Each year, we write predictions that are usually somewhat accurate, although we probably weren't surprising many people with most of our predictions.
2005 is now over, and we're finalizing our 2006 predictions. How did we do?
(Special thanks to Jason for helping to verify the stuff I don't know enough about.)
Democrats will continue carping about Bush all year long, but will just end up looking like whiney children because he's still in office anyway. Bush will replace his awful advisors with even more awful advisors. At least one Supreme Court justice will retire or die, and Bush will replace him/her with an arch-conservative rubber-stamped by Congress. Cheney will not die. Democrats and Michael Moore will carp about voter fraud in Ohio, but it will amount to nothing because there is no paper trail.
Bush will focus on domestic issues this term. He'll relax a bit on the gay marriage issue. (Publicly, at least.)
The Democrats will be deeply divided between the John-Kerry-Anything-To-Win group and the Howard-Dean-We-Believe-In-Something group. The factions will not be led by either former candidate. This division will not receive a whole lot of publicity. Ted Kennedy will say something that some Democrats ask him to retract.
Someone will be dredging up electronic voting issues well past this summer in a more national form and at least one major newspaper will take the "no paper trail" thing seriously. At the same time, at least one political group will come complaining that there was electronic fraud in Ohio, but nobody will care because we'll all be sick of it by then.
We still hear Democrats and liberals whining about how bad of a president Bush is, but less frequently.
Someone tries to assassinate Bush. They don't come close to succeeding.
The US's contribution to the tsunami relief will remain minimal and insulting. At the time of writing, we've committed to $350 million. By the end of 2005, we will not have given more than $450 million. But it won't matter, because the US media will completely forget about it by February 1.
World opinion of the US will not noticeably change.
There will not be any major terrorist attacks in the US.
No peace in Israel, despite Arafat's death, although talks may set the stage for peace in 2006. Iraq will continue being the morass I always said it would be since 2003. Congress will continue debating about the draft, but only initiate it if we invade yet another country like North Korea or Iran, which actually might happen since Bush has nothing to lose. China and India will continue their economic advances and mount in power without directly confronting the US. Africa and Europe will continue to be plagued by AIDS and demographic problems, respectively.
Iraq will have elections as scheduled. There will be much less chaos than feared on the election day. In fact, it won't be significantly more violent than any other day in Iraq, partly owing to increased security, partly because the goal of the attacks is to scare people away from the polls, not to kill those who actually vote.
Israel and Palistine will be well on their way to a peaceful resolution. A suicide bombing or Israeli retaliation will actually be surprising by the end of the year. (I hope I'm right on this one.) The lull in violence may not be permenant, but it will last until Arafat's death is sorted out. Expect to see more Palistinian-Palistinian violence in the first half of the year.
The story of the year will be the recent tsunami. Some stupid celebrity will have an assault trial, which will waste one of month of news coverage. We'll hear a lot more about Michael Jackson touching children. If that makes it to trial this year, it will probably be the next biggest headline. Despite all the things happening in the world, it will be a generally quiet news year because we're sick of things happening.
North Korea will threaten a nuclear test. This will make front page news for a week. That's all that we'll hear about North Korea. Even if North Korea actually does a test, we won't care.
This year will be better for Africa. Overall, Africa will end the year better than it started out. At the very least, it will mean an uneasy peace in the Darfur region.
Iraq will become a Shiite theocracy. The support in Iraq for such a government is overwhelming, so if it isn't elected, it will be fairly obvious the election was rigged. Even if by some miracle a non-theocratic government is elected, it will be percieved as rigged; in either of these scenarios, or where the Shiite theocracy is elected but not respected by the US, there will be violence to make the current insurrection seem tame by comparison. This is the "Lose Big" scenario, where Iraq becomes a satellite of Tehran, lots of people die, and America is standing by with a lot of egg on its face. The "Lost Little" scenario is where we respect the election and ship out, simply leaving Iraq as a satellite of Tehran. This is much less likely.
Iraq's submission to Iran will give the Islamic Republic a bid to be the regional power it's so long dreamt of becoming. This will place a great deal of pressure on Saudi Arabia's borders, forcing them to divert military forces there, which will weaken their internal defenses against rebellion. Al Qa'ida will take advantage of this, raising a rebellion using some of the weapons from Saddam's army smuggled across the border. As a result, the House of Sa'ud will not last out the year.
As this scenario is exactly what al Qa'ida has lived and died for for over ten years, there will not be any significant terrorist attacks inside the United States, for fear of disrupting the unfolding of this plan.
