22 good things that happened in 2022

22 good things that happened in 2022
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By the Editorial Board of The New York Times |

1. Ukraine still stands. When Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in late February, he — and most everyone else — anticipated that the country would fall to Russian control in a matter of days. What few predicted was the power brought to bear by the spirit and tenacity of the Ukrainian people, who have fought valiantly for their nation and for democratic ideals for more than nine months. They have repelled Russian invaders from much of their country. They have persisted through periods of no heat, water or electricity. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, 44, adeptly rallied much of the world to send aid and weapons, and he was rightly named Time’s Person of the Year. The blue and yellow flag flies in Kyiv — and around the globe.

2. American voters rejected extreme candidates. An alarming number of GOP contenders for office this year openly denied the 2020 election results. Some had even participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. But voters across the country largely said “No, thank you” to these candidates, especially in hotly contested statewide offices in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada. Score one for the guardrails of the democratic system.

3. Gas prices are no longer at heart attack levels. Remember $5 gas? For much of June, that was the reality in United States, thanks largely to Mr. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. But gas prices have fallen steadily since the summer, as China’s consumption has cooled and many nations have pumped a little more oil. The average price is now around $3.20 — which is a tad lower than it was a year ago.

4. Lizzo played THAT flute. Musician extraordinaire Lizzo went viral for playing James Madison’s 1813 crystal flute. First she performed with it at the Library of Congress (at the library’s request). Then she tooted it briefly onstage at her D.C. concert in front of thousands of fans. Lizzo, a classically trained flutist, instantly reminded us of the magic of in-person events and the treasures of U.S. history.

5. “Jeopardy!” was on a hot streak. Let’s begin by answering with a question: Was something in the water on the “Jeopardy!” set this year? The game show suddenly had a slew of heartwarming trivia whizzes, who just kept winning and winning. Uber driver Ryan Long won 16 consecutive games. Operations manager Cris Pannullo won 21. Tutor Mattea Roach won 23. And, of course, writer and transgender rights activist Amy Schneider triumphed in 40 straight games to become the second-most-winning player ever (and then took home the Tournament of Champions prize). What was must-watch TV this year? That’s easy to answer.

6. Nathan “Quad King” Chen skated to redemption. The Beijing Winter Olympics were a largely censored and cringeworthy affair, but one of the standout moments was American Nathan Chen winning “redemption gold” in men’s figure skating. Four years earlier, Chen had a disastrous Olympics, but he didn’t give up. He put in the hard work and set a world record in the short program and landed five quad jumps in the long one. Frankly, he made it look so effortless that many were ready to put on skates and try it — until, as Jimmy Fallon demonstrated, people realized these jumps are superhuman, even without the ice.

A court in mid-December sentenced Istanbul’s popular mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, a political rival of the president, to more than two years in prison on the charge of “insulting public figures.” If confirmed on appeal, his conviction would bar Mr. Imamoglu from seeking public office. Mr. Erdogan has a long history of suppressing critics and competition. Read our recent editorial.
Federal researchers have found that the past seven years in the Arctic have been the warmest seven years since 1900. Effects include devastating wildfires and toxic algal blooms. Scientists also worry that Arctic melting could release huge amounts of greenhouse gases. Read a recent editorial about the melting Arctic.
A Hong Kong judge sentenced Jimmy Lai, a media magnate known for publishing a defiantly independent newspaper, to almost six years in prison. His trial for violating Hong Kong’s repressive national security law, charges for which he could face life in prison, has been postponed until next year. Read our most recent editorial on the case.

7. Metro finally lands at Dulles International Airport. For decades, D.C.-area residents and visitors dreamed of the day when they could ride by rail from downtown to Dulles Airport. So many other cities had something like this, why not the nation’s capital? It was considered a far-fetched idea when plans for the subway system were first being drawn up in the 1960s. Metro’s Silver Line extension was supposed to be completed in 2018. It finally became reality on Nov. 15. As Journey sings, “Don’t stop believin’.”

8. Pickleball is our new favorite pastime. It’s a cross between tennis and table tennis, with a little chess-like strategy thrown in. Pickleball exploded this year with kids, seniors and everyone in between. Who cares if it doesn’t offer a ton of exercise? After years of isolation, let’s embrace this game that gets our socialization and fun muscles moving again.

9. TikTok brought us “butter boards.” There were plenty of TikTok trends in 2022, but perhaps the most fun was the rise of the butter board, where people spread butter on a cutting board and spice it up by sprinkling on anything from garlic and pepper flakes to figs and oranges. Is it going to win culinary awards? Heck, no. But in a year when supply-chain glitches and skyrocketing inflation made it hard to find a lot of items on your grocery list, the butter board was all about encouraging us to make the best of whatever we had.

10. The world (mostly) averted a global food crisis. When Russia invaded Ukraine, one of the many tragedies that followed was a collapse of grain exports from Ukraine to developing nations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Hundreds of millions of people were going hungry. Fortunately, the United Nations managed to broker a deal over the summer to get Ukraine’s grain on ships, and the U.S. government stepped up with more than $5 billion in food aid, including funds for the U.N. World Food Program. Additional donations poured in from many Americans. Parts of the world are still struggling, but quick intervention helped countless people.

