Written by Paul Penner Wednesday, 23 January 2008 09:43Crystal-ball gazing may not be an Olympic sport by any stretch of the imagination, but in light of recent news of alleged illegal use of performance-enhancing drugs by scores of athletes, predicting the future might stand a better chance of qualifying as a true sport. Even better than baseball.
Anyone can predict the future. No one can guarantee the prophecy will come true with absolute certainty. But that doesn’t stop people from trying.
Some predictions are instantly proven wrong, resulting in drastic consequences. For instance, the last words of Gen. John Sedgwick, Union commander in the Civil War, were, “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist---”.
Looking back in the turbulent period of the ’60s, counter culture icon and antiwar activist Timothy Leary predicted the United States would collapse by 1980. When a female reporter reminded Leary of his prediction after the date had passed, he replied, “My dear, what is time?”
I’m betting Leary was on LSD, not only when he made the prediction but also when he granted the interview.
Or perhaps Leary was right and the past 27 years have been a dream. If so, the 9/11 tragedy, the war in Iraq, $3 gas, $600-a-ton fertilizer and exploding health-care costs are just a part of a seemingly endless nightmare.
Another notable prediction that did not come true is about the personal computer. Back in the days when the concept of a PC was a figment in someone’s fertile imagination, Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., said in 1977, “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”
It’s nice to know that when someone states the obvious, someone else comes along and challenges that reasoning with a better idea.
After reviewing these and other predictions that failed badly, I believe I can predict the future as well as anybody and fail just as miserably.
These days, success in making predictions is not determined by their accuracy. Success is when the prediction falls within the realm of possibility.
It could happen, you know.
In addition, one finds entertainment value in reading a prediction that is slightly embellished. Though still within the realm of possibility, one recognizes the writer’s purpose is to make a satirical comment about current events.
With that in mind, consider these predictions.
- Debate over the new farm bill lingers as this column goes to press. Continued bickering between traditional recipients of farm-program payments and conservation activists is the primary cause for concern.
Of added concern is President Bush’s threat to veto the bill if his demands for a balanced budget are not met. Even so, Capitol Hill insiders, economists and yours truly predict a new farm bill will be signed by February 2008.
- Correction. Change the farm bill signing date to March 2008.
- Correction again. Change the date to Christmas 2008. Merry Christmas!
- Ken Cook, environmental activist and head of the Environmental Working Group, will be nominated for the position of Secretary of Agriculture by presidential candidate Barak Obama, provided Obama wins the Democratic Party’s nomination and the national election.
- Well-known for his skill with firearms and prowess on the hunting range, Vice President, Dick Cheney will be named honorary spokesman for Ducks Unlimited and honored as the “Most notable, yet under- appreciated person of the decade.”
- While visiting with governors from the Pacific Northwest states on an upcoming fall tour of wine country, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius will explain her previously quoted words to the host, “What I meant to say was, ‘Don’t drink the water.’”
- In an effort to present a unified Democratic Party front before national elections, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton extends the symbolic olive branch to her major opponent, Barak Obama. His advisors suggest he turn down the offer of reconciliation, due to the potentially racist color of the olive branch.
- The television and movie industry writer’s strike will continue indefinitely. In a confidential interview by an “Entertainment Tonight” reporter, an unnamed union representative made an outrageous prediction: “There is nothing to write about anymore. Whatever can be written has been written. We’re done. Finished!”
- In an unprecedented move, an undisclosed export/import company based in Canada announces it will import American wheat gluten into China, where it will be processed into pet and human food and sold in China. Industry sources cite food safety and liability concerns as the reason for the use of American wheat.