2016: Year of the Chinese Curse

It's not just because I have been reading the English translation of Michel Houellebecq's Submission  that I sense we are heading for some sort of apocalypse in 2016.  The novel, ironically published in its original French the day of the Charlie Hebdo massacre (7 January 2015), all too realistically describes an election and near civil war in France in 2022, ending in a Muslim takeover of the state (through an alliance with the left).  Not even a year after its publication, and the more recent events in Paris and San Bernardino, this riveting book seems, if anything, a bit tardy in its time frame.

As the famous supposedly-Chinese curse goes:  "May you live in interesting times." (Yes, I know the curse is apocryphal and about as Chinese as a fortune cookie, but it makes the point.)

In 2016, no matter what happens, it is my suspicion that we will all be cursed as never in our lifetimes -- and I am not young.   We will be yearning for a little boredom or, as the Chinese really do say, "Better to be a dog in a peaceful time, than to be a human in a chaotic (warring) period."

Others have made specific predictions.  That is not my purpose here.  I'm not good at prognostications anyway. (We will be arguing between A and B and it will turn out to be C.) I only want to examine the zeitgeist going into 2016, why it will be, to adopt yet another cliché, a year of living dangerously.

The Obama years have been a slow-moving disaster for America and the world in practically every way.  As they have moved on, things have gotten almost inexorably worse.

On the domestic front, race relations -- initially pretty good, considering we're talking about flawed human beings -- have turned more sour than they've been in decades.  A healthcare program was rammed down the country's throat with multiple lies and now appears to be imploding on itself.  The economy has stalled for years with the key labor participation rate near an all-time low.  And our college campuses have turned into spawning grounds for over-privileged brats poised to imitate the excesses of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.