Ryan's Journal

"My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?" — David Mitchell

Guessing About 2019

Posted from Culver City, California at 7:44 pm, January 21st, 2019

Since 2009 I’ve started each year by making predictions for the new year, and since 2009 I’ve mostly gotten those predictions wrong. Despite being horrible at it, this annual effort at forecasting the future is an amusing exercise, so continuing the inglorious tradition, here’s a bunch of guesses about what’s (probably not) going to happen in 2019:

  1. Tiger Woods will return to the world golf #1 ranking at some point in 2019. Assuming he can stay healthy this year, his season-ending victory at the Tour Championship in 2018 should be an omen of good things to come. The golf world seems very ready to have its superstar winning tournaments again.
  2. Democrats will not seriously pursue impeachment of Donald Trump in 2019. I may be either giving Democrats too much credit, underestimating what Robert Mueller’s investigation will uncover, or be too optimistic about Trump not doing anything so crazy that impeachment becomes inevitable, but I think the Democratic leadership wants to avoid this fight unless forced into it. Absent facts emerging that demand impeachment, Pelosi & Schumer seem to understand that they need to be seen as using their power responsibly, and also that pursuing impeachment without bipartisan agreement on wrongdoing would set a dangerous precedent in which future Congresses would no longer view impeachment as a last resort but instead as a way to eliminate an opposition President.
  3. After Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of Fox Studios, 2019 will see another massive media merger. It may be something like Sony merging with Netflix, Warner Brothers buying the Fox Network, Google gaining a broadcast or studio presence, or something else entirely, but it will be comparable in magnitude to the Disney-Fox deal. With its acquisitions of Pixar in 2006, Marvel in 2009, Lucasfilm in 2012, and now Fox Studios (which included a large stake in Hulu), Disney is dominating the entertainment market, and the other major players will be looking for ways to compete.
  4. After making almost $60 billion in profits in 2018, Apple will see its lowest yearly profits since it made $40 billion in 2014. Steve Jobs introduced the iPod, iPhone and iPad, but since his death Apple hasn’t created any new products that have had a major impact in the market, and with competitors now offering comparable devices at cheaper prices, 2019 will be the year that Apple’s failure to innovate without Steve Jobs finally starts to catch up to it.
  5. Despite massive privacy violations Facebook won’t make any significant changes this year and will begin to see its active user base erode. By the end of the year the number of people “quitting Facebook” will be a noticeable minority, and other companies will be either planning or promoting legitimate Facebook alternatives in an effort to snatch up the Facebook deserters.
  6. With dozens of Democratic candidates testing the waters of a Presidential run, by the end of the year the leading candidates will be Elizabeth Warren, a new face that the party’s Progressive wing coalesces around (probably someone like Kamala Harris), and someone with executive experience (a governor, military leader, or former executive branch leader) who no one is paying any attention to right now. If Bernie Sanders runs he’ll lose most of his 2016 supporters to whoever the new Progressive darling ends up being.
  7. SpaceX will successfully launch a crewed flight to the space station this year, but Boeing will further delay their first crewed mission until 2020.
  8. With the rollout of 5G cellular service already beginning, Google will make a move towards acquiring an existing wireless company or deploying its own 5G network. From 2010 until 2016 Google was actually building out a fiber network to provide internet access directly to homes and business, and with that effort having stalled it seems possible that they have instead decided that 5G wireless networking is a cheaper and better way to pursue the company’s goals of providing internet directly to consumers.
  9. Avengers: Endgame will outperform Star Wars: Episode IX at the box office. This may not be a particularly risky prediction given that Star Wars: The Last Jedi took in $620 million vs $678 million for Avengers: Infinity War, so I’ll up the ante by saying that the next Avengers movie will earn at least $100 million more than the next Star Wars film.
  10. After Virgin Galactic finally reached space in December, their flight test program will continue through 2019, but they won’t fly any paying customers. They will, however, do a test flight with Richard Branson on board during 2019 – the Virgin CEO set ballooning world records in the 1980s and 1990s, so hopping on a test flight to space is right up his alley.
  11. Despite predictions of bidding wars, during NFL free agency Le’veon Bell won’t be offered anything that comes close to the reported $70 million that he turned down from the Steelers. While he’s arguing that he should be paid $17 million per year, at best he’ll be the NFL’s third-highest paid running back behind Todd Gurley ($14.375 million per year) and David Johnson ($13 million per year). Owners won’t want to reward a player who sat out a season, while general managers won’t want to devote a large chunk of their salary cap to a guy who seems to have an inflated ego and who was immediately replaced by someone who put up better numbers.
  12. Tesla will introduce a major refresh of its Model S and Model X vehicles, including a new battery pack technology. The specs they have been promoting for their upcoming semi truck indicate that they’ve got some exciting new battery technologies ready, but at a minimum they will want to get all of their vehicles using the 2170 battery cells that they produce at their Gigafactory rather than the 18650 cells they currently purchase from battery manufacturers.
  13. Boeing will officially announce its new 797 plane this year, touting a signature oval-shaped, composite fuselage meant to maximize passenger space while limiting aerodynamic drag. There have been conflicting reports about the construction materials and shape of the new plane’s fuselage, but I think an oval, carbon-fiber fuselage will be favored as a baby step towards the much more efficient blended wing body designs that will (hopefully) become the norm in future aircraft.
  14. While US politics will continue to be a dispiriting example of how not to run a country, at least one major piece of legislation will pass this year since both Trump and the Democrats will be eager to show that they are capable of getting things done. Priorities for Democrats seem to be some sort of voting rights act, fixes for Obamacare, and changes to the immigration system. Trump would be happy with either a wall or something that he can call a trade deal. Both sides would probably settle for an infrastructure package. Thus, I suspect that if investigations and scandals don’t swallow the entire agenda that a bargain will be cut to give each side a “win” that they can tout to their supporters ahead of the 2020 elections.
  15. PG&E, now teetering on the edge of bankruptcy due to liability from the recent deadly wildfires, will be split up and in many cases turn into municipal utilities. The process will be a painful one – it makes sense for a big city to purchase electrical poles and power plants, but would be too costly for a rural area to purchase and maintain – so the story of PG&E’s demise will slowly escalate into a major crisis for the state of California during the coming year.

That does it for 2019. The comments link is available for anyone who wants to add their own predictions, otherwise check back in one year to see if I could beat 2018’s rate of 25% correct predictions. Note that the Browns have been intentionally excluded from this year’s predictions in order to avoid jinxing what everyone is cautiously hoping will be a promising season.

Things That Didn’t Happen in 2018

Posted from Culver City, California at 5:47 pm, January 6th, 2019

It’s been a while since there was a journal update, but the recap of my predictions for 2018 warrants a return from my hiatus. Spoiler alert: I didn’t get many right. Here’s the recap:

  1. Here are the election predictions for 2018:

    1. Republicans will barely lose the House, with Democrats holding a post-election advantage of between 1-10 seats.

      Pending the outcome of the disputed race in North Carolina, Democrats will have gained either 41 or 42 seats and currently hold a 235-199 advantage, far more than the 1-10 seat advantage I predicted. I thought Democrats would do well, but they ended up with one of the best performances by any party since Watergate.

    2. Republicans will end the year with either 49 or 50 Senate seats.

      While Democrats got a similar percentage of votes for Senate races as they did for House races (53 million total votes vs 35 million for Republicans), those votes were overwhelmingly in large states like California and New York, and Republicans actually gained two seats overall, giving them a 53-47 edge. Missouri and Florida are two states that I thought would stay blue, and I expected Democrats to make at least one surprise pickup, but Republicans did well in states that voted for Trump.

    3. Efforts to eliminate gerrymandering will get a boost, with ballot measures passing in at least five states. Additionally, the Supreme Court ruling in Gill vs. Whitford will accept the argument that overly-partisan districts are unconstitutional, leading to lawsuits in several states against the current maps.

      I’m giving myself half credit for this one. Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Colorado and Utah all passed measures to limit or eliminate gerrymandering, and hopefully more states will follow in coming years as it is ridiculous how districts are currently drawn in many places. Meanwhile the Supreme Court essentially punted on their gerrymandering case, voting 9-0 to send the case back to the lower courts because the defendants had not demonstrated “concrete and particularized injuries”. The case was brought against the state of Wisconsin, where Republicans ended up with 63 out of the 99 State Assembly seats despite Democrats winning 53% of the vote.

  2. After twelve years in development and many setbacks, Virgin Galactic will finally get their new ship into space.

    Scaled Composites launched a similar design out of the Mojave airport in 2004, capturing the $10 million X-Prize as the first private vehicle to reach space, and on the morning of December 13 they returned with the first spaceship built to carry average citizens into space. We live in exciting times.

  3. Avengers: Infinity War will become the highest-grossing Marvel movie.

    While the new Avengers movie earned $687 million at the domestic box office to surpass the $623 million earnings of the original Avengers movie, Black Panther beat it to the punch, taking in $700 million after its February launch to claim the mantle as Marvel’s highest-grossing film.

  4. The Browns will draft a quarterback at #1 and trade back from the #4 pick.

    John Dorsey chose not to trade his picks, but by all indications he apparently nailed the 2018 draft, taking likely Rookie of the Year Baker Mayfield at #1, and Pro Bowler Denzel Ward at #4. I’m a big fan of the math behind trading back from high picks, but I’m a bigger fan of the Browns sucking less and thus I’m happy to have gotten this prediction wrong.

  5. Tesla will not hit its goal of producing 5,000 Model 3 vehicles per week by the end of Q2, and will finish the year with total Model 3 deliveries between 170,000-190,000.

    Tesla pulled out all of the stops and barely hit the 5,000 Model 3 per week goal in Q2, but they have been averaging just under 5,000 vehicles per week since then and came out lower than I expected for the year with 145,846 Model 3 deliveries.

  6. Jeff Bezos will expand his presence in the news world.

    Since buying the Washington Post in 2013 Bezos has helped grow the paper’s profits, staff and subscribers. Additionally the software created to manage the content and web site for the Post is being used by an increasing number of newspapers around the world, helping them refocus on journalism and letting someone else handle the technical side of running a newspaper in the internet age. Despite these successes, Bezos has surprisingly not made any further ventures into the news world, so this prediction, like most of the others, is incorrect.

  7. The new Han Solo Star Wars movie will significantly underperform recent Star Wars films, earning between $375-425 million

    I got the “underperform” part right, but vastly underestimated how little interest audiences would have for this film. The final box office for “Solo” was just $214 million, far less than the $532 million box office of its predecessor Rogue One.

  8. Boeing will not complete its first 777X airplane in 2018 as scheduled.

    While the 787 faced years of delays that cost Boeing billions of dollars, the 777X completed final assembly on time and by all reports should be flying on schedule in early 2019, ready for first delivery in 2020.

