Friday, December 30, 2022

Insight: Peering into the crystal ball

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

As previously mentioned, way back in the 1990s I never missed a New Year’s Eve episode of ABC’s Nightline television program because that always featured their annual predictions show.

Nightline’s Ted Koppel would host the same celebrity panel every year of prognosticators that featured Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and former presidential speechwriter William Safire; economist Arthur Laffer, the so-called “architect of the 1980s supply side economics” movement; and former Sports Illustrated writer Frank Deford, the dean of American sports commentary. For 60 minutes each New Year’s Eve, Koppel would steer the panel through a discussion of their ideas about the future and then each panelist would make three bold predictions for the new year after a short review of the accuracy of the panel’s previous year’s predictions.

It was riveting television for me because I’ve always appreciated the wit and insight of Koppel as a moderator. He was able to move with ease from topics ranging from politics to religion to business to sports, all while keeping panelist egos in check and the discussion focused on what would be in the news in the year ahead.

When Koppel retired from ABC in 2005, the annual New Year’s Eve prediction show ended. William Safire died of pancreatic cancer in 2009 and Frank Deford passed away at age 78 in 2017.

Despite the Nightline prediction program’s demise some 17 years ago, I find myself missing the panel’s humor, intuitiveness, and boldness in predicting future events. Last year, I started my own New Year’s tradition by making a few annual predictions of my own.

Let’s review three of my predictions published in this column last year for 2022 and then I’ll offer five new ones for 2023:

** I predicted last year that former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady would retire at the end of the 2021 season and instead would run for Massachusetts governor and win in a landslide election. Fact: I was partially right. Brady did retire, but then unretired soon thereafter and returned to professional football. He did not enter politics.

** I predicted last year that the price of gasoline for American motorists would stabilize at about $3 per gallon by the end of 2022. Fact: I was wrong. The current price of gasoline in Maine averages $3.44 for a gallon.

** I predicted that the Major League Baseball lockout would end in mid-March 2022, and I predicted the New York Mets reaching the 2022 World Series but ultimately losing in six games to the Toronto Blue Jays. Fact: I was partially right. The MLB Lockout did end on March 10, but the Mets and the Blue Jays both failed to reach the World Series, although each team did make the postseason playoffs. Houston defeated Philadelphia in six games to win the championship.

Here are my five new predictions for 2023 and when we revisit this end-of-year column in The Windham Eagle a year from now, let’s see how accurate my conjectures prove to be.

** Quarterback Tom Brady will be released following the end of this year’s NFL playoffs by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he will be signed again for one final season by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Brady will provide a spark that will help push the Patriots and Coach Bill Belichick back into the playoffs next year.

** The film “The Pale Blue Eye” starring Christian Bale will win the Academy Award for Best Picture of 2022. Cate Blanchett will win the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in “Tar” while Austin Butler will receive the Best Actor Award for his tour-de-force role in “Elvis.” The Best Director Oscar will be awarded to Sam Mendes for “Empire of Light” in an upset over Steven Spielberg for “The Fabelmans.”

** In women’s fashion, anything crocheted will be a hot commodity, including oversized tops and midi-length dresses. The hottest fashion trend for 2023 for men will be the return of denim to massive appeal and V-neck collars for sweaters and pullover shirts. Pink will be the trendiest color for women’s apparel while cereal and cartoon-themed Croc footwear will explode in popularity among children.

** America will accelerate scientific efforts to harness fusion, which may turn out to be a plentiful and carbon-free energy source without the associated dangers of nuclear fission power developed after World War II. On Dec. 5, scientists in California were able to use a laser to successfully ignite fusion fuel, but commercial use for nuclear fusion is still a long way away. Yet fusion does hold enormous promise for the future and could eventually power automobiles, eliminate carbon emissions for the environment and send humans into space at a mere fraction of the cost of any current energy resource. It would eliminate America’s fossil fuel energy dependence and significantly bring down the cost of everything for consumers from groceries to airline travel to the expense required to heat homes.

I’m certainly not in the league of Nostradamus or the Nightline panel, but as Yogi Berra once said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Wishing a Happy New Year in 2023 to one and all. <

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