Madison County Opinion...

DECEMBER 31, 2003

By Frank Gillispie
The Madison County Journal
December 31, 2003

Frankly Speaking

Move over National Enquirer, here are my 2004 predictions
Every year at this time we are greeted with a rash of predictions for the coming year. These predictions can be found in every form of media, from supermarket tabloids to network television.
Occasionally, one of these predictions proves to be correct. When it is, people never forget. The thousand others that were wrong are forgotten by the time they are written. The “prophet” who can hit on one of these outrageous forecasts has it made. He or she can live on that success for a long time.
Now remember that in order to be memorable, the prediction has to be dramatic and highly unlikely. For example, if I were to predict that the population of Madison County will double in the next 30 years, I would likely be correct. Current census projections already include that forecast. On the other hand, if I predict a rumor that Madison County has an excess number of eligible bachelors and that this will cause the county to be overrun by rich, beautiful young women driving Volvos, that would be a memorable prediction. Chances of it happening are remote. But if by chance it does happen, I would be famous as a prophet.
Here then, with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, are my predictions for 2004:
•Vince Dooley will leave his job as AD at the University of Georgia early to take the head coach position for the Atlanta Falcons. He will lead the team to the 2005 Super bowl championship.
•Osama bin Laden will have a vision while fleeing to Damascus in which Jesus appears to him just as he did to Paul. He will become a highly effective preacher converting millions of Muslims to Christianity.
•New leadership at the NAACP will discover that black Americans have more in common with conservative Southerners than Northern leftists. In a close vote, they will decide to adopt the Confederate Battle Flag as their official emblem. This news will have a dramatic effect on Colbert resident Rick Fyock who will join the effort to restore the ‘56 Georgia flag as the official flag of the state.
•A trunk found in the basement of an Atlanta newspaper office will be opened, revealing the missing Confederate gold. The treasure will be enough to repair the city’s sewer system.
•An unusual cloud formation will develop over Alabama spelling out the Ten Commandments. The symbol will be so powerful that all legal action against displaying the document in county courthouses will be dropped.
•The nation of Austria will apply for and be granted statehood in an attempt to make Arnold Schwarzenegger a natural born citizen of the U.S. and eligible to run for President in 2008.
•Scientists will discover that the frequently spotted Unidentified Flying Objects are coming from a space city located in Earth’s orbit behind the sun. The “aliens” will be identified as humans who fled earth during a nuclear war 10,000 years ago when the city of Atlantis was destroyed.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is

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By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
December 31, 2003

In the Meantime

What will we remember about the ‘turn of the century?’
Talk about the “turn of the century” and most still think about the days of Teddy Roosevelt, the Boxer Rebellion and the Wright Brothers.
We are still in the infancy of the 21st century, so we still think of the years surrounding 1900 when we refer to the “turn of the century.”
So how long will it be before 2003 and other nearby years meld into an era known as “the turn of the century?” Twenty years, 30 years? I don’t know.
Yet, as sure as our memories fade and faculties fail in coming decades, the Christmas of 2003, along with numerous other occasions of our time, will frequently be recalled without specific dates. Instead, we’ll nudge each other and say “that reminds me of that time around the turn of the century.”
So what are some of the things that may stand out about our new “turn of the century?”
Well, we’ll remember how cell phones were constantly whittled down in size (until they were essentially a dental accessory, like a gold cap.)
We’ll remember how businesses seemed to grow exponentially into super and mega stores at the turn of the century, shutting down many mom and pop shops that can’t buy in bulk.
We’ll remember bad music and reality TV with awful turn-of-the-century retro parties where people will play Linkin Park and watch “Survivor.” (I will not attend.)
We’ll remember that the turn of the century was when people started getting their eyesight zapped into clarity by a laser. And we’ll remember how all sorts of medical miracles, such as open heart surgery, became commonplace. Yet, we’ll recall how decent healthcare cost an arm and a leg.
Of course, we’ll remember how the Internet brought good and bad to our society, giving people quick satisfaction of their higher-minded curiosities or their secret perversions.
On a deeper note, we’ll remember that America’s “war on terror” began with a horrific event at the turn of the century. And we’ll recall our own fears that accompanied that event and all that followed. On a broader scale, we’ll see how “terrorism” and the fear of terrorism reached with ugly tentacles in many directions, affecting relations between nations, ethnic groups and individuals in ways we can’t fully comprehend now.
On the political scene, we’ll remember that at the turn of the century, the country was horribly polarized between right and left, with a seething animosity the only common ground in a political environment heavy on posturing and image control and woefully lacking in substantive debate and action.
Along those lines, the turn of the century will also be remembered for a substantial shift toward right-winged thinking. This accompanies the nation’s move to the right, where Republicans have come to dominate politics, particularly in the South.
In years to come, we’ll recognize that major media followed suit in the rightward turn. Some surely scoff, noting that many — if not most — journalists are liberal-minded. Absolutely true. But more and more journalists’ checks are cut by fabulously wealthy, conservative-minded owners who are buying up more and more news organizations. Forget ideology, any businessman with a major news outlet can see the potential for serious advertising revenue generated by openly targeting a conservative market that is both growing and traditionally affluent.
At the local level, we’ll remember the turn of the century as a time when our county shifted in identity from a farming community to a farming/residential community.
We’ll remember the turn of the century and the first difficult steps toward creating a county water system.
We’ll remember the creation of an animal shelter, a new county jail, and the soon-to-be-created school sports complex in Danielsville and EMS station in Hull.
We’ll look at that old courthouse in the center of Danielsville and remember the efforts to restore the county fixture built at the previous turn of the century.
We’ll remember all the talk at the turn of the century of inevitable growth, but we’ll recall this with a tangible taste of what that vague “coming growth” meant when it actually arrived.
As you can see, we’ll have plenty to talk about when we consider the most recent “turn of the century.”
But we’re still years away, at least in our everyday language.
Because, for us, the “turn of the century” still brings to mind the Wright Brothers’ awkward flying machine, not the micro-cell phones, fancy gadgets and growth issues of our day.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.
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