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January 1, 2006 - 2005 in Perspective, and 2006 Predictions

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Tai Moses over at AlterNet has conveniently compiled, for 2005, The Ten Best Top-Ten Lists, saving us all the trouble of all the research involved in finding out what everyone was doing to assess the year.

There we find Merriam-Webster Online has posted the top the most-looked-up words of 2005, and those would be -

1. integrity
2. refugee
3. contempt
4. filibuster
5. insipid
6. tsunami
7. pandemic
8. conclave
9. levee
10. inept

The first one is curious. Why would folks look up "integrity" at all? The word is not obscure. Moses: "I think these people were perfectly confident they knew the meaning of integrity until certain others started throwing the word around like last Sunday's bagels, and so, head in hand, people went back to double-check, only to find that integrity was still integrity and in shorter supply than ever."

Well, yes. Words are thrown around in such a way that up is down, and if DeLay and Cunningham and Frist are men of integrity, one does lose one's bearings. So you look up the word to make sure you're not crazy.

And as you recall, the second on the list, "refugee," was controversial after Hurricane Katrina - the New Orleans folks stuck in Houston shouldn't be called refugees, as that word seemed fraught with overtones. The word "refugee" is often used as shorthand for "political refugee" - someone displaced from his or her homeland because of the action, or inaction, of some malevolent government. The idea was with this "act of nature" the word shouldn't be used, as no one meant these people harm and forced them to seek asylum in another nation - they were just camping out in the next state. Of course you can argue the word was just fine, for just that reason - for these folks their government failed them and all that. Maybe so, and maybe not, but they were seeking some refuge, and why not use the word? That's only logical. We were told that was not logical - these folks were not seeking political asylum from some dictator in a new nation - so folks looked up the word a lot. Can you use it with its unembellished meaning, or is it always political? It seems people almost always use the word in the political sense, and the media stopped using it for the displaced in Texas motels and school gymnasiums. But it was a perfectly good word.

The others on the list may or may not be tied to current events. Some obviously are. But "insipid" in the fifth spot? That's curious.

In any event, skipping over the list of the commonly reported birds of 2005, even though bird watching has become wildly popular in the United States in the last several years (the northern cardinal is tops, by the way), we come to the Top Ten Global 'YouthSpeak' Words for the year.

1. Crunk: A Southern variation of hip hop music; also meaning "fun" or "amped."
2. Mang: Variation of "man," as in "S'up, mang?"
3. A'ight: All right, as in "That girl is nice, she's a'ight."
4. Mad: A lot, as in "She has mad money."
5. Props: Cheers, as in "He gets mad props!"
6. Bizznizzle: This term for "business" is part of the Snoop Dogg/Sean John-inspired lexicon, as in "None of your bizznizzle!"
7. Fully: In Australia, an intensive, as in "fully sick."
8. Fundoo: In India, Hindi for "cool."
9. Brill!: In the U.K., the shortened form of "brilliant!"
10. "S'up": Another in an apparently endless number of "whazzup?" permutations.

For those of us who grew up in the late fifties and graduated from college as the sixties ended, this is just sad. We had our moment when we changed common speech - far out, man - but that became mainstream, and then commercial, and then became quaint, or deeply ironic, or forgotten, or just embarrassing. We got old. The grandkids do that now, and more power to 'em. It's amusing to note. And any child of the sixties who ever uses any of these ten expressions should be ridiculed, even out here in Hollywood. Turn your back. Just walk away. Your moment has passed. Let the new kids play with the language. It's not yours anymore, or at least, this part of it is not.

Moses also covers the top ten Most Commonly Encountered Hoaxes and Chain Letters, and in the age of email that's worth a glance, and covers the Top Ten Baby Names of 2005 - Emma for girls and Aidan for boys (Jacob was tops the previous four years). Aidan? What's with that? We're thinking Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne or what? Does this have something to do with the character Aiden Shaw from "Sex and the City" on HBO? It's a mystery. But it's just a name. Kids adjust.

