Reviews

A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


Phun Phacts

In the course of writing The Shipwrecks of Time, TOF has had occasion to look back and realize how much things have changed since those halcyon days of the 60s in which the narrative is so far set. An example:
  • In 1965, no more than 20 percent of Americans had EVER flown in an airplane. By 2000, 50 percent of the country took at least one round-trip flight PER YEAR. The average was two round-trip tickets.
  • In 1965, flying was a serious business, and people normally "dressed up" for the occasion, at least to the extent of wearing sports coasts or business suits.  
  • For you ynglings, people back then could walk down the concourse to the gates -- anyone, passenger or not. No identification need be shown, and no security screening was employed. Friends and family would often see the passenger off in this fashion.
  • Family members greeted returning passengers at the arrival gate itself by standing directly in the flow of disembarking passengers, as close to the gateway as possible. Business travelers would sometimes use their briefcases to club their way through the press. 
  • People routinely placed tightly-rolled tubes of tobacco in their mouths and lit them on fire while on board aeroplanes. A special section in the rear of the plane accommodated this practice. There was some debate as to whether sucking burning leaves into your lungs might not be an entirely healthy thing to do. 
  • In 1965, no airline passenger was dragged, screaming, by his limbs down the aisle of the plane.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Another kind word for "Nexus"

received at ANALOG:
Dear Mr Quachri,
I have just read the first Novella in this double issue - "Nexus" by Michael F. Flynn. I have not read anything else as yet in this issue - I wanted to write to you forthwith.
If I find nothing else worth reading in this issue, so be it.
"Nexus" is an Analog masterpiece! I have to confess that the first 2 or 3 pages seemed difficult to read and understand, had me confused and wondering what sort of rubbish is now being produced for consumption by readers. And suddenly it clicked for me, and I realised that I was reading the best Science Fiction story that has come my way in years. My congratulations to you for printing it and to Mr Flynn for having written it. It has originality, great characterisation, a superb writing style, the prose is beautifully-written, the plot sensationally bringing together so many Science Fiction memes, the imagination and ideas making a story that is about 95% narrative (breaking all the rules) fascinating, and all with great style and class. I absolutely loved it. This should become a classic in the genre and a master-class in how to write great fiction. More like this, please!
Sincerely,
Mel Anthony
(English but living in France)
TOF's reaction: I could not have said it better myself.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Fake News Redux


The recent revelation that bomb threats directed to Jewish Community Centers in the United States and two Canadian provinces originated in Ashkelon, Israel, by an Israeli hacker "with a medical condition" raises once again the theme by Gilbert and Sullivan:
"Things are seldom what they seem
Skim milk masquerades as cream"
Scientists know -- or used to know -- that a fact is not self-demonstrating. What the fact means depends on other things and what seems to support one theory may in fact support another. So that bomb threats called into JCC centers seemed to mean a rise in antisemitism in Canada and the USA, but might mean instead a mentally disturbed hacker acting out. 

In the ever popular category of Fake News there was an item that popped up four months ago (2 December 2016) in the New York media. It was first reported in DNAinfo, a neighborhood newspaper.
MANHATTAN — A Muslim woman wearing a hijab was harassed by three drunk men on a Manhattan 6 train who called her a “f---ing terrorist” before trying to pull off her head scarf Thursday night, DNAinfo New York has learned.
The 18-year-old boarded a northbound 6 train at Park Avenue and 23rd Street after attending an event at Baruch College when three young white men approached her yelling "Donald Trump," sources said.
One of them screamed, "Look, there is a f----g terrorist! Get out of this country, you don’t belong here!”
...
The story naturally went viral, with other news outlets reporting her allegations and Yasmin Seweid [the young woman in question] giving interviews to local news stations.

Unlike other shocking stories, this article is not attended by the usual flotilla of "alleged" or "unsubstantiated" or "offered no evidence."  This is because any story that tends to reinforce a dominant paradigm is accepted with little question, as Thucydides noted a long time ago:
For the usual thing among men is that when they want something they will, without any reflection, leave that to hope, while they will employ the full force of reason in rejecting what they find unpalatable.
-- Thucydides IV, 108
We can see this in the media reactions to various stories regarding this vs that public figure.