  9. Despite reportedly spending $1 billion on producing television shows in 2018, Apple will still end 2018 without any popular programs.

    While Apple reportedly has almost thirty shows in development, they have so far only released two: Planet of the Apps, which Mashable charitably called a “successful disaster“, and Carpool Karaoke, which got renewed for a second season despite “lacking critical and audience acclaim“. I miss Steve Jobs.

  10. The California High Speed Rail will start to be rebranded as a route that connects the job-rich coastal cities with the affordable housing of the Central Valley.

    I actually got this one right! After years of touting connectivity between San Francisco and Los Angeles as its primary benefit, the first point in the 2018 High Speed Rail Business Plan is “Connecting the Central Valley to the Bay Area and the Los Angeles economic megaregions through highspeed rail will give businesses around the state new opportunities to choose locations based on labor force availability and to tighten linkages with businesses and field offices.” I’ve noted previously how disappointed I am in the management of this project, but still firmly believe that having a high speed rail line connecting California’s major cities will ultimately be a huge win for the state.

  11. The Simpsons will finally come to an end after 30 seasons, announcing that the 2018-2019 season will be its last.

    As of 6-January there is no confirmation whether The Simpsons will be back for Season 31 or not, so I’m making this prediction my first-ever “neither right nor wrong” prognostication. I think it’s odd that if TV’s longest-running scripted series was going to end that there wouldn’t be an announcement made as soon as possible in order to drive up final season ratings, but thus far all has been quiet on the subject of the animated family from Springfield.

  12. The Bitcoin bubble will finally burst. The cryptocurrency is down nearly fifty percent from its high of $20,000, but the bubble will finally burst for good sometime this year, and prices will be well under $1,000 by the time 2018 comes to a close.

    The price continued to drop throughout the year, but closed just under $4000, and not “well under $1000” as I predicted it would. I’m still dumbfounded that it is worth as much as it is – do even ten percent of the people investing in Bitcoin even know what a Bitcoin actually is?

  13. Lebron James will not leave the Cavs.

    He went away again, but it was nice to see Cavs fans giving him a standing ovation in his first game back in Cleveland after joining the Lakers. As a former Clevelander I’m hardly in a position to criticize anyone for leaving, and Lebron did the impossible by taking the Cavs to four straight NBA Finals and winning Cleveland’s first professional sports championship since 1964, so kudos to him, and best of luck with the new team.

Final score: 3.5 out of 14 (25%), my third-worst showing in ten years behind only 2014 (12%) and 2013 (11%). Predictions for 2019 should follow soon.

Ten years of getting it wrong

Posted from Culver City, California at 9:52 pm, February 14th, 2018

Starting in 2009 I began making predictions about the coming year. Now in its tenth year, the annual predictions for 2018 are ready to go:

  1. First, some obligatory election predictions:
    1. Republicans will barely lose the House, with Democrats holding a post-election advantage of between 1-10 seats; currently the House is split 241-194 Republican/Democrat. All signs point to a big year for Democrats, but current districts are drawn such that Republicans have a built-in advantage that will limit gains by Democrats.
    2. Republicans will end the year with either 49 or 50 Senate seats. While it looks like a good year for Democrats, they are defending 26 seats while Republicans only have to defend eight, and only seven of the 34 races are currently expected to be competitive. Democrats have decent odds to pick up seats in Nevada and Arizona, but they must also play defense in tough states like Indiana, Missouri, West Virginia, North Dakota and Montana, and I would expect that at least one of those could end up flipping to Republicans.
    3. Efforts to eliminate gerrymandering will get a boost, with ballot measures passing in at least five states. Additionally, the Supreme Court ruling in Gill vs. Whitford will accept the argument that overly-partisan districts are unconstitutional, leading to lawsuits in several states against the current maps.
  2. After twelve years in development and many setbacks, Virgin Galactic will finally get their new ship into space. It’s hard to believe that it’s been fourteen years since Spaceship One became the first manned private vehicle to reach space.
  3. Avengers: Infinity War will become the highest-grossing Marvel movie. The first Avengers movie currently holds that title with a $623 million box office haul, so I’ll peg the new movie’s box office take at $650-700 million.
  4. The Browns will draft a quarterback at #1 and trade back from the #4 pick. I’m confident in the prediction that a quarterback will be the pick at #1, but less so about the trade back – the new general manager may not think like his Moneyball predecessors who recognized that high picks tend to be over-valued. That said, there are a lot of good quarterbacks in this draft, thus there will be a lot of teams scrambling to get their guy before he’s gone, so I think the Browns will pick their man at #1 and will then be unable to ignore the bidding war from QB-needy teams wanting the fourth pick.
  5. Tesla will not hit its goal of producing 5,000 Model 3 vehicles per week by the end of Q2, and will finish the year with total Model 3 deliveries between 170,000-190,000.
  6. Jeff Bezos, who purchased the Washington Post for $250 million in 2013, will expand his presence in the news world. Bezos has turned the Post profitable, and more importantly has turned the software platform that the newspaper runs on into a service used by many other major news organizations around the world. My impression is that he is trying to show traditional journalism companies how to be financially viable in the digital world, and as such I expect that he will create some sort of Amazon news portal, will purchase additional news organizations, or will otherwise launch some major effort to further that goal.
  7. The new Han Solo Star Wars movie will significantly underperform the other Star Wars films, a result of audience fatigue and a film that has had a troubled production. The film is going to be released just six months after The Last Jedi, and just one year after the original directors were fired, so I’m going to guess its box office will be between $375-425 million, far less than the $530 million earned by Rogue One.
  8. Boeing will not complete its first 777X airplane in 2018 as scheduled. After the new 737-MAX airplane was actually delivered sooner than Boeing anticipated it is tempting to believe that the 777X will also be delivered on time or early, but the changes in the 777 are more ambitious, including a folding wingtip, and it seems very likely that Boeing will find it harder to put together than anticipated.
  9. Despite reportedly spending $1 billion on producing television shows in 2018, Apple will still end 2018 without any popular programs. Unlike Netflix or Amazon, which make their content available on all devices, Apple’s strategy seems tied to using content as a way to sell the overpriced $180 Apple streaming TV device, so unless Apple manages to strike gold and create the next Game of Thrones, it seems highly unlikely that enough people are going to see Apple’s shows to make them successful.
  10. While I don’t think the California High Speed Rail project will be significantly changed so long as Jerry Brown is in office, given the fact that the first and easiest section of the route is already 30-50% over budget, lawmakers and candidates for governor will rebrand the project, and instead of describing it as a route between LA and San Francisco, it will start to be described as a route that connects the job-rich coastal cities with the affordable housing of the Central Valley. This strategy will allow them to de-emphasize cost overruns and delays in building the statewide system, giving them the ability to declare that “success” means opening an operational segment from Fresno to San Jose. In fairness that strategy actually does make some sense given the higher unemployment in the valley and crazy housing prices on the coast, but I am still hugely dismayed at how badly California is screwing up such an important project.
  11. The Simpsons will finally come to an end after 30 seasons, announcing that the 2018-2019 season will be its last. Thirty seems like a nice round number to go out on, even if the cast and creators might be willing to go on for another decade or two. If this prediction does come true, it will be the first time since I was in the eighth grade that I’ll live in a world without new Simpsons episodes.
  12. The Bitcoin bubble will finally burst. The cryptocurrency is down nearly fifty percent from its high of $20,000, but the bubble will finally burst for good sometime this year, and prices will be well under $1,000 by the time 2018 comes to a close. A “currency” that is difficult to actually use in making purchases, and that requires massive amounts of energy to sustain, is not something that lends itself well to longevity.
  13. Finally, despite constant rumors to the contrary, Lebron James will not leave the Cavs. This prediction is based on two pieces of evidence: one, when he returned to the Cavs he said he was going to finish his career in Cleveland, and as long as the Cavs give him the opportunity to win more championships I think he’ll stick to that, and two, I desperately want it to be correct.

And there they are. As I do every year, looking over the list now I wonder how any of them could possibly end up being incorrect, and I look forward to revisiting this list a year from now and wondering how I could possibly have believed that any of them would end up coming to pass. If anyone wants to add predictions of their own, or if you would like to (rightfully) mock the predictions I’ve made, the comments section is available as always.

2017 Predictions – the Aftermath

Posted from Culver City, California at 10:55 pm, February 5th, 2018

In what has become an annual tradition, at the beginning of 2017 I made fifteen predictions about the coming year. In what has also become an annual tradition, I was horribly wrong about most of them. Scorecards from past years prove without a doubt that I do not have the powers of Nostradamus, and the following tally of 2017’s glorious ineptitude merely reinforces that fact. I remain undaunted, however, and will be back with predictions for 2018 in an upcoming journal entry.

Without further ado, here’s the recap of 2017:

  1. While Tesla says it will begin volume production of the Model-3 in the second half of 2017, they will miss that goal slightly, delivering only between 4-8,000 vehicles by the end of the year.

    WRONG Tesla actually did far worse than even I expected, delivering just 1,550 Model-3 vehicles in 2017. As late as August 2017 Tesla was estimating deliveries of around 25,000 vehicles, so this was a pretty huge miss for them, although demand for the vehicle seems to be robust so there is an enormous amount of potential revenue awaiting them if they can get volumes up.

  2. The Browns will trade at least one of their two first round draft picks.

    CORRECT The Browns traded their #12 pick to the Texans for the #25 pick and what became the #4 pick in this year’s draft. For any other team that would be an amazing haul, but since it’s the Browns, the player the Texans took at #12 – Deshaun Watson – looks to have all the makings of the league’s next great QB. Luckily the 2018 NFL Draft is less than three months away.

  3. By the end of the year there will be rumblings in tech publications and among shareholders calling for Tim Cook’s ouster as Apple CEO.

    WRONG I was WAY off in my predictions about the stock market – I assumed it was due for a correction, but instead stocks rose over 30%, and in that environment very few CEOs are going to be losing their jobs, much less the head of the world’s most valuable company. For the record, I think Apple has lost its way and needs a leader who can provide a sensible vision, and while Tim Cook may be great at supply chains and logistics, it doesn’t inspire confidence that every year he proclaims his newest iPhone to be “magical” because it is 0.001 mm thinner and has a camera with an extra few pixels.

  4. Donald Trump’s favorability ratings will fall from the current 45% to between 27-32% by the end of the year, and there will be talk of impeachment from both sides of the aisle.

    WRONG While his 38% approval rating at the end of the year is a record low for a President in his first year, I was very wrong about how the Republican Party, whose members in many cases skipped or only reluctantly attended their own nominating convention in the summer of 2016, and Fox News, a network that once feuded with candidate Trump to the point that he didn’t attend one of their sponsored debates, would fall in line behind a President Trump.

