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by The Cranky Media Guy

Is there a Federal Office of Prediction-Making?  If so, I say everybody there ought to be kicked out on their publicly-funded asses.  Why?  I'll tell you why, Brother!  'Cause they aren't exactly Nostradamus, that's why!  (actually, considering that Nostradamus was a big phony who couldn't predict his way out of a paper bag, the FOP-M pretty much IS Nostradamus.  Assuming that it exists, that is.)

It occurred to me recently that a lot of the predictions that "experts" have made have been wildly off-mark.  Anybody remember last year's drought?  Large portions of the country went eleventy-seven days in a row without any precipitation and the human hand puppets who do the weather on the TV news said that it was going to take several years to get back on schedule, weather-wise.  It was like, "If you've got an ear of corn handy, take a Polaroid, 'cause that's the closest you're gonna get to Niblets for a while."  Heard anything about "drought" lately?  The rivers around here, which were supposed to be as dry as the Gobi this year, seem to be flowing just fine.   What happened?

Here's another one.  Remember the big government shutdown of a few years back?  I sure do, as my job at the time depended to large degree on tourist flow through the White House, which there was none of because of the shutdown.  Anyway, the thing dragged on for a few weeks (during which it was a joy to ride the Washington, D.C. Metro because of the absence of long-faced, miserable-looking desk jockeys silently cursing the day they took that damn civil service test).   Ah, but I digress.

After the first week or so of Federal flaccidity, "experts" surfaced to warn us that it was going to take years--do you hear me, years!--for the government to catch up.  You'd have to apply to the passport office immediately after giving birth if you thought your newborn might want to visit Europe the summer after his high school graduation.   Your first Social Security check would arrive the week after Willard Scott saluted you for reaching 100.  Waiting for a tax refund check?  By the time it arrived, you'd be putting it on a down payment on a personal jet pack instead of a Chevy.

Um, noticed any particular slowness in government services lately?  Slower than usual, I mean.  Maybe we should all have taken a hint from the fact that the office dwellers laid off were called "nonessential".  Hey, were the people at the Federal Office of Prediction-Making laid off, too?  Assuming it exists, that is.  Maybe they were considered essential.

This week, President Clinton announced that a huge scientific breakthrough had been achieved.  The human genome had been mapped for the first time in history.  Now wait just a darn minute!  Do I not remember a little while back when it was said that it would probably take another 10 to 20 years to accomplish that task?  Anybody have access to Lexis/Nexis?  Fire that bad boy up and see if you can't find the prediction(s) I'm thinking of.  What happened?  Did someone find the Secret DNA Decoder Ring?  Maybe it was behind that Xerox machine at Los Alamos along with the two hard drives.  I get the feeling if they shuffled around the office furniture there a little bit, they'd find Jimmy Hoffa.

Anyway, the point is, we have some pretty lousy prediction people working for us.  Hey, didn't the Psychic Friends Network go out of business?  Why don't we hire those people?  On second thought, if they didn't realize the company was in trouble, how good can they be?  The way things are going, there's going to be a horrible prediction crisis that I predict will last--oh I dunno, twenty years sound about right?



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