"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!

Friday, February 28, 2014

28 February 2014

 Birthdays
Georgina Leonidas b. 1990 (Harry Potter, Wizards vs. Aliens)
Karolina Kurkova b. 1984 (Rise of Cobra)
Alex Arsenault b. 1985 (Caprica, Supernatural, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil)
Natalia Vodianova b. 1982 (Clash of the Titans)
Ali Larter b. 1976 (Heroes, Resident Evil: Extinction, Final Destination I and II, House on Haunted Hill [1999])
Lemony Snicket b. 1970 (author, Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events)
Robert Sean Leonard b. 1969 (Falling Skies, My Friend Is a Vampire)
Rae Dawn Chong b. 1961 (Quest for Fire, Time Runner, Highlander [TV], Poltergeist: The Legacy, Pegasus Vs. Chimera)
Dorothy Stratten b. 1960 died 14 August 1980 (Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Galaxina)
Mark Ferguson b. 1961 (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings, Xena, Hercules, Cleopatra 2525)
John Turturro b. 1957 (Transformers, Transformers: Dark of the Moon)
Bernadette Peters b. 1948 (The Martian Chronicles)
Walter Tevis b. 1928 died 8 August 1984 (author, The Man Who Fell to Earth)
John Carson b. 1927 (Doomsday, Doctor Who, 1990, Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter, Taste the Blood of Dracula, The Plague of the Zombies, Blood Beast from Outer Space)
Alfred Burke b. 1918 died 16 February 2011 (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Blood Beast from Outer Space, Children of the Damned)
Sir John Tenniel b. 1820 died 1914 (illustrator, Alice in Wonderland)

Last year, before I did as much research on birthdays, the Picture Slot went to John Turturro, a good actor whose only genre work is in Transformer movies, which I readily admit I haven't seen. Next Year, I'll probably go with Ali Larter, who of course fits the Pretty Girl = Picture Slot criterion and is best known for work in the show Heroes. But this year, an illustration from Sir John Tenniel, whose illustrations of Lewis Carroll's work are clearly iconic and have been so now for nearly a century and a half, since Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was first published in 1865.

Many happy returns to all the living on the list, and to the dead, thanks for all the memories.
 


Predictor: Vint Cerf, Vice President of WorldCom

Prediction: By 2010, over half the sales of books will be e-books.

Reality: This is the last of the Wired Long Bets. Two of them had people on both sides of the bet, but the person who initiated the bet lost. There are three more with a person only on one side, and none have come true so far, including this one. Hardcovers still out sell e-books even today, though the market is growing.

So the Wired Long Bets record is 0 for 4 with one bet not over until 2020. That bet predicts a horrible biological warfare event, so I'm sure the predictor Sir Martin Rees will not mind me hoping the final record for all these prophets is 0 for 5.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

A new month begins and we return to the 1890s for bold optimism and bolder facial hair.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!
  

Thursday, February 27, 2014

27 February 2014

Birthdays
Kate Mara b. 1983 (The Fantastic Four [pre-production], American Horror Story, Iron Man 2)
Bingbing Li b. 1973 (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Resident Evil: Retribution)
Donal Logue b. 1966 (Shark Night 3D, Blade, The X-Files, Ghost Rider)
Noah Emmerich b. 1965 (Super 8, The Truman Show, Last Action Hero)
Adam Baldwin b. 1962 (Day Break, Serenity, Firefly, Angel, Stargate SG-1, The X-Files, Independence Day, VR.5, Predator 2)
Timothy Spall b. 1957 (Harry Potter, Enchanted, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortuante Events, Vanilla Sky, Red Dwarf, Gothic)
Stephen Leigh b. 1951 (author, Dinosaur World, The Omega Egg, Wild Cards)
Mark Harrison b. 1951 (illustrator)
Hajime Sorayama b. 1947 (illustrator)
Barbara Babcock b. 1937 (Salem’s Lot, Star Trek)
Van Williams b. 1937 (The Green Hornet)

Last year's Picture Slot was Timothy Spall, my favorite actor on the list and this year it goes to Adam Baldwin, who has my favorite role on the list as Jayne in Firefly and Serenity. For the record, Adam Baldwin is not one of the Baldwin brothers, though he does run his mouth every bit as much liberal hothead Alec or christian hothead Stephen. The others I considered for The Picture Slot were Barbara Babcock, who did a lot of voice work on Star Trek as well as her on screen appearances, and Van Williams. The thing about Van Williams is that he clearly wasn't the star of The Green Hornet. While there are shows where actors in allegedly minor roles became the focus like the Fonz on Happy Days or Urkel on Family Matters, Bruce Lee was never really promoted that way, but he is the only reason to ever watch an episode. Well, him and the cool car.  
 

In the year 2000!

Predictor: Lee de Forest, "the Father of Radio", in the 17 January 1960 Sunday newspaper supplement American Weekly, predicting the world in 2000

Prediction: Men will have orbited around the earth and moon many times over. Space platforms outside the earth's atmosphere will be in use as relay stations. We will have landed on the moon and established a base there. Instrument-equipped missiles will be fired millions of miles into space, and will return to earth with data on the planets and other bodies of our solar system.

Reality: Meet our new Thursday regular, Lee de Forest. He did a lot of important work in the early years of AM radio and after FM overtook the earlier method for its much improved sound quality, de Forest became a tireless (and tiresome) self-promoter. Regardless of how he became well-known, back in the middle of last century he was one of the many people who decided to write down what he thought the 21st Century would look like, so here he is.

When he publishes this, Sputnik had already been launched but manned space travel is about a year away. This is a very strong prediction, except for the moon base and platforms as relay stations, which were very common assumptions back in the day. The other flaw in his vision of the future is that interplanetary craft would return with data. What they do, of course, is never return physically to earth, but instead send data back using radio transmissions. Kind of a big blind spot for the guy who calls himself "the father of radio".

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

The last of the Wired Long Bets is reported and (spoiler alert) it's another bust.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Never to be forgotten: Cliff Bole 1937-2014

The news is finally making the rounds that Cliff Bole, a director of dozens of episodes of genre TV shows, died earlier this month at the age of 76. His first work in genre was directing twelve episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man in the 1970s and his last work was on Supernatural in 2007. While he also worked on The X-Files and the original version of V back in teh 1980s, his best known work was in 25 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the two episodes from that run I would consider most iconic were The Best of Both Worlds, Parts 1 and 2, the episodes when Picard became Locutus of Borg. He also directed several episodes involving the character Q and Unification II, in which Leonard Nimoy returned as Spock.

Best wishes to the family, friends and co-workers of Cliff Bole, from a fan. He is never to be forgotten.

26 February 2014

Birthdays
Taylor Dooley b. 1993 (Monster Night, The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D)
Teresa Palmer b. 1986 (Parts Per Billion, Warm Bodies, I Am Number Four, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, The Grudge 2)
Shiloh Fernandez b. 1985 (Evil Dead, Red Riding Hood, Dead Girl, Jericho)
Drew Goddard b. 1975 (writer, The Cabin in the Woods, Cloverfield, Lost, Angel, Buffy)
Marc Dacascos b. 1964 (Mortal Kombat: Legacy [TV], Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight, Wolvesbayne, The Middleman, Stargate: Atlantis, I am Omega, The Crow: Stairway to Heaven [TV}, The Island of Dr, Moreau, The Flash [TV], The Brotherhood of the Wolf)
Chase Masterson b. 1963 (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Digital Man, Sliders)
Marta Kristen b. 1945 (Lost in Space [1998 and 1965], Battle Beyond the Stars, Project U.F.O.)
Lawrence Montaigne b. 1931 (Escape to Witch Mountain, Star Trek, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Batman, The Time Tunnel)
Tony Randall b. 1920 died 17 May 2004 (The Seven Faces of Dr, Lao, The Brass Bottle)
Mason Adams b. 1919 died 26 April 2005 (From the Earth to the Moon, Not of this Earth, Toy Soldiers, Omen III: The Final Conflict, Revenge of the Stepford Wives)
Theodore Sturgeon b 1918 died 8 may 1985 (author, More Than Human, Amok Time)
Dane Clark b. 1912 died 11 February 1998 (The Twilight Zone)

So, thinking about iconic. Chase Masterson at Leeta or Lawrence Montaigne as Stonn would be easily recognizable, but I take a lot of stills from Star Trek and decided to give the show a day off. I could go with Ted Sturgeon or even Tony Randall from The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao, but instead I chose Marta Kristen from Lost in Space, a show that to its credit had three female characters in the cast, more than any other sci-fi show from the 1960s. To its discredit, those three characters had almost nothing to do, the show devolving into the "Dr. Smith, Will and the Robot Show".

