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The Wrap Annual ‘21— The Year That Was Edition #49 Volume 1

Grey Swan Guild

Lead Editor: Rob Tyrie Co-Leads: The Whole Wrap Regatta

News Wrap Edition #49 of Volume 1 | 25th December 2021

“To be or not to be”, is that always the question? What was it to be in 2021? We looked forward to a better year than the shocks of 2020, but as it unfolded, it was more of the same, as vaccines began rolling out. 2021 was a year disrupted. It started in January with lockdowns and with the results of elections in the US, Germany and the UK. On Jan 6th, one of the lows in American history occurred to the shock of many American’s and people around the world. The Congress was stormed, but by the end of the month, the inauguration of Joe Biden was heralded in by America’s poet Amanda Gorman. Donald Trump was silenced on all major social media. Bernie Sanders wore mittens.

Photo by Andy Feliciotti on Unsplash

Until the late spring, across the world, restrictions wore thin, millions continued to work from home and schooled from home, and we watched economies grind slowly while governments made historic levels of payments to people whose work was disrupted. Trillions of dollars changed hands in one of the largest transfers of wealth in history, from governments to people. As predicted by half of the economists, inflation now is running at annoying levels, causing hardship to millions.

When the summer came, and restrictions lifted part of the world rushed back to what they had missed, sports, theatre, concerts, all tried to come back, to the joy of many. Crowds gathered, vaccinated and unvaccinated as different experiments and arguments ensued. The Olympics, The Euro’s and the rest of the major leagues, all beaten down in 2020, headed into another asterisk season.

Companies that did well in 2020 did very well in 2021. Tencent, Alibaba, Tik Tok, Zoom, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft all powered forward across the world. The big banks turned in record numbers, while Insurance had its winners and losers. SPACs got full. Peloton came down to earth, but Tesla did not. Like Amazon, Tesla gained escape velocity and Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, literally launched new rockets into space all year in new and novel ways as they seed the skies with new low-level satellites that will radically change the internet as we know it today. Richard Branson launched a high-flying aircraft that looks as if it will scale to get back to the bread and butter of Virgin transatlantic travel. Concord3?

Travel opened up, and people went to see their families or took breaks if they could. Schools reopened but, many classes were still held online. Major businesses, cutting through the “Great Reshuffling”, looked at re-opening offices and other programs moved along and normalcy was attempted. We went to bars and restaurants, games and concerts. We travelled. We opened up. We went to the beach. We went back to the stage, restaurant, office or the factory. Not all of us though. In knowledge work, swaths of workers demanded to continue with remote work or some kind of hybrid mix. It was good. For those in the north, “summer hours” really were summer hours, and experiments with 4-day work weeks happened sporadically in various companies. The jury is still out on that one (except for Iceland).

2021 Tropical Storms Asia

Across the year extreme weather impacts were clear with historic flooding in Western Canada, and Germany, killer tornadoes in the US and fires encroaching on cities and settlements. There were 90 Named Tropical Storms, these are storms with sustained winds of over 65 kilometres an hour. The top storm, as Typhoon named Surigae, blew in at 220Km/hr. In Vietnam, Rai killed 400 people. The most costly was Hurricane Ida in the US which claimed over $62.25B in damages after striking Louisiana. In 2020 there were 104 named storms In 2010, there were 64. Biases and debate shenanigans like “cherry-picking were discussed. Climate world policy only shifted a little bit and Greta Thunberg called it out hard with a “Blah, Blah, Blah” that was heard around the world.

Across the world, the poor nations struggled as vaccines were not evenly distributed. Sickness and supply chain issues spread misery and uncertainty. Wars did not stop. We all came out of the Delta Wave, humbled and seeking re-openings and patio in the spring of 2021. When the Omicron COVID 10 variant emerged in the fall in so many countries, so quickly, it wasn't as much deja vu as it was a disappointment all over again, layered with the simmering fear of the unknown. New rules, new protocols. “Circuit Breaker” rules kicked in for major sports like the NBA which had 110 of its 450 players test positive with the Omicron Variant. Re-opening plans were shelved, and restrictions rolled out in different countries in the world along with booster jab programs in the richer countries. Software companies, banks and insurance companies disinvited workers from the office. And now we all watch for the rate of hospitalizations anywhere there is an outbreak, especially in countries with older demographics. Those of us who do, will wear masks, wash our hands, distance, and isolate if we have symptoms. The scientist, upon studying Omicron started talking about transmissibility and “immunity escape” as it achieved R values above 3 in some cites. Omnicron apparently puts the variant in the term variant. It’s a coronavirus, similar to Covid 19, but different from Delta. So different, it may protect people from Delta if one is vaccinated and you become infected with Omicron. Yeah. Complicated.