Moses also points to Popular Science with its list of the The Worst Jobs in Science, where number four is "Kansas Biology Teacher." Ha, ha. Also listed are "manure inspector" and "extremophile excavator." That last one? Visit the Searles lakes here in California, where the US Geological Survey team has been working for years. They discovered the "extremophile" microbe thriving in the arsenic-saturated mud there. To harvest that mud, once thought to be sterile, the researchers deal with days well over one hundred degrees, the salt-caked lakes, and noxious gas - hydrogen sulfide, methyl mercaptan, highly volatile methylated amines. But these microbes eat arsenic and render it harmless. Someone's got to go get some of these and see how they do that. That's worth a read.

What may not be worth a read is the Top Ten Grocery Lists of 2005 - abandoned shopping lists - although some are definitely kinky. You might also want to glance at the Top Ten List of Data Disasters - but just as I typed that my system mysteriously decided to reboot and dump everything I had been accumulating in files on screen during the day. And that's actually true. Luckily most of the software is set to "Auto Recover" and with some fancy searching (the "auto" part is a bit of a joke) I found the files. Sometimes irony is a pain. At least this wasn't like the woman who dropped a ceramic pot on her laptop. Oops.

Other lists? Well, there's the Top Ten Out-of-Print Books for 2005 - those volumes people want and cannot get any longer, so they have to settle for used copies -

1. Sex (1992), Madonna
2. Sisters (1981), by Lynne Cheney
3. The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel (1981), by Felicitas D. Goodman
4. Where Troy Once Stood (1991), by Iman Wilkens
5. The Principles of Knitting (1988), by June Hemmons Hiatt
6. General Printing (1963), by Glen Cleeton
7. The New Soldier (1971), edited by John Kerry
8. The Lion's Paw (1946), by Robb White
9. Dear and Glorious Physician (1959), by Taylor Caldwell
10. The Book of Counted Sorrows (2003), by Dean Koontz

Who knows what to make of that, except Sisters is a steamy tale of lesbian love written, a long time ago, by the wife of Vice President Cheney. The John Kerry book is in demand, a bit, and not really available. That fits.

Moses also recommends the FBI list of their current Ten Most Wanted Fugitives - Osama bin Laden to James J. Bulger. Whatever. And she mentions Parade magazine has an annual list of the World's Ten Worst Dictators, but that isn't out yet, although last year's list is here.

Of course Moses is being humorous.

There are the serious lists, of course. Over at Media Matters, where they are perpetually angry with the right-wing wind machine, you get things like this - Chris Matthews: 2005's Misinformer of the Year and the Most Outrageous Statements of 2005, and the more topical Top 12 Media Myths And Falsehoods On The Bush Administration's Spying Scandal.

Everybody likes lists - but these look backward at the year gone by.

What about the year to come? What about predictions?

Well, the Daily Times of Pakistan tells us this - Giant Asteroid to Hit Earth in 2006. Of this means everything that follows is pointless - Arnold Schwarzenegger will be re-elected governor of California, Internet giant Google will suffer a setback - and Brazil will hang on to the World Cup - unless we're all dead.

It seems the Schwarzenegger thing, along with a prediction the Bush administration will bring back the draft, comes from the website exodus2006.com where they use the Torah4U software on the Hebrew text of the Old Testament and the Torah. All this is hidden there, numerically, so we're talking your digital Kabbalah here. In the sixties Rabbi Saul Lieberman of the Jewish Theological Seminary is reputed to have introduced a lecture by Scholem on Kabbalah with a statement that Kabbalah itself was "nonsense," but the academic study of Kabbalah was "scholarship." That was before the software, of course. The software also predicts that August 3, 2006 will be a blood-drenched day - "yet just a mere shadow of the calamity that will befall us in 2010." So stay home.

But it was the psychic Annie Stanton who said catastrophe will come this year in the form of a massive asteroid crashing into the planet. No software. We also learn Anita Nigam from India does sports betting. Pay her and you get outcomes of English football's Premier League matches, but her World Cup prediction is free. Brazil is it.

