Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: Good Riddance

Not to end the year on a down note, but I don’t really have many nice things to say about 2010. There were some high points this year, to be sure – not the least of which was the Chicago Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in my lifetime (don’t sell sports victories short; they don’t change the world but they do give people a lift, not altogether unlike art and music, and that’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick). More importantly, we had at least one major civil rights victory in 2010: The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t tell. That’s something that will, in fact, make the world a better place, ultimately leading, I suspect, to full citizenship rights for our fellow Americans who happen to be gay and lesbian.

Oh, yeah. And my Fighting Illini unexpectedly (a) went to; and (b) actually won a bowl game. So, there’s that.

But for me all of that was overshadowed by the passing of my mother, Margaret Mary Durkin von Ebers, on November 30, 2010. Here’s a tip for those of you who don’t have the same talent for the obvious that I have: Try to avoid losing a parent or other family member during the holidays. That’s the worst.

Moreover, even though the economy picked up slightly in 2010, unemployment remained unacceptably high. According to the latest numbers published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

The number of unemployed persons was 15.1 million in November. The unemployment rate edged up to 9.8 percent; it was 9.6 percent in each of the prior 3 months. …

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (10.0 percent), adult women (8.4 percent), whites (8.9 percent), and Hispanics (13.2 percent) edged up in November. The jobless rate for blacks (16.0 percent) showed little change over the month, while the rate for teenagers declined to 24.6 percent. The jobless rate for Asians was 7.6 percent, not seasonally adjusted. …

Among the unemployed, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs rose by 390,000 to 9.5 million in November. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was little changed at 6.3 million and accounted for 41.9 percent of the unemployed.

Worse, if you look the “real” unemployment figure – what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls the “U-6 measure” of unemployment and underemployment – the “[t]otal unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force” was 17% in November 2010.

There’s little to cheer about in those numbers; and let’s face it, marginal economic grown and modest gains in the stock market mean little or nothing to people who are out of work, or who cannot find adequate work, in this economy. Until huge numbers of people are able to get back to work and get out of the financial holes they find themselves in, the supposed recovery will have little real-world significance.

So, I won’t be sorry to see 2010 gone. Not by a long shot.

I am, however, really grateful for a host of new friends I’ve made this year through Twitter and other online ventures, principally among them: John V. Moore of Windy City Watch; GottaLaff of The Political Carnival; and Tim Corrimal, who’s been kind enough to ask me co-host his weekly podcast, The Tim Corrimal Show. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention OTOOLEFAN and Liberalchik of Tomfoolery, two of my favorite Tweeters and two of the nicest folks around; Michael Stinson, (@Symbolman on Twitter), co-author of Going Rouge: The Sarah Palin Coloring & Activity Book (thanks, friend, for the personalized copies!); Liz (@Semishark), a stalwart progressive who’s not afraid to challenge heavy hitters on the left or the right, and they’re usually the worse for it; my favorite Canadian, Michelle Matthews (@Tymlee), of Tymlee’s Blog; and @DanVerg, with whom I don’t always agree, but who always gives me plenty to think about, and who’s a genuinely decent person.

And then there’s the outrageous, brilliant HumanityCritic whose blog, The Innermost Thoughts of a Throat-Chopper, is one place where you’ll never find a pulled punch; McMuffinofdoom, who has, perhaps, the best handle on Twitter; DCPlod, my favorite Brit-by-way-of-South-Africa, of Neither Here Nor There; and Oliver Willis (@owills on Twitter), who’s great even though his Red Skins beat my Bears this year. And here’s a non-inclusive, unranked list of other Twitter favorites: @iboudreau; @vdaze; @JeffersonObama, @s_a_cosgrove, @awienick; @domsisti; @msbellows; @dave_in_sa; @DCDebbie; @Karoli (who frequently contributes to Crooks and Liars); @allen_mcduffee of the Think Tanked Blog. I know there are more I’m omitting, and I’m genuinely sorry for that, but I’ll try to highlight other great folks on Twitter in the year to come.

Also, although I’m not one to follow celebrities, I have to mention the inimitable Rosanne Cash (@rosannecash on Twitter), who is one of the nicest and most genuine people I’ve encountered on line. I mention her specifically because she was very kind to me when my Mom passed; I especially appreciate the fact that she took the time to read the blog tribute I wrote for my Mom and to comment on it. I think that’s fairly extraordinary, and so I have to say: Thank you.

Finally, although I’ve known them for several years, I have to express my appreciation for my original online “family” – Jesus’ General and all the folks who comment on his brilliant satirical blog, which was one of the first progressive blogs I came across and still one of the first places I go every day. Aside from the General himself (@JC_Christian on Twitter), there’re my favorite booksellers, Seattle Tammy (@jacksonstbooks) and Seattle Dan (@jacksonstdano) of (Jackson Street) Books on 7th; hockey maven and all-around sports guru Richard Kincaide; Democommie, who’s incorrigible but we wouldn’t have it any other way; MJS of Mortal Jive; and Rev. Paperboy of The Woodshed (another great Canadian, by the way), all of whom are regular commenters and (and sometimes contributors) at the General’s place and all of whom I consider to be real friends. Thanks, you guys, for all the support and all the laughs over the years.

Oh, yeah, and lest I should forget, one more lousy thing happened in 2010. I broke my jaw:

Kids, don’t try this at home.

So, anyways, here’s to a better 2011. There’s no way it could be worse than 2010.

© 2010 David P. von Ebers. All rights reserved.


  1. Happy New Year, Dave, and to your family! I have to think 2011 has to be better. And thank you for remaining our great pal.

  2. Happy New Year to you and Tammy as well. You guys are the best.

  3. You honor me, Dave. And if this is you at a low point, then the future is going to be beyond delightful.

  4. Thanks, Liz! It’ll turn around for sure.

  5. I so hope 2011 is better. I remember 2008 when I lost my Dad and it was the worst year except for Obama being Elected. Thanks for all that you do and being my co-host. Happy New Year to you and your family and here is hoping we both have a great 2011.

  6. Thanks, Tim. So glad to have gotten to know you.

  7. Thanks, Dave! And Happy New Year. (Great to see the Big Ten get it off to such a good start! Makes me proud to be a Legend or whatever in the hell it is that they named my division...)