Ah, when historians look back on the year 2011, what will be the events that best sum up these past twelve months? The Arab Spring, no doubt. The giant sucking black hole that is the global economy. And important medical advances, like the dog that can detect colon and rectal cancer simply by sniffing your poo.
2011 has also shown us how important a tool Internet social media has become. Whether it's for organizing protests against oppressive regimes, coordinating violent flash mobs of looters, or exposing — literally — the sexual misadventures of American politicians. And speaking of politicians, it'll be quite a while before we have as memorable — and entertaining — a crop of goofballs, horndogs and wackos as this year's Republican presidential hopefuls.
Finally, it's been a year full of important trials and legal drama. I must thank my chief legal counsel and daughter, Chedda Cheese, for her advice and editing. Have a great 2012, everybody!
- Gabrielle Giffords
This does not bode well: New Year's Eve revelers in Beebe, Arkansas, are freaked out when thousands of dead blackbirds fall from the skies, and massive fish deaths are reported in Maryland, Brazil and New Zealand. Witches in Romania, angered over new taxes on witchcraft-related earnings, vow to cast spells on the country's president and government. Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is shot and critically wounded at a public event in Tucson; six others are killed in the attack. The U.S. federal debt reaches a record-breaking $14 trillion. Nearly immortal fitness pioneer Jack LaLanne dies at age 96. Social unrest and upheaval in Tunisia and Egypt heralds a new political era in the Arab world. Indy's coolest meteorologist, Chris Wright, turns 50, uber-blowhard Rush Limbaugh turns 60, folk singer Joan Baez turns 70, and basso-profundo actor James Earl Jones turns 80.
- Hosni Mubarak
Indianapolis is covered with a crunchy layer of snow and ice as a huge winter storm sweeps through the Midwest. Researchers announce they have trained a Labrador retriever to detect colon/rectal cancer by smelling a patient's breath or doo-doo. Hosni Mubarak steps down as Egypt's president. Italy's premier Silvio Berlusconi is charged with paying a 17-year-old Moroccan girl for sex. IBM's giant computer Watson defeats two former "Jeopardy!" champions in a 3-day tournament. Libyans call for dictator Moammar Gadhafi to resign – instead he turns on his own people and the country devolves into bloody chaos. Indiana House Democrats evacuate the Capitol to protest labor and education legislation. Revenge of the humans: U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), a 5-time "Jeopardy!" champ from 35 years ago and former rocket scientist, defeats IBM's Watson in a "Jeopardy!" exhibition match.
- Angela George
Delusional actor Charlie Sheen and deranged dictator Moammar Gadhafi make televised appearances proving that they're both completely bat-shit crazy. The national unemployment rates drops to 8.9%. A powerful earthquake and tsunami devastates north-eastern Japan, leaving uncountable thousands dead and severely damaging nuclear power plants in the region. U.S., French and British forces blast Libyan air defense sites. Actor Leonard Nimoy – better known as Mr. Spock – turns 80. After 35 days, Indiana House Democrats return to the Statehouse – um, yay?
No fooling, a lot of wild weather going on across the US: tornadoes, floods, drought, wildfires, massive thunderstorms. More rain falls in Indiana this month (9.2 inches) than it has in over 100 years. Meanwhile in the Middle East and various Arab nations, turmoil and bloodshed are the order of the day. (Yikes – maybe those kooky "End Times" people are right!)
- Al Franken
Osama bin Laden sleeps with the fishes: literally – Navy SEALs shoot him dead and his body is deposited in the sea. Chump Donald Trump is dumped as Indy 500 pace car driver. "The Donald" announces he will not run for the highest office in the land, but says if he did, he'd win. Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger admits to fathering a child with a household staff member more than a decade ago – wife Maria Shriver is royally pissed off. RAPTURE! Oops, no. Mitch says he will not run. Actor (and Harry Cheese look-alike) George Clooney turns 50, the Senate's funniest member, Al Franken (D-MN) turns 60, and iconic folk and rock star Bob Dylan turns 70. A gala musical extravaganza, Norapalooza, is held at the Jazz Kitchen to celebrate the 50th birthday of local philanthropist, writer, barmaid and all-around cool chick, Nora Spitznogle. Dan Wheldon wins his second Indy 500.
- Erik Vanden
Super actress Natalie Portman turns 30, colorful pop singer Boy George turns 50, and Stones' drummer Charlie Watts turns 70. Assisted-suicide hero/villain Jack "Dr. Death" Kevorkian dies of natural causes at age 83.Washington tool pulls a real boner: comically named Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) admits to sending lewd e-mails, texts and pics to half a dozen women. After being skewered and roasted by the press and the public, Weiner resigns. New York becomes the sixth state to legalize gay marriage.