Friday, December 13, 2013
Jeffrey Pierce b. 1971 (The Tomorrow People, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, S1m0ne)
Harry Gregson-Williams b. 1961 (Shrek, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Borrowers)
Steve Buscemi b. 1957 (Armageddon, Spy Kids 2 and 3, The Island)
Christopher Plummer b. 1929 (Up, Dracula 2000, Twelve Monkeys, Wolf, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Dreamscape, Somewhere in Time)
Dick Van Dyke b. 1925 (Night at the Museum, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins)
Don Taylor b. 1920 died 29 December 1998 (director, Island of Dr. Moreau, Damien: Omen II, The Final Countdown, Escape from the Planet of the Apes)
Three household names on our list of birthday boys today, but not best known for their work in genre. The Picture Slot goes to Christopher Plummer as the Klingon general Chang, a performance so over the top even Bill Shatner and Ricardo Montalban would have to say, "Chris, buddy... sometimes less is more."
Many happy returns to all the living and to the late Don Taylor, thanks for all the cheesy movies.
Predictor: Bruce Bueno de Mesquita at a TED Talk in 2009
Prediction: By the end of 2010, Iran will have enough weapons grade fuel to show the ability to build the bomb. There will be some political support in Iran for building it, but none for testing it. Also by the end of 2010, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad loses power.
Reality: The exact state of Iran's nuclear capability is hard to pin down. As of 2010, they had the ability to produce weapon grade uranium, but it wasn't clear they had made any and they have never announced the production of a bomb. Ahmadinejad was still in office until 2013. Bueno de Mesquita started the talk by saying game theory methods got stuff right 90% of the time. The first prediction was correct, the two about "political support" are hard to test and the one about Ahmadinejad didn't come true. Looks like about 50% right to me.
Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!
Saturday is our day to go back to 1893 to see what folks then thought was in store for the 20th Century.
Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!
Monday, January 14, 2013
Jason Bateman b. 1969
Lawrence Kasdan b. 1949
Bateman's sci-fi link is co-starring in Hancock.
Kasdan is on the list for work on the screenplays of the Star Wars movies.
Prediction: In 1980, there are six nuclear nations. By 2000, there will be fifteen. In 2020, there will be twenty-eight.
Predictor: The OMNI Future Almanac, published 1982
Reality: The OMNI Future Almanac is a great source of predictions and the first one I pull out is their assumptions about what countries will have nukes in the foreseeable future.
If the great hopes of the futurists were space travel and flying cars, the most common aspects of the futuristic dark side would have to be overpopulation and nukes. Here is a list of countries the writers assumed would be armed with warheads. The countries that actually have nukes are in bold. If a country in bold has an asterisk, that means they have warheads that are controlled by NATO on the sovereign territory, but no nuclear program of their own.
1980: United States, United Kingdom, France, (former) Soviet Union, China, India
2000: Pakistan, Israel, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Libya, South Korea, Taiwan, Iraq
2020: Cuba, Venezuela, Nigeria, Zaire, Angola, Spain, Italy*, West Germany*, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Japan, Indonesia, Australia
So they guessed about 22 countries and got 5 kinda, sorta right. South Africa had the bomb and scrapped it, Israel has never confirmed or denied, there are NATO nukes in Italy, Germany, Turkey, the Netherlands and Belgium. Countries that had NATO nukes and got rid of them are Canada and Greece. Former Soviet republics that are no longer armed are Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belarus.
The only nation currently assumed to have nuclear capabilities that wasn't mentioned is North Korea.
The last time a nuke was used in a war was 68 years ago. As crazy and stupid as humans are, no one has been crazy or stupid enough to start a nuclear war yet, though it was touch and go during the Cuban missile crisis according to many accounts.
The positive thing about the current situation is that fear of nuclear war is no longer what it was. We don't get saturated with it by the news or popular culture the way we did in the 1960s or even the 1980s. There is a very good chance it won't happen in my lifetime and (knock wood) even in the lifetimes of my students.
Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE! Robert A. Heinlein discusses something in modern culture he doesn't like and assumes everyone will agree with him... in the year 2000!
Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!