  5. The stock market will end the year down about ten percent, finishing between 16,500 and 17,500.

    WRONG The market closed 2017 at 24,719, up 25.1%. This was a big miss on my part, but the correction I expected in 2017 may be now happening a few months later – as I write this entry the stock market has dropped 1,800 points in two days.

  6. Hidden Figures (which I haven’t seen) will win the Best Picture Oscar.

    WRONG But in my defense, even the Oscar ceremony didn’t get the Best Picture Oscar right.

  7. SpaceX will not launch a human spaceflight mission, nor will it launch its new Falcon Heavy rocket, but it will re-fly one of its previously-flown rockets, and will complete at least twenty total missions without another accident.

    CORRECT I’m going to count this prediction as a win, despite the fact that they had 18 launches instead of 20. Their previous best year was 2016 when the had eight successful missions, so they more than doubled their previous record, they became the first company to re-fly a rocket, and I correctly predicted the delay in both the Falcon Heavy and manned missions. That puts me at a miserable two out of seven correct predictions, and it’s not going to get much better…

  8. At least one of the following companies will be purchased by the year’s end: Twitter, Spotify, or Lyft.

    WRONG I didn’t foresee Uber repeatedly shooting itself in the foot and leaving Lyft looking stellar by comparison, or Apple Music failing to do anything to meaningfully distinguish itself from Spotify, and I continue to be mystified by Twitter’s business model. In any case, this prediction was another one that was spectacularly wrong.

  9. The next Star Wars movie will significantly under-perform the domestic box office take of $936 million earned by The Force Awakens; I’ll predict its box office ends up in the $500-600 million range.

    WRONG As of February 4, The Force Awakens has a domestic box office total of $614 million; it’s tempting to count this prediction as correct since I’m so close, but close is relative – for all but a handful of very rich people, $14 million isn’t really a number that should just be shrugged off, so this one needs to go down as wrong despite a really, really strong argument for partial credit.

  10. Obamacare will not be repealed or replaced in any meaningful way.

    CORRECT I was surprised that Republicans got to the point where only John McCain’s thumb saved Obamacare from significant changes, but in the end their years of promises to “repeal and replace” hit the hard reality that “replace” is an easy thing to say and a very difficult thing to do.

  11. By the end of the year ESPN & the Discovery network will offer streaming services, while one or both of Netflix and Amazon will find a way to offer local channels.

    WRONG I’m amazed at how badly content providers are doing in adjusting to the new reality that people are moving away from traditional cable and towards streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. While ESPN has (finally) announced a streaming service, details are scant and it won’t launch until later this year (at the soonest), while most other networks seem to have their heads in the sand. Meanwhile, although YouTube and DirecTV stream local channels, I was wrong about the interest by other services in providing a full-fledged replacement for cable TV.

  12. The coming actions that Trump and the Republican Congress will take against LGBT rights, abortion rights, the environment, and other issues will create a huge amount of anger on the Left that will manifest itself in similar ways to what was seen with the Tea Party.

    CORRECT While it doesn’t yet appear that Democrats are going to quite the extremes that the Tea Party did (no major Democrats seem to be in danger of losing their seats in primaries), there was sufficient anger to create a two day government shutdown, a huge backlash against any sign of Senators supporting Trump nominees, and a massive amount of anger directed towards Washington. While this prediction may seem obvious in retrospect, I get a lot of “obvious” predictions wrong, and am thus still going to count this one as correct.

  13. The Russian election hacking story will just be the beginning of ongoing cyberattacks that will continue in 2017 in an effort to undermine American credibility both domestically and internationally.

    WRONG While Russia appears to be gearing up to try and influence the 2018 elections, the fact that investigations into Russian hacking have become politicized has made it very difficult to determine if the attacks are continuing or not; in any case, they have not been the major story that I expected they would be. I’m biased based on my field of work, but in my mind cyberattacks and attempts by a foreign power to divide Americans by manipulating social media are threats that should be taken much, much more seriously, and it should be a topmost priority of the NSA and similar organizations to identify and shut down foreign bots and fake accounts as quickly as possible.

  14. Google will announce an operating system to compete with Windows & OSX

    WRONG While Google apparently has an operating system in testing, they barely acknowledge it exists and most definitely didn’t announce it as a Windows competitor in 2017. In all honesty, I didn’t really think this prediction was going to come true when I wrote it, but I’d been working on the “predictions” journal entry for a few days and just couldn’t come up with anything better.

  15. The next season of Game of Thrones is going to kill off Cersei Lannister and Littlefinger.

    (Spoiler alert) HALF CREDIT Game of Thrones is a really interesting show, with excellent characters and compelling storylines, but now that the show has pushed beyond the books it’s clear that the twisted mind of George R. R. Martin was not guiding the demise of one of his best characters – Lord Baelish deserved a more devious ending than what he got.

Final score: 4.5 out of 15 (30%), making this only my sixth worst showing (out of nine years). WOO HOO! Predictions for 2018 will be online in the coming days.

The Prediction Game, 2017 Edition

Posted from Culver City, California at 8:41 pm, January 24th, 2017

Shockingly, 2017 is now the ninth year in a row that I’ve made a futile attempt at predicting the future. With any luck, at least one of the following will actually come to pass:

  1. While Tesla says it will begin volume production of the Model-3 in the second half of 2017, they will miss that goal slightly, delivering only between 4-8,000 vehicles by the end of the year. Even with that miss, the Model-3 is still going to be a game-changer. The industry underestimates how many advantages Tesla has built for itself – Tesla is several years ahead of anyone else when it comes to electric drivetrain technology, they have a massive, operational battery factory, a worldwide fast-charging network, and their advanced manufacturing experience now exceeds that of other auto manufacturers. If Model-3 is successful, suddenly Tesla will have all of those advantages AND a massive revenue stream that will be limited only by how fast they can grow.
  2. The Browns will trade at least one of their two first round draft picks. Analytics says that high draft picks are overvalued and that there is no sure thing in the draft, so if the Browns can turn one pick into many then they will run the numbers and take the deal.
  3. By the end of the year there will be rumblings in tech publications and among shareholders calling for Tim Cook’s ouster as Apple CEO. I don’t think anyone expected Apple to continue its streak of creating the next big thing once Steve Jobs died, but even the most ardent Apple fanboys are disappointed with the latest laptops, the company hasn’t updated their non-laptop Mac lineup in over three years, the iWatch continues to be a disappointment, and the main innovation that Apple has touted for the last three generations of iPhones and iPads has been “it’s slightly thinner than the last one”.
  4. Donald Trump’s favorability ratings will fall from the current 45% to between 27-32% by the end of the year, and there will be talk of impeachment from both sides of the aisle. I remain hopeful that I’m wrong about him, but the majority of his cabinet picks thus far seem like ideologues and loyalists, he has backtracked on some campaign promises before even being sworn-in, and anyone hoping he would change his behavior can read his Twitter feed to see that isn’t the case. Republicans don’t have any particular loyalty to him, Democrats already hate him, there are numerous potential scandals brewing, and it would be surprising if he delivers on any of his grandiose campaign promises, so I suspect he may be around for less than the four year term he was elected to.
  5. The stock market will end the year down about ten percent, finishing between 16,500 and 17,500. I’m obviously pessimistic about Trump and the ability of Republicans to steward the economy, but even without that pessimism, after several years of growth the market is overdue for a correction.
  6. Hidden Figures (which I haven’t seen) will win the Best Picture Oscar. Coming out of the Golden Globes La La Land has all of the buzz, but I think the combination of being a well-received movie, as well as Hollywood’s desire to send a message of support to minorities and women, will make Hidden Figures an unstoppable force by the time the awards air.
  7. SpaceX will not launch a human spaceflight mission, nor will it launch its new Falcon Heavy rocket, but it will re-fly one of its previously-flown rockets, and will complete at least twenty total missions without another accident. The Falcon Heavy was originally supposed to fly in 2013, and their manned program seems to be at least two years behind schedule, while its two recent launch explosions have also built a backlog of satellite launches that SpaceX needs to address. However, even with those issues they still offer the most promise, innovation, and excitement of any company in America; the missed deadlines can be partially excused by an ambitious timeline that is created without any margin for error in a business where occasional failures are an unavoidable reality.
  8. At least one of the following companies will be purchased by the year’s end: Twitter, Spotify, or Lyft. None of those three companies have clear paths to greater market share, but a Twitter acquisition offers instant social media prominence, a Spotify purchase makes the purchaser an instant media powerhouse, and Lyft is getting clobbered by Uber but would make any company that buys it the second-strongest player in the future ride-sharing economy.
  9. The next Star Wars movie will significantly under-perform the domestic box office take of $936 million earned by The Force Awakens; I’ll predict its box office ends up in the $500-600 million range. The Force Awakens was just an OK movie that benefited from being the sequel everyone had been waiting for since Return of the Jedi. Rogue One was a movie with a far better script, a more interesting story, and more of a Star Wars “feel”, but its box office is currently just over half of its predecessor at $512 million. The excitement level for new Star Wars films has clearly dropped, and will likely only diminish further as nostalgia for the original films wanes.
  10. Obamacare will not be repealed or replaced in any meaningful way. With the reality that repeal will have a lot of negative consequences, that some Republican lawmakers are expressing concerns about constituents losing insurance, and that replacement with “something better” is easy to use as rhetoric but near-impossible to implement as legislation, Republicans will instead end up stalling by passing some minor tweaks, such as eliminating some of the mandates for businesses. Since a failure to repeal the law would obviously be a high-profile defeat, I suspect they may double-down on something like defunding planned parenthood as a way to save face among the base.
  11. 2017 will be a turning point in the switch from cable companies to internet streaming services. HBO Now and CBS All Access already deliver services traditionally offered by cable companies without requiring a cable subscription, and by the end of the year I believe a large number of similar offerings will become available, including ESPN & the Discovery network. Additionally, one or both of Netflix and Amazon will find a way to offer local channels, thus providing an all-in-one service to completely replace traditional cable providers.
  12. I’m not quite sure how to quantify this prediction into something that can be judged true or false in a year’s time, but just as the Tea Party was often driven by anger that frequently turned towards Republicans who were deemed to be insufficiently conservative, I think that the coming actions that Trump and the Republican Congress will take against LGBT rights, abortion rights, the environment, and other issues will create a huge amount of anger on the Left that will manifest itself in similar ways to what was seen with the Tea Party. Given that reality, I worry that Democrats who show any inclination to compromise or adhere to traditional norms of governing will be targeted by their constituents, and while it won’t be fully manifested at the end of the year, tactics like government shutdowns and blanket filibusters will eventually no longer be tools unique to the Republicans as the far Left demands action at any cost.
  13. The Russian election hacking story will just be the beginning of ongoing cyberattacks that will continue in 2017 in an effort to undermine American credibility both domestically and internationally. Russia and other countries benefit from a diminished United States, and as long as these sorts of attacks are effective there doesn’t seem to be any reason they would stop. Like the election releases, released data will include embarrassing communications or incriminating documents, but will not include anything that compromises national security and would thus justify a military response.
  14. Google will announce an operating system to compete with Windows & OSX. There have been rumors about a Google OS for a while, but now that Google is selling its own phones and other products it makes sense for them to further expand their software ecosystem.
  15. The next season of Game of Thrones is going to kill off Cersei Lannister and Littlefinger. The show is totally unpredictable, so the odds of me correctly guessing anything about it are probably nil, but given the theme of Fire & Ice, Daenerys will almost certainly end up in charge of the South, and the Starks are likely to end up in charge of the North, so it’s tough to see the show not eliminating the obstacles to that happening before embarking on its final season in 2018.

