Believe it or not, it’s that time of year again, folks.

Back by popular demand is the obligatory New Year’s Predictions column. And no ILI (Influenza-Like Illness) is going to stand in my way, either. Besides, as the genuine ol’ ball coach Lou Holtz likes to say: “Don’t talk about your problems. Ten percent of the people don’t care, and the other 90 percent are glad you got ’em.”

So here we go.

In looking back at a previous new year’s predictions column from long ago, I predicted that that particular new year would be the year I:

• Ordered the dealer to “hit me” and drew a deuce on 19 in blackjack (vingt-et-un for our French friends);

• Filled an inside straight in five-card stud;

• Nailed a hole-in-one on a short par four at the Adams County Country Club;

• And finished the year by hitting the Irish megabazillions lottery.

OK. Not one of those things actually happened. The truth is I got a jack on 19; busted the straight; only eagled the par four hole; and won $2 on a scratch-off that year. So much for my new year’s predictions.

Keeping this track record in mind, there should be no wagering on any of these perfunctory predictions for 2018.

• Prediction No. 15 – I predict the Associated Press Stylebook will ban the use of the word “dossier” and the term “oppo research.” Radio and TV talking heads and political writers have worn out these already hackneyed phrases. If they don’t stop it, sooner or later someone’s going to be rhyming “dossier” and “bustier” and just getting himself into more trouble than it’s worth.

• Prediction No. 14 – The Ohio General Assembly leadership will be pleased to have no more than five new scandals in 2018. And not one representative will pass out in a McDonald’s drive-through.

• Prediction No. 13 – The Cincinnati Reds will sign a 6’ 7” relief pitcher to replace 6’ 5” Aroldis Chapman. (Hey, you heard it here second.)

• Prediction No. 12 – One of the Highland County commissioners will run for the Ohio House of Representatives seat currently held by the House talker.

• Prediction No. 11 – I will not run for the Ohio House of Representatives seat currently held by the House talker.

• Prediction No. 10 – I predict that even the most ardent of Trump haters will be silently pleased with any extra money that appears on their paychecks in 2018. I also predict that no one who is opposed to the tax cuts will send the extra money (if there actually is any extra money) back to Uncle Sam.

• Prediction No. 9 – I predict that I won’t be buying Bitcoin at any price. A random survey this week (by “random survey,” I mean I didn’t actually ask anyone) led me to believe that I cannot buy a used truck in Hillsboro with Bitcoin nor can I order pizzas from Big Ernie’s and pay with Bitcoin. Larry’s Party Shop may accept Bitcoin, but don’t take my word for it.

• Prediction No. 8 – I predict that if I asked 20 people who Sharon Kennedy is at least half would guess that she was once married to John, Bobby or Chappaquiddick Ted. Wrong answers. As Ohio Newspaper Association (all right, now it’s the Ohio News Media Association) Executive Director Dennis Hetzel wrote last week: “If ever a judge had the perfect background to carefully read the law while understanding the inevitable collisions between the public’s right to know and the desire of investigators to keep things secret, it’s Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy. Kennedy, who joined the court in 2012, not only has had a distinguished career as a lawyer and judge, she is a former Hamilton police officer. So, when Kennedy writes that a recent decision by the Supreme Court in a (Pike County) homicide case is equivalent ‘to building a foundation on quicksand,’ people should listen.”

I agree. The recent 4-3 decision that went against Justice Kennedy’s well-reasoned opinion involves the as yet unsolved April 2016 murders in Pike County just east of the Adams County line.

• Prediction No. 7 – Ohio attorney general and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine would love to announce an indictment or two on the Pike County murders at an opportune time before next year’s election. Barring that, he’ll continue to recruit – as many pols now do – the new opioid vote.

• Prediction No. 6 – Ohio secretary of state Jon Husted could have been the next governor.

• Prediction No. 5 – The Trump administration will find little sympathy for the more than 1,100 newspapers across the U.S. that have signed a letter asking Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to weigh in on the anti-dumping and countervailing duty petitions filed in September by a Washington paper mill, North Pacific Paper Company (NORPAC). NORPAC wants higher import duties in excess of 50 percent on imports of uncoated ground-wood paper from Canada. This could result in significant increases in the cost of newsprint.

• Prediction No. 4 – When asked by his Commerce secretary (Wilbur) for a decision on the newspapers’ request, Trump will simply reply “fake news.” Gotta love the irony in 1,100 newspapers begging a favor from an administration they love to hate. They might as well ask Mr. Ed as ask Wilbur. (I’ll have to explain that one to less mature readers.)

• Prediction No. 3 – Third Rail Politics will finally ease off on the Clarksville wonder. Third Rail has been after Cliff Rosenberger for some time. Of course, Rosenberger will be term-limited out of the Ohio House next year – on his way to some other taxpayer-funded office, no doubt. Term limits are a good thing.

• Prediction No. 2 – I will watch at least one more soccer game in 2018 after an invitation from a Lynchburg-Clay fan. (That will make my third soccer game in 56 years. Can’t wait.)

• Prediction No. 1 – Very few of these predictions will come true in 2018.

Happy New Year!

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press.