"John Scully's" comic strip that has a farewell every day (drawn and written by Ruben Bolling)

"John Scully's" comic strip that has a farewell every day (drawn and written by Ruben Bolling)
"John Scully's" comic strip that has a farewell every day (drawn and written by Ruben Bolling)
September 19 is the last post for this blog. Thanks to all my readers!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

30 April 2013

Dianna Agron b. 1986
Kirsten Dunst b. 1982
Kunal Nayyar b. 1981
Johnny Galecki b. 1975
Larry Niven b. 1938 (winner of 1971 Hugo and Nebula for Ringworld)

Breaking the Pretty Girl = Picture Slot rule today because I think the general public associates the stars of The Big Bang Theory with the genre more than they do Ms. Agron (Glee) or Ms. Dunst, as lovely as they are.

Many happy returns to all concerned.


Prediction: In April 1943, Dr. Estelle Karst perfects a method for producing artificial radioactives, giving the United States a decisive weaponry advantage the helps the Allies win World War II.

Predictor: Robert A. Heinlein in Solution Unsatisfactory, published 1941

Reality:  Pretty darn close. The military uses of nuclear power had not yet been developed but the theories had been bandied about some. For this part of the prediction, I've trotted out the Sensible Bob photo for the first time this month.

But then...

Prediction: On February 17, 1951, after the death of the President of the United States, Clyde Manning stages a coup d'etat and becomes the military dictator of the planet. 

Predictor: Robert A. Heinlein in Solution Unsatisfactory, published 1941

Reality: He just needed a bang-up ending to this story and Grumpy Old Bob couldn't leave well enough alone. He envisions a Pax Americana period after World War II and a short struggle with the Eurasian Union under Soviet domination, with America's nuclear monopoly being the decisive advantage in both conflicts.

Of course, science fiction should be seen more as warning than actual prediction in many cases and Heinlein is on record in a prediction that the United States would never fight a war of aggression, yet another example of Ridiculous Bob.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

John Elfreth Watkins discusses the future of the telephone.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, April 29, 2013

29 April 2013

Robert J. Sawyer b. 1960
(won 1996 Nebula for The Terminal Experiment)
(won the 2003 Hugo for Homonids)
Kate Mulgrew b. 1955
Irvin Kershner b. 1923 died 11/27/2010

Many happy returns to the writer Mr. Sawyer and the actress Ms. Mulgrew. Mr. Kershner is gone, but he gets full marks as the director of The Empire Strikes Back. I wouldn't give him as high a grade for Robo-Cop 2, but they can't all be gems.

In the year 2000!

Predictor: OMNI Future Almanac, published 1982

Prediction: the robot population in the top ten countries.
Japan 11,000,000
U.S. 7,500,000
U.S.S.R 5,600,000
West Germany 3,600,000
France 1,620,000
Italy 1,600,000
East Germany 1,000,000
United Kingdom 820,000
Sweden 650,000
Brazil 550,000

Reality: According to a report from the International Federation of Robotics, the world robot population in 2000 was about one million worldwide. Adding up the predictions in the top ten list, we get just a little under 34,000,000, which is nearly double the number reported in 2011 after a decade of remarkable growth.


Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

I did some more research and you won't guess what I found. More stuff from Sensible Bob Heinlein! I know, I was shocked, too!

Of course, if I give the full prediction, there's some Ridiculous Bob mixed in as well, but that sort of thing is just to be expected.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

28 April 2013

Jessica Alba, b. 1981
Penélope Cruz b. 1974
Elisabeth Röhm b. 1973
Jorge Garcia b. 1973
Bridget Moynahan b. 1971
Mary McDonnell b. 1952
Mike Newell b. 1942

Wow, there's a whole lot of pretty to choose from on this list. This year, I'm giving the picture slot to Ms. Alba, not for being the youngest (definitely) or the prettiest (many strong candidates here), but for have the career filled with the most roles in genre TV and movies, including Sin City, Fantastic Four, Spy Kids and Dark Angel, her first big starring role on TV back at the beginning of this century.

As for Mr. Garcia, best known for his role on Lost, and Mr. Newell, who directed a Harry Potter film... No matter how long I run this blog, you aren't getting a picture on your birthday. Sorry, guys.

Predictor: L.A. 2013, published April 3, 1988 in the Los Angeles Times Magazine

Predictions (and reality): Transportation and commuting

Los Angeles County has a mandatory staggered work plan. One third of the workforce from Granada Hills is already on the road at 5:45 AM. Even so, the commute takes three times as long.
(No and no. According to statistics, the average commute time is the most congested parts of Los Angeles is around 37 minutes. No staggered work plan has been forced on the residents.)

Telecommuting is common. (More common than it was back in the late 1980s to be sure, but according to statistics, stuck at about 2.5% of the workforce.)

Special lane for electric cars. (Full marks for this one.)

Supersonic jets. (Still a luxury and not often used.)