Maybe omicron can produce more copies of itself in a cell? Or maybe it sticks to cells more effectively? Or maybe it’s better at hanging in the air and staying infectious?

“Any of those things would make the virus more contagious,” says Schiffer of Fred Hutchinson.

So far the only early good news is that vaccinated people and those who have had covid 19 in the past do not become severely ill. In countries where Omicron is spreading rapidly, there has not been a lower incidence of hospitalization as there was with Delta. As with Alpha and Delta, the impact on the non-double-vaccinated is higher with a greater degree of hospitalization and entry to ICUs. Information about “long covid” with the new variant is unknown at this time but is still a concern of some medical experts.

Bubbles were re-initiated for the holidays in the northern hemisphere. Where there are large outbreaks, economies, especially service economies will slow. We won’t make plans, yet. And for others, as they often say on Broadway, “the show must go on”

Here we are now looking at the end of the year and many of us feel we are in the same spot or conditions that we were in Dec 2020. But, surely we know more than we ever have about this disease and what we can do together and apart. If possible, and if it is safe for you, this can be a time for reflection on what happened in 2021. That’s what we are doing at the Wrap. We are taking the time to look back across the year, and take a pause before getting ready for the future.

Even so, beneath it lies the unsettling idea that once a system has crossed some threshold, every nudge tends to shift it further from the old equilibrium. Many of the institutions and attitudes that brought stability in the old world look ill-suited to the new. The pandemic is like a doorway. Once you pass through, there is no going back — The Economist Double Holiday Edition 2021

Why We Write The Wrap

Swan Guild started Writing the Wrap this year, in January 2021, when most northern countries were at the peak of COVID19 restrictions, which were some of the strictest in the world. Like other publications of the Guild, we started with a “Grey Swan” of the pandemic and expanded the writing to cover other areas of the world and current events. The founding editors were Rob Tyrie, Sylvia Gallusser and Sean Moffitt. We felt these would be of interest to readers, researchers, analysts and anyone seeking to scratch the itch of intellectual curiosity. This itch happens to be one of the four core values of the Guild itself. We are telling a story about the week that had just passed as we perceived it through the news cycle.

Through stories, we share passions, sadness, hardships, and joys. We share meaning and purpose. Stories are the common ground that allows people to communicate, overcoming our defences and our differences. Stories allow us to understand ourselves better and to find our commonality with others — Doyle Buehler 2021

Like many other structures in the Guild, the Wrap started as an experiment. We thought we would create a kind of newsletter that would take a look at the “Good, Bad and Ugly” news of the week. It is a lens to the happenings of the week that were on the top of the minds of all the editors. Initially, there were no rules on what to submit or write about. The idea was to find 3 or 4 new items or other content to support the sections and a bit of writing called a “blurb” that would set the context of the item or connect it to other themes. It was designed to be a weekly collector across a set of views, that eventually be looked at across the year. It was after the first couple of months, it was clear we could produce 50 Editions over the year.

And that’s what we did. There were well over 1,500 submissions that Wrap Team submitted over the year. These turned into 48 editions, almost 1,000 blurbs and over a dozen POVs.

All in one spot, they make up a news capsule for the year. It’s what we all saw that we thought was important, be it great, good, bad, ugly, or even the uncertain, in a week. Uncertainty is one of the most interesting categories, where new items, like immigration, may be positive and seen as good from the perspective of a refugee but may be seen negatively by the domestic population if they perceive their government is overextended. Uncertainties are the grey and liminal spaces that we span.

In the second half of the year, the team started taking on a theme of interest each week to focus the team and provide a narrative of the theme across the current events. This year we’ve covered the Future of Food, Hybrid Work, Climate Escalation, Disruption in Education, The Youngest Generations, Remembering 9/11, Storytelling, and Women’s Work as the year progressed.

In the year in review, across the Wraps, there were themes that were covered across editors and writers. Here are the top areas we covered within the Wraps:

Photo by Randy Tarampi on Unsplash
  1. Covid 19, The Pandemic, The action and reactions across the World. Vaccines, Testing, Tracing, Treatments, Mask
  2. Hybrid Work, Remote Work, Changing Working Relationships
  3. Climate Change, Extreme Weather, Warming, Carbon Policy
  4. AI, Web 3, Software, Robotics
  5. All things Travel — Travel destinations, restrictions, risks, protocols and costs
  6. Economy, Inflation, Wages, Supply Chain, Government Support, UBI, Winners & Losers
  7. Space, Rockets, Millionaires, Satellites, Space Station, The Moon, Mars Exploration, Telescopes
  8. Cryptocurrencies, Crypto Assets, Bitcoin, NFTs, Blockchain, Cyber Crimes, VR/AR, Web3
  9. Conflicts- political, class, generation gaps, inequality, the elites, experts, populists wars, the death of expertise and discourse, social media silos
  10. Family, Food, Sleep, Sex, Education, Mental Health, Child Care
  11. Entertainment —sports, music, art, theatres, dance, movies, television
  12. Human-orientated challenges, such as storytelling.