Many happy returns to all the living on the list, and to the dead, thanks for all the memories. 

  

Predictor: T. Baron Russell in A Hundred Years Hence, published in 1905

Prediction: Canada, for one example, has an area greater than that of the United States, with a population smaller than the population of Greater London. And Canada, endowed as it is with almost every source of wealth, will before long become perhaps the richest country in the world. By this time next century it will also be one of the most populous.

Reality:  Ummm... no.  It's 37th on the most populous country list, just behind Uganda. There are more Californians that there are Canadians. Maybe climate change will warm the place up some, but until that day, way too much of Canada is too cold for most people to want to live there.

In their favor, they are a country rich in natural resources and they have done a great job in hockey, eh? But that tar sand stuff. I wish they would reconsider.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

We get a new Thursday regular predictor tomorrow. Who will it be?

To find out, join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

25 February 2014

 Birthdays
Isabelle Fuhrman b. 1997 (The Hunger Games)
James and Oliver Phelps b. 1986 (Harry Potter)
Tara Wilson b. 1982 (Almost Human, Lost Girl, Smallville, V, Tin Man, Supernatural, The Butterfly Effect, Eastwick)
Anson Mount b. 1973 (Dollhouse, Lost, Smallville)
Sean Astin b. 1971 (The Strain, Cabin Fever: Patient Zero, Alphas, Lord of the Rings, Click, Jeremiah, Perversions of Science, Harrison Bergeron, Encino Man)
Tea Leoni b. 1966 (Jurassic Park III, The X-Files, Deep Impact)
Alexis Denisof b. 1966 (Grimm, H+, The Avengers, Dollhouse, Angel, Buffy, Highlander [TV])
Neil Jordan b. 1950 (director, The Company of Wolves, High Spirits, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles)
Bernard Bresslaw b. 1934 died 11 June 1993 (Krull, Hawk the Slayer, Jabberwocky, Doctor Who, Blood of the Vampire)
Michael Fairman b. 1934 (Firefly, The X-Files, Quantum Leap, The Powers of Matthew Star, World War III)
Anthony Burgess b. 1917 died 22 November 1993 (Author, A Clockwork Orange)

Last year, I had Alexis Denisof in the Picture Slot because I'm a Whedonverse nerd. For iconic roles, I'd say the list is Denisov, Sean Astin and the Phelps Twins, pictured here. If I was going for an Oh That Guy actors, Michael Fairman would be a good choice. He was a Scientologist but quit in 2011 and I wish him all the best with that. All the women qualify on the Pretty Girl = Picture Slot criterion, though I can't say any of them have an iconic role in genre. The last good choice to my mind would be the author Anthony Burgess.

Many happy returns to all the living on the list, and to the dead, thanks for all the memories.



Predictor: Ray Kurzweil in his 1999 book The Age of Spiritual Machines

Prediction: By 2009, personal worn computers provide monitoring of body functions, automated identity and directions for navigation. Computer displays built into eyeglasses for augmented reality are used.

Reality: Kurzweil did see where the technology was going. "Fitbit Classic" was available in 2008 and clipped on to a belt or on the hip of trousers, but it's making the news more now largely because the truly "worn computer" causes rashes in many users. The augmented reality glasses sounds like Google Glass, which made its debut in 2013 and will be available for sale in 2014. I would say Kurzweil gets a hot for the first half of this prediction and a half hit for being about five years too early with the second half.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

T. Baron Russell gives us another glimpse into the 21st Century from his viewpoint in 1905.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Never to be Forgotten: Harold Ramis 1944-2014

Harold Ramis, the actor, writer and director best known for his work in some of the most iconic comedy films of the last four decades, has died at the age of 69. For work in genre, his best known films are the Ghostbusters movies, but I would also include Groundhog Day, Multiplicity and the remake of Bedazzled.

Online tributes to him always mention what a nice guy he was as well as his remarkable talent. Today, Bill Murray has the most successful career of any early alumnus of Saturday Night Live, but it should be noted that Ramis wrote and directed two of Murray's best, Caddyshack and Groundhog Day, and wrote and co-starred with him in Ghostbusters. There have been many comedy/horror or comedy/sci-fi movies, but Ghostbusters was one of the first in the era of big special effects films and it was funny as hell. (I'll admit I didn't love the second one as much.)  I was always a fan of the SCTV show in syndication and Ramis had a few seasons with that comedy troupe as well.

Dying at 69 feels ridiculously too young nowadays. I know part of this is because I'm getting older, but another part is that people are living longer in general. This is another of those obituaries that hits hard personally.

Best wishes to the family, friends and co-workers of Harold Ramis, from a big fan. He is never to be forgotten.

24 February 2014

Birthdays
Ungela Brockman b. 1970 (Mystery Men, Starship Troopers, Babylon 5, From Dusk Till Dawn)
Billy Zane b. 1966 (Leprechaun’s Revenge, Scorpion King 3, Journey to Promethea, Evil in the Time of Heroes, BloodRayne, Charmed, The Phantom, Back to the Future I and II)
Beth Broderick b. 1959 (Under the Dome, Lost, Bionic Woman[2007], Supernatural, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Psycho Beach Party)
Mark Moses b. 1958 (Race to Space, Star Trek: Voyager)
Helen Shaver b. 1951 (The 4400, Poltergeist: The Legacy, The Craft, Tremors II, Starship Invasions)
Edward James Olmos b. 1947 (Battlestar Galactica, Wolfen, Blade Runner)
Barry Bostwick b. 1945 (2010: Moby Dick, Lexx, Project: Metalbeast, Aladdin, The Rocky Horror Picture Show)
Richard Powers b. 1921 died 9 March 1996 (illustrator)
August Derleth b. 1909 died 4 July 1971 (author, The Trail of Cthulhu, the Solar Pons series)

Last year, Edward James Olmos had the Picture Slot, and for iconic genre work by an actor, only Barry Bostwick in Rocky Horror is close to competing. But instead, I went with a representative illustration from Richard Powers, whose paintings adorned a jillion sci-fi paperbacks back in the day.

Many happy returns to all the living on the list, and to the dead, thanks for the memories. 


Predictor: OMNI Future Almanac, publish in 1982

Prediction: Some scientists cite 2000 as the approximate year when the carbon dioxide "greenhouse" effect will be recognized as having raised global temperatures significantly. Some environmentalists predict that CO2 pollution will create a canopy over the earth that will prevent heat from radiating into space. Most experts doubt this occur. Instead, many scientists are worried about a widespread gradual cooling trend that could take hold by this year. If earth is indeed cooling, the climate change could signal the eventual onset of a new Ice Age that would slowly freeze much of the populated world by the year 12,000.

Reality: See how stupid "some environmentalists" really are? They don't even agree with "most experts" and "many scientists". This is why I trust serious folks like Senator James Inhofe and rich guy Donald Trump.

All kidding aside, the increase in CO2 was already well underway in the early eighties, having been measured at Mauna Loa since 1958. The greenhouse gas effect was a conjecture of Joseph Fourier in 1824 and was confirmed by experiments, becoming an accepted scientific theory by 1860. There is certainly a chance that we will have another Ice Age by the year 12,000, especially if humans aren't here anymore or we have finally sucked every last fossil fuel out of the earth by then.

In the short run, by which I mean decades instead of millennia, bet on the planet getting warmer overall.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

More Ray Kurzweil, overestimating the speed of technological advancement.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

23 February 2014

 Birthdays
Dakota Fanning b. 1994 (Twilight, Charlotte’s Web, War of the Worlds, Taken, Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat)
Emily Blunt b. 1983 (Into the Woods, Looper, The Adjustment Bureau, Gulliver’s Travels, The Wolfman)
Kelly MacDonald b. 1976 (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
Kristin Davis b. 1965 (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D, Alien Nation: Body and Soul)
Peter Fonda b. 1940 (Revolution [TV movie 2009], Journey to the Center of the Earth [TV], Ghost Rider, Supernova, Escape from L.A., Futureworld)
Majel Barrett-Roddenberry b. 1932 died 12/18/2008 (Star Trek, Babylon 5, Earth: Final Conflict)
Terence Fisher b. 1904 died 18 June 1980 (Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, Frankenstein Created Woman, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, The Earth Dies Screaming, The Gorgon, The Phantom of the Opera, The Curse of the Werewolf, The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, The Brides of Dracula, The Mummy, The Revenge of Frankenstein, Horror of Dracula, The Curse of Frankenstein)
Victor Fleming b. 1889 died 6 January 1949 (director, The Wizard of Oz)

Last year the Picture Slot went to Majel Barrett, and when it comes to iconic sci-fi roles, she doesn't have any competition on this list, though several of the actors are bigger household names overall. If the Picture Slot went to most output, I'd have to have a picture of Terence Fisher up, the go-to director of the Hammer monster movie era. But choosing quality over quantity, here's a publicity still of Victor Fleming from the set of The Wizard of Oz, which still belongs on the short list of the most important genre films of all time. In fact, when the AFI made their 100 years of movies list in 2007, The Wizard of Oz is the only fantasy/sci-fi film in the top ten, followed closely by Star Wars (#13) and 2001: A Space Odyssey (#15). 

