2010 – A Year of Change… Or More of the Same?

Certainly, there were many changes in the world, and in the United States, in 2010, but in many areas things seemed to stay the same.  Yet, which of the changes were “real,” and which of those things that seemed unchanged truly did change?

In the book field, an area obviously of concern to me, it’s fair to say that ebooks “arrived,” not that they haven’t been available to some degree for years, but 2010 marked the first year in which they accounted for a truly significant fraction of total book sales, although the analysts will likely be trying to ascertain exactly what that fraction was for months to come.  With ebooks has also come the rise of publishers who are essentially ebook only, and who rely on print-on-demand trade paperbacks, if pressed for a physical product.  Whether such publishers will become a larger part of the market or fade away is uncertain, as of the moment.

In science, one of the “biggest” announcements, although it received comparatively little media attention, was that astronomers have determined that the universe contains more than three times as many stars as previously thought because the number of so-called red dwarf stars had been grossly undercounted, largely because optical telescopes on Earth could not pick many of them up, even in stellar areas comparatively closer to Earth.  This also increases the chances for alien life because red dwarf stars have a much longer and more stable lifespan than do brighter stars.  Will this change anything here on Earth?  Hardly likely. 

In U.S. politics, of course, the balance of power in the legislative branch shifted considerably with the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives and the Democratic loss of a “gridlock-proof” [not that it always was] Senate.  That shift will likely result in very little being accomplished in 2011 or 2012 because the Republicans don’t want to accomplish anything but to roll back what the Democrats did, and the Democrats have enough votes – and the President – to stop such efforts, and neither side has either the initiative, intelligence, nor the will to work out compromise solutions.  So there really wasn’t much change there, either.

The war in Afghanistan continued in 2010, with escalating U.S. casualties, and is now the longest military conflict in U.S. history.  While the media continues to report, in small stories and back pages, various events, the majority of the American people remained content to pay lip service to the military, to allow private contractor profiteering, and in general only complained about it in terms of siphoning off funding for their desired social programs.  In short, no real change – except, of course, to the families and lovers of the increased numbers of dead and wounded.

2010 has been established as one of the three warmest years on record, at least in technological times, despite unseasonably cold winters in the northeast U.S. and in Europe, and that apparent paradox will continue to fuel opposition to dealing with the real issue of global warming, resulting in no real change in actions or positions.

The other real social change heralded in 2010, especially in western Europe and the United States, memorialized in part by the movie – The Social Network [because all momentous social movements need cinematic commemoration] – was the verification that the only forms of social contact that matter are those created and maintained by electronic means.  This is indeed a significant change, marked by the decline and possible demise of:  first meetings with significant others conducted with physical presence; actual conversations without overt and covert electronic interruptions and/or additions; efficient work habits and sustained mental concentration; and, of course, social niceties such as written paper thank-you notes.

In the end, did much really change?

5 thoughts on “2010 – A Year of Change… Or More of the Same?”

  1. Jamey says:

    “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Still, it certainly seems which piece of bullshit is currently being focused on is changing faster than it used to. Perhaps our society is reaching some kind of phase change, similar to boiling water? I’m not saying “The Singularity”, just a phase change.

    1. Richard Hamilton says:

      One might debate just which elements of current behavior
      constitute detachment from reality (I think that significant
      anthropogenic influence in climate change is neither proven nor
      evaluated, i.e. humans historically do _better_ in warmer weather!
      OTOH, we’re certainly using accessible fossil fuels faster than nature
      creates them, which isn’t sustainable, even if CO2 emissions are
      a total non-issue; and simply in terms of minimizing unknown consequences, zero emissions is a laudable goal _provided_ we
      don’t have to totally trash our standard of living or surrender our
      freedom and mobility to achieve it).

      But I think if there is a “phase change” going on, then as much as anything,
      it’s that the detachment from reality, both due to abstraction and to
      willful misdirection by those that seek to benefit from it, may be reaching
      very dangerous levels. Whoever you think was irresponsible or unrealistic
      (I think it was the limitless spending and the encouragement of unreliable loans under cover of some sort of social justice, as well as a view to short-term rather than sustainable profits by various large corporations), the
      economic collapse is as clear an indication as any that symbols aren’t
      being used or interpreted correctly to describe actual production,
      consumption, spending, and their consequences.

      And yet, so much of the complication is needless! Heinlein said most of what one needs to know about economics when he said “there ain’t no
      such thing as a free lunch”, but in whose interests is it to really
      understand and apply that, especially when nearly half the population
      pays zero income tax? They’re giving up something in exchange for
      services payed for by others, but do they know or care, or think beyond
      their next paycheck or unemployment check?

      We need to all think more seriously about the consequences of our
      individual actions, not just environmentally, or even economically,
      but in personal situations as well. Abstraction of interactions may
      contribute to the decline of courtesy, and of an _everyone in it for
      themselves_ mindset that only furthers the distance between
      conduct and consequences.

      The thing to remember is that sooner or later, consequences come
      a-calling. I think that’s more physics (if by design) than judgement
      or karma (since I think that a competent creator wouldn’t have to
      constantly meddle with his creation), but the result is the same:
      the longer and greater the disconnect between conduct and
      reality, the worse the consequences will be when they finally arrive.
      As bad as some things may seem now, I wonder if we have even begun
      to see the real consequences of our long-term tolerance of irresponsible
      conduct of many kinds.

  2. Grant Edmunds says:

    I know that I have changed for the better in the last year, and I believe my city will be changing for the better in the coming year. For now that is all I can do, but if one person in every city does the same…

    Things will be start getting better soon. They may get harder, in fact I expect them to get continually harder, but they will get better too.

  3. I am really interested in the theories behind the 2012 theories and have been researching it for a number of years now. The information that you have offered here is great. Does anybody know of any more resources where I can get even more information on the end of the world beliefs.

  4. Dysgraphia says:

    All this discussion on Endtimes, the end of all our days… floods, erupting volcanos, earthquakes and whatever else… and now we’ve got an E-coli outbreak! If I didn’t know better I’d swear we were in 2012 already LOL!

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