Do you really believe that one arbitrary moment in an arbitrary day of the year represents a kind of metamorphic transition in the state of reality? Because it doesn’t. Changing a digit on your calendar doesn’t do a single significant thing. The chaos of yesterday continues unchanged into the chaos of today. If you were fucked in 2018, you’re still fucked in 2019.

Only difference is that now you might have a hangover.

I find it helpful to go into a new year with the most dismal expectations — just assume the trajectory we’re on will continue, unless we do something. And a “resolution” is not an accomplishment.


  1. says

    Had an early night, woke up and the local time zone’s calendar had clicked over without any help from me. Mazing, eh?

  2. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Mileposts mark progress. The turning of a year offers a time to examine ones life and to make changes if you don’t like the results. True, one can do that just as well on February 3, but most people are too busy living their lives to do so without the reminder of a milestone.

    And I don’t drink, so no harm done.

  3. Kamaka says

    It’s 25 below. At 7:50 am dawn is just beginning. I only get 8 hours of daylight today.

    The winter solstice is a meaningful time of year for me here in the blasted wasteland of North Dakota. The Return of the Sun! A return to longer, instead of shorter, days.

    While I have no interest in “Resolutions”, I do take some time for self-reflection each winter solstice. If nothing else, the new tax year has me thinking and planning.

    At -25 f outside, I’m not going anywhere today. So I’m making black bean refritos and thinking great thoughts.

    And listening to fun tunes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vm6OOcdSpps&index=81&list=PLyUKaKIB05bRZnk6sQKplsjjPefWSwiWG

  4. Jazzlet says

    Spent the evening playing Jethro Tull loudly to drown out the bangs of the fireworks so the dogs weren’t upset, then stayed up stupidly late so I could let them out into the garden when I was confident the fireworks were over. I don’t like New Years Eve.

  5. patricklinnen says

    Don’t know. A hangover is a step up from President Trump.

    A hangover under President Hillary Clinton would have been one of celebration.

  6. fishy says

    I used to play in a lot of cover bands. The christmas and new years gigs were always a highlight and something I looked forward to. Now I just look forward to the 2 weeks of time off I get from the damned factory job that I hate. So yeah, PZ, I guess I’m still fucked.
    Prophylactic: I’m too old and have no marketable skills.

  7. Sastra says

    I find it helpful to go into a new year with the most dismal expectations — just assume the trajectory we’re on will continue, unless we do something.

    That’s not right. It’s not helpful enough. If you were really going into a new year with sufficiently dismal expectations, then you would be constantly and regularly cheered by events which turn out to be better than you feared. You’d be prefacing your posts with titles like “Good news!” and “Well, this is a relief!” and “Most of us are still alive!” Assume a terrifyingly plunging trajectory. Work harder to be pessimistic.

    Optimism makes people grumpy.

  8. davidc1 says

    Much as i admire and respect you Doc ,i can’t help thinking you are a miserable old git .
    And that is coming from another miserable old git .
    But you are correct about the stupid fuss made about new year .
    PS ,i don’t think it is right them down under get to see in the new year ,we in the Northern Hemisphere
    should have the honour .

  9. andyo says

    Spent the evening playing Jethro Tull loudly to drown out the bangs of the fireworks so the dogs weren’t upset

    Last night I was just sleeping, and my neighbor snores loudly so I had to put a pair of active noise cancelling earbuds. They work very well for low-hum noises like snoring through a wall, but I was surprised it also worked well for the fireworks that started at midnight. It made them sound far away and wimpy cause noise cancellation mainly gets rid of low frequencies. So I was wondering if noise cancelling headphones would work for dogs sufficiently enough to keep them calm.

    Recently Ford showed off a dog kennel with noise cancelling tech which also made me think of it. It was a promotional stunt mostly though so it’s not really a product for sale.

  10. Ed Seedhouse says

    Which new year? There were 24 of them and mine was one of the later ones. I did nothing special (as usual) and followed my usual routine of bed at 10:15.

    But somehow for the first time ever that I can remember, after strapping the dreaded mask to my face I forgot to connect the hose and start the machine, so I spent the whole damned night without CPAP. I guess the good news (for me anyway) is that I survived and even slept reasonably well. Still, don’t want to do that again!

    This “year” I shall, I hope, turn 75. The new heart valve seems to be working well, and the heart is happy so far as I can tell,

    Happy aftermath of the passage through an arbitrarily defined point in space-time, everyone!

    But keep your eyes open!

    And as I write, the New Horizons spacecraft has just fallen past Ultima Thule.

  11. Ed Seedhouse says

    @10: I use that trick too, only with BOSE’s second generation noise cancelling earphones. In my case to drown out the drone of the oxygen generator and APAP machine. And they work. They also keep the noise from fireworks down nicely as well. I betcha there would be a market for them on dogs, too!

  12. robro says

    I can wake up with a hangover any day of the year. I didn’t wake up with one this morning. I rarely drink enough to get a hangover any more. Must be getting old.

