Every year, around this time, we humbly confront the uncertainty of what the future has in store. The year behind us is a comfortably known entity; ahead is only the blankness of the calendar.
But even if some surprises have yet to unfold, the truth is we do know quite a lot about what’s going to happen in 2014, and what we’ll be talking about. We know the Winter Olympics will take place in February in the Russian city of Sochi, drawing global attention to the authoritarian reign of Vladimir Putin; we know that Microsoft will install a new CEO and trigger speculation on whether an aging tech powerhouse can jolt itself back to life. We know that historians will be combing through newly declassified Cold War documents related to the Berlin Wall, and that the 25th anniversary of the wall’s collapse will be arriving in November and making lots of fortysomethings feel old. We know pundits and political scientists will be watching the midterm elections; we know that Colorado, where marijuana was legalized on Jan. 1, is going to enjoy a bump in tourism and generally give off some mellow vibes.