To ward off the post-Christmas blahs, I will perform the foolhardy and ridicule-courting service of predicting the future. This time next year, I will read this, and no doubt weep. (And then, having learned little, promptly do it again.)
1. Economy—The U.S. economy will continue to slowly, almost imperceptibly, improve. The Eurozone will muddle through its crisis and avoid national defaults. On Election Day, the U.S. unemployment rate will stand at 8.1 percent.
2. Tim Tebow—The expectations-defying Denver Broncos quarterback and comeback artist will be benched no later than Week 4.
3. Election—President Obama will narrowly defeat former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. The GOP will gain control of the Senate and retain control of the House. (Corollary prediction: Washington pundits and the public will continue to whine about gridlock.) Rep. Ron Paul will not mount a third-party candidacy, largely out of deference to his son's political aspirations.
4. Supreme Court—With the White House safely in Democratic hands, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will announce her retirement. In turn, President Obama will finally nominate a male—D.C. Circuit Judge Merrick Garland.
5. National League East—Despite an innings limit of roughly 170, Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg will win at least 16 games. The Nationals will win 86 games overall, edging the upstart Miami Marlins for second place. Despite an aging, periodically punchless offense, the Phillies will win their sixth consecutive division title on the shoulders of pitchers Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels.
6. Hollywood box-office—Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises will be the highest-grossing film of 2012, with $525 million in domestic receipts. But overall movie attendance will remain in a funk.
7. Glenn Beck—The former Fox News Channel paranoiac's ratings will continue to decline on radio (along with the price of gold), and by 2013, people will be wondering why anyone ever paid attention to him at all.
8. Housing market—2011 will be seen as the year that the U.S. housing market finally hit bottom. A rebound is in the offing.
9. Middle East—Iran will not announce it has successfully developed a nuclear weapon. Syrian dictator Bashar Assad will be toppled by a popular uprising.
10. Rolling Stones—The greatest rock band ever will mount a 50th-anniversary tour of North America. (A promise, not a prediction: I will be there.)
Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!