Many happy returns to the living on the list, and to the dead, thanks for all the memories.



Prediction: After the arctic icecap is bombed in 1971, much of the world is flooded and a world government is inaugurated.

Predictors: James Blish and Robert W. Lowndes in The Duplicated Man, published 1953

Reality: A nuke (or nukes) in the north would definitely melt some ice, but would it stay melted? As much energy as an explosion produces, it is dwarfed by natural phenomena like volcanoes or storms. Still, Blish and Lowndes do get one thing right about today's debate on climate change. The right wing may have very little understanding of science on their side, but their main concern is the socialist bastard one worlders coming up with an excuse to take over.

Yet again, I'd like to thank Paul Brians, whose exhaustive study of nuclear war fiction is an invaluable source.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Monday is still OMNI Future Almanac day, one of my favorite regular sources.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!
 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

22 February 2014 - updated with Ragnarök!

 Birthdays
Bryce Hodgson b. 1989 (The Tomorrow People, Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica, Smallville, X-Men 2, Stargate SG-1)
Dichen Lachman b. 1982 (Being Human, Torchwood, The Guild, Dollhouse, Tyrannosaurus Azteca, Aquamarine)
Drew Barrymore b. 1975 (Donnie Darko, Batman Forever, Cat’s Eye, Firestarter, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Altered States)
Thomas Jane b. 1969 (The Punisher, Mutant Chronicles, Dreamcatcher, Deep Blue Sea, The Crow: City of Angels, Buffy the Vampire Slayer [movie], She-Wolf of London)
Jeri Ryan b. 1968 (Helix, Warehouse 13, Star Trek: Voyager, Dracula 2000, Dark Skies, Time Trax)
Steve Spiers b. 1965 (Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire, Inkheart, Eragon, Doctor Who, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Star Wars: Episode I)
Kyle MacLachlan b, 1959 (Believe, Mysterious Island, Timecode, The Invisible Man [TV], Roswell, Dune)
Nigel Planer b. 1953 (Hogfather, Brazil)
Ellen Greene b. 1951 (The Walking Dead, Heroes, The X-Files, Little Shop of Horrors)
Julie Walters b. 1950 (Harry Potter, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood)
Joanna Russ b. 1937 died 29 April 2011 (author, Alyx series, The Female Man)
James Hong b. 1929 (R.I.P.D., The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Big Bang Theory, Charmed, Blade Runner, The X-Files, Tank Girl, Lois & Clark, The Shadow, Merlin, War of the Worlds [TV], Big Trouble in Little China, Manimal, Wonder Woman, The Bionic Woman, Colossus: The Forbin Project, The Outer Limits, Godzilla [1956])
Paul Dooley b. 1928 (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
Edward Gorey b. 1925 died 15 April 2000 (illustrator)
Dwight Frye b. 1899 died 7 November 1943 (Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, The Ghost of Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Vampire Bat, Frankenstein, Dracula)

Last year, before I had done as much research, Jeri Ryan was the Picture Slot. She would still be a perfectly good choice this year, both for being iconic and a fabulous babe. As a huge Whedonverse nerd, I could have gone with Dichen Lachman, also fabulous. The biggest career on the list is probably Drew Barrymore, and a picture from E.T or Firestarter would have been immediately recognizable to much of the nerd community, but I was in an Oh That Guy mood. Dwight Frye was a great Oh That Guy way back in the day, playing Renfield in the original Dracula and the assistant Fritz in the original talkie version of Frankenstein. But folks in the know will recognize James Hong, who has been around forever, going all the way back to voiceover work in the original Godzilla.

Many happy returns to all the living on the list, and to the dead, thanks for all the memories.



Predictor: Clarence W. Van Tilburg, contest winner for predictions of the 21st Century is the April 1956 issue of Amazing Stories, the magazine's 30th anniversary.

Explanation: This magazine was a great find last year, and thanks to my pal Alan Ponder for letting me rummage through his collection. As you can see on the cover, they got predictions from all kinds of people, not only Heinlein but Sid Caesar, Salvador Dali and pitcher Herb Score. I'm reprinting the predictions of Clarence W. Van Tilburg, with the realities in the parentheses.

Predictions (realities):
Medicine
1. Great strides in mental therapy. "Psi" professions operating on solid premises. (This is arguable, but anti-depressant drugs have been a great step forward)
2. Banking of human organs; artificial culture of tissues; universal extension of preventative medicine.  (Good calls here.)
3. Life expectancy 88 for women 80 for men in US and many other countries, world average 70. (A little high on all, and the male/female split has shrunk down quite a bit.)

World Politics
1. The big four: USA, USSR, China, India, India leader of the Asian Commonwealth from Iran to Malaya (I'd say it's USA, China and the Eurozone as the big three. Russia or India aren't bad choices for fourth place, but not at the same level.)
2. All Central America coalesced into a single political unit. (No.)

Science, Industry, Technology
1. Maximum work week in US and Canada: 20 hours (Oh, don't we wish!)
2. Top industry: Leisure (Close, but still behind petroleum.)
3. US and USSR have manned satellites and have reached the Moon. (He didn't guess the end of the USSR, but we do have manned stations and the US reached the moon. This was very sci-fi in 1956.)
4. Seas mined in earnest for rare elements and food. (Mainly, we drill for oil, but we do get a lot of fish from the sea.)
5. Desalted sea water used for irrigation and industrial purposes. (Costs still make this impractical.)
6. Direct conversion of sunlight into power and synthesis of food on commercial scales (Solar power yes; synthesis of food... well, it depends on how you feel about seaweed and tofu.)
7. Atomic power in world-wide use (We use much more than we did in 1956, but Three Mile Island and Chernobyl flattened out the growth curve quite a bit.)
8. Long-distance travel almost entirely by air at supersonic speeds (No. Just under supersonic is pretty much the industry standard.)
9. Privately owned helicopters commonly used, heliports on every large building (It's not quite the helicopter paradise envisioned by Van Tilburg, but they do get used regularly.)
10. Plastic glass and light metals common in building construction. (Absolutely true.)
11. Moving sidewalks common. (So sci-fi! So not true.)
12. Shortwave cooking common. (Microwaves, absolutely.)
13. Great increase in telescope range, boundaries of universe still unknown. (Completely so.)


Bonus prediction: Ragnarök!

Predictor: Norse mythology, kind of

Reality:  Legend has it that three freezing winters in a row with no summers in between is the sign that the final battle of the gods will be fought, and the smart money is not betting on the gods. Of course, here in California we haven't had three freezing winters and we definitely had summers in 2013 and 2012, but in York, England they think their weather qualifies, so there you go.

York, England, your bloody whining has brought on the end of the universe. We hope you're happy with yourselves.

As for me, I'm still grading papers and preparing for midterms, so you know my general opinion of the situation.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

We've had a few interruptions in the regular schedule on Sundays, but tomorrow it's another fun romp thinking about the nuclear wars we've avoided.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, February 21, 2014

21 February 2014

Birthdays
Sophie Turner b. 1996 (Game of Thrones)
Ashley Greene b. 1987 (Twilight Saga)
Ellen Page b. 1987 (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Inception, X-Men: The Last Stand, ReGenesis)
Christopher Yost (writer, Thor: The Dark World, Max Steel)
Kelsey Grammer b. 1955 (Transformers: Age of Extinction, X-Men: The Last Stand, Toy Story 2, Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Mimi Kuzyk b. 1952 (The Day After Tomorrow, Total Recall 2070, Poltergeist: The Legacy, Seaquest 2032, Quantum Leap)
Larry Drake b. 1950 (Gryphon, Firefly, Stargate SG-1, Timequest, Star Trek: Voyager, Prey, Darkman)
Frank Brunner b. 1949 (illustrator)
Anthony Daniels b. 1946 (Star Wars)
Alan Rickman b. 1946 (Harry Potter, Galaxy Quest, Alice in Wonderland [2010], The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Dogma, Truly Madly Deeply)
Richard Beymer b. 1939 (The X-Files, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
Gary Lockwood b. 1937 (2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek, Dark Skies, Superboy, The Bionic Woman, The Six Million Dollar Man, Earth II, The Magic Sword)
George Mitchell b. 1905 died 18 January 1972 (The Andromeda Strain, Land of the Giants, The Time Tunnel, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Twilight Zone, Invasion of the Animal People)
Celia Lovsky b. 1897 died 12 October 1979 (Soylent Green, Star Trek, Twilight Zone)

Anybody count as iconic on this list? Let's see, we have Sansa Stark, C-3P0, Snape and Dr. Lazarus (I went with Rickman last year), Dr. Frank Poole and Lt. Commander Gary Mitchell. There are multiple choice for fabulous babes, including Ellen Page who made some news this month by coming out. If I wanted to go Oh That Guy, there's Larry Drake and George Mitchell, whose best known work is done after he turns fifty. But because I am a nerd of a certain age, you are looking at Celia Lovsky as T'Pau. I mean really, are thee Vulcan or are thee Human?

