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

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.

2011 Prediction Scorecard

Posted from Culver City, California at 7:21 am, January 3rd, 2012

Before reviewing the debacle that was my 2011 predictions, here’s the scorecard for past years: 2009: 5 out of 16, 2010: 7.5 out of 17.

And now, 2011…

  1. Gasoline will rise in price to over $4.00 per gallon by the end of 2011 as the economy improves.

    Today’s daily fuel price average according to the AAA fuel gauge report is $3.28. The “as the economy improves” assumption may have been where things went wrong there.

  2. Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul will all announce that they are running for President. Michael Bloomberg will toy with people and then announce that he isn’t running (this may last into 2012). Newt Gingrich will not run. No Democrat will mount a serious primary challenge against Obama.

    Sarah Palin disappeared at some point around noon on October 5, and Michelle Bachman, a pizza mogul, and men named “Newt” and “Mitt” all briefly led the Republican race. In my defense, I’m not sure anyone could have foreseen that.

  3. Apple will offer minor updates to the iPad and iPhone but will not have any major new product offerings in 2011. They will, however, offer users the ability to store content such as movies and music on Apple servers and access that content on any Apple device.

    Both the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4s were minor updates, and iCloud allows storing content on Apple servers. I should probably stick to technology predictions for 2012.

  4. The national unemployment rate will drop from its current rate of 9.7 percent to between 8.8 to 9.1 percent.

    The number hovered around nine percent all year then dropped to 8.6 percent for November. However, since I’m doing the scoring, and since the justification for that sudden drop was that fewer people were filing claims (rather than more people finding jobs) I’m scoring this is a correct prediction. Anyone who disagrees with that decision can go through proper channels to file an appeal.

  5. US men’s distance runners will set national records in at least three of the following events: 800m, 1500m, 5000m, 10,000m, marathon.

    Bernard Lagat set a new 5000m record of 12:53.6 on July 22 in Monaco, and Galen Rupp broke the 10,000m record with a 26:48 in Brussels on September 16. Ryan Hall ran the fastest marathon ever by an American with a 2:04:58 in Boston, but it wasn’t counted as a record due to Boston’s course setup; however, it was a ridiculous run that was 40 seconds faster than the existing record, so I’m counting this prediction as another correct guess.

  6. Neither court challenges nor budgetary maneuvering will affect the Affordable Care Act / Obamacare.

    The law is moving forward, and while the Supreme Court has agreed to hear challenges in March 2012, thus far it looks like it will be implemented as scheduled.

  7. Yahoo and Adobe will both be purchased.

    I’ve been predicting this for a while now, and have been wrong for a while, too. Somehow Yahoo continues to chug along, and Adobe has failed to cash-in on their once-ubiquitous and soon-to-be-obsolete Flash technology.

  8. SpaceX will launch only three of the five Falcon 9 missions on their current launch manifest, but all will be successful. They will also launch two of their Falcon 1e rockets successfully.

    After an amazingly successful 2010 SpaceX failed to launch a single rocket this year, so this prediction was a spectacular failure. Hopefully they will get back on track in 2012 beginning with their scheduled mission to the space station on February 7.

  9. 3D televisions will still not be a big deal.

    3-D TV sales actually declined in Q3 2011. Manufacturers may eventually figure this technology out, but I suspect that something more akin to Ultra High Definition TVs will instead be the next big thing in television.

  10. Splits in the Republican party between social conservatives and fiscal conservatives will increase significantly.

    House Republicans have been surprisingly united and have also managed to focus on fiscal issues rather than social issues. The debt ceiling debacle and the late fight over payroll taxes had the potential to split the party, but they surprisingly stayed united. Another wrong prediction, and another reason why I don’t write about politics very often.

  11. Labor disputes in the NFL will not affect the regular season. A lockout will be imposed in the NBA and the regular season will be shortened as a result.

    Got this one right, although I’m actually surprised the NBA lockout didn’t last longer.

  12. Cape Wind and Bluewater Wind will both start construction of their offshore wind farm projects in 2011 after years of legal wrangling and delays.

    Neither has begun construction as ongoing legal battles and other delays tie things up. I’m a fan of windmills, and am bummed out that the US thus far hasn’t figured out a way to make offshore wind work.

  13. Total downloads of JAMWiki will exceed 15,000 for the year.

    Final download numbers for 2011 were 16,805, but somehow about 6,000 of those came from Khazakhstan in February, so in the interest of not supporting Soviet hackers this one unfortunately goes down as an incorrect prediction.