11. We’re going back to the moon! NASA’s Artemis I moon mission was launched Nov. 16 and has sent back images so awesome you want to print them out and hang them on your wall. This is the first part of an initiative that aims to put humans on the lunar surface again. More than 20 countries are part of Artemis, a reminder that space exploration unites and tantalizes us all. Billionaires also kept boldly going into space in 2022. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has launched more than 50 rockets this year, a record for the company. Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin completed its sixth crewed spaceflight in August, making space tourism a reality, at least for those with billions in their bank accounts (Mr. Bezos owns The Post).

12. Wordlemania hit hard. Forget your phone number. The number everyone wanted to share and receive in 2022 was your Wordle s-c-o-r-e. The game where you guess the five-letter word in six tries technically launched last year, but it reached peak saturation this year. Google said it was its top trending global search term of 2022. While the New York Times acquired the game in January, even Post staffers are willing to admit we’re hooked, too.

13. A record number of Americans had health insurance. Only 8 percent of Americans lacked health insurance in early 2022. That’s a record low, according to government data. There were especially big gains in health coverage in communities of color. What drove this? Americans were eager for health-care access in the pandemic, and they were aided by extra funds from the American Rescue Plan to make plans more affordable and to keep people enrolled in Medicaid. It was also applause-worthy to see the abolishment of “surprise billing” this year and an end to most medical debt appearing on credit reports.

14. More than 4 million people got jobs. When the pandemic hit and much of the global economy shut down overnight, it looked as though the world was headed for a depression. But U.S. government aid kept many households and businesses afloat and ushered in one of the swiftest job rebounds ever, restoring pre-pandemic employment levels by July — in other words, in just 29 months. Despite numerous headwinds, the “you’re hired” notices have kept coming. This year more than 4 million more Americans have found employment.

15. Sequels and prequels reigned. HBO brought us “House of the Dragon.” Amazon Prime brought us “The Rings of Power.” Disney Plus brought us “Obi-Wan Kenobi” and “Andor.” Marvel gave us “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” James Cameron returned with “Avatar: The Way of Water.” Even Tom Cruise got in on the trend, with “Top Gun: Maverick.” Audiences got to see their favorite characters in new storylines and, often, with more diverse casts. This magical year of prequels and sequels was the Hollywood equivalent of comfort food, and people ate it up.

16. Schools reopened — and stayed open. After covid closures that lasted nearly two years in some places, schools fully embraced a return to in-person learning and activities. Kids mostly welcomed it, even as many of their parents were reluctant to go back to offices. While there are learning losses to make up, especially in higher poverty areas, it was welcome to see school buses rolling again, and students back in the classroom — and socializing — together for a full school year.
17. The Washington Football Team got a new name. Hello, Washington Commanders! In the end, it wasn’t that difficult to come up with a new name, and D.C.-area fans and players quickly embraced it. The team is even having a pretty good season. Now the only thing dragging it down seems to be its owner. Time to pass the reins?

18. Bipartisanship on guns, same-sex marriage and chips. Even in this polarized era, some bipartisanship still took place in the halls of the Capitol. Noteworthy numbers of Republicans joined Democrats to pass key bills, including: the most significant gun-law tightening in decades after the tragic Uvalde, Tex., elementary school massacre, historic legislation protecting same-sex marriage across state lines and major new subsidies for U.S.-made semiconductor chips. We’d like to see more of this in 2023.

19. Deficit reduction made a (very modest) comeback. Total U.S. debt topped $30 trillion (and then $31 trillion) this year for the first time. There’s plenty of blame to go around for how the nation got there. But it was welcome to finally see some effort in Congress to pay for the big programs lawmakers want. The Inflation Reduction Act, although not perfect, took an important first step in addressing climate change while also shrinking the deficit, thanks to modest corporate tax hikes and lower prescription drug prices. The total projected savings? About $240 billion over the next decade.

20. AI is having a moment. This list wasn’t written by artificial intelligence, but it probably could have been. For years, people worried about AI and robots taking over popular jobs such as truck driving. Instead, AI is threatening a lot of “white-collar jobs” since it has gotten really good at languages, speech recognition and even decision-making. AI can now predict diabetes, protect against cyberthreats and even write term papers and articles. The bots are getting better, and that’s something for humans to (mostly) cheer.

21. Crypto got sober. Digital currencies finally got a big reality check, as crypto exchange FTX went belly-up. It turns out that cryptocurrencies are not good hedges against inflation. They do not always make money. And, surprise, they have a lot of the same pitfalls — if not more — than traditional investments. Crypto isn’t going away anytime soon, but it now comes with a big warning sign. Bitcoin lost more than 60 percent of its value this year, but investors now have a better idea of what they are getting into.

22. And the award goes to … older Americans. As much as people love “30 Under 30” lists, there has been a lot to celebrate lately from Americans (and Canadians) “of a certain age.” Tony Bennett won a Grammy in April at age 95. Angela Alvarez, 95, won best new artist at the Latin Grammys. Erlinda Biondic, at 82, became the oldest woman to complete a 100-mile race (she lives in Canada, but she set her record in New Jersey). And World War II veteran Lester Wright, at 100, set a new 100-meter dash record (26.34 seconds) for centenarians and earned a standing ovation from the crowd. Let them be your new inspirations.

Source: The New York Times

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