Many happy returns of the day to all the living on our list and to the dead, thanks for all the memories.

Prediction: By 2010, over half the books sold worldwide will be printed on demand at the point of sale in the form of library quality paperbacks.

Predictor:  Jason Epstein, former editorial director Random House

Reality: Epstein not only made this bet around 1999, he was the founder of 3BillionBooks, the company that makes the Espresso Book Machine, which Wikipedia says has been installed at about fifty places around the world, mainly in libraries. He did this in hopes that streamlining the book manufacturing process would save on distribution costs and the cost of destruction of unsold books. He's in the business and I'm not, but thinking this idea would take off so fast was just crazy dreaming. While books wouldn't have to be shipped, raw materials still would and anyplace buying into this also has to deal with the upkeep of the machines. In any case, Epstein was on the hook for $10,000 back in 2010 when that year came and went and his business was nowhere near half of the industry.

Oopsie.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

The return of the predictions of a contest winner published in 1956 in the 30th anniversary issue of Amazing Stories.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

20 February 2014

Birthdays
Miles Teller b. 1987 (Divergent, Fantastic Four [2014])
Lauren Ambrose b. 1978 (Torchwood, Psycho Beach Party)
Ophelie Winter b. 1974 (2001: A Space Travesty)
Kimberly Davies b. 1973 (Psycho Beach Party)
Lily Taylor b. 1967 (Almost Human, The Conjuring, Hemlock Grove, The Haunting, The X-Files)
David Herman b. 1967 (Futurama, Dude, Where’s My Car, Idiocracy, Angel)
Ron Eldard b. 1965 (Super 8, Deep Impact, Drop Dead Fred)
Willie Garson b. 1964 (Stargate SG-1, What Planet Are You From?, The X-Files, Being John Malkovich, Star Trek: Voyager, Buffy, Mars Attacks!, Quantum Leap, Repossessed)
Rodney Rowland b. 1964 (American Horror Story, FlashForward, Charmed, Angel, The Sixth Day, Dark Angel, The X-Files, Space: Above and Beyond)
French Stewart b. 1964 (Rise of the Zombies, Stargate, Clockstoppers, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Charmed)
Joel Hodgson b. 1960 (Mystery Science Theater 3000, Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves)
Anthony Stewart Head b. 1954 (Dominion, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Warehouse 13, Merlin, Repo! The Genetic Opera, Doctor Who, Buffy, VR.5, Highlander [TV])
Jennifer O’Neill b. 1948 (Poltergeist: The Legacy [TV], Scanners)
Peter Strauss b. 1947 (Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone)
Brion James b. 1945 died 7 August 1999 (Pterodactyl Woman from Beverly Hills, The Fifth Element, Cyberjack, Highlander [TV], M.A.N.T.I.S., Knight Rider 2010, Future Shock, Time Runner, Nemesis, Mutator, Cherry 2000, Annihilator, Blade Runner, Galactica 1980, The Incredible Hulk [TV])
Marj Dusay b. 1936 (Galactica 1980, Star Trek)
Richard Matheson b. 1926 died 23 June 2013 (author, I Am Legend, The Shrinking Man, What Dreams May Come)
Robert Altman b. 1925 died 20 November 2006 (director, Quintet)
Pierre Boulle b. 1912 died 30 January 1994 (author, Planet of the Apes)
Malcolm Atterbury b. 1907 died 16 August 1992 (Twilight Zone, The Invaders, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea)
Gale Gordon b. 1906 died 30 June 1995 (The Thirty Foot Bride of Candy Rock)

Now that's a birthday list. There are a bunch of people more famous for work outside genre like Gale Gordon, Robert Altman, Jennifer O'Neill, Peter Strauss and Willie Garson, and several people with only one of two credits total. But there are so many people who count as iconic it was hard to choose. If it was just based on my own fanboy tendencies, it would have been a coin flip between Joel Hodgson from MST3K and Anthony Stewart Head from Buffy. Other perfectly understandable choices would have been French Stewart from 3rd Rock or the writer Richard Matheson. But instead I chose a still of Brion James from Blade Runner, yet another great Oh That Guy actor who is no longer with us. His role in The Fifth Element would also have been very recognizable.

Many happy returns to all the living on the list and to the dead, thanks for all the memories.


Predictor: The Bay Area Rapid Transit designers from 1956

Prediction: The BART system as it was envisioned if all nine Bay Area counties had joined.


Reality: Here's the website I nicked the prediction map from.

As for reality, the only counties that bought in originally were San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa. For non-locals, that means most of the East Bay and the city limits of San Francisco. Now the system moves slightly into San Mateo county just south of San Francisco and there's always plans to extend it south to San Jose, which would mean Santa Clara County. There are no plans currently to connect the northwestern counties like Marin, Napa, Sonoma or Solano.

Still, I really love looking at the original dream.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

There are still a few Wired Long Bets to report on, and tomorrow's has already passed its date of prediction.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!
 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

19 February 2014

Birthdays
Luke Pasqualino b. 1989 (Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome)
Arielle Kebbel b. 1985 (The After, The Vampire Diaries, True Blood, Vampires, Suck, The Grudge 2, Aquamarine)
Josh Trank b. 1985 (director, Chronicle, Fantastic Four [2015])
Caroline Chikezie b. 1974 (Supernatural, Torchwood, AEon Flux)
Benicio Del Toro b. 1967 (Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor: The Dark World, The Wolfman, Sin City)
Jessica Tuck b. 1963 (Grimm, True Blood, Super 8, FlashForward, Lois & Clark)
Ray Winstone b. 1957 (Snow White and the Huntsman, Elfie Hopkins: Cannibal Hunter, Hugo, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, The Devil’s Tomb, Beowulf, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull)
Jeff Daniels b. 1955 (Looper, My Favorite Martian [1999], Pleasantville, Grand Tour: Disaster in Time, Arachnophobia)
David Margulies b. 1937 (Ghostbusters I and II)
John Frankenheimer b. 1930 died 6 July 2002 (director, The Island of Dr. Moreau [1996], Prophecy, Seconds)
Lee Marvin b. 1924 died 29 August 1987 (Twilight Zone)

While Jeff Daniels might be the best known name from the list, I see an interesting pattern with three other well known birthday boys from this day, Lee Marvin, Ray Winstone and Benicio Del Toro, all known for playing tough guy roles. The industry was such back in the day that Lee Marvin could have a long successful career with only two roles in genre productions, both of them on the original Twilight Zone. Winstone is British, and a lot of British actors can avoid being in fantasy or sci-fi if they stay in England and avoid Doctor Who. Almost all of Winstone's genre work is in American productions. Del Toro plays a lot of cops and hoods, but with The Wolfman and definitely with Guardians of the Galaxy, he's shown his willingness to be in sci-fi and fantasy films. (Note that I count Sin City as genre, though imdb.com doesn't. Another Del Toro movie that is on the cusp is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.)

And after all that exposition, who is in The Picture Slot? Jessica Tuck from True Blood, who plays the vampire who goes on news programs in True Blood. Yep, I went with the fabulous babe. I have no idea who will get the Picture Slot next year.

Many happy returns of the day to all the birthday boys and girls on the list still numbered among the living, and to the dead, thanks for all the memories.
 
Predictor: T. Baron Russell in his book A Hundred Years Hence: The Expectations of an Optimist, published in 1905

Prediction: We may take it as quite certain that war as an institution will be as obsolete as gladiators in the year 2000. Even if the increasing amenity of the human race did not abolish war, two other things would be certain to do so. One is the enormous development, already clearly in sight, of the means of destruction: the other the revolt of the peoples against the stupendous cost, not merely or chiefly in time of war, but also in time of peace, of modern armaments. The rising tide of educated democracy must inevitably banish war.

