“Nah, that’s my line, ya can’t have it. Dude, we couldn’t afford Ikea, nevah mind boards an’ cinda blocks, befoah tha inflation! Where da hell’re we gettin’ this flash vanity yer talkin’ ’bout, ha? An’ what’re we saposed ta be payin’ fer it wit’? Twitter stock?!?”
“Dig it an’ love it, dude. ‘Specially the big ass mirror on tha top.”
“A mirror? Fer why? Ain’t that a chick thing?”
“Yeah, dude, don’ get yer hopes up. Tha mirror’s fer b’cuz ya don’ get vanity wit’out one. An’ yer so in vain, dude, I bet ya think this blog’s ’bout ya.”
“Da fuq? Same as you, dude!!“
1 January: The Dudes celebrate the 16th anniversary of their first descent onto the Internet, when they hoped, dude, to dialogue their way to fame and fortune. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Vanity of vanities …
2 January: Screwtape III and (mostly) Wormsap unleash the “Take a chance, dammit!” response to the most recent, and most intense, resurgence of COVID-19 as a ploy to win the coveted Flaming Icicle Trophy for their subregion of H.E.L.L.
30 January: Astronauts capture an extraterrestrial flying object and ask its AI to take them to its leaders. They succeed … and wish they hadn’t.
21 February: Syd is taken in by Tik Tok. Reg is taken aback.
24 February: Russia invades Ukraine. President Joe Biden pledges support; the people of Afghanistan shake their heads, the women if and when they are allowed to do so (see 24 June). Despite Biden’s promise, and the hypocritical and nervous response of USA citizens to it, Ukrainians decline to either collapse or capitulate, and at the end of 2022 had fought the invader to a standstill. Given Vladimir Putin’s willingness to reduce both Ukraine’s population and his own, piddling as those efforts have been to date, the Russian leader has emerged as the world’s only authentic climate warrior.
16 March-6 June: He and She travel to the Pacific Northwest. A long-awaited trip undertaken with great anticipation and high hopes – yielding dashed aspirations, the collapse of much of what He had worked for in Hawaiʻi (see 25 December), and an ongoing crisis of confidence in himself and in others. Visits to family members, and nearly all other planned travels on the US mainland, were blocked by COVID precautions – and thanks to a single morning’s permissive inattention, both He and She contracted COVID anyway (and from them, the Dudes), amplifying the disaster that the original mission had become. And that’s before considering the arson fire that destroyed much of the center of town. Vanity of vanities …
13 April: Balderdash explained. Kinda.
24 June: Dodds v Jackson overturns Roe v Wade, ends Constitutional protection for abortions. Prospective Mother Cynthia, despite battling the onset of puberty, studies the precedents and, especially, the consequences – which, as an outcome of the Righteous Revolution, include the (almost) complete extermination of human males.
4 July: Henpecked Devin gets schooled by one who is woke to real fireworks.
17 July: The Weaver children learn about population boom and bust cycle curves, and the deadly perils of thinking that the curves do not apply to themselves.
14 August: When the university isn’t big enough for the likes of Peter Parker – or, at least, thatʻs what the agents of H.E.L.L. would like their, er, customers to think.
5 September: He and She go shopping on the day that the people who keep the shops open are supposed to have off.
18 September: He and She lament her long and winding (and frequently washed out) neuropaths.
October – December: Inflation, the Twitter meltdown, the US midterm elections (in which disaster was narrowly, and probably temporarily, averted), the World Cup, the eruption of Mauna Loa, and even the $2B Powerball jackpot were all ignored, as O Ceallaigh began doing emcee duties for local music groups (on top of what, for now, is still his paying job), and the Dudes and all the rest endured an enforced vacation.
25 December: “And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?” Mostly, fed the cat that’s adopted us, in defiance of lease requirements, amplifying the chances provided by the inflation-prodded recession that no one’s talking about (see “collapse of much of what He had worked for in Hawaiʻi”, supra) that He and She will enter the New Year living in a tent like so many of their fellow Hawaiians. “War is over if you want it.” That would be a “no”. Population booms triumph over Baby Boomer drug-soaked stupidity.
28 December: After a month of crackdowns that even the Chinese could no longer endure, China ends its zero-Covid policy and stops censoring criticism of the policy on social media. A reported driver for the change is fear of economic chaos … something that perhaps should have been considered more seriously, everywhere, at the start of this catastrophe. (One prepares for a long-forecast calamity such as COVID-19 by preparing for it, in terms of institutional resources and personal behaviors, even if that means sacrificing windfall profits, dangerous practices masquerading as Freedom!!1!, and the incompetent myth of a risk-free society.) The virus proceeds to roar through the country – or not, depending on whose propaganda you accept. Other nations hasten, probably not fast enough, to slap Covid-testing restrictions on travelers from China. The prediction posted on this site on 2 April 2020 looks increasingly optimistic.
She: “So you know what weʻre going to do for the New Year?”
She: “As little as possible. On New Yearʻs Eve, weʻre all going to bed early; the ball will drop whether or not weʻre there to scream about it. Weʻll get a good nightʻs sleep, then in the morning weʻll get up, get dressed, walk to class, sit down, and wait for the teacher. No fuss, no muss, no mess, nobody gets his attention. If we donʻt poke him, maybe heʻll stick to business and not go superwhacko on us. Like he did the last three years.”
He: “I … see. And how did you learn about this plan?”
She: “On Youtube. Which got it from Tik Tok. Which, um, shared it with Twitter. And Instagram, and …”
He: “Itʻs viral.”
She: “Uh …”
He: “So Murphy knows all about it.”
He: “Vanity of vanities …”