This year sucked, didn't it?
I don't need to remind you of all the ways in which this year was bad. (But here are a few anyway: Trump; mass death and destruction; the blatant, mainstream adoption of weaponised hatred; the deaths of several beloved public figures; Trump.) But sometimes, all you want is for a little sunshine to break through the gloom.
This list, however, isn't that -- not exactly, anyway. It was formulated with a somewhat loose definition of "encouraging" in mind. The following items were chosen not because they had happy endings, but rather because they seemed like appropriate responses to this godawful year. That's not to say there's no cheer here, but rather that, sometimes, "encouraging" means an acknowledgement that, "Wow, that was a truly awful thing that just happened! Shit." These stories, more than anything else, are a reflection of just how low the bar for good news was this year.
Think of it as a form of therapy. Mostly for me, though I hope it brings you some respite, too.
Elon Musk wants to send us to Mars
The facts: SpaceX founder Elon Musk likes Mars. He likes it so much he wants to help colonise it. In order to do that, he needs people -- and that's where we come in.
Why it's encouraging: Going to Mars can't be any worse than dealing with what's happening on Earth right now, and at least this adventure concludes with the sweet release of death.
Americans are banging a lot
The facts: "Total combined cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis reported in 2015 [in the US] reached the highest number ever."
Why it's encouraging: Because no matter how bad things get, at least people are banging a lot.
Facebook ad revenue hit the point of diminishing returns
The facts: Despite its glowing quarterly earnings, Facebook slid a little piece of bad news into its third quarter report: Revenue growth is set to slow down "meaningfully" next year.
Why it's encouraging: Facebook is fast approaching vampire squid status. The more its revenue growth starts sputtering, the better.
The Cubs actually won
The facts: The Chicago Cubs won their first World Series title in 108 years.
Why it's encouraging: Sometimes, good things happen to people who deserve them.
The Harlem deer died
RIP (Image: Youtube)
The facts: J.R. the deer was captured in Harlem and the city ordered it to die. Then New York governor Andrew Cuomo decided he wanted to save the deer. Then the deer died anyway.
Why it's encouraging: Governor Andrew Cuomo and mayor Bill de Blasio were having a deer-measuring contest, which was an amusing addition to the Great Cuomo/de Blasio Feud. Also, now the deer is in deer heaven, where blustering politicians can't hurt it any more.
Chris Christie was humiliated
The facts: Chris Christie groveled at Donald Trump's feet far earlier than most. Trump then reportedly dumped Christie because he felt he had become a political liability, which is basically like hearing from Dick Cheney that you have bad aim.
Why it's encouraging: Trump's victory left several despicable people hanging out to dry. In Christie's case, it was also personal.
Dildos stopped a robbery
Carrot Top and a dildo walker (Image: Getty)
The facts: Someone tried to rob Lotions and Lace, a sex toy shop in San Bernardino, California. He didn't succeed, because the store's employees pelted him with dildos.
Why it's encouraging: Robberies are generally bad, but dildos are generally good. This incident provided further proof of that.
The Voyager probe is still quickly speeding away from Earth
Voyager 2 (Image: AP)
The facts: The Voyager 2 probe is currently travelling deep into space.
Why it's encouraging: At least something has the ability to run away from Earth.
We're very ill-prepared for an asteroid or comet strike
The facts: A NASA researcher had this to say about the possibility that giant space rock could smack into the planet: "The biggest problem, basically, is there's not a hell of a lot we can do about it at the moment."
Why it's encouraging: Maybe it will hit the White House.
We were dead all along
The facts: Facebook told us we were all dead.
Why it's encouraging: For a brief moment, we got to imagine what it would be like if 2016 had simply been a dream.
This good pupper got a haircut
Image: Big Fluffy Dog Rescue
The facts: Lazarus the dog spent most of his life in a barn, where he managed to grow a 16kg coat of fur. After he was rescued -- his owner, who reportedly suffered from a mental illness, eventually asked for help -- he got a sweet haircut.
Why it's encouraging: Lazarus is a very good pupper, and now he has a sweet haircut. Sometimes, things aren't all bad.