Posts Tagged ‘Year of the Jackpot’

Is this the year of the jackpot?

October 29, 2020

Living through the year 2020 reminded me of a science-fiction story by the late Robert A. Heinlein called “Year of the Jackpot.”

The viewpoint character was a mild-manner statistician named Potiphar Breen. He followed trends and cycles, and had come to the conclusion that all of the cycles he followed—social, political, economic, the weather, sports scores—were due to peak at the same time.

He headed for the hills with his girlfriend and was able to wait out the economic and political collapse and the Soviet invasion. But sunspots, too, come in cycles, and so the story ends with the two of them watching the sun go nova.

I feel as if I’m living in that story.  Each month something unexpected happens, something I never would have been able to predict the month before, but which, as I think about it, is the result of things that have been building up for years.

Climate scientists for years have been predicting an upswing in weather-related disasters as a result of global warming and, guess what, they’re already here.  I read an article about this year’s catastrophe’s in Scientific American on-line, which was by a reporter whose beat consists of writing about catastrophes.

Epidemiologists for years have been predicting a global pandemic, and now one is here.  Recessions keep getting worse.  Riots and protests, many seemingly without any clear object, sweep the world.

The thing that worries me is the thought that people 10 or 15 years from now will look back on this year, not as the year everything went to hell, but as one of the last good years.

LINKS

The Year of the Jackpot by Robert A. Heinlein in Galaxy Science Fiction (March 1952)

A Running List of Record-Breaking Natural DIsasters in 2020 by Andrea Thompson for Scientific American.

Historically dark mood clouds 2020 election by Marc Fisher for The Washington Post.

Why Is the World Going to Hell? by Jonathan Cook for Counterpunch.

Is 2020 the worst year of your life? Many Canadians, Americans say ‘yes’ by John Ackerman and Curtis Doering for News 1130 in Vancouver.

Here’s a Recap of 2020 So Far and It’s Painful to Read by Liucija Adomaite and Denis Tymulis for Bored Panda.  Painful and somewhat unfair, but funny.