There they are, everything from stock market analysis to predictions about the orange President to diminished expectations for the new Star Wars film. Given my track record, expect none of these things to actually come to pass, but as always it’s an interesting exercise, and the comments link is there for anyone who wants to join in the fun and make their own wrong predictions for the coming year.

Everything I Didn’t Know About 2016

Posted from Culver City, California at 9:28 am, January 14th, 2017

As is tradition, before recounting how bad I was at predicting what 2016 would bring, here is the scorecard from the annual predictions during past years:

  • 2009: 31% correct (5 of 16)
  • 2010: 44% correct (7.5 of 17)
  • 2011: 50% correct (7 of 14)
  • 2012: 40% correct (6 of 15)
  • 2013: 11% correct (1.5 of 14)
  • 2014: 12% correct (1.5 out of 13)
  • 2015: 33% correct (5 out of 15)

Here are the results of the 2016 predictions:

  1. Election predictions:
    1. Hillary Clinton will win the Presidency with a similar margin to Obama’s 332-206 victory in 2012.

      I was wrong.

    2. Marco Rubio will be the Republican nominee. Donald Trump, currently far and away the frontrunner, will win South Carolina and at most three other states.

      It hurts to be so very, very wrong.

    3. There are 34 Senate seats up for grabs, 24 of which are held by Republicans. Democrats will pick up between four and seven seats.

      Democrats picked up two seats. Had slightly fewer Trump voters shown up, or had just a few more Hillary voters gone to the polls, my predictions would have been spot-on, but as it is I’m now zero-for-three.

    4. Marijuana will be legalized in California in 2016, as well as in at least five other states.

      California legalized recreational marijuana, as did Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts. Florida, North Dakota and Arkansas legalized medical marijuana, but since the prediction was for six states to legalize recreational pot the correct prediction count remains at zero.

  2. Tesla will make minor but noticeable style changes to the Model-S.

    Model-S got a new front-end in April, and I finally got on the board with a correct prediction!

  3. Leonardo DiCaprio will win best actor at the Oscars.

    Not only do Leo and I share the fact that we are both winners, but we are also both incapable of growing facial hair that doesn’t appear to be infested with mange. The scorecard moves to two-for-six.

  4. The Black Lives Matter organization will have mostly disappeared from headlines by the end of the year.

    BLM is still around, although they are getting far fewer headlines. My hope had been that they would be replaced with a more effective organization, but instead BLM seems like it might instead be reforming itself to be more effective. An incorrect prediction on my part, but a hopeful development if they can transform into a group that is known less for blocking freeways and chasing Bernie Sanders offstage, and instead one that can meaningfully bring people together to address important racial issues.

  5. This is a prediction that I actually expect will be wrong, but I’ll say that the 2016 US Olympic Men’s basketball team will lose one of their games.

    Does it count that I got the “I actually expect will be wrong” part correct? It doesn’t make sense that a team with vastly better talent than its competition isn’t making Olympic basketball look like the Globetrotters vs. the Washington Generals, but while this year’s squad had a few close calls, to their credit they did what they needed to do and went undefeated on their way to a gold medal.

  6. Obama’s job approval numbers, currently at about 47%, will rise to between 53-57% as his term ends.

    His job approval numbers have been at the high end of my prediction, even hitting 58% in one poll, but I’m still going to count this prediction as correct. At least forty percent of the country obviously disagrees, but I think he’s been by far the best president of my lifetime.

  7. Microsoft’s plans to force upgrades to Windows 10 will backfire spectacularly.

    I have no idea what happened on this one – either Microsoft backed off of their plans, or I misunderstood, or something went screwy, because they just didn’t force upgrade people. If I awarded negative points then this prediction would score a minus-one for being so utterly, completely wrong.

  8. Batman v. Superman won’t finish in the top ten domestic box office for 2016.

    This script was so flawed that the key conflict between the main characters was resolved because <spoiler alert> Superman and Batman both had mothers named Martha. Seriously. Yet somehow the film still ended up #8 at the domestic box office. Apparently being the first big superhero movie of the summer was genius positioning, because it did way better than some much better films that came out later in the year.

  9. Russia will engage in significant provocation this year in an effort to rekindle a Cold War atmosphere.

    Hacking servers and attempting to influence the Presidential election isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I made the prediction, but it most definitely counts.

  10. Twitter will finish 2016 at least 25% lower than its current $20 price.

    $16.44 on January 3. The 52 week low was $13.73, and it did drop more than fifteen percent in a year in which the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by about fifteen percent, but feel free to Tweet about how I got this one wrong.

  11. Nest hasn’t come out with a new product in a while, so I expect this year will see a new security product.

    Nest is quickly rising up my list of most disappointing tech companies. They could have owned the smart home market, yet more than five years after they released a pioneering thermostat their most innovative product is… the same thermostat they released in 2011.

  12. The Browns will have another absolutely, indisputably, undeniably horrendous year in 2016, winning only between three and five games.

    I got the “horrendous” part right, but somehow ended up being too optimistic when I predicted they would win three games. Ouch. At least the awful season means that on draft day they should either be able to pick a beast lineman and then spend 2017 watching him demolish quarterbacks, or else they can trade the top pick for a king’s ransom in another Moneyball masterpiece.

Final score: 4 out of 15 (27%). I was convinced that the 2016 predictions were too obvious, and yet somehow I still misfired on eleven of them. As of this writing I’ve already started on the predictions for 2017, and as wrong as I was about Trump in 2016, it looks like 2017 will see me doubling-down on underestimating the orange one.

2016 Predictions

Posted from Culver City, California at 9:40 pm, January 11th, 2016

For the eighth consecutive year, here’s my annual attempt to start the journal off with predictions for the coming year that are guaranteed to be laughably incorrect twelve months later:

  1. Since it’s an election year, here are the election-related predictions:
    1. Hillary Clinton will win the Presidency with a similar margin to Obama’s 332-206 victory in 2012. While Republicans have a structural advantage in House elections, Democrats seem to have a structural advantage in Presidential elections, so barring something like an economic slowdown or a terrorist attack Clinton would seem to be in the driver’s seat.
    2. Marco Rubio will be the Republican nominee. Donald Trump, currently far and away the frontrunner, will win South Carolina and at most three other states. Favorites during the primaries change frequently as voters try to figure out who has the best chance to win the Presidency, but the candidate with the most endorsements tends to also get the most votes.
    3. There are 34 Senate seats up for grabs, 24 of which are held by Republicans. Given those odds, and since Democrats do better during Presidential elections (when turnout is higher), they will pick up between four and seven seats, giving them between 50 and 53 total members.
    4. Marijuana will be legalized in California in 2016, as well as in at least five other states. There are two reasons why I think this will happen: first, 58% of the country now believes marijuana should be legalized. Second, support for legalization is highest among younger voters, who tend to turn out in greater numbers in presidential election years, so those pushing for legalization will make every effort to get the issue on the ballot for November.
  2. Since first rolling off the assembly line in 2012 Tesla has not changed the appearance of the Model-S, so this year they will announce some cosmetic changes – nothing too dramatic, but enough that cars produced after the change will be visually distinct in some way from previous models.
  3. Leonardo DiCaprio will win best actor at the Oscars. Hollywood likes to reward well-liked actors who have been nominated multiple times without winning, so this seems like his year. For the record, I try to avoid predictions that might seem obvious, and I didn’t realize that between starting this journal entry and finishing it that the Golden Globe awards would take place and establish Oscar favorites, so it wasn’t quite the even-money bet that it now appears to be when I first wrote it down.
  4. The Black Lives Matter organization will have mostly disappeared from headlines by the end of the year, hopefully to be replaced by a more effective carrier for a very important message. While many, many people want to see this group’s goals put into action, they cannot be an effective agent for change if they drive away potential supporters with adversarial tactics that include hijacking political events, blocking freeways, and shutting down community outreach meetings.
  5. This is a prediction that I actually expect will be wrong, but I don’t like to make obvious predictions so I’ll say that the 2016 US Olympic Men’s basketball team will lose one of their games. The US should be completely dominant in basketball, but they’ve had a couple of close calls in the last two Olympics after a disappointing showing in 2004, and I think that the team-first nature of international basketball could lead to another letdown for a group that has no experience playing together.
  6. Obama’s job approval numbers, currently at about 47%, will rise to between 53-57% as his term ends and opposition focus moves from him to Hillary. Unless Michelle Obama goes into politics, all of the talk of Obama the Kenyan-Muslim-socialist-who-is-setting-up-FEMA-internment-camps-for-gun-owners will finally end, and people will instead remember a pretty decent guy who raised two great daughters, presided over a decrease in unemployment from 10% down to 5%, and oversaw a notable improvement in the nation’s reputation overseas.
  7. Microsoft’s plans to force upgrades to Windows 10 will backfire spectacularly, leading to frustrated users, lost work hours, and resulting in a PR debacle and calls for the CEO to step down. Despite giving the OS away for free, only 8% of users have upgraded since its release in July (compare that to 27% of Mac users who upgraded just one month after the release of their latest OS).
  8. Batman v. Superman won’t finish in the top ten domestic box office for 2016. The last Superman movie was subpar, Batman without Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale doesn’t generate much fan anticipation, and the release schedule is already crowded with another Star Wars movie and numerous comic book films. Superman is all sorts of awesome, and it’s a travesty that no one has made a great Superman movie since 1978, so I hope that this prediction is spectacularly wrong.
  9. Russia will engage in significant provocation this year in an effort to rekindle a Cold War atmosphere. Putin is opportunistic, as demonstrated by the war in Georgia, and I think he wants to do what he can to make the US administration more hawkish as it allows him to create alliances with countries that the US might otherwise engage diplomatically – when the US has better diplomatic relations with countries like China and Iran it means that Russia is more isolated than it otherwise would be.
  10. Twitter, which traded at a 52-week high of $53.69, will finish 2016 at least 25% lower than its current $20 price. The company’s revenues are supposedly rising, but unless I’m missing something (which is probable!) they have no unique technologies, no obvious way to increase profits without annoying Twitter-ites with more ads, and thus no obvious upside in the immediate future. With that said, for someone who works in technology I’m notoriously bad at technology predictions, so don’t rush out to short their stock based on anything I’ve written.
  11. Nest hasn’t come out with a new product in a while, so I expect this year will see a new offering. Since “a new product from Nest” is kind of obvious, I’ll dig myself into a hole by saying that it will specifically be a security product, combining their Dropcam technology with the motion sensor technology in their smoke detectors, and potentially including something to monitor the opened/closed state of doors and windows (which would also be valuable for future energy efficiency products).
  12. The Browns will have another absolutely, indisputably, undeniably horrendous year in 2016, winning only between three and five games. They just fired their head coach for the third time in five years, which not only means that players like Joe Thomas and Alex Mack are likely to flee to other teams, but will also make it nearly impossible to attract any talent during free agency. I’ll happily go on record as saying that getting rid of Pettine was an extraordinarily dumb move, and that even Vince Lombardi would not have won more than three or four games with the 2015 Browns roster.