    The fireworks here in Beautiful Land were blessedly short (two minutes) compared to the big City across the bridge (days of sporadic blasts with an hour of intense booms around midnight). Still, one of the wild turkeys did complain briefly from its perch on a branch 40 feet up a pine tree in our backyard.

    It’s just another day but tomorrow is back to work. So it’s pack up and head into the City. After being off for the last 10 days that makes me a little sad. With Thanksgiving, Solstice, plus a vacation week, I haven’t worked much in the last 6 weeks. I could easily get used to retirement. But the job means health insurance and until this country enacts universal health care coverage I better head to Sunnyvale tomorrow morning.

    Enjoy the new year day every day.

  13. Akira MacKenzie says

    Since my car is in the shop, I didn’t eat to go anywhere last night… not that I had anywhere to go. So I stayed home, had a couple of drinks, and turned in early, brooding over the horrors of the passing year and dreading the ones surely to come.

    Sorry, I’m to much of a realist to do “optimism.”

  14. John Small Berries says

    I see someone was taking notes when Neil DeGrasse Tyson shat all over people for getting excited about an eclipse that, for once, wasn’t geographically inconvenient for them to witness firsthand.

  15. octopod says

    I used to feel like this about it, too. But then I figured out that, at least for me, pessimism doesn’t waterproof me against disappointment; it just makes me not enjoy the parts in between disappointments. Maybe I hadn’t committed to it thoroughly enough.

  16. Rob Grigjanis says

    Jazzlet @5: Yeah, Thick as a Brick could be the theme for the US since 2016. And “Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day” resonates as well.

  17. vucodlak says

    Well, I get to hang my new calendar. That’s something. I really rather hated last year’s calendar. The art was boring, the text was scant, and, worst of all, it marked neither the phases of the moon nor the turning of the seasons. It didn’t mark most holidays, either- how was I supposed to know when the Fourth of July was if it wasn’t marked!? The calendar makers should be ashamed of themselves.

    I will say that New Year’s in the city is preferable to New Year’s where I used to live, even if this city a festering hemorrhoid quivering on the rim of the infernal anus that spawned the likes of Rush Limbaugh. I don’t have to sit on the floor in my grandfather’s old army helmet, waiting for the shooting to stop, here. Midnight New Year’s sounds more like D-Day in my home town.

    It was especially bad the last year I was there- from the sounds of things, somebody had got themselves a full-auto assault rifle, and emptied the magazine. Knowing the fucknuts in that town, they probably fired it straight up in the air, too. Guess they thought they had to outdo all the wimps firing off shotguns and handguns. It’s a miracle no one’s been killed.

  18. Sean Boyd says

    Whew, you had me there for a minute, PZ. I thought this post would be about the seventh sequel to the cinematic masterpieceabomination 2012. Once I read, I realized it couldn’t be that bad.

    Then I remembered who is pretending to run the country right now. Can we please talk about the movie instead?

  19. wzrd1 says

    1 January is full of meaning for me.
    It means that it’s time to change the calendar.

  20. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    I also wonder about the significance of our choice of this particular moment for this whole attitude of NEW.
    The only thing that comes to mind is the documentation of our lives which normally uses calendars. By starting the year with a new calendar, fully blank for us to fill in with what we’ve done, may give us the optimism of a blank slate waiting for us to fill in, and toss the recording of what we did, which we would continually compare to what we had planned and did not accomplish.
    Still puzzling why we didn’t settle on some nature event to indicate the line, specifically the solstice which is a convenient indicator of restart

  21. flange says

    “…one arbitrary moment in an arbitrary day…” Are you serious? Would there have been 12 disciples if we were on the octal numeral system?
    Don’t you realize that Jesus used the decimal system and followed the Gregorian calendar?
    I think I read it in the Bible somewhere.

  22. Matrim says

    Just because something is arbitrary and has no objective value does not mean it has no value at all. Your criticism can be applied to literally every single anniversary (all holidays, all birthdays, all days of remembrance, etc). What gives it significance is that we choose to give it significance.

  23. DanDare says

    I use arbitrary time landmarks to start new tasks all the time. It helps me get things rolling and stop procrastinating. I’m happy to make use of common cultural time marks to do that. In that way I can procrastinating later.

  24. says

    That’s funny, Tony! I remember one time I went to a conference in Key West in December. It was a big conference, big deal, kept me busy all day long. When I finally had the chance to leave the hotel in the evening, it was still as warm outside as in, and I realized that at least some of the day the hotel had to have had the AC on. I went back in, changed out of my conference pants, and put on a skort. I wandered down to the busy, tourist-y end of the Key to try to find some food, and all the locals were wearing long pants, long sleeves, and complaining about the cold.

    I thought that was the funniest thing in months. I can’t imagine how you’d do in Prince Rupert – or worse, Prince George.

    Though I do, of course, hope you’re doing very well in Florida. Sorry to hear about your governor.