Crystal Ball Watch 2006

As is my tradition, each year my 2006 predictions:

Apple will release a widescreen Intel-based iBook at MacWorld this year.

I was a off by a few months (the MacBook Pro debuted at MacWorld), but Apple did release the widescreen MacBook to great fanfare and excellent sales. It’s the laptop I’ve been using since buying one for law school in August, and I absolutely love it. A good number of my colleagues are also using them, which actually surprised me. There’s just no reason to buy a PC notebook when the MacBook is price competitive and can run Windows if need be. I’ve been an Apple convert for over two years now, and I wouldn’t go back for anything.

Alito will be handily confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Indeed he was. The idea of another jurist in the vein of Antonin Scalia warms my originalist heart — we’ll see if Alito “grows” in office or stays true to his jurisprudence.

Rick Santorum will lose to Bob Casey in PA, but by a narrower margin then one would think.

Indeed he did, but it was by as wide a margin as could be expected. Too bad, but as they say, there just isn’t room for good men in politics these days.

Saddam Hussein will be found guilty of genocide and sentenced to death by an Iraqi court.

Indeed he was, and indeed he was. Hell’s stoking the fires for this one.

The New York Times will abandon their TimesSelect experiment and realize that people won’t pay to read Maureen Dowd’s bleatings. In an ironic twist, the NYT will start a blog.

The Old Gray Liar Lady is experimenting in the blog world, but they haven’t gotten rid of the albatross of TimesSelect — despite the fact that it’s made NYT columnists even more irrelevant than they were before. Does anyone still care about Maureen Dowd anymore?

Video podcasting won’t take off. Video porn podcasting will.

Video podcasting is actually starting to take off — Amanda Congdon’s Rocketboom was quirky and unique before she was grabbed off by ABC. Video porncasting doesn’t seem to have taken off at all — apparently people still get their porn the old-fashioned way…

Downloadable TV will take off big-time as Apple announces a media center device capable of playing downloadable HD-quality video – shows like Battlestar Galactica will top 1,000,000 downloads before the end of the year.

Well, Apple did release TV shows on iTunes, including the excellent Battlestar Galactica remake. The “iTV” settop device debuts in 2007, although there’s no confirmation about HD.

Firefox’s market share will continue to rise.

Despite IE7, Firefox continues to gain market share…

Windows Vista will be released, but will see anemic sales. Meanwhile, Apple’s marketshare will continue to rise with the new Intel-based Macs.

Vista still isn’t out, and won’t be until January 30, 2007. (It’s available for business users, however). Apple’s market share has continued to rise, which I suspect will continue into 2007 as more people switch.

The balance of power in Congress will remain roughly where it is, but the GOP will lose a few House seats and at least 2 Senate seats.

Ugh, the GOP did lose, and they lost big. Granted, it was the sort of loss that’s historically typical for the governing party in a sixth-year election, but the fact that the Democrats didn’t win so much as the GOP royally screwed the pooch still doesn’t sit well. This was a critical election, and the GOP didn’t do what they needed to do. The future of this country is in the balance as it has been only at a few points before, and we’re on the precipice of seeing just how bad things can be.

Every candidate endorsed by Kos will lose.

“Netroots” candidates did surprisingly well, although that’s to be expected in a Democratic sweep. Of course, the relatively conservative candidates endorsed by Kos (such as Tester and Webb) are likely to cause the “netroots” some consternation over time.

Donald Rumsfeld will resign as Secretary of Defense by Spring. The Democrats, not able to control themselves, will threaten a filibuster of his replacement, causing their polling numbers to plummet.

Rumsfeld did resign, although after the election rather than before when it could have done more good for the GOP’s political fortunes. The Democrats didn’t do anything to Rumsfeld’s successor, Robert Gates, as they would have gotten no political hay over it.

By the end of 2006, women will represent a majority of bloggers.

Apparently they already were when I wrote that — the growth of blogging through sites like MySpace and Facebook have made blogging firmly part of the mainstream.

Iran will test a nuclear weapon.

Not yet, but 2007 could well be the year.

Israel will officially announce that they have nuclear weapons, and will state that any attack against Israel will result in nuclear retaliation.

Prime Minister Olmert virtually let it slip, but the worst-kept secret in international affairs remains just that — an official secret.

Al-Qaeda will shift their focus from Iraq to trying to provoke a war between Israel and the Arab world.