Some "predictions" are really just for entertainment purposes only, but this article really wanted to get stuff right and it's very hit and miss and was only looking ahead twenty five years. For me, it makes me admire the people aiming fifty to one hundred years in the future and being accurate even more, though of course they have their strikeouts as well.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Tomorrow, we check in with the OMNI Future Almanac, another source of predictions from the 1980s (1982 to be exact) that may not always be accurate but is certainly bold. 

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

27 April 2013

William Moseley b. 1987

No, this hasn't magically become a blog about boy bands. Young Mr. Moseley is one of the actors who was in the Narnia series of films and many happy returns of the day.

Films released
Death Race 2000 released 1975 

Prediction: 2000: Frankenstein and “Machine Gun” Joe Viterbo are the co-favorites to win 20th running of the Annual Transcontinental Death Race.

Predictor: Death Race 2000, released 27 April 1975

Reality: Oh, this is a charmer. Screenwriter Robert Thom is responsible – if that is the correct word – for some of the oddest films made in the sixties and seventies, including this one, Wild in the Streets, The Phantom of Hollywood and The Legend of Lylah Clare. A fascist state has taken over America and has this annual cross-country race with points for traffic fatalities is run each year to keep the public entertained. And yes, it stars a post Kung Fu David Carradine and a pre Rocky Sylvester Stallone.

If the title doesn't convince you the story is told in the future, it has several touches that were popular in mid-century futurism, including food in pill form, monorails and of course, gladiator games.

It's kind of like The Hunger Games without the cute kids or the pretensions of seriousness. Don't get me wrong, the movie is plenty pretentious, but the pretensions are serious at all.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Tomorrow, we look once again at the exciting future of 2013 in Los Angeles, as seen from 1988.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, April 26, 2013

26 April 2013

Andy Secombe b. 1953

Many happy returns of the day to Mr. Secombe, best known to genre fans as the voice of Watto in the Star Wars films.

In the Year 2000!

Prediction: People will be able to watch entertainers in the privacy of their own homes, seeing their image projected on a wall and listening to the audio over the telephone.

Predictor: Postcards produced by Hildebrands German Chocolate Company in 1900.

Reality: While this is the first time I've presented a prediction of this kind on the blog, it is not the first time this was predicted. We will see this idea recur several times as we get more of the Victorian futurists checking in. I haven't presented any of the work of Edward Bellamy yet - just waiting for exact dates he predicted to roll around - but he has a very similar prediction in his book Looking Backward:2000-1887. The only addition is the projection of the image.

It should be noted that radio did exist in 1900, several people having patents for working wireless transmission, the best known names among many today being Marconi and Tesla. On the other hand,  the telephone was then being used by the public, while radio broadcasts were still a few years off.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

A very different look at the Year 2000, this time in a prediction from the 1970s. Are you on Team Frankenstein or Team Machine Gun Joe?

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

25 April 2013

Jason Lee b. 1970
Gina Torres b. 1969
Hank Azaria b. 1964
Peter Jurasik b. 1950

Some very good actors are sharing a birthday today, but as regular readers know, my standard operating procedure is "Pretty Girl = picture slot".

It's an excellent rule, don't you agree?
In the year 2000!

Prediction: The greatest invention to come: A replicator that can copy anything.

Predictor: Arthur C. Clarke on the BBC-TV show Panorama in 1964

Reality: To be fair, Clarke put this prediction at the end of his list and it's clear it was more of a wish than a prediction. He's not the only person in science fiction to long for such a thing. There were replicators on the original Star Trek series and Jean-Luc Picard is famous for asking for "Tea, Earl Grey, hot".

The problem is that matter comes in these pesky packages called molecules and you can't just have a near infinite supply of these hanging around until some bald guy decides he wants a tea mixed with a little citrus at a specific temperature in a nice China teacup.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Tomorrow it's a German chocolate postcard! I don't know yet the prediction for the year 2000 will be accurate or way off base, but it's a safe bet the illustration will be charming.


Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

24 April 2013


Damon Lindelof b. 1973
Rory McCann b. 1969
Aiden Gillen b. 1968

Many happy returns to the folks on today's birthday list. Lindelof is a writer/producer who works with J.J. Abrams frequently, notably on Lost and the Star Trek reboot. McCann plays the Hound on Game of Thrones and Gillen plays Littlefinger on the same show.

No pretty girl on this list, so the picture slot goes to Gillen, who I loved on The Wire as Tommy Carcetti and is a favorite of my sci-fi buddy Jodi for his work on Queer As Folk.

Also... kitty.

I mean, this is the Internet and I wasn't born yesterday.

In the year 2000!

Prediction: How Children will be Taught. A university education will be free to every man and woman. Several great national universities will have been established. Children will study a simple English grammar adapted to simplified English, and not copied after the Latin. Time will be saved by grouping like studies. Poor students will be given free board, free clothing and free books if ambitious and actually unable to meet their school and college expenses. Medical inspectors regularly visiting the public schools will furnish poor children free eyeglasses, free dentistry and free medical attention of every kind. The very poor will, when necessary, get free rides to and from school and free lunches between sessions. In vacation time poor children will be taken on trips to various parts of the world. Etiquette and housekeeping will be important studies in the public schools.

