-way up a door if she’s following a mysterious laser and she loves to chit-chat with me. I love Lucy. She’s purrrfect.

my little girl

my little girl

 

I saw Madonna LIVE in LA

It was a surreal experience, seeing my favorite artist and the legendary Queen of Pop (I wrote about it for my university newspaper – read it here). I purchased the tickets for a pretty penny, but it was definitely worth it. In fact, for the next tour, I’m paying even more to sit in front of the stage AND I’ll be going to more than one show. Madonna puts on a concert like no other by channelling her pioneering, independent spirit and chart topping hits into one two-hour extravaganza. Seeing a Madonna concert in one’s lifetime should be on everyone’s bucket list. Sadly, my phone died before the concert began and I wasn’t able to take any pictures. So, here’s an iconic screenshot from the highest-grossing tour of 2012…

Madonna wearing a Gaultier corset (homage to her 1990 Blonde Ambition Tour) and vogue-ing

Madonna wearing a Gaultier corset (homage to her 1990 Blonde Ambition Tour) and vogue-ing

 

I *proudly* helped re-elect President Obama.

President Barack Obama is not perfect. For example, I wish he would be more aggressive on fighting climate change via policy, Wall Street reform and gun control. But when one of the parties in a two-party system literally does all it can to fight, tooth and nail, everything the President and his party do, it’s hard to enact meaningful legislation or accomplish anything aside from Congress-wide pay raises. Since the corporate backed Conservative Movement, Religious Right, and the Tea Party took over the Republican Party, Washington has been a nightmare. I agree with most of the President’s agenda and over-all goals and when it came down to him and Mitt “binders full of women” Romney, it was really a no-brainer. Historians will look back in amazement at how politics regressed in this time. The 2014 congressional elections cannot come fast enough…

President Obama - two-term, 44th President of the United States.

President Obama – two-term, 44th President of the United States.

Here’s to a kick-ass 2013.

 

A Look Back At 2011

I realize there is still a month of 2011 left and that it seems premature to make a post about the major events of the past year. But, so much has happened. As technology continued to advance and amaze, this year saw the birth of democratic revolution all over the Arab world, the United States government nearly shut down…twice, a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan, the FBI’s Most Wanted person and al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was finally defeated, and the world population officially reached seven billion people. Of course, as they say, that’s “just to name a few” of the many events that defined 2011.

ARAB SPRING

Democratic revolution has saturated the Middle East. A new generation of young people tired of the old regimes of their home countries have taken to the streets to demand progressive change. Beginning in late 2010, when Tunisian protestors and revolutionaries called for President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to resign, protests began to rattle the Arab world. The Tunisian protesters were successful and in January, their president stepped down. Since then, both Egypt’s and Libya’s former governments have been dissolved thanks to the exit of dictators like Hosni Mubarak and NATO support for Libyan rebels. In late 2011, Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi was captured and killed by rebel forces. Protests and uprisings are taking place in several other Arab countries and these revolutions show no sign of stopping. 2012 may very well be the beginning of a more progressive Mid East.

Egyptian Protesters in Tahrir Square, Cairo

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN SHOWDOWN

After the “Tea Party Tidal Wave” overtook the House of Representatives, America was introduced to a whole new meaning of “partisanship.” The far-right class of congresspersons that went to the Capitol in January set an agenda that was literally unwavering. Twice in one year, the federal government was on the verge of complete shutdown because Republicans didn’t like that Planned Parenthood received funding and also because they refused to raise the debt ceiling. Despite the fact that no federal monies go toward abortion, the GOP claimed that the US taxpayer was subsiding abortion (note: Planned Parenthood provides healthcare services, excluding abortion, to millions of women who otherwise would not be able to afford them). Thanks to the next debacle, in which Republicans refused to raise the debt ceiling unless the Bush Tax Cuts were maintained, the nation’s credit rating was downgraded. So much for “fiscal responsibility.”

"The Hill"

DISASTER IN JAPAN (TOHOKU EARTHQUAKE & TSUNAMI)

Eastern Japan was ravaged by a 9.0 magnitude off-shore earthquake, the fifth largest ever recorded, on March 11. Almost 16,000 people were killed, 6,000 injured and 4,000 declared missing. Millions of Japanese were effected by loss of power and the following tsunami that swallowed whole sections of Japan and washed towns out to sea. Nearly 10 percent of Japan is contaminated with nuclear radiation, following meltdowns at nuclear power plants along the Japanese coast that were damaged by the disaster. Those devastated by the disaster were sent aid from all over the world and have been busy rebuilding their lives. However, such massive disasters remind us how fragile humanity is. Since the Tōhoku quake and tsunami, many nations have reevaluated their reliance on nuclear power; Germany will phase out its nuclear power over the next 11 years.

Tōhoku Disaster Aftermath

OSAMA BIN LADEN FINALLY KILLED

Osama Bin Laden, orchestrator of the 9/11 attacks and the FBI’s most-wanted person, eluded the United States and her allies for well over a decade. As the leader of al Qaeda, he ordered and led terrorist attacks against the United States and many other nations. In 2001, President Bush announced that the US would do everything in its power to find Bin Laden. Two wars, over a trillion dollars and another President later, Bin Laden was finally taken down by the United States military. President Obama announced the death on May 1 to a stunned – and relieved – world. al Qaeda has been on the decline in recent years. With Bin Laden’s death, the death of the man who was supposed to take Bin Laden’s place as the group’s leader, and the wave of democratic revolution that has swept the Middle East in the last year, al Qaeda’s power and influence is continuing to dwindle.

Osama Bin Laden

EARTH’S POPULATION REACHES SEVEN BILLION

Seven billion people now inhabit the planet, according to the UN. The baby,  Danica Camacho, was born at  Manila’s Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in the Philippines. Earth’s population is expected to level out to around 9 billion people within the 21st century as more nations become industrialized and embrace more modern ways of life. It is possible that the population will go up several billion more by the beginning of the 22nd century. However, as more nations develop into industrialized economies and ways of life, birth rates are expected to level out and decrease, as has happened to nations that developed. It’s a phenomenon known as demographic transition. That’s good news for a planet facing accelerated climate change and a species facing challenges on how to feed and provide sustenance for several billion people.

photo of Central Park in New York, one of the largest urban centers on Earth