Let’s start with the obvious. It is generally agreed that 2016 was a Bad Year (not just for the A’s hitters. Or for that matter the A’s pitchers.) It started out kind of blah, continued as if enveloped in a permanent miasma, and ended in disaster both too obvious and too depressing to talk about here.
This state of affairs has proven especially difficult to reconcile with philosophical progressivism, the belief that while individually we are all (in fact) going to die, on the whole the human condition tends to improve over time. The arc of history is long but it bends toward justice; humanity gets healthier, wealthier, less violent, more free. Et cetera. The last year has given many of us pause. Are things falling apart; can the center hold?
One of the basic facts of calculus is that (for an appropriate class of function), when f has a local minimum, f’ is 0; in plain language, even when things have hit bottom and started to get better, they initially do so only at a very slow rate. This essential Truth has also been recognized by artists: “good times are coming, but they sure are coming slow” [Young, 1974]. (But see also “the darkest hour is right before the dawn” [Crosby, 1969; Dylan, 1974]).
We went out to our local tapas bar for an earlyish dinner last night, and were unexpectedly greeted by the presence of the sslingers. The seats next to them opened up within a couple of minutes. So the usual good food and killer (in both good and bad ways) cocktails were enhanced with some camaraderie and conversation. I am taking this happy coincidence as a sign that the Universe has finished hitting rock bottom and is getting its shit together, and that better times are coming (albeit perhaps slowly at first) in the New Year. May that be reflected in all your lives, and in our collective body politic.
Happy 2017 FKers.