Reality: Well, he said he was an optimist right in the title of the book, didn't he? He's making this guess even before the two catastrophes of the World Wars. It's my view that the most important feature of modern history is that the end of World War II is nearly seven decades ago and we haven't had another shooting war between the most industrialized nations of the world. That would be sign we are learning not to use the most horrible weapons we can devise, but it hasn't stopped us from the escalation of "the stupendous cost... of modern armaments", especially in the United States.

My main worry is that so many bad things are fading from living memory, people might decide we can afford to go back to the bad practices of the past. We are definitely seeing this in the dismantling efforts of the social safety net and the attack on Social Security, a program that lifted major percentages of the elderly and disabled out of poverty for decades. I can only hope that no major industrialized nation in the future decides war on another major power. The cost in capital, human lives and environmental damage would be off the charts.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Our new regular predictor on Thursday makes his debut tomorrow. Who will it be and what kind of future will be foretold?

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

18 February 2014

 Birthdays
Tammy Macintosh b. 1970 (Farscape)
Molly Ringwald b. 1968 (The Stand, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone)
John Travolta b. 1954 (The Punisher, Battlefield Earth, Phenomenon, The Devil’s Rain)
Andrea Dromm b. 1941 (Star Trek)
Sinead Cusack b. 1948 (Wrath of the Titans, The Deep [TV], V for Vendetta)
Gahan Wilson b. 1930 (illustrator, Graveside Manner, I Paint What I See)
Allan Melvin b. 1923 died 17 January 2008 (My Favorite Martian, Lost in Space)
Jack Palance b. 1919 died 10 November 2006 (Batman [1989], Cyborg 2, Gor and Gor II, Hawk the Slayer, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Shape of Things to Come, Bram Stoker’s Dracula [TV])
Angelo Rossitto b. 1908 died 21 September 1991 (Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Galaxina, Jason of Star Command, Invasion of the Saucer Men)

Several names on the list today are much better known for roles outside of genre, including Molly Ringwald, John Travolta and Jack Palance. Allan Melvin is not quite as famous as the other three, but he's best known for roles on Sgt. Bilko, The Brady Bunch and All in the Family. If I was going for Pretty Girl = Picture Slot, Andrea Dromm's one shot part as Yeoman Smith on the first episode of Star Trek would be a good choice. (She started as a model, made two movies and the Star Trek, then left the business.) I could go with a Gahan Wilson cartoon, since I'm a big fan of his work. But as often happens, I look for iconic roles and Angelo Rossitto from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome as Master (riding on top of the mute giant Blaster) certainly qualifies.

Many happy returns of the day to all the living on the list and to the dead, thanks for all the memories.



Predictor: Ray Kurzweil in the 1999 book The Age of the Spiritual Machines

 Prediction: By 2009, three-dimensional chips are commonly used.

Reality: There is a principle in computer design called Moore's Law, which predicts that chips will get smaller, shrinking by about half the size every year and a half to two years. Smaller chips are faster and computer power increases as the chips shrink. Eventually, chips will be limited by the size of molecules, which can't get any smaller.

Kurzweil predicted that as this size limit approached, chip manufacturers would change from flat two dimensional chip designs to chips stacked very close together in three dimensions. Chip makers are still trying for this, but right now they are only in the prototype stage. There are lots of bugs to be worked out, most daunting being defects causing low yield and heat build-up.

Kurzweil gets a big swing and a miss on this one.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! 

We go back to 1905 for the educated guesses of our cheerful Edwardian pal T. Baron Russell.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!
  

Monday, February 17, 2014

17 February 2014

 Birthdays
Sasha Pieterse b. 1996 (X-Men: First Class, Heroes, The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl, Stargate SG-1)
Bonnie Wright b. 1991 (Harry Potter)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt b. 1981 (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Looper, The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Third Rock from the Sun, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later)
Jason Ritter b. 1980 (The Event, Freddy vs. Jason)
Jerry O'Connell b. 1974 (Space Station 76, Mockingbird Lane, Piranha 3D, Eastwick, Sliders, My Secret Identity)
Denise Richards b. 1971 (Starship Troopers)
Dominic Purcell b. 1970 (Ice Soldiers, Primeval, Blade: Trinity, Equilibrium, BeastMaster [TV], The Lost World)
Michael Bay b. 1965 (director, Transformers, Armageddon)
Lou Diamond Phillips b. 1962 (Stargate Universe, Wolf Lake)
Rene Russo b. 1954 (Thor, Outbreak, Freejack)
Don Coscarelli b. 1954 (director, Phantasm , The Beastmaster, Bubba Ho-Tep, John Dies at the End)
Garry Chalk b. 1952 (Godzilla [2014], Watchmen, The 4400, Supernatural, Stargate SG-1, Stephen King's the Dead Zone, M.A.N.T.I.S.)
Jim Brown b. 1936 (The Running Man, Mars Attacks!, Ice Station Zebra)
Andre Norton b. 1912 died 17 March 2005 (author, Witch World, Wizard's World, Star Man's Son 2250 A.D.)
Marc Lawrence b. 1910 died 27 November 2005 (End of Days, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: The Next Generation, King of Kong Island, From Dusk Till Dawn)

Last year's Picture Slot was Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley. This year it's Joseph Gordon-Levitt from the movie Looper. I suppose his time on Third Rock from the Sun is more iconic, but I'm always glad when a child actor gets to have a career.

Many happy returns to the living on the list, and to the dead, thanks for all the memories.



Prediction: By 2020, well over 50% of the San Francisco Bay would be turned into landfill.

Predictor: The Army Corps of Engineers illustration for the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) in 1960.

Reality: A group named Save the Bay had these promotional posters up on BART trains last year. While the drawings may have been made, this much landfill would have had to be a huge project that would have cost a fortune. After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake showed the advantage of bedrock over landfill, most notably in the Marina district of San Francisco, the love affair with landfill was pretty much at an end.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

It's Ray Kurzweil's turn again to over-promise how much progress would be made with computers by 2009.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

16 February 2014


Birthdays
Jimmy ‘Jax’ Pinchak b. 1996 (Ender’s Game, Let Me In)
Agyness Deyn b. 1983 (Clash of the Titans)
Sarah Clarke b. 1972 (The Tomorrow People, Twilight)
Elisabeth Olsen b. 1969 (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Godzilla [2014])
Christopher Eccleston b. 1964 (Thor: The Dark World, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Heroes, Doctor Who, 29 Days Later…, eXistenZ)
Faran Tahir b, 1967 (Elysium. Warehouse 13, Supernatural, Star Trek [2009], Lost, Iron Man, Charmed)
Pasha D. Lychnikoff b. 1967 (The Big Bang Theory, Star Trek [2009], Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystall Skull, Cloverfield)
LeVar Burton b. 1957 (The Big Bang Theory, Star Trek, Captain Planet and the Planeteers, The Supernaturals)
Ardwight Chamberlain b. 1957 (Babylon 5)
Vincent Ward b. 1956 (director, What Dreams May Come, writer, Alien³)
Iain M. Banks b. 1954 died 9 June 2013 (author, The State of the Art, The Hydrogen Sonata, Against a Dark Background)
William Katt b. 1951 (Earthling, Heroes, Gamers, Andromeda, Piranha, The Greatest American Hero, Carrie)
Jeremy Bulloch b. 1945 (Starhyke, Star Wars, Doctor Who)
Hugh Beaumont b. 1909 died 14 May 1982 (The Mole People)

First things first, the Picture Slot. Levar Burton got it last year, so this year it was a choice between Doctor Who, Boba Fett (Bullock) and Kosh from Babylon 5 (Chamberlain). I gave some thought to William Katt from The Greatest American Hero, but I figured that was a little too dated. (Also, every time I type the title of that show, the theme song runs through my head. Grr.) So you are looking at Christopher Eccleston, my favorite doctor, whose choice was certainly made easier by the fact the other guys are in masks and never seen. I also respect Eccleston for leaving Doctor Who as quickly as he did. He's too good an actor to get typecast.

Secondly, two names that are close to others. Sarah Clarke in not Sarah Chalke from Scrubs and Elizabeth Olsen is not Elisabeth Moss, who plays Peggy Olson on Mad Men.

And a quick mention of Hugh Beaumont. I grew up watching 1950s monster movies on TV, and a lot of the actors in these low budget movies later catch their big break as regulars on TV series. Beaumont is linked forever to his role as Ward Cleaver on Leave it to Beaver.

Many happy returns to the living on our list and to the dead, thanks for all the memories.


