Predictions and Hopes

Not to gloat, but I actually didn’t do too badly for my 2013 predictions. It helps that I finally gave up on my old saw about a publicity-hungry Britney Spears becoming a faith-on-sleeve evangelical Christian artist. I no longer believe that is in the cards. My prediction for the blog actually took until November 17, so I was off by two and a half weeks. I got the same-sex marriage prediction about… let’s call it, half right.

Still, it’s time to make predictions. And when it comes to things like Half-Life 3, I’ll call some of them “hopes” rather than “predictions.”

I hope that the Robocop reboot will be good. I predict that Russell Crowe will be laughable as Noah the Action Hero.

I predict that Brazil will defeat Argentina for the World Cup, the first time a team with home-field advantage is able to exploit it to the quadrennial championship. Which won’t stop me from rooting for United States and Italy. I hope that the Green Bay Packers give Matt Flynn a real contract to shore up the backup quarterback situation, and use their draft picks to strengthen the offensive line and the defensive secondary.

I hope that the Supreme Court uses the opportunity of Town of Greece v. Galloway to overturn the unprincipled and confusing holding of Marsh v. Chambers. But I predict that instead, Justice Kennedy will instead split the baby by distinguishing away the core issue instead of tackling it head-on.

I predict modest gains for the Republicans in midterm elections next November, insufficient to shift control of the Senate but enough to keep the GOP’s low-grade civil war unresolved. I hope that the Tea Party types don’t drive out too many of the people who still have an interest in governing.

I hope that 2014 is free from global disasters and the eruption of new wars, with the most dangerous flashpoints now looking to me like the civil war in Syria, a breakdown of control in and around Pakistan, and violence in the Caucasus. I predict that California’s economy will decline after a dry winter forces water rationing and kidney-punches the state’s agriculture. This would be a prediction I’d be thrilled to get wrong. Either way, it’s remarkable to note how vulnerable we still are to the weather.

I predict that our readership will expand here at Ordinary Times. I hope that our comments community retains its high quality in the process. Because I really like it here. There’s nowhere on the web quite like this, and it’s high time more people started recognizing it.

So… What are your hopes and predictions for the new year?
 
Burt LikkoBurt Likko is the pseudonym of an attorney in Southern California. His interests include Constitutional law with a special interest in law relating to the concept of separation of church and state, cooking, good wine, and bad science fiction movies. Follow his sporadic Tweets at @burtlikko, and his Flipboard at Burt Likko.

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57 thoughts on “Predictions and Hopes

    • Yeah. One that isn’t only one season long and has some safeguards about being traded, because who cares about the backup quarterback position since we have Aaron Rodgers? True, Flynn wasn’t nearly as effective as Rodgers, but he kept the season alive without much support from the defense — he deserves a measure of security for the future for doing it.

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      • For playing well in one half against a terrible defense and winning a game in which a team choked away a big lead at home? Oh, and a tie against the Vikings. Giving a guy a multi-year contract doesn’t make him into the guy you want at backup QB. If they determine he is, absolutely. But some more evaluatin’ & lookin’ around I think is in order first. I don’t think there’s any way the organization can have figured out what the long-term health of his throwing apparatus looks like yet.

        I agree with you that they need to be serious about the position in a way they haven’t been so far, though, and that certainly means taking another long look at Flynn. But I think it hardly means being all-in with him at this point.

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      • The state of QB play has been much bemoaned lately. This narrative has formed right alongside the notion that the league has become a passing league. But what if we examine these in tandem? What if the collective quality of QB talent is roughly what it has always been but the demands of the position have grown such that what used to be considered adequate no longer is? The problem seems to be that nearly everyone wants to be pass-whacky but not everyone has the personnel to support it. Yet they try anyway and then blame the QB who is being asked to do far more than he could be expected to. While current rules advantage the passing game over the defense, they do not disadvantage the running game.

