Saturday, December 27, 2008


This may not be how you remember it

A long time ago, that is earlier this year, a lot of things happened. So as we bid farewell to the year, we recount some of the (few) highs and (many) lows of 2008.

But before we delve into the main events of the year that is but will soon be was, we must first take a look at what was happening in the background to make the year a little worse for the inhabitants of planet earth:


- Global economic/financial crisis: Making us wonder if there is some secret competition between countries as to who can ruin their economy the most, the world spiraled uncontrollably down the financial-crisis drain. Inflation, record high oil prices, increased unemployment, credit crunch, bankruptcy of investment and commercial banks, and stock market crashes ensued.
- Load-shedding: While US scientists came one step closer to cloning the Woolly Mammoth, WAPDA decided to give the Pakistani populace it’s own taste of the Stone Age by depriving most of the country of electricity for extended parts of the day for the entire year. Now we really know how the Dodo must’ve felt!
- Unrest: In their quest to make the world a safer place by bombing every country they can think of, USA was so successful in its fight against terrorism that there were hardly any terrorist attacks or suicide bombings this year. Of course there was the Marriott Hotel attack…and the Jaipur and Bangalore and Ahmedabad and Mumbai attacks, and the bombings in Baghdad and Kirkuk and Diyarbakır and Dimona and Kabul and Kandahar, and the ones in Wah, and outside the Danish embassy in Islamabad, and…
- Natural disasters: Feeling left out, nature decided to join in on the task of making people miserable. This resulted in calamities including earthquakes in Chengdu (China) and Baluchistan (Pakistan), as well as a tornado outbreak in Southern United States, floods in Santa Catarina (Brazil), and the Cyclone Nargis in Burma/Myanmar.

So with that out of the way, here it is: 2008 in all its (very limited) glory…


· Year of the Potato: The UN declared 2008 the International Year of the Potato, a fact that the majority of the population of the world would remain blissfully unaware of for the rest of the year.
· Iraqi Flag: The Iraqis, forever dissatisfied with the design of their flag, decided to change it yet again, the fifth time they’ve done this since 1921, and no, they’re still not sure it’s quite as perfect as they want it to be. Expect more changes soon.

· Pakistani Elections: General elections (originally scheduled for January and delayed till February due to riots following the death of Benazir Bhutto) were held. PPP and PML (N) agreed to agree with each other just long enough to form a coalition government with Yosaf Raza Gillani as the Prime Minister. Meanwhile, people tried to get justice for the deposed judges, including the ousted Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry; the issue would remain a subject of much debate for the rest of the year.
· Kosovo Independence: Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. Ten points to anyone who can mark either Kosovo or Serbia on the world map…
· Cuban Presidency: Big change in Cuba – President Fidel Castro (who resigned due to “critical health condition”) was replaced by, umm, his brother Raul Castro. Revolutionary.
· Yahoo! acquisition attempts by Microsoft: In it’s ongoing mission to ruin Yahoo!, Microsoft made various takeover offers to Yahoo!, all of which were subsequently rebuffed. By the end of the year, after being pounded with criticism by stockholders, Microsoft watched smugly as Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang announced that he will be stepping down as CEO.

· Russian Elections: After serving as the President of Russia for two terms, Vladimir Putin was ineligible to run for a third consecutive term as the President, so they decided to make him the Prime Minister instead. Dmitry Medvedev won the presidential election and then nominated Putin for the post of the PM.

· Politics in Kenya: The formation of a coalition government and the appointment of Raila Odinga as the Prime Minister of Kenya marked the end of the political crisis in Kenya. Now you must be thinking “What? There was a political crisis in Kenya?!!” Yes, we didn’t know either.
· Indian Satellites: ‘India set a world record by sending ten satellites into orbit in a single launch’. Showoffs.

· Nepal monarchy: After considering its pros and cons for 240 years, Nepal finally decided to abolish monarchy and establish ‘The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal’.
· Premier League and UEFA Champions League: Manchester United retained their Premier League title, and also won the Champions League by defeating Chelsea in the CL final (6–5 on penalties, 1–1 draw after extra time). Take that, Man U bashers!