Movies released 
Ghost Rider released, 2007


Prediction: In 1992, the Eugenics Wars begin, giving rise to different factions of genetically enhanced “supermen” ruling over one third of the Earth. The most powerful of these rulers was Khan Noonien Singh.

Predictor: Space Seed, written by Gene L. Coon and Carey Wilber, an episode from the first season of Star Trek, aired 16 February 1967

Reality: I used this prediction last year, but Khan is just too much fun to be ignored. As I noted last year, to be genetically enhanced should mean being born with some special traits. Even if Khan was supposed to be 30 in 1992, that would put his birth in the early 1960s. (Montalban was 46 when this picture was taken.) This would mean the genetic enhancements would have taken place before the story was actually written.

I give the same defense of Coon and Wilber I gave last year.

Math is hard.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

The future of the San Francisco Bay as seen from the 1960s.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!
 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

15 February 2014

 Birthdays
Brendon Small b. 1975 (The Venture Brothers)
Sara Wynter b. 1973 (Stephen King’s Dead Zone [TV], The 6th Day, Species II)
Renee O’Connor b. 1971 (Ark, Alien Apocalypse, Xena, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Boogeyman 2, Darkman II)
Michael Easton b. 1967 (Mutant X, Total Recall 2070, VR.5)
Christopher McDonald b. 1955 (Stargate Universe, Spy Kids 2, The Iron Giant, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Twilight Zone [1986])
Matt Groening b. 1954 (writer, Futurama)
Jane Seymour b. 1951 (Smallville, Battlestar Galactica, Somewhere in Time)
Sherry Jackson b. 1942 (Star Trek, Lost in Space, Batman, Twilight Zone)
Harvey Korman b. 1927 died 29 May 2008 (Munchies, The Invisible Woman, The Star Wars Holiday Special)
Herman Kahn b. 1922 died 7 July 1983 (author, The Next 200 Years)
Meg Wyllie b. 1917 died 1 January 2002 (Star Trek, Twilight Zone)
Kevin McCarthy b. 1914 died 11 September 2010 (Ghoulies III, Eve of Destruction, Innerspace, Twilight Zone: The Movie, The Howling, Invasion of the Body Snatchers [1978 and 1956], Piranha, Between Time and Timbuktu, The Invaders, Twilight Zone [1960])
Cesar Romero b. 1907 died 1 January 1994 (Batman, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century)

My defense for the selection of the Picture Slot boils down to one word.

Iconic.

There are plenty of other choices that make sense. Kevin McCarthy in Invasion of the Body Snatchers is also iconic and so is Renee O'Connor in Xena. A still from Futurama isn't a bad choice, either. Both Sherry Jackson and Meg Wyllie were on the two shows from the 1960s which matter most, Star Trek and The Twilight Zone.

The only thing I can say with confidence is that next 15 February, it will not be a picture of Harvey Korman from The Star Wars Holiday Special.

Many happy returns to all the living on the list, and to the dead, thanks for all the memories.
 


Prediction: 1988: The United States is divided into multiple administrative areas in 1988, one year after the Soviet takeover.

Predictor: Amerika mini-series, first aired 15 February 1987

Reality: This was one of the first times whining by conservatives turned into a TV show. The Day After mini-series in 1983 really bothered a lot of right wingers with its implicit anti-nuke position and they wanted a "pro-nuke" mini-series to balance it out. The best they got is this thing which posited that the Russkis could take over the US without a shot if we went all "ban the bomb".

The mini-series did all right in its first few nights, but it lasted a week and ended up with a 19 rating and a 29 share, compared to The Day After's of a 46 rating and a 62 share. As usual, when conservatives try to be entertaining, the result doesn't appeal to a wide audience.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Another prediction of war in the late 20th Century, this one with genetic supermen.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, February 14, 2014

14 February 2014

 Birthdays
Freddie Highmore b. 1992 (Astro Boy, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Golden Compass, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story)
Stephanie Leonidas b. 1984 (Defiance, Atlantis: End of the World, Birth of a Legend, Dracula [2006], MirrorMask)
Erica Leerhsen b. 1976 (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre [2003], Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2)
Mark Lutz b. 1970 (Angel, Mutant X, Earth: Final Conflict, Specimen)
Simon Pegg b. 1970 (The World’s End, Star Trek, Paul, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Land of the Dead, Doctor Who, Shaun of the Dead)
Zach Galligan b. 1964 (Infested, Star Trek: Voyager, Gremlins)
Enrico Colantoni b. 1963 (Warehouse 13, Contagion, Stargate SG-1, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Galaxy Quest)
Anton Lesser b. 1952 (Game of Thrones, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Primeval, Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story)
Frank Collison b. 1950 (Stargate: Atlantis, Carnivale, The Village, K-PAX, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Lawnmower Man, Quantum Leap, Alien Nation, The Blob [1988])
Gregory Hines b. 1946 died 9 August 2003 (Eve of Destruction, Wolfen)
Andrew Robinson b. 1942 (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The X Files, M.A.N.T.I.S., The Puppet Masters, Child’s Play 3, The Twilight Zone [1986], Hellraiser)
Vic Morrow b. 1929 died 23 July 1982 (Twilight Zone: The Movie, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, Humanoids from the Deep, Message from Space)
Jonathan Adams b. 1931 died 13 June 2005 (Star Cops, 1990, The Rocky Horror Picture Show)
Edward Platt b. 1916 died 19 March 1974 (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Outer Limits, Twilight Zone)

Okay, let's start by stipulating that Simon Pegg got the Picture Slot last year and there are other worthy candidates. A lot of actors with iconic roles on the birthday list today, though guys like Edward Platt (Get Smart), Vic Morrow (Combat!), Gregory Hines (The Cotton Club) and Frank Collison (John Turturro's treacherous cousin in O Brother Where Art Thou?) have their best known roles in non-genre work. If I was younger, I might have had Freddie Highmore in the Picture Slot, since he's one of the premier child actors of this century. I might also have gone quirky and put Johnathan Adams as the wheelchair bound Dr. Scott from Rocky Horror. But instead we are looking at a picture of Andrew Robinson as Garak, the Cardassian tailor/spy from Deep Space Nine. Of all the Star Trek series, Deep Space Nine was the one full of creepy and a lot of the creepy was very well done.

Personal aside: Gregory Hines is one of those actors who I'm always surprised when I recall he's dead. I feel the same way about Raul Julia. The news of their deaths wasn't quite as big a story as other deaths like Phil Hartman or River Phoenix or James Gandolfini, and when I see a picture of Hines or Julia, I think "I haven't seen him in anything recently. Oh, wait... he died."

In any case, many happy returns to the living on the list, and to the dead, thanks for all the memories.

Movies released
Daredevil released, 2003

To my mind, this movie has a Valentine's Day subtext, since this is when Ben Affleck met his wife to be Jennifer Garner. Affleck was still seeing Jennifer Lopez at the time, and to my point of view he made a massive upgrade.


Predictor: Sir Martin Rees, author of Our Final Hour

Prediction: Bioterror or bioerror will lead to 1 million casualties in a single event by 2020.

Reality: His 2003 book Our Final Hour (in the U.K. Our Final Century) is obviously glum, but it doesn't have a lot of specific dates for future catastrophes. This is the only thing I have from him that follows the guidelines for predictions on this blog. I obviously can't say if he's right or wrong yet, but we are 11 years into a 17 year bet and his money is still on the line.  If we get to New Year's Day 2021 without such a huge event, I'm sure Sir Martin won't be that unhappy to be wrong.

Never to be Forgotten: Ralph Waite 1928-2014

Waite is best known for his role on The Waltons. As a trivia buff, he's one of a platoon of familiar faces that make Cool Hand Luke so much fun to watch. He's mentioned here for his roles on Carnivale (pictured here) and Timequest and Time Trax.

