Monday, January 2, 2012

This Will Cheer You Up

This is the time of year for lists, and so here are my best and worst possible outcomes for 2012. We'll start with the worst:

Top 5 Worst Scenarios for 2012

1. The Mayans are right. Well actually not the Mayans. According to pessimists, 2012 marks the end of existence as predicted in the cycle of Mayan astronomy known as the Long Count calendar. This prognostication has been the source of some controversy, with some experts saying that it was never intended by Mayan astronomers to be the end of the Universe, but rather the transition to a new epoch. In any case, December 21, the winter solstice of this year, will be a busy time in the Guatemalan and southern Mexican highlands, as tourists of a ghoulish ilk look to be at the ground zero of a catastrophe which may end all catastrophes. Or not.
2. President Ron Paul. You heard me right. We haven't had a genuine populist uprising in this country in a long time, (the Bushes were faux populists and Reagan was a Hollywood artifice), and if it's going to happen, Ron Paul will be the man to lead it. However, what kind of world would a Ron Paul presidency tip us into? An isolationist, inward-looking America, at just the time Europe is sinking into a long depression, China is gobbling up Africa and Latin America, and the wolves of the Islamic world are circling as ever. Sounds like 1932 minus Franklin D. Roosevelt.
3. Nuclear Iran. This is potentially less scary than the pre-emptive strike to avoid nuclear Iran. But a nuclear-armed, fanatically led Iran has got to frighten the pants off anybody who thinks about it. Lots of people will not want to. As in the days of the Cold War, if Iran succeeds in arming itself with a nuclear weapon, and this is looking increasingly likely, we will be  counting on the Iranian leadership's attachments to common sense and love of life to spare the world an unprecedented body count.
4. The Russian Phobos ground probe lands on my house or your house. This is a Russian satellite weighing almost 19 tons and carrying a load of toxic rocket fuel and radioactive cobalt-57. It was intended to land on one of the moons of Mars, but after difficulties at launch, the Russian space authorities are now saying it will crash back down somewhere on Earth in the first two weeks of the new year. How nice. Although they say it will be impossible to predict where it will make its re-entry, it is likely to be somewhere in the northern latitudes where most of the planet's population resides. How charming.
5. Snooki wins Academy Award. Okay, this is my high minded stand-in for everything that's wrong with popular culture. I don't know Snooki from a hole in the ground. But you have to admit that would be a bad scenario.

Next up 5 Best Scenarios for 2012...
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