There they are. I feel good about this batch of predictions, just as I did when I got them mostly-wrong last year, so expect that most of the above will be unbelievably incorrect in twelve months. As always, the comments link is there for both predictions that anyone wants to add, or any mocking that might be needed due to my insistence on continuing to treat the Browns as a subject worth writing about.

Looking Back at the Look Ahead

Posted from Culver City, California at 7:31 pm, December 31st, 2015

As is tradition, before recounting how bad I am at predicting future events, here is the scorecard from past years:

  • 2009: 31% correct (5 of 16)
  • 2010: 44% correct (7.5 of 17)
  • 2011: 50% correct (7 of 14)
  • 2012: 40% correct (6 of 15)
  • 2013: 11% correct (1.5 of 14)
  • 2014: 12% correct (1.5 out of 13)

Following two horrendous years, the odds favored a rebound… here are the results of the 2015 predictions:

  1. Hillary Clinton will announce she is running for President, and every Democrat of note including Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren will stay out of her way. Sarah Palin will go through the motions but will eventually announce that she isn’t running.

    As predicted, Hillary has pitched a shutout thus far and looks to have pretty much wrapped up the nomination before any votes are cast. Palin, however, made no pretense of running, so this one was only half correct.

  2. After the initial release of the Apple Watch in April, version 2.0 will follow quickly in time for the Christmas shopping season.

    Nope. I still don’t understand the point of having a watch that talks to your phone to… what? Save the two seconds it takes to get your phone out of your pocket? Until they add some useful health features I don’t think it’s going to be a meaningful product in their lineup. It would be neat to visit the alternate universe where Steve Jobs is still alive to see if he would have even bothered to release this thing in its current state.

  3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens will open with the largest weekend box office in history.

    This movie has broken box office records by large margins and is going to be monstrously huge. In twelve days it has already made $600 million and will easily become the biggest movie of all time. That fact means that I’ve got 1.5 out of 3 predictions correct, and will thus at least equal the abysmal performances of 2013 and 2014 – hooray!

  4. SpaceX will launch their Falcon Heavy rocket, have a successful test of their launch abort system (necessary before they can fly humans to space), and they will not only successfully land first stages, but they will have announced plans to re-use one of them on a future test flight.

    An explosion in June set the company back, but they still landed a rocket last week because SO AWESOME SPACESHIPS!!!!.

  5. The Supreme Court will refrain from disallowing subsidies to individuals living in states that do not run their own health care marketplaces in King v. Burwell, and will affirm the federal right to marry for gay couples in a consolidated case.

    Correct in both cases. I don’t usually agree with him ideologically, but so far I think John Roberts has been a surprisingly good Chief Justice.

  6. Facebook is going to announce a significant new service that takes advantage of the massive user profile data sets that they have for their users.

    Nope. Their big announcement this year was a “Haha” button, and somehow the stock is still up almost 50%.

  7. I think the Cavs (currently 26-20 and #5 in the East) will make the NBA Finals, but won’t win.

    They got to the Finals and played six awesome games. Being a fan of Cleveland sports is a tragic comedy played out over decades, so this weird injection of success and excitement was pretty awesome.

  8. The new Republican Congress won’t do anything extreme like shut down the government over the budget or play chicken with the debt limit, but they also won’t pass any significant legislation such as changes to Obamacare, immigration reform, or tax reform.

    I’m on a surprising roll – 4.5 out of 8. Congress opted for no shutdowns and no debt limit showdowns, and also passed no major legislation. That said, while they did briefly descend into chaos searching for a Speaker, they also shockingly fixed a difficult Medicare issue that has lingered since 1997, passed the first long-term highway bill since 2009, and overhauled the No Child Left Behind law. Overall, the performance was far worse than this country is capable of, but still better than expected when the year began.

  9. The St. Louis Rams will announce plans to return to Los Angeles.

    No announcement has yet been made, but it appears likely. If the Rams do move, the new stadium will be really, really impressive.

  10. Tesla will announce a battery pack upgrade for the Model-S.

    They came out with a pack for the Model-S that was a tiny bit larger, and announced a more significant 40% larger pack for the Roadster. Half credit on this one, since I expected a more substantial upgrade.

  11. The value of the Euro will rebound to at least $1.20 by the end of the year as exports pick up.

    The value has continued to fall and is now $1.09, and with the United Kingdom threatening to vote on leaving the EU the outlook for a unified European economy continues to worsen. My financial predictions this year were… not good.

  12. The Browns will make at least three trades in the draft, netting at least one extra pick for next year.

    They traded back in the second round, traded up in the third round, traded back in the fourth round, but amassed no extra picks for 2016. No prediction credit awarded.

  13. Apple is going to announce a television.

    This is like the fifth time I’ve been wrong on this prediction. Steve Jobs would have gotten a TV out by now.

  14. Gas prices, currently at a national average of $2.04, will climb back over $3.00 by year’s end as supply is reduced and usage increases. I’ll peg the prediction range at $3.10 – $3.30.

    It’s $3.03 in Los Angeles, but $2.002 nationally. The Saudis are apparently serious about keeping prices low to eliminate competition.

  15. The Washington Post is going to make some bold moves in 2015 that will show how traditional print media can thrive in the digital world.

    Zuckerberg and Bezos both let me down this year, but if I had to choose between innovation in social media and print media, or innovation in ROCKETS THAT FLY TO SPACE AND THEN LAND BECAUSE OF AWESOME, I’ll choose spaceships every time.

There it is: 5 out of 15 (33%), making this the fourth best year out of the seven years that this game has been played. For once I actually would have beaten a blind monkey throwing darts, but the upcoming predictions for 2016 are almost certain to fare worse, so the monkey may have his revenge soon enough.

2015 Predictions

Posted from Marina del Rey, California at 10:05 pm, January 28th, 2015

Based on my past track record the following predictions are statistically highly unlikely to come true – if you are looking for more accurate predictions, buy a magic eight ball or make use of a small herd of puppies. That said, I actually spent more time than normal trying to come up with well thought-out predictions for 2015, but history suggests that re-reading this list in twelve months will be an embarrassing endeavor:

  1. Hillary Clinton will announce she is running for President, and every Democrat of note including Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren will stay out of her way. Bernie Sanders is already in, but he is going to be the Ron Paul of 2016 for the Democrats, with lots of yard signs and spirited rallies, but no significant victories. On the Republican side, Sarah Palin will go through the motions but will eventually announce that she isn’t running.
  2. After the initial release of the Apple Watch in April, version 2.0 will follow quickly in time for the Christmas shopping season. I think calling this device a “watch” was a mistake, and my guess is that version 2.0 will be a significantly better device for monitoring health and fitness, and will appeal more broadly.
  3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens will open with the largest weekend box office in history. The Avengers holds the current record at $207 million.
  4. SpaceX will launch their Falcon Heavy rocket, have a successful test of their launch abort system (necessary before they can fly humans to space), and they will not only successfully land first stages, but they will have announced plans to re-use one of them on a future test flight. I love living in a time when space technology is again advancing rapidly.
  5. The Supreme Court will refrain from disallowing subsidies to individuals living in states that do not run their own health care marketplaces in King v. Burwell, and will affirm the federal right to marry for gay couples in a consolidated case. John Roberts seems to be walking a fine line between ensuring that the court isn’t viewed as political while at the same time giving justices some flexibility to vote their political conscience, so I would be a bit shocked if he seriously rocked the boat in either of these cases.
  6. Facebook is going to announce a significant new service that takes advantage of the massive user profile data sets that they have for their users. Mark Zuckerberg is no dummy, and with people facing Facebook fatigue and the available pool of new users shrinking, he must have something brewing. My guess is that while today you “friend” people that you already know, this new service might be more of a “suggestion” service, sort of like a match.com meets LinkedIn melded with Meetup, with Facebook serving as the accommodating host. It makes sense – Facebook has the user data to make such a system work, and it would give people a new reason to log on each day.
  7. I hate to jinx them, but I’m gonna go on record as saying I think the Cavs (currently 26-20 and #5 in the East) will make the NBA Finals, but won’t win. The East just isn’t that good, and I think the Cavs can run through every other team if they can stay focused in the playoffs.
  8. The new Republican Congress won’t do anything extreme like shut down the government over the budget or play chicken with the debt limit, but they also won’t pass any significant legislation such as changes to Obamacare, immigration reform, or tax reform. After the last election the Republicans have a weird mix of House members from deep red districts who want to show that they won’t compromise in any way and Senators from purple states who want to show that they are more moderate than their compatriots in the House, while the Democratic Senators will filibuster anything they see as too extreme, and I think the result of this mix will be a lot of inaction.
  9. The St. Louis Rams will announce plans to return to Los Angeles. There are any number of rumors out there about Jacksonville moving to LA, the Chargers coming to LA, AEG building a stadium, etc, but I think the Rams owner’s recent announcement that he will build a stadium near the Forum is the one that will actually result in a team coming back to America’s second largest TV market.
  10. Tesla will announce a battery pack upgrade for the Model-S. Battery technology has improved 20-30% since the first Model-S deliveries in June 2012, and with other manufacturers announcing electric vehicles with ranges that are starting to approach Tesla, I bet Elon will be anxious to prove that his company still offers technology that is generations ahead of the competition.
  11. As Europe’s financial situation has worsened, the value of the Euro against the dollar has gone from $1.35 down to $1.12. I suspect it will continue to drop for a few more months, but will rebound to at least $1.20 by the end of the year as exports pick up – the current drop of $0.23 makes a Mercedes nearly 20% cheaper, and I bet a lot of people wouldn’t mind twenty percent off a German luxury car.
  12. The Browns have ten draft picks in the upcoming draft, including two in the first round. Statistics have shown that it is better to trade down and amass picks, and I think Ray Farmer buys into that philosophy, so I’ll predict at least three trades in the Browns draft, netting at least one extra pick for next year. As to who they draft, I just hope they go for safe picks instead of grabbing talented QBs with bad attitudes and poor work ethics.
  13. Apple is going to announce a television. I’ve been wrong on this prediction repeatedly, but it’s something Apple has admitted to working on, and with 4K starting to take off, streaming media replacing DVDs, and a need for some sort of home automation hub, the time has never been better.
  14. Gas prices, currently at a national average of $2.04, will climb back over $3.00 by year’s end as supply is reduced and usage increases. I’ll peg the prediction range at $3.10 – $3.30.
  15. The Washington Post is going to make some bold moves in 2015 that will show how traditional print media can thrive in the digital world. Jeff Bezos is a smart guy, and pairing Amazon, a company that completely changed how we buy books, with the flagship newspaper of the nation’s capital, is bound to generate some interesting results.