Predictor: John Elfreth Watkins in The Ladies' Home Journal, published in 1900

Reality: This selection isn't the most prophetic work my man crush has produced, but it is very typical of Victorian era futurism both in the United States and Great Britain. Starting with Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward: 2000-1887, published in 1888, many writers believed deeply in socialism to improve the lot of the poor, especially when it came to education. Watkins is just the first of the turn of the century visionaries I've quoted, but we will hear from many more in the future! Besides Bellamy himself - I'm waiting until we get to exact dates quoted in his most famous work - weekly slots will be given to T. Baron Russell on Wednesdays when I have finally printed the last of Watkins' work. (sniff.) And as Arthur C. Clarke winds down, he will start sharing time with the best known science fiction writer of the era who produced a lot of predictions with dates attached, H.G. Wells.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!
Arthur C. Clarke predicts the greatest invention in history. Make sure to have some Earl Grey tea (hot) by your view screen for this one.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

23 April 2013

Kal Penn b. 1977

Best known for the Harold and Kumar movies, Mr. Penn was also in Superman Returns, which earns him a birthday mention on this blog and a wish for many happy returns of the day.

In the Year 2000!

Fish and yeast will become our principal sources of proteins. Beef will be a luxury; lamb and mutton will disappear.

We'll all be getting a little hungry by and by.

Predictor: Robert A. Heinlein in 1950

Reality: It was the common assumption that population growth would outpace the food supply and everyone would feel the pain. I'm a little surprised that a writer as pro-capitalist as Heinlein wouldn't realize that people with money would always have enough to eat. It's also interesting to compare the 1950s writers to the 1900s writers. John Elfreth Watkins is completely confident that advances in agriculture will create miracles and wonders, while middle century sci-fi writers didn't share that conviction. I don't know anybody who predicted that obesity would become a serious problem among the poor, which is not surprising because it's so counter-intuitive.

I still have a lot of Heinlein predictions in the pipeline, but if I'm as generous as I possibly can be, only one of them is even close to correct. If nothing changes, Wednesday will be spent staring at the this ridiculous sportscoat unless I make a change.  To that end, I'm now going to have Heinlein share the Tuesday spot with another hard SF writer who made a lot of predictions with dates in his work, Larry Niven. I don't promise that Niven's predictions are any more accurate, only that is sartorial choices are not as disturbing.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Wednesday means John Elfreth Watkins or at least it does for another month or two. Tomorrow, he looks at the future of education... in the year 2000!
Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, April 22, 2013

22 April 2013

Richard Marquand b. 1938 died 9/4/1987
Jeffrey Dean Morgan b. 1966

Richard Marquand is best known as the director of Return of the Jedi. Let's recall that he is the director and not the writer, so Ewoks are not completely his fault.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan is best known to genre fans as The Comedian in Watchmen. Debate rages on as to whether he looks more like Robert Downey Jr. or Javier Bardem. In this picture, I'd go with Downey.

Prediction: By 1964, Television sets will be so thin you can mount one on a wall like a painting.

Predictor: General Electric scientists in 1954, quoted in Popular Mechanics

Reality: Closer than you might think. Although flat screens as actual TVs are first marketed in the late 1990s, engineers at the University of Illinois came up with the first plasma technology screens to be used with computers in... 1964. This is according to Wikipedia and other Internet sources, and of course, when have you ever read anything on the Internet that wasn't true?

(Seriously, this looks accurate.)

The illustration is from The Wonderful Future That Never Was, a collection of predictions from the pages of Popular Mechanics published before 1969 are collected in 2009.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Tuesday is Robert A. Heinlein day, and he predicts the future of food. Will it be Ridiculous Bob or Sensible Bob?  Come back tomorrow to find out.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

21 April 2013

James McAvoy b. 1979
Kate Vernon b. 1961

Mr. McAvoy was in the first Narnia film and played a young Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class. Ms. Vernon was on Lost and Battlestar Galactica.

Many happy returns to them both.

Predictor: Los Angeles Times Magazine, published 3 April 1988

Predictions (reality): Here is what they thought would happen concerning the international financial situation.

Automatic language translation with our Japanese bosses. (See yesterday's post about the AT&T ads. This hasn't happened yet, but it could.)

Students learn Japanese in school. (They can at some schools. Few do. Fear of Japanese domination of our economy was at its peak about 25 years ago. Now we fear China, a country that wasn't even on the financial radar when this article was written.)

Los Angeles – along with New York and Tokyo – is one of the three major financial cities in the world. (According to the Telegraph, this isn't even close to right. They list San Francisco and Chicago in the worldwide top ten, but do not mention L.A.)

It costs $25 extra to talk to a personal teller. (How can this possibly make financial sense? Who would pay such a ridiculous premium?)

Money has bar codes that show to whom they have been issued. (Somewhere, Alex Jones is having a conniption fit just because he senses someone is even typing these words. The "mark of the Beast" freaks would explode.)

India surpasses the United States in cigarette production. (True, but the U.S. is fourth behind China, India and Brazil.)

