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2014 is almost at a close, but there is a good chance that in the next two months, something might happen that will change how we think of the year. And yet, I will go out on a limb and talk about 2014 right now, because actually 2014 has been happening for a while. 2014 started in 2011, in Tunisia, when protests set off the Arab Spring, and in late 2013 in The Ukraine, when protests set off Ukraine's rebellion against Russian interference.

There is a lot of places where you can read about the gradual change of the protest movement of the Arab Spring into the genocidal civil war that is now taking place in Syria and Iraq, and how the protest movement in the Ukraine turned into a guerrilla war on the Ukraine/Russia border. In fact, it would be pretty hard not to know about these things, as they have been the largest world news stories of the past years. But I want to talk about them from the viewpoint of my own ignorance: because when both stories started, it seemed to be about situations that I was familiar with. The Arab Spring was started by underemployed but overeducated, computer-savvy and and cosmopolitan young people. Somehow, in between Tunisia and Syria, what turned from a revolution of people liked me turned into an attempt by the most reactionary, brutal and backward elements of society to reassert control. I can't understand why this happened, from my 21st century American perspective. The situation in the Ukraine is a bit less depressing, but the initial thrill that young people could effect change through the power of the internet and rejecting authoritarian oligarchies ha faded away, as the two sides settle down into what is a traditional ethnic feud over rusty old towns.

And having talked about serious foreign affairs for a bit, let me toss in a piece of geek culture: all of this is to say that The Future Refused to Change. I was perhaps spoiled by my early experiences with the twenty first century, an era where I assumed that information and communication would trump everything else. It takes 200 milliseconds for data to get to the other side of the word, but social change crawls along, perhaps never to arrive. The world is still in the middle, and I don't know how long it will take things to change. This is also the year I turn 35: given by classical three score year and ten, if things haven't changed by this point, there is a good chance I will still be seeing this sloppy juggling act when it is time to shake off my mortal coil. Perhaps this is a bit selfish of me, to regret that I might have to leave the party just as the fun begins. As much as it is about the drudgery of a world repeating its mistakes, my regret that I might never see the 21st century rightfully get started is about the fact that my anticipation will never be satisfied.

This is, of course, just my viewpoint. One that I am saving up for the future, so people can laugh at me for failing to see 2014 as the turning point it was. And perhaps it just seems like it is in the middle because it always seems we are in the middle. A more thorough or creative look at the year's events might show that things are indeed changing. But for me now, it seems like 2014 is just another step on a treadmill that won't stop moving.


In the year AD 2014...

  • The largest outbreak of the Ebola virus in recorded history occurs in West Africa, infecting more than 10,000 people and killing at least 5,000.
  • In the Euromaidan Revolution, Ukrainians oust Kremlin-backed Russian stooge Viktor Yanukovych from office as President of the Ukraine. In retaliation, Russia invades and annexes the Crimean Peninsula and foments a rebellion in the ethnically Russian region of Eastern Ukraine. The United States and the European Union thereafter engage Russia in several rounds of retaliatory economic sanctions that prove damaging to everyone involved.
  • It is a very bad year for Malaysia Airlines. First in March, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, vanishes without a trace with 239 people on board. The plane still has yet to be found or its disappearance explained. Then in July, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is shot down by pro-Russian rebels while taking an ill-advised flight path over Eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.
  • The South Korean ferry Sewol capsizes and sinks, killing nearly 300 passengers. Ensuing investigations uncover deep-seated corruption and excessively close ties between Korean corporations and government regulators.
  • Amid growing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers near the West Bank border in June and the revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager in July, Israel mounts an assault on the Gaza Strip, beginning with air strikes and culminating in a ground invasion. In the seven-week conflict 71 Israeli soldiers and an estimated 2,100 Palestinian civilians and militants are killed.
  • Amidst the power vacuum created by the ongoing Syrian Civil War and sectarian violence in Iraq following the US invasion and withdrawal, a group of militant Sunni Muslims calling themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (known by its Arabic acronym ISIS) seizes large portions of central Iraq and northern Syria, and claims to be setting up a modern Islamic Caliphate, prompting a largely ineffectual US bombing campaign in response.
  • The militant Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram kidnaps 276 schoolgirls from a boarding school in Nigeria, amongst a spree of other terroristic activities. An international viral social media campaign featuring celebrities and others holding signs saying "Bring Back Our Girls" fails to have any impact.
  • Taliban gunmen storm a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, murdering 141 people including 132 children.
  • The shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, by a white police officer in largely black Ferguson, Missouri leads to weeks of protests that are brutally suppressed by heavily armed police brought in from surrounding towns. The incident draws national attention to the over-arming of local police forces since 9/11 and the ongoing unaccountability of police officers in the wake of shootings of unarmed civilians.
  • The death of an unarmed black man, Eric Garner, at the hands of a white NYPD officer using a banned chokehold is captured on video, shocking many across the United States. The incident later leads to nationwide protests against police brutality and unaccountability after a grand jury fails to indict the officer involved.
  • Initially triggered by a blog posting by a man accusing his ex-girlfriend, an independent video game designer, of cheating—which soon turns into accusations (later proven false) that the woman had traded sex for favorable coverage of her game—an amorphous group of self-identified "gamers" unites under the hashtag #GamerGate and embarks on a wild orgy of misogynistic attacks on prominent women in the video game industry and any men who try to defend them, using all manner of internet bullying tactics including rape and death threats, doxxing, hacking and DDOS attacks, and angry mass emails directed at website sponsors, all in the name of ensuring "ethics in video game journalism," but which in actuality is part of a larger culture war wherein young, white males fear and resent any notion that there might be a place in the world for video games, video game designers, or video game players who don't conform to their extremely narrow view of a monolithic white, male "gamer" culture glorifying misogyny and violence in video games.
  • The European Space Agency's unmanned Rosetta spacecraft successfully lands its Philae probe on Comet 67P, the first time a human craft has ever landed on a comet.
  • The World Wildlife Fund's "Living Planet Report" reports the staggering figure that due to massive habitat loss, there are 52% fewer wild animals living on Earth in 2014 than there were in 1970. We must change our ways.


These people died in 2014...


Several notable films appeared in 2014, including:


Several notable television shows began airing in 2014, including:


2013 - 2014 - 2015

21st century

How they were made

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