        Eddie Lacy — who is exactly what the Pack’s offense has been missing in recent years — got *fewer* carries after Rodgers went down. Starting with the Detroit game in week 3, his carries totals were 23, 23, 22, and 29 — an average of 24.25 carries per game. Once Rodgers went down early in the Bears games, his totals were 22, 24, 14, 25, 10, 20, 21, and 15 — an average of 18.875. Even if you throw out the Thanksgiving blowout against the Lions (10 carries), you he still only averaged 20 carries per game. James Starks was in and out of the lineup with injuries so his numbers are a bit harder to factor in. But regardless, the Packers ran LESS often despite having a young, dynamic power back when they had a LESS adept QB under center. How logical is that??? Run the damn ball! You can still win football games running the damn ball! Every QB isn’t a failure just because he can’t throw for 5000 yards and 45 touchdowns.

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      • I’ve actually perceived a bit of a turn back to a recognition of what a decent running game gets yo in the commentary of late, Kazzy. This at the same time the the CW that an elite quarterback is simply a prerequisite for winning has not weakened at all,. I actually think this is perfectly reasonable. I’ve also been think along the same lines as you about the talk about QB play being down. I’m not sure if thre’s the effect you’re talking about where QBs are asked to do too much going on (though I expect it is to some extent), but in any case i think that it;s likely that QB play has continued to get better and better over time, and it’s just that it’s sinking in more and more widely just how much a team’s chances of winning championships improves with an elite passing quarterback. In some sense I think the cutoff at which a QB’s play comes to be seen as essentially replacement-value has gone way, way up recently in light of this, sop suddenly QBs who rise above that level seem really, really scarce, even though overall play is probabl as good as it’s ever been. IOW, it’s an acuity-of-analysis and just solving-the-game question more than an actual play-level issue. Possibly.

        I think the new mini-emphasis on the run game reflects this as well. QB play has come to be seen as so overwhelmingly determinative that suddenly teams that don;t have one of the top three or four QBs feel like they need some element to make up for not – even though they do have an elite QB!. And even teams with a top guy feel they’re ultimately insecure relying completely on him because everyone has off games or gets hurt. But when push comes to shove, the instinct is still to fall back on your top-tier QB, witness McCarthy’s pass call on 3rd&1 early in the second half on Sunday (which he implicitly admitted error on after the pass didn’t work when he ran Lacy on a big 3rd &1 later in the half. In fairness, Lacy’s ankle was by all accounts pretty seriously jacked in that game – he basically couldn’t cut inside. But they have Starks too, who can always pick up a couple yards.).

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      • What if the collective quality of QB talent is roughly what it has always been but the demands of the position have grown such that what used to be considered adequate no longer is?

        I think that’s right. In my view, QB talent is better now than ever (relative to other positions, especially), but expectations have outgrown the ability of most human beings realize. In manymany offenses, the QB is tasked with not merely being a superlative physical talent – he’s required to identify favorable matchups and plays after identifying defensive schemes, predict (pre-snap) changes in those schemes, make adjustments at the line, be able to manage a game as well as make “big plays” with his arm and legs, etc etc.

        He’s basically got to out-think and outplay a whole defense in order to be successful. And there are several guys who can do that. Which is amazing.

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      • He’s basically got to out-think and outplay a whole defense in order to be successful. And there are several guys who can do that. Which is amazing.

        A QB who is good at the things you listed puts a lot of pressure on the rest of the offensive players to keep up with everything that’s going on. You see a lot of passes thrown to nobody because the QB and the receivers don’t agree on what was supposed to happen. One of the things about watching the Broncos this year was how seldom that seemed to happen, even with Peyton apparently making things up at the line of scrimmage all the time. I include “apparently” because in an interview he said that some of the pointing and yelling and hand-waving is gibberish intended to mess with the defense’s mind.

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      • Michael Cain,

        Yes to that. The hallmark of a Peyton Manning offense is that he knows what the receivers are going to do in a given situation, and the receivers know what Manningis going to do as well. (Like, do a hitch and go in a single safety set or a skinny post if there are two or a slant if they bring pressure or….)

        I just read some comments from Michael Vick saying he’d like to be a starter next year because he can still make big plays as a QB. And that’s true. But if what we’re talking about is correct, making big plays isn’t enough to be a successful QB in most offenses. You have to make the right decisions in response to complicated evidence in a very short time frame.

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      • “You see a lot of passes thrown to nobody because the QB and the receivers don’t agree on what was supposed to happen.”

