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No predictions 

Like everyone, I’ve spent a major part of the past week reading and watching reports on the Indian Ocean tsunami and its aftermath. Even after days of information, comprehension of what has occurred is difficult.

I don’t mean that in a scientific sense. As Richard Dawkins pointed out in a letter to The Guardian yesterday, science can simply explain what happened and why. What we can’t comprehend, however, is the consequences of the earth’s destructive power.

One of the minor effects of my taking a week off around Christmas was that I returned to a news aggregator filled with hundreds of postings. I’m usually foolishly assiduous about going through what I’ve missed. But all the pre-26 December postings — written with no knowledge of what was to come — were clearly irrelevant to the world I was now monitoring and witnessing.

The tsunami also makes clear the futility of the annual exercise at this time of writing predictions for the coming year. Either the predictions are banal (there’s no mystery, for example, about the winner of the likely UK election) or random (any guesses as to financial market performance). There is one prediction I can make confidently: the important events of 2005 will be unpredictable.

Great suggestion for president Bush 

Mark Cuban, blogger and Dallas Mavericks owner, has a great suggestion for president Bush:

  It’s up to President Bush to set an example.
  How about it Mr. President. Can you take the first step ? I can help you figure out where to start.
  Start by cancelling your inauguration parties and festivities.
  Could there be anything more confusing and shocking than to read that our country was offering $35mm in aid to the areas affected by the Tsunamis, but that the cost of inauguration parties would be about $40mm ?
  Does anyone else think that this is wrong ?
  I realize that the cost for the inauguration is being picked up by corporate sponsors and people purchasing outrageously priced tickets. The question is why.
  Why are all these corporations and people spending all that money ? Hey I love a good party, but there aint no party like a $10,000 per ticket party. Its a 10k dollar ass kissing. As an accountant, fund raiser when asked about the high prices to attend the Inaugural events told the NY Times, “its the cost of playing the game”.
  Mr President, it’s time to change the game.
  In your re-election campaign, you talked a lot about leadership. Your ability to lead in times like these. Your ability to set an example. Mr President, its time to show that leadership. Its time to set an example.
  Cancel all but the most basic inauguration requirements.
  It should be the easiest decision of your 2nd term.

Of course, given the unerring inability of the Bush administration to do the right thing in any context, this is not going to happen.


I just heard that public donations to tsunami disaster relief in Britain have now reached over £45 million. At current exchange rates that’s soon going to be more than $2 for every single person in the country. Additionally, the government has committed at least £50 million. Absolutely right.

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