Sunday, January 15, 2017

The World in 2016

The World in 2016

Donald trump was elected as the President of the United States by the people of Russia, despite failing to win the popular vote in the United States. The world was expecting it to be a Hillarious year, but  trumped-up charges against the former Secretary of State paved the way for the biggest political upset in the history. The  TV personality and a business magnate, who claimed to have caught America by the same you-know what, with which he claimed to have caught many American women, became the President-erect of the country. 

Trump got his hopes high, when he witnessed Brexit - an ejaculation of Britain from the European Union, that many said was premature. Michael Farage, who played a stellar role in encouraging Brexit, became Trump's favorite as a candidate for Britain's ambassador to the United States, but was stumped by a lack of vacancy in Washington.

Despite a more natural affiliation to Crimlin, Trump is planning to move into the White House - his only complaint being that it is for the first time in his life that he is moving into a house which does not bear his name. Though he was happy that the name at least refers to one of his most important feature.

In another referendum gone wrong, the Columbian public voted against a peace deal ending decade old armed conflict with FARC rebels, though the government managed to push in a piecemeal deal through the parliament, and peace seems to be returning to the country by bits and pieces.

In France the ultra-right wing candidate, Marine Le Pen proved that Pen is mightier than Swordkosy, as she moved to the second round of the presidential contest and Sarkosy failed to move forward.

In the island nation of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte proved than blood is thicker than water, as he won the presidency on the promise of killing criminals, which he proceeded to do after his win, in a drug fueled and bloody frenzy.

While there was little evidence of human intelligence (at least electoral intelligence) in 2016, it was a good year for artificial intelligence, as deep- learning system AlphaGo proved itself to be a real go-getter, beating a Korean (considered human, if from South Korea) player Lee Sedol, 4-1.

Apple refused FBI directive to dig into the phone of the terrorist Syed Farook by replacing iOS with GovOS, after which the government agency hired Russian hackers to retrieve the required information, a service the Russians provided free of charge, as a part of the larger contract that they had won to subvert the American elections.

Students at an elementary school in Shanghai began the spring semester by swinging golf clubs. The Experimental School of Foreign Languages Affiliated with East China Normal University is the first public elementary school in China to introduce golf as one of its compulsory courses. All first and second-grade students are required to practice golf once a week. When accused of introducing an elitist sport of the rich, the principal dismissed the allegations. "Balls," he said, "we are just trying to create a well rounded personality and ensuring that the children do not make any right wing swings when they grow up."

A South African mayor has awarded college scholarships to 16 young women for remaining virgins. The young women who applied for the scholarships will voluntarily stay virgins and agree to have regular virginity tests to keep their funding. While some activists have called for the banning of virginity testing in South Africa, describing it as sexist and invasive, advocates say it preserves tradition and has been modernized to teach girls about their reproductive health and HIV and AIDS. The scholarship triggered a kind of virgin mania in the country, with scores of women trying to regain their virginity.

China's two-child policy officially kicked off in 2016. "Too little and too late", Goldman Sachs' macro research team wrote after the announcement. "One may argue this move is too little and too late ... but a broad based relaxation is surely better late than never and some people still want to have more than one child but cannot," they said. Many older Chinese women, who became eligible to have a second child felt that the move may or may not be "too little and too late", but the real problem likely to prevent them from having a second child, in fact, is that their husbands now are mostly "too little and too early".

Paris, the romance capital of the world, locked the new lovers out, by banning the attaching of locks to city bridges, after a section of Pont des Arts on the Seine river collapsed with the weight of the love locks. The authorities said that they have to take this key measure with a heavy heart and even heavier bridges.

In India, the year is ending with a lot of queueing and froing, as Prime Minister Modi put the country on a relentless path towards a cashless society. An objective poll conducted on the Modi app, which a base for all his fans, suggested that a representative sample of  Modi  lovers are firmly behind the move.

The Japanese PM, Shinzo Abe, visited Pearl Harbour to try to make amends for  the damage done by the country's planes seventy five years ago, and Barack Obama visited Hiroshima. Both the leaders expressed regret for what happened, but stopped short of apologizing, reminding the world of  the lyrics of an Elton John song, " sorry seems to be the hardest word".

On the technological front, good progress was made by self-driving cars, one of them even exhibited a characteristic driver like quality by killing a human.

On the business front, Bayer, the maker of Viagra, called off its takeover bid of Allergan, the maker of Botox, sensing a conflict of interest (the interest they would have to pay on the large loan required to make the acquisition) and a realization that a mere Botox facelift will not make the company any more potent.

At the Rio Olympics, Russia again proved it macho image, as male DNA was found in the samples of Russian female athletes. Two Indian female athletes, with pure female DNA, won the only two medals for the country of 1.3 billion people, putting it at the 67th position at the Rio Olympics, tied  with Mongolia, with  a population of 4 million. India may consider disguising female athletes as males to improve its chances at the next Olympics.

"Times they are a-changing," crooned Bob Dylan fifty years ago, and another big change came in 2016, when the song writer was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. However, George Michael, Prince, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen, all rested their instruments and vocal cords, and went "Knockin' on heaven's doors", leaving their melodies "Blowing in the wind".

Oxford English Dictionary declared "post truth" to be the word of the year, and Merriam Webster, announced the word that captured the sentiment of the year to be "surreal". They later denied that they ever made any such declarations, pronouncing the news as typical post-truth surrealism which characterised the year.

Some of what is reported above may be fake news, particularly if it appeared on Facebook.   Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of the social media website, remarked in a posthumous statement that he does not have any intention to rename Facebook as Fakebook.

Written by Ashok Sethi

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