Iran will submit to the West exactly as much as is required to keep them from war, so that they can take advantage of the situation. They may become more brazen once Iraq is in their pocket.
The fall of Sa'ud will wreak havoc with the oil markets. 2006 will be marked by a great deal of geopolitical turmoil as the New World Order falls into place... I'm getting ahead of myself, but some of this might be towards the end of 2005, depending on how quickly the situation unfolds in Iraq.
Iraq stabilizes a great deal, but many US troops are still there keeping peace. The election is a success, electing someone that both the US and Iraq can live with. Terrorists lose popular support.
Massive tsunami relief is a great aid in improving international tensions.
Nothing noteworthy happens in North Korea or Iran.
Iraq's elections will be held on January 30 to fulfill the promise by the Bush regime to hold them "in January." Unfortunately, because the country is obviously not ready for elections, they'll be a disaster that will probably result in a lot of violence and fraud. Nobody will respect the outcome.
We will still be in Iraq on December 31, 2005, and we will not have made any significant progress toward stabilizing the country and getting ourselves out.
Identical to 2004, except without any good games. I'm distraught about the utter lack of innovation by Microsoft these days, and I expect nothing from them: no Internet Explorer 7, no 64-bit Windows, no Longhorn. This year will suck for mainstream computing. All the advances will be in open source software, like Linux and emulation.
I will go out on a limb: after more than half a decade of vaporware, I predict Team Fortress 2 will come out this year. It will be a Source Engine expansion released for Half-Life 2, and we will hear nothing about it until the day before it's released. I make no predictions about how good it will be.
There will be a new alternative to the "pirate thief vs. pay-$17-for-a-CD" controversy. Most computer literate teens will continue to be against "the man," but more adults will start participating in this option - my guess is a pay-per-month-for-all-the-music-you-want plan will catch on.
Firefox will claim at least 25% of the browser share, and Microsoft will attempt some sort of legal action against them for daring to compete.
Earl Focht will personally come to see this site, curious about why it comes up #1 when he is searching Google for his own name. (If he is not already able to use Google, he will have learned by the end of this year.) He will not know what to say, so he won't say anything, but it will contribute to his mental problems some years down the road.
We see a massive decline in spam, in part due to legislation, largely due to improved filters, and largely because as more and more learn about spam, less and less respond.
Google maintains its popularity (sorry Marco).
Bluetooth doesn't become popular.
Printers become more reliable, and promise to be rather reliable by 2007.
Internet radio makes surprising reverses and becomes more popular.
All of Tim's computer predictions will be completely wrong, including the Google prediction, because the only direction they can go is down.
2005 will be an uneventful year for PC gaming. Since so many big-name titles were released in 2004, we'll only see patches, expansion packs, and early mods this year.
Console games will continue to be released at a normal pace, but we'll see no successful new franchises. 2005 will be a year of console game sequels.
The Xbox 2 will not be released in 2005.
The Playstation 3 will be released at the end of 2005, but only in Japan. A few impatient US fans will import them at extremely high costs.
Apple will not release a G5 Powerbook, but it'll be close. They'll probably introduce it at MacWorld in January 2006.
We won't hear much about Longhorn. Its current release date is "the first half of 2006", but it will be so underwhelming that there won't be much hype about it. During 2005, it won't be officially delayed further, and it won't receive its official name.
We'll start to see betas of Microsoft Office 2006. It won't offer any significant feature improvements to the core programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access), but its menus and toolbars will look different.
Google will launch a free picture-hosting service so teenagers can show their drunken activities to each other. Google might even extend this into a LiveJournal-like blog service, but that probably won't happen in 2005.
Online music sales will stagnate. The RIAA will blame piracy, but the more likely cause will be a saturated market, high prices, and the increased availability of flat-price unlimited subscription services.
PearPC will improve, but it will not be able to run OS X at a useful speed for everyday tasks. It will gain popularity as a testing platform, like Virtual PC for Windows, so web designers and software developers can see how their products look and work on OS X.
We will not be able to buy dual-core CPUs in 2005 from Intel, AMD, or Apple.
On December 31, 2005, CPUs available for less than $900 will be no faster than 4.2 GHz.
There will not be any significant viruses in 2005 for two reasons: the people who previously wrote viruses discovered that they could make money by writing adware instead, and viruses have become so incredibly easy to write that it's no longer an impressive accomplishment.
Adware and spyware will continue to worsen. Microsoft's upcoming anti-spyware program will not significantly reduce these problems.
Think you can do better? Post yours in this year's forum thread!