There they are. You can let the mockery begin now, or you can wait until January 2016 to mock in hindsight. For the truly bold, the comments link is there for you to make your own predictions and show me how it should be done.

2014 Prediction Scorecard

Posted from Culver City, California at 1:17 pm, January 10th, 2015

First, to put the embarrassment that are my 2014 predictions into their proper context, here is the record of futility from past years:

  • 2009: 31% correct (5 of 16)
  • 2010: 44% correct (7.5 of 17)
  • 2011: 50% correct (7 of 14)
  • 2012: 40% correct (6 of 15)
  • 2013: 11% correct (1.5 of 14)

I can at least say that this year’s picks were only my second-worst showing of all time…

  1. Election predictions:
    1. Democrats will hold the Senate, barely, with their 55 member majority reduced to between 50-52 members.

      Not even close. Democrats lost nine seats. It was a horrible map for the blue team with many races in conservative states, and they will almost certainly regain several seats in 2016, but I was way off.

    2. The House will stay under Republican control – currently Republicans hold 234 seats, and after the election they will hold 224-234 seats.

      Again, not even close. Republicans gained thirteen seats for a total of 247. My understanding of the electorate clearly demonstrates why I will never be a politician.

  2. The values of Facebook (currently $56) and Twitter (currently $63) will both decline by at least twenty percent.

    Facebook closed the year at $78.02 and Twitter closed at $35.86. The number of people who seem to think “Farmville” is the key to gigantic revenues continues to confuse me. Zero-for-three with the predictions so far.

  3. Tiger Woods will win at least two major championships.

    Ouch. In 2014 he won… nothing. Nada. Only one top-25 finish all year. Granted, his back was messed up, but I still don’t see how the guy who was the Michael Jordan of golf suddenly looked more like the Michael Jordan of baseball. He’ll come back, but in the meantime I’m still not on the scoreboard.

  4. No significant new laws will be passed in the areas of gun control or immigration reform prior to the mid-term elections.

    HE’S ON THE BOARD. I continue to believe that it’s simply impossible – logistically and from an economic standpoint – to kick eleven million people out of the country and then deal with the repercussions that come from losing a significant portion of the country’s low-income workers. Thus it seems like Republicans should just pass something to get this issue out of the way, deal with the fallout, and stop it from continuing to hurt them with the nation’s fastest growing minority. Despite my clearly omniscient advice, the House never put the Senate’s immigration bill up for a vote during the entire 113th Congress, so immigration will again be a major reason for Latinos to vote Democrat in 2016.

  5. Google is going to make some sort of HUGE move into the entertainment space.

    I was probably two years too early on that one. It’s coming – Google and Apple are the only ones who could pull it off, and both of them will do something eventually.

  6. Lebron James will re-sign with the Heat, as will Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.

    BEST WRONG PREDICTION EVER. Granted, the Cavs still aren’t winning very much, but at least now they win occasionally, the games are entertaining enough to be televised, and Aaron and I again have reason to break out the Anderson Varejao wigs.

  7. Apple’s share of the tablet market will drop another ten percent to less than twenty percent of the total tablet market by the end of 2014.

    The most recent data available had Apple dropping to 22.8% in the third quarter of 2014, but that percentage was expected to jump slightly in the fourth quarter due to the new iPads being released, thus missing my 20% target. I continue to be bad at understanding technology.

  8. Tesla will not deliver the Model X as scheduled in 2014, but will plan on delivering their next vehicle no later than Summer 2015. They will also not have rolled out their battery swapping technology due to a lack of demand. Finally, they will not have moved forward on their plans for a battery factory.

    The Model X is now scheduled for release in early 2016 – Tesla makes unbelievable automobiles, but is horrible at estimating release dates. They opened their first battery swap station in December, and I was very, very wrong about them putting off building a battery factory – they have staked their future on the Gigafactory, which is now being built outside of Reno. I am usually better at the Tesla predictions, and the scorecard falls to an impossibly low one-for-nine.

  9. The next evolution of TV – 4K resolution – will be well underway by year’s end. By year’s end cable companies will have streaming 4K offerings, a few shows will announce plans to film in 4K, and the movie studios will be on the verge of announcing a 4K format to succeed blu ray.

    4K televisions were all over Best Buy this past Christmas, but content is still next-to-impossible to find, with only Netflix making much content available in 4K. More out of self-pity than anything else I’m giving myself half credit here, bumping the tally up to a pitiful 1.5 correct.

  10. The Browns will draft a quarterback with their first pick, and whoever they get is not going to be successful.

    They traded the #4 overall pick, then picked Justin Gilbert, a cornerback, with the #8 pick, and also took Johnny Manziel with the #22 pick. I’ve never been a fan of Johnny Football, and am even less of one after seeing what he did this past season, but despite their picks not panning out, at the time it seemed like a far better draft than I was expecting. Hopefully the extra first-round pick this year turns into someone who is best known for his prowess on the field, and not for photos of him drinking in a pool while riding on an inflatable swan.

  11. Following Colorado and Washington, California and at least two others states will vote to de-criminalize marijuana use.

    Didn’t happen, although Jack-in-the-Box didn’t seem to care and launched an entire “Munchie Meal” campaign aimed at potheads.

  12. Apple and Google will both unveil products and strategies that will focus those companies heavily on home automation.

    This one will happen, but it didn’t happen in 2014 to the extent that I expected. We should have motion detectors tied to smart lights that are tied to smart water heaters that work with smart thermostats that sync up with smart sprinklers, all updated from the internet and controlled from cell phones. I mean, it’s 2015 – Marty McFly is supposed to be getting chased by Griff on a hoverboard by now!

There it is: 1.5 out of 13 (12%). Had I made one more pick I might have tied 2013’s record of futility. Getting the Lebron pick wrong at least softens the blow – even if the Cavs aren’t winning, basketball is more fun when the NBA’s best player is on your favorite team. Now onwards to 2015, when the picks have to go better, don’t they?

2014 Predictions

Posted from Culver City, California at 10:33 pm, January 23rd, 2014

Following a disasterous set of 2013 predictions, predictions for 2014 are now ready to be proven incorrect. For those wanting to read about things that never came to pass, past year’s predictions can be found at the following links: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. Here’s what the crystal ball shows for the coming year:

  1. Since 2014 is mid-term election, here’s the obligatory election prediction:
    • Democrats will hold the Senate, barely, with their 55 member majority reduced to between 50-52 members (current projections are that it will be 50-50 after the elections). I think the Obamacare web site issues will mostly be forgotten in November, but I also think Republicans are likely to nominate better candidates than they did in the last two cycles.
    • The House will stay under Republican control – currently Republicans hold 234 seats, and after the election they will hold 224-234 seats (current projection is 228). The way House districts are drawn make it tough for things to change much so soon after the redistricting that took place for 2012.
  2. The values of Facebook (currently $56) and Twitter (currently $63) will both decline by at least twenty percent due to growth and revenue concerns. Revenue models based on the dual belief that everyone on the planet will sign up and that they will then spend money on Farmville are not something that smart investors should be banking on.
  3. Tiger Woods will win at least two major championships. He remains the most talented golfer alive and is way overdue.
  4. No significant new laws will be passed in the areas of gun control or immigration reform prior to the mid-term elections. For the record, I think it is inevitable that immigration reform will happen eventually, and thus in addition to the fact that it is a good idea on the merits, Republicans would be wise to pass something soon to prevent this from continuing to be an issue that damages them in national elections, but their less moderate members will continue to block any action.
  5. Google is going to make some sort of HUGE move into the entertainment space. It’s clear that with Google TV, Youtube and Google Fiber that they want to be in the living room and delivering content, and I suspect that they will try hard to make any such move well ahead of Apple to gain whatever advantage comes from being first.
  6. Lebron James will re-sign with the Heat, as will Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. There is noise around the idea that once he becomes a free agent Lebron will return to Cleveland or go elsewhere, but he wants to win as many titles as Michael Jordan and will thus stay exactly where he is. Also, Cleveland is cursed.
  7. Apple’s share of the tablet market will continue to fall precipitously. It dropped from 40% in 2012 to 30% in 2013, and will drop another ten percent to less than twenty percent of the total tablet market by the end of 2014. Since its announcement in 2010, and after four generations, the iPad hasn’t offered much new beyond better screen resolutions, and as a result most cost-conscious consumers will choose other options.
  8. Tesla will not deliver the Model X as scheduled in 2014, but will plan on delivering their next vehicle no later than Summer 2015. They will also not have rolled out their battery swapping technology due to a lack of demand – I think they announced that capability just to shut up critics, but I don’t think it’s something that people who are actually driving the car want. Finally, they will not have moved forward on their plans for a battery factory as their focus continues to be on the hugely successful Model S and their next generation vehicle, which if they can meet their goals will (I believe) be the most important vehicle since the Ford Model-T.
  9. The next evolution of TV – 4K resolution, which offers four times the resolution of current HD TVs – will be well underway by year’s end. While a handful of TVs are currently available offering 4K resolution, content is hard to come by, but by year’s end cable companies will have streaming 4K offerings, a few shows will announce plans to film in 4K, and the movie studios will be on the verge of announcing a 4K format to succeed blu ray.
  10. The Browns will draft a quarterback with their first pick, and whoever they get is not going to be nearly as successful as recently drafted QBs like Russell Wilson or Andrew Luck. The team should just grab the best available player in a draft with a ton of talented guys, and ideally they would use a few of their many picks to build an impenetrable offensive line – even a moderately talented QB with a reasonable amount of time to throw will be a success – but they will screw it up and reach for a guy that won’t be starting in three years. Sadly, I’ll still root for them until the end of time.
  11. Following Colorado and Washington, California and at least two others states will vote to de-criminalize marijuana use.
  12. Apple and Google will both unveil products and strategies that will focus those companies heavily on home automation. Google just bought Nest, a company that was a pioneer in putting thermostats and smoke detectors online, while Apple has already made small efforts to connect music sources, printers, etc, but this will just be the tip of the iceberg. We live in an era where companies are starting to find value for customers by putting even things like solar panels and lightbulbs online, and that will continue with everything from hot water heaters to alarm systems getting the “smart” treatment, resulting in more efficient energy usage whilst we wake up to lights that mimic the sunrise.

