Last year's predictions turned out to be, if not 100% accurate, at least landing in the general ballpark. No new terrorist attacks on US soil; no Osama Bin Laden "dead or alive"; King Kong fizzling at the box office; global warming ramping up; **AA's continuing to hammer P2P sites; Jose Canseco fanning the flames of the baseball steroid scandal; Howard Dean becoming the chairmain of the DNC.
The even splits were mostly in regards to Iraq and the economy. A sizable faction of K5ers predicted the Iraqi elections would be delayed or the Sunnis would turn their nose up at them. They were 1/4 right. Others predicted troop reductions by the end of the year, and they are almost right. The common thread between most of the predictions is that Iraq would not see much progress, nor would Amerikkka be run out of the country with an IED shredding their asses on the way out of that shitty country.
On the economy, most predicted rising interest rates, the dollar continuing its slide against the euro, and air being taken out of the housing bubble. They are correct on everything except the conversion rate. No one predicted an economic apocalypse however. The world economy puttered on, and the rich made enough money for the "economists" on Fox News to say that things are "stronger than ever."
Predictions on Episode III were mixed, ranging the gamut from "sucking ass" to "Hayden Christenson winning Best Actor." The latter is certainly not true, but it turned out to the best of a prequel trilogy that set the bar depressingly low for itself.
On the "dumb, overrated news story ala Scott Peterson" prediction, we did have one. We called it Natalee Holloway...
The consensus seemed to be on Bush primarily focusing on his domestic agenda in 2005. Those who claimed Social Security reform would fall dead in the water are vindicated. Those who predicted tax reform would be a major issue...sorry. Upper middle-classs K5ers will still have to pay the AMT this year. Most predicted increasing disillusionment with the viciously partisan politics in Washington. No one predicted that the Bush administration would see record low approval ratings until the end of the year, and how sharply public opinion seems to be turning on Iraq.
No one predicted the outcome of the Michael Jackson trial (the boy toucher got off.) Nor did they predict the energy crisis of 2005 (unless the few posts mentioning alternative energy count towards that.) No one predicted the White Sox winning the World Series, or the terrorist bombings in London. No predicted the "Night of a Thousand Burning Citroens" in France. There was no prediction of catastrophic earthquakes in Pakistan, and of course, no one saw that little incident in New Orleans coming.
So here are my drunken K5 predictions of what we can expect in 2006...
Lots of doom and gloom in the press about "the Housing Bubble" will lower home prices slightly and keep the Fed from raising interest rates for at least the first six months of 2006. By the end of the year though, it will be much ado about nothing and will only effect a few over priced markets
Household debt will continue to rise higher, and the new bankruptcy protection laws will not be as effective as they were thought to be. As a result, banks begin to tighten up their rules on who they issue cards to.
The trade deficit with China will continue to rise. Wal-Mart will begin to lose popularity with even small town Red-staters, but it will not signifigantly hurt their bottom line as there is no where else for most of them to shop.
The price of gold will peak at historic levels sometime this summer, then promptly collapse. The DJIA will end next year under 10,000.
The number of US troops in Iraq will be reduced to 130,000 by March. The White House will talk of lowering to under 100,000 by this summer, citing a markedly increased number of combat-ready Iraqi Army battalions. There will be questions about the accuracy of these numbers. These questions will be met with the familiar refrain of "emboldening the terrorists."
The amount of violence in Iraq will not decrease, though the number of American casualties will. The UK will start drawing up plans to have all of their troops gone by the end of the year. The ultimate goal will be to reduce the number of Coalition troops in Iraq to the amount that can A) make token gestures over rooting out the "terr'usts" and B) prevent the Shi'ites from finally massacring and oppressing the Sunni minority and otherwise start a civil war. There will also be a marked rise in the amount of Kurdish nationalism, which will begin to freak out Turkey.
Bush and his lapdogs will call all of this "unconditional victory." But it will not bite him in the ass until 2007 when his second term foriegn policy gets it's "Mission Accomplished."
2006 will mostly be a stalemate between the two parties. Democrats will work on raising the minimum wage. Republicans will gain ground on the illegal immigration issue (which Bush will finally get behind to appease his base.) The issue of building a wall along our Mexican border will gain evenly divided and highly polarized support. If put to a vote, it will ultimately fail because of the costs involved in its construction.
Changing the tax code will be a major issue. While there will be bipartisan support for some aspects (like adjusting the AMT) there will be serious battles over the elimination of certain family and mortgage deductions. This will make the battle over Social Security (a topic that will not be broached this year and just allowed to become steadily worse and worse) look like playground fight in Congress.
As for 2006 elections, Democrats will pick up a few seats in both the House and the Senate, but not enough to gain control of either. Democrats will be more organized this year than they previously were, but not enough to erase the bad feelings most of the country has for them.
I also predict a schism in anti-war movement. Another Cindy Sheehan-type character will arise, but will reject the radical politics that have stymied the movement thus far. This in battling will either signifigantly strengthen, or hopelessly weaken them in 2006.
The Console Wars:
The PS3 will be released in late spring/early summer of 2006, at a price of $399 US. Will be marginally more powerful than the Xbox 360, but it's launch lineup will be even weaker and count on the backwards compatibility with PS2 games to keep it afloat until Christmas, when a few powerhouse exclusive titles begin to hit the shelves.
Sony will, however, have trouble competing against the installed base of the Xbox 360. All talk of the 360 being another Dreamcast will evaporate by summer. The Nintendo Revolution will continue to gain good buzz through E3 and launch in the middle of the summer. However, most developers will not know what to do with the Revolution's controller, and only a few games will fully utilise it's features. Look for Nintendo releasing a more "standard" controller by next Christmas.