Based on the number of views on Medium and LinkedIn, there were the Wraps that gained more traction than others. Here are the top 10 Wraps for 2021. If you haven't had a chance to read them, you should. Sensemaking is an ingredient for resilience.

What were your top 10 stories in 2021? What were the ones that changed your mind or changed your behaviour? Which one are you using to set a course for the future? Share with us.

Why not join us on Clubhouse this Sunday the 26h Dec 2021 at 8am PST | 11am EST | 4pm GMT| 5pm SAST to make sense of it all, have your say and engage with your favourite Grey Swan Guild Wrap Editors: Doyle Buehler, Sylvia Gallusser, Sean Moffitt, Agustín Borrazás, Rob Tyrie, Ben Thurman, Antonia Nicols Esmee Wilcox, Louise Mowbray, Geeta Dhir, Gina Clifford, Su McVey with Clubhouse Captains Howard Fields, Scott Phares and Lindsay Fraser.

Meanwhile…..Let’s Wrap.

Rather than going through the regular lenses that we do in the Wrap each week, we thought we would end the week with the zeitgeist and some top 10’s for 2021 as part of the time capsule.

Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust on Unsplash


a. The Lexicon for 2021

These are the words that struck us as relevant or important this year. Words have power. Google is a veritable treasure trove of word definitions.

mRNA Vaccines, Dunning Kruger Effect, Zumping, Gamblers Fallacy. Mom-Shaming, Herd Immunity. NFTs, Joyscrolling, Swirlons, SPACS, Negantropy, Keats Heuristic, Return to Office Coordinator, Hedonic Adaption, Jab, Elongate Crypto, Thrombocytopenia, Cinco de Mayo, Re-Entry Anxiety, Toxic Degeneration, Temporal Exhaustion, ASMR, Cyber Gangs, Myocarditis, Ho’opono pono, Pantone- Illuminating & Ultimate Grey, Economies of Agglomeration, Cheugy, Neijuan, Ecocide, Bidenflation, Querdenker, Reverse Search Warrants, Defensible Space, Situationship, HateTok, The Long Game, Facial Recognition, Rage Quit, Languishing, Paradox, Involution, Minting, Missing White Woman Syndrome, Fictophilic Paradox, Family of Choice, Climate Shadow, Cli-Fi, Edacious, Disruptive Education Model, Hero’s Journey Map, Ubuntu.

b. Lexicon December 25, 2021

Hys·ter·e·sis /ˌhistəˈrēsis/


  1. the phenomenon in which the value of a physical property lags behind changes in the effect causing it, as for instance when magnetic induction lags behind the magnetizing force.
  2. The things in the present that work to change our understanding of history such that it is difficult to draw conclusions over time. eg, vaccinations impact diseases in ways that make it hard to predict and classify trends and reasoning for infections.

“When thinking about how the Covid shock will change the future, we must focus on hysteretic processes. Generally speaking, hysteresis happens in systems where the level of some capital stock alters marginal costs or benefits. Here ‘capital’ includes simple versions like human, physical, and knowledge capital, or more complex forms like organisational capital, social trust, aspirations, and expectations. Different sources of hysteresis work with different types of shocks” Richard Baldwin —

c. Deaths and Passings of the infamous and famous 2021

  • Desmond Tutu, 90
  • Prince Phillip, 99
  • Joan Didion, 87
  • Colin Powell, 84 *
  • Kim Moon Ki, 89
  • Drakeo the Ruler, 28
  • Larry King, 87
  • Christopher Plummer, 91
  • Hank Aaron, 87
  • Mike Nesmith, 78

d. Top 10 Books — New York Times

e. Top Movies — World Box Office

  1. The Battle at Lake Changjin
  2. Spiderman: No Way Home
  3. Hi Mom
  4. James Bond: No Time to Die
  5. F9: The Fast Saga
  6. Detective Chinatown 3
  7. Venom: Let There Be Carnage
  8. Godzilla vs Kong
  9. Shang-Chi and The Legend of the 10 Rings
  10. Eternals

f. Top Streaming TV Shows — Wired Magazine

  1. The Great
  2. Hacks
  3. Only Murders in the Building
  4. Reservation Dogs
  5. Succession
  6. The White Lotus
  7. Yellow Jackets

g. Mass Shootings in the United States of America

There were 15 mass shootings in the US with 5 or more deaths. The largest involved 10 people. Source Wikipedia

May 26 San Jose California 2021 San Jose shooting: Nine people were killed at a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) control center in San Jose, California. The shooter is also dead by suicide.

