Was 2016 the worst year ever?; 15 most shocking events; Debbie Reynolds’ preservation of history; Top history books of the year; Great year for land preservation; History of New Years’ traditions and hangover cures!



Well, we are finally done with 2016! Hurrah! It was a rough year, full of surprises, a seemingly unusual number of celebrity deaths, and horrific news stories (both domestically and internationally). But was it the worst year ever? Of course not, I mean, lets think about World War II, or the Civil War, or the Black Death, etc. To help put things into a bit of perspective, Smithsonian points out that this is only “the most recent worst year ever,” providing a nice list of recent years and events that the media at the time contemplated as the “worst ever.”

But as for 2016, CNN has put together a short but effective video featuring “the 15 events that shocked us” this year. It was indeed a stunning year, and the video does not even focus on political events.

One of the saddest things that happened here at the end of the year was Debbie Reynolds’ death, which rapidly followed the passing of her daughter Carrie Fisher.  Rather than offer up another eulogy and my thoughts about why I admired them both, here’s an interesting story about Reynolds’ obsession with preserving Hollywood history. It seems that she was one of the first to realize the value of collecting items associated with classic films and movie stars. Unfortunately, she never found a good venue for displaying her amazing collection and was slowly selling it away in her later years. Such a shame that the new Hollywood history museum that is opening soon did not buy her collection.

Smithsonian has a list of Top Ten history books published this year. It looks like a solid list, but I am a bit surprised that it does not include Manisha Sinha’s The Slave’s Cause. It is my pick for #1.

2016 was a really good year for battlefield protection, and the news in that area is only getting better. (So see, SOME good things did happen this year!)

Over the next few hours, many of us will be singing “Auld lang syne,” but do you have any clue as to what it is about, or its history? Over at We’re History they have you covered.

And some of you will likely be seeking some hangover cures! The Wall Street Journal has a curiously interesting essay on “dubious hangover cures” from days gone by. Anybody up for fried canaries?

And lastly, I would be remiss if I did not include a link to a good rundown of where our New Year’s traditions got started–from dropping the ball, to stealing a kiss at midnight.

Happy New Year everyone, (and good riddance to 2016!)


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