Large companies have moved smaller scale offices to the suburbs to be closer to their employees. (Making life easier for employees? That's commie talk, my friend. People should think they are lucky to have jobs. If large groups of people start thinking companies are lucky people are willing to sell their time so cheaply, well... then the revolution comes.)

(Audible shudder.)

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

This Monday we get a prediction from Popular Mechanics, so no matter how far off base it is, the illustration will be cool.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

20 April 2013

Andy Serkis b. 1964
George Takei b. 1937

I could put up a picture of Mr. Serkis, best known as the motion and voice actor for the CGI Gollum, also excellent in Mike Leigh's Topsy Turvy, but I decided to go with a picture of The King Of The Internet, Mr. George Takei, taken from the Evil Federation episode Mirror, Mirror.

Many happy returns to both gentlemen.

Predictor: AT&T ads from 1993 & 1994

Predictions (and reality): Technically, there are no dates given, but these ads are twenty years old now, so let's see how they did with their twenty predictions of things you had never done... but you will.

Right on the money
Borrowed a book from thousands of miles away
Crossed the country without stopping for directions
Paid a toll without slowing down
Bought concert tickets from a cash machine
Tucked your baby in from a phone booth
Opened doors with the sound of your voice
Carried your medical history in your wallet
Attended a meeting in your bare feet
Watch the movie you wanted to the minute you wanted to
Learned special things from far away places
Put your heads together when you are not together
Had a classmate thousands of miles away
Or kept and eye on your home when you are not at home
Fixed your car with a television
Had an assistant who lived in your computer

The only quibble here is that some of this stuff was not brought to you by AT&T, but instead by competitors they didn't even think of as competitors twenty years ago, such as Apple creating Siri.

Close but no cigar
Checked out of a supermarket a whole cart at a time (bar code readers are still a little tempermental)
Make a phone call from your wrist (phones are small and portable, but people like a bigger screen)
Send a fax from the beach (fax technology is a little old fashioned now)

As we say in Oakland, "Oh, hellz no!"
Renewed your drivers license at a cash machine (The DMV is still run like a Soviet bureaucracy and TECHNOLOGY CAN'T FIX IT MOTHERFUCKER!)
Conducted business in a language you don’t understand (Yeah, right. Let's work out the bugs from AutoCorrect before we go to instantaneous translation of languages, okay?)

Still, it's fun to look back at this. A strong set of predictions.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Another glimpse at the fabulous future of Los Angeles 2013 as seen from 1988.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, April 19, 2013

19 April 2013

Hayden Christensen b. 1981
James Franco b. 1978

If you have only see Hayden Christensen in Star Wars, try to find Shattered Glass, in which he plays real life disgraced journalist Stephen Glass. It changed my opinion about his acting abilities by quite a bit and for the better.


In the year 2000!

Prediction: Airships and blimps will drop bombs on ships in a sea battle.

Predictor: French postcards from 1900

Reality: If we ignore the blimp in the foreground, all the rest of the planes look to be heavier than air flying craft. This is a prediction a few years before the Wright Brothers first get one of their contraptions airborne in 1903.

You might think it's easy to predict something that happens just a few years in the future, but it isn't. When you look at much of science fiction, it is the very rare writer indeed who sees how far computers will advance in the space of a few decades, and they had the advantage of writing their stories after the first computers were operational, big clunky beasts that they were. I might dock this prediction half a point for thinking blimps would still be in the forefront, but I can be a very strict grader at times.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Do you remember all the things AT&T predicted were just around the corner in their 1993 ads?  Tomorrow... you will.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

18 April 2013

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley b. 1987
David Tennant b. 1971
Clive Revill b. 1930

If I used my standard rule of Photo Slot = Pretty Girl, it would be hard to find prettier than Ms. Huntington-Whiteley, the Victoria's Secret model who replaced Megan Fox in the Transformers series, but I wanted to give a shout out to fans of The Doctor and use Mr. Tennant's likeness instead. The third name on our list is the original voice of the Emperor in the Star Wars films. Many happy returns to all.

Prediction: 1997: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics publishes Fifty Years of UFOs.

Predictor: Arthur C. Clarke, Odyssey Two, published 1982
Reality: The AIAA did some work about UFOs in the late sixties and early seventies. I can’t find evidence of any more recent work, but maybe the grey skinned aliens are just trying to hide it from us using their well-known mind control techniques.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

It's time for another French postcard, so we can assume the French in 1900 will predict the French in 2000 are acting like jerks.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

17 April 2013

Jennifer Garner b. 1972
Henry Ian Cusick b. 1967
Sean Bean b. 1959
Kristine Sutherland b. 1955

Another interesting birthday list. If I were selecting on the basis of most important career in genre, Sean Bean from Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones would probably get the nod, but as I often do, I'm going with The Cute Girl. Mr. Cusick's best known work in the genre is on Lost and Ms. Sutherland played Buffy's mom.