· Microsoft: Bloatware manufacturers Microsoft Corporation’s Chairman Bill Gates stepped down from “daily duties” to “concentrate on philanthropy”. Seeking redemption, eh Mr. Gates?

· 34th G8 summit: The heads of the world’s “richest industrialized countries” got together for a photo-op in Hokkaidō, Japan.
· The Dark Knight: The Dark Knight was released. It was depressingly awesome.

· US Presidential Election: John McCain decided that he didn’t want to be the US President after all, so he chose Alaska governor Sarah Palin as the Republican party’s Vice-Presidential nominee. The strategy worked. (See November for details.)
· South Ossetia war: Georgia and Russia went to war over South Ossetia, an issue the world would’ve paid a lot more attention to had it not been for the…
· 2008 Summer Olympics: Beijing, China. 08-08-08 to 24-08-08. Most expensive games ever. 43 new world records, 132 new Olympic records. China: 51Gold, 21Silver, 28Bronze; USA: 36G, 38S, 36B; Russia: 23G, 21S, 28B; Great Britain: 19G, 13S, 15B; Pakistan: 0G, 0S, 0B. Michael Phelps. Michael Phelps. Michael Phelps. Michael Phelps. Michael Phelps. Michael Phelps. Michael Phelps. Michael Phelps.
· Musharraf Resignation: With the axe of impeachment swinging over his head, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf chose to avoid impeachment by opting to resign instead; he did this not because even “a single charge in the impeachment [could] stand against [him]” – of course not, how dare you even think that! – but because he loves Pakistan too much to ruin it any more than he already has in the last nine years. A true patriot, him.
· Tennis: The very amazing Rafael Nadal became “the 24th man in the history of the ATP Rankings to rank No. 1 in the world”. He replaced the very amazing Roger Federer, who was No. 1 for a record four-and-a-half years.

· Pakistani Presidential Election: Pakistani politics continued to astound/baffle/confuse/horrify people when Benazir Bhutto’s widower Asif Ali Zardari was “elected” as the president of Pakistan. While Pervez Musharraf had run the country on a strict ‘if it ain’t broke, break it’ policy, Zardari offers a new approach to the system as he seems to be following the ‘if it’s broke, don’t fix it’ program of governance.
· US Debt: Always looking for more milestones to achieve, America got another reason to celebrate when the U.S. federal debt passed the $10 trillion mark for the first time. Americans of the past had never even dreamed this day would come, which would explain why $10,000,000,000,000 would not fit on their debt clock, and the clock’s dollar sign had to be replaced by the extra digit. Congratulations America! Next target: $10 umptisquiddlyzillion.
· Big Bang Experiment: The world’s top scientists tried to destroy the Earth in guise of a science experiment that aimed to collide high-speed beams of protons in the Large Hadron Collider. LHC however ran into some trouble and will not be operational again until spring 2009. The estimated cost of the project? Somewhere between €3.2–6.4 billion. Good thing no one’s starving in this world and poverty has been eliminated from the planet, otherwise these scientists would’ve looked like a bunch of heartless morons.
· Zimbabwe Politics: Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai signed a power-sharing deal, as a result of which Mugabe would “continue to retain control over the army”, and Zimbabwe would continue to self-destruct.