  14. 2011 will see not just two, but three journal entries every month.

    As predicted, the ongoing tradition of questionable writing and end-of-the-month entries expanded in 2011, and with ongoing effort should continue into 2012.

Final score: 7 out of 14, which shockingly is the best success rate in the three years that I’ve been making predictions. It’s unlikely that I’m getting any better at this, but dumb luck says I’ve got to be right occasionally. The 2012 predictions will be up soon, and they will undoubtedly return things to the historical rates of inaccuracy.

If You Have Money, Don’t Bet on Any of These

Posted from Culver City, California at 12:48 pm, January 4th, 2011

Following a recent and disturbing annual tradition, here are the predictions for the year to come. Based on past history, anyone with any sense should assume that the vast majority of the predictions below will be so utterly wrong as to shame a man with any dignity into never again putting in writing his thoughts on the coming year.

  1. Gasoline, currently at about $3.30 per gallon here in Los Angeles, will rise in price to over $4.00 per gallon by the end of 2011 as the economy improves. There will be numerous predictions in the news media about prices hitting $5.00 per gallon for 2012.
  2. Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul will all announce that they are running for President. Michael Bloomberg will toy with people and then announce that he isn’t running (this may last into 2012). Newt Gingrich will not run as he will calculate that he can’t win while splitting votes with Palin and Huckabee. No Democrat will mount a serious primary challenge against Obama, although someone like Dennis Kucinich may run solely for the purpose of “expanding the debate” or some similar reason.
  3. Apple will offer minor updates to the iPad and iPhone but will not have any major new product offerings in 2011. They will, however, offer users the ability to store content such as movies and music on Apple servers and access that content on any Apple device, thus revealing the purpose of their massive new data center. In 2012 my guess is that they are planning a 4G iPhone for release early in the year (instead of the usual mid-year release) along with an Apple TV product, although those obviously aren’t predictions for 2011.
  4. The national unemployment rate will drop from its current rate of 9.7 percent, but will remain very close to nine percent. I’ll pin the prediction range at 8.8 to 9.1 percent since there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of job creation going on right now.
  5. US men’s distance runners will set national records in at least three of the following events: 800m, 1500m, 5000m, 10,000m, marathon. The current crew of American distance runners is by far the best since the 1970s.
  6. Neither court challenges nor budgetary maneuvering will affect the Affordable Care Act / Obamacare. There is currently much hubbub about the courts overturning the recent health care law, or of Republicans in the House crippling it via lack of funding, but in the end neither will have an effect and the law will move forward as planned.
  7. Yahoo and Adobe will both be purchased. Companies are currently sitting on record amounts of cash, and I suspect Yahoo is actively shopping itself as a way out of financial trouble, while Adobe might be snapped up by the likes of Oracle or Microsoft as a hedge against Apple.
  8. SpaceX will launch only three of the five Falcon 9 missions on their current launch manifest, but all will be successful. They will also launch two of their Falcon 1e rockets successfully.
  9. 3D televisions will still not be a big deal, and may in fact be less of a big deal than they are now.
  10. Splits in the Republican party between social conservatives and fiscal conservatives will increase significantly. While this divide has always been a tension, Republican gains in the last election were made primarily by focusing on economic issues and avoiding social issues. Now that many social conservatives are in power those issues will again rise to the surface, causing party divisions that will lead to calls for “purity tests”, more frequent “RINO” accusations, and at least two Republican Congressmen leaving the party to become independents or Democrats.
  11. Labor disputes in the NFL will not affect the regular season as players and owners come to an agreement to avoid significantly damaging America’s most popular sports league. However, a lockout will be imposed in the NBA and the regular season will be shortened as a result; millionaire players and owners will be on TV crying about unfairness while fans look at $100 ticket prices and feel no sympathy.
  12. Cape Wind and Bluewater Wind will both start construction of their offshore wind farm projects in 2011 after years of legal wrangling and delays.
  13. Total downloads of JAMWiki (a pet project of mine) will exceed 15,000 for the year. This would be a huge jump given past year’s stats, but assuming I have a few months outside of the corporate world then some surprises may be in store. Stats for past years:

    2010: 10,841 downloads
    2009: 9,191 downloads
    2008: 11,146 downloads
    2007: 7,898 downloads

  14. Last but not least, 2011 will see not just two, but three journal entries every month. The quality of said posts will carry on the great tradition of poor writing and questionable judgment that has been a hallmark of this journal since its inception.