The media did carry the follow-up story: viz., that the young woman, Yasmin Seweid, had made the whole thing up "because of problems she was having with her family," namely that she had missed a curfew.

A spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations said that incidents like this were indicative of the "tremendous psychological stress and pressure" that Muslims are under. IOW, even if it was a false report, it darned well should have been true because Trump. Or something.

Her sister blamed the media for covering the story and blamed the NYPD for investigating the hate crime claim, apparently not aware that in the USA this is what these two institutions do. She wrote on Facebook:
“The NYPD should have never been involved in the first place
even if the incident did happen.”
But of course that is just what NYPD should have done if a crime has been reported. The police grew suspicious when no witnesses or surveillance footage could be found. The sister complained that:
"Things snowballed out of our control." 
which indicated a peculiar attitude toward the purpose of crime reporting. She wrote further:
"I’m deeply concerned about the mental state of young Muslim women who feel that they have to lie so intensely to survive."
To survive? Survive what? What was going to happen to her for staying out past her curfew? Why are we reminded so strongly of Tawana Brawley, who also lied about staying out from fear of consequences at home?

And why is one of the tags on the story "Donald Trump"? 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Nexus Reviewed

From a review of "Nexus" in Tangent Online, the remainder of which contains spoilers:
"What an amazing and exciting story! Each character is fully humanized, even the most alien ones; we even feel for the spider-alien. Normally I get annoyed by stories that jump from one point of view to another, but the way this technique was used here was just perfect—each point of view had a segue into the next, like carefully drawn lines from a center we can’t see—until the climax, which draws all the characters into the same scene and shows us the center in all its spinning, integrated glory. Time travel stories aren’t uncommon, but finding one that is so exquisitely paced is rare and so appropriate. This is the best piece I’ve read in a long time."
-- Colleen Chen
TOF supposes this is also technically a spoiler, as it reveals how wonderful the story is to those hitherto suspecting a dog, but we'll just have to live with that. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Letter to the Editor

Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact received the following letter:
Hello,
I'm working my way through Nexus by Michael F. Flynn and am thoroughly enjoying the plays on words, the humor, the multiple plot lines and the excellent writing.
May I request the favor of you passing along my sincere "thanks!" and appreciation to Mr. Flynn for his work?
This story exemplifies why I subscribe to and read Analog.  It's great, entertaining reading!  And I've not yet come across a single obscene word in his piece.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Best,
John Harcinske
Not a single obscene word? Forsooth! How the @#$%^& did I miss that?
 

Friday, March 17, 2017

The March of the Tabs

March comes in like a lion, the proverb says, and this is surely true of the march of the tabs, which have accumulated unpruned on TOF's tab-bar over the unruly winter months, frozen on the branches like cherry blossoms in global warming. Hereunder, with appropriately short shrift:

1. "Everything Old is New Again" Remember the torrential rains in California this past winter? The following article appeared in Scientific American back in 2013:
THE INTENSE RAINSTORMS SWEEPING IN FROM the Pacific Ocean began to pound central California on Christmas Eve in 1861 and continued virtually unabated for 43 days. The deluges quickly transformed rivers running down from the Sierra Nevada mountains along the state’s eastern border into raging torrents that swept away entire communities and mining settlements. The rivers and rains poured into the state’s vast Central Valley, turning it into an inland sea 300 miles long and 20 miles wide. Thousands of people died, and one quarter of the state’s estimated 800,000 cattle drowned. Downtown Sacramento was submerged under 10 feet of brown water filled with debris from countless mudslides on the region’s steep slopes. California’s legislature, unable to function, moved to San Francisco until Sacramento dried out—six months later. By then, the state was bankrupt. 
It gives the usual nod to "but this time the rains will be worse because global warming blah-blah-blah," but it's hard to overlook the pre-emptive catatastrophes that look so much like those of today.  

However, when the "rivers in the sky" were reported during the California deluge this winter, none of this background was reported. This was not likely because they wished to conceal the context, but because the needed more air-time for commercials. These days, you may notice they sometimes don't have enough time to complete a sentence. 

2. La Grande Scazzottata Copernica is up. If you read Italian, enjoy it.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Nexus

The estimable Joseph Moore has posted a review of TOF's novella "Nexus" on his blog, Yard Sale of the Mind.

