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This place matters

Monday, January 2, 2017

2016, a year to be forgot

So the other day I clicked on this Buzzfeed article about the most powerful photos of the year, expecting Bowie tributes and stuff, I guess. Instead it was images like these:

And I was reminded of the incredible luxury I have, as a middle-class American, to only have to mourn pop stars and actors. We cried over Alan Rickman and Prince, but how many tears have we shed over Aleppo? Baghdad? Yemen. I thought 2016 was awful because we lost Carrie Fisher, but this year hundreds of thousands of innocent Syrian civilians lost their lives and homes and families for a war they didn't start and they didn't want. And when they ran away, these men and women and children without a country, the international community turned their backs with threats and scare-mongering and analogies about poison Skittles. 2016 was a shit show all right, but maybe not for the reasons we all think it was.


But to jump off the Debbie Downer train, you ever wondered what the hell an auld lang syne is?
Auld lang syne is Scots for times long past. Here's Wikipedia's English translation for the song:


Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you'll buy your pint cup!
and surely I'll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we've wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,

from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o' thine!
And we'll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

It's from a poem by Robert Burns, but it didn't become a New Year's thing until the 20th century, when Guy Lombardo's band rang in 1929 by playing it at midnight on a national radio broadcast. Hollywood took a shine to the idea of playing the tune to mark the new year in every movie ever, and audiences followed suit. Ironically, 1929 turned out to be a shit show of 2016 proportions, what with the Great Depression and the influenza epidemic that killed 200,000 and all. Maybe the song's bad luck. Maybe we should start singing this one.

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