There they are, the fearless and (likely) completely wrong predictions for 2011. Check this space again in a year for the retrospective, and add your thoughts, predictions, and insults via the comments link.

2010 Prediction Scorecard

Posted from Culver City, California at 5:50 pm, January 2nd, 2011

Following a massive number of incorrect predictions for 2009, here’s the wrap-up of my predictions for 2010; clearly no one will ever mistake me for Nostradamus.

  1. SpaceX will launch their Falcon 9 rocket successfully in March or April and will have two successful launches before year end.

    The rocket launched successfully in June, and a second launch took place in December. This is a big deal for anyone interested in space, and, even though I was off by a month on the launch date, this scores as a correct prediction since I’m doing the scoring.

  2. Despite Democrats losing their 60th Senate seat in the Massachusetts special election there will still be some sort of health care bill passed this year.

    When this prediction was made there was near universal agreement that the bill was dead, yet it passed about a month later. Two out of two so far for the prediction game, but it’s all downhill from here.

  3. Tiger Woods will be golfing again in time for the Masters, will win at least one major championship, and at least five tournaments.

    He was back for the Masters, then didn’t win a single tournament. Historically I think my record for sports-related predictions stands at something like zero-for-ten…

  4. The iPhone is going to be available from carriers besides AT&T by mid-year.

    Everyone from the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times says this is happening in early 2011, but that doesn’t make my prediction any less wrong.

  5. The stock market will end the year around 11,500.

    Another rare correct prediction. It rose from about 10,200 at the beginning of the year to close at 11,577 at the end of the year.

  6. NASA’s ARES rocket program will be canceled or scaled back to the point where it will no longer be a shuttle replacement.

    The program has effectively been canceled, although budget wrangling is keeping some aspects of it alive. While this scores as a correct prediction, in fairness anyone who is a big space dork would see this as a very safe prediction given the public pronouncements prior to the actual cancellation.

  7. The Beatles and Garth Brooks will start selling their music on iTunes.

    The Beatles came through for me, but Garth held out.

  8. The Browns will finish at .500 or better.

    I don’t want to talk about this one.

  9. I’m going to run a marathon.

    Nope, didn’t happen. 2011 may be a different story though.

  10. The 2010 elections won’t change Congress significantly… I’ll say the Democrats will have 57 Senate seats (plus-or-minus one) and 240 House members (plus-or-minus five) when it’s all over.

    This prediction was spectacularly wrong. Democrats now have 53 Senate seats and 193 House seats, so I was only off by… A LOT.

  11. Tesla will IPO and announce the opening of a plant in Downey. The plant will break ground, but full Model-S production will slip from 2011 to 2012.

    They did do a very successful IPO, and the Model-S has slipped to 2012, but the new plant will be in Fremont. Two out of three ain’t bad.

  12. Despite recent protests, the political situation in Iran won’t change in 2010.

    …and it hasn’t changed. Things have been relatively quiet in that corner of the world after a very noisy 2009.

  13. Google will partner with someone to ship a low-cost, Google branded PC running Google apps and the Google operating system.

    This is a prediction that probably should have waited until 2012. Oops.

  14. Apple will be on the verge of announcing an Apple television product.

    Another prediction that would have made a lot more sense for 2012. When they do finally announce it I’m definitely going to want one.

  15. China will announce plans to sell cars abroad.

    Although Jane says China is already selling cars in Asian markets, I’ll be surprised to see them in the US for another 2-4 years. My prediction batting average continues to fall into the “scary bad” range.

  16. It will be another bad hurricane year.

    While 2010 tied for the third most named storms and second most hurricanes in history, they mostly stayed out to sea or weren’t very severe when they did make landfall. Given the potential for damage, this is actually a good one to be wrong about, even if it is another blemish on an otherwise ugly prediction scorecard.

  17. I will make at least two journal entries a month.

    Nailed it! That’s right, for every month of 2010 there were at least two entries in the journal, even if many of them did come on one of the last days of the month.

The game will continue with predictions for 2011 coming soon, and the comments link is there for anyone who wants to join in the pain fun.

