Revisiting Da Blog’s 2009 Predictions

One year ago, I gave you my predictions for the year ahead, and for years to come. How did I do? Let’s take a look:

  • The year in sports is a massive disappointment. Not really. I predicted a Dolphins-Vikings Super Bowl, and we did get one team that wasn’t exactly a “name” team, and the Steelers kinda sorta pulled the same trick they did three years before, though not quite as surprising. But who would have guessed that the Vikings would have actually been a name team by the end of the year? Or that we’d get a Super Bowl that people were hailing as the best ever one year after Patriots-Giants? The national championship game in college basketball did go back to being a laugher, but while North Carolina didn’t go undefeated, far from losing in the Final Four, they won the whole thing. Neither the Cavs nor Spurs made the NBA Finals, and LeBron to the Knicks is still a very real possibility, but the new hot idea is teaming LeBron and Dwayne Wade somewhere. The Stanley Cup Finals turned out to be Red Wings-Pens again, and America tuned in as much as they ever do for hockey, but if it’s Red Wings-Pens a third time I think we will start to tune out. Philadelphia made the World Series again, and the Red Sox lost in the first round, but far from not making the ALCS, the Yankees won the whole thing.
  • Tiger Woods did indeed fail to win a major, though he didn’t miss much time, but no one could have predicted what happened to him by year’s end. Jimmie Johnson did indeed win another Sprint Cup in a laugher – NASCAR really needs to review the Chase idea to see if there’s something about the structure of the Chase that Jimmie is exploiting. But far from not making a major final, Roger Federer made every major final, and won twice. There were five undefeated college football teams at season’s end, not three after Week 4, but I picked two of them – but I sure as hell didn’t pick what happened to USC this season, and while it was a down year for mid-majors in general, we got two BCS busters and the closest any mid-major team has yet gotten to making the national championship game. The Arena League, who I may have had in mind when I predicted one league would completely cancel a season, folded entirely, but MLS seems strong as ever, and the IRL isn’t cutting back at all, even adding a title sponsor. But NASCAR may well pass it backwards anyway… and the UFC certainly attracted a lot of attention for UFC 100. These are stories to watch for the next decade.
  • We don’t know what’s happening with the Olympics or NHL contracts, but we do know they won’t be in Chicago. Rio won’t be all bad for American television, but still.
  • “The Saints challenge for the NFC South” indeed! “The Lions are at least respectable”… not so much, though I will say right now that the Browns or Raiders will make the playoffs in the 2010 season. Brett Favre did retire, but then he unretired again, but the Jets hold their own playoff destiny in their own hands. Matt Cassel joined the Chiefs and Super Bowl contenders they are not, but it’s still too early to say he (and thus, Tom Brady) was entirely a creation of Bill Belichick. (Wasn’t he injury-rattled this year?) The Pats are back in the AFC East driver’s seat, the Cowboys are in the playoffs, have shook off the December blues, and could take the division, and Vince Young is officially Tennessee’s quarterback of the future.
  • I actually made three different predictions for the year in politics. Sadly, the first one seems to be the closest to coming to pass. Troops aren’t even entirely out of Iraq yet, though we have stopped paying attention to it. Most of Obama’s stimulus plans are gimmicky (Cash for Clunkers, anyone?) and don’t provide enough PR boost. The politics of the last eight years don’t change and in fact get worse, because they involve cultural factors bigger than any politician, and can only be changed by the people taking part in it – us. (In retrospect, Obamamania is a symptom of a persistent problem the Left has these days, of assuming that if we just elect enough right-thinking politicians, everything will be hunky-dory. It blinds the Left to politics’ limitations and to other avenues to change, which led the Right to beat them at what used to be their own game this year with the tea parties and town halls, as well as the reasons why electing the right politicians can be so hard.) The Left still loves Obama, though some people don’t find him leftist enough, and the tea partiers don’t find many in their own party rightist enough, which scares me in terms of what the politics of the next decade will be like. I don’t normally make New Year’s resolutions per se, but mine is to try to do something to change the state of politics in this country before it’s too late. Interestingly, the tea partiers and people like Glenn Beck make Ron Paul’s views more mainstream, while the GOP base still defends what Bush did as president, so my “fascist-anarchist” GOP prediction isn’t far off.
  • The Internet’s metamorphosis this year basically amounts to the rise of Twitter; it doesn’t seem to be benefiting from the recession as much as I thought, though the rest of my prediction may yet come to pass this year.
  • Because of that, webcomics haven’t exploded yet, though we may yet see a new golden age in this coming decade. Sandsday won’t be part of it though, and I still intend to revisit my State of Webcomics Address.
  • The people who read my webcomics criticism, including what amounts to semi-big names in webcomics, like it, but there aren’t enough of them. I didn’t really do much to attract new audiences to politics other than the Sandsday global warming series. I’m effectively repeating this point for the coming year.

