Sunday, January 02, 2022

Did Betty White die in 2021?/Why do people have their `end-of-the-year' lists before the end of the year?

 I am looking at Parade Magazine's issue whose cover story is

                                          We say goodbye to the stars we lost in 2021.

The date on the magazine is Dec 19-26. Betty White is not in it. Neither is Bishop Tutu. Why not? Maybe they did not die in 2021. No, that's not it.  They died after the magazine appeared. They also won't be in the issue a year from now which has cover story 

                                          We say goodbye to the stars we lost in 2022.

Why do magazines and TV shows have their end-of-the-year stuff before the end of the year? Because they want to beat the competition? Because they all do it, so its a race-to-the-bottom? Tradition? 

This blog does the same--- we already posted our end-of-the-year post. Every year I worry that someone will prove P=NP or P NE NP between Dec 24 and Jan 1.  We don't have the Betty-White-Problem since the end-of-the-year post is based on when we blogged about it, not when it happened. So if  theorist X died on Dec 27 then we would do the blog obit in Jan, and would mention it in the end-of-the-year post for the next year. (This happened with Martin Kruskal who died on Dec 26, 2006.) 

Why do we have our end-of-the-year post before the end of the year? Tradition! That might not be a good reason.  

ADDED LATER: Ken Regan in the comments points out that Betty White DID die in 2022 if you use AWE: Anywhere on Earth!

This leads to the following question:

a) If a celebrity dies on Dec 31 but its Jan 1 in some time zones then do they get to be in the


articles for the Jan 1 year? 

b) Is there a general rule on this? I doubt it and I doubt it comes up a lot. I noticed that celebrities dying between Dec 24 and Dec 31 don't make those lists about 20 years ago, and I have never seen a Dec 31 case before, though I am sure there have been some.

c) Note that this `bad to die in that zone' really only applies to minor celebrities. Betty White and Desmond Tutu did get proper attention when they died.  


  1. I think the reason is that they need content over the holidays, but nobody wants to be working then. End of the year lists are (as you point out) prepared in advance.

  2. When was the last time a major result, that would have made to the end-of-the-year post, was proved during Dec 24-Dec 31? Perhaps IP = PSPACE in 1991?

    1. According to this paper:

      IP=PH was in Mid December, so YES I suspect you are correct and IP=PSPACE was in that dead-time Dec 24-Dec 31. I will remind Lance about this, in case he does not know the histor of the LFKN and S result, and then maybe he will do the end-of-the-year posts in Jan in the future.

  3. If it was 2022 AoE (Anywhere on Earth), then in a reversal of the usual deadline logic, she made it to 2022.