With so much media coverage devoted to what goes on in the US it seems almost redundant to talk about it here. Nevertheless, one gets a certain kind of perspective on a place only from actually being there. There just isn’t a substitute for the word on the street.

I recently visited my home country after a few years away and picked up on a fairly significant change in the atmosphere. This was not exactly the exuberant change that Barack Obama stumped for during his presidential campaign. On the contrary, the mood was far more weary, frustrated, and down-right cynical than ever before. The people of the United States seem to be united principally on one thing: discontent.

Not only is the new year off to a rip-roaring start, we are also on the cusp of an entirely new decade. Before we can even settle on exactly what to call the last one (the twenty-hundreds? The two thousands?), a new set of years, which historians will lump together and refer to, is already barreling down upon us. Here are ten predictions for the twenty-tens:

Space tourism. A bonafide “spaceline” will begin service – probably Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic – amid much fanfare and few customers.

IT’S THAT TIME of year again when the press begin to roll out a round-up of the annual top stories. No doubt they’ll touch upon the ongoing financial crisis and the purported recent turn around, the escalating wars, the swine flu pandemic, and here in Finland, the political party financing scandals, to name but a few. But my vote for the story of the year goes out to the strange and ongoing saga of the MV Arctic Sea. The Arctic Sea tale is not just odd by any standards, it represents a whole new kind of story – one in which reality imitates fiction.

The media is constantly bombarding us with activity options, promptings to overindulge, and stuff to aspire to. I’d like to take this opportunity to suggest an alternative: go boring. There are plenty of advantages to downshifting one’s lifestyle. Putting on the brakes may not be easy, but it’s sure to be more adventurous than it sounds.

Boring has gotten a bad rap over the last half-century or so. There was a time when staying home with a good book was the thing to do. In fact, the book doesn’t even have to be that good. An acquaintance of mine recently sought a suggestion online for a “boring book.” Who really needs to go out to an overpriced restaurant in the first place? And last year’s threads are perfectly fine. Besides, there is not much new under the sun anyway – not much to miss.

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