Webcomics’ Identity Crisis, Part VI: On Greatest Lists and the State of Webcomics

Finally, on to the second of the two topics that spawned this series.

The Floating Lightbulb is interesting enough that I’m considering adding it to my RSS reader. And I’m not just saying that to get onto its webcomic blog list. I have a feeling Bengo would probably berate me for focusing too much on the old popular, “self-promoting” comics and not enough on smaller comics that could actually use the attention, even though I do still have an open channel for people to e-mail me with comics they think I should review at mwmailsea at yahoo dot com, even if the comic isn’t their own. (Note, Bengo: for just the webcomics posts and not the other junk, be sure to include /search/label/webcomics in the URL!)

And really, that problem is at the heart of one of Bengo’s issues with Xaviar Xerexes.

I’m probably going to do a review of the Floating Lightbulb itself one day, and when I do I’m probably going to say that Bengo is a more cerebral John Solomon. Bengo doesn’t hate all webcomics – though the Floating Lightbulb doesn’t do much in the way of actual reviews at all – but he certainly seems to hate most of the personages in mainstream webcomics. In his eyes, most big-time webcomics creators are self-promoting jerks who probably cheated to get to the top and as such are bad role models, and most webcomic bloggers are ego-strokers, often with rampant conflicts of interest, who shill the same comics over and over again. Not every webcomic blog gets this charge, not even biggies Tangents and Websnark; mostly the vitriol goes to Gary “Fleen” Tyrell and Xerexes, proprietor of Comixtalk.

Xerexes has been working with his readers for the better part of a year now on a project to list the “100 greatest webcomics”. For Bengo, this project is more than a questionable idea producing an arbitrary and opinionated ranking. It’s serious business.

Back in November, Bengo published a lengthy list of objections to the project, and mused about it further about a month ago. One of Bengo’s bigger concerns is not merely that the list will route people to the same webcomics that are already popular while “impoverishing” smaller titles, but will mislead journalists in a similar fashion, “resulting in lazy, redundant coverage” and possibly discrediting webcomics itself (not to mention the list) if the aforementioned “bad role models” (not to mention just plain bad comics) are exposed and ridiculed (“THESE are the greatest webcomics?”)

I don’t think the situation is as dire as Bengo suggests, and Xerexes in his list’s latest incarnation has indirectly responded to at least some of his concerns. Bengo’s first post seems to be working on the assumption that the “greatest” list would in fact be a mutation of a “most popular” list. By contrast, Bengo would seemingly prefer it take the form of a “best” list, which would not only be forever under construction, but forever incomplete and to some extent influenced by popularity, since no matter how many webcomics you’ve looked at there’s probably some comic out there read by maybe five people that’s greater than whatever 200 webcomics you have on your list.