While gaining a small group of hardcore devotees, Miyamoto and friends will again be third place in this round of the console wars everywhere but Japan.
Oh, and Halo 3 will not come out this year.
The Box Office Slump will continue and worsen as more and more moviegoers stay in the ad-less, overpriced concession-less, and teenager-less confines of their living room with their DVDs. Watch as the time between the release of the movie and the DVD shortens to three months for all movies. Watch at least one major studio start crying about having to declare bankruptcy by the end of the year.
Movies that would have otherwise been released in theatres will go direct-to-video and achieve some measure of success there. Blockbuster Video will go into bankruptcy by year end.
This summer's only clear sure-fire hit will be The Da Vinci Code, which will draw the ire of Catholics for its portrayal of the Church, and by devotees of Dan Brown's flawless prose, upset by the changes made by the studio. The movie will still pull in over 200 million.
Not so for X3, and the fanboy revolt against Brett Ratner directing it. Unless it turns out at least as good at the Bryan Singer directed ones, it will barely break the 100 million domestic barrier.
Speaking of Singer, Superman Returns will also do mediocre business. Mission Impossible III will tank since public opinion of Tom Cruise has soured. The failure of this movie will also correpond to a severe decline in quality on the third season of director JJ Abram's other pet franchise, Lost.
It will be another bad year for blockbuster movies, but on the bright side, a potential renaissance for smaller, riskier films. Enabled by cheap digital photography, computer editing, and a treasure trove of Special Features from the DVD revolution, I predict that 2006 will be the start of a seventies like era of great cinema.
Of course, the studios could get their grubby hands on it, and it will end up being the Tarantino-led independent movie hiccup of the mid-nineties.
2006's music sales will be roughly on-par with 2005's. The RIAA will not see a signifigant decline in their receipts. However, sales will not be rising fast enough to appease shareholders.
Variable price music will come to iTunes by spring. It will not create an exodus of customers back to P2P since the iPod has such a large installed base. However, sales will remain flat and Jobs will be able to give the RIAA a small "I told you so."
iPod sales, however, will either stay flat or decrease this year, as people cannot shell out three to four-hundred dollars for each incremental upgrade Apple releases. Their current iPod usually serves their needs well enough and at the most, they will be waiting for extra-super-deluxe version coming out next year...
This will reduce Apple's clout with the RIAA, who will continue to shoot themselves in the foot repeatedly. Even after the Sony/BMG rootkit debacle, there will be talk by at least one major label of releasing all their albums with slightly less intrusive copy protection. Their sales will tank, and the RIAA will again blame "filesharing" (which will decline this year.)
Myspace.com will continue to be a force for promoting bands to people with bad music tastes.
2006 will (I pray...pray...pray) the last gasp of "bling" rap. Gangsta rap will get out of the Escalade and back into the ghetto. Twisting a motherfucker's cap back will come back in style.
Also, expect a backlash against the white-belt, tailored-suit, and T-shirt with a quote from Napolean Dynamite wearing, sleeve-tattoo and septum piercing, emo-emoting on their Myspace blogging, crush on Suicidegirls having, faux-hipster kids (that sentence is totally awkward, I know. I'm not changing it.)
Electronica will come back to fill the void, and not as the simple beat stuff in the late nineties or the current popular "synth-pop." Displaced emo-fags will drift towards the goth scene, annoying the old guard out of their black clothes and into real jobs and the scene will be officially lame.
Oh, and mall punk must die and have their Hot Topics burned to cinders...
I don't follow sports much, so let me just say that the Super Bowl will be the Seahawks vs. the Broncos. While the Broncos will play admirably, they will ultimately lose to the Seahawks.
And both teams will have miserable seasons in the Fall.
The Rest of the World:
North Korea--Will mostly behave themselves this year and show up to a few negotiations. North Korea is on the verge of collapse anyway, and they know they can't talk too much smack. Still, expect Kim Jong-Il to continue to be slurping kimchee in his lift shoes and pompadour.
Iran--Already has the nuclear bomb, but will not announce that it does until they see how the cards all fall in the weakened Iraq. Reformers will continue to lose ground to the hardline mullahs, and possibly create an alliance with dis-illusioned Shi'ites (like Al Sadr) in Iraq as well.
China--Will turn the tables on America and treat them like their bitch. We really have no choice since they are buying up all our debt. I doubt that this year will be the one where they decide to take back their rogue province of Taiwan, but as they increase the capability of their Navy, they will shake their saber just a little more threateningly. Since the US cannot really get into a war with China without starting World War III, they should probably let them have Taiwan and see how much of our debt they will release if we keep our nose out of it.
The European Union--Germany will get bombed by Al Qaeda this year. France will not have to deal with the widespread rioting they had to this past Fall, but the bitterness will remain. Watch French Muslim gangsta rap to become the new hip-hop fad. There will be a vote in the British Parlaiment over whether or not to change the name of their island to "Airstrip One." Overall, the EU's economy will improve this year, but the euro will still trade for less than the highs we saw two years ago.
Saudi Arabia--The Wahabbist insurgency against the House of Saud will start getting organized this year and begin terrorist attacks in that country. Some American socialists will go over there to "fight along side their Brother's in the dialectical class struggle and promote East-West solidarity." They will promptly be beheaded on videotape.
Mexico--Will continue to screw over its lower and middle class to the point where living in a small studio apartment with four other guys and flipping burgers for twelve hours a day in the US is preferable to living in their native land. Mexico otherwise stays a country with lots of natural and human resources held in the hands of the corrupt upper class narco-politica.
American's are otherwise clueless about how to stop the flow of illegal immigrants except for posting on some stupid forum boards and boycotting Taco Bell.