And there they are. Some of them may not seem impressive in retrospect (everyone would put money on Lebron staying put), but that’s what I’ve come up with after staring at this screen for far too long and trying to predict the future. The comments link is available to anyone who either wants to mock me or add some predictions of their own. See you in twelve months for the (likely embarrassing) retrospective.

2013 Prediction Scorecard (aka Warthog-Faced Buffoon)

Posted from Culver City, California at 8:54 pm, January 11th, 2014

2013 marks a new record of futility for my annual predictions, and it breaks the previous record by a margin that can in no way be considered small – while these recaps are usually at least partially tongue-in-cheek, my pride is actually hurt by such an utter and complete failure to guess where the world was headed. I take heart, however, in knowing that dumb luck alone says that I should almost always get at least a couple of correct predictions, so this record of shame is unlikely to be broken in 2014. As a reminder, here’s the past scorecard: 2009: 31% correct (5 of 16), 2010: 44% correct (7.5 of 17), 2011: 50% correct (7 of 14) and 2012: 40% correct (6 of 15). And now, the carnage that was 2013:

  1. The resolution to the current debt ceiling debate will permanently defuse the debt ceiling as a future threat.

    Luckily a last-minute agreement prevented the self-destruct button from being pushed on the US credit rating, but while politicians were afterwards making noises about not repeating this masochistic exercise, nothing was done to actually defuse the bomb and we are headed for more potential drama in March. Zero-for-one in the prediction game so far, and it gets much worse.

  2. Usain Bolt will not win an individual gold medal at the 2013 Track & Field World Championships and will be overshadowed by his training partner Yohan Blake who will win both the 100m and 200m.

    Usain Bolt won both and Yohan Blake (the Olympic silver medalist) didn’t even run after sustaining a hamstring injury a month before Worlds. Even had he run it’s unlikely that Blake would have beat Bolt – I thought Bolt would slack off after the Olympics, but he continued to make everyone else look like they were competing for second place.

  3. A la carte cable, in which consumers can choose only the channels (or even the shows) they want, will be announced (or on the verge of reality) from one or more companies capable of making it happen for the vast majority of America.

    In fairness, this is something that I very much want to happen, that I think makes all kinds of sense, and that realistically I should have known the cable companies would do everything in their power to delay. It will happen someday, and maybe even someday soon, but it didn’t happen in 2013.

  4. The unemployment rate will drop from its current rate of 7.9% to around 7.3% (+/- 0.1%).

    Officially it was 6.7% at the end of the year, but if I’m going to be wrong, at least it was because the job situation improved more than I thought it would. For those counting at home, that’s four straight wrong predictions.

  5. With Washington and Colorado having legalized marijuana, there will be a push at the national level to either reduce penalties for marijuana or to give states greater flexibility.

    Aside from assurances from Eric Holder that he wouldn’t send in the feds unless pot was crossing state lines, there was a great big “nothing” that happened on this front. Clearly lawmakers aren’t yet ready to have their fingerprints anywhere near anything that has to do with easing the war on drugs.

  6. The NFL will announce a deal to bring a football team to Los Angeles

    There are TWO stadium plans for LA, the Rose Bowl and Coliseum are available as temporary homes, and still the NFL can’t find a way to get a team to America’s second largest TV market. Does anyone in Jacksonville even know that they have a team there? Florida doesn’t need three teams – send one over here and see if they notice.

  7. Star Trek Into Darkness, Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Man of Steel will be three of the five highest grossing movies of the year.

    How did they mess up Superman? While it ended up #5 on the year, two hours into it I didn’t care at all about any of the characters except for Pa Kent, who they killed off after the first hour. Hunger Games was a solid flick and ended the year #1, but Star Trek was underrated and finished at #11 (per the 2013 domestic box office). Seven predictions, and still not one that was correct.

  8. The next iPhone will offer the same form factor as the current iPhone 5, but will add the ability to use the phone for credit-card-like payments using near-field communication (NFC).

    I got the form factor right, but that’s too obvious to warrant any credit. The exciting new features for the iPhone 5s were – more colors and a fingerprint sensor? I like Apple, I think they’re an amazing company, and I even own Apple stock, but they need the ghost of Steve Jobs to give them a kick in the pants because they haven’t been breaking any new ground lately.

  9. Increased demand for the Model-S will cause Tesla to increase its production target for 2013 from 20,000 vehicles to at least 30,000.

    While there has been huge demand for this amazing car, I under-estimated how tough it would be for Tesla to ramp up production. They smartly focused on improving their quality and margins, and as a result will still exceed their delivery goals but won’t hit the 30,000 vehicle number despite the fact that they have a long backlog of orders.

  10. Congress will not pass significant immigration reform this year.

    I GOT ONE RIGHT!!!! Passing immigration reform is the right move for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that it helps the economy, helps individual immigrants, and eliminates this issue as something that Democrats can attack Republicans over, but Boehner didn’t have a majority of his caucas willing to support it. I predicted last year that it is an issue that may return after the primaries, when Republicans will be more willing to prove that they can get things done and appeal to independents, but for now the bill is gathering dust in the House.

  11. At least one of the following companies will not survive the year: Sears, J. C. Penney, or K-Mart.

    I don’t understand how any of them stay solvent.

  12. Spacex will carry out 4-5 launches of its Falcon rocket (they have at least six planned) and one successful test launch of their massive new Falcon Heavy rocket.

    I’m giving myself half credit, mainly out of self-pity. There were four Falcon-9 launches in 2013, but if a Falcon Heavy has even been built yet I haven’t seen any news. A test launch of that uber-cool monster of a rocket remains on their launch manifest for 2014, and they have a busy schedule of Falcon-9 launches planned for this year, including a successful launch that put a satellite in geosynchronous orbit last week. It’s a good time to be a fan of spaceships.

  13. California High-Speed Rail will break ground in the Central Valley as scheduled this year.

    They issued a contract to get ground broken, then put it hold due to a lawsuit and other issues. I’m a strong believer that high-speed rail is an amazingly good idea and an investment that should be made, but the mis-management of this project is enough to make even me believe that it might be better to shut down the current efforts and start over. Build a high-speed train, but do it with a more realistic and effective plan, and a competent team in place to oversee its implementation.

  14. The Browns will have a winning record in 2013.

    In my defense, I added “this is the type of prediction Browns fans make every single year, and are wrong about every single year“. 4-12. Ouch. They were a better team than that record shows.

Final score: 11% (1.5 of 14). Eleven percent, and that’s after rounding up from 10.7%. To put that number in perspective, there is a woodchuck in Pennsylvania that makes yearly predictions and has a 39% success rate, so my predictions are nearly four times worse than a rodent’s. An octopus, a creature with a brain the size of a green pea, correctly predicted seven straight World Cup match results in 2010. Meanwhile a grown man with a normal-sized, albeit questionably functional, human brain barely exceeded a ten percent success rate. A smarter man would retire in shame, but I am not such a man and will be back shortly with another set of horribly inaccurate predictions for 2014. Watch this space.

2013 Predictions

Posted from Culver City, California at 9:07 pm, January 12th, 2013

Year five of the prediction game is ready for publication. For those keeping track of the steaming pile that is the past year’s predictions, they can be found at the following links: 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

  1. The resolution to the current debt ceiling debate will permanently defuse the debt ceiling as a future threat. Either Obama will simply ignore the debt ceiling since he either breaks the law by breaching the debt ceiling or he breaks the law and tanks the global economy by adhering to the debt ceiling and not spending money Congress budgeted, or else legislators will compromise on something like the McConnell Plan so that future debt ceiling fights become purely symbolic exercises. With regards to the current debate, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin summed it up well when he said “Something has gone terribly wrong when the biggest threat to our American economy is the American Congress.”
  2. Usain Bolt will not win an individual gold medal at the 2013 Track & Field World Championships and will be overshadowed by his training partner Yohan Blake who will win both the 100m and 200m.
  3. A la carte cable, in which consumers can choose only the channels (or even the shows) they want, will be announced (or on the verge of reality) from one or more companies capable of making it happen for the vast majority of America. Whether it’s Apple allowing people to get HBO and other channels via an internet-connected box, Google striking some deal, or another major player, the cable companies’ lock on programming bundles will begin to crack soon.
  4. The unemployment rate will drop from its current rate of 7.9% to around 7.3% (+/- 0.1%). It was 8.3% one year ago, so this would represent a continued gradual improvement to economic conditions.
  5. With Washington and Colorado having legalized marijuana, there will be a push at the national level to either reduce penalties for marijuana or to give states greater flexibility. Right now marijuana is completely illegal at the federal level but legal for medical or other purposes in a number of states. Since federal law trumps state law, this year will see efforts to provide some clarity to the issue.
  6. With agreements in place for the construction of the Farmers Field sports complex in downtown LA, the NFL will announce a deal to bring a football team to the city. There seems to be a number of reasons why LA won’t get a team this year, but with a stadium project approved it seems hard to believe that the powers-that-be won’t find a way to get a team in America’s second-largest television market.
  7. Star Trek Into Darkness, Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Man of Steel will be three of the five highest grossing movies of the year. They absolutely must make a kickass Superman movie.
  8. The next iPhone will offer the same form factor as the current iPhone 5, but will add the ability to use the phone for credit-card-like payments using near-field communication (NFC). The most recent software update added Apple Passbook, which seems like an oddly limited feature and suggests that something more is planned.
  9. Increased demand for the Model-S will cause Tesla to increase its production target for 2013 from 20,000 vehicles to at least 30,000. As its many awards and enthusiastic user reviews demonstrate, this car is going to be extremely popular, and Tesla will find it in its best interests to try to more quickly meet a growing demand.
  10. Congress will not pass significant immigration reform this year. Immediately after the election Republicans softened their stance on immigration, and this seems to be an area where the two parties might actually try to get something done, but I suspect that the politics of the issue are such that passage will be more likely after next year’s primary elections, when GOP members are less likely to fear a primary challenge from their right flanks and more anxious to gain favor with moderates.
  11. At least one of the following companies will not survive the year: Sears, J. C. Penney, or K-Mart (note: owned by Sears). I remember how strange it seemed when Montgomery Ward, a fixture of the retail world for 129 years, disappeared in 2001, and I suspect that this year may claim another iconic retailer who hasn’t adapted well to the internet age.
  12. Spacex will carry out 4-5 launches of its Falcon rocket (they have at least six planned) and one successful test launch of their massive new Falcon Heavy rocket. How awesome is it to live in a time when you can make predictions about rocketships that actually have a chance of coming true?!?!?
  13. California High-Speed Rail will break ground in the Central Valley as scheduled this year. Critics say that this is a government boondoggle, and they may be right, but high-speed passenger rail is still a good idea for the state’s future.
  14. Jinxes are real, so this is a prediction I shouldn’t make, but the Browns will have a winning record in 2013. The team was better than the 5-11 record indicates this year, and they’ve not only got a pretty good young roster, but they’ve got a high draft position that should translate into an even better group of players for next year. And yes, this is the type of prediction Browns fans make every single year, and are wrong about every single year.

