The Universal Notebook: Gazing deeply into the crystal ball

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One of the most endearing and ridiculous traits of human beings is the desire (endearing) and pretense (ridiculous) to be able to see into the future. No one can, of course, but that doesn’t keep a lot of crackpots from trying.

Astrologers chart the motion of the stars. Psychics consult their psyches. Fortune-tellers examine palm prints and tea leaves. Economists run the numbers. And politicians commission polls. They’re all wrong most of the time, but it seems to amuse them, so what’s the harm?

As 2010 ushers in a new decade, I have taken the time to consult a few sources of my own (mostly on the Internet) in search of glimpses of what the year ahead has in store for us. Of course, it hardly matters, since we’re all living on borrowed time anyway. The world is set to come to an end on Dec. 21, 2012, at least according to some Mayan prophecy and a Hollywood blockbuster. Reversal of Earth’s magnetic field or some such thing.

Funny how the Mayans didn’t foresee that they wouldn’t be around for their own Doomsday, but then the credulous have been predicting the Apocalypse for thousands of years. I seem to recall that Millerites all over Maine were greatly disappointed when the Second Coming did not occur on Oct. 22, 1844. So here we are in 2010, so let’s deal with it.

Nostradamus, that hoary seer of old, predicted that a mysterious virgin would die in 2010. Hard to disprove I suppose. He also foresaw that there would be trade problems this year. Now that’s a pretty safe bet. Just hope they don’t involve Jacoby Ellsbury.

Psychic Sylvia Brown predicts that a U.S. President elected between 2008 and 2020 will die of a heart attack in office. Is Dick Cheney thinking of running? She further predicts that his vice president will declare war on North Korea and then be assassinated. Sounds like Sarah Palin may have a future, albeit brief, in politics after all. If so, Brad Meltzer, author of “The Book of Fate,” will have been proven wrong. He predicts that Sarah Palin will fade away in 2010 and that Jeb Bush will become the rising star of the GOP. Meet the new Bush, same as the old Bush.

Being a Pisces with liberal psychic tendencies of my own, I, too, can foresee near-term political events. I predict, for instance, that Rush Limbaugh, having praised the quality of the Hawaiian medical system to the high heavens and the news media, will discover that Hawaii has the most unionized and socialized health care-system in the nation, suffer a Scrooge-like change of heart (or maybe a heart transplant), and become a socialist. I also predict that Glenn Beck (or one of those cookie-cutter conservative gabbers) will experience a Tiger Woods-like fall from grace, forgive himself, and carry on much the same as before.

Here in Maine, I predict that one of four Democrats – Rosa Scarcelli, Libby Mitchell, Steve Rowe, or Pat McGowan – will defeat one of four Republicans – Les Otten, Peter Mills, Matt Jacobson, or Steve Abbott – to become our next governor. The picture is a little cloudy, probably due to magnetic interference as the poles prepare to reverse, so I can’t be quite certain. But I am sure of one thing – whoever gets elected will promise to stimulate the economy and create new jobs and won’t be able to do either one. You don’t need a crystal ball to understand that Maine does not control its own economic destiny.

I feel badly for whoever does get elected on Nov. 2. According to Baba Vanya, a Bulgarian prophetess who died in 1996, World War III is set to begin in November 2010. But not to worry. The war is scheduled to end in October 2014, unless, of course, the Mayans were right after all.

The Universal Notebook is Edgar Allen Beem’s personal look at the world around him.