"Keep the circus going inside you, keep it going, don't take anything too seriously, it'll all work out in the end."
—David Niven (1910-1983)
(Swans - December 30, 2013) It's our favorite time of the year again -- not Christmas, Hanukkah, nor New Year's Eve, but that glorious season when we strip ourselves naked of all seriousness, raise a glass to the gods of humor, and get out our crystal ball to peer into the year ahead. Sometimes we actually get it right! Looking back at our 2013 forecast, just as predicted the oldest person in the world died, again. And again. And again. Silvio Berlusconi almost went to jail; at least he would have, had he been a year younger at the time of sentencing. As we hopefully speculated, the Supreme Court overturned California's gay marriage ban, but unlike our forecast, the world did not come to an end as a result, so here we are. Unfortunately we got it wrong about General Petraeus putting a stop to the unchecked surveillance state and warrantless wiretapping. Hey, how could we have known, without monitoring him ourselves, that while we were fantasizing about Petraeus coming to the rescue of civil liberties, he was banging his biographer, and that in the meantime, an unknown Edward Snowden would expose the egregious extent of the spying? All around the globe, swindlers kept swindling the masses, leaders kept following the money, shooters kept shooting the innocent, storms kept storming while deniers kept denying, and as a result, the world didn't become a better, safer, more equitable place. It's no wonder that we resort to humor at the end of the year...
So welcome to our 2014 circus, where no pope is sacrosanct, no politician is off limits, and no controversy is too controversial to poke fun at. Here for your enjoyment are our traditional and annual Infamous Predictions, courtesy of a bevy of Swans. Enjoy the show and, as always, take it or leave it. We'll be back on January 13, 2014.
Corporate giant Monsanto Corporation applies for, and is granted, a patent on oxygen-plus, and immediately brings a lawsuit against 7 billion human beings worldwide for unauthorized use of their exclusive product.
The US Congress, voting along party lines, says "no" to President Obama's proclamation of August as National "The Sky is Blue" Month. Speaker John Boehner claims it as blatant discrimination against the red side of the spectrum and anti-American propaganda.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014, marks the 10th working day of the year for the 114th Congress. They vote to eliminate the US minimum wage and "Obamacare" (for the 80th time), as well as to declare the day "National Civic Duty Day."
"Cyber Monday," which follows "Black Friday," is declared a national holiday by the United States Chamber of Commerce. The Congress dutifully follows suit and goes several steps further, adding "Dawn of the Sale Saturday," and "Jesus Shopping Spree Sunday," while also declaring the week beginning with Thanksgiving as "National Consumption Week."
Kim Jong-Un executes Dennis Rodman after the North Korean national basketball team suffers a humiliating loss to its southern rival.
Everything electronic becomes more dangerous and at twice the speed with more mutant children born in the English-speaking world. Special centers are created with billions from Bill Gates, staffed by women from Jamaica, South Africa, and Tanzania. The children will have two brains, two hearts, and four feet. They will be able to swim underwater for miles without coming up for air and they will be trained as computer programmers and work for Poodle, the successor to Google, a Russian company with global reach run by Edward Snowden. Pussy Riot imitators crop up across Western Europe, Lady Gaga orbits in outer space, her image plastered on the face of the moon and magnified for everyone on Earth to see.
A new Nobel Prize is established, the Nobel Sport Prize. Its first laureate is Lance Armstrong for his extraordinary promotion of and contribution to the sport of cycling.
Russian President Vladimir Putin leads the parade opening the 2014 Winter Olympics by cross-country skiing into Sochi's Olympic Stadium clad only in a Speedo. He demands equal coverage from Sports Illustrated's annual swimsuit issue.
The Mundane Network premiers its latest "reality" show, called Acting in An Actual Film Portraying Acting in an Actual Film on Acting in An Actual Film. It is an immediate hit, passing by its last number-one show, Cardboard & Underpass Shelter Hunting for the Homeless and bumping Fox's Greatest Janitorial Spills out of the top spot in ratings.
Europeans are relieved to learn that it wasn't horsemeat after all that got into their hamburger. It was prime illegal immigrant.
Billionaire Donald Trump is gravely injured during a co-appearance with former vice president Dick Cheney on the new Fox News talk show, Fox Fumes. Cheney mistakes Trump's new hairpiece for a rabid Wyoming prairie dog, employs his Constitutional Second Amendment rights, and blasts away with his favorite hunting rifle.