If we’re working on the sort of criteria that shaped the AFI’s greatest movies list (which all of these Internet “100 greatest” lists cite for some reason. My inspiration is VH1’s fixation with such lists, not exclusively AFI.), however, the exclusion of “quality” as a criterion in favor of popularity is to some measure excused by the fact that neither would really be as influential as influence, which is more influenced by popularity than in a medium as diverse as film. Making a “greatest” list as opposed to “best” or “most popular” also should make the list more useful as an entry point for journalists: we wouldn’t be saying these are necessarily the cream of the crop and the very best webcomics, but they are certainly important, and here’s why. One of the things I’ve been thinking about the role of the Greatest Movies Project is as a survey of film history for the layman; by moving from movie to movie, and reading what was said about each, a reader could get a better appreciation of “how we got here” and of the milestones of film history.

If Ctrl+Alt+Del were to make it on a “greatest webcomics” list, it wouldn’t be because of its popularity so much as the fact it’s had more influence on the form of copycat gaming comics, for better and for worse, than, say, Penny Arcade. (Mostly for worse, so if CAD is even in the top 75 of any list, I’d start sympathising with Bengo. And I’m at least a marginal CAD fan.)

But I do have some quibbles with Xerexes himself. For one, I don’t think webcomics as a medium are old enough or mature enough to support a full-on 100 greatest list; it’ll be definitely scraping the bottom of the barrel when you get to the bottom. You could maybe support a top 20, but I’d be hard pressed to think of enough webcomics influential enough to fill out even that list: Penny Arcade, Sluggy Freelance, Girl Genius, xkcd, PVP, Dinosaur Comics, umm, User Friendly, Order of the Stick (only because of the copycat webcomics it spawned), Irregular Webcomic… ummm… maybe Perry Bible FellowshipBob and GeorgeThe Devil’s Panties… does Dilbert count? can you tell I’m really reaching for candidates and I’ve only just now reached 13? Imagine the sort of webcomics Xerexes will have to come up with for the 80s and 90s!

More to the point, I certainly hope the lists he has now aren’t ranked yet, if not to fix some questionable-at-best rankings (Sluggy, quite possibly the most influential webcomic not named Penny Arcade if not overall, as low as #6 on the comedy list, and Diesel Sweeties at #5? OOTS at #13 on the comedy list alone, so probably lower on the final one? Kevin and Kell, which I just mentally added to my overall top 20 above, at #19 on comedy, which means it won’t make it into said top 20 on the final list? Dinosaur Comics at #24 on comedy? The drama list led by Nowhere Girl, a comic I hadn’t even heard of, whose main credential is winning an Eisner – worthy of my overall top 20 but hardly enough for #1? Dresden freaking Codak as high as #12 on drama? CAD not listed anywhere when neither list has reached #100 yet, regardless of what you think about its quality? That’s before getting into the classification of some of the strips in one class or the other…) then to avoid rendering the release of the final list anticlimactic.

To some extent, Xerexes has already ruined the anticipation for the release of the final list by putting out his various draft lists and involving the people in the construction; for someone who’s been running a comics news site as long as he has, it seems odd that he still has to hit up his readers for ideas. The AFI precedes the releases of its various lists by putting out unranked lists of 400-500 nominees for its panel to vote on; Xerexes’ most recent list being split into separate comedy and drama lists may reflect the wisdom of that approach. (I can’t begrudge no further splits or longer lists when neither list has even hit 100 on their own yet. Incidentially, the relative paucity of dramatic webcomics may also hint at questioning whether webcomics are mature enough to have this kind of list.)

To go further, I suggest that when the final list is revealed, if Xerexes isn’t planning to do so already, rather than release the whole thing at once the same as the draft lists and not only defuse the anticipation but reduce the distinction between the final and drafts (another concern of Bengo’s), reveal each comic one at a time, accompanying each with a short essay on the webcomic in question and why it belongs on the list. That would allow the list to be a real resource to anyone looking to dip their toe into webcomics, and allow it to be a potential help to webcomics rather than a potential hindrance in the vein Bengo fears.

