Every New Year's we look back or look ahead. I tried it myself and I can't say I was particularly thrilled by any defining moments knocking out what's on tap for next year. Things sucked for most of us and the world. On the plus side Obama got elected and won a Nobel Prize for getting elected, so he had a good year, while for the rest of us cheaper Blue-ray players are now an option.

Wars And The Economy

Next year we could get lucky, but the rules of the game haven't changed enough to make any kind of recovery happen soon. War in Iraq, War in Afghanistan, and more Terror. Any correlation there for our politicians? Don't think they see it yet. And if there's no peace recovery, economic recovery isn't likely either. Any thinkers or tinkerers in Washington see that? When you spend all your money on war and bailing out bankers and banks and Wall Street and Detroit, there's not much left in the pot for Main Street except for potholes. In the meantime all you guys without a paycheck, put on your best torn T-shirt and get into construction before everybody else figures out it's the only real Stimulus we'll get in 2010.

H1N1 Swine Flu

Other big stories weren't good news either. H1N1 Swine Flu did make a two stage attack, as I forecast on NewsHammer months before anyone else did. Now it's over 12,000 dead says the WHO, but the media after going whole hog on the story, are now critical of a massive over-response to a pandemic that missed the boat.

Sorry, it's not over yet. Viruses mutate and this one has developed into several strains. Ordinarily those who got their shots based on the initial virus type or who caught an airborne version of it already, will largely be protected from the new strains. Those still at risk will not have had either, and that means most people everywhere. As it looks like a weak pandemic now, the demand for inoculations is way down, with people ignoring or postponing a shot.

This is an iffy choice that could backfire. Getting the shot and so playing it safe, is the way to go for most of us. The problem is like with all vaccines, a risk of side-effects. The worst case is autism in young children, still debated as a maybe disease from vaccines, and Guillaume Barré syndrome, a dangerous neurological disease that can leave children and adults permanently damaged. A few cases have been reported among many who have had the new H1N1 vaccine. But over the years other flu shots have been blamed for thousands of cases of this otherwise rare neurological disease. Anyone already very sick or immune compromised, could die of complications.

With the heat off for now, it's a good time to talk to your doctor on whether or not to get a shot. It's still possible we could see a million or more dead in countries ill-prepared for another resurgence of H1N1.

Michael Jackson: Dead Like Elvis

The shock of Michael Jackson's death also took our breath away. With a media life of its own, as reported and forecast in NewsHammer, it rivaled and then eclipsed the media hounds hunt for Wacko Jacko, the child molester who never was. A sad comment on them and us, being sucked in for years by bloodthirsty journalism out for a buck. The orgy of how this could have happened, never looked far enough back into how it did happen, just catching the endless parade of weird rumors, alibis and genuine worldwide remorse. Journalists should have fried some of their own for Michael's premature death as well as the standup comics who pulled out their knives nightly for our Caesar of Pop, sorry King of.

Google And The Death Of Newspapers

Another big story on NewsHammer this year still revving up slowly in the press, that newspapers and magazines are being Googled to death. Bleeding slowly at first I guess they didn't notice. Now hemorrhaging they're talking of fighting back, Murdock & Co. Why here's the answer: We'll charge the freeloading downloading bastards! Wrong again. We'll sell our stuff on Kindle! Sure you will. Who's gonna pay though for dull and boring rubber-necking journalism, especially from Iowa if you're in Colorado?

Magazines and newspapers wrecked their future long ago, when they raised prices up and up instead of getting more readers and more from advertisers, and then cut back on journalists and meaningful coverage from City Hall, to city, town and country, while boiling down Culture to gizmos and fashion statements. To relying on the wire services for big stories and forgetting they were the conscience of their town and nation. Now a paper from City X is largely the same paper from City Y and Z. Try selling that. Try selling bloated or useless magazines or cut to the bone crap sheets. It looks like half of all newspapers and magazines today will fail in the next 10 years, only the best surviving and those with a niche somewhere in OpraLand and GossipWorld.

This is also Google's fault as I said this year in 2 stories on NewsHammer, but Google, the Gentle Giant of Publishing, crushes every little thing as it goes for a walk to find some more money. Can't see what's going under its footprint even when it bothers to look.

Well Google is not some mad post apocalyptic monster out to destroy everything, but still we're getting what's good for Google must be good for everyone else outside of GogglePlex. Shades of the old GM philosophy that killed streetcars, trains and the electric car, with their hands out now for more government money for GM's poor starving brother, GMAC.

Why do the Feds listen to these guys in suits? Hey Buddy, can you spare a Billion? Might as well give it to winos or druggies and street people. At least they'd spend it or give it away and provide some real Economic Stimulus.

Will Google be taking corporate welfare handouts one of these days? Well, if it's not blushing now as it steamrolls over journalism and publishing, what will stop it? Not that Google is mainly to blame. By dominating web advertising Google only collects all the loose change we click into big bucks for them without writing one word of copy. Come on Google, play fair, Do No Evil. Rewrite the AdSense rules on web ads and who gets what and how, charging advertisers for display ads and not just click-throughs and share all the revenue with your publishers as the real solution. Google could make even more money this way, but we'll save journalism, get more jobs, more people working again like the good old days before these guys made billions putting Google together for fun in a garage on pizza and credit cards.

Will they? No, Google won't even answer an email, never mind coming to the rescue of an industry they're nailing into a coffin. Can't you hear 2009 scratching the lid to get out and live again! Hey Google! Write home before your old lady croaks and you're up shit creek.

There were other big stories in 2009 like Global Warming, but politicians think it can wait. We're all too busy with the future, Googling for the Apple Tablet and other wonders soon to drive us crazy everyday, worrying about Tiger Woods ever golfing again and Charlie Sheen overdosing on his own persona in Two and a Half Men. How could they do that when they were so cool? This is the world that matters, I keep forgetting. Oh well there's 2010 and parties tonight. Happy New Year!

--Alan Gillis