Best wishes to the family and friends of Ralph Waite. He is never to be forgotten.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Our standard weekend schedule will be interrupted by predictions from TV shows.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

13 February 2014

Birthdays
Mena Suvari b. 1979 (American Horror Story, Day of the Dead)
Andrew Bryniarski b. 1969 (Dracula’s Guest, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Seven Mummies, Firefly, Scooby-Doo, Lois & Clark, Cyborg 3, Batman Returns, Street Fighter)
Kelly Hu b. 1968 (Arrow, Warehouse 13, The Vampire Diaries, Area 57, X-Men 2, Strange Days, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan)
Neal McDonough b. 1966 (Captain America: The First Avenger, Tin Man, The X-Files, Star Trek: First Contact, VR.5, Quantum Leap, Darkman)
Stephen Manley b. 1965 (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)
Henry Rollins b. 1961 (The Devil’s Tomb, Jack Frost, Johnny Mnemonic)
David Naughton b. 1951 (Beanstalk, Twilight Zone [1989], An American Werewolf in London, Planet of the Apes [TV])
Pernilla August b. 1958 (Star Wars: Episodes I and II)
Donald Sumpter b. 1943 (Game of Thrones, Being Human, The Sarah Jane Chronicles, Dracula [2006], Doctor Who)
Oliver Reed b. 1938 died 2 May 1999 (The Pit and the Pendulum, The House of Usher, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Gor, Venom, Condorman, Doctor Heckyl and Mr. Hype, The Curse of the Werewolf)
Barbara Shelley b. 1933 (Doctor Who, Five Million Miles to Earth, Dracula: Prince of Darkness [1966], The Gorgon, Village of the Damned, Blood of the Vampire)
Susan Oliver b. 1932 died 10 May 1990 (Star Trek, The Invaders, Twilight Zone)
William Dozier b. 1908 died 23 April 1991 (producer, Batman, The Green Hornet)

Ahh, the original Star Trek. Your one stop shopping place for green slave girls.

A lot of less well known names on the list today. Andrew Bryniarski played Leatherface in the most recent Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies, Steven Manley was the 17 year old Spock in Star Trek III, Pernilla August is Anakin Skywalker's mum, Barbara Shelley was a British scream queen back in the heyday of Hammer films, David Naughton had the title role in An American Werewolf in London. I often think of Oliver Reed as being at the same level of stardom as Albert Finney or Michael Caine, but his career took a much bumpier path. He's one of those actors that I'm always a little surprised to remember he's dead. I feel the same way about Raul Julia, for example.

Many happy returns to all the living on the list, and to the dead, thanks for all the memories.



 

Predictor: Isaac Asimov, predicting 2014 in honor of the 1964 World's Fair

Prediction: Mankind will suffer badly from the disease of boredom, a disease spreading more widely each year and growing in intensity. This will have serious mental, emotional and sociological consequences, and I dare say that psychiatry will be far and away the most important medical specialty in 2014. The lucky few who can be involved in creative work of any sort will be the true elite of mankind, for they alone will do more than serve a machine.

Indeed, the most somber speculation I can make about A.D. 2014 is that in a society of enforced leisure, the most glorious single word in the vocabulary will have become work!

Reality:  Hmm, not quite. It's interesting to see Asimov speak of psychiatry, because Heinlein really hated it. Work can be mind-numbingly boring, but that's always been true. As for enforced leisure, Americans work more hours than other major industrialized countries, but less hours than places like Mexico, Russia and Greece. And of course, as for the awful boredom, Asimov could not have foreseen the rise of the Internet, lolcats and Angry Birds to relieve us of these burdens.

This is the last of Asimov's predictions from 1964. Next week, there will be a new predictor in the Thursday slot.

Looking one day ahead... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday belongs to Wired Magazine's Long Bets. Tomorrow, a bleak prediction from Martin Rees that has yet to transpire.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

12 February 2014

 Birthdays
Enver Gjokaj b. 1980 (Marvel’s the Avengers, Dollhouse, Witches of East End, The Walking Dead)
Christina Ricci b. 1980 (After.Life, Speed Racer, The Gathering, Sleepy Hollow [movie], Casper, Addams Family, Addams Family Values)
Darren Aronofsky b. 1969 (director, The Fountain, Pi)
Josh Brolin b. 1968 (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Men in Black 3, Jonah Hex, Planet Terror, Hollow Man, Mimic)
Raphael Sbarge b. 1964 (Once Upon a Time, Heroes, Dollhouse, Dark Skies, Independence Day, Star Trek: Voyager, SeaQuest 2032, Carnosaur, Quantum Leap)
John Michael Higgins b. 1963 (Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law, Evan Almighty, Blade: Trinity, Bicentennial Man, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids [TV], Weird Science [TV], Vampire’s Kiss)
Zach Grenier b. 1954 (RoboCop [2014], Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Star Trek: Enterprise, The X Files)
Simon MacCorkindale b. 1952 died 14 October 2010 (Earth: Final Conflict, Poltergeist: The Legacy [TV], Manimal, The Quatermass Conclusion)
Michael Ironside b. 1950 (Ice Soldiers, Meltdown on the Ice Planet, X-Men: First Class, Smallville, Lake Placid 3, Terminator Salvation, Mutants, Stargate SG-1, Andromeda, Ignition, Mindstorm, Starship Troopers, SeaQuest 2032, Highlander II: the Quickening, Total Recall, Watchers, V, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, Scanners)
Ray Kurzweil b. 1948 (author, The Age of Spiritual Machines, The Singularity is Near)
Maud Adams b. 1945 (Rollerball)
Richard Lynch b. 1940 died 19 June 2012 (Halloween [2007], Charmed, Highlander [TV], Necromicon: Book of Dead, Star Trek: Next Generation, Super Force, Alligator II: the Mutation, Invasion Force, Manimal, The Sword and the Sorcerer, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Bionic Woman)
Joe Don Baker b. 1936 (Mars Attacks!, Congo)
Lincoln Kilpatrick b. 1931 died 18 May 2004 (Fortress, The Greatest American Hero, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Six Million Dollar Man, Soylent Green The Omega Man)
Lorne Greene b. 1919 died 11 September 1987 (Battlestar Galactica)

A long and varied list today. If I was a total Joss Whedon nerd (and I'm close, but not quite) I'd probably have a picture of Enver Gjokaj from Dollhouse up. If I was looking for the biggest movie star today, I'd have Josh Brolin in the Picture Slot. It's an easy argument to have a picture of Lorne Greene from the original Battlestar Galactica, but I decided to go with Michael Ironside from the gloriously cheesy Starship Troopers.

Many happy returns of the day to all the living on the list, and to all the dead, thanks for the memories.


Prediction: On Feb. 12 1997, Americans destroy two Iranian missile emplacements on Iran’s revolution Day.

Predictor: Shadows of Steel by Dale Brown, published 1996

Reality: Brown makes a big plot point of the fact that attacking the Iranians on their Revolution Day is going to make them really mad, like they would probably just an act of war slide if it was any other day. (Of course, in Brown books we are totally the good guys and this attack was in retaliation to Iranian provocation.)

Except... Revolution Day in 1997 was on February 11.

Oopsie.

To be fair, if you want to know about the cool features of any American fighter aircraft, Dale Brown is your go-to guy. If you want to change the Gregorian Calendar dates to Islamic and vice versa, you might want to look it up online instead.

Never to be Forgotten: Christopher Barry 1925-2014

Doctor Who fans are mourning the passing of Christopher Barry, who directed over forty episodes of the show from 1963 to 1979, a time span in which four actors played the Doctor, William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker. You can read more about his work here.

Best wishes to the family, friends and fans of Christopher Barry. He is never to be forgotten.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

The swan song from Isaac Asimov's 1964 prediction list. (sniff.)

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!
 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

11 February 2014

Birthdays
Taylor Lautner b. 1992 (Twilight, The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D)
Natalie Dormer b. 1982 (The Hunger Games – Mockingjay, Game of Thrones, Captain America)
Dru Viergever b. 1981 (The Colony, Survival of the Dead)
Jennifer Aniston b. 1969 (Quantum Leap, The Iron Giant, Bruce Almighty)
Wesley Strick b. 1954 (writer, Arachnophobia, Wolf, Doom, A Nightmare on Elm Street[2010])
Paul Norell b. 1952 (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena, Power Rangers, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King)
Sonny Landham b. 1941 (2090, Predator)
Tina Louise b. 1934 (The Stepford Wives, Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby)
Conrad Janis b. 1928 (Bad Blood, V, Mork & Mindy, Quark, My Favorite Martian)
Leslie Nielsen b. 1926 died 28 November 2010 (Superhero Movie, 2001:A Space Travesty, Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Tales of Tomorrow, Forbidden Planet)
Sidney Sheldon b. 1917 died 30 January 2007 (writer, The Twilight Zone [1986], I Dream of Jeannie)

 Last's year the Picture Slot was Taylor Lautner from Twilight, this year it's Natalie Dormer from Game of Thrones. I was in the mood for a fabulous babe picture and the other two candidates, Jennifer Aniston and Tina Loiuse, are much better known for their work outside the genre. It I decide to go with somebody else next year, Leslie Neilsen from Forbidden Planet is the only other actor with an iconic genre role on the list.

Many happy returns to all the living on the list, and to the dead, thanks for the memories.
 

Predictor: Ray Kurzweil in the 1999 book The Age of Spiritual Machines

Prediction: By 2009, people will use personal computers the size of rings, pins, credit cards and books.