I also have a concern about apples-and-oranges comparisons, but not those of Xerexes (comedy v. drama) or Bengo (ongoing series v. finished series), though it’s similar to Bengo’s and he touches on this in the first post. I started this series (paradoxically, in Part II) talking about how there were, for a long time, two forms of comic (books and strips) and how webcomics have joined them. (Xerexes is on record as agreeing with me here that webcomics belong at the same table with comic books and strips.) I’ve seen “greatest comic books” lists and at least one “greatest comic strips” list, but you’d be hard pressed to find a single unified “greatest comic” list combining the two. There are just so many differences between the book and strip forms, and they’ve had such a different history, and that’s even considering the fact a lot of comic books are periodicals much like strips. (How do you compare Action Comics as a whole with Peanuts as a whole?) In a form with facets of both, how do you compare the two? How do you compare one-shot infinite canvas comics of the sort Scott McCloud supports and other one-timers fairly with more periodical comics? If you exclude the former, do you risk excluding some of the real pioneers of the medium? (Are any true pioneers like Cat Garza represented anywhere as is?)

I think that, done right, a “greatest webcomics” list could do a lot to ease newbies into webcomics and help legitimize it as a medium (or a form of a medium). (A “greatest comic books” list helped ease me into that medium.) If nothing else, it would be an entertaining excersize and debate. But I have, as I get the sense Bengo has, a bit of a concern whether or not webcomics have done enough to deserve such a list yet. Are there enough “great” or influential webcomics? Do webcomics represent a diverse enough experience or are they loaded with nothing but ha-ha? And perhaps most important, are there webcomics good enough, serving as good enough “role models”, to truly justify the praise given to them? Even on my “top 20” list above, how many would remain on even a top 100 list in just 10 years if the potential of webcomics are sufficiently explored by then? I say PA, Sluggy, Nowhere Girl, Dinosaur Comicsxkcd, and some comics (Girl Genius, Irregular Webcomic) that will prove more influential later than they are now… and that may be it. Odd as it sounds, even PVP, Megatokyo, and User Friendly will have to fight for a spot, and only time will tell if even comics as critically acclaimed as OOTS and Gunnerkrigg Court prove influential enough and stand the test of time enough to make the list and score a high ranking.

This is webcomics’ identity crisis: this basic insecurity over acceptance in the wider world of comics, and in the world at large, rooted in our own insecurity of our own worthiness and conflicted with our quest for a separate identity from comic strips and books. We seek acceptance because we seek validation for this silly little ritual of ours, that what we’re doing is truly worthy of being considered an art form. It’s a battle that’s been waged before by all new media since the beginning of time. Even theatre and printing were perhaps once dismissed as a vulgar diversion for the masses. Comics fought long and hard for acceptance in the pantheon of art and it wasn’t until the 80s and 90s when they started to get it, thanks to material that finally showed comics had grown up, not to mention the birth of a scholarly tradition of the material with Understanding Comics. Even within comics, comic books were once dismissed as inferior to the strip format until Superman came along.

Webcomics have its Superman (called Penny Arcade) but they still have insecurity. I still have insecurity. Before I started this series and probably even after I wondered why I was focusing on webcomics, such a sketchily-defined subset of comic strips or of comics in general… I considered doing a 20 Greatest Webcomics project before I heard of Xerexes’ effort but wondered if it was worth separating from comic strips and comics in general… Thoughts like these could be holding webcomics back. (Don’t even mention its place as a subset of Internet art.) Webcomics are still a young medium (for the most part, significantly younger than I am, so very literally in adolescence – film started getting introduced to the world in 1893 but Birth of a Nation blew the lid off its potential in 1915, so we still have six years or so to go), not only unsure of where its future lies but of what its basic identity is. It still clings to Scott McCloud’s advocacy, though it is starting to wean itself of that, and only slowly starting to round into permanent shape. It still clings to the past, to its mothers. Most of what it considers “great” is still ongoing – which means most of what it will consider “great” probably hasn’t started (or been discovered) yet.

