Whether Washington, Hollywood or Canberra, it feels like we're being suffocated by the blanket of bad news spread over us all.
But unlikely as it might seem at times, there are good things going on in the world at the moment, so let's take some time out to glance at a few — and hopefully cheer ourselves up just a bit.
US voters broaden their horizons
The nature of elections is that about half the people will be upset with every result. That's because, as every voter knows, the other half of the population are idiots.
But sometimes a result is more than just a result. In Virginia, Danica Roem became the first openly transgender person to be elected to a state legislature, defeating Republican incumbent Bob Marshall, who had previously pushed bills restricting the bathrooms that transgender people can use, and banning gay people from serving in the Virginia National Guard.
Hopefully her election will turn out to be a boon for the people of Virginia, but whatever happens from here, the fact a transgender woman can be elected to office in the American South — a region generally considered about as progressive as Tony Abbott on a whaling ship — means that the world is, perhaps, not the irredeemable pit of bigotry it often seems to be.
Asked to comment on her opponent, Ms Roem said: "I don't attack my constituents. Bob is my constituent now."
Her refusal to either gloat or abuse suggests she might not be well suited to the political life in the long run — but I bet you thought that kind of public civility was long dead.
Science saving skins
Two years ago a seven-year-old boy was referred to Dr Michele De Luca of Italy's University of Modena, with the rare and deadly skin disease junctional epidermolysis bullosa, a condition that prevents the outer layer of the skin from attaching to the inner layer.
The result is fragile skin covered in blisters and open sores. The disease is incurable, and skin grafts and donor skin had failed.
The boy had lost 60 per cent of the outer layer of his skin, and had to be placed in an induced coma to spare him further agony.
Dr De Luca's team decided to swing for the fences with an experimental procedure whereby they grew sheets of new skin in a lab from the boy's own cells.
Yes, they grew new skin. Dr Frankenstein only wishes he could come up with anything this miraculous.
In three operations — with no guarantee the patient would survive — the square metre of skin they had grown was transplanted onto the boy.
After 10 days the new skin began to grow. After eight months almost all of his skin was grown from the transplanted sheets — he had been entirely re-upholstered and could be considered to be in mint condition.
Two years after the operations, the boy needs no medication, is back at school and playing soccer.
When the family visited Dr De Luca to thank him for his work, his patient spontaneously took his clothes off: "The boy was so happy with his new skin that he wanted to show off."
Much of the science in the public eye involves either warnings of doom or instruments of destruction.
How beautiful to be reminded of the joy science can bring.
The warnings of doom mentioned above are part of the usual pattern of environmental news — the relentless advance of humanity and the corresponding retreat of nature.
It's always good news when a little bit of nature bounces back. The eastern quoll — kind of like a possum, but with more bloodlust, or if cats and mice decided to join forces and breed — spent millions of years roaming the Australian continent, but for the last half a century has been extinct on the mainland.
This is, of course, thanks to one of the human race's favourite historical hobbies: wiping out entire species without really noticing.
Happily, the latest news on the eastern quoll front is of human beings trying to make amends for this jolly pastime.
A dedicated breeding program led by WWF Australia has progressed to the point where next year, the eastern quoll will return to the Australian mainland. The Booderee National Park in Jervis Bay, newly clear of foxes and cats, will be the quoll's new home.
It's a victory for Australian wildlife and one of its most adorably vicious denizens, and a welcome reminder that there exist in this world people who care enough about the natural world to want to return it to former glories.
Avengers one step closer to assembling
The English city of Reading has just borne witness to the setting of a new world record for fastest speed in a jet suit: a record that was previously held by … God only knows, right?
Richard Browning reached 51.53 kilometres per hour in the suit which he built himself, a feat that has earned him the nickname "the real-life Iron Man".
That might be a little bit premature — his suit still lacks lasers, on-board computers, and sidekicks with magic hammers — but the point is, the real-life Iron Man project has begun, and if right now the suit looks more like a human cannonball fired into a hairdryer factory, it's still an incredibly cool thing that Mr Browning has done.
And there's not enough incredibly cool stuff happening these days.
The girl who bucked the system
When 14-year-old Sheskalo Pandey's parents told her it was time for her to get married, she decided it was time to make some changes.
Instead of leaving school to find a husband, Sheskalo started a business making and selling handicrafts so she could pay her own school fees.
Three years later, Sheskalo is still in business and still at school: after her final exams next year she plans to do an accounting degree.
With help from the UN Population Fund, she also started a quiet revolution in her Nepalese village, with other girls following her example.
In a country in which 41 per cent of girls marry before reaching the legal age of 18, the quest to empower women is gaining momentum, and Sheskalo Pandey has shown the world what a girl with guts can do. Isn't it a relief to know girls like her are out there today?
Ben Pobjie is a writer and comedian.