Those with software - Bill Gray of Colorado University with computer models on global sea-surface temperatures and atmospheric conditions says seventeen named tropical storms, nine hurricanes and five major, high-wind hurricanes in 2006 - nearly twice the historical average in all categories. The co-founder of "Wired" magazine, John Battelle, says "Google will stumble" due to a bad partnership or a legal setback, and also legislators in the United States and elsewhere will take steps to protect citizens against "the perils of unprotected Internet data mining" into their personal lives, including credit and health histories. Bull.

Then there's Alan Caruba from South Orange, New Jersey with this pro-Bush Republican set of predictions (partly wishful thinking) –


Both Israel and the United States will be compelled to launch a preemptive strike against the network of Iranian nuclear weapons and missile manufacturing facilities either in 2006 or 2007 at the latest.

The Palestinians will fail to elect any kind of widely accepted new government and civil war will break out among Hamas, El Fatah, and whatever other terrorist gang has weapons. That's assuming, of course, they even manage to hold elections.

Lebanon will continue its struggle to break free of Syria's grip and will be aided in this effort by the U.N., the U.S. and the European Union. This may lead to the destabilization of the Assad regime.

Turkey will transition from the only successful secular state in the Middle East to one in the control of Islamic fundamentalists. Where previously, its military corps insured against this occurring, it may have too many Islamists in its ranks to prevent it. Admission to the EU will be put on permanent hold and Turkey's economy will plummet. Foreign investment will disappear.

Despite naysayers, Iraq will continue to make progress toward establishing a functioning government and making adjustments to its constitution to avoid splitting apart.

Depending on the level of dissatisfaction among Venezuelans, the assassination or overthrow of President Hugo Chavez may occur. South American nations will continue to elect socialists, i.e., communists, to rule. Expect widespread social discord and unrest. The only winners will be the drug cartels.

The Bush administration will engineer some sort of "guest worker" program that will enable Mexicans to enter the United States legally and push it through Congress. The alternative would be the potential economic collapse of Mexico.

China, while bellicose and building its military, will continue to seek accommodation with the U.S. and world trade partners. Internal problems with growing peasant and worker rebellions will continue to occupy the attention of its political cadres. Japan will begin to rearm in a big way.

Saddam Hussein will be found guilty of crimes against his nation and executed.

Worldwide, al Qaeda will continue to be steadily degraded in its ability to launch major terrorist attacks. Some kind of catastrophic attack, however, should be anticipated against the U.S.

The Republican Party will retain control of Congress, but just barely.

2006 will see another, totally predictable succession of powerful hurricanes. There is no connection between the number or intensity of hurricanes and the so-called "global warming" theory.

A major earthquake causing extensive damage and loss of life is overdue in California.


Yeah, well, maybe.


Every Republican hopes for that last one.

But some like California, as with celebrity astrologer Susan Miller here, where she says Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are "just heaven. He's a Sagittarius, she's Gemini, and they're just heavenly together. Saturn was just in opposition to his four planets in Capricorn, which signified that he wanted kids desperately, and Jennifer Aniston didn't realize how much this meant to him, and she delayed having children as she nurtured her career. Angelina provides him with the children he so badly wants. They will make the most amazing family."

And she says Angelina Jolie will eventually stop acting and focus on her work as a goodwill ambassador - "She has Cancer rising which means she values home and family more than anything else. Although the media portray her as a home wrecker, she's really not. She is devoted to the idea of family." And she says the planets indicate it would be "especially wise" for Pitt and Jolie to marry in June.

That's nice. They're pretty people. But as for Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes - "I cannot understand this relationship. There are no links in their chart, no passion. I don't know how it happened. There are pressure points that will come up. She's Sagittarius, he's Cancer ... Sagittarius usually hurts Cancer's feelings by being too direct. The birth of their baby, sadly, could add further stress to their relationship."

Oh my!

As for less important matters, note this:


Fashion Trends: Miller says that with Jupiter in Scorpio, black will remain the color of the moment, and tailored classic "investment pieces" will be what to wear ... until it all changes next Christmas when Jupiter moves into Sagittarius. "There will be all sorts of beautiful, bright colors," she says. "Think purples, royal blues, brocades and rich, luxurious colors. The return to the all-American jeans and crisp white shirt will also happen around December of next year."

