Thursday, February 28, 2013

28 February 2013

John Turturro b. 1957

Mr. Turturro has had a great career and very little of it in fantasy or sci-fi films, but he was in the Transformers movies so his name is mentioned here.

In the year 2000!

Prediction: Our bodies will last longer. Even immortality may be in the cards.

Suspended animation will be used for travel into the future, fixing the ailments currently fatal and used for space travel.

Predictor: Arthur C. Clarke on Horizon, a BBC-TV series in 1964

Reality: Asimov got famous with his Three Laws of Robotics. Maybe I should come up with Three Laws of Humans.

Law #1: We are machines made of meat.
Law #2: Machines break down.
Law #3: Get used to Law #2.

Our bodies are lasting longer, but immortality doesn't look likely and suspended animation runs into the problem that hypothermia tends to cause brain damage. At least Clarke conceded how far it is between stars and faster than light travel just ain't gonna happen if Einstein was even close to correct.

Okay, here's law #4.

Law #4: Einstein was close to correct.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! You know what we haven't had in way too long? A German Chocolate postcard from 1900 telling us about life... in the year 2000!

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

27 February 2013

Timothy Spall b. 1957

Many happy returns to a great British actor best known to genre fans as Wormtail in the Harry Potter films. He's done a lot of great work in a lot of interesting films. Two of my favorites are Topsy Turvy and The Damned United. As I do more research, I may find other people who share a birthday with Mr. Spall, but it will be hard for me not to make him the picture boy for 27 February, because All Sentient Beings Love Timothy Spall.

Prediction: Aerial War-Ships and Forts on Wheels.
Giant guns will shoot twenty-five miles or more, and will hurl anywhere within such a radius shells exploding and destroying whole cities. Such guns will be armed by aid of compasses when used on land or sea, and telescopes when directed from great heights. Fleets of air-ships, hiding themselves with dense, smoky mists, thrown off by themselves as they move, will float over cities, fortifications, camps or fleets. They will surprise foes below by hurling upon them deadly thunderbolts. These aerial war-ships will necessitate bomb-proof forts, protected by great steel plates over their tops as well as at their sides. Huge forts on wheels will dash across open spaces at the speed of express trains of to-day. They will make what are now known as cavalry charges. Great automobile plows will dig deep entrenchments as fast as soldiers can occupy them. Rifles will use silent cartridges. Submarine boats submerged for days will be capable of wiping a whole navy off the face of the deep. Balloons and flying machines will carry telescopes of one-hundred-mile vision with camera attachments, photographing an enemy within that radius. These photographs as distinct and large as if taken from across the street, will be lowered to the commanding officer in charge of troops below.

Predictor: John Elfreth Watkins in the Ladies' Home Journal in 1900

Reality: Yep. That's pretty much modern warfare. Note that he used "balloons and flying machines" in a sentence. He's predicting heaver than air flight six years before Kitty Hawk. He figures out that tanks are going to make cavalry obsolete. Submarines already existed, but he figured out how they would be improved.

If someone wanted to nit pick, the silent cartridge is not used that much and automobile plows for trenches aren't widespread either. He doesn't mention atomic bombs, missiles and drones, but he's writing this stuff in 1900 and he is A Sensible Person. He extrapolates the trends of the day in a remarkably reasonable way.

As I have said before, I loves me some John Elfreth Watkins. He only has about 30 predictions so he'll only be holding down the Wednesday slot on the blog for about the first half of the year. I'm going to miss him when he's gone.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! Arthur C. Clarke talks about the wonderful medical advances we might expect... in the year 2000!

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

26 February 2013

In the Year 2000!

Prediction: The most important military fact of this century is that there is no way to repel an attack from outer space.

Predictor: Robert A. Heinlein in 1950

Reality: Heinlein isn't talking about being invaded by aliens, but instead the idea that outer space is the ultimate high ground. Hard to argue with this, but back when we thought our main rivals were the Soviets, both sides were reluctant to put weapons in space, at least weapons they were willing to publicize.

Why should this prediction get the Sensible Heinlein? Well, there are scientists now talking about having a meteorite defense system, not the worst idea ever. And also, I wanted to save The Ridiculous Heinlein for this next prediction from the same essay.

Prediction: It is utterly impossible that the United States will start a "preventive war." We will fight when attacked, either directly or in a territory we have guaranteed to defend.

Reality: Lovely sentiment, Bob, but not backed up by reality. We faked an attack to get more deeply involved in Vietnam. Neither Grenada or Panama attacked us, but we still invaded. Nicaragua didn't attack, where we merely mined their harbors and funded armed rebels.

If I was getting all "prediction lawyer" about it, I could defend Heinlein from the worst counterexample of all, Iraq, by noting it happened after his prediction date of 2000.

I could, but I won't. Heinlein the hard-headed realist looks like an idiot jingoist and a Pollyanna on this one, so I match this prediction with the picture of him wearing a couch cover as a sports jacket.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! The return of John Elfreth Watkins, he of the non-ironic soul patch, who talks about the future of warfare as well, but makes a lot more sense.