March 22 Boulder Colorado 2021 Boulder shooting: Ten people were killed including a Boulder police officer, in a shooting at a grocery store. The suspect, Ahmad Al Aliwi Al-Issa, was shot in the leg and has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

April 15 Indianapolis , Indiana Indianapolis FedEx shooting: A shooting occurred outside a FedEx facility near Indianapolis International Airport. Nine people were reported dead, including the shooter, who committed suicide. The shooter has been identified as 19-year old Brandon Scott Hole, a former employee of the FedEx facility.

March 16 Atlanta and AcworthGeorgia 2021 Atlanta spa shootings: A series of mass shootings occurred at massage parlours. Eight people were killed in the incidents and one person was wounded, six victims were women of Asian descent. A suspect, Robert Aaron Long, was arrested in Crisp County, about 150 miles south of Atlanta. Authorities said Long told them he was planning to continue the spree in Florida.

May 9 Colorado Springs, Colorado 2021 Colorado Springs shooting: Six people were killed when a man opened fire at a birthday party in a trailer park. The shooter (Teodoro Macias) took his own life shortly afterwards.

April 7 Rock Hill South Carolina 2021 Rock Hill shooting: Six people, including two children, were killed in a mass shooting at a Rock Hill home. Former professional football player Philip Adams, the person deputies named as responsible for the shooting, was found dead at a nearby home.

h. The Most Expensive NFTs Sold as at Dec 2021

  1. Pak, The Merge — $91.9M
  2. Beeple, The First 5,000 Days — $69.3M
  3. Beeple, Human 1 — $28.985M
  4. CryptoPunk #7523 — $11.75M
  5. CryptoPunk #3100 — $7.67m
  6. CryptoPunk #7804 — $7.6m
  7. Beeple, Crossroad — $6.6m
  8. XCopy, A Coin for the Ferryman — $6.034
  9. Beeple, Ocean Front — $6m
  10. CryptoPunk #5217 — $5.59m

i. Notable National Elections and Winning Leaders (age), Parting Leaders (if they left)

  1. Chile, Gabriel Boric (35)
  2. Canada, Justin Trudeau (50)
  3. Germany, Olaf Scholz(63), Angela Merkel
  4. Peru, Pedro Castillo (35)
  5. Russia*, Vladimir Putin
  6. United States, Joe Biden, Donald Trump
  7. Netherlands, Mark Rutte
  8. Syria*, Bashir Al-Assad
  9. Israel, Naftali Bennet, Benjamin Netanyahu
  10. Japan, Kashida Fumio

J. Top World Stocks by Market Capitalization Public Companies

The Trillion Dollar 6 — None of them makes food except Berkshire Hathaway

K. Top Books of TikTok #BookTok

  1. Shadow and Bone
  2. They Both Die at the End
  3. We Were Liars
  4. Six of Crows
  5. Circe
  6. Shatter Me
  7. Kingdom of the Wicked
  8. The Cruel Prince
  9. Red Queen
  10. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
  11. The People We Meet on Vacation
  12. Ice Planet Barbarians

L. Big Sports Stories of 2021

  1. In major events in most professional sports, games occurred with no fans or few fans. Fan sounds were augmented by AI to improve the productions for home audiences.
  2. The Summer Olympics ran in Japan and these athletes became some of the most covid-19 tested humans on the planet. The United States (113), China (88) and Japan (58) were the top countries in the medal race. Canada rose from a 20th spot to 11th, in the most successful summer performance in the history of the country, led by the women team.
  3. Canadian Women’s Soccer Team
  4. Simone Biles wins life.
  5. Christian Erickson, Danish national and world football superstar dies and is revived in front of a full stadium of dedicated fans. Death and life on a soccer pitch in real-time. Surreal and real. And, the teams played on at his request.
  6. Men’s Euro Champs
  7. The Professional Champs
  8. Canadian Men’s Soccer Team
  9. Tom Brady ascension to American football historic height. There will never be a more impactful guaterback. He could play for the Toronto Maple Leaf, while they would not win the Stanley Cup, the same team of pucksters on grass, would win the Super Bowl.
  10. F1 Racing has got to be the best spectator sport in the world now, and will likely be the one that benefits from the metaverse.

You can make Submissions to The Wrap any time on The Grey Swan Guild’s LinkedIn page with the hashtag #TheWrap. Be pithy, be wry, be relaxed and make some sense of the news with us. It’s a place we hang out during the week too. Join the conversation there and share your ideas, hopes, and worries with us. We are in this together for a reason.

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