Well, hello again, dear readers.
Happy New Year, though I hope you all realize that the 20th
Century will not actually begin until January 1, 1901.
Between now and then, we'll
have a Presidential election, so I thought it would be appropriate
to make some modest predictions for the coming new year, and
The last ten years have certainly
been eventful. We've weathered a Stock Market Crash or two,
seen an extraordinary number of immigrants make their way to
this country, avoided a war with England, and won one with Spain.
And I have to say, now that
Edison's lowered the price on his new Standard Phonograph, it
appears that recorded music is here to stay.
The Phonograph will, however,
never replace piano rolls. Although it's rather fun to actually
hear a human voice come out of those scratchy cylinders, true
music lovers have got to be frustrated by the lack of range.
For music in the home, those tinny phonographs cannot hold a
candle to the Player Piano, which offers a far superior dynamic
Why, you can even get some
of that new "Rag Time" stuff on rolls now.
I should mention that over
in Germany they are reportedly experimenting with a new type
of phonograph, one which would use rotating flat discs instead
of the usual cylinder. In my opinion, if it ain't broke, don't
fix it. Besides, phongraphs and cylinders are now so affordable
that almost any family can afford one. This disc thing is, I'm
sure, another wacky European idea that's bound to sink like a
Speaking of Edison, several
otherwise fairly sane colleagues of mine have been waxing a bit
over-enthusiasticly over one of his lesser gadgets - I refer
to his electronic picture moving device, or those "flickering
flickers", as I like to call them. Now, it was fun to see
one in action, but I fear this device is but a novelty that will
soon wear out its welcome. I'll take Broadway any day of the
To return for a moment to crazy
German experiments, I've learned that some retired general named
Ferdinand von Zeppelin is planning to launch a flying machine
some time this coming year.
No, I'm serious. I almost
wish I could be there to watch the thing crash - I'm not saying
that some day in the distant future we won't find a way to fly,
but I'm sure most of us can agree that it won't happen in our
Speaking of transportation,
it's now clear (or should be at any rate) that these noisy, dirty
new toys of the idle rich, the Horseless Carriages, are never
going to catch on. Besides the fact that they're just too expensive,
why would we need them? The majority of Americans live in the
country, and farming is naturally the principal occupation of
most of us. How could it ever be otherwise? What is more needful
than the production of food?
And what farmer would have
any practical use for a Carriage without a horse?
As far as the cities, thanks
to electricity most major cities now have wonderful trolley systems.
These mini-trains remain the perfect device for those city dwellers
in a real hurry. For the rest, well, there's nothing like a
horse, is there? (Yes, yes, I hear the complaints already -
don't worry, I have nothing against bicycles, either. Might
even buy one this year.)
Well, economically, we look
to be in pretty good shape. We've had a scare or two, recently,
but the Market seems fine now, and I think the coming century
will be relatively free of any major Crash.
Predictions are that immigration
may actually pass one million this coming year. That may very
likely be, but I think we'll see things slow a bit as we enter
the 20th Century Proper. The number of available jobs will dwindle
rapidly, and I'm sure you'll agree that our poor cities can't
handle too many more people. I'm sure that by 1906 or 1907 we'll
have comparitively few immigrants landing.
As far as World Politics, I'm
optimistic. As I mentioned, we nearly went to War with England
over that South American thing back in '95, but as you know cooler
heads prevailed. Having now just defeated Spain and won Cuba
(my personal prediction as the next state to enter the Union),
we've pretty much reestablished our preeminent standing in this
hemisphere. I therefore believe that this century will be one
of relative peace, and hopefully one in which Europe will handle
its own problems.
Elsewhere in the world, there
are small revolutionary movements that have some people worried.
The two that worry people the most seem to be the ones in Russia
and China, mainly since the two countries are so large.
Of course, it is the very largeness
of the two that makes me laugh at the idea that either movement
will ever succeed.
After all, China has been under
the empirical system for longer than most other countries have
even existed, and though its current leader, the Empress Dowager,
is getting on, I trust a suitable successor will be appointed,
and Chinese life will go on this coming century as it alway has.
As far as Russia, that country
is blessed with a relatively young, dynamic monarch: Czar Nicholas
II. There's always been a Czar, the current one seems to have
a firm grip on things, and there is therefore no reason to believe
that a handful of radicals is likely to make much of an impact.
Actually, if you think about
it, most of the ruling European monarchs are related, with England's
Queen Victoria the epicenter of this extended family. In short,
with Victoria on the throne and given the current state of things,
I predict a time of unprecedented Peace for Europe in the 1900's.
We shall look back, years from now, at the 1800's, and smile
at how barbaric we all were. Who knows, perhaps War as we know
it may be eliminated by the mid-20th Century!
Finally, the upcoming election.
William Jennings Bryan is almost certain to be the Democrats'
choice, and this may very well be his year. McKinley is sure
to run again, but I predict a split Republican party. There
are several factions urging New York Governor Roosevelt (you'll
recall him as "Teddy", the recent hero of San Juan
Hill during the Spanish War) to run, either as a Republican or
Now, those in the know regard
Theodore Roosevelt, quite properly, as something of a loose cannon.
You may recall he was one of the more vocal supporters of going
to war with England, as well as helping to drum up the mania
that created the Spanish conflict.
In short, not a bad sort, but
not the sort of person you want as President. Such a man would
almost certainly lead us into some unnecessary conflict at the
drop of a hat.
Still, he's popular, and ambitious,
and thus his entry into the ring, in spite of his protestations
that he supports McKinley, is entirely probable.
Such a venture would split
the Republicans down the middle, and practically guarantee Bryan
Of course, with the sudden
and recent death of the Vice President, there is a small
faction that believes McKinley may actually bring Roosevelt on
board as Vice President, but if you know just how much animosity
there is between the two, you'll realize, as I do, that the odds
of that happening are laughably small.
No, I don't think we'll be
running into a President Roosevelt in our lifetime!
What a thought . . . why the idea is ludicrous. Roosevelt
has as much chance of becoming President as women have of getting
the vote, or those temperance fanatics have of Prohibiting alcohol
. . .
Happy New Year!