World Events in 2018

News media generally go to town with their “Year in Review” pieces in December, so I’m a little late with mine.  In the past ten years, I’ve rarely repeated blog post subjects, but I’ve written on this “major events” theme twice already, so why not do it a third time?  Here goes.

These are my picks for the major newsworthy events of 2018:

  • Jan – Amazon announces 20 finalist cities for HQ2
  • Feb – Winter Olympics in South Korea; Parkland FL school shooting
  • Mar – Russian diplomats expelled from many EU states
  • Apr – Starbucks closes one day for race training
  • May – Royal wedding of Harry and Meghan in London
  • Jun – US-North Korea Summit in Singapore
  • Jul – France wins FIFA World Cup; Thai cave rescue
  • Aug – Apple is $1 trillion company; NASA launches solar probe
  • Sep – Hurricane Florence damages the Carolinas
  • Oct – Controversial Supreme Court justice confirmation hearings
  • Nov – Mid-term elections return House to Dems; California wildfires
  • Dec – Riots in France; US government begins partial shutdown

When I began reviewing news stories from last year, I had a hard time determining which events might possibly have a major long-term impact on the world.  I don’t think humans do this sort of thing very easily (thanks, evolution).  It might help if we could take a big step backwards every so often and think on the scale of the universe.  To that end, I was intrigued by the perspective of paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara in this short meditation on the New Horizons mission and Ultima Thule, wherein he reflects on the concept of “Deep Time.”

Dear readers, have a safe and prosperous 2019.


Best of 2018

This is the twelfth year in a row that I’m writing a January post to review the books I read and the movies I watched in the previous year.  And it may be the last! (I may be running out of steam when it comes to blogging.)

In 2018, I read 51 books and saw 6 movies; I read a few more books than I did in 2017 but watched many fewer movies.  By my count, I read twice as many books of fiction as non-fiction: 34 to 17 (you could probably derive these numbers from algebra: 2x + x = 51). Fiction genres included contemporary, fantasy, mystery, classics, and historical fiction.  The non-fiction books included history, science and engineering, biology, biography/memoir, social science/current events, and travel.  Because they are rather idiosyncratic, I won’t submit my counts by category.

As happened last year, the number of movies I watched was way below a previously calculated average, but that was because I again spent a lot of time watching downloaded TV shows or streaming them.  The few movies I did watch included a biopic, comedy, fantasy, and family drama.

A favorite TV series I watched on Hoopla last year was the German television adaptation of American expatriate writer Donna Leon’s Inspector Brunetti mysteries; I simply fell in love with Venice, a city I’ve never visited.  And after I got used to the idea that everyone in Italy is a native speaker of German, I became quite taken with the Brunettis: Guido, his wife Paola, and their two children, Raffi and Chiara.

As in the past few years, I could not pick a top five or six titles as Best of, even though that’s what these posts are supposed to be about, so this year I’m again doing something a bit different for both books and movies.

For movies, because there were so few, I picked my all-around favorite, which was the New Zealand indie comedy Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

For books, I decided I would simply highlight the books that I felt were well worth reading but that might not necessarily be that well-known (of course, some in my list do not fit this category).  So even if this post is supposed to be “Best of,” the books list, alphabetically by title below, is not that.

  • Weird but oddly compelling – 1Q84
  • Beloved classic but deservedly so – Anne of Green Gables
  • Evocative nature writing and memoir – Desert Country by the Sea
  • New York City stories – Let the Great World Spin
  • Swedish first novel – A Man Called Ove
  • Ferrante novels (enough said) – Neapolitan Tetralogy
  • South American best seller  – Return to the Dark Valley

Click here for the complete lists.  Enjoy, and feel free to submit non-snarky comments.