2005: The Annus Horribilus
An annus mirabilis is a Latin term meaning, literally, a wonderful year. The term denotes a year in which a number of remarkable things happen.
“The Waste Land and Ulysses both appeared in 1922, the annus mirabilis of modern literature.” The term annus horribilus, a horrible, frightful, dreadful year, appears to have been used first by Queen Elizabeth to describe 1992, the year in which Windsor Castle caught fire and her sons Charles and Andrew both divorced.
With all due respect to her majesty, consider 2005:
- January 1: The tsunami that killed 275,000 people actually happened on December 26, 2004, but five days later it still dominated the world's attention.
- January 20: George W. Bush began his second term as illegitimately installed president. As with his first term, he demonstrated laziness (a minimum of ten weeks of vacation per year, a scandalously brief “work” day), cronyism, a radically right-wing ideology, governmental ineptitude, and a strong commitment to transforming the United States into a Christiano-fascist nation.
- February 22: An magnitude 6.2 earthquake devastated the Zarand region of southern Iran, killing 612 people.
- March 20: A magnitude 7 earthquake off the coast of Japan injured 250 people and killed at least one.
- March 21: Ten students were massacred at Red Lake Village High School in Minnesota, the worst school shooting since the Columbine massacre in 1999.
- March 23-31: After the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to order the reinsertion of a feeding tube into a brain-dead woman, far-right fundamentalist members of the U.S. House of Representatives went into a frenzy of posturing, Pharisaic hypocrisy, while a so-called physician in the Senate announced that from a thousand miles away, after having done nothing more than watch a heavily edited videotape, he was a better diagnostician than the physicians who had been attending the woman for years. Luckily, in the end the woman's wishes were respected rather than Congress's.
- March 28: A second earthquake struck Sumatra, this one magnitude 8.7. It was the second-largest earthquake since 1965; 1,313 people died..
- April 20: A magnitiude 5.8 earthquake hit Fukuoka and Kasuga, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan, killing 56 people.
- May 10: A live hand grenade tossed at George W. Bush in Tbilisi, Georgia, failed to detonate.
- Intelligent Design: Several U.S. states, most notably Kansas and Pennsylvania, have begun requiring that a religious doctrine called “Intelligent Design” be taught as if it were science in public school science classes, over the objections of parents who believe that science ought to be taught in science classes. As of October 24, the outcome of the lawsuit in Pennsylvania is still in doubt. Next: Disproving the “theory” of a round Earth that revolves around the sun.
- June 13: Michael Jackson was acquitted of all charges related to pederastic harm to children.
- June 13: A magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Tarapaca, Chile, killing 11 people.
- June 17: A 6.7-magnitude aftershock, which followed a 5.3-magnitude earthquake on June 16, was the fourth earthquake to strike California since June 12.
- July 7: Four explosions rocked London's transportation network in London, three on the Underground and one on a bus. More than 50 deaths were reported, and more than 200 people were injured.
- July 10: Hurricane Dennis made landfall near Navarre Beach, Florida as a Category 3 storm, killing 10 people, after killing more than 50 people in the Caribbean.
- July 13: Three trains collided in Ghotki, Pakistan, killing more 150 people.
- July 21: A terrorist attack on London's transportation network, similar to the July 7 attacks, included four attempted bomb attacks on three Underground trains and a London bus. The bombs failed to explode properly, and only one injury was reported.
- July 23: A series of bomb attacks rocked the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheik; roughly 90 people were killed, and roughly 150 wounded. It was the deadliest attack in Egyptian history. Three separate Islamo-fascist groups claimed responsibility.
- July 30: Exhausted by all those four-hour work days since his last vacation three months
George W. Bush began a five-week vacation. He spent most of the next month doing chores on his ranch, partying with cronies, and ignoring the request of the mother of a war hero to discuss the meaning of her son's death.
At a later point during his career, Kant rejected this argument too, as being immaterial — but luckily, this article is not about the evolution of that great genius's
thought. I've had a hard enough time oversimplifying turgidity as it is.
- Friday, August 26: The governors of Louisiana and Mississippi requested assistance from the Department of Defense in dealing with the approaching monster hurricane, Katrina. Lt. Gen. Russell Honoré was named commander of Joint Task Force Katrina, establishing coordinating offices in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. George W. Bush stayed on vacation.
- Sunday, August 28: The National Hurricane Center notified the nation that Katrina, a category 5 hurricane, was on target to strike New Orleans. The levees had been designed to withstand a category 3 hurricane at worst, as the nation had known for many years. NHC director Max Mayfield discussed Hurricane Katrina in a video conference call with George W. Bush, who still didn't consider the approaching disaster important enough to interrupt his 344th day of vacation since January 20, 2000.
- August 29: Hurricane Katrina devastated the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, killing more than 1,200 people (bodies were still being found on October 22). When the levees broke, flooding New Orleans, and the rest of the nation watched raptly on all the many news channels, George W. Bush deemed it more important to interrupt his vacation — which still had a week to go — to give a speech in which he compared himself and his war of vanity in Iraq to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and World War II. FDR, he informed his startled audience, started World War II. “To bring freedom to Japan.” I kid you not: that's what Bush thought was more important than the greatest catastrophe in the history of the United States of America.
- August 30: Bush interrupted his vacation again — to give another speech defending his vanity war in Iraq. We must continue fighting, he said, to protect Iraq's oil fields (presumably from those who do not realize the oil belongs to Halliburton now). Then he resumed his vacation, first golfing, then playing the guitar with country music stars.