At the same time, webcomics have a lot to be proud of. We’re ahead of the curve compared to a lot of other fields when it comes to the Internet and making it in this strange new medium. At least some of us have found a stopgap revenue stream, and even that is enough to bring hope and promise that will attract more people to our little corner of the Internet. The quest for revenue models has blessed us with a lot of wisdom everyone else on the Internet would be wise to consider. We’ve developed a tradition of criticism already that challenges webcomics and pushes them to be better. Our artistic aspirations drive us higher and higher, and we’re starting to get some webcomics really worthy of praise compared to other media. There’s still a ways to go, but we’ve built a good foundation. Which is why right now we have one foot in two worlds.

This is a critical, exciting time in webcomics, one I hope no one takes for granted. Not only is our form going through the difficult, exciting process of maturation, we may now stand poised for a potential revolution that will affect the course of our medium for all time. Between the ongoing recession (which will have a profound impact throughout the Internet) and the changing circumstances of the rest of the comics industry, the future is now, and it has the potential, depending on the influx of talent from refugees, to take all of us for a wild ride. Perhaps these new developments will be what finally gets webcomics out of its identity crisis and allows it to come into its own as a cultural and aesthetic art form.

And perhaps it’ll propel us ever closer to that day when we will look at a list of “100 greatest webcomics” and not bat any more of an eye than we would for an equivalent list in any other art form.

I can’t wait to see what it would look like, and I imagine it would include at least some comics we can’t even imagine today (though some fledgling comics earning those first snippets of praise and pushing into Tier 2 now, like Union of Heroes, may well rank highly when that day comes).

But I also can’t wait to see how we get there.

At any rate, it appears I’ve incorporated the epilogue into this sixth part. So I’m scheduling this post for a post time of Friday, even though I’m wrapping it up at 11:30 PM.

A more optimistic view of Obama’s term and our future

I think I depressed myself with my predictions for Obama’s future and the future of the nation. So I want to use this space to present a more optimistic vision – a realistic optimistic vision, mind you.

Obama pulls the military out of Iraq before a year’s time expires… and into Iran, which swiftly becomes a replay of Iraq. Obama compromises virtually everything the Left stands for in the stimulus package, including steps to repair the environment but not in the way Democrats would like. Obama does nothing to repair the damage done to the Constitution by the Bush Administration.

America slowly but surely pulls out of its economic funk, but very little actual “change” happens, even from the policies of the last eight years. Democrats gain a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate in 2010 but lose some seats in the House. Many in the “netroots” decide to form their own nascent political movement for 2012, which attracts attention from both parties. The Republicans start to attract new attention as well, creating a climactic three-way showdown for the Presidency.

Who comes out on top… is anyone’s guess.

Wait. That’s still too depressing no matter what happens. Even if the new political movement wins, it will have less real experience in all its leaders combined than Obama alone, and it’ll have fallen behind in the past four years. Let’s try that again.

Obama enters office aware as few are of the many critical problems facing America and just how much we stand at a critical moment in American history.

Obama swiftly pulls the military out of Iraq before a year’s time expires, and the country becomes relatively stable, though hardly the stablest in the region. Recognizing the immense magnitude of the problem of the environment, Obama loads over half the stimulus package with programs intended to help correct American greenhouse gas emissions, with the goal of lowering those emissions as much as humanly possible by the end of his first term. The rest of the package, including new education programs, is essentially Obama’s own version of the New Deal.

By 2010, America is already – slowly but surely – pulling out of its economic funk. Republicans claim it was never going to be as bad as a second Great Depression unless Obama screwed it up, but that falls on deaf ears. Many are disappointed at how little actual “change” has occured so far, as Obama has been preoccupied by the economic meltdown and tension in various foreign nations, not to mention growing into the job of President, as well as balancing economic stimulus with not becoming a vassal of China. Nonetheless the Democrats once again increase their lead in both houses of Congress.