Prediction: There will be No C, X or Q in our every-day alphabet. They will be abandoned because unnecessary. Spelling by sound will have been adopted, first by the newspapers. English will be a language of condensed words expressing condensed ideas, and will be more extensively spoken than any other. Russian will rank second.

Predictor: John Elfreth Watkins in The Ladies' Home Journal published 1900

Reality: Not a sterling effort this time around. With all the changes English has been through, cleaning up spelling has not been one of them.The "condensed words and condensed ideas" is reminiscent of Orwell's Newspeak. We do abbreviate and use acronyms more than was done as hundred years ago and few modern writers show off their vocabulary like many did in the past, so he gets some partial credit there.

Putting English first in usage isn't right in terms of native speakers, as it ranks behind Mandarin and Spanish. If we include people who have English as a second language, it jumps over Spanish into second place. Putting Russian in second place was an odd choice in 1900. At that time, Russia was still ruled by the czar and was considered a backward country by European standards. Watkins doesn't elaborate on why he thought they would have a big century of growth.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Thursday is Arthur C. Clarke Day and I have a confession. With Heinlein and Clarke, I put a lot of their accurate stuff in early and now we are down to the scraps. The middle of the line-up this week doesn't acquit itself very well.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

16 April 2013

Sean Maher b. 1975
Jay O. Sanders b. 1953

Mr. Maher's best known role in genre is as Simon Tam on Firefly. He is also cast in Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing, which will be released in late June. Mr. Sanders has a long career, his best known work in genre films being Green Lantern and The Day After Tomorrow. Many happy returns to both.

Films released
Kick-Ass, released 2010

Prediction: The cult of the phony in art will disappear. So-called "modern art" will be discussed only by psychiatrists.

Predictor: Robert A. Heinlein in 1950

Reality: Yesterday, I wrote that I'd try to dig up an accurate prediction by Heinlein.

Well... I tried. I have some more stuff of his in the book Expanded Universe that I haven't completely researched yet, but as of now, everything else I have of his is dead flat wrong.

To say something kind about Grumpy Old Bob, he was generally an optimist. He has many predictions that things he didn't like very much would go away in the future, and modern art and psychiatry are just two of them.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Wednesday is John Elfreth Watkins Day, or at least will be until the middle of this year. As much as I love him, tomorrow's prediction falls as flat as Ridiculous Bob did today. 

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, April 15, 2013

15 April 2013

Maisie Williams b. 1997
Emma Watson b. 1990
Alice Braga b. 1983
Seth Rogen b. 1982
Emma Thompson b. 1959
Glenn Shadix b. 1952
Michael Ansara b. 1922

Many happy returns to everyone on a very full birthday list today. The Cute Girl = Photo Slot choices are an embarrassment of riches, what with both Arya Stark from Game of Thrones and Hermione from Harry Potter, as well as the Brazilian actress Alice Braga whose best known work in genre is I Am Legend.

Well, maybe next year. I am going to invoke The First Rule of Blogging (H.), which of course is "You are not the boss of me!" The Photo Slot belongs to Emma Thompson because I have adored her for more than two decades now.

Predictor: The OMNI Future Almanac, published 1982

Predictions and (reality checks):

Here is a list of jobs the OMNI Future Almanac said would be obsolete by now, with the decade when it would vanish. In parentheses are the reality checks.

1. Data Card Puncher, gone by 1990 (true)
2. Linotypist, gone by 1990 (mostly true)
3. Farmworker, gone by 2000 (not yet)
4. Grocery Cashier, gone by 2000 (no)
5. Machinist, gone by 2010 (not completely robotic yet)
6. TV programmer, gone by 2010 (cable means that The Big Three networks of the 1980s are much less powerful now, but running a major network is still a very powerful, high paying job.)

They forgot 7. Editor, OMNI Future Almanac, gone by 1983.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Tuesday is Heinlein Day and the last time we checked in, he was being Ridiculous Bob. I'll go through his stuff and see if I can't find a prediction from Sensible Bob tomorrow.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

14 April 2013

Abigail Breslin b. 1996
Sarah Michelle Gellar b. 1977
Adrien Brody b. 1973
Anthony Michael Hall b. 1968
Tim Roth b. 1961

A good group of actors here from genre film and TV, but as a fan of Joss Whedon, the choice for the picture slot was not difficult. Many happy returns to all the birthday boys and girls.

Prediction: In 2013, there will be all sizes of cars available, including extremely small commuter cars.

Predictor: David Turner, Ford Motor Company in the article L.A. 2013 published in the Los Angeles Times Magazine, published 3 April1988

Reality: This one was right on the money. People are opting for smaller and more fuel efficient cars, the best known of the truly tiny being the Smart Car. Our predictor is from Ford, and the smallest of the Ford models I can find information about is the Ford Fiesta, which has a model that is lighter than either the Toyota Yaris or the Fiat 500, though still several hundred pounds heavier that this little baby.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

We return to one of my favorite sources, The OMNI Future Almanac published in 1982, who tells us what jobs will be obsolete by 2010 or earlier.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

13 April 2013

Erick Avari b. 1952
Ron Perlman b. 1950

With today's choices of birthdays, the Pretty Girl rule is rendered moot, so I give the picture this year to Ron Perlman, who has had more roles near the top of the bill than Mr. Avari, who is also a terrific actor. In genre, Perlman's best known roles are his title characters, Beauty and The Beast on TV and Hellboy in the movies.