· Kashmir Trade: ‘A trade route opens within Pakistan-administered Kashmir and India’s Jammu and Kashmir state after a 60-year barrier.’ Yes, it only took us six decades to figure out that cooperation might not be such a bad idea after all.
· Eid ul-Fitr: Dunya bhar mai Eid ul-Fitr pooray josh-o-kharosh sae manaey gaey.
· India’s Moon Mission: The Indian Space Research Organization launched its first unmanned moon mission, Chandrayaan-1, which aims to “survey the surface of the moon” and “attempt to locate resources”. Looks like someone didn’t get the ‘the moon is a barren piece of rock’ memo…

· US Presidential Election: Barack Obama was elected (by humans, sorry Isaac Asimov) as the president of the universe United States of America, becoming the first black president of the US, much thanks to George W Bush – had he not messed up his country so much, do you think they would’ve been open to such historic change?
· Formula One: At 23, Lewis Hamilton clinched the 2008 Formula One World Championship, becoming the youngest driver, as well as the first driver of black heritage, to win the title.
· Piracy in Somalia: Pirates (who had been hijacking cargo ships “off the coast of Somalia”) began hijacking ships “well outside the Gulf of Aden”. And just like everything else, this too is Hollywood’s fault; they just had to go and “glamorize” piracy, didn’t they. These pirates must clearly be inspired by Johnny Depp, because we can’t think of any other reason why they’d go around hijacking ships full of oil.

· Holidays: Eid ul-Adha, Hanukkah, and Christmas were celebrated by Muslims, Jews, and Christians respectively.
· Leap Second: Just when we thought the year was finally about to end, they decided to add another second to it. A WHOLE extra second. Like, WHY would anyone want to make 2008 any longer than it already is?!!
· End of the year: Thank God.


· Ahmed Faraz (77) – poet, considered one of the ‘greatest modern Urdu poets of the last century’.
· Arthur C Clarke (90) – science-fiction author and futurist, famous for his novel ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.
· Bernie Mac (50) – actor and comedian, appeared in ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ and its two sequels.
· Charlton Heston (84) – actor, known for playing heroic roles in movies such as ‘The Ten Commandments’, ‘Planet of the Apes’, ‘Ben-Hur’.
· David Foster Wallace (46) – author of ‘Infinite Jest’.
· Edmund Hillary (88) – mountaineer and explorer, first person to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
· Heath Ledger (28) – actor, appeared in movies including ‘Ten Things I Hate About You’, ‘Brokeback Mountain’, and ‘The Dark Knight’.
· Michael Crichton (66) – author, wrote ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘The Lost World’.
· Mitch Mitchell (62) – drummer, The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
· Paul Newman (83) – actor and director, appeared in hits like ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’, ‘The Hustler’, ‘The Color of Money’, and ‘Road To Perdition’.
· Richard Wright (65) – musician, member of Pink Floyd.
· Roy Scheider (75) – actor, best known for his roles in ‘Jaws’, ‘All That Jazz’, ‘The French Connection’, and the television series ‘seaQuest DSV’.
· Sydney Pollack (73) – director, works include ‘The Way We Were’, ‘Absence of Malice’, ‘The Firm’ ‘The Interpreter’.
· Yves Saint Laurent (71) – fashion designer.

- By Sameen Amer

Us Magazine, The News - 26th December, 2008

Once more, without feeling...

music in 2008

- The very amazing Coldplay released their amazing new album ‘Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends’ which comprised of ten amazing songs, including the very amazing singles Violet Hill, Viva La Vida, and Lost. Plagiarism accusations followed soon after.

- New Kids On The Block – now neither new, nor kids – reunited, fourteen years after parting way, and released a new single, titled Summertime. We refuse to admit that we liked it.

- Queen and Paul Rodgers got together to make an album, which was subsequently slammed by critics.

- Weezer continued to do what they do best – hire directors who make really cool videos. This resulted in the amusing YouTube-celebrities-featuring Pork and Beans and the multiple-record-setting Troublemaker.

- Death Cab For Cutie released a song that had a mindbogglingly long intro.

- Scarlett Johansson’s vanity album, the Tom Waits covers set Anywhere I Lay My Head, was snooze-inducingly boring…unless it was meant to induce sleep, in which case it was pretty good.

- Amy Winehouse was in the news an awful lot. Most of it had nothing to do with music.