The United States: The U.S. is a Cancer-ruled nation because the country was "born" in July. Saturn is in the solar chart of money and resources, Miller says, which forces us to sacrifice or choose between two alternatives. She notes that the country is going to be going through a "renewed sense of realism - we're going to have to push everything back on track and be more practical. We could very well become conservationists, sort of like the Depression babies. We're going to save more, be more aware of what we're spending and not waste money or resources." She also advises that 2006 is not a year for the country to make big gambles in any sense.

Economy: Miller says the markets should stay the same as they are now. They'll be "a little tight, but there should be no big change." She also says that there is no sign from the stars that the housing market will burst this year; it may slow down a bit, but we shouldn't expect a complete crash.

Medicine: According to Miller, 2006 can be a major year for medical breakthroughs, with Saturn in Leo. "When Saturn was in Cancer, we had the big revolution on how we eat," says Miller. "We became more aware of childhood obesity. We abolished the 'super-size' mentality. It led to changing food labels so we knew what we were consuming and we became more aware." With Saturn in Leo this year, she says, "we're looking at the heart, blood. There can be transfusion breakthroughs. Right now, we have issues with blood donation, and it's becoming a long-term problem because young people aren't giving blood. But there can be advances toward developing a synthetic blood. There will be a lot of amazing AIDS research with Saturn in Leo, too, and we could get very close to a cure for AIDS."

Natural Disasters: "We are not done by any stretch of the imagination with water damage and natural disasters," Miller advises. "When (Hurricane) Katrina wreaked havoc on the South, Uranus was in opposition of the sun. Uranus will be conjunct of the sun, opposite a major eclipse on March 14 of this year. This is going to be huge, and there can be a major water disaster or natural disaster somewhere in the world. There could be some contamination of the water supply. We should all be geared for this. At the smallest level, everyone should have flood insurance." She also says that Sagittarians should be especially cautious.


Those of us who are Gemini are now a tad more relaxed.

Nick Clooney in the Cincinnati Post is a bit less serious, with this list, which includes, "American troops will be out of combat in Iraq in time for the fall elections. The president will declare victory to ensure his friends in Congress can obey the 11th Political Commandment; 'Thou Shalt Not Lose Thy Majority.' Cynical, but perhaps right. As is this - "Senator Joe Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, will be offered a cabinet post by President Bush." And this - "Republicans Delay-Frist-Cunningham-Ney-Abramoff will all be convicted of ethical violations. Vice President Cheney will declare they were all secretly Democrats. Fox 'News' will lead with the story."

Here he's just mad as a hatter - "The Reds will win the pennant."

As for political lefties, there's Matthew Yglesias here


- A serious terrorist attack will occur in Italy.
- Democratic candidates will look much stronger in early September than in early November.
- American troop levels in Iraq won't dip below 100,000.
- A spate of absurd conservative books bashing Hillary Clinton will continue to mask her underlying weakness as a candidate for the Democratic nomination.
- Real - but not nominal - wages for movie stars will fall.
- The Heat will beat the Wizards in four in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
- Canada will get another Liberal minority government.
- Republicans will deny they ever tried to privatize Social Security.
- Conservatives will gloat about Brokeback Mountain's somewhat disappointing box office returns; gay marriage will grow in popularity and gay rights will expand; heterosexual marriage will not collapse.
- Liberals will be sorely disappointed to learn that teaching the truth about evolution polls very badly.
- Supreme Court decisions will leave the constitutional status of abortion unclear, provoking a spate of state-level regulations and a massive new round of lawsuits.
- America will keep inching toward socialized medicine as the ratio of people getting public sector health insurance to having private sector insurance reaches an all-time high.


The Miami Heat?

Whatever. Who knows?

As Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus) said - Prudens futuri temporis exitum Caliginosa nocte premit dues - "A wise God shrouds the future in obscure darkness."

That famous writer down in Long Beach, Ray Bradbury, had the right idea - "I don't try to describe the future. I try to prevent it."

But it is here.


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

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