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Photos and text, unless otherwise noted, Copyright 2003,2004,2005,2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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Consider:

"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"







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Saturday, 31 December 2005

Topic: Backgrounder

The Year in Review: Too Much Information

In Year End Notes: 2005 in Perspective, and 2006 Predictions, there was some pretty odd stuff about the year that just passed and what might happen with the new year. But for reference one should note the big events, or what really matters, to some.

William Falk in the New York Times offers the stories of "subtle significance" that didn't get that much press, in Big Little Stories You Might Have Missed.

He opens with these -
A BLAST FROM THE PAST - To find out whether human activities are changing the atmosphere, scientists took ice cores from ancient glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica. Bubbles of air trapped in the ice provided a pristine sampling of the atmosphere going back 650,000 years. The study, published last month in the journal Science, found that the level of carbon dioxide, one of the greenhouse gases that can warm the planet, is now 27 percent higher than at any previous time in that period. Climatologists said the ice cores left no doubt that the burning of fossil fuels is altering the atmosphere in a substantial and unprecedented way.

THE DAY AFTER TODAY - One of the more alarming possible consequences of global warming appears to be already under way. The rapid melting of the Arctic and Greenland ice caps, a new study finds, is causing freshwater to flood into the North Atlantic, deflecting the northward flow of the warming Gulf Stream, which moderates winter temperatures for Europe and the northeastern United States.

The flow of the Gulf Stream has been reduced by 30 percent since 1957, the National Oceanography Center in Britain found. In the film "The Day After Tomorrow," the collapse of the Gulf Stream produces a violent climate shift and a new ice age for much of the Northern Hemisphere. Climatologists don't foresee a future quite that catastrophic, but something worrisome, they say, is afoot.
And he notes that scientists have pieced together, from fragments found in tissue samples, the Spanish flu virus that killed twenty-five million people in 1918 - it produces 39,000 times more copies of itself than regular flu and, in an experiment, killed all the mice being tested in six days. Then they published the flu's genetic blueprint. So who has a home chemistry kit?

He also mentions that, in 2005, scientists developed a vaccine against human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease that is the primary cause of cervical cancer. The vaccine produced total immunity in the 6,000 women who received it as part of a multinational trial. The Family Research Council and other social conservative groups in America vowed to ban it, even though it could virtually eliminate cervical cancer. Vaccinating girls against a sexually transmitted disease, they say, would reduce their incentive to abstain from premarital sex. Oh well.

There's much more there.

Additionally see these:

From AFP - The Year of Unnatural Disasters - and from The Independent (UK) - Review of the Year: Climate Change -

Other summaries of 2005 -

BBC's offbeat stories - The best 'and finallies' of 2005

Business stuff from CNN-Money - Top Tech Stories of 2005

From the San Francisco Chronicle, the top California stories - The 10 Biggest Stories of The Past 363 Days

The top national stories - from The Oregonian here and from The Clarion-Ledger (Mississippi) here

From the mainstream, CNN's "Year in Review" is here and the amazing, in-depth "The Year in Ideas" from the New York Times is here. National Public Radio's top stories, with podcast, are here.

For the Brits, from BBC, most popular stories, among BBC readers - Stories That Mattered to You - in February, Prince Charles to Marry Camilla was the biggest story.

Obituaries of prominent and influential people who died in 2005 from the Associated Press here, from the New York Times here, and from BBC here. Time Magazine's "Persons of the Year" item is here (Bill and Melinda Gates, and Bono) - and Barbara Walter's "Most Fascinating People of 2005" is here (Tom Cruise at the top).

General reviews - highlights of key events of 2005 by month from Infoplease here, and the online cooperative encyclopedia Wikipedia covers most everything from the year here.

Hooray for Hollywood? From the Internet Movie Database a complete index of all 17,337 movies released in 2005 here. Whatever.

For the politically minded, see Eleanor Clift's Biggest Political Lies of 2005 - "Who told the worst political untruth of 2005? It's a shame the list of contenders is so long." And Newsweek offers the twenty-four political cartoons of the year here, and the best quotes of the year here. In that last item you'll find former First Lady Barbara Bush, on hurricane refugees in the Houston Astrodome - "What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them." The White House qualified that remark as a "personal observation."

So much for the year.

Posted by Alan at 12:05 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, 31 December 2005 12:13 PST home

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