The Crystal Ball Drops

The Crystal Ball Drops

The Crystal Ball Drops

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Dec. 30 2005 1:52 PM

The Crystal Ball Drops

On the last blogging day of 2005, bloggers are swapping predictions for 2006. They're also debating claims that the British used intelligence extracted by means of torture in Uzbekistan and pondering the changing gender balance on college campuses.

The crystal ball drops: The end-of-year wrap-ups are in, and bloggers have moved on to discussing and arguing about 2006. They're predicting what will happen in the world of blogs, in Iraq, domestic politics, and more.

Torie Bosch Torie Bosch

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, New America, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies. 

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The most prominent clairvoyant postings are at the conservative stalwart National Review Online, where the hopeful—"[E]very team I like will win every game they play," producer Warren Bell states—mixes with the more serious. Many of the predictions anticipate a year of global strife, particularly in Syria and Iran. Not all the Miss Cleo aspirants have great track records. "Iran will test a nuclear weapon. (I know, I said this last year. It's bound to be right sooner or later, though.)," says National Review "icon" John Derbyshire.

Perhaps most forebodingly, National Review Online editor at large Jonah Goldberg warns that "[t]here will be another terrorist attack on the American homeland." Clarifying the time frame of Goldberg's prophecy, a group of California-based psychics believe that another terrorist attack will be planned for April or May of 2006, as posted by former reporter/ventriloquist Joe Gandelman at the centrist The Moderate Voice.

On liberal group blog MyDD, college student Jonathan Singer is dismayed by the political predictions on the NRO, which include favorable approval ratings for President Bush and the fall of Howard Dean from Democratic National Committee chair. Calling the political prophecies "overly optimistic" and "unrealistic," Singer wonders "just how worried Republicans are about [Dean's] ability to restore the Democratic Party to parity with—or advantage over—the GOP."

But at the righty Blogs for Bush, founder Matt Margolis and writer Mark Noonan are even more optimistic about the GOP's future than the NRO posters. Noonan predicts the Democrats will lose seats in both the House and Senate in the 2006 elections, while Margolis thinks the scandals plaguing the Republican Party will clear up and Bush's approval will skyrocket.

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At Buzz Machine, media heavyweight Jeff Jarvis isn't playing the game. "You won't catch me writing another damned post filled with bullshit predictions for 2006," he declares.

Read more about predictions for 2006.

Torture in Uzbekistan: The former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan has made available documents that suggest that England and the United States used terror-related intelligence obtained by means of torture. Craig Murray, the former ambassador, posted the documents on his blog after government officials ordered him to destroy them. The documents are moving across the Web quickly, helped along by anti-Tony Blair site Blairwatch. In this summary, former Labour supporter ringverseasks bloggers to post the documents, too, so "it will be harder for anybody to be prosecuted here in the UK, and [to] ensure that they get maximum coverage."

Many are complying. "Uzbekistan. Remember that name," saysMark Gamon, a conservative British writer. Gamon is unsurprised that his government is using information obtained through torture, which he says is "standard in this kind of regime," referring to Uzbekistan's leadership under despot Islam Karimov. Gamon is more concerned about "the attitude of the US to the Karimov regime" and thinks that "trouble is brewing."

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In the U.S., though, group blog Donklephant's Jim Gardner is worried about torture. "I can't believe that they wouldn't think that, in this day and age, this information wouldn't get out and people wouldn't be up in arms about it," he writes. Liberal blog leader Markos of the Daily Kos is also outraged. "The US marriage of convenience with Uzbekistan, perhaps the most repressive regime in the world, gives lies to all the bullshit post-WMD justifications for invading Iraq ('evil regime' and all that jazz)," he declares.

Read more on the memos. Slate's Fred Kaplan and Christopher Hitchens both called for an end to the U.S.-Uzbekistan relationship earlier this year.

Few men on campus: An article in the Weekly Standard about the uneven gender ratios on college campuses says that schools are neglecting boys. Some conservatives, who have long discussed and lamented this trend, are crying, "Hear, hear!"

Law professor Ann Althouse believes educators are too dismissive of males. "[W]hatever is discovered to be true of the female is portrayed as superior," she says. She thinks that portraying boys as deficient in "noncognitive skills" gives short shrift to their talents, which she believes include "wide-ranging, active interests and the capacity to deftly shift from one area of interest to the next."

The conservative-leaning woman who posts as The Lone Elm agrees that men and women learn differently. "The emphasis on empowering women and girls has swung the pendulum too far," she warns. "Boys tend to be more oriented to science, engineering and math and the loss of guys in our educational system can only mean trouble longer run for the economic capabilities of our country."

But Half Sigma, the blog of a politically independent writer, wants to know "if it really matters." He believes that too many people are attending college instead of going into blue collar jobs like driving a bus. "Blue collar men have it better than most college graduates," he says.

Read more about the gender gap.