- As a new year begins, we love to make predictions of what might happen next. Strangely, unlike the stock market, “past performance is a good indicator of future results.” What has happened before, especially for decades before, will most likely continue, as surely as day dawns or night falls. The grand and great trends and situations are just as likely to repeat as the tiny triumphs and annoyances.
- Human nature loves to embellish this, less with fact than with interpretation. Will things be good, better, worse, bad? Everyone is, in their own peculiar way, a Delphic Oracle when the ball falls. Just as right, just as wrong, fully as ambiguous.
- We are most drawn to a comparison with the events of the passing year, which necessitates that we enumerate and evaluate what can be remembered. That provides our baseline for what we hope or fear may occur instead. We make vows that we mostly know will be broken, especially if they focus on change of habits. Easy to keep a resolution to eat breakfast every morning, if that is what we already do.
- But all this is being said, and has been said, because one certain prediction is that a vast reservoir of words will pour forth on various media. This too has happened since humans first strode across the African savannah in distant ages. We’ve merely extended the campfires to a bonfire that encompasses the entire world.
- Average temperatures this time of year in Huntington are 41 high, 26 low. Ducks, squirrels, oaks, frogs have adjusted to that, enabled by natural selection over eons to endure what may happen next and to survive today. The consistently varied length of daylight is an astronomical certainty, although the actual amount of sun energy received is hostage to average cloud cover. Wild animals react to temperature and moisture while vegetation hovers, but neither “expect” anything. Blizzards, warm spells, rain, drought all come and go, as the sun maintains its stately march towards spring.
- People are different. We expect conditions to closely match the past _ winter weather, good or bad. Unfortunately, any average can hide an awful lot of extremes, which is where we fall into error. The old saying is “if you have an icepack on your head and your feet are in boiling water, on the average you’re pretty comfortable.” In our controlled universe, we mistakenly believe that average is certain. So I expect the thermometer to each a high near 41 every day without fail. When it doesn’t I think something has gone drastically wrong, and call on scientists, politicians and the gods themselves to rectify the problem.
- Much of our wisdom may be encapsulated in popular songs running through our minds, perhaps modified a bit by experience.
- Meet the new year, same as the old year …..
- This January, more than most others, Americans are contemplating what will happen in politics. How much remains the same, how much will change. Many are scared, others euphoric.
- The United States has been governed recently by idealistic intellectuals who hoped to bring a better world into being, while restrained by those who feel no better world can exist. Before that it was ruled by “realists” who clearly saw the evil in everyone but themselves. For a while, technocrats attempted to apply scientific rules developed from a logical universe to the illogical process of government where each person consists of infinite laws unto themselves. All succeeded, or failed, in one way or another.
- Now it is the turn of the plutocrats, with their entourage of narcissistic apologists and pocket generals. They may succeed or fail, but they will certainly discover that trying to govern a country is not at all like running a business or an army. There are no simple goals, no clear win or lose, no applicable financial yardsticks. No solutions, only outcomes.
- My poor pessimistic prediction suspects that this will become the greatest kleptocracy in history _ the rich piling the trough higher and higher for each other. Conflict of interest hardly begins to describe the most likely scenario. Whether that leads us into becoming a banana republic where we peasants are repressed or a socialist state when the peasants revolt will be the most interesting, if unpleasant, storyline to observe over the next four years.
- Husks of water reeds are everywhere, still mostly sturdy against wind, rain, tide and a quick slushy snowfall last week. Until ice becomes thick and shifts with the water, they will remain mostly so, often until spring. Then there will be thick mats decaying along the bottom, or cast ashore on sands, annoying bathers but providing a haven for flies and other insects. This happens every year at this time, although roots shift with mats over the season, and seem scarcer as waters continue to inexorably rise.
- Almost the first thing Europeans did around here was to drain the “pestilential” swampy wetlands. The only thing that saved any of the original landscape was that it was too low to bother with _ not even fit for mowing salt hay. But wetlands form the basis of much local ecology, and harbor and bay are much poorer for t
he “improvements.” Reeds hang on, adapting, but of course the key question now is will rising oceans drown them faster than they can move and drift to new locations. I will never see what happens in the long-term, so I guess it should hardly personally matter.
Bright flash, deafening sharp bang, Bing jumps and almost loses his footing on the old split rail fence. His world fills with more noise, sirens, pops, lights, screams and yells. He races along the wood and scampers into a tree, “What the hell?” the squirrel asks the once darkly quiet night.
“Hoo-mans” comes a low call from above. “Just hoo-mans.”
“That you, Ben?”
“Just me, Bing. And all those crazies.” Another firework display streaks high above.
“What do they think they’re doing?”
“Scaring away evil spirits, as I understand,” replies the owl.
“I told you hoo-mans were crazy. They think invisible masters rule the universe. Some are good, some are bad, some are ….”
“But there’s just now. What is this good and bad business, anyway?”
“Too complicated for our little brains,” says Ben. “I prefer to think they are just crazy.”
“Well, they sure scared the evil spirits, whatever they are, out of me. I nearly had a heart attack. How long do think this crashing will go on?”
“Almost over, as I understand. Hoo-mans do it every year. They never learn.”
“OK, Ben. Have a good night’s rest, anyway.”
“Not I, not I. Working night shift, you know.”
“Sleep well tomorrow, then. Happy new year.”
“Say the hoo-mans, so they say.”
One potato, two potato
Three potato, four
Many piles of memories
More on more
People vanish, decades flee
Am I me?