By 2012, Obama has probably been a B president, maybe slightly worse than Clinton, which isn’t really a knock on Obama. The main knock on his record is that foreign leaders seem to respect Obama the person more than America the country, but the anti-America rallies have greatly subsided, and things have mostly returned to a Clinton-era status quo, as though the years 2001-2008 never happened, although America is still aggressively pursuing terrorists, this time with greater cooperation with foreign governments and greater success. After taking greater control of Congress in 2010, Obama starts to make far greater headway on his various proposals, previously stonewalled by Republicans. With America peaceful and prosperous, and much of the damage done to the Constitution and the environment either repaired or in the process of being repaired, Obama and the Democrats win a resounding victory and the Republicans fall into disarray.

By 2014, the Republicans are no longer in the top two largest third parties in America.

How much did you like that assessment? How much did you like it compared to the other two?

Here’s the important part: From the present vantage point, all three of those predictions could be equally likely to happen.

Obama could be so grossly incompetent as to fracture the country, lead to the rise of a modern Hitler, and combined with the ravages to the environment, end modern civilization as we know it. He could turn out to be a Trojan horse, Bush 2.0, who forces the Left to break with the Democrats to get their agenda moving. He could turn out to be a modern FDR who effectively kills the Republican party by contrasting his Presidency with George W. Bush’s.

Any or all of those things may happen.

Republicans would probably prefer the second of these scenarios happened, maybe the first in some radical sectors (quasi-fascist areas, religious righters who think the first scenario would trigger the Second Coming). Democrats would probably prefer the third. We don’t know enough about Obama to know which direction things would take if left to their own devices.

But the rest of you would not like it to be the first scenario.

Politics, much as we hate to admit it, matters. It matters in our own daily lives and those of countless others. If we don’t pay attention to politics and what’s happening in our world, we can be blindsided by the consequences – and we won’t even know why they’re happening.

But if it turns out to be the first scenario, what can be done to stop it?

The power lies with you.

You have the power to vote for the people you agree with, the people who will best represent your own interests and those of the country.

You have the power to keep yourself informed and see what’s coming before it happens.

You have the power to educate yourself and make sure you’re confident in the direction you think the country should take.

You have the power not to stand for it if things start to go to hell in a handbasket. Stage protests, circulate petitions, gin up opposition, do whatever you need to to stand for what you believe in.

In ten years, America could be fighting in Armageddon… or it could be in the middle of one of its biggest Golden Ages.

Your vote matters. What happens over the next 4-8 years matters.

And some fairly small differences could determine which path America takes.

The ball, right now, is in Barack Obama’s court. But however he serves it back, it’s far more important to determine what happens after that.

The ultimate power lies with you.

Da Blog’s Predictions for 2009

Because a lot of sites I visit are putting up predictions for the new year, so am I, and I’ll check back in at year’s end to see how I did:

