Analog Nation is pleased to present its 44th annual list of predictions for the coming year. AN readers may confidently risk health, safety, and financial security on these forecasts. If we may allow ourselves an uncharacteristic moment of hubris, our predictions are quite simply going to happen and that is that. • The Republican National Convention in Tampa will be crazyballs, resulting in a nominee who has yet to enter the race. Party leadership will re-stage all 23 debates to include the nominee, all of which will use the obstacle course from G4's Ninja Warrior.
• Meanwhile, Occupy Wall Street will swarm the Democratic National Convention. Which is a lucky thing, because otherwise it was going to be way, WAY boring.
• Google will announce a cloud-based voting system, which will be implemented in at least 15 states. Very little possibility of anything going wrong with that. Right? Wait ... right?
• An extraterrestrial civilization will make first contact with Earth, with overtures of peace and mutual prosperity. But it will happen on February 29, so by the time we're done explaining the leap year thing, the aliens will be like "oh, fuck off already" and never return.
• Michael Phelps will arrive at the London Olympics with genetically altered skin which integrates dolphin DNA. The International Olympic Committee will toss up their hands in futility and allow him to compete. NBC will still do a dozen stories on how many calories Phelps consumes on competition days. Phelps will still be a bit of a pothead.
• Locusts will set off a chain of events leading to the bankruptcy filings of McDonalds and Burger King. The locust infestation will decimate tomato harvests, driving up ketchup prices to unsustainable levels. When the two fast food giants present their customers with unavoidable option of enjoying their products without ketchup, the customers respond with a resounding "Nah, we're good."
• Trend alert! Carrying old-school mathematics devices like slide rules and protractors will be the latest thing. Granted, hardly any of these insufferable hipsters will know how to use them.
• A dire napkin shortage will lead to hoarding and profiteering. When supply levels return to normal, people who hoarded will look around their homes and realize that they have so many napkins, so very many napkins.
• A tape dispenser in Las Vegas will gain sentience and begin questioning what is real. This one is a bit of a long shot, we admit.
• The Mayan calendar prophecy will turn out to be true, sort of. The 5,125 year cycle will indeed come to an end on December 21st, heralding the start of the 14th b'ak'tun. (Get used to this quip: "I'm still writing 13th b'ak'tun on my checks!") Far from an apocalypse, this new age will be one of harmony and grace — a phenomenon that the media will dub "accelerated understanding." War and hunger will fade, art and science alike will thrive.
Everyone will agree that it's a huge bummer the aliens showed up on stupid leap day rather than this.
Also worth mentioning, the entire Mayan people will rise from the grave, and boy will they be pissed. With good reason, when you think about it.
Grade for our 2011 predictions: C+ (Though to be fair, the panda fire was under-reported by the media.)
Programming note: We here at Analog Nation don't quite have the requisite level of vitriol for our 44th annual list of compulsory resolutions. However, we did want to mention real quick that all those "that awkward moment" jokes can stop now. It was here, it did its thing, it moved on, so should we.