December 8th, 2011

The Dreaded Annual Review

Well, it's about time for the annual wrap-up. In a number of ways, it's been a crummy year, and I'll be glad to see the end of it.

On the personal front, we've both had health issues this year, which, while not terribly serious, have sucked time, energy, and money down the drain. Health care's expensive even with insurance, and I don't see how people who don't have it manage. On the social side, we've had good times with our friends, and at OddCon, WisCon, and TeslaCon, which were our major fannish events this year.

On the job front, Georgie and the Library have managed to hang on to each other, and there haven't been any further cuts in hours or staffing (so far). As for me, the position I had at the beginning of the year was "offshored" to a new group in Bratislava at midyear. Fortunately, I was able to find another job with the company at the same salary and location, which has the benefit of being less stressful, but also less interesting. My first review with my new supervisor is coming up, and I have good numbers compared with the rest of my group, so we shall see how this goes.

On the family front, it's been a year and one month now since Dad passed away, and my mother continues to hang on to existence. She's bedridden, has difficulty speaking, and seems to be losing her hearing as well. I don't think she can hold a book to read any more, which was one of the great joys of her life. I fantasize winning the lottery and having her moved to private care where I could hire someone to read to her, but short of that, there's really nothing that can be done for her, and I hate that. My siblings are all doing well, and in this year I acquired a new nephew-in-law due to niece getting married, and a new great-niece, due to nephew begetting the child.

Politically, the year has sucked for both Wisconsin and the USA. The Walker administration has continued its plan to undo every progressive reform since Robert LaFollett. They have displayed a despicable habit of outright lying, as well as stooping to dirty tricks hitherto unknown in Wisconsin politics, such as running "false flag" candidates in Democratic recall primaries. In the past, the idea that people might have to know who their petition circulator was in order not to be decoyed by someone who intends to trash the signatures was unthinkable, but that has become a reality in our state. The Walker camp acknowledges that the recall will most likely happen, and are saving most of their powder for the actual filing of the petitions, at which time we can expect every sort of political and legal nastiness to be brought out of the shot lockers.

Republicans in Congress continue to be dickheads as well, marching in lockstep with the orders of their corporate masters, as relayed by High Priest Grover Norquist, such that essentially nothing useful has gotten down this year. They hope, of course to blame it on Obama, but I don't think it's working. The freakshow that is the race for the Republican presidential nomination fills me with dread. The only thing worse than the realization that this collection of political pinheads and snake-oil salesmen is apparently what the party thinks is the best it has to offer, is the fear that the eventual nominee might win the Presidency--may the fates forbid it!

Overseas, we've had new growths of freedom in Algeria, Libya, and Egypt, although other nations, such as Syria, seem in for a long tough time if anything can be achieved, so that's a net positive. I hope that the drawdown of US troops from Iraq will be successful, but I'm not sanguine about it. Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran all continue to be problems in their own ways. Myanmar may be opening up, which would be a good thing for that region. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is having elections for the second time in its history--probably not well-run elections, but better than none.

The "Eurozone" financial crisis, like our own 2008 crash, is a good example of why not to let "the market" tyrannize anything. Of course Greece overspent, but was there really much chance of a default? The actual issue is a crisis of confidence on the part of bankers and shareholders, who are behind the shortsighted demands for "austerity", a policy that, historically, has done more harm than good.

I wish, for all who read this, family, friends, and people of good will, a better 2012. I hope that a year from now we will all be celebrating a year of good health and financial stability; that a Democratic governor will be working to undo Walker's damage in Wisconsin, that Obama will be preparing for his second term with a more cooperative Congress; and that freedom, democracy, and fiscal sanity will make progress across the globe.

Gregory G.H. Rihn
December 8, 2011

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