As the old year turns into a new one, newspapers traditionally intone sagely about the 12 months just past. Hindsight being invariably 20/20, it is no hard task to seem wise after the event.
It is harder to look forward and try to imagine what this year holds - not least because there is much of 2011 that New Zealanders in general, and Cantabrians in particular, do not need reminding of.
Forecasting is foolhardy in the newspaper business, of course: ask distinguished journals such as Scientific American, which declared in 1909 that the automobile had "reached the limit of its development", and the New York Times ("A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth's atmosphere", it said in 1936).
It is more prudent never to say never, and keep the time horizon short. Having taken those precautions, we feel we're probably on safe ground making the following predictions for 2012.
Alas, aftershocks will keep shaking Christchurch for a while yet. We don't know when or how strong the quakes will be, and people who say they do are charlatans. Respectable geoscientists talk in terms of probability, not certainty.
Commentators up and down the country will continue to salute Cantabrians' stoic resolution in the face of such trials and Cantabrians will wish that everyone would shut up about stoic resolution, which is doubtless in short supply in that neck of the woods these days. We can only send our compassion - along with more concrete help - to communities that must now be suffering from chronic trauma.
We confidently predict that Winston Peters, newly returned to the political firmament, will twinkle the same way he has always done - and will not deliver an uncomplicated and unambiguous answer to a simple question at any time in the next 12 months.
John Key will decline to have elocution lessons to stop him pronouncing "stretch" as if it began with an "sh", while reducing all polysyllabic words to monosyllables. He will tell his advisers that his impenetrable mangling of the English language contributes to his "man in the shtreet" image and that, in any case, it is to a politician's advantage if nobody can understand what he is saying because then he can't be accused of failing to do what he said he'd do.
Meanwhile, Labour leader David Shearer will start sounding better in public utterances - a safe bet, since he could hardly sound worse - and John Banks and Peter Dunne will continue to generate noise and hot air entirely disproportionate to their very marginal place in the scheme of things.
The price of well-appointed digital television sets will continue to drop, but at nowhere near the rate that the number of programmes worth watching will plummet. Before the year's end, the only shows running on free-to-air television will be infomercials and network news bulletins (which will be indistinguishable from each other) and two new reality shows: one featuring three drivers fighting over one parking spot; the other following celebrities no one has ever heard of while they do their grocery shopping.
Multiplexes will fine-tune staffing levels. At present they work out how many counter staff you need to ensure patrons get to the cinema on time and roster on that many minus one. This year they will make it minus two.
More brutal dogs will attack little children. The dog owners will wring their hands and say the kid must have provoked the animal. More such brutal dogs will be born and will be sold, for big money, to families who cannot afford to keep them much less train them.
Wealthy financiers who stole others' savings and lived high on the hog will holiday in nice places and say they can't see what the problem is.
People will continue to complain about the weather but nobody will offer to do anything about it.
And, with a little bit of luck, for most of us this year will be better than last, if only because we are one year older and wiser.