Friday, December 31, 2010

Possibilities for the New Year

Yeah, I know I'm lame. I don't talk in terms of predictions, but instead think about possibilities. I'm no Nate Silver, so I don't assign real hard numbers. But these are things my seat of the pants instinct tell me there is a 30-50% chance of happening in the upcoming year. My assessments of the repercussions are pure speculation.

I'll throw a number here (based on nothing). There is a 25-30% that the teams in a certain American city run the table. You know, win the championship in all 4 major North American sports league. I can't mention the city because it is a scientifically proven FACT that I'll jinx it.

OK fun stuff is over, no some sober assessments:
The oil peak begins to be felt again, as $4/gallon gas has been forecast and some have suggested $5/ gallon by 2012. Energy supplies will become a real topic, but many will blame price gouging, environmentalists and deliberate under-production rather than accept that we've hit a limit. Obama may use situation this to suggest a real energy policy that could redirect a lot of things in the country (think New Deal for energy), the GOP house will obstruct of course and simply scream "drill, baby drill." Depending on events Obama could pivot this to his advantage. The exurbs, despite what the census recorded (remember that was over ten years) will continue their demise that began in 2007-2008.

I will go out on a limb and say that the wild patterns we have been experiencing will continue to be the new norm. There will be some more unprecedented events. Denial will continue and people will continue to miss that it isn't just based on politics and economic views, but also on emotion, i.e. fear that a dangerous change is occurring, but unwilling to face it.

American Higher Ed.
There will be an orchestrated push-back against those blaming the cancerous growth of administration for financial woes. There will be some troubling developments in enrollments. Institutions and those in them will still deny that cronyism in faculty hiring, grade inflation, declining standards, coverup of criminal activity, and retribution towards critics and whistleblowers exist within the ivy-covered halls.  But look out, I sense a few high profile scandals.
The science of geology, dominated by academic geologists as it is, will continue its stupid, self-inflicted downward spiral. Departments will close or morph into more ridiculous entities and no one will do a damn thing about it.

Woe will be the Tea Party. Their vaunted fiscal conservatism will be revealed as nothing more than BAU tax cuts for the rich and using the local, state and national treasuries to enrich the wealthy private good, while cutting the public good taxes pay for. Most of the TP will show their true colors as nothing more than the ol' paranoid hate-filled "social conservatives" that are always floating around (the media will catch on by mid-year and act shocked). In-fighting and scandals will emerge, the new House will start pulling Terry Schiavo acts right out of the gate, starting an obvious alienation of the voters that will surprise the punditry.
Palin will devolve into further into a tabloid characiture, Beck will implode, Limbaugh will abide (unless outed).
A new, diffuse but real change will occur, populism of what used to be called the liberal or progressive kind. But since it will not be new-jerk anti-American and have a more working base, the established and inept liberals will at first ignore it, then attack it, then try to co-opt it.

One word - stagnation. Neither party in Congress will benefit, the GOP will look obstructionist and more fixated on what you're doing in your bedroom, while the Democrats will squander the opportunity to make a coherent statement on what to do. Naturally the pundits will miss this and then try wildly to spin a narrative. Colbert and Stewart will have a field day (or many). On the state level, the GOP will begin to regret their November success.

World Events
Electoral shocker in Ireland. Afghanistan will grind on, but the U.S. pullback will begin. The secret war against al-Qaeda will continue. Said organization will try some major attacks in Europe.
Korea: hopefully no war, but it's possible. Expect some surprises, an early NK success and use of chemical weapons, SK doing most of the ground fighting and the U.S. introducing the use of converted Ohio class subs to launch devastating cruise missile attacks. The latter will prevent NK from capitalizing on their early success. If this war does occur and coincides with the energy crunch, Obama could use it to push needed energy reforms and paint opposition as.....unpatriotic. This will also dominate the year if it occurs.

Local (SE Penn and environs)
Philly will continue to have crime problems. By the end of the year, people statewide will begin to become angry that no economic benefit is coming from the gas boom. Teabaggers will have some nasty infighting. Why? Farm subsidies.  The solvency of a prominent institution in Newark, DE may not be as good as the institutional leaders have been saying, revelations of this will be considered a scandal.

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