Dave Barry’s year in review

One of my personal New Year’s Day rituals is to read humorist Dave Barry’s  month-by-month recap of the year gone by.  It’s printed in quite a few newspapers, but it’s often edited down to fit the space.  I believe this is a complete version of Dave’s take on 2012.

Resolve not to use these words in 2013

The problem with slang is that it goes out of fashion as quickly as it comes in.  Few things sound sillier than slang that’s just a little out of date or that is uttered by someone who is not in the group the slang is supposed to define.  Ginnie Graham of the Tulsa World looks at words that gained currency in 2012 but that now beg for elimination:

Adorkable – Even with “New Girl” starring Zooey Deschanel on my DVR, this word has to go.

Amazeballs – Adding “ball” to the end of a word does not make it better.

Cray, or cray-cray – As in “You are acting so cray-cray.” I hear that a lot from my 5-year-old, which makes me crazy enough to get rid of it.

Totes, jelly, YOLO, fro-yo and all other shortened words and phrases – “Totes” means totally, “jelly” refers to jealous, “You only live once” and frozen yogurt” are the others. It doesn’t really save any time not finishing all the words.

Mommy porn – So, the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy gave us this dreadful term, once known as romance. Oh, how I miss the sweet Harlequin-inspired descriptions.

Jeah – Thank you Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte for mixing “good” and “yeah” into popularizing this weird one.

Percents – The Occupy Wall Streeters supported the 99 percent and railed against the 1 percent. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney complained about the 47 percent. Math confuses me, so I’m out.

Mains – Refers to a close, tight-knit group of people, such as “My sister is one of my mains.” My sister would also smack me if I said that.

Literally – All English teachers and speakers of correct grammar cringe at Rob Lowe’s “Parks and Recreation” character bastardizing this word. To review, literally means it happened, “I literally turned the channel.” Everything else is metaphorical or figurative.

Actually – Might as well throw this one in, too. Actually is literally just as irritating in conversation. It’s a word overused to speak down to someone.

“Actually, blue is not your color, and I do know the definition of literally,” I said before my sister smacked me.

Artisanal – Some marketing hipster is laughing somewhere that adding this to every food label literally increased sales. Actually, it doesn’t mean anything.

via Ginnie Graham: Some words deserve to get the ax in new year | Tulsa World.

What other words or expressions of 2012 deserve to be banished in the new year?

We have jumped off the cliff

The good news is that the Republican and Democratic leadership seems to have come to an agreement about renewing the Bush tax cuts.  The bad news is that it was impossible logistically to pass a bill before midnight on New Year’s Eve when the cuts expire and automatic spending cuts kicked in.  So we have jumped off the fiscal cliff, though there is hope that Congress will clamber back up it with a retroactive action.  From CNBC:

With no vote likely on Monday night, the U.S. will technically be going over the “fiscal cliff” at midnight, sources told CNBC.

The emerging deal with the Senate would raise tax rates on family income over $450,000 a year, increase the estate tax rate and extend unemployment benefits for one year.

The parties were at an impasse over whether to put off the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts set to begin taking effect at midnight, and if so, how to pay for that. One official said talks were focused on a two-month delay in the across-the-board cuts but negotiators had yet to agree on about $24 billion in savings from elsewhere in the budget.

“Today it appears that an agreement to prevent this middle class tax hike is in sight,” Obama said in an early afternoon appearance from the White House, where he stood in front of cheering supporters.

“Over the next 12 hours, let’s see if we can get this done,” Obama said.

Obama expressed regret that the work of the administration and lawmakers won’t produce a “grand bargain” on tax-and-spend issues, but said that “with this Congress, it couldn’t happen at that time.”

Before he spoke, details of the emerging deal emerged. It would raise $600 billion in revenue over the next 10 years by increasing tax rates for individuals making more than $400,000 and households making above $450,000 annually, officials familiar with the talks said.

The deal would also delay a series of spending cuts known as the “sequester,” though a sticking point remains on how long that delay would last. McConnell said action on the sequester could continue in coming months. “Let’s pass the tax relief portion now, let’s take what’s been agreed to and get moving,” McConnell said.

Other details included increasing the estate tax rate, extending unemployment benefits for one year, officials familiar with the negotiations said. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said an agreement would shield Medicare doctors from a 27 percent cut in fees and extend tax credits for research and development, as well as renewable energy.

The deal also would extend for five years a series of tax credits meant to lessen the financial burden on poorer and middle-class families, including one credit that helps people pay for college.

via Going Over the ‘Cliff,’ but Tax Agreement ‘in Sight’.

We are also going off the Dairy Cliff.   The Farm Bill has also expired when the crystal ball touched down in Times Square.  As a result, a price support mechanism devised in 1949 kicked in, whereby the U.S. government has to buy milk for $7-$8 per gallon in today’s money.  This would more than double the price of milk in the supermarket.  Reportedly, an agreement has been struck that would renew the Farm Bill, though, again, it remains for Congress to act.

The wild card in all of this is whether the party leaders can deliver the votes from their members.  Some Congressional Republicans are said to be upset that spending cuts are not being included, with some Congressional Democrats incensed at the cutoff for higher taxes being raised to $450,000 rather than the $250,000 that President Obama campaigned on.