The comments link is available for anyone who wants to add their own predictions. Alternately, while it may still be early in the year, feel free to begin mocking these likely-incorrect conjectures now.

2012 Prediction Scorecard

Posted from Culver City, California at 9:21 pm, January 9th, 2013

To review the sad four year history of my annual predictions, here’s the past scorecard: 2009: 31% correct (5 of 16), 2010: 44% correct (7.5 of 17), and 2011: 50% correct (7 of 14). With that out of the way, here’s the review of 2012:

  1. Obama will win re-election with no fewer than 320 electoral college votes in 2012.

    Obama 332, Romney 206. Score one for rholliday, but it’s downhill from here.

  2. Democrats will lose 1-3 Senate seats.

    When I made this prediction Democrats were projected to lose five seats, but between unfortunate rape comments and surprises in Montana and South Dakota they actually picked up two seats. Maybe it should count that my incorrect guess was less incorrect than the political scientists?

  3. Democrats will gain 15 seats (+/-5) in the House.

    Despite getting 49.2 percent of the votes (versus 48.0 percent for the Republicans) Democrats only picked up eight seats and remain in the minority.

  4. Tesla Motors will begin deliveries of the Model-S during July/August and will receive excellent reviews and heavy sales. They will not meet their delivery target of 7,000 vehicles for the year, but things will look good for them going into 2013.

    Deliveries started in the summer, about 3000 cars were delivered by year’s end, and so long as Motor Trend Car of the Year counts as an “excellent review”, this is my second correct prediction.

  5. American men’s distance runners will win 2-3 medals (out of nine available) in the 1500, 5,000 and 10,000 meters at the London Olympics.

    Galen Rupp took silver in the 10,000, becoming the first American since Billy Mills in 1964 to medal in that event. In the 1500 Leo Manzano roared past a number of bigger names in the final stretch to grab a silver. The prediction scorecard rises to three-out-of-five before launching into a steep nosedive.

  6. Following the Arab Spring of 2011, 2012 will see change spread to Iran.

    Not a peep out of that part of the Middle East this year. A spectacularly wrong prediction.

  7. The long rumored Apple television will finally launch in 2012.

    I’ve been predicting an Apple television every year since 2010, and I’ve been wrong every year since 2010.

  8. Despite a handful of analysts predicting doom, the Euro will easily survive 2012, and 2012 will see centralized European institutions strengthened.

    After fears in 2011 that Europe would literally explode into a cloud of ash and dust that smelled faintly of spanakopita, things calmed down significantly in 2012. In terms of “strengthening central institutions”, the ECB emerged as a more powerful force, but overall this is a half-credit prediction.

  9. The Browns will not draft Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III.

    They didn’t draft either player, but if Washington hadn’t traded a ridiculous number of first round draft picks then the Browns would have given away almost everything to make RG3 wear orange. While technically I was right, based on the spirit of the prediction add one more to the “incorrect” column.

  10. Virgin Galactic’s space plane will have several successful test flights by the end of 2012. SpaceX will successfully launch two missions to the ISS but will not launch the Falcon Heavy as currently scheduled on their launch manifest.

    It hurts me not to get the spaceship prediction one hundred percent correct. SpaceX had a great year, sending two flights to the ISS and moving ahead with a bunch of exciting new upgrades. Virgin Galactic has been more of a mystery, with a few drop tests but no rocket-powered flights.

  11. Neither the Supreme Court nor Congress will do anything to meaningfully affect Obamacare.

    While there was a great deal of uncertainty leading up to the Supreme Court ruling, in the end it only added some limitations to Medicaid and the healthcare law is moving forward as designed.

  12. The Dow Jones will finish the year near 13,000.

    The Dow closed the year at 13,104. Somehow, despite a horrid record of predictions I’ve guessed the stock market close correctly three out of the three times I’ve tried. Because jinxes are real, there will be no prediction on this topic for 2013.

  13. Tiger Woods will have an exciting 2012, winning 1-2 majors and 4-6 tournaments.

    Tiger won three tournaments but no majors. While that’s an insanely great year for most golfers, it’s not stellar by the standards Woods set earlier in his career. The prediction scorecard again dips into the red with six correct and seven incorrect.

  14. Hollywood will announce that they are re-making at least one of the following five movies: Grease, It’s a Wonderful Life, Spartacus, Jason and the Argonauts, or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

    Not even close. It’s probably a good thing that we’re not living in a world where the Twilight kid ends up playing Danny Zuko.

  15. Either Yahoo or AOL, or both, will not survive 2012.

    After making a prediction that Yahoo would go away every year since 2009, I’m not predicting anything about these companies ever again. How both Yahoo and AOL still exist is a mystery to me.

Final score: 40% (6 of 15). While this score doesn’t beat 2009’s record for futility, it does stand as a mark that should embarrass and shame the prognosticator. However, all shaming aside, I feel confident in stating that the upcoming predictions for 2013 will challenge 2009 in the record books. Stay tuned.

2012 Predictions

Posted from Culver City, California at 3:55 pm, January 8th, 2012

Continuing a tradition that is now in its fourth straight year (2009, 2010, 2011) here are my likely-to-be-laughably-incorrect predictions for 2012:

  1. Since 2012 is a big election year, the obligatory election result predictions are:
    1. Obama will win re-election with a comparable number of electoral college votes to what he got in 2008. The 2008 election went 365-173 for Obama, so I’ll predict that he does no worse than 320 electoral college votes in 2012. I’m a bit biased on this – I think the guy has done a good job – but barring a huge scandal it seems to me that Mitt Romney (assuming he’s the nominee) is a weaker candidate than John McCain was.
    2. Democrats will lose 1-3 Senate seats. The Senate is currently 53-47 Democratic, but Democrats are defending 23 seats in 2012 while Republicans are defending just 10. Nate Silver at the New York Times is currently projecting Republicans will gain 4.7 seats, but I would expect that Massachusetts will go back to the “D” column and a few other races may be less close after the primaries when the choice of candidates is clearer. Additionally, I don’t think any of the current Republican presidential nominees will inspire high enough turnout to generate a huge number of “R” down-ballot votes.
    3. Democrats will gain 15 seats (+/-5) in the House. This is the first election since redistricting following the 2010 census and most politicians have been able to redraw their district borders in favorable ways. While some politicians will lose seats due to redistricting, overall I don’t think there will be as significant churn as what might otherwise have been expected given the historically low Congressional approval numbers.
  2. Tesla Motors will begin deliveries of the Model-S during July/August and will receive excellent reviews and heavy sales. They will not meet their delivery target of 7,000 vehicles for the year, but things will look good for them going into 2013.
  3. American men’s distance runners will win 2-3 medals (out of nine available) in the 1500, 5,000 and 10,000 meters at the London Olympics. After many years in which seeing an American even qualify for the finals of an Olympic distance race was a big deal, the current crop of athletes is an exciting bunch.
  4. Following the Arab Spring of 2011, 2012 will see change spread to Iran. The Iranian protests of 2009 did not lead to significant regime change, but coupled with economic impacts of ongoing sanctions the underlying unrest will finally lead to change.
  5. The long rumored Apple television will finally launch in 2012. The initial incarnation will offer simplicity and iTunes integration as its major selling points – it will wirelessly sync with other Apple devices, and will probably include some interesting new feature such as a built-in DVR, but will not be a replacement for cable. While it would be great to be able to watch network television on-demand, perhaps streamed from Apple servers, without Steve Jobs it’s tough to imagine Apple being able to negotiate the required deals to make that happen with anyone other than smaller networks and maybe a handful of premium services like HBO.
  6. Despite a handful of analysts predicting doom, the Euro will easily survive 2012. Similarly, much like the US jettisoned the Articles of Confederation for a Constitution that granted stronger centralized powers, 2012 will see centralized European institutions strengthened to transfer some power from individual countries to EU institutions.
  7. The Browns will not draft Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. Team president Mike Holmgren is a guy who thinks he can turn a lower-round choice into a successful QB, and the Browns need a lot of good players rather than just one, so I suspect they will try to shop their draft pick (perhaps to Washington) in the hopes of getting a few extra picks.
  8. Virgin Galactic’s space plane will have several successful test flights by the end of 2012, and will be preparing for customer flights for 2013. SpaceX will successfully launch two missions to the ISS but will not launch the Falcon Heavy as currently scheduled on their launch manifest.
  9. After hearing arguments in March related to the Affordable Care Act the Supreme Court decision will not meaningfully affect the law. Similarly, despite political blustering there will be no significant changes made to the law either through Congressional action or budgetary maneuvering. While this law isn’t perfect by any means, as a self-employed individual I’ll nevertheless admit that I’m looking forward to the benefits its implementation will provide.
  10. The Dow Jones will finish the year near 13,000 (it’s at 12,360 as I write this), approximately where it was before the financial crisis began. The fact that companies are sitting on record amounts of cash and seem (finally) to be using some of it to hire again, and also that interest rates seem unlikely to rise any time soon, are both things that should help the stock market. If Obama wins the election then it seems likely that capital gains tax rates could rise, but that seems unlikely to significantly affect the market until 2013.
  11. Tiger Woods will have an exciting 2012, winning 1-2 majors and 4-6 tournaments. He finished 2011 well, and after two years without winning he’s got to have the fire to win again that should power him to work as hard as he did early in his career.
  12. Hollywood will announce that they are re-making at least one of the following five movies: Grease, It’s a Wonderful Life, Spartacus, Jason and the Argonauts, or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The movie studios can’t stop recycling films, so even though this prediction is a complete shot in the dark it wouldn’t be surprising to see it happen.
  13. Either Yahoo or AOL, or both, will not survive 2012. I’ve been predicting that Yahoo would be purchased for years and have been wrong for years; maybe 2012 is the year I finally get this right, but I’m throwing AOL in there as well to hedge my bet.

Check back in January 2013 to mock me for being wrong. For anyone who cares to start the mocking early, or who wants to include some of their own predictions, the comments link is below.