Happy New Year! And Cheers!

New Year 2015 fireworks in the Philippines, shamelessly pinched from here, where you can see photos of fireworks around the world.

It's still 2014 here in DC, but cheer up. It only FELT like a really bad year.

In fact, things are pretty good. Violence in the US and around the world is actually sharply down. And living conditions everywhere, especially in the third world, are much improved:
Global life expectancy now stands at a new high of 71.5 years, up six years since 1990. In India, life expectancy is up seven years for men, and 10 for women. It’s rising faster in the impoverished east of Africa than anywhere else on the planet. In Rwanda and Ethiopia, life expectancy has risen by 15 years.
The World Bank’s rate of extreme poverty (those living on less than $1.25 a day) has more than halved since 1990, mainly thanks to China – where economic growth and the assault on poverty are being unwittingly supported by any parent who put a plastic toy under the tree yesterday.
And if China has you worried, good news there too: Christians now outnumber Communists there, and the Gospel is spreading rapidly.  (As Aussie correspondent Brett McS points out, "Gee, who saw that one coming?" --We've been tracking that trend here since at least 2008.)

And the environment? Sea ice expanded and it turns out carbon emissions help the rainforests (or so at least one study suggests).

Evangelization? The number of Catholics is growing worldwide.

If you're not unborn or a Christian in the Middle East, things are actually pretty good. Crime, violence and poverty are down.  For the rest, it was a Year of Our Lord and there's Dave Barry to help you laugh at it. So: Cheers!

It's the feast of St. Sylvester and a little of his punch will set you right up.