        And depending on who the QB is, announcers are all too willing to engage “conventional wisdom” and blame whichever party they assume made the mistake. If it is an “elite” QB whose pass sails off to no one, obviously the WR made the wrong read. If it is a “non-elite” QB, obviously the reason he is non-elite is because he can’t make the right reads.

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  1. France won the world up in ’98 on its home turf.

    Are you sure that Matt Flynn is really that integral? I mean, I guess he outplayed Scott Tolzein, but not really by much. And they did win two of his starts, but one was against the lowly Falcons and the other was against a Cowboys team desperate to lose. I don’t mean to say that he isn’t a quality backup, but I wouldn’t throw a boatload of money at him to keep him. He’s serviceable but shouldn’t cost you so much that you have to scrimp on any starting positions.

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  2. Either way, it’s remarkable to note how vulnerable we still are to the weather.

    Yeah, that’s true. And precariously so.

    To follow your model in the OP:

    Against the evidence, I hope that there aren’t any massive climate-change related weather disasters in 2014.

    I predict, however, that everybody will continue to talk about the weather and not do anything about it.

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    • Kevin Drum called global warming/climate change something like the ultimate grad school public policy problem from Hell and he was right. Climate Change is a slow moving problem. Slate published an article that stated scientists predict the world will be 7.2 degrees F hotter by 2100.

      The problem here is that 2100 is too far away for most people to change their current way of life or pump serious money into R and D for alternative energy sources. There is also the fact that people register climate change in an intuitive way. If there is a cold winter with lots of snow, it equals no climate change. Never mind that California is probably facing a serious drought for 2014, Canada and the East Coast are being pummeled by snow and ice storms.

      Also some environmentalist activists have a rhetoric problem with sounding a lot like chicken little (which might be justified) but without offering any solutions and sometimes coming across like we should all return to the Shire and end the Industrial Revolution. The chances of people going for this are slim.

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      • At the political/policy/scientific theory level, a huge stumbling block was unintentionally created by the use of the phrase “global warming” as a catch-all term referring to climate change. That lead to all those snarky one-line refutations based on observations of snow or colder-than-normal temps in a specific location. “We had our coldest day on record last Tuesday. Thanks Global Warming!”

        But really, people who understand the term that way are either exposing themselves as (someone who takes pride in being) ignorant, or as an irrational adherent of Cleek’s Law.

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      • Well, global warming is a simpler concept than climate change isn’t it? Also, I think it’s descriptively accurate as far as it goes independently of the term’s connotations or potential political uses. That its meaning has been corrupted in order to politicize the underlying “concept” isn’t particularly remarkable except to note that dong so is evidence that our social and political institutions are functioning smoothly and at peak efficiency.

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      • The problem here is that 2100 is too far away for most people to change their current way of life or pump serious money into R and D for alternative energy sources. There is also the fact that people register climate change in an intuitive way. If there is a cold winter with lots of snow, it equals no climate change. Never mind that California is probably facing a serious drought for 2014, Canada and the East Coast are being pummeled by snow and ice storms.

        This is definitely a problem, but it’s not even the biggest problem with getting a political solution to Climate Change. As I understand it the effects of greenhouse gasses are purely global, a molecule of CO2 affects the climate the same way, no matter where it is emitted. This makes Climate Change a textbook case of a Collective Action Problem. It may be in every country’s interests to solve the problem, but it’s in every country’s interest sot hang back as much as possible and let the other countries do most of the work, and bear most of the cost. If every country takes this attitude (and it appears that they are) then next-to-nothing will be done about Climate Change.

        I predict that no material political solution to Climate Change will occur. I hope that a technological solution will be developed before it is too late.

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      • Probably. Global Warming was the phrase that teachers used in elementary school during the 1980s. At least that is when I first remember hearing the term. It seems like a simpler concept than climate change. Climate Change probably sounded too neutral, not necessarily bad or good, just things change.

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      • I predict that no material political solution to Climate Change will occur. I hope that a technological solution will be developed before it is too late.