A: Review: Michael Flynn’s Novella Nexsus in this month’s Analog

A reconstruction of a conversation taking place around 12:30 a.m. last night, as my wife is entering the bedroom where I am just putting down the latest issues of Analog:

“Reading Mike Flynn?”

“Just finished. It has about every ridiculous pulp science fiction idea you’ve ever heard of in one place: time travel, appalling space aliens, space aliens that can pass for human, telepathy,  faster than light travel, transporter beams, androids…”

“What’s it about?”

“Aristotelian causality.”

 There is a woman who can’t die, a weather balloon cover story, ninja space cops, weird alien necrophilia (PG-13), alien invaders, aliens working under cover to protect earth from alien invaders. There’s Theadora the hooker-Empress, conflicting time-lines, the need to keep the cops and the military out of it, and super-ninja space cops.

Trying to remember if Area 51 gets a shout out.

And, yes, it all hangs on what Aristotle would call in Greek a ‘walking together’ – a series of coincidences – the component events of which are most definitely caused (they literally could not not be) but the walking together itself is just Fate, which takes the blame but is not, strictly speaking, a cause.

To sum up: Totally awesome. Mr. Flynn has made no direct comments on the whole Pulp Revolution stuff of which I am aware (wise man) – but, based on this, he’s down with it, at least conceptually.
++++++++++++++++

TOF would be a great fool to dispute this review.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Flynn Stories in the Queue

Coming to you in Analog

TOF's great opus "Nexus", a novella length something or other, has the cover in the March/April issue of Analog. Woo Hoo.
Also on the Analog web site is an extensive excerpt from the aforesaid tale. Read it and weep. Or else go out and buy the issue on sale now.

Future expectations 

relating to Things Flynnic, dates subject to change:
  • Sep/Oct: "Viktor Frankenstein's Bar and Grill and 24-Hour Roadside Emporium"
  • Nov/Dec: "Laminated Moose Zombies and Other Road Maintenance Problems"
    (w/Dennis M. Flynn)
  • Jan/Feb: "The Journeyman: Through Madness Gap"

In other news

A German contract is pending for a German-language translation of Eifelheim. I can't wait to see how they translate "Eifelheim".....



Russia Explained

If every person is the hero of his own story, then every country is the center of the world. Geography is not fate, but it will often do until Fate comes a-knocking on the door, so what does Russia look like when the world is centered on it?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friends Don't Let Friends Do Stats

A recent story by NBC News [sic]

Female Doctors Outperform Male Doctors, According to Study

Patients treated by women are less likely to die of what ails them and less likely to have to come back to the hospital for more treatment, researchers reported Monday.
If all doctors performed as well as the female physicians in the study, it would save 32,000 lives every year, the team at the Harvard School of Public Health estimated.
Thus does NBC summarize the paper "Comparison of Hospital Mortality and Readmission Rates for Medicare Patients Treated by Male vs Female Physicians" by Yusuke Tsugawa, MD, MPH, PhD; Anupam B. Jena, MD, PhD; Jose F. Figueroa, MD, MPH; et al.

(I wish I knew who Et Al. was. Gets his name on a lot of papers, it seems.)

NBC "News" tells us
“The data out there says that women physicians tend to be a little bit better at sticking to the evidence and doing the things that we know work better.”
Apparently male doctors practice medicine regardless of what the evidence dictates. Worse, they are paid more for their foolish and dangerous behavior.

Alas, Tsugawa and his co-authors did not actually measure how doctors practiced. So even if the 30-day mortality and readmission rates differed between male and female doctors, the researchers had no way of knowing why they differed; and ipso facto neither would NBC. Someone was blowing smoke because the newsmog cannot abide a story that doesn't give a paradigm-conforming reason. Sticking to the evidence? Forsooth..
Design, Setting, and Participants  We analyzed a 20% random sample of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries 65 years or older hospitalized with a medical condition and treated by general internists from January 1, 2011, to December 31, 2014. We examined the association between physician sex and 30-day mortality and readmission rates, adjusted for patient and physician characteristics and hospital fixed effects (effectively comparing female and male physicians within the same hospital). As a sensitivity analysis, we examined only physicians focusing on hospital care (hospitalists), among whom patients are plausibly quasi-randomized to physicians based on the physician’s specific work schedules. We also investigated whether differences in patient outcomes varied by specific condition or by underlying severity of illness.
That just sounds scientificalistic as all hell, dunnit? And hospitalists? Who knew? TOF always thought they were "doctors."
Conclusion: Patients treated by female physicians had lower 30-day mortality (adjusted mortality, 11.07% vs 11.49% …) and lower 30-day readmissions (adjusted readmissions, 15.02% vs 15.57% …) than patients cared for by male physicians, after accounting for potential confounders.
It is important to realize that the researchers were not as bold as the newsreaders. They wrote under Key Points:
Differences in practice patterns between male and female physicians, as suggested in previous studies, may have important clinical implications for patient outcomes.
TOF notes a few cautions:

