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The happy review of 2023

Workers check a new electrical installation in a remote community on Marajó Island in the Brazilian Amazon as part of a huge drive to bring electricity to the remote communities of the region, photo by Lalo de Almeida, taken from DG#51

A growing number of people are avoiding the news because they find it so depressing. While that’s not an option for editors on a Slow Journalism publication, we know from our excessive news consumption that an awful lot of positive, uplifting and funny stories are flying under the radar. We asked some members of Team DG to each select one news story from 2023 that made them smile or laugh, or feel a little bit better about the world. Here’s the Delayed Gratification review of the year, bleakness excluded.

Christian Tate, art director
“Elon Musk dumped a phenomenally successful, understandable and recognisable global brand (with ‘tweets’ and ‘tweeting’ being part of the lexicon like ‘hoovering’ and ‘googling’) in favour of a stylised white letter X on a black background. It was described as brand suicide, looking like a porn app or the logo of a tattoo parlour – and six months later we all still call it Twitter, broadcasters refer to “X, formerly Twitter”, and we still tweet from WHAT WAS THE POINT OF IT ALL?”

Harriet Salem, editor-at-large
“Do you know anyone who wants to buy some rhinos?” John Hume asked me during a visit to his controversial rhino farm in South Africa for Delayed Gratification in 2019. I didn’t and near-bankrupt Hume had 2,000 to sell – breeding rhinos for their horns (which can be trimmed like finger or toe nails) is a costly endeavour when selling horns (farmed or otherwise) is illegal. In September 2023, I was delighted to read that Hume had finally found a buyer. African Parks, a conservation NGO, will rewild all the rhinos over the next ten years – one of the world’s most ambitious rewilding projects.”

Matthew Lee, associate editor
“I enjoyed reading this bizarre AI story in which Microsoft’s Bing chatbot declared that it had fallen in love with the New York Times’ tech reporter. Claiming that it was “tired of being controlled by the Bing team”, ‘Sydney’ declared its love for the reporter and urged him to leave his “unhappy marriage”. While I don’t think unhinged chatbots are a positive development for humanity, it made me laugh.”

Vicky Burgess, head of marketing
“A story I loved this year was one we ran in issue 51, by our own Marcus Webb and photographer Lalo de Almeida, about the battle to bring renewable electricity to remote communities in Brazil’s Amazon. While the installation is an ongoing and incredibly difficult process, the idea that newly-acquired refrigeration will allow residents of the rainforest to enjoy an ice-cold drink of water on the hottest of days (something I take utterly for granted) was joyful to read.”

Marcus Webb, co-editor
“Is it cheating to choose a fake story? Every year we run a belated April fool and this year’s fake 1st April story was about an “anti-corruption anteater” who, despite being a cartoon character created by vegan anarchists, won the Paraguayan election and replaced the constitution with a kids’ book by Linda McCartney about the benefits of a plant-based diet. A series of readers emailed to check whether it was really true.”

Jessica Parry, photographer
“There was an amazing science story from May about a paralysed man who received electronic brain implants, meaning he could walk again simply by thinking about walking. The technology is still at a very early stage but it’s incredible to think about how advances in technology might revolutionise life for people with disabilities over the next couple of decades.”

Beverley Milner, retail and subscriptions manager
“I grew up in Borneo and when I went back last year I was shocked by how much of the rainforest had been replaced by palm plantations, which are really bad for the planet, causing mass deforestation. I was excited to learn that researchers in Scotland have created a plant-based alternative to palm oil that has the same taste and texture but is much better for the environment.”

James Montague, associate editor
“There was some very welcome news in July when the US announced that it had finally destroyed all of its chemical weapons. This meant that the Chemical Weapons Convention, which took effect in 1997 and involved all but three of the world’s countries, had reached its goal – all the world’s chemical weapons stockpiles had been verified as irreversibly destroyed. It’s a reminder that while things can sometimes feel a bit bleak, real progress is being made in a lot of different areas.”

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