Things That Probably Won’t Happen in 2010

Posted from Culver City, California at 11:13 am, January 24th, 2010

After a truly dreadful job of making predictions for 2009, here’s the 2010 version. A psychic I’m clearly not, but they say even a monkey at a typewriter would eventually bang out a beautiful sonnet if he stuck with it long enough, so here goes:

  1. SpaceX will launch their Falcon 9 rocket successfully in March or April. This prediction comes from the fact that a) I want them to succeed, and 2) they’ve already put two smaller rockets in orbit so hopefully they’ve got the hang of it. They’ve got five Falcon 9 launches on their manifest for 2010, but I’m gonna guess that two will be all that make it up this year.
  2. Despite Democrats losing their 60th Senate seat in the Massachusetts special election there will still be some sort of health care bill passed this year. With control of Congress and the White House it seems supremely foolish that the Democrats would campaign without having passed any major legislation. “Re-elect me, even though I didn’t do much” just isn’t that catchy of a slogan.
  3. Tiger Woods will be golfing again in time for the Masters, will win at least one major championship, and at least five tournaments.
  4. The iPhone is going to be available from carriers besides AT&T by mid-year. Apple is able to charge higher prices because they offer a great product with great service, and based on my own experience AT&T’s network isn’t up to their standards.
  5. The stock market will end the year around 11,500. It’s at 10,200 today, and while I wouldn’t be surprised to see it drop, the economy can’t stay bad forever.
  6. NASA’s ARES rocket program will be canceled or scaled back to the point where it will no longer be a shuttle replacement. I’m a big space dork, but with budget issues and private companies now offering space transport I think NASA is going to be redefined as a research and robotic exploration organization, and not an agency that puts people and cargo in space.
  7. The Beatles and Garth Brooks will start selling their music on iTunes. I’m gonna make this prediction every year until it eventually happens. And if Kid Rock and AC/DC are reading this, call Steve Jobs and tell him to make the magic happen ’cause I’m not buying CDs anymore.
  8. The Browns will finish at .500 or better. I may be the only person on Earth who likes Eric Mangini, but I think the guy just needs some time to get the team he wants. I suspect Brady Quinn will remain the quarterback, but that one isn’t going on record as a prediction.
  9. I’m going to run a marathon. There is absolutely no reason to believe that I’ll actually sack-up and do this other than the fact that I’d like to get it crossed off of the to-do list.
  10. The 2010 elections won’t change Congress significantly. After the recent special election in Massachusetts this prediction may be a spectacular failure, but ten months is a long time in politics and I’m betting things may have bottomed out. I’ll say the Democrats will have 57 Senate seats (plus-or-minus one) and 240 House members (plus-or-minus five) when it’s all over.
  11. Tesla will IPO and announce the opening of a plant in Downey. The plant will break ground, but full Model-S production will slip from 2011 to 2012.
  12. Despite recent protests, the political situation in Iran won’t change in 2010.
  13. Google will partner with someone to ship a low-cost, Google branded PC running Google apps and the Google operating system. This prediction might be premature, but I suspect that’s something they’re eventually trying to do.
  14. Apple will be on the verge of announcing an Apple television product. They sell movies through iTunes and games for the iPod, so it seems like only a matter of time before they launch an all-in-one device that is a TV / video game / media center. I am going to want one when it does get announced.
  15. China will announce plans to sell cars abroad. They seem to be following the exact same roadmap as Japan, first developing manufacturing infrastructure, then improving quality, then become industry leaders. Given the fact that fire extinguishers are supposedly included in most domestic cars sold in China, this is another prediction that might be a few years early.
  16. It will be another bad hurricane year. There were five category five hurricanes in 2005, but there have only been two since. With El Nino supposedly back, this looks like another year for big storms.
  17. Finally, I will make at least two journal entries a month. It’s gonna happen in 2010, really.

Check back this time next year to mock me for being completely wrong about all things 2010. For those who can’t wait a year to begin the mocking, the comments link below is there for your immediate gratification.

2009 Predictions Redux

Posted from Culver City, California at 9:56 pm, January 19th, 2010

About one year ago I made some predictions for 2009, first because it seemed like it might be fun if I got any right, and second because it seemed like it might be amusing how wrong I would inevitably be. Here’s the scorecard:

  1. The stock market will be close to 10,000 at the end of the year.

    The year closed at about 10,400 after opening around 9,000 and hitting a low of around 6,600, so this scores as one of my few correct predictions.

  2. By the end of 2009 everyone will know what the smart grid is.

    Failed that one. No one ever accused me of being a smart man.

  3. There will be at least two new national parks or monuments created.

    Failed again. Too bad, national parks are good things.

  4. I will schedule another big expedition-style trip.

    The whale trip was a pretty big deal, but not on the scale of something like South Georgia. Half points for this one.

  5. Chrysler is going to go out of business or be purchased; GM and Ford will keep chugging along. Another major bank will fail or be purchased.

