How time slips away. This is my 60th End Notes column for the Mountain Express. It's been a quick five years, made a little quicker by the headlong march of events. It's been The End of the World as We Knew It, although some things haven't changed as much as I'd hoped.
Sixty months ago, George W. Bush was president. The new guy is smarter and more articulate, but the Free-Market Lizard People from Uranus are still running the country. Sun Valley Resort is still negotiating with Lord Elgin for a new home in the mummy room of the British Museum. Blaine County still hasn't figured out the best place for its new airport is in Camas County. We're still in Iraq and Afghanistan. Real estate prices are still going up and up and up.
Just kidding about the real estate. Some of you may remember my column from 2007, titled "You Too Can Get Rich Flipping Houses." I couldn't write that column today.
Five years ago the end of the world seemed distant enough that I could make jokes about it. Oil hadn't yet hit $140 a barrel. People still put stock in government unemployment figures. People still put stock in government. Legal notices weren't the thickest section of newspapers.
A bunch of 15-year-olds in Third World dictatorships hadn't yet become angry, unemployed and willing-to-die 20-year-olds. Seven billion people weren't on the planet all at once. We hadn't yet noticed that the normal life cycle of politicians includes a final 20 years of dementia. The Federal Reserve hadn't begun propping up the stock market with funny money. A number of feedback loops, like overfishing and debt servicing and desertification, hadn't started paralleling the vertical axis of reality.
The number of hotel rooms in the world hadn't yet exceeded the number of people who could afford them. Tourism wasn't understood as an industry subject to mortality. Virtual reality wasn't seen as much happier than the other kind.
Another three years or so will get me to column 100, but I'm not counting on anybody being able to read it.
That's only partly due to Tom Luna's wrecking education in Idaho. It's mostly because the Spanish burned the Mayan codices that told how to avoid the end of the world in 2012.
Even if the Mayan apocalypse doesn't happen, we'll likely again look back in 40 months to another End of the World as We Knew It.
Here are some reasons why:
( The dollar will deflate, because the Federal Reserve can't print money fast enough to balance defaults and bankruptcies and derivative collapses. Few people will have the dollars to buy suddenly cheap gold and silver and food.
( The Republicans will win their war on teachers and public health workers, resulting in more Republican voters when young people marinate for years in the fetid and pestilent warehouses that will still inexplicably be called high schools.
( Saudi Arabia will kill its Shia rebels with the help of NATO, but the price of oil will hit $225 a barrel in July 2012 anyway. By August 2012, it will be back to $20. That will look like good news but won't be.
( The Blaine County Airport will stay in committee. Friedman Airport will be shut down after the crash of a private 737 takes out Sawtooth Ford and the new rodeo grounds.
( Genetic engineering of farmed plants and animals will result in the destruction of species due to genetic drift. The Endangered Species Act will be gutted because nobody will be able to tell what a species is.
( Weather anomalies will be proven by NASA scientists to be connected to coal-plant emissions, deforestation of the tropics, and human and cow farts. Shortly thereafter, other, better-paid scientists will prove that NASA scientists are wrong, and that bad weather is the result of not enough human sacrifices to the Star-Spawn of Cthulhu.
( More Chinese factories will follow Apple's lead and install suicide-prevention nets below their high windows, but it won't forestall a violent revolution in China, one led by millions of young female factory workers. Once in power, they will kill every male over 60, having decided to pare their population down to its useful members. Much nervousness in Western political circles will result.
Any two or three of these should accomplish The End of the World as We Know It. If I'm still around in 40 months, considering that I'm male and over 60, I'll look back at these predictions and see how they held up.