By Joe Natale

April – so said the poet – is the cruelest month. I don’t know if that’s a reference to paying income taxes or not; but to my way of thinking, January is certainly the coldest month.

This is really old news, but the month of “January” is named in honor of the Roman god, Janus, who is depicted as having two faces as he looks to the future and to the past. So, let’s warm ourselves up by taking a look back at 2013 and look ahead to 2014.

Locally, the story with the biggest long-term impact is the federal government signed-off on the plan to consolidate freight and rail traffic along the Tenth Street corridor. That was good news for those who feared more train traffic along the Third Street would have turned downtown Springfield into an urban sink hole of apocalyptic proportions.

For now, Amtrak will continue to run its soon to be high speed trains along Third Street since it will a number of years before it moves to Tenth Street complete with an inter-model facility; but, as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Nationally, the big story was the revelation that the National Security Agency (NSA) was collecting and storing data on virtually every phone call, text message and Internet activity of Americans as part of its terrorists surveillance program.

For all the harrumphing of civil liberties being threatened by NSA’s action, that news wasn’t really much of a surprise. After the terrorist attack in 2001, the general consensus was we needed to be more aggressive in monitoring terrorists’ chatter in order to avoid another such incident.

Actually, NSA wasn’t listening to calls about ordering more toner for your printer, paying your bills on line, or texting your wife to check if you were supposed to pick a carton of one percent or two percent milk at the grocery store. NSA was running logarithms and analyzing data and key words in order to zero in on potential threats. I could go into more details about how it was done, but I’m not going to go all meta on you.

Enough about 2013. Now let’s look at what’s in store for us in 2014:


Joe Natale


Joe Natale is a freelance writer from Springfield.