For anyone uncertain, on the TV show he was the second billed character, not the first. I have to say without any ill will, there is a line in the song Goin' Out West by Perlman lookalike Tom Waits that I think best describes him.

My friends say I'm ugly, I got a masculine face.

Many happy returns to both gentleman.


Prediction: In 1946, the United Kingdom goes to war with Nicaragua.

Predictor: Stella Gibbons in her novel Cold Comfort Farm, published 1932

Reality: Cold Comfort Farm may be the oddest piece of predictive fiction I have ever come across. Ms. Gibbons sets her story about twenty years ahead for just a few toss-off gags that are completely unnecessary to the plot.

The idea of the futuristic setting with several events that might surprise her readers is that the surprises are mostly noticeable in London but completely unseen in the countryside where most of the story takes place.  Besides the war, fashionable Mayfair has become a slum and Gibbons writes about TV phones and air-taxis, which sounds very close to flying cars, though they could just as easily be planes for hire.

Cold Comfort Farm is one of those odd pieces of fiction, a parody that is now more famous than the genre it originally set out to skewer. Many British works of fiction follow the hopeful young lady from a good family who has fallen on hard times, cast out to be taken in by odd relatives, usually living far out in the country. In the early 1930s, these books were waggishly called the Loam And Lovechild genre, owing a great deal to the writings of Jane Austen, the Bronte Sisters and Thomas Hardy, though most of the work of the late 1920s and early 1930s was not of the same level as literature. Ms. Gibbons makes her heroine Flora Poste not a helpless waif sure to be seduced and abandoned, but a charming young woman with nearly superhero levels of kindness and cleverness, much more like Jeeves than like Lizzie Bennett. Her own marital status is not a Problem To Be Solved in the book. Men fall all over her and she has no interest in picking any of them until she helped all the people she believed needed her help. As for being adorable, the 1995 version of the film had Kate Beckingsale as Flora, and in that era she was at the top of the Adorable Ingenue list in Britain at that time.

It should also be noted that in the 1995 film, the action takes place in the 1930s, not the 1950s and all the futuristic embellishments are completely ignored.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Instead of seeing what the early 1930s thought the 1950s would look like, we return tomorrow to our series written in 1988 looking forward to the wonderful advancements of... 2013!

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, April 12, 2013

12 April 2013


Nicholas Brendon b. 1971
Kelly Donovan b. 1971

The actor who played Xander Harris on Buffy has a twin who did stunt work for him. There's an episode where he splits in half and Kelly has several scenes but only a few lines. Many happy returns to both.

In the year 2000!

Prediction: Enormous portable fans will be able to push weather systems around.

Predictor: Postcards printed by Hildebrands German Chocolate Company, circa 1900

Reality: This giant fan isn't anywhere near big enough to push clouds around. There are plenty of smokestacks on factories in the real world this big or bigger, and they can't break up weather systems.

 Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!
What will London be like in 1950? A popular novel of the 1930s hazards several guesses, possibly the most incongruous piece of speculative fiction ever. 
Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

11 April 2013

Tricia Helfer b. 1974

Ms. Helfer is best known as Number Six on Battlestar Galactica. Yesterday I teased her birthday calling her "the best looking toaster ever", toaster being one of the disparaging terms humans use for the Cylons. Reasonable people may argue about the prettiest - it's not a big spoiler to mention both Grace Park and Lucy Lawless play Cylons as well - but it's completely clear which character is the most glamorous. Many happy returns.

Prediction: 1998: Quarantine on the moon due to mutated flu virus.

Predictor: Arthur C. Clarke in 2001: A Space Odyssey, published 1968

Reality: ACC gets a point for understanding that flu viruses do mutate and that makes them nastier. But... we didn't establish bases on the moon and no one but the unelectable Newt Gingrich is even making noises about the idea.

Sorry, Art. It was your dream but it didn't come true.

 Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Because of pre-emptions, it's been nearly a month since we got a German chocolate postcard. I won't say what wonders it will predict for the year 2000, but it's a safe bet to say the illustration will be charming.
Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

10 April 2013

Alex Pettyfer b. 1990
Jamie Chung b. 1983
Max Von Sydow b. 1929

If I was using the Photo Slot = Pretty Girl Rule, you would now be looking at a picture of Jamie Chung from Sucker Punch. If I wanted a pretty boy instead, Mr. Pettyfer from I Am Number Four and In Time would be an excellent choice. But sometimes even a dirty old man looks at a list of names and says "There is exactly one great actor in that list" and today was one of those days. He had a long and brilliant career before his first genre film Flash Gordon in 1980 and has done several since, including Minority Report in the century.

Many happy returns to all concerned.

