SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK

The first of the year is a great time for making predictions, mostly because so many other people are making predictions that no one will remember how wrong you were.

    I’m writing this on 12/12/12, which I figure will give me some kind of magical ability to see the future. Unless the world ends on December 21st, in which case this will be wasted effort … didn’t see that coming. (Note: The world was still there on December 22nd. Of course, if it hadn’t been you wouldn’t be reading this, huh?)

I could make those very general, obvious predictions that many a prognosticator happily claim to be right about. In 2013:

    A politician will say something stupid.

    A Hollywood starlet will be caught in a short skirt, climbing out of a low car seat, with a marked lack of undergarments.

    A natural disaster will make the news.

    A major sports figure will Tweet something controversial.

    I’ll get hurt while doing a home improvement project.

    See? Easy stuff.

    But I’m too lazy even for that, so instead I went back to a column I wrote in September, 2006, in which I predicted what was going to happen long range. How right was I? Let’s find out:

    We’re in for a big, big recession, most likely a worldwide one and certainly the worst since the early 1980’s.

    So far, so good. Next I predicted that the nation’s automakers would be hit by a major downturn in their business, which I attributed to them being behind the times on the fuel efficiency and future planning fronts. Then came:

    The housing boom has been on a bubble that’s bursting even as we speak … like an overdose of Ex-Lax, it’s an artificial movement that can’t be sustained much longer.

    Ew. I can’t believe my editor published that. Still, I saw the writing on that under construction wall.

    November, 2006: The Democrats take control of both houses of Congress in not-very-close elections.

    Hey, I’m on a roll! In 2006, Democrats captured the majority, sweeping both the House and the Senate. And if there’s ever a place that needs swept out …

    Except for the ongoing attempts to impeach Bush, the government grinds to a halt. No one notices.

    I was mostly right about that, too.

    February, 2007: Riots break out in several Wal-Marts when employees begin putting up Christmas, 2007 advertising displays.

    Little chink in the prediction armor, there: It was the employees who started protesting the moving up of Christmas (in that case, Black Friday happening on Thursday), and not until 2012. Still, in August, 2007, I did get kicked out of Wal-Mart for punching a plastic life-sized Santa.

    August, 2007:  Ford declares bankruptcy, beginning a long legal battle that culminates in a government bail-out.

    And, I’m back on the horse!

    In 2013, Castro’s 26 year old clone takes control of Cuba.

    Hey, could happen.

    Spring, 2008: As the primary season starts, the mainstream media begins a concentrated effort to find out every single bad thing every Republican candidate ever did.

    Eh – easy call, but would have been better moved to 2012.

    August, 2008: Terrorists launch an attack on a major American city, killing several dozen people and injuring thousands in the hopes of controlling the election results.

    Never been so glad to be wrong in my life. I did find out that in that month some bad guys went to Afghanistan and joined the Taliban, who sent them back to New York with a plot to blow up New York subways exactly a year later. I do not get points for that; the Feds get points for foiling the operation.

    September, 2008: After three days of waving big banners and screaming, Republicans pick a far right wing conservative, and the Democrats a far left wing liberal for their Presidential candidates. Both declare themselves to represent the “regular” people.

    Still waiting for that moderate party to take over.

    November, 2008 … of the 15% who do vote, most vote for the Democratic candidate. The Democrats declare they’ve been given a mandate by America to make changes, which they proceed to not make.

    I think the turnout was actually 14%.

    November, 2010: Republicans make gains in the mid-term elections, but Democrats retain control of the House and Senate.

    Little off, there. Republicans actually jumped forward enough in the House to make it the largest seat change since 1948, and gained six seats in the Senate. Still didn’t accomplish much of anything, though.

    Summer, 2011: The recovering economy takes a hit when bad weather across the country ruins crops.

    Okay, so I was a year off on the drought – I still predicted it half a decade early, so I’m calling that one for me.

    September, 2011: New Orleans sinks.

    A year off on that one too, and it didn’t actually sink, but I give myself half a point.

    November, 2012: The President is reelected in a squeaker, thanks in part to the first Hispanic Vice-Presidential candidate. Recounts are necessary in Pennsylvania, NewJersey, and the new state of West Michigan.

    Um … I got the reelected part right.

    July, 2014: The first coal fueled, steam powered car goes online. Everyone proclaims it the most original thing they’ve ever seen.

    Steampunk rules!

    Overall, I calculate my success rate to be 74%, depending on how much I half-close my eyes and pretend to miss some parts of my predictions. With that kind of success rate, why should I even bother trying again?

    Just the same, sometime in 2013 … a celebrity will get arrested, and I’ll get bandaged.

    And I’ll write a column about at least one of those.

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Tags: era, mark, new, off, slightly, the

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