austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

All these lovely-colored things are waiting for tomorrow

In late 1961 we got predictions for what life would be like a half-century hence from some of the greatest futurists of the time. Let's check how accurate they were.

  • Matter will become more efficient with streamlined atoms lacking unnecessary pieces. Partially Correct: ever since the replacement of neutrinos with electron neutrinos in 1987 atoms have been nearly half of a percent faster, although many still complain they can tell the difference in taste. This is self-delusion; blind taste tests show they can't tell the difference in taste, which is odd, as the difference in feel is unmistakable.
  • Baseball will have three major leagues, but to avoid friction with the American and National Leagues the third will disguise itself as a basketball league. Correct: The projection failed to account for the second basketball league disguising itself as the American Football Conference West division, however.
  • As the result of a Presidential Election the United Still will elect and inaugurate a president. Correct: One suspects they were padding their success counts, however.
  • A tenth planet will be discovered, and will turn out to be in the last place we looked. Incorrect: We checked in outer space first and sure enough, there it was.
  • The dead will continue to envy the living. Undetermined: We tried to quiz the dead, but every time we got to the outskirts of the Greater Hades Metropolitan Statistical Area, along would come Cerberus and bite us in triplicate. So we have to declare this one indeterminate, although we should note that apparently Cerberus was free to come after us as opposed to dealing with stuff over all the rest of the perimeter of the Greater Hades Metropolitan Statistical Area, so they're clearly not preoccupied with a lot of escape attempts.
  • No one will yet have heard of musical group Howard Miller And The Millstones. Correct: But this one feels like an in-joke that shouldn't have been printed.
  • Great Britain will exchange her monarch for a good-sized grandfather's clock with an attachment that makes colorful birds pop out at certain hours as a less troublesome head of state. Partially Correct: During his second term as Prime Minister, Harold Wilson negotiated the replacement of Queen Elizabeth II with a clock just as described. However, arguments about whether Wilson could afford a new color TV set so as to be able to see the Good-Sized Grandfather Clock's annual Christmas message in color --- and the verdict that they probably couldn't afford it for 1974 --- prompted Wilson to call the whole thing off as ``not worth it''.
  • New television channels will be discovered in the gaps between current stations. Incorrect: While the channels exist, they're all showing reruns of Police Story or The Cisco Kid or stuff.
  • Efforts to simplify English will reach the point that where now we use adverbs, people of 2011 will swat people with books. Undetermined: While we have made great strides in replacing words with battery, it is unclear whether the original prediction meant using books to swat people or swatting the people who had books.
  • Worldwide mustard distribution problems will be unimaginable. Correct: We don't even understand what this is supposed to be about.
  • Paper will disintegrate more rapidly the less interesting the materials written on it are. Incorrect: Possibly the worst miss of this batch. We now know paper becomes more indestructible the duller its content is, and worse, it breeds. This is why that drawer where you just dropped in a few important papers last tax season is now stuffed full of what turn out to be faded copies of Subway sandwich coupons expiring in September 2008.
  • A movie or TV show will portray a ventriloquist other than Edgar Bergen as not crazy. Incorrect: One episode of the 1980s Twilight Zone appeared to show a sane ventriloquist, but it turned out to be a glitchy computer simulation for an interstellar colony ship's cryogenically hibernating passengers.
  • The average person will encounter computers five times per day, but only enjoy two of them. Correct: Based on medical records of punching-related injuries people slug about one in five computers each day, and are displeased with two more of them.

Trivia: Until 1795 the British navy still relied upon whatever maps and charts its ship captains could find, buy, or make themselves. Orders in Council that year established a hydrography office to distribute standardized accurate maps. Source: To Rule The Waves: How The British Navy Shaped The Modern World, Arthur Herman.

Currently Reading: The Fleet The Gods Forgot: The US Asiatic Fleet In World War II, W G Winslow. They may not be stories of great military significance, but it's one story after another of survival against outrageous odds, including journeys many thousands of miles in lifeboats or not much more evading enemy planes and ships that's ... amazing.


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