Monday, September 6, 2010


If predictions suddenly ceased to exist, the world wouldn't miss them. If not a total waste of time, they come as close to total waste as you can get.

In ancient Greece and Rome, military generals used to slaughter birds and chickens. Then with military precision and much deliberation, they would read the entrails. You know, intestines, guts, liver, bowels. Sickening stuff reminiscent of your typical medical series on TV.

The butchering was not done out of spite or total disregard for the lives of harmless animals. No, nothing savage like that from generals at war. The objective was simply to predict the outcome of an upcoming battle.

I'm sure you're all familiar with Nostradamus and his predictions. The only thing he did predict accurately was his own death. On the evening of July 1, 1556, he is said to have told his secretary, “You will not find me alive at sunrise.” And true to his word, when the sun rose, he didn't.

For no reason that anyone can justify, we celebrate Groundhog Day on February 2nd every year. Legend has it that if the groggy groundhog emerges from hibernation and sees his shadow, we get six more weeks of winter weather. So the determining factor in this esteemed tradition is whether the day happens to be sunny or cloudy.

Supposedly this pagan ritual began in Pennsylvania in the 18th century in a town with the unlikely name of Punxsutawney. The groundhog, named “Punxsutawney Phil” usually performs his prediction before an audience of 40,000 people and plenty of media coverage. Food is served, speeches are made, and every so often someone handling the hog is bitten and requires a shot for rabies.

Fortune telling, often practiced by gypsies, is the profitable art of pretending to predict people's futures. You could also toss into this group palm readers, clairvoyants, psychics, mystics, financial brokers, and those who read palms, tea leaves, crystal balls, and the bumps on your head. The only prediction you could make when dealing with these people on a regular basis is that your bank account will mysteriously dwindle.

Even fortune cookies – those crisp little cookies with words of wisdom on a twisted piece of paper--get to play the prediction game.

A secret admirer will soon send you a sign of affection.

Plan for many pleasures ahead.

Something you lost will soon turn up.

Happy news is on its way.

Flattery will go far tonight.

Sometimes we even find ourselves relying on things like a rabbit's foot, horseshoes, and 4-leaf clovers to bring us good luck in the future. Or we avoid black cats crossing our paths and walking under ladders to make sure we don't jinx whatever good luck we might have.

Forecasting the weather most certainly comes under the heading of Thermal Lows. First of all, half of the Meteorologists have trouble pronouncing the word. Or sound like they're drunk when they say it. Instead of MEE-tee-ur-ol-uh-jist, it often comes out meaty-ol-uh-jist. Or they totally slur the word and it comes out ME-ur-ol-a-jist.

The least they can do is pick an occupation they can pronounce.

Speaking of weather, I don't need to know if the barometer is rising or falling or going sideways. I have no idea what it is and I don't want to be enlightened. If the weather man can correctly guess what the weather will be like tomorrow morning, I'm happy.

What makes me mad are those 5-day forecasts. Are they a joke or what? Has anybody ever accurately predicted 5 days of weather? And please get those weather guys a freaking window so they don't say, “Right now it's sunny in Manhattan” when it's been raining for the past two hours.

And let's not forget the guys who walk around with signs and grim faces predicting THE END OF THE WORLD! Judging from signs throughout the ages, the end could come in the form of wars, earthquakes, pestilences, tidal waves, famines, false prophets, deadly asteroids, and a calamitous abundance of loud advertising commercials.

Let's hope the world won't end on a Friday and spoil everyone's weekend.