Caution #1. The mortality difference was 11.1% vs. 11.5%. We caution you not to clutch your pearls too tightly over this chasm-like gap.

Caution #2. These were "adjusted percentages." That means the actual percentages were something else and the researchers tweaked the numbers to make them "all else being equal." That is, the reported %'s are the result of a model. The uncertainty of the model was not mentioned. One suspects it may have been more than 0.4%-points.

Caution #3. There were about 1,000 "all elses" that were equalized. These are called co-variates in stat-lingo. That's a heckuva lot of co-variates, leading to the possibility of multi-collinearity. This is when two or more covariates are themselved correlated with each other. If this happens, the model is over-determined and the estimates may be flawed. One is more likely to obtain an uninterpretable swamp. Did they check the Variance Inflation Factors and eliminate superfluous covariates? Inquiring minds want to know.


Caution #4. NBC simply said "patients," but the mean age of these patients was about 80 years old and the first rule of sampling is that the results cannot be generalized to populations that were not subjected to the sampling.

Caution #5. Female doctors were about 5 years younger on average, and female docs also treated many fewer patients on average than men. This implies women docs had more time per patient.

Caution #6.  The report says, “female physicians treated slightly higher proportions of female patients than male physicians did.” Since females tend to live longer than males, especially at advanced age, this would present as a higher survival rate for the patients of female doctors, not because of the doctors' skills but because of the patients' longevity. Is that the reason? TOF does not know, and neither do you or NBC.
One species of "Fake News" is when the reporter doesn't know what he's writing about, which is often the case, especially in technical subjects. The problem is that most scientific papers are wrong.
Most published scientific research papers are wrong, according to a new analysis. Assuming that the new paper is itself correct, problems with experimental and statistical methods mean that there is less than a 50% chance that the results of any randomly chosen scientific paper are true. -- New Scientist
Most clinical researchers, while experts in their fields, are not experts in statistics and tend to find significant results that aren't there, especially if they want to find them. What is almost as bad, if not worse, is when they took Intro to Stats back in college and learned a cook-book approach to "number crunching." The on-going obsession with p-values and tests of significance often overlooks two things:
  1. Statistical significance is not causal significance.
  2. Statistical significance applies to the parameters of the model, not to the actual data.
Therefore, findings from such models tend to be overconfident.




Thursday, February 23, 2017

Iwo


When his step-daughter heard the news she reportedly told him, “My gosh, Harold, you’re a hero,” to which replied “No, I was a Marine.”


Last Sunday, we were having lunch with Pere at the Key City Diner, and Pere remarked that he knew exactly where he was 72 years earlier on that exact day. "I was playing in the sand," he said.

That sand was the black volcanic sand of Iwo Jima.

He used to tell my brothers and me that in the famous photo above:
I just located a good spot and said “Put it right here guys”, then moved on to give them cover.

He was just joshing us. He was elsewhere on the island at that time, but one time in the Smithsonian when the flag was on exhibit, he recalled how much it meant to the Marines on the front line to see that huge banner go up. It meant they would no longer need to worry about being shot in the back by snipers on the mountain. There was an earlier flag, he told us, but it was too small to see at a distance, so they put one up that no one could mistake. 