- Oasis’ Noel Gallagher reproached Radiohead, saying that their new material sounds just like their old material. “Correct me if I'm wrong,” he was quoted as saying, “they've been making the same record since 'Kid A', have they not?”, which Oasis-bashers translated to: “Hi kettle. I’m pot. You’re black.”

- With the music industry becoming increasingly ‘talent: optional’, Katy Perry showed us that one can still become a hit no matter how phony, obnoxious, and desperately attention-seeking one may be.

- Pharrell made Madonna cry while they were working on her album Hard Candy, therefore we like Pharrell. And after being informed by the tabloids that their marriage wasn’t working, Madonna and Guy Ritchie realized that they should get a divorce, so they did.

- Lynard Skynard’s Sweet Home Alabama + Warren Zevon’s Werewolves Of London = Kid Rock’s All Summer Long = Surprisingly infectious international hit.

- Disney continued to milk its cash cow, releasing High School Musical 3: Senior Year on the big screen, much to the delight of the world’s schmaltz-addicted pre-teens. Said tweens also helped skyrocket Disney-powered-boy-band Jonas Brothers to unwarranted levels of success.

- Kanye West’s ego continued to annoy/concern/worry/amuse people.

- Funny: A satirical take on reality TV in the form of a mock talent contest that parodies reality talent shows.
Funnier: The title of the show: Britain’s Got the Pop Factor and Possibly a New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly on Ice.
Funniest: The spoof single The Winner's Song, ironically beating actual 2007 X Factor winner Leon Jackson’s single Don't Call This Love in the British singles charts. Finally some reality that we approve of!

- The Pussycat Dolls revealed that when they were little, they’d dreamed of becoming famous stars with lots of groupies when they grow up. So basically they’ve become everything they always wanted. Now if only they’d grow up…

- Fall Out Boy set the record for “most radio interviews completed by a duo in 24 hours”, also setting the record for “setting the lamest possible record in the history of the world” in the process.

- Straining under declining rating, American Idol fizzled and then tried to over-hype their David vs. David finale, which frankly we can’t really see the logic behind, seeing how everyone already knew David would win.

- Britney Spears released the unbelievable irritating single Womanizer which featured such intelligent lyrics as “womanizer, woman-womanizer, you’re a womanizer / oh womanizer, oh you’re a womanizer, baby / you-you-you are, you-you-you are / womanizer, womanizer, womanizer (womanizer)”. And it ended up topping the charts in various countries. Seriously world? This is what you like?!!

- Bon Jovi made lots of money, then got sued for lots of money.

- Boyzone made it incredibly hard for us to love them when they returned after a 7-year hiatus with the godawful single Love You Anyway.

- Film stars got together to butcher ABBA songs in the movie musical Mamma Mia!, which according to Mark Kermode (BBC Radio 5) felt like “the closest you get to see A-List actors doing drunken karaoke”. With such positive reviews to back it up, it came as no surprise that the film ended up becoming ‘the biggest box office hit of 2008 in the UK’ and the ‘highest grossing movie musical of all time’.

- Pink got a divorce, wrote a song about the break up – which in part dissed her ex-husband – and then got her ex-husband to make a cameo in the video. Props to Carey Hart for being a good sport.

- Beyonce decided she wanted people to call her Sasha Fierce. She even released a double album titled I Am…Sasha Fierce, the first single off which talked about what she would do if she were a boy, and then she said she wants to play Wonder Woman in a movie. Poor girl…how identify crisis-ed is she?

- Much success was enjoyed by artists including Rihanna, Leona Lewis, Duffy, Chris Brown, Ne-Yo, and T.I.

- Keane finally realized that guitars aren’t so bad after all.

- Metallica redeemed themselves by releasing an album that was actually good enough for their fans to forgive them for the Napster fiasco. Well, almost.

- And Guns N’ Roses FINALLY released their 14-years-in-the-making album Chinese Democracy. The album generally got a positive reception, but we still think it could’ve been so much better had Axl worked on it a bit more, and spend another decade or two perfecting the sound.

- By S.A.

Us Magazine, The News - 26th December, 2008