- August 31: Bush made a cursory, 35-minute flyover of the desolation caused by Hurricane Katrina. Then, via television cameras, he told the ruined region,
“I'm confident that, with time, you can get your life back in order.” [Without help from him or his “compassionate” conservative friends in the U.S. government, of course.] Out of the cameras' range, and ignored by Bush, were thousands of sick and dying people. Earlier that day, Bush had laughingly looked forward to visiting the rebuilt riverside mansion of Senator Trent Lott — like himself, and unlike the victims of Katrina, a wealthy, overprivileged white neocon. How sad that Mr. Bush had to miss the last four days of his most recent 36-day vacation.
- September 4-11: Faced with the obvious need for a new New Deal, complete with a Gulf Coast Regional Redevelopment Authority similar to the Tennessee Valley Authority, a gigantic new jobs program modeled on the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps, and a revived Reconstruction Finance Corporation, George W. Bush inflicted his radical ideology on the nation and presented no-bid contracts to his administration's pets, including Halliburton, Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, the Shaw Group, and Bechtel. Each contract contains “cost-plus” provisions, meaning that the contractor is guaranteed a certain profit no matter how much he spends.
- September 24: Hurricane Rita, which was also a category 5 hurricane, hit the Gulf Coast. The 9th Ward of New Orleans was flooded for the second time in less than a month. Rita damaged Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
- October 4: Hurricane Stan killed more than 600 people in Mexico and Central America.
- October 8: An earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Moment magnitude scale devastated Pakistan, killing at least 80,361 people. Without massive international help (that has not, as of Dec. 1), materialized, millions are in danger of dying from Pakistan's harsh winter.
- October 3-10: New England underwent the worst flooding in decades as the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia passed. Towns in New Hampshire received almost 11 inches of rain, while parts of Connecticut saw 12 inches of rain.
- October 19: Hurricane Wilma became the strongest hurricane in human history. Its barometric pressure of 882 is the lowest in recorded history.
- October 19: A 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck Japan 25 miles below the sea off Ibaraki prefecture, northeast of Tokyo.
- October 20: The U.S. Congress, dominated by the radical agenda of the neocons (which is to dismantle the federal government as much as possible and give the proceeds to the wealthy), proposed to pay for the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast after hurricanes Katrina and Rita through (a) another tax cut for the wealthy and (b) cutting services to the poor, such as Medicaid.
- October 21: Hurricane Wilma began its lengthy squat over Mexico's Yucatan. If number of mentions on the various news channels (for example, CNN and MSNBC) is any indication, George W. Bush remains more interested in combating the political damage incurred by the revelations of his administration's incompetence, negligence, dishonesty, fiscal profligacy, corruption, and radical dedication to the expansion of power of the imperial presidency.
- October 22: A new record was set when Hurricane Alpha formed in the Caribbean, the 22nd named storm of the year. The previous record was set in 1933, with 21 tropical storms (an unknown number of which may have been hurricanes). Record-keeping began in 1851.
- November 3-4: Another severe aftershock, registering 6.3 on the Richter scale, hits northern Pakistan.
- November 6: A tornado hit western Kentucky and southwestern Indiana, killing at least 22.
- November 8: Kansas redefined “science” to include fundamentalist theology.
- November 8: On the 12th day of rioting, French president Jacques Chirac declared a state of emergency.
- November 15: A 6.9-magnitude earthquake, as determined by the Japan Meteorological Society, struck off the northern coast of Japan near Sanriku, prompting a tsunami warning to be issued.
- November 18: Tropical Storm Gamma formed. The next day it deluged the coast of Central America, killing six.
- November 19: An earthquake of at least magnitude 6.2 (the USGS said 6.5) earthquake struck near the island of Sumatra, a part of Indonesia.
- November 23: Tropical Storm Delta formed in the Atlantic. It neared hurricane force the next day before weakening.
- November 26: An earthquake of at least magnitude 5.5 killed 14 people in central China.
- November 27: A magnitude-6.2 earthquake in Iran leveled 14 villages.
- November 28: Republican Congressman Randy Duke Cunningham admitted to receiving approximately $2.4 million in bribes and resigned. (Holy smokes! A Republican criminal who resigned his office! That hasn't happened since Nixon! Do you suppose we can get Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Frist, DeLay, and all the many others to resign too?)
- November 28: After months of speculation, the Canadian Liberal Minority government was toppled 171-133 in a Legislative Non-Confidence Motion tabled by the official opposition party (Conservatives) with the support of the Bloc Quebecois (Right Wing Separatist Party of Quebec) and the New Democratic Party (Socialist Party). This set the stage for a January 23, 2006 election for the leadership authority of Canada. (One of their issues was approximately $1.1-million in bribes — which, of course, is chicken feed to the Republican criminals currently in power in the United States.)
- November 29: Tropical Storm Epsilon formed in the mid-Atlantic.
This list was most recently updated on November 30, the official end to the hurricane season. (However, February and April are the only two months on record that have NOT seen hurricanes.) As of this date, the world has undergone 13 major hurricanes (among 26 storms that were big enough to name, plus two tropical depressions and one subtropical depression), 13 major earthquakes, and more Islamo-fascist bombings than any sane person would want to shake a stick at. And perhaps the worst disaster of all, at least for the child in question: Nicholas Cage named his new baby Kal-El, after Superman.
Yes, I know that 2005 has a month to go. But if this isn't an annus horribilis, I don't want to know what is. I think it may end up being the one and only annus horribilissimus. But my husband thinks next year will be even worse, and that fills me with dread.