Here is a post from the Auld Blogge from a decade ago, with some updates and corrections.:

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The war on science continues some more: A tale of two headlines

"California Drought Is Made Worse by Global Warming, Scientists Say."  -- NYTimes Aug 2015
Global warming caused by human emissions has most likely intensified the drought in California by 15 to 20 percent, scientists said on Thursday, warning that future dry spells in the state are almost certain to be worse than this one as the world continues to heat up. . . .  The paper provides new scientific support for political leaders, including President Obama and Gov. Jerry Brown of California, who have cited human emissions and the resulting global warming as a factor in the drought.
"A Climate Change Warning for California's Dams."  -- NYTimes Feb 2017
Scientists have said for years that a warming atmosphere should lead to more intense and frequent storms in many regions. 
So the theory predicts that California will become drier and that it will become wetter. Is there nothing this theory cannot predict, at least after the fact?

The war on science continues

This study explored the gendered nature of STEM higher education institution through a feminist critical discourse analysis of STEM course syllabi from a Midwest research university. I explored STEM syllabi to understand how linguistic features such as stance and interdiscursivity are used in the syllabus and how language and discourses used in the syllabus replicate the masculine nature of STEM education. Findings suggest that the discourses identified in the syllabi reinforce traditional STEM academic roles, and that power and gender in the STEM syllabi are revealed through exploration of the themes of knowledge, learning, and the teaching and learning environment created by the language used in the syllabus. These findings inform and extend understanding of the STEM syllabus and the STEM higher education institution and lead to recommendations about how to make the STEM syllabus more inclusive for women.
 
No foolin'. People get degrees for stuff like this, complete with the pseudo-scientific jib-jab intended to make it seem as if the conclusions were dispassionately arrived at. But does anyone suppose the "researcher" approached the subject with no expectation of what the "findings" would be? 
 
Of course, the author is not in university, but in the universities School of Education, which hardly counts as such. (/snark) 
Initial exploration of the STEM syllabi in this study did not reveal overt references to gender, such as through the use of gendered pronouns. However, upon deeper review, language used in the syllabi reflects institutionalized STEM teaching practices and views about knowledge that are inherently discriminatory to women and minorities by promoting a view of knowledge as static and unchanging, a view of teaching that promotes the idea of a passive student, and by promoting a chilly climate that marginalizes women.
IOW, there was no actual sexism in the course syllabi, so we have to read "deeper" in order to discover it, because the author dang-well knows it got to be there.
Instead of promoting the idea that knowledge is constructed by the student and dynamic, subject to change as it would in a more feminist view of knowledge, the syllabi reinforce the larger male-dominant view of knowledge as one that students acquire and use make [sic] the correct decision.
The idea that objectivity and scientific rigor are somehow beyond the women (and minorities, we are assured) is the most insulting and sexist comment TOF sees in the paper! How the student constructs the knowledge of, say, topological function spaces or particle dynamics is left as an exercise to the reader. Well, if there's no such thing as objective truth, then Nelly bar the door.
 
What's next? Creationists get to construct their own truths about biology?  Pfui, sez TOF.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Rule of Law

PROLEGOMENON. Once upon a time, TOF noted that Jerry Falwell had accused the Inquisition of killing several millions of heretics during the Middle Ages. TOF merely observed that this now-forgotten figure would have meant the slaughter of virtually the entire population of the continent, despite the Inquisition not being present in about half the countries. (There was no Inquisition for example in England, Scandinavia, most of Germany and northern France.) Falwell's figures were therefore being used as exclamation points rather than as actual historical estimates. 

The response by far too many commentators was to accuse TOF of championing and supporting the Inquisition. It was as if some who had said "No, Hitler's minions did not kill 100 million Jews as you claim; it was closer to 6 million." And the reaction would be "So! You are defending Nazism!" 

But criticism of an argument is not a defense of the matter being argued. 

Given this caution, let us continue.  

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Fake News of the Day

NBC (and one supposes, other outlets) reports that Kellyanne Conway, apparently a flack with the current administration, committed a serious breach of ethics by endorsing a product. She is reported to have said on a TV news show, "Go buy Ivanka’s stuff!" referring to a clothing line that uses Ivanka Trump's name for marketing. Nordstrom's, which had recently dropped the line, said that their decision was a purely business decision, and this claim was repeated without being verified.