Seriously, I loves me some John Elfreth Watkins.
Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, February 25, 2013

25 February 2013

James and Oliver Phelps b. 1986
Sean Astin b. 1971
Tea Leoni b. 1966
Alexis Denisof b. 1966

So we have two pair of exact same birthdays today. One pair are twins so it kinda doesn't count (The play the Weaseley twins in Harry Potter), but the other is Tea Leoni and Alexis Denisof. As a breeder (at least theoretically if not in actual practice) I usually pick the picture of the pretty girl out of a group like this, but I am such a Whedonverse fan I decided to go with Wesley during his scruffy, dark and brooding phase.

And let's not for Sean Astin, the hobbit from Notre Dame.


Predictions... for the year 2001!

Predictor: A.W. Zelomek (President, International Statistical Bureau):
U.S. population at 310 million...
Average family of four will have an income of $20,000 in 1955 dollars

Reality: He's high on the population, actually only 285 million. He was project an average increase 1.4% a year and it was closer to 1.2%.  Off, but not crazy off. After all, he's a statistician.

Or maybe he is crazy. The actual median income in 1955 was $5,000. Using the Consumer Price Index to change 1955 dollars to 2001 dollars, $20,000 magically turns into $120,000.

That's a big miss.

Predictor: N. Gonzalez, head of research, Eagle Pencil Company

Prediction: The lead pencil in the hands of creative man has been the genesis of technological advance in our era. And it will remain so for years to come...  I predict that in the year 2001, the lead pencil will be substantially the same as it is today.  

Why? Because today's pencil is perfectly designed and does its job faultlessly.

Reality: I love this prediction, because it's a guy rooting for his company (Yay, pencils!) and talking himself out of a job. The ellipsis leaves out a sentence where he says there will be improvements; I mean, he IS the head of research for pity's sake, but you know his heart isn't really completely in it. How do you improve a perfectly designed product that does its job faultlessly?

I'm betting the guy drank. A lot. And I mean "a lot" by 1956 standards. At least at Roger Sterling "a lot", maybe all the way to Freddy Rumson "a lot".

And this concludes our predictions from Amazing Stories from 1956. My thanks again to Alan Ponder for letting me rifle through his collection of sci-fi pulps. I will be taking more trips up to Stockton to study this valuable resource.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!  Tomorrow, we climb back into the regular routine and see what Grumpy Old Bob Heinlein had to say. Will it be Goofy Heinlein or Sensible Heinlein? I haven't picked it yet, so even I don't know.

Join us then... INTO THE FUTURE!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscar night 2013 special edition

Prediction: Seth MacFarlane joins the Los Angeles Gay Men's Chorus in July 2015

Predictor: William Shatner (or more accurately, some Oscar gag writer), 2/24/13

Reality: It's not exactly what I do here on the blog, but it is a prediction with a date and about a billion people heard it, so I'd be a damn fool not to report it, right?

I watched up through Best Supporting Actress and MacFarlane was much better than I thought he would be.

Back to Amazing Stories tomorrow morning.

24 February 2013

Edward James Olmos b. 1947 the year 2001!

-->Predictor:   Gen. Carlos Romulo (Philippine delegate to the United Nations):
Colonialism will have ended...
Instead of 35 million increase a year, world population will increase by 100 million a year...
I might be able to talk to Manila from New York with something I have in my pocket...

Predictor: Oliver Read (editor Radio & Television News):
All rails and planes will be radio-controlled...
Long distance shipping by rockets...
Atomic energy supplies electrical power, solar radiation supplies heat...
Telephones with attached TVs are the standard...
Trips to the moon and Mars should be a reality...
Anti-gravity devices will allow us to float from place to place...
Electronic devices will be able to pick up and decode thought waves...

Reality: The general is obviously not a tech guy and Mr. Read definitely is, but the general gets two out of three (the actual increase per year in 2001 is closer to 70 million), while being generous, Read gets the first one then misses six straight. Planes are more like in constant radio contact rather than truly radio controlled. Rockets use a hell of a lot of fuel and are very hard to land, solar radiated heat is still a very small part of the grid, TV phones exist but aren't standard, space travel, not so much. Anti-gravity was a popular concept in mid-century sci-fi, but that's just a sign that these guys didn't really understand Einstein's ideas about gravity very well. Being anti-gravity means being anti-geometry, and not in the sense that you really didn't enjoy geometry class. 

And then there's electronic telepathy. Well, not yet, not close and - if Odin, Vishnu and the little baby Jebus are kind - not in my lifetime.

 Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! We finish off the Amazing Stories predictions. A numbers guy doesn't do that well with numbers and a guy who makes pencils tells us... PENCILS ARE AWESOME!

Hard to argue with that.
Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

23 February 2013

Dakota Fanning b. 1994
Kelly Macdonald b. 1976
Majel Barrett-Roddenberry b. 1932 died 12/18/2008  

I love Kelly Macdonald's work, but most of it is not in the sci-fi genre. Ms. Roddenberry, on the other hand, did little else but work on sci-fi TV shows, so she earns a photo.
What life will be like... in the year 2001!

Predictor: Leo Cherne (Executive Director, Research Institute of America)
Everyone has access to free power created by solar, atomic energy will be widespread...
The average American will have a 24 hour work week, 6 hours a day four days a week...

Predictor: Hubert J. Schlafly (engineer)
Systematic information will be in a form instantly available for response to remote inquiry...
By 2001, we may be in the dot and dash stage of the electrical transmission of solid matter.

Reality: Solar power is not in the universal access phase and atomic power had some big setbacks. People don't have 24 hour work weeks, except those unlucky bastards working at