  • The year in sports is a massive disappointment. The Super Bowl pits the Dolphins against the Vikings. North Carolina, after an undefeated regular season, loses in the Final Four and the national championship pits UCLA against UConn. The game is a laugher. Cleveland beats San Antonio in the NBA Finals; the Knicks just barely miss the playoffs and LeBron James signs a contract extention to stay in Cleveland after winning his first championship. Mike D’Antoni agrees to a buyout soon thereafter to coach LeBron in Cleveland, condemning the Knicks to a decade of mediocrity. The Stanley Cup Playoffs pit the Calgary Flames against the Montreal Canadiens, and America tunes out. So does Canada when it turns into a four-game sweep that’s not that close. Neither the Red Sox nor Yankees make the ALCS, and one of them misses the playoffs as Tampa Bay and Philadelphia square off again in the World Series.
  • Tiger Woods comes back too soon, finishing second in the Masters, and misses most of 2009, raising concerns he may retire. Jimmie Johnson wins yet another Sprint Cup in a laugher, and by the end of the season he’s winning races basically by showing up, with all the teams quitting. Rafael Nadal is the only player to win at least two majors of either gender, and Roger Federer never makes a major final. USC, Cincinnati, and Alabama are the only three undefeated teams by week 4; they stay that way through the end, and USC routs Alabama in the national championship. There are no BCS buster mid-majors. At least one minor league cancels either the 2009 or 2010 season, and at least one MLS team folds. The IRL cuts back drastically on the 2010 season, and doesn’t so much pass NASCAR as NASCAR passes it backwards. By 2012, though, the IRL is back to 2008 levels, and returns to ESPN in 2018. UFC effectively becomes NASCAR’s replacement as one of the four major sports, and shows it wasn’t moving to pay-per-view that killed boxing.
  • The Olympics moves to ESPN and ABC after landing in Chicago. NBC immediately pulls out of the NHL following the 2009-2010 season. ESPN becomes the exclusive cable home of the NHL (beyond NHL Network) after 2011.
  • The Saints challenge for the NFC South, and the Lions are at least respectable. Brett Favre retires and the Jets become the new Lions. Matt Cassel bolts from New England to join the Jaguars, who instantly become a Super Bowl contender. Tom Brady comes back a clearly different player, and the Pats begin a slow slide into mediocrity. The Cowboys self-destruct and don’t even challenge for the playoffs. The Titans trade Vince Young to Houston in the offseason.
  • Barack Obama finds himself frazzled by the vexing economic crisis and various foreign crises. Troops are out of Iraq by June, but by August Iraq is effectively ruled by several cabals of warlords. Obama uses the money freed up by exiting Iraq to institute his own version of the New Deal, but it doesn’t work very well. Meanwhile little actual “change” happens, even from the politics of the last eight years, and when Obama calls in the military to break up a food riot in November, many in his own party compare him to Bush, and the “netroots” begin forming their own nascent political movement for 2012.
  • By 2012, that movement has gained enough steam to attract attention (and support) from both major parties. However, the economic crisis has only gotten worse and the US has effectively become a vassal state of China… and the Republicans, as a result, prove far more resilient than expected after adopting a bizarre fascist-anarchist policy, a strange kitbashing of the politics of Ron Paul and George W. Bush. Before 2020, World War III has erupted, and America is Nazi Germany after the GOP win the 2012 elections, the last to be held under the Constitution of 1776. The 2016 Olympics become America’s 1936 Munich Games, and come complete with a past-his-prime Michael Phelps being dragged back to the pool. The world comes out of the war with the economy back on track, but set back to the Middle Ages if not before. China, India, and Japan become the new “modern” world powers with Depression-era technology, set back from reaching 1950s-era technology by the ravages to the environment. The Amazon becomes a desert; Canada and Russia become the world’s new breadbasket.
  • The Internet undergoes its latest metamorphosis. By the end of the year, it is as good at watching video as the average television. In the short term, it only benefits from the deepening economic crisis. When the Obama administration passes a universal broadband bill, it sparks an Internet revolution, and blogs become the new MySpace, since you can at least theoretically make money off them. Internet advertising finally becomes viable, if only because nothing else is.
  • Webcomics undergo an explosion during this time. A Penny Arcade TV series is commissioned for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block by year’s end. By 2010, a Girl Genius movie is in development, and rumors of an Order of the Stick movie persist as well. Sandsday becomes the biggest new thing in webcomics, and by year’s end I’m fighting off TV series offers of my own.
  • Da Blog attracts two huge followings in particular: people looking for webcomics criticism, who singlehandedly make it ten times more popular than Websnark ever was, rendering my getting a real job unnecessary, and people looking for straight-dope political analysis. Da Blog plays a significant role in attracting new audiences to politics, healing the rifts of our political landscape, and shaping the aforementioned nascent political movement.

And that just left me incredibly drained and depressed. I think it’s better if I don’t try to predict what happens, and just try and enjoy the ride. You should try it some time.