Al-Qaeda’s been rather quiet lately since Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi got blown to Hell. Other that their usual videotaped messages, we haven’t heard much of them — and even less of Osama bin Laden. In terms of operational capability, al-Qaeda’s probably at a low point. However, they remain dangerous, and they’re undoubtedly planning their next move.

Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi will commit suicide after being cornered by Iraqi troops along the Iraq/Syria border.

Instead, the butcher ended up getting a high-explosive telegram thanks to US air power.

President Emilie Lahoud of Lebanon will be forced to resign as Lebanon continues to fight back against Syria.

Instead, the war between Israel and Hizballah has ensured that the political situation in Lebanon has gone from hopeful to horrific. The tragedy of Lebanon is trying heart-wrenching as Iran and it’s Syrian puppets continue to wreak havoc in Lebanon, murdering those who are brave enough to oppose them.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will be reelected in Israel, but by a narrow margin, forcing him to work with Binyamin Netanyahu in a tension-filled coalition government.

Sharon’s illness turned Israeli politics on its head. His successor, Ehud Olmert did win, but instead of turning towards Likud, Olmert turned to the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party of Avigdor Lieberman to keep their coalition. After the problems in Lebanon, it’s unsure how long his coalition will stay together.

Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad will be assassinated, with Iranian officials blaming Israel for his death. A more reformist leader will take his place, but Iran will remain largely totalitarian.

Ahmadinejad did take some political losses in the recent Iranian elections, which does indicate that his hold on power in Iran is waning, but he remains powerful, and the reformists remain only slightly more grounded than the madman of Tehran.

The Palestinian Authority will collapse as Fatah, Islamic Jihad, and Hizb’Allah end up fighting each other for control. Mahmoud Abbas will be forced to flee as members of his government are rounded up and killed. Israel will announce that they are sealing all borders with Gaza and the West Bank until the violence subsides.

It was Fatah and Hamas that ended up vying for control, but it appears that the anarchy in the Palestinian territories is still tearing that society apart. The Israelis have released much-needed cash to Abbas’ government in an effort to keep it afloat against Hamas, but even that may not be enough to prevent the violence from continuing to escalate.

Osama bin Laden will not be captured, nor will Ayman al-Zawahiri.

No surprise there.

The US GDP will grow at 3+% in 2006. The EU economy will barely grow at all. Western European companies will increasingly rely on outsourcing to Eastern Europe, causing the EU to try and stem the flow, creating an even wide chasm between East and West in the EU.

Interestingly enough, while US GDP growth was strong during the first quarter, the US economy has been slowing while the EU’s growth actually exceeded US growth in the third quarter. The Fed has been keeping interest rates steady while the ECB has been acting like a fiscal hawk. One of the biggest reasons for the disparity is the housing slowdown in the US which has been acting like an anchor on economic growth. The US’ fundamentals remain strong, but if energy prices and the housing market continue to hamper economic growth, the disparity could continue. The EU’s fundamentals remain weak, and their growth continues to be relatively low, but they did do better than expected.

The biggest hit movie of 2006? Forget Superman – think SNAKES ON A PLANE. That’s right – a movie about a plane with deadly snakes on it. If that isn’t pure cinema genius, what is?

Pure cinema genius? Perhaps… Box office success? Not even close.

Later, my predictions for 2007…

2 thoughts on “Crystal Ball Watch 2006

  1. You failed to mention just how embarrassingly wrong you were about the Eurozone’s economic growth versus that of the United States. In the third quarter, America’s growth rate was 2% while the Eurozone’s was 2.6%. After all your posts on this subject, prematurely declaring the death of Europe’s economy, you could make an omelet with all the egg dripping off of your face here.

  2. You failed to mention just how embarrassingly wrong you were about the Eurozone’s economic growth versus that of the United States. In the third quarter, America’s growth rate was 2% while the Eurozone’s was 2.6%. After all your posts on this subject, prematurely declaring the death of Europe’s economy, you could make an omelet with all the egg dripping off of your face here.

    Um, yes, I did. Furthermore, US growth was huge in the first quarter, and I have a feeling that GDP growth figures will get adjusted upwards when the Fed does their next estimate.

    The biggest reason for the slowdown was the housing bubble bursting, which was due to happen eventually anyway. What matters over the long haul are the economic fundamentals, and the EU has massive systemic economic problems. Granted, we do too, but ours aren’t as great as theirs.

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