The International Olympic Committee announces that the 100-meter sprint has been scrapped as an event in favor of the Walmart Scrap 'n Scramble.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, establishing a "free trade" zone consisting of 12 Pacific Rim nations, is signed at 11:59 p.m. on a Friday. At 12:01 a.m. the following Monday, a coalition of corporations brings a claim against the 12 leaders of those nations, declaring that heads of state are impediments to free trade, according to the agreement.
The United States, Canada, Norway, and Russia conduct a coordinated "anti-terror" operation against swimming polar bears, declaring them a menace to national security through their obstruction of shipping routes as well as increased efforts to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean.
Pope Francis, on Easter Sunday, offers alms for the poor and bread for the starving, while touring the slums of Mexico City, Mumbai, and Detroit. Television commentator Bill O'Reilly reveals text messages from Jesus declaring that he'd be rolling over in his grave with disgust, if not for his having arisen that day.
Former president George W. Bush opens his first art exhibit, entitled "My Pet Goat, Heh, Heh, Heh!" in Topeka, Kansas. It features nude self-portraits and abstracts of Texas sagebrush that vaguely resemble mushroom clouds. Reverend Phelps and his followers, of the nearby Westboro Baptist Church, picket the opening and declare it part of the subversive homosexual agenda.
Chinese, Russian, and American naval vessels and aircraft confront each other in the bid to lay claim to the newly discovered continent of Plastica, a 4,000,000-square-mile mass floating in the middle of the Pacific. The three nations, in secret negotiations to defuse the situation, can only agree on the single point of declaring all plastic recyclers global terrorists.
An F-5 tornado hits near Anchorage, Alaska, in December, cutting a mile-wide, fifty-mile-long swath of destruction through forests of spruce. Sarah Palin praises this holiday "act of our blessed Lord" as proof that clear-cutting is "in the spirit of holy capitalism." Exxon-Mobil quickly moves in with drilling equipment to erect rig shrines in honor of the birth of "his only son, who was baptized in holy oil."
The US Chamber Of Commerce finally endorses global warming, saying "this is the greatest development in the effort to sell iceboxes to Eskimos."
E-mails finally replace all letters. Letterboxes are then outlawed, and global warming ceases to be a problem.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie officially opens his presidential campaign at a Newark Dunkin' Donuts drive-in, holding a tirade against the minimum wage worker serving him two dozen glazed donuts because the employee didn't complete the transaction in under 30 seconds.
Senator Elizabeth Warren throws her hat into the ring of prospective presidential candidates by calling for indictments against the banksters who helped bring about the Great Recession.
Virginia, despite its history as a Bible belt state, and Florida, with its pockets of affluence, approve gay marriage and civil unions. The rest of the south secedes from the new-blue states.
The U.S., having experienced a great success in Afghanistan and Iraq, decides to pacify the African continent using the same methods. Results are assured, says the Pentagon. The chief of staff is hired by Lockheed Martin. Its stock goes through the roof. War's good.
The White House decides to put the venerable building on auction in order to finance the pacification of the African continent. Jeff Bezos is an immediate taker for an undisclosed amount. It will be known as the White Kindle from now on.
Amazon.com wins a US Department of Defense bid to disseminate pro-American propaganda around the world via its new delivery drones. Soon the US Postal Service throws in the towel and Jeff Bezos takes over that as well.
A "selfie" of Victor Putin with a teenage hottie at one of Silvio Berlusconi's villa parties is brought to press. Eric Snowden claims responsibility as part of the US government's continuing plan to hack the cell phones of foreign leaders.
Now that unemployment benefits have not been extended and food stamp aid remains reduced, expect more of the 99% to register their protest on Capitol Hill to the still-deaf ears of the 1% who are not even on Capitol Hill; but rather, off raising money to maintain their cushy status quo.
President Obama gives a speech to some vulnerable constituency that was hurt by continuing Republican attacks on government programs, making tired pleas to that group to uphold the values of "personal responsibility," when observing personal responsibility alone was not sufficient enough to help that constituency in the first place.
American citizens maintain gridlock in Washington by electing Republican majorities in the House and Senate. If there is anything that is as sure as the political bickering and partisan conflict that sullies Washington, it is Americans' short-term political memory.
Music becomes edible, nutritious, and the subject of gastronomical experiments. It will be served at McDonald's, along with dog meat, sawdust, and oral sex. Consumers pay to celebrate Christmas and to shop at malls. Cars will have teeth, airplanes will defecate, and passengers will be used as fuel as oil deposits are depleted. Americans will be happier than ever before; they will receive allotments from the Obama administration to smile all day and receive tax breaks if they voluntarily leave their homes and wave flags on street corners.
