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On the whole, 2011 was a pretty shitty year. The world’s economy continued its descent toward a complete meltdown, America’s leaders made a mockery of our political system (and, in turn, our electorate), and cities from Joplin to Fukushima were devastated by natural disasters. But despite pundits’ claims otherwise, 2011 was historically significant.

Of course, from the American perspective, the death of Osama bin Laden was the headline of last year. The U.S. operation that found and killed bin Laden was undoubtedly an important event. But, although perhaps not quite up to the same level of importance, there were many other events of significance in 2011. Here they are in no particular order:

  • Occupy Wall Street. Inspired by the greed and selfishness of publicly-held corporations that employ thousands of American workers in an explicitly-stated attempt to return as much value to their shareholders as possible, scores of mostly under- or unemployed, mostly young people took the streets to demand…well…it’s not so clear what they were demanding. Although OWS failed to inspire any kind of political or economic concessions, the Occupy Wall Street movement can claim one victory: teaching young people across the country that it’s probably a better idea to shower regularly and be part of the system than it is to live in public parks with dozens of like-minded (and like-smelling) people for months on end to no discernible benefit.
  • The Arab Spring. After decades of living under totalitarian dictatorships, the people of Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, and other countries across the mid-east region, launched major protests. Unlike their Occupy Wall Street brethren, the Arab Spring found success because it was better organized, had easily understood objectives, and was well groomed.
  • The NBA Lockout. Sorry. I really didn’t care all that much about the five-month-long NBA lockout. I was much more interested in NBA’er Kris Humphries’ 72-day marriage to sex taper Kim Kardashian. For those of you keeping track at home, yes, the lockout lasted longer than Mr. and Mrs. Humphries’ nuptials. You’ll also note that I’m resisting the urge to question Humphries’ ability to drive the hole. Doing so would be beneath a blog of this stature.
  • The Royal Wedding. LOVED it. Abso-frickin-lutely loved it. Though I hid it well, even from those closest to me, I ate up every bit of the hype. And the hats?!? Oh. Em. Gee.
  • The War in Iraq Ends. Sadly, all good things must come to an end. It was with misty, bloodshot eyes that the brass at Haliburton said goodbye to 2011. The last eight years have been good to the defense contracting firm, which scored billions of dollars in contracts with the federal government for services in Iraq. With the War in Iraq now officially over and all but a handful of troops back home, Haliburton, like so many other Americans, is out of a job and must now figure out how it will put food on its table.

Happy New Year, everyone.