The World in 2011

As regular readers know, we at Tropics of Meta try in all things to be as much like the Economist as possible.  For this reason, we have consulted a distinguished panel of historians, political scientists, fishmongers and Daley machine hacks to weigh in on their expectations for the year 2011.  Their predictions range from likely events in academia and politics to music, fiction, and fast food — and sometimes a combination of these fields.  So without further ado, we give you the shape of things to come:


The writers of the defunct TV show Lost will admit they were just kidding and air a new sixth season.

Columbia University will outrage animal rights advocates and community activists by showering the site of its new West Harlem campus in a rain of tiny dog fetuses.

To deflect mounting criticism over its monetary policies, the Federal Reserve will plant a rumor on Politico that former chairman Paul Volcker was replaced by a lookalike actor some time in the early 2000s. The “Paul Volcker is dead” theory will become an unexpected viral phenomenon.

Harvard historian Jill Lepore will a conduct a drive-by shooting at Gordon Wood’s Providence residence. Spokespeople for the New Yorker will claim that condescending rhetoric played no role in the year’s increase of white-on-white violence.

You think you big time?

Teaching to the test will no longer confine itself to high school education but will apply to STDs as well.

Robot rights will become a major subject of political debate and ethical concern. Conservatives will complain that the Obama administration values robot life more than human life and warn that FEMA is building an army of clones to imprison Christians. John McCain will express skepticism about laws protecting “the health of the robot.” And in an unexpected reversal, Markos “Kos” Moulitsas will appear on the Sean Hannity show, insisting that “guns don’t kill people, robots with laser eyes kill people.”

Secret genius

Failed South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Alvin Greene will be revealed to be the lead character in Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest mockumentary. Joaquin Phoenix will subsequently slide into a Brian Wilson-like spiral of depression.

University of Wisconsin wunderkind Jeremi Suri will reveal that he has been leading a Montanaesque double life as Canadian pop sensation Avril Lavigne for the last ten years.

A dance craze that mixes elements of the Dougie and the John Wall will sweep Baghdad’s nightclubs, as well as some of its hottest spider-holes.

Surprisingly large influence on Grizzly Bear

Slayer’s South of Heaven will replace Pet Sounds as the new hipster soundtrack, leading to pentagrams constructed out of hand-crafted woodland creatures.

In order to make up for loss of state funding, the University of California system will begin charging students fees for hope.

Zoolander will emerge as the new foundational text on child labor and globalization.

Tron III will be as incomprehensible as Tron I and Tron II, but it will look great.

The Honda Fit will be the new Pinto.

Jury duty will be outsourced to South Asia.

Spoiler alert: the author was dead the whole time

Foucault’s unpublished novel Biographies Are for Losers will make The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo look like a self-published farce.

Sociologists utilizing the ideas of Habermas will create new theories regarding public space and elevators, proving that rapid vertical travel serves as modern day social mobility.

Eating Irish babies will become the new black.

During a press conference on the Obama administration’s “new detention policy,” George W. Bush’s Barack Obama costume will accidentally unzip while at the podium.

Olbermann smash

Keith Olbermann will die of a heart attack during an on-air “Special Comment” in which he expresses righteous indignation at Sarah Palin’s seventh grade paper on reproductive rights.

John Lewis Gaddis will win the Socialist Workers Party’s Excellence in Truthful Reporting about the Boss Class award.

“I brake for insurance fraud” bumper stickers will become a national phenomenon.

Heroin chic and competitive eating will merge for a new sport: competitive rehab.

Alan Greenspan will be caught in the Library of Congress sexually molesting Atlas Shrugged.

His circumstance is somewhere between Cabrini and Love Jones

John McCain’s hip hop album I Thought I Told You I Ain’t No Mother F***** Maverick will top the Billboard charts for 40 weeks straight. Hit singles will include “Build the Dang Fence,” “My Friends (and F**** Homies),” “That Hoe Palin,” and “No Gays Getting Married in McCeezy’s Military.”

With circulation dwindling and financial insolvency imminent, Time and Newsweek, two of America’s most venerable news magazines, decide to merge. The new magazine will be called Vapid.

The increasing penury of Americans will lead McDonald’s to create a new “quarter menu.” Items will include McPorridge, McPaint Chips, and McKetchup Packet Soup. Subsequently, Larry Summers will attack McDondald’s for its attempt to subvert the free market.

The Replacements’ old mantra “straight to the middle” will become the new motto of the United States.

Richard Hofstadter will come back from the dead. Upon seeing the state of History, he will kill himself.

Francis Fukuyama will declare The End of Political Science, and with any luck, he’ll be right.

Mahmoud Ahmadenijad will try to give Angela Merkel a backrub.

Chicagoans will finally eat vegetables.

“Wrong” will finally become a social construction.

David Brooks will stimulate a conversation about our national character by observing that “America is an argument it has with itself about love.”