Make your predictions for 2013

As is our custom on New Year’s Eve, we invite you to make your predictions for what will happen in the New Year.  We will then review those predictions in exactly one year to see how you did.  (See today’s accompanying post.)  Whoever made the best predictions will receive honor, accolades, and bragging rights.

Highly specific predictions will score higher than general predictions.  And predictions that are surprising and completely unexpected but that come true anyway will score the highest of all.

(The Deuteronomy 18:22 rule will not be enforced.)

So what do you think will happen in 2013?

Checking our predictions for 2012

At the turn of every year, this blog asks you to predict what will happen in the New Year ahead.  (We’ll do that in another post.)  Lots of blogs and publications do that.  But what we also do and others don’t is check last year’s predictions so that we can see who is the best prognosticator.  Review them yourself here:  Your predictions for 2012.

Everybody struck out completely when it came to sports predictions.  No one foresaw that teams with the same name (Giants) would win both the World Series and the Superbowl.

Most people who ventured a guest correctly predicted that Mitt Romney would win the Republican nomination for president.  Most also who mentioned it correctly predicted that Barack Obama would be re-elected, which was a different tune than what most of you said right before the election.

Several of you predicted the breakup of the European Union, which didn’t happen.

There were some general predictions that were true enough (Pete’s death and taxes), but we favor those that are highly specific.  My brother Jimmy was right on the election results, except when he said that the Democrats would take the House, and he was close on sports, but the Oklahoma City Thunder lost to the Miami Heat in the NBA finals.

Kirk predicted that the Guinea Worm, a particularly gruesome parasite, would be eradicated.  A quick Google search suggests that we are close, but this has not yet happened.  (Why isn’t PETA protesting this?)

Junker George predicted that the Hobbit movie would be the highest grossing movie of the year, an honor that actually went to the Avengers, though the Hobbit is doing very well and is still in the theaters.

Cincinnatus made a potentially winning prediction when he said that the Supreme Court would approve Obamacare, but the brilliance of that guess was cancelled when he went on to say that Romney would defeat Obama.

I thought Rick Ritchie was going for a dramatic win when he said foresaw a secession movement.  But then he said that it would be in China.

The winners made specific and unexpected predictions that came true, though they were somewhat weakened because they didn’t know when to stop.

Coming in 2nd:  Tom Hering, who predicted that police departments would get permission to use drones.  He picked up on the year’s biggest development in military operations, but he went on to predict outrage over police errors in zapping the wrong suspect, but I don’t think the police are using them that much just yet, and even then it seems to be for surveillance rather than SWAT duty.  Still, give him credit.

First place:  SAL, who predicted that the Southern Baptists would elect an African-American as their president, something that came true in June when Fred Luter was elected to that office.  He also correctly predicted the dramatic drop in the American birthrate.  He made 12 predictions altogether, a number of which came true, kind of (Obama was re-elected, but no vote-fraud scandal; there is a new war in the Middle East–Syria–but the US is not involved).  At any rate, we’ll give him our virtual imaginary travelling trophy for 2012.

UPDATE:  See the gracious acceptance speeches of SAL and Tom Hering in the comments.  And, as Tom reminds us, we can also recognize the worst prediction of the year.  The virtual trophy for that goes to the MAYANS.

Top religion stories of 2012

Religion journalists selected the top religion stories of the year:

1. U.S. Catholic bishops lead opposition to Obamacare requirement that insurance coverage for contraception be provided for employees. The government backs down a bit, but not enough to satisfy the opposition.

2. A Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life survey shows that “nones” is the fastest-growing religious group in the United States, rising to 19.6 percent of the population.

3. The circulation of an anti-Islam film trailer, “Innocence of Muslims,” causes unrest in several countries, leading to claims that it inspired the fatal attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya. President Obama, at the U.N., calls for toleration. . .  of blasphemy, and respect as a two-way street.

4. Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith turns out to be a virtual non-issue for white evangelical voters, who support him more strongly than they did John McCain, in the U.S. presidential race.

5. Monsignor William Lynn of Philadelphia becomes the first senior Catholic official in the U.S. to be found guilty of covering up priestly child abuse; later Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Mo., becomes the first bishop to be found guilty of it.

6. The Vatican criticizes the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an umbrella group of U.S. nuns, alleging they haven’t supported church teaching on abortion, sexuality or women’s ordination.

7. Voters OK same-sex marriage in Maine, Maryland and Washington, bringing the total approving to nine states and the District of Columbia. Also, Minnesota defeats a ban on same-sex marriage after North Carolina approves one.

8. The Episcopal Church overwhelmingly adopts a trial ritual for blessing same-sex couples. Earlier, the United Methodists fail to vote on approving gay clergy, and the Presbyterians (USA) vote to study, rather than sanction same-sex marriage ceremonies.

9. Six people are killed and three wounded at worship in a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee. The shooter, an Army veteran killed by police, is described as a neo-Nazi.

10. Southern Baptist Convention elects without opposition its first black president, the Rev. Fred Luter of New Orleans.

via Journalists Vote for Contraception Fight as Top 2012 U.S. Religion Story.

What can you conclude about the state of American religion from this list?  What does it leave out?  What do you think are the most significant religious or spiritual developments of 2012?


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