Updated: Dec 17, 2020
Following the media’s year-in-review and forecast traditions, I’ve listed down some important —or not so important — and interesting events in the fields of politics, technology and entertainment that may not have gotten the level of attention they deserved.
In memoriam: We lost “Smokey and the Bandit Star” star Burt Reynolds. We lost Marvel superhero creator Stan Lee, without whom, the biggest cinematic universe would have never happened. Scientist Stephen Hawking, whose huge contributions to physics we can only understand through interpretations by other scientists, died after a long battle with ALS. To the general public, he was mostly known for his synthesized voice.
Handbag designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef and author Anthony Bourdain left the spotlight forever. Their deaths brought back public discussion on suicide and mental illness.
Human rights. The 20th century finally arrived in Saudi Arabia in 2018 when it allowed women to drive cars in public for the first time.
But the murder of journalist Jamal Kashoggi, and the ensuing coverup, puts the Saudi regime firmly in the one-step-forward, two-steps-back camp, like in the old Paula Abdul song.
In Yemen, a fragile ceasefire took hold in Hodeidah. In Myanmar, we’ve seen the former democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi fall from grace and stripped of many awards. In China, we’ve seen the bizarre global silence of Beijing’s crackdown on its Uighur population.
Discoveries. This past year, researchers found a human jawbone in a cave in Israel suggesting that humans migrated out of Africa 50,000 years earlier than previously thought.
In Sweden, the 8-year-old girl Saga Vanecek pulled a 1,000-plus year-old-sword out of Lake. That story brings shades of a real-life Excalibur from Arthurian legend.
Technology. Everybody can predict that new iPhones and Samsung phones will be released — even retired Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer, a notoriously inaccurate predictor of trends, can tell you that. (He laughed when the iPhone first came out.)
Just a few years ago, no one would have predicted that a private space company would launch the world’s most powerful rocket, with a Tesla Roadster as payload going beyond the orbit of Mars, and then simultaneously land the side boosters. Well, SpaceX founder Elon Musk did, as well as his dedicated team that made it happen in February. It could lead to an even greater era of space exploration very soon.
Entertainment. We saw Black Panther soar to success, and the Star Wars franchise flounder for the first time. We saw an out-of-touch Hollywood try to hold a “popular” category for Academy Awards’ best picture, only to retract the idea when a backlash ensued. A few months later they backtracked again, rescinding the invitation for Kevin Hart to host after someone dug years-old tweets that some found offensive.
And the “Murphy Brown” reboot got cancelled, but not for bad tweets like Roseanne Barr, it was just terrible.
We saw the biggest video game launch in history with the long awaited epic western-themed “Red Dead Redemption 2,” which the New York Times described as a “true work of art.” Hard to argue with that. The game even has 200 original soundtracks, each composition an art on its own.
We also saw the dominance of “Fornite” as a unforeseen juggernaut in the game industry. One prediction though, “Fortnite” will make billions of dollars next year alone. If you don’t know what “Fortnite” is, ask a 9- year-old.
Local: In 2018, the Koreans outnumbered the Japanese tourists. Annualized numbers show in October, South Korean tourists represented 50.5 percent of arrivals while those from Japan had fallen to 35.9 percent. Speaking of Korea, the June 12 peace summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un has reduced tensions triggered by threats of ballistic assault on Guam. Tourists and locals an rest easy in 2019.
Joseph Meyers is a professional pilot and an armchair social commentator. Send feedback to email@example.com