01/02/2014 01:31 pm ET Updated Mar 04, 2014

Selfies, Steroids and Twerks: A 2013 Full of Lessons From Failure

2013. Wow. Could you be more proud of how this country chose to treat its most recent 365 days? I mean other than the government shutdown, Congress, the Obamacare (disaster of a) startup, NSA peeping-Tom surveillance policies, Congress, IRS profiling, Major League baseball's never-will-be-elected to the Hall of Fame antics of the steroidal Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez, vapid filiblustering, and Congress... I could drone on and on, but President Obama has chosen to do that for us.

The good news is that all those embarrassments, missteps and outright failures hold much promise for the rest of us if we choose to take the actions necessary to gain something tangibly positive from them. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself." In fact, some of the history's most profound thoughts seem to be intended for 2013.

"The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing." (John Powell)

In his personal battle of the bulge, Anthony Weiner found his New York mayoral campaign in the dumper just because he said that he was finished with sexting young women except for the ones he continued sexting with.

"If an ass goes travelling he will not come home a horse." (Thomas Fuller)

Obviously Fuller's ass was not attached to Miley Cyrus as the young singer's derriere-pulsating "twerk" at the Video Music Awards worked its way into the 2013 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. In the aftermath, "England" and "civility" are no longer to be used in the same sentence.

"Failing to prepare is preparing to fail" (John Wooden).

The Obama administration had only three years to ready the ACA website teaching us to remember that if you're planning to operate a website to handle tens of millions of visits, don't have your thirteen year old nephew design your site.

"The place is so crowded no one goes there anymore" (Yogi Berra).

Republicans said Americans don't want Obamacare while the ACA website kept crashing because so many people are trying to sign up.

"Nothing is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man." (Thomas Jefferson)

With Governor Corbett likening same-sex marriage to incest, Pennsylvania remains the only state in the Northeast that does not recognize same-sex marriages and allows companies to fire employees for being gay. Can we be more proud of being Pennsylvanians?

"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." (Mark Twain)

The Pope was called a Marxist by Rush Limbaugh for the Pontiff's statements condemning wealth inequality.

"True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing" (Socrates)

Seth Macfarlane, the superb writer/producer behind Family Guy and American Dad gave birth to the worst sitcom ever bequeathed a full season ("Dads"). Second place: Any film with Adam Sandler, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone.

"I think one's feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results." (Florence Nightingale)

Filibustering became the wasting time du jour for non-legislating legislators as Senator Ted Cruz's talk-fest to defund Obamacare and decease taxes did not stop Obamacare and resulted in a government shutdown costing the taxpayer over 28 billion dollars.

"People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones" (Old Proverb)

Milwaukee Brewer, Ryan Braun and (former) 7X Tour de France champion, Lance Armstrong, had thrown everyone under the bus for "lying" about their PED use until they realized that the only people who should have been flattened by the that bus was them.

"Of all my outstanding qualities, and there are many, I think my best trait is humility (Anonymous)

The Selfie.

"Be still my heart; thou hast known worse than this." (Homer)

For all the suffering we can take solace that the U.S. doesn't have exclusive custody of the world's miseries: Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford.

Award-winning TV writer, Steve Young, is author of Great Failures of the Extremely Successful, Mistakes, Adversity, Failure and Other Steppingstones to Success" (

This column appears in The Philadelphia Inquirer Op-Ed page on Jan. 2, 2014.