Ric Latarski - On the joys of beginning anew in 2008

Ah, yes! New Year's Day.

This is the day when we have a moment to believe everything starts fresh and new opportunities abound that will take the world in a new and better direction.

Then we look at the headlines in the newspaper and read some politician's comments and think: How in the world could they do that?

We want to believe 2008 will be better than 2007, just like the folks wanted to believe 1929 would be better than 1928. Well, most of the year was.

Someone somewhere will make a New Year's resolution and keep it, but eventually it will be determined they are mentally ill and they will either be put in the home for the sick and weird or elected to Congress.

Unfortunately, that's why 2008 gets off to a rough start. Even the most optimistic person must look at 2008 with a jaundiced eye because it is an election year, and if that doesn't dull your hopes, nothing will.

While we supposedly have elections in November to determine our fearless leaders, because of the lunacy of the primary system, we could know who the presidential candidates are within the first 40 days of the year.

If this happens, then we are the victims of eight months of blather before the die is cast in November. This will be cited as one more example of global warming.

On the other hand, because of the number of candidates in each party, the primary votes could be so skewed that come convention time, no candidate has an automatic appointment as the nominee of his or her party.

This means the political conventions could actually mean something for the first time in about 50 years. Unfortunately, that could mean we would be the victims of blather from numerous candidates for months.

The merit of actually having the candidate selected at the political convention is debatable, but it does mean we would get an extra dose of blather from the talking news heads on TV, which is why the remote has a mute button.

Since we are apparently becoming the industrial lackeys of China and we will be dependent upon them for manufacturing everything from tennis shoes to DVD players, and no one in elected office seems to care, we might as well adopt the Chinese calendar.

In America, 2008 is an election year, and under the Chinese calendar 2008 is the Year of the Rat. Timing is everything.

In 2008, expect gas prices to charge so far past $3 a gallon that when they drops back to $2.99 we will think we're getting a good deal. In Las Vegas, the magicians call it misdirection.

Look for the politicians, regardless who gets elected, to try and blame everything that is wrong on the other guy. In Washington, this is called lying ... uh, misdirection.

Expect 2008 to produce appropriate rainfall in the metro Atlanta area and those in charge will swell up like a blowfish about how things are better but quickly ignore the fact they have done nothing to address the problem in the future.

Those same leaders will look at the transportation mess in Atlanta, scratch their chins and announce the problem will be studied. And the General Assembly, home to far too many bumpkins and dullards, will continue to exercise the narrowest of vision with regards to transportation funding.

Actually, they will exercise the narrowest of vision with regards to practically everything you can think of.

On the sports front, the Braves look good because they haven't started playing and the Falcons look even better because they have stopped.

We can expect someone to get hammered as a result of the steroid issue and proclaim they are innocent of everything, even as they are hauled off to jail.

In the world of entertainment, 2008 will almost certainly see celebrities get married, get pregnant, get divorced, get arrested, get convicted, go into rehab, go into seclusion and go insane. The only question will be if all this happens to the same person.

At some point, we will have a new reality "survivor" show on TV and maybe 2008 will be the year one member of the cast will actually be eaten by a giant tarantula and that will put an end to reality shows. Well, we can hope.

If that doesn't work, maybe we can have "Dancing with the Tarantula." Shoot, I'll even watch that.

Finally, it should be noted that The Science Fiction Channel had a 24-hour marathon of The Twilight Zone starting New Year's Eve and somehow that may be the perfect way to enter 2008, because no matter how weird things were in Rod Serling's world, somehow in the end they made sense.

That's our best hope for 2008. Happy New Year!