Reality: The largest size here, the size of a book, was definitely true when the tablet computers came out, but the other sizes are too small even today. There are objects this small with some very fancy electronics inside them, but the average person wouldn't think of them as "computers". It's no longer the chips that limit the size of the computer, but the input and output devices, most notably a keyboard big enough for typing or texting and a screen big enough to see. While cell phones aren't exactly personal computers, they are getting pretty damn close these days. It still remains to be seen if the wrist worn phones will be a success or not. We are now five years beyond the date of Kurzweil's predictions, with many yet to come true.

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE!

An exact date from Dale Brown that isn't all that exact.

How can this be? Join us tomorrow to find out... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, February 10, 2014

10 February 2014

 Birthdays
Chloe Grace Moretz b. 1997 (Carrie [2013], Dark Shadows, Hugo, Let Me in, Jack and the Beanstalk, Kick-Ass)
Emma Roberts b. 1991 (American Horror Story, Scream 4, Aquamarine)
Elizabeth Banks b. 1974 (The Hunger Games, Spider-Man)
Laura Dern b. 1967 (Jurassic Park, The Master, October Sky, Fat Man and Little Boy)
Vince Gilligan b. 1967 (writer, Hancock, The X-Files, The Lone Gunmen, Wilder Napalm)
Robert Addie b. 1960 died 30 November 2003 (Red Dwarf, Excalibur)
Michael Apted b. 1941 (director, Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)
Jerry Goldsmith b. 1929 died 7/21/2004 (composer, Star Trek, Congo, Omen IV, Twilight Zone)
Hazel Court b. 1926 died 15 April 2008 (Omen III, Masque of the Red Death, Twilight Zone, The Raven, Premature Burial, The Curse of Frankenstein [1957], Devil Girl From Mars)
Douglas Spencer b. 1910 died 6 October 1960 (Twilight Zone, This Island Earth, The Thing from Another World)
Lon Chaney Jr. b. 1906 died 12 July 1973 (Dracula vs. Frankenstein, House of the Black Death, The Alligator People, The Cyclops, Indestructible Man, Bride of the Gorilla, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, House of Dracula, The Mummy’s Curse, House of Frankenstein, The Mummy’s Ghost, Son of Dracula, The Mummy’s Tomb, The Ghost of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Man Made Monster, One Million B.C.)

The Picture Slot goes to Lon Chaney Jr. today, wearing the iconic make-up from the first Wolf Man movie. Chaney got into the movies because his dad was a star. He started out with a lot of bit parts and called himself Creighton Chaney early on to downplay the connection to the silent actor known as The Man of a Thousand Faces. While he got a great role in Of Mice and Men in 1939, it was Universal who gave him steady work churning out the horror movies of the 1940s. He showed a willingness to be in a lot of make-up, and when Karloff decided he didn't want to do that anymore, Chaney played The Mummy and Frankenstein's monster, even Count Dracula once. While he still got lots of roles in Westerns, including big budget movies like High Noon, he would still take roles in monster movies all the way through his career, some of them very small budget affairs.

Compare that to young Chloe Grace Moretz, who turns 17 today. The genre films she's made are her best ticket to stardom. The only way she could have caught a luckier break is if she was the lead in one of the huge hit genre movie series like Twilight, Harry Potter or The Hunger Games.

The entertainment industry was turned entirely upside down by Star Wars and Star Trek.

As for some of our other birthday folk, the late Robert Addie played Robin Hood on British TV and Mordred in Excalibur, Hazel Court was a great scream queen in the Vincent Price movies, and Douglas Spencer was a bald, bespectacled "Oh That Guy" back in the 1950s and 1960s. He's the reporter Scotty in The Thing From Another World and gets the last line "Watch the skies! Watch the skies!"

Many happy returns to all the living on the list and to the dead, thanks for all the memories.

Movies released
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island released, 2012  


Predictor: OMNI Future Almanac, published 1982

Predictions (reality in parentheses): Future movie trends

1. Cartoons, westerns and love stories will still constitute the predominant hits of the 21st Century. (This is a very weird statement in 1982. Westerns had faded badly as a genre and animated features were at a low point. By this time, the first two Star Wars movies had been out and E.T. and The Wrath of Khan were the big hits of 1982, though it's not clear if the book was released before or after these movies hit the screens in June. In any case, we know the truth. Genre movies are the big hits, cartoons are hits because they are genre and love stories sometimes get lucky, but not that often. Westerns are rare.)

2. Future audiences, unfamiliar with classic films like Citizen Kane, Gone with the Wind, Casablanca and The Godfather, will see these enduring tales remade with the stars of the future. (Hmmm... not quite. True enough, Hollywood is full of remakes, but look at Chloe Grace Moretz's movies to see what gets remade. Carrie, a 1970s monster movie. Dark Shadows, a gawd-awful 1960s TV show. Let Me In, the Americanization of the Scandanavian vampire movie Let the Right One In. As I wrote eariler, the industry is upside down and these guys in 1982 could have spotted the trend, but didn't.)

3. Instant classics will be created by increased Hollywood hype and intensive advertising. (It doesn't always work, but this prediction is better than the first two. I'd replace "instant classics" with "huge hits". It's remarkable how many of the top grossing films of the century are now despised even by the fanbase.)

4. Black and white films will be colored by computer techniques. (Hah! They get one right, but they don't realize how short-lived a fad it will be.)

5. Trends at the concession stand will come and go, but popcorn will remain America's favorite movie-going snack. (With as many swings and misses as they had on this list, at least they go out with a home run. Popcorn = movie snack is still true thirty two years later.)

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Ray Kurzweil is back, predicting the future of computers and getting stuff almost right.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

9 February 2014

Birthdays
Tyson Houseman b. 1990 (Twilight Saga)
Michael B. Jordan b. 1987 (The Fantastic Four [2015], Chronicle)
Rose Leslie b. 1987 (Game of Thrones)
David Gallager b. 1985 (The Vampire Diaries, Super 8, Smallville, Phenomenon)
Tom Hiddleston b. 1981 (Thor, Marvel’s the Avengers)
Charlie Day b. 1976 (Pacific Rim)
Shaun Parkes b. 1973 (Doctor Who, The Mummy Returns)
Julie Warner b. 1965 (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Ciarán Hinds b. 1953 (Game of Thrones, John Carter, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Lara Croft: The Cradle of Life, Jason and the Argonauts [2000], Excalibur)
Mia Farrow b. 1945 (Rosemary’s Baby, Supergirl)
Clive Swift b. 1936 (Doctor Who [2007 and 1985], Excalibur, 1990)
Frank Frazetta b. 1928 died 10 May 2010 (illustrator)
Brian Donlevy b. 1901 died 5 April 1972 (The Quatermass Xperiment, Quatermass II: Enemy from Space, Gammera the Invincible, Curse of the Fly)

Tough choice for the Picture Slot today. Last year it was Tom Hiddleston, so I decided to give someone else a shot this year. I am waiting impatiently for the return of Game of Thrones - and also more than a little impatient to read book six of the series - so I was strongly considering both Rose Leslie (Ygritte) and Ciarán Hinds (Mance Rayder). Hinds is still a "Oh, That Guy" in the United States, but he's a bigger star in Great Britain and was excellent as Julius Caesar in HBOs Rome.

But instead you are looking at a self-portrait of Frank Frazetta, the most influential artist in American illustration since Norman Rockwell. The paperback market for science fiction and fantasy in the late 1960s was very much driven by the cover art, and Frazetta's paintings on the covers of the reprints of Robert E. Howard's stories about an adventurer named Conan brought the character more fame than he had ever known when Howard was alive. His artwork also help spark renewed interest in the Edgar Rice Burroughs character John Carter, Warlord of Mars. Apart from his legions of fans and his many imitators in the illustration field, Frazetta's influence can also be felt in events as far afield as the development of Dungeons and Dragons to the film career of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Many happy returns of the day to all the living on the list and to Brian Donlevy and Frank Frazetta, thanks for all the memories.

Prediction: The sign and swipe credit card transaction will be entirely replaced by October 2015, when the only method will be running the credit card through a reader and entering a PIN number, a method widely used everywhere except the United States.

Predictor: A Wall Street Journal article published 6 February 2014, byline by Tom Gara

Reality: Reading the article, the prediction is actually being made by the credit card companies. They have about twenty months to get every company that now takes credit cards to switch over to the new system, which sounds like a daunting task. This might present an opportunity for Bitcoin to swoop in and take away some business from the credit card industry. It is my current plan to keep this blog going for at least three years, so I should have a chance to check on this prediction at the end of October 2015.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Another dive into the deep well of bold prediction goodness that is the OMNI Future Almanac.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!