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!