In memory of the late William Safire, an advance peek at the year ahead:
1. The breakout nonfiction book of the year is a) Believer: My Forty Years in Politics, by David Axelrod b) Primo Levi's Resistance, by Sergio Luzzatto c) Who Built That, by Michelle Malkin d) The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough e) Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, by Robert Putnam f) The Story: A Reporter's Journey by Judith Miller g) Jack Kemp: The Bleeding-Heart Conservative Who Changed America by Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes.
2. The presidential front-runners at year-end are a) Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, as name recognition and fundraising networks trump desire for fresh blood b) Elizabeth Warren and Ben Carson, as exciting the base excites the base c) Andrew Cuomo and Ted Cruz, as Hillary and Jeb Bush both decide not to run d) Joe Biden and Mitt Romney, as the main qualification for running for president becomes experience having run for president in the past.
3. The U.S. stock market a) hits new highs by year-end 2015, buoyed by low energy prices, a corporate tax repatriation deal between the Republican Congress and President Obama, and continued easy money at the Fed b) makes a downturn of at least ten percent sometime during 2015, shaken by overseas events, the Fed finally raising interest rates, and the possibility of an Elizabeth Warren presidency.
4. The foreign policy challenge of the year is a) Russia, shaken by sanctions and low oil prices, makes an aggressive move against another neighbor in addition to Ukraine b) Islamic State tries to expand its caliphate beyond Syria and Iraq into a neighboring country c) North Korea, emboldened by its successful cyber-attack on Sony, targets a Western government for hacking.
5. The big technology story of the year is a) Apple Watch flops the way Google Glass did, meaning "wearables" remain the stuff of science fiction rather than profitable business reality b) pharmaceutical companies and doctors increasingly target medicines to patients based on the patient's genetic makeup c) Apple Watch is a runaway success, setting Google scrambling for an Android equivalent.
6. The worst news of the year is a) violent race riots in a major American city after another police shooting b) deadly Islamist terror attack on an American target in a European city c) mysterious cyberattack takes down a major U.S. technology company and its users for multiple days.
7. Having reset U.S.-Cuba relations, Pope Francis turns his attention to a) trying and failing to broker a deal between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs b) lecturing the U.S. on "inequality" during his September 2015 visit to Philadelphia.
8. The New York Times wins a Pulitzer Prize for a) its series of editorials calling for normalization of relations with Cuba b) its coverage of defective airbags c) its coverage of abuses at the Rikers Island correctional facility d) all of the above.
9. The Republican Congress surprises with a) hearings on executive compensation at non-profit colleges and universities b) hearings on executive and physician compensation at non-profit hospitals c) a "revenue-neutral" deal with Obama to raise the gas tax (and lower some other taxes at the same time) to fund "infrastructure" spending d) passage of a law defining the crime of "insider trading" and reining in imaginative prosecutorial attempts to expand the definition.
10. The drama over Sony, North Korea, and The Interview ends with a) a special honorary Academy Award for the movie in a futile but feel-good display by Hollywood to make up for the fact that the movie hasn't been shown because of a threat of violence b) an offer by Rupert Murdoch to show the movie on Fox c) an offer by Sumner Redstone to show the movie on CBS and at National Amusements theaters d) an offer by Amazon.com to stream the movie e) none of the above, just an abject surrender all around.
When I tried this last year, the column predicted, or at least raised the possibility of, the Republican takeover of Congress, Governor-elect Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island and Senator-Elect Tom Cotton of Arkansas, the extension of U.S.-Iran nuclear negotiations. So hang onto your hats and choose your answers with care. Early wishes for a peaceful, prosperous, happy and free New Year to all.