The dawn of a new decade has already spawned some over-reaching retrospective lists, and now it's time for commentators to partake of that other obligatory custom: the New Year's resolution. While many pundits have political goals, others seem to miss the point slightly, making their resolutions into instructions to other people. (See: Karl Rove.) Regardless, here's what they're hoping to see in the coming year:
Becoming More Radical Costas Douzinas of the Guardian believes that the left is the "main hope against" xenophobia and "securitized apocalyptic barbarism." Accordingly, he makes "the new decade's resolution: one should become more radical as one grows older alongside the 21st century."
- Flu Prevention Mark Silva of the Chicago Tribune gets a head start, urging readers to "Cover your mouth when you cough, please...And have a happy and healthy new decade."
- Self Control Rachel Dry of the Washington Post has a resolution to "Waste less time on the Internet." But since she uses an automated program to do this, she frets that "I haven't changed -- or shown much resolve. I'm not doing the work of focusing more effectively."
- Geeky Overload Julie O'Dell of ReadWriteWeb compiles the "geek-out" resolutions of her fellow tech editors. For her part, she resolves to "learn Python this year. I've realized in 2009 that it's harder to be a tech writer when you don't have a hacker-esque depth of understanding about APIs and web apps."
- Silencing Joe Biden Karl Rove deliberately misses the point of making resolutions, using the frame as a convenient device to sermonize to his political foes. For Obama, Rove suggests working on "meaning what he says." Biden should "speak publicly less." Oh, and the Democratic group of "Blue Dogs" should "become Republicans."
- Courage Patt Morrison takes a similar approach to Rove, making resolutions into instructions. Morrison wants to see more heroism and "displays of bravery" in the country--kind of like "that Flying Dutchman, Jasper Schuringa" who leapt to action on Flight 253.
- Social Media Leading to Social Service As Scott P. Richert reports, the Pope has written a prayer intention for Catholics in the coming year: "That young people may learn to use modern means of social communication for their personal growth and to better prepare themselves to serve society"
- Self Sufficiency Peter Bregman, a management consultant writing for CNN, uses the example of men in China making brooms out of branches to celebrate the virtue of relying on one's ingenuity in a time of recession. Plus, "maybe we'll all gain some compassion as we learn to adapt to our own circumstances and as we watch others adapt to theirs."
- New Musical Blends Celebrated Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat hopes for "good news all around" in 2010. In addition to wishing one daughter would learn to read, and the other would gain weight, Danticat says, "I hope the indie rock group Arcade Fire does a duet with Wyclef Jean. If not that then I hope the Fugees get back together."
- Making Good Resolutions Joho of Joho the Blog doesn't care for New Year's, getting both sarcastic and abstract about the holiday. After sarcastically cheering, "We made it around the Sun again. Good job, Earth!" Joho offers a list of "content-free meta-resolutions. These include making resolutions, and following through on them.
- The Wisdom Not to Make Resolutions Neuroscience writer Jonah Lehrer argues that the whole exercise is foolish, given that willpower is a finite resource. He gives one tip, however: better posture. "The lesson is that the prefrontal cortex can be bulked up, and that practicing mental discipline in one area, such as posture, can also make it easier to resist Christmas cookies."