Prediction: Winston could not definitely remember a time when his country had not been at war, but it was evident there had been a fairly long interval of peace during his childhood, because one of his early memories was of an air raid which appeared to take everyone by surprise. Perhaps it was the time when the atomic bomb had dropped on Colchester.

Predictor: George Orwell in 1984, published 1949

Reality: On Sunday of this week, I posted a map of the world governments according to 1984. Oceania's center I assume to be the United States, Eurasia looks like an expanded Soviet Union and Eastasia is China and some surrounding countries. Orwell does not give any detailed explanation of how the world went from the late 1940s to the world of 1984, but obviously there were more wars of expansion and the wars to control the Disputed Territories have been fought ever since.

There aren't that many exact dates given in 1984. One of the recurring themes is the unreliability of memory. My memory is good enough to recall that this is the seventh day of Orwell Week - and my reliable labels back me up.  There is so much more that is worth discussing in the book, from Hate Week and Two Minutes' Hate to the books that influenced Orwell to write this and the writers who owe him a debt, but I'm going to stay true to my self-imposed deadline and make this the last of the Orwell posts for now. I will certainly return to it... IN THE FUTURE!

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! 

Back on our regular schedule, Thursday is a prediction from Arthur C. Clarke, and we celebrate the birthday of the best looking toaster ever.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE! 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

9 April 2013


Elle Fanning b. 1998
Kristen Stewart b. 1990
Dennis Quaid b. 1954

Ms. Fanning's best known genre work is Super 8 and Mr. Quaid's is The Day After Tomorrow. I reluctantly give the picture slot to Ms. Stewart and since I did so, it had to be a picture of her using all her acting ability, which means biting her lower lip.

To be fair, when she was much younger, she was very good in Panic Room.

Prediction: He wrote: Thoughtcrime does not entail death. Thoughtcrime IS death.

Predictor: George Orwell (writing through his protagonist Winston Smith) in 1984, published in 1949

Reality: Google thoughtcrime and look at the images. All over the political spectrum, people accuse their rivals of wanting to institute thoughtcrime. Left wingers accuse the right of turning opposition to the Iraq War into thoughtcrime. Right wingers often turn Obama into Big Brother. People way out on the fringe think Holocaust deniers are persecuted martyrs to be equated with Galileo. Some libertarians consider hate crime statutes to be akin to thoughtcrime.

In my view, people should calm down about this. As someone who opposed the Iraq invasion, I can state for a fact that the millions of people who protested the war were not locked up and put in detention centers. We were just ignored, the war happened anyway.  The people who fear Obama brings Communism and re-education camps are worrying about something just as unlikely.

Because we don't live in Orwell's dystopia, the things that look most like thoughtcrime to me are the ways people are excluded from groups for failing to follow the party line on important topics. Ever since Al Gore released An Inconvenient Truth, the political polarization on the issue of climate change has become more pronounced. Admitting climate change exists is something near heresy in the right wing culture, even though some of their heroes - notably the late Margaret Thatcher and just yesterday Arnold Schwarzenegger in a guest op-ed in the Los Angeles Times - accept the scientific consensus. Last decade, Newt Gingrich was on board with the idea of combating climate change, though he recanted when he ran for president. Neither of these positions is the considered opinion of a serious intellectual. Mr. Gingrich will follow money to Hell's Ditch and back.

A few weeks ago, I went to a talk by a climate scientist in San Francisco, and on the bus trip back to the East Bay, I sensed a lot of discomfort when I brought up that temperature increases and increases in CO2 levels are not moving in lockstep and that the areas with the most warming have nothing to do with population density. I was in no danger of being locked up but inside the group on that bus, I was engaged in thoughtcrime.

We live in a polarized time politically, but it's not as cut and dried as it feels when some topic has people screaming at one another across a chasm of opinion that appears impossible to bridge. The change in public opinion on gay marriage in the past twelve months is a near perfect example. Obama's famous "evolution" on the topic was announced just last May, and a nationwide counter-demonstration of people waiting hours in line for "fast food" was last August. Since then, Chick Fil-A has decided to stop funding anti-gay marriage groups, which must make all those people who stood in line wonder what the hell was the point of wasting an afternoon.

To sum up, thoughtcrime (or crimethink, as Orwell uses later in the book) is not an accurate prediction of our present culture, but it is a metaphor worthy of closer inspection, which nicely describes why Orwell is still worth reading.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! 

A date other than 1984 shows up in the book, and luckily for us, Orwell gets this one wrong as well.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, April 8, 2013

8 April 2013

Taylor Kitsch b. 1981
Katee Sackhoff b. 1980
Emma Caulfield b. 1973

Mr. Kitsch was on Friday Night Lights, but his best known work in genre is in X-Men Origins:Wolverine. He was also the lead in John Carter, a project he would likely just as soon forget. Ms. Sackoff's best known work in genre is in Battlestar Galactica. As usual, I use the cute girl = picture slot rule.

Edit: I had Emma Caulfield's birthday written down wrong. It's today and she should count as a cute girl, too. Next year, I'll have a picture of Anya from Buffy instead of Starbuck from Battlestar.


