The Big Maritime Things in 2022

2022 is almost over and it is time to do some navel staring.

1. How Big Can a Small Mistake Be?

Putin deciding to invade Ukraine will probably go down in history as the world’s biggest boner by a single individual. Since Putin is still in power, we should not ignore the possibility he might outdo himself in his manic delusional idiocy, which is scary. However, regardless of his actions, the end game is clear; as long as we stick with the Ukrainians, he will lose and we will all win, one way or another.

This giant boner by a total loser has caused untold misery to the Ukrainians and we should never forget their courage, resilience and sacrifice, but it has had a beneficial effect on the world at large. It has become a massive kick in the butt for the world, and provided much needed focus on doing, rather than talking about doing, and, overall, the year has had some significant upsides, with incredible promise for our future. Much of it is maritime, but there is too much other interesting stuff, so I will let maritime take a backseat this year.

2. Return of Space Travel


We are not quite there yet, but the first trip back to the moon with a true spacecraft is the stepping off point to new extra-terrestial excitement. It has been 50 years. With space travel hopefully we can muster as much courage as the Ukranians. Let’s hope for the best but realize there will be tragedy. Let’s learn from the tragedies, take another deep breath, and advance.

3. Webb Space Telescope


A wonderful technical stunt the likes of which we do not get to see often enough. Truly a stunning piece of engineering that will benefit science for many years to come. Yes, it did cost a massive amount of money, and in theory it could have been spent on other worthwhile endeavors, but the ability to use just a small piece of the world’s wealth for pure science has its own glorious benefits similar to building cathedrals in the middle-ages. And when thinking about it a little further, it easily exceeds the benefits of cathedral building.

4. Net Positive Fusion

Some of my fellow nerds were truly excited about net positive or breakeven fusion. I could not quite get as excited about it but will concede it as a milestone. I hope someday (most likely long after I am gone) once fusion power has become a reality, people will think of it as a milestone similar to the Wright Brothers’ first flight. In many ways they are similar achievements. The Wright Brothers managed to fly in 1903, but that was all that could be said about their achievement at that moment, real flight did not occur until the early days of WWI and flight did not become part of humanity until the 1970’s when it became accessible to all. But let’s continue to support it (see item 3 above), if not just for its promise.

5. Hudson Canyon National Marine Sanctuary

National Parks have been called America’s (United States’) greatest idea. The US is still trying to create more national parks. My personal favorite is the present effort to create the Delaware Water Gap National Park, but it will progressively become more difficult to create two dimensional National Parks. Fortunately, there is still plenty of opportunity to create three dimensional parks in the form of National Marine Sanctuaries. Hudson Canyon National Marine Sanctuary is now firmly in the pipeline, and I expect it will have a much larger positive impact than anybody can imagine. Someday it will become the far anchor of an integrated sustainable whole that runs from Lake Tear in the Clouds in the Adirondacks all the way to the Canyon 100 miles offshore.

6. Sustainable Energy

Meanwhile, without fusion, we have to deliver sustainable energy in a more conventional fashion. And things are really starting to take off. While Putin’s blunder has shuffled things in a weird fashion, it has provided fresh focus on many dynamics that will benefit the world in the long run. Putin destroyed the world’s energy status quo and that has opened doors to new approaches. Some of those, like greater use of coal in certain locations, are not attractive in the long run, but now everybody sees them for what they are; stop gap measures, and as long as everything is off-balance the technically more attractive solutions rush in.

7. Elon Musk, etal.

This guy, by himself could fill a top 10 this year. I am going to keep it short. Dynamic innovative people with huge resources like Musk can do, where others can’t. Doing can result in successes and failures. Even successes can eventually fail. Growing up in the early days of the computer revolution I remember names of companies that were going to dominate the world and today don’t exist. The innovators will eventually become the focus of the adopters (nothing wrong with adopters; we need both innovators and adopters) and then the innovators will shrink, or even fail. In 2022 the adopters started to hunt for Tesla. Now Tesla has to figure out how to become a part of a greater whole. Musk’s mess with Twitter? I never had a use for Twitter, and even if it disappears, the world will not have changed much. Hyperloop? A stupid concept to start with. Space X? Brilliant and will continue to be the cutting edge for a few more years. And don’t discount the projects we have not heard that much about, such as his supercomputer effort. Which brings me to the bottom line, often we overfocus on the personality hype and we forget to truly focus on the achievements and the failures. Musk, Zuckerberg, Bezos, Gates; we tend to spend too much time thinking about their personal foibles and in the end, it will badly misdirect us.

8. Losers Please Step Aside

I will think of 2022 as the year where I can finally bury a personal obsession of personality misdirection. Soon after I arrived in the United States, I became mystified about the veneration for Robert E. Lee and the general disregard for U.S. Grant. To me it started with the simple premise that it made no sense to venerate a traitorous slaveholding loser and, to ignore the person who, after many failed attempts by others, got the job done. Through pure luck I showed up in the country at the right instant, and over the following decades witnessed a slow but persistent change in appreciation of U.S. Grant. It was a fascinating trip and taught me much about hype, lies, disinformation, research fraud, and plain evilness. To me it has now ended with Grant’s promotion to General of the Armies of the United States and the removal of R.E. Lee accolades and memorials from West Point. Character assassination is easy, what is more useful is to use Lincoln’s response: “Tell me what brand of whiskey Grant drinks, I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals”


Well, whatever problems NATO had in 2021 are now being solved. Driving a car with a spear strapped to the steering wheel and pointing at your heart does not make you a better driver, but it does make you pay more attention and NATO is paying attention. And then Finland and Sweden decided to join NATO. These are two powerful and very strategic allies. Finland drove the Russians crazy in WWII and to have them pick sides now is another nail in Putin’s coffin.

10. USA! USA!

I don’t drink the USA mindless patriotic Cool-Aid. The United States is far from perfect, and we don’t spend enough effort on fixing things that are wrong inside the country. We also get involved in weird international adventures and then, at other times, we promote a weird type of isolationism. But let’s face it; everybody needs leaders. There are no perfect leaders, but there are good leaders and bad leaders (see items 1, 7 and 8 above). The better ones do make a difference and the 2022 return to the world stage of the United States is making a difference. Not just in world politics, also in the advancement of science and engineering (see Items 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6). It is always difficult to find the right leader for tough times (in easy times anybody can be a leader), but 2022 was a graduate class in teaching the world the difference between good and bad leaders. Zelensky, the USA, Europe, and all others that have taken a step back from mindless brainwashing provide some hope for the future.

To provide some perspective, the December 2021 Atlantic cover showed some bad guys and said: “The Bad Guys Are Winning”.


The difference a year makes.

Best for 2023, do anything you can to help Ukraine.