There was no mention of the vociferous boycott movement initiated late last year that targeted (among others) Nordstrom's precisely because they carried good bearing Ivanka Trump's name. http://fortune.com/20…/…/14/boycott-targets-trump-retailers/

Noting the propensity of news shows to quote only isolated sentences or even one or two words, clipped and pruned, and often distracted by graphics-in-motion on the screen, it may be useful to look at Conway's entire statement. Finding people who speak in whole paragraphs is unusual enough, since thoughts are carried in paragraphs, not in individual words, that we should treasure the occasion. TV news evidently prefers the micro-sound bite because it leaves more time for shampoo commercials and other important stuff.

In the interview, Conway said in response to Nordstrom's action:
“I do find it ironic that you have got some executives all over the internet bragging about what they have done to her and her line, and yet, they are using the most prominent woman in Donald Trump’s, you know, most prominent his daughter, using her, who has been a champion for women empowerment of women in the workplace, to get to him. I think people could see through that. Go buy Ivanka’s stuff! I hate shopping, and I will go get some myself today.”
This sounds a bit different than a product endorsement. It sounds more like a defiance of the calls to boycott someone's wares because of what someone else (her father) has said or done.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Feast of St. Thomas

Today, 28 January, is the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, translated. Do something logical in his honor.

His feast had been set originally on 7 March, the day of his death, as is customary. But it fell within Lent too often and so was shifted in 1969 to 28 January, when his remains were removed from Naples, where he had lived, and reburied in the Church of the Jacobins, the mother church of the Dominican order. This process is known as "translation." During the Revolution, the church was vandalized by the Enlightened: the stained glass windows were smashed and the medieval murals painted over with whitewash. The building was converted into an army barracks. In the early 20th century, the building was restored bit by bit and functions now as a monument and museum. It was called the Church of the Jacobins not because the leftist armies had vandalized and occupied it, but because the Dominicans had once been headquartered in Paris on the Rue St.-Jacques.

To celebrate the day, TOF will try briefly to recap one of his famous metaphysical demonstrations in as modern a lingo as possible; to wit, the Argument from Motion.¹

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Apparently, Russians are getting a laugh out of the whole thing.



"Nightmare of Obama"

Caption was: "Come on Lyudmilla! Hack those Yanks!"

Caption: Typical Russian Hacker





Saturday, January 7, 2017

Fake News I

The topic of "Fake News" being much in the news lately, TOF thought he would much amuse himself by noting occasional sightings of the species here and there in the wild. Not being a frequenter of many of the places where these things are said to dwell -- indeed, he has never heard of many of them -- he is forced to rely upon his own sources and upon logical and rational analysis to identify them.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Fearless Forecasts for 2017

  1. Trump's base will gradually realize that they have helped elect a(n admittedly unorthodox) liberal Democrat to office. Having pledged to retain precisely those aspects of the Affordable [sic] Care Act that make it unsustainable [e.g., last-minute coverage of pre-existing conditions], he will preside over the implosion of the entire health-care payment "system" [sic] and replace the wreckage with a Canadian-style national system. Then he will stun everyone by inviting Health Canada to operate the system rather than the Chicago Machine, thus forestalling the predicted Zombie Apocalypse by preventing the legendary Dead of Chicago from rising up and seizing control of the Levers of Power. 
  2. Russia, in her never-ending search for more Russians to demographically shore up the Rodina, will discover large numbers of them not only in Lithuania and Kazakhstan, but also in Alaska and Brighton Beach, all with a heretofore unspoken longing for reunion with Mother Russia. The obvious solution -- less vodka and more polovoye snosheniye at home -- will not be attempted.
  3. Speaking of which, Hiram Bosworth of Ottumwa, Iowa, will discover malware on his home smart-coffeemaker and the CIA will immediately announce it as Putin's attempt to infiltrate the Internet-of-Things and subvert the American-Way-of-Life with bad coffee. Remnants of the John Birch Society will bring suit against the Democrats violation of the copyright on finding Russians under every bed.
     
  4. Representatives of Occupy America and the Tea Party will hold a joint meeting and realize that their mutual diagnosis -- that the government is in thrall to vested interests -- is the same, but that their respective solutions -- to expand the power of Government regulations on the one hand and to elect a bona fide Vested Interest to the office of President on the other hand -- are a bit incoherent and related in the way of an addict and his enabler. On a voice vote, they adjourn to Otto's Bar and Grill and, in a show of intermural unity, fall off the wagon.
     
