Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Essay: Predictions for 2013

Predictions for 2013
(Scheduled for Chum for Thought #2: Blood in the Water, 2014)

This was written in the final days of 2012. You lose some; you win some; some just keep on stalking you through the night.
[This column was published in the Dayton Review in 2012. You can look it up. Somehow, I missed plugging it into the original Chum For Thought. No, I didn’t have any regrets about flubbing some predictions. I just screwed up. I wish I could have predicted that. It’s grievously outdated now, but some of our problems, like pulling dandelions, may be intractable. Enjoy.]
 THE END OF THE WORLD? – So, the end of the Mayan calendar last December was not the end of the world and the Age of Aquarius has been a wash so far. So, that leaves us with…
ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE – Nope, not this year. The closest we may come is a series of FBI confrontations with groups of secessionist Second Amendment patriots. Which brings us to…
GUN CONTROL – It’s gonna happen – kinda. There will be a surprisingly vigorous popular push-back against gun violence. There will also be a lot of buy-back programs. In the end, the government won’t come after the handgun you keep in the dresser drawer, the shotgun you keep by the back door, or the rifles you actually like to take hunting. They will be gunning for fast-firing weapons and high-capacity clips. Gabby Giffords (who owns a gun, by the way) will get into the conversation big-time. And, talking about gun violence will include some soul-searching about our culture’s general fascination with violence (zombies, etc.).
$5 GASOLINE – Didn’t happen. Won’t. But, Carl Wompstomper will continue complaining about gas taxes every day as he drives down a recently repaved highway on his way to work.
THE DEBT LIMIT –No, President Obama will not mint a trillion dollar platinum coin, and he won’t negotiate with Congress, either. He probably won’t even invoke the 14th amendment, which includes: “…the validity of the public debt of the United States…shall not be questioned.” My bet is that House Republicans will back down at the last minute as public pressure mounts. People will realize that the problem is not our president hell-bent on exceeding his credit card limit. Congress appropriates the money and should be willing to pay its bills when they come due.
MATERIALS SCIENCE – You will be drop-jaw amazed this year by all the incredible new stuff that can do incredible stuff. And, somebody is going to start manufacturing really neat stuff out of all this incredible new stuff. We’re talking batteries the size of swimming pools using nickel and salt, surfaces that are not just non-stick but repel, and much more.
SPORTS – Your favorite team will have a banner year and win their regional play-off. And, when they do, and even if they don’t, you’ll remember that it was me who said they could.
I’m thinking back to the Y2K computer glitch that was predicted for January 1, 2000. It turns out that I was one of the army of computer geeks who spent several years rewriting a lot of old programs. We saw the problem developing, made a plan, worked together, and made things better. It was invisible and thankless and we came out looking like zombies, but it needed doing. And so, “the world as we know it” did not end then, either.
Change happens. Sometimes we’re not ready for it or, sometimes it seems like too-little-too-late. Always, change is hard. But, people of good will usually come together to fix what needs fixing. In due time, the rest of us usually accept the changes that seem to still be working. And so, the world does not end.