        Right with you there on the first sentence. India, China, and the rest of the large populations in south and southeast Asia will not agree to quit trying to escape poverty (eg, most of the people in the circle on this map). The developed countries will, for the most part, refuse to change their ways until shortages force it on them (although such could develop faster than many people think).

        On the second sentence, probably unlikely on a global scale. The technology already exists for some regional solutions. Eg, the US national labs have published a variety of studies that show at a pretty detailed level how the North American Western Interconnect can meet its forecast needs with renewables at fairly reasonable cost, if not saddled with the added burden of exporting large amounts of power to the East. For the rest, well, when I want to start an argument at a party I suggest that fission is the best bet. Yes, the first iteration was not as clean or as safe as we would like (the same can be said for coal, even ignoring CO2). Unfortunately, the engineering work to fix fission’s problems stopped in the late 1970s and it may be too late now.

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      • Snowstorms for the NE are exactly what the models predict.
        we’ve been BELOW the temperature expected for maximal snowfall for YEARS.
        (Pittsburgh, on the other hand, is no longer getting lake effect snow, so our snowfall is down from 50 years ago).

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      • One possible way around the collective action problem of climate change is a wealth transfer from rich countries to poor countries. We already do this in the form of aid but I’m thinking of just distributing money directly to people in poor countries somehow like a global, political version of putting coins to beggers on the street. Its not going to happen but its a solution of sorts.

        James, you might be right that climate change will be a lot less awful than predictions but I don’t think that crossing fingers and hoping for the best is a good way to get around really serious issues. Climate change does not need to cause apocalypse level damage in order to really mess up the world.

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      • It was also a brilliant PR move. “Global warming” is rhetorically vulnerable to an unusually cold winter. Anything out of the ordinary can be cited as evidence for “climate change.”

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  3. I would like a real job with benefits and chances of promotion type thing and one that turns my long-distance relationship into a close-distance relationship. Preferably my springtime or so but part of me figures that we can probably stand to be in a long-distance relationship for a year and other couples do it for longer. Right now we have plans to see each other in January (10 day trip) and February (one week). After that, maybe I can go back to New York in the summer and need to be in Boston in September for a wedding.

    There is a strong paradox of not being able to move without a job and not being able to get a job without living there and the continuing law school/profession crisis does not help too much. I seem to be cut out to be a lawyer and not much else. No one even has any suggestions about other things I could do with a theatre degree, MFA, and law degree.

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  4. I predict that California’s economy will decline after a dry winter forces water rationing and kidney-punches the state’s agriculture.

    How is water priority done in California? I understand some of the eastern states’ system of riparian rights (hence Georgia’s continuing efforts to correct a surveying error from the early 1800s to gain access to the Tennessee River). I understand some of Texas’ system, with assorted water authorities able to make the call (and last year they cut off some of the farmers downstream from Austin in order to keep cities and power plants running). I understand more of Colorado’s system, where it’s all prior appropriation so senior rights holders get their water and the junior folks don’t.

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    • My man Francis probably has better knowledge than I, but the brief rundown goes like this:

      The federal government takes what it wants and everyone else sucks it.

      The state government then takes what ever is left over, if allocated to a state governed water allocation project or the state’s direct use. The largest of these is the California State water project, which essentially moves water from the rural, wet north to the wealthy, Mediterranean-to-arid south.

      After that, Pueblo rights adhering to the cities of San Jose, Los Angeles, and San Diego take precedence.

      After that, prescriptive rights keep prior use of groundwater in the hands of the people who first made constructive use of it, or their successors in interest.

      After that, riparian rights to surface water adhere in a manner similar to prescriptive rights to groundwater.

      After that, groundwater is a public resource available to all, in theory, assuming that there is any ground water left in the state which has not been the subject of an adjudication. Surface water (if unprescribed and unallocated through jurisprudence) is available as a public resource to anyone whose land intersects the usual and customary flow of that surface water.

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      • please tell me that you’re posting drunk or in jury duty again.

        First of all, you have to start with the realization that there are 3 or 4 major systems, each drawing from different watersheds but interdependent: the Colorado River, which supplies urban water to the southern California coast (LA down to San Diego) and ag water to Imperial and Coachella counties, the State Water Project, which moves water from Northern California south, across the Bay-Delta, supplying both urban and ag water supplies from central California down to San Diego, the federal Central Valley Project, which actually is a bunch of projects, but the largest of which moves water from southern Central California north, up the eastern side of the Central Valley (and, yes, there is an intertie between the SWP and the CVP, near Bakersfield), and (much smaller) Hetch Hetchy, which supplies San Francisco.

