Written by Chad Echakowitz
We’re six months in to 2018 and my goodness… What a year it’s been. Let’s be honest, 2018 has been a long, stressful year filled with lots of downers: multiple mass shootings, the return and open expression of Nazis, terrorism, and so much more. So what should we be thankful for this November when Thanksgiving rolls around? Right now, it doesn’t seem like much.
Well today is the day we turn this year around, ol’ buddy, ol’ pal. While 2018 has been the hurricane Catrina of shitstorms, there have been some pretty swell moments too. Here are just five of those swell moments to make you think, things could always be worse.
1) The (Alleged) Golden State Killer is Finally Caught (April 24, 2018)
The Golden State Killer, also known as the East Area Rapist, also known as the Original Night Stalker, also known as the Vasalia Ransacker, also known as the East Bay Rapist, also known as the Diamond Knot Killer was an evil man (as his multiple monikers would suggest). Between the years of 1974 and 1986, he committed at least 12 murders, 50 rapes, and over 100 burglaries in California. He was able to evade police, detectives, and the common sleuth for the last 30 years.
That is 30 years of police in utter purgatory, which lead to many failed marriages, countless victims who never got closure, and whole families ripped asunder while the man who committed these atrocities saw the turn of three decades as a free man, unaccountable for his crimes.
Then, out of nowhere. A name emerges in 2018. Joseph James DeAngelo. Joseph was arrested on the 24th of April and charged with the crimes associated to the Golden State Killer. DeAngelo’s DNA matched the DNA evidence left by the Golden State Killer. It is important to note that he has not been convicted yet, and he is innocent until proven guilty. Until such a time, we can only allege that he is the Golden State Killer.
Regardless of whether he is or isn’t this evil beast that haunted California in the 70’s and 80’s, it is an encouraging fact that this 30 year old crime is the closest to being solved that it has been in a long time. Finally, victims can have peace, families can have answers, and law enforcement will rest easy, knowing another bad guy is behind bars.
This is an uplifting moment in 2018, not just because an evil person is behind bars, but because it gives us hope. Cold cases are awful because there are no answers, there is no peace. This case gives us all hope that there is no time restrictions on finding these criminals. If we can find Joseph after 30 years, there is still hope for other cold cases.
Joseph was caught using a relatively new technique of tracking people through ancestry websites. They were able to locate him using a process-of-elimination-style investigation of DNA obtained from a member of family. This technique will have a huge benefit to cold cases as ancestral DNA can be collected relatively easily creating matches through bloodlines to find criminals that have long disappeared. Science and technology drive progress and hopefully, the stack of cold cases will start to diminish.
2) Los Angeles has instituted Parking Metres that Provide for the Homeless (February 8, 2018)
This isn’t a novel idea by any means. It has been instituted in other cities from as early as 2014. But what makes this a 2018 good thing is that the idea is spreading. It raises more awareness across the world and shows how easy it is to give back to those less fortunate.
Downtown Los Angeles has set up six parking meters which will use the funds it receives to help the homeless in the surrounding areas. The initiative was set up by the Flintridge Centre, as well as Los Angeles City Council member Jose Huizar and her offices, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis. While there has been mixed feelings about the idea, with some thinking it doesn’t truly engage with the problem of homelessness, and others saying it isn’t actually feasible, it has still received a wide acceptance and favourability with the public.
This initiative shows us that there are people in power, elected officials, who are trying to make a difference for the better, who look at the less fortunate and want to make their lives easier, instead of harder. There is still kindness, and charity and compassion, even here in the depths of 2018.
3) Chinese Scientists have Successfully Cloned the First Primates (January 24, 2018)
Some may say this is a bad thing and doesn’t deserve a place on this list, but those people are focusing on the repercussions that such a feat may cause, and not the scientific wonder that is this achievement.
To clone something is hard. Like really, really hard, you guys. The first successful cloning experiment was only completed in 1996 (Dolly the sheep) and since then, we have only been able to successfully clone a handful of animals.
This is the fist time ever that primates have been cloned using the same method that scientists used to clone Dolly (Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, or SCNT). Before this, the longest primate pregnancy from cloning was 80 days. This is a breakthrough in modern science and opens our world to opportunities previously thought impossible. Whether we should take advantage of these opportunities or not is a very different story, and falls deep within the realm of bioethics, a subject we are not going to get into here.
But if we look at this cloning for what it is, creating identical life through scientific methods, it is truly awe-inspiring. It has taken dedication, determination, focus, intelligence, creativity, and so much more just to do this. And that is what being human is all about. We thrive to live in the what if. We love the hypothetical. And we adore making it a reality.
Without getting too much in to the politics of cloning, such breakthroughs can also lead to human organ growth to help save people’s lives, as well as expand research into diseases which cause progressive cell death, such as MS and Motor Neuron Disease. Through this new science, we could end up saving countless lives.
4) Saudi Arabia goes to the Cinema (April 18, 2018)
In the 1980’s the government of Saudi Arabia banned the viewing of films and going to cinema on moral grounds, backed by extreme religious groups. For the past 30 years, The Saudi Arabian people have been unable to see such classics as Jurassic Park, Inception, Gremlins, and everyone’s favourite, When Harry Met Sally.
But times have changed and earlier this year, the ban was lifted, and the new cinemas, now open to everyone, premiered with the greatest movie of this year, Black Panther.
This is such a monumental event because it sees a change in the passage of time, from the old, archaic rules which are now redundant, to new, more practical ways of life. Times change and the people have to change with them. This is a great step forward for the people of Saudi Arabia and their ability to express themselves. It is a freedom unfelt for the past 30 years. And what a way to break the cycle: with Michael B Jordan’s sexy body smoldering on their screens.
5) Ireland Goes Pro-Choice (May 25, 2018)
Abortion is an extremely controversial topic, and something we don’t need to get into here. But on the 25th of May, Ireland, with a resounding 66.4% in favour, repealed the eighth amendment of the Irish Constitution which made abortions illegal.
This is a gigantic step forward for Irish women, not because they now have the right to have abortions in their own country (instead of having to travel overseas, often alone without proper help, support or supervision) but it is because they have the choice to have an abortion or not. This isn’t an issue of pro- or anti-abortion, this is an issue of allowing a woman to have the right to choose what to do with their own bodies.
This is also a public health issue. The new law will mean that abortions will be governmentally regulated, ensuring a higher standard of care for women going through abortions. This substantially cuts down the risk of death from backstreet abortions and related pregnancy illnesses.
In an age where equality and autonomy of self has become emphasized, this vote is extremely important in recognizing these concepts and bringing them into reality. This is a clear sign of progress. We are moving forward. The people are listening.
There’s a lot more to be excited about, of course. People stood up against inequality, prejudice, and the murder of innocent people. Big businesses are starting to be held more accountable for their actions. And we all got to enjoy the union of Prince Harry and Meghan Merkel. There is no denying that bad things have happened too but we need to acknowledge that, even though things look pretty bad right now, there is always light to push against the darkness.