Night and day change places but no one notices the difference, and the entire city of New York is washed away during a super storm that makes Sandy look like a gentle shower on a spring day. And it will be rebuilt, street by street, block by block, as a museum for the dead and the dying.
The Shell Oil Company begins its "Powering Our Econosystems" television blitz campaign with commercials highlighting its new polar bear rest stops. These platforms, complete with seal blubber dispensers, are attached to Shell's Arctic Ocean oilrigs and aim at providing respite for swimming polar bears that are unable to find any remaining pack ice.
Planning gets underway for the celebration of the centenary of the death of J. F. Kennedy in 2063. Researchers assure us they can establish by then that he wasn't shot by a single gunman, but by nobody at all.
Pope Francis demonstrates his liberalism by taking the papal "Ring of the Fisherman" from his finger and wearing it in his nose.
In his Christmas 2013 Urbi et Orbi St. Peter's Basilica message, Pope Francis said, "I invite even non-believers to desire peace." Thank you for the invitation and the desire. We hope they will extend to the acceptation of gays, and the right to abortion.
The afterlife is privatized.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz declares that war, discrimination, crime, corruption, bad breath, stale bread, and expired store coupons are no longer national issues because conservatism solved them decades ago. He also announces himself the winner of the Heavenly Primary, having won the vote of Jesus Christ and a plurality from heavenly angels, and Cruz, additionally, proclaims that no more primaries or national elections will ever again be necessary because he is the next US president by "divine appointment." "You are all, officially, saved," he adds.
The wealth gap is finally closed: the super-rich journey to the planet Mars and never return.
Having been awarded with great fanfare the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Drone becomes the laureate of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his persistent efforts to steal from the many in order to enrich the few. Dr. Drone, renamed Dr. Malevolent, will use his $1.4 million award to take care of his Obama-dental-care.
The West Bank, also known as Judea and Samaria, is renamed the Sharon Backyard. Peace with Palestinians (Who? Do those ants really exist?) will have to wait another thousand years so that the few, the blessed, the chosen may feel at long last secure.
Jihadists are incorporated within the CIA.
French president François Hollande is asked at a press conference to define his meaning of socialism. He responds: It's about equity. So we tax the modest people and hand the money to the absolutely rich class. Like this no one's poor or rich and we get campaign funds. Socialism is a great concept within capitalism.
François Hollande, after having ditched Ségolène Royal, his first partner and mother of their four children, repeats the exploit by dumping his latest concubine, Valérie Trierweiler. He now eyes Carla Bruni, the wife of former president Nicolas Sarkozy. Ah, la jolie France.
After Edward Snowden reveals that the NSA has been listening in on President Obama's phone conversations, the president grants him asylum and a pardon, offering him Keith Alexander's job as chief of the NSA Cyber Command.
In a press conference, Cosa Nostra's Boss of all Bosses welcomes NSA global surveillance, saying law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear.
Google, Yahoo, and Facebook merge and give exclusive access to user accounts to the US government. No such thing as Internet privacy or anonymity exists any more. As if it ever did.
Vladimir Putin bans male figure skating from the 2014 Winter Olympics, claiming that the skaters' form-fitting attire is an insult to Russian sensitivities. GLAAD awards Putin a gold medal for homophobe of the year.
Unable to overcome negative name recognition and return to politics, Anthony Weiner is finally dumped by wife Huma, legally changes his name to Carlos Danger, and launches a moderately successful career as a porn actor.
Twitter expands its reach by increasing the number of allowed characters to 280, thereby doubling the amount of inconsequential information littering the cybersphere and halving the intelligence of the entire globe. Its stock price soars, setting the stage for a late-year bursting of the social media bubble, which no one notices because they didn't get the tweet.
Fidel Castro finally dies, and the U.S. swoops in to exploit the consumer market potential of Cuba, annexing it as the 51st state and renaming it Floruba, or Cubida -- the new voters will decide before swimming to Venezuela for asylum.
Last but not least, Swans relocates to San Francisco. Arrivederci, Boonville.
1. The irreverent subset of the Swans collective that brings these Infamous Predictions to you features the usual clowns that perform at your local circus on a regular basis, whose cast this year is Michael Barker, Jan Baughman, Peter Byrne, Manuel García, Jr., Jonah Raskin, Glenn Reed, Harvey Whitney, Jr., and, of course, your fearless Gallic editor, who welcomes readers' flames, whines, and outrage while denying all responsibility for the reckless endeavor. Don't sue him. He is penniless. (back)
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