  5. The Talking Heads of the MSM will continue to explain to the public the inexplicable loss of the election by the Space Princess. They will continue to natter on about Russian interference (without specifying what that interference actually consisted of) and about Angry Misogynistic White Men (without discovering any large upwelling either of males or whites among the tallied votes). No one will mention triple digit increases in the price of health insurance under the "Affordable" Care Act or the proposal of a No-Fly Zone over Syria, where the Russians constituted the primary fliers -- and hence of the palpable risk of a shooting war with Russia. A few folks in Otto's Bar and Grille, where the Talking Heads are explaining things, will put down their beers and say, "Ain't you the folks who were so wrong about who was going to win? So why should we listen to you now?" The Talking Heads have no good answer, and so they talk louder. Everyone stops listening to them.
     
  6. 2017 will be declared the warmest year on record, after adjustments. Raw temperature data continues to show no increase. Snow will fall.
  7. Sometime during 2017, a substantial number of people will discover that they are not actually in imminent danger from white cops, immigrants, blacks, or other bogeymen. (Most young black men are shot by other young black men, not by cops; most black shooters shoot black victims, not white suburbanites; the problem with illegal Mexican immigration is not immigration or Mexican, but its illegal nature, which allows drug runners and others to conceal themselves among them.) Statistical analysis will be made a required course in high schools. 
  8. The big blockbuster of 2017 will be Indiana Jones and King Solomon's Mines, in which the image of a younger Harrison Ford will team up with the images of Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn on the African Queen to fight Nazis as they search for the aforesaid mines. It will be the first major motion picture to feature no actual live actors in the main parts, but some will argue that a precedent had already been set by S. Stallone and A. Schwarzenegger. Nazis once again will prove to be the most perdurable villains, since no one will picket or complain about their depiction.
  9. The New Witch Hunts will continue as people purge themselves on anti-social media by confessing the sins of other people, often creating these sins de novo from rumors and snippets of quotes. A few will long for the days when confession was under the seal of secrecy. The New Donatists will declare more sins to be lifelong unforgivables and will denounce those who forgive as being haters and 'phobes.
  10. Donald Trump will be impeached on his first day in office, but the Supreme Court will rule that he must first have committed a crime to be impeached for. Just being Donald Trump, while surely aggravating, is insufficient. Also, the media lack jurisdiction, the Bill must originate in the House, not MSNBC. The Supreme Court is accused of being partisan, but Justice Ginsburg, writing for a unanimous court, rules that "we haven't yet completely lost our minds."
  11. The teaching of Western Civilization will be banned from most college campuses as being inherently racist, inasmuch as it focuses primarily on the art, science, and politics of white people.
  12. The president of Turkey points out that under sharia only a properly constituted Islamic government can declare jihad. He then declares Turkey a muslim state and appoints a caliph to succeed Halife İkinci Abdülmecit Efendi. The new Caliph declares ISIS to be takfir and launches holy war against them under the motto "Be careful what you wish for." Everyone save a few Korean War vets have forgotten how the Turks once fought. All Turkomen, many Arab Sunni, and even some Shi'ites join in with enthusiasm. Erdoğan renames his cabinet the Sublime Porte. The French, British, and Russians look on with caution; the Americans with incomprehension.
  13. The CIA reveals that its acronym actually stands for Can't Interpret Anything.
  14. Scientists at CERN studying the "God particle" announce that just as ordinary particles seem to be both particle and wave at the same time, the Higgs boson seems to be three kinds of fields, each distinct yet all somehow the same thing. No one can figure out how this can be so. The Pope chuckles and says apparently to no one present, "Oh, well played."
  15. In their eagerness to shun the cliches of bourgeois art and music and claim the coveted mantle of "intellectual," the avant garde will plunge ever deeper into incomprehensibility, completing the transition from Tonkunst to Klangkunst in both visual and aural media. Meanwhile, the People, in whose name the garde have been avanting, ask if its got a good beat they can dance to. Thus between the primitivism of the one and the revolutionism of the other, the artistic traditions of Western Civilization will be all but lost.
  16. Campaigning for the 2020 election will begin 21 Jan 2017.
TOF's Faithful Reader is asked to contribute his or her own particular insights to the future.