||[Jan. 12th, 2004|01:15 pm]
I'm in a random somewhat cynical mood (I know, not that unusual) and felt like offering some wild predictions for this new year of 2004 and beyond. I'm not saying these are things I'd support or favor, just some out-and-out guesses about our future; I'm also trying to keep them from getting Nostradamusy by being specific on details.
Think I'm way off? Has something happened I didn't hear about? Got your own areas to predict? Feel free to contribute your own or meme this on your journal, as you like. No flames, please.
Political: Bush defeats Dean.
Dean narrowly beats a surprisingly strong showing from Clark at the primaries; he goes on to face Bush as a somewhat weak candidate but overcomes most of this. He is ultimately haunted by overly-candid comments. Bush mounts an enormous media popularity campaign, mentioning a wide variety of "accomplishments" for anything for which he's ever stated any sort of policy opinion. The capture of a high-level Al Qaeda member is touted as a success in the war on terror and boosts polls enormously.
International: We partly withdraw from Iraq but maintain authoritative control. Osama uncaptured; Omar captured. Instability spreads in Africa; Korea policies stabilize.
Forces are partly withdrawn from Iraq as part of a shift in our "war on terror". Additional troops are diverted to Afghanistan but we fail to capture Osama without any coherent military action. Mullah Omar [or another Al Qaeda leader] is captured. Iraq suffers from civil unrest through the entire year due to unstable governing forces and the inability of the U.S. to fully relinquish authority. Disease epidemic in Africa lead to increasingly brutal policies from governments; revolution breaks out in at least one country. Korea quietly and deliberately develops its nuclear program; international policies and negotiations slowly adjust to a fait accompli.
Space: Space shuttle flights resume although a date for obsolescence is discussed. Bush proposes moon base but it is without real funding or a firm timeline towards Mars.
Shuttle retrofits are completed and flights resume. Bush proposes a permanent moon presence for after the ISS is decomissioned. Bush talks about Mars in only vague terms. Republicans support the president's actions in public but fail to vote funding for the program resulting in legislative gridlock. The forward-looking plans spark discussion of the end of the shuttle program's lifespan as it is replaced by a more modern and reliable vehicle; this is the ultimate positive product of Bush's moon initiative in the foreseeable future.
Biology: Genetically-modified pets become trendy. Gene therapy not available; gene testing widely available. Learning about learning.
Genetically-modified fish are currently being developed; this will be followed by small mammals (e.g. hamsters) sold as pets. They will become a fad for 2005. The cosmetic modifications to cute animals leads to a wider popular acceptance of gene work, opening the door to GM crops down the road. Gene therapy research continues slowly and is not speeded by the government; gene-based medical tests become more widely available and affordable, however, for screening. Neurobiologists make significant discoveries in the area of neurochemistry and the processes of learning and memory.
Technology and Media: Apple closes year well. Linux gains ground on MS; MS positions for long-term secure platform. MPAA wants to silence critics.
Apple iPod and iTunes clones become popular and people (incorrectly) predict the imminent death of Apple (again). Apple rides high, however, and rumors circulate about a new desktop platform towards the end of the year. Microsoft loses ground in desktop OS space as the Linux movement coalesces on a user-friendly distribution and IBM promotes it; Microsoft, in turn, renews push for pervasive DRM technology to which it quietly holds patents. MS approaches switch to yearly licensing scheme for all products. Media organizations support MS's campaign and move for legal entrenchment of their right to profit. MPAA talks of suppressing critics who publish negative reviews. A push for a common rating scheme between TV, movies, and video games emerges.
Economics: Recovery falters after raise in interest rates; situation neutral at year's end. In California, Schwartzeneggar passes the bond measure allowing him to put together a budget; after much wrangling and alteration, it passes.
The core interest rate is slowly raised to counteract the crunch on retirees and people dependent on investment earnings. The housing market weakens, ultimately to suffer a moderate crash early next year once rates have gone up more than 1%; this has repurcussions to the national economy and, more importantly, consumer confidence. Schwartzeneggar manages to get his bond passed and a budget through legislative gridlock; partisanship is still a major barrier to the budget process and many of Schwartzeneggar's goals are not achieved. Schools and social services are heavily cut; taxes are raised the following year. A major earthquake weakens the economic situation and the state requests disaster relief from the government which, it is later revealed, was partly used to cover for underfunded infrastructure and budget holes.
Sports: People play games. One team wins.