    Chrysler was split up and is now sort of part of Fiat, so let’s say that’s three out of four. Not bad.

  6. Obama’s approval rating will drop from its current 80% levels but still remain over 60%.

    Oops. I still like him.

  7. I will run a marathon or some similar endurance race.

    Nope.

  8. The “buzz” in energy will be all about bio fuels and concentrated solar.

    Didn’t get the dorky prediction either.

  9. The Beatles and Garth Brooks will finally get released on iTunes. Kid Rock will not.

    Along with AC/DC these guys are all iTunes no-shows. The prediction batting average continues to drop…

  10. The Boeing 787 will not face any further delays – two years is late enough. The 747-8 will move into production on schedule.

    There were six additional months of delay for the 787. The prediction game is clearly not one of my talents…

  11. The Indians will not make the World Series. The Browns will not make the Super Bowl but will win at least seven games. The Cavs… will not be jinxed by me.

    Five wins for the Browns. That is a terribly small number.

  12. Tesla Motors will still be in business, although the Model S will be delayed until the end of 2011.

    Tesla is going strong, which is great. There’s been no recent updates on the Model S, but 2011 seems likely. I finally get another prediction right.

  13. I will still be working at DIRECTV.

    I made it through the full year before moving on to greener pastures, and since I’m doing the scoring that one counts as a correct prediction.

  14. Yahoo will be purchased or merge with someone like AOL.

    They made a deal with Microsoft, but it wasn’t a merger. Didn’t get that one.

  15. Lance Armstrong will finish in the top ten in the Tour de France but won’t be on the podium.

    He got third; I was half right.

  16. I will manage to make at least two journal entries a month, doubling my pitiful performance of 2008.

    Clearly I’m bad at more than just making predictions.

It was fun making the (wrong) guesses. Predictions for 2010 will follow soon.

Flyin’

Posted from 32,000 feet above San Luis Obispo, California at 9:30 pm, January 22nd, 2009

Soley because they might be fun to read in a year, here are some predictions for 2009:

  • The stock market will be close to 10,000 at the end of the year. I’m probably jinxing it by writing that, and instead it will be closer to 6,000, but this point in history seems a lot like the mid-to-late 1990s when there were tons of promising technologies on the verge of becoming useful and creating work.
  • On that note, by the end of 2009 everyone will know what the smart grid is. With Obama focusing so heavily on energy it seems inevitable that there will be a push to upgrade the electrical grid, electrical companies will be looking for ways to save money through efficiency, and homeowners will want to save money by using smart meters to gauge when electricity is cheapest.
  • There will be at least two new national parks or monuments created. This prediction is based on nothing other than the fact that it’s been a long time so there must be something in the pipeline.
  • I will schedule another big expedition-style trip. Due to changing IAATO regulations the Cheesemans Antarctica trip in 2010-11 will be their last, although I suspect that instead of returning to Antarctica some other opportunity may arise.
  • Chrysler is going to go out of business or be purchased; GM and Ford will keep chugging along. Another major bank will fail or be purchased.
  • Obama’s approval rating will drop from its current 80% levels but still remain over 60%.
  • I will run a marathon or some similar endurance race; this one is probably wishful thinking but I am definitely getting tired of being out of shape, so who knows…
  • The “buzz” in energy will be all about bio fuels and concentrated solar. Wind and corn-ethanol will still be the most heavily used alternative energies, but concentrated solar will be seen as the most economical and reliable while fuels made using algaes and other biological sources will be seen as the future replacements for petroleum.
  • The Beatles and Garth Brooks will finally get released on iTunes. Kid Rock will not.
  • The Boeing 787 will not face any further delays – two years is late enough. The 747-8 will move into production on schedule.
  • The Indians will not make the World Series. The Browns will not make the Super Bowl but will win at least seven games. The Cavs… will not be jinxed by me.
  • Tesla Motors will still be in business, although the Model S will be delayed until the end of 2011.
  • I will still be working at DIRECTV. As much as I want to move back to the Bay Area there are a huge number of good things about my current job, and they’re being even more flexible now about letting me work remotely on occasion, making it easier to come home for three day weekends.
  • Yahoo will be purchased or merge with someone like AOL.
  • Lance Armstrong will finish in the top ten in the Tour de France but won’t be on the podium. I like the guy, but three years away from cycling is just too tough to come back from.
  • I will manage to make at least two journal entries a month, doubling my pitiful performance of 2008.

That’s what I’ve got. The comments link is there for anyone who wants to add their own or mock me for making such geeky predictions (“bio fuels?”).