Prediction: 1984 will see the publication of the 11th edition of the Newspeak Dictionary

Predictor: George Orwell in 1984, published in 1949

Reality: Orwell was fascinated with language and invests a lot of thought and ink into how language would have to change in a society like Oceania. We learn about the new language Newspeak through the character Syme, played in the 1984 version of the film by James Walker. As Syme tells us, it is not so much about creating new words as it is about destroying old ones, limiting the ways that people can think by getting rid of words that express thoughts the party rejects.

1984 is not a comic novel, but Orwell throws in a few smiles along the way with his choice of words. Winston is forced to perform a morning exercise routine with an instructress monitoring his progress and that of many others through the telescreen. The exercises are called The Physical Jerks, a phrase Elvis Costello appropriated in the song Living In Paradise. Syme explains that the rhythm of Newspeak is very important, that words tend to be two or three syllables with a clipped sound. A skilled orator in Newspeak creates a rhythm that carries the listener along, with no time to think about anything else besides what is being said. Words will no longer have shades of meaning and listeners will not have time for their minds to wander.

I've read the book several times, this time around reading it on Kindle, which makes it easier to search. Early in the book, Winston uses the word thoughtcrime, which describes the great sin of Oceania, having an idea antithetical to the principles of IngSoc (Newspeak for English Socialism). Later in the book, the word crimethink is introduced, the same as thoughtcrime in meaning but with more of the clipped rhythm Orwell decides is vital. Syme explains the Newspeak word duckspeak, which can be an insult or a compliment, the way the new language makes a fluent speaker sound like a quacking duck. It is worth noting that while Orwell says Newspeak is meant to get rid of ambiguity, he still comes up with new words that have multiple meanings. Even while trying to invent a language that limits thought, Orwell himself can't help but play with the language, one of the traits that give his writing such power.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Crimethink. Try not to commit one between now and next we meet. I fully expect you to fail.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

7 April 2013

Heath Ledger b. 1979 died 22 Jan 2008

Mr. Ledger's best known work in the genre is The Dark Knight, and he was also in The Brothers Grimm and Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, his last film.

Prediction:  As soon as Winston had dealt with each of the messages, he clipped his speakwritten corrections to the appropriate copy of the Times and pushed them into the pneumatic tube. Then, with a movement which was as nearly as possible unconscious, he crumpled up the original message and any notes that he himself had made, and dropped them in the memory hole to be devoured by the flames.

Predictor:  George Orwell in 1984, published 1949

Reality:  So much stuff this little paragraph brings up. 

First off: Pneumatic tubes!  A while back, I joked that The Holy Trinity of Mid Century Futurism were flying cars, moving sidewalks and food in pill form. Well, I have to lose that trinity bit because pneumatic tubes are just as important. I might very well stumble on some other thing that is just as iconic.

The main part of the prediction is the memory hole, a place where facts go to die. Winston Smith's job was re-writing old sources of information so that it all agreed with whatever the current official version of the truth was.

Needless to say, we don't live in the future Orwell predicted. This map of Oceania, Eurasia, Eastasia and the Disputed Territories is not the way the world is split up. We don't have a state run by a single party that always needs to rewrite the past to show they are infallible in the present.

This does not stop some people from believing the past has been doctored, that some unnamed soul is doing the same kind of work that Winston Smith did in the novel. If you believe that Obama was not born in Hawaii, you have to believe his various birth certificates and this announcement in the Honolulu newspaper are frauds perpetrated recently to re-write the past and all copies of the "original" papers have been sent down the memory hole.

Which brings us to the world we actually live in.  Friend of the blog Leo Lincourt tweeted a link to the Smithsonian's Paleofuture website.  In it, the late Internet pioneer Paul Baran made a remarkable prediction in 1969 that more TV stations could create a media environment where people could find news outlets that would cater to the things they believed were true. Baran mentions the John Birchers and left wing student groups as possible consumers of such media  It's stunningly accurate but I have to sneak it in sideways onto this blog because it did not give a date as to when this would happen.

Thanks to Leo Lincourt for finding this gem.

So we have this split world, mainly cleaved along the lines of conservatives and liberals but actually much more fractured than that. Instead of erasing the past completely, both sides assume in a manner "as nearly as possible unconscious" that the other side is filled with lying scumbags. There are competing versions of the truth on more topics than I can count, and each side is convinced what they read, hear and see through their media outlets is the real truth.

Like a lot of liberals, I have come to hate the "both sides do it" argument. Some recent research suggests conservatives buy into conspiracy theories more than liberals do, but that doesn't mean our side is simon pure. As I study more about climate change, it's obvious both sides completely discount the other. The thing is, there is some data that casts doubt on the idea of man made climate change. A strong example is that the rise in CO2 is undeniable and unprecedented but the temperature increases have not moved in lockstep. Because such questions are often raised by people who think the science community is a money-making scam (another conspiracy theory I can't begin to understand much less accept) questions that should be answered are largely ignored instead.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

A look at Newspeak, the language that will replace English.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!