The combined efforts of countless writers over the past several centuries have yielded only two ideas for the obligatory end-of-the-year column. One looks back, picking the best or worst of the past 12 months. The other looks forward, offering bold predictions the author realistically hopes will be long forgotten by the time they are proved wrong.
Neither option seems suitable to such an annus horribilis as 2011.
Looking back on such a year seems akin to Lot’s wife looking back on burning Sodom as she fled the wicked city. Lest we be turned into pillars of salt, we’ll not try to identify the worst of it. As for the best of it, we will concede it could have been worse. The new congress installed last January has not accomplished much, for instance, but we shudder to think of the craziness that likely would have been passed into law if we’d still had the old one.
Nor are we able to look hopefully toward the future, at least not the immediate future. We’re not prone to prediction-making in any case, what with our magical monkey’s paw being in the shop and the possibilities being so dauntingly limitless. The only predictions that don’t come back to mock their makers are the ones that are utterly safe or worded with such Nostradamus-like vagueness that they could be describing any possible outcome, so let us just say that we see difficulties ahead and that the reins of power in a far-off land will lie like grass on the dewy meadow.
— Bud Norman