        [deep breath]

        Each of these systems has its own very complex body of laws, but at the core they all obey basis California water rights, which have the following priority (more or less):

        oldest and most senior — pueblo rights. These accrue only to the Cities of Los Angeles and San Diego and literally date back to pre-statehood. On a regular basis the City of LA goes back to court to modify the judgment which adjudicates their pueblo rights. This makes other people who have adjudicated rights in the LA groundwater basins cranky.

        riparian rights — If you live next to a river and the river is not fully appropriated, you can take water from the river and put it to beneficial use on the land that touches the river. Riparian rights are correlative (all take equally).

        pre-1914 appropriative right — A right that pre-dates the establishment of the Department of Water Resources to take water from a lake or stream and put it to beneficial use on non-adjacent land.

        appropriative right — A right, processed through State Water Resources Control Board, to take water and put it to beneficial use. Appropriative rights have priority. (highest priority fully satisfied before next junior appropriator gets any.) The bulk of water rights in California are appropriative rights.

        Riparian and appropriative rights apply only to surface water and subterranean water flowing through known and definitive channels.

        overlying right — Somewhat similar to a riparian right, it’s the right to pump water from the groundwater table underneath your land and put it to use on that land. Overlying rights do not need a SWRCB permit to be exercised. However …

        adjudicated right — When too many people pump from a single groundwater basin and over-draft it (remove water faster than it can recharge), the pumpers can go to court and have their relative priorities to pump from the basin determined.

        [This is ignoring federal reserved rights, used for tribal reservations.]

        [another deep breath]

        Major doctrines affecting the ability of interested parties to appropriate water include: the public trust doctrine (which essentially requires that rivers not be run dry) and the beneficial use doctrine (which essentially requires that the water be put to use).

        [deep breath]

        The feds so far as I know have waived the Supremacy Clause and take water for their own use only pursuant to state law (except for Federal reserved rights). This is, I expect, a minuscule amount. For the most part the feds are involved — thru the Bureau of Reclamation — as the carrier. Hoover Dam and the CVP are both operated by the feds under very complex annual operating plans.

        While it looks like another drought is on the way for the SWP and CVP, the actual truth of the matter is that ag is much less important to the California economy than it used to be. California ag is much more important for how many people it feeds than how many dollars it brings directly into the economy. (And to make matters more complicated, droughts raise prices, and for a wide range of crops California doesn’t have much competition. So while growers with low priority (ie, junior rights) may get hit hard, high-priority growers can do very well, meaning that the State as a whole sees less of an impact.)

        [I could keep going, but I expect that I’ll have totally bored most people by now.]

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  5. Agreed especially because there are a lot of nations that are still doing industrial catch-up and it seems to require a certain level of wealth on both personal and national levels for environmentalism/conservation to become an issue and concern. Loggers, miners, and others who feel their economics are threatened by environmentalism are an example.

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  6. I hereby predict that the continuation of the fall of the american empire will continue apace. Once that really starts taking place, no one will give a damn about global warming.

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  7. I predict De Blasio will do his best to implement his liberal ideology in NY including class warfare and race baiting. Crime and taxes will go up. NYers had better hope he fights the unions on the new contracts or else taxes will be going up a lot to pay the bill. I see this is coming true already with the comparison of NYC to a plantation by the black preacher giving the invocation at his inauguration.

    I predict the Israel will finally ignore Obama and take care of business by striking Iran.

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  8. I forgot my other predictions

    1. The EPA will keep issuing new regulations at a record pace and as a result our economy will suffer. Any resulting problems with the economy will be blamed on Bush

    2. The Obama admin will keep pushing the DOD to include females in combat units and will do anything it can do to make it happen including dumbing down the physical requirements.

    http://www.myfoxdc.com/story/24349599/marines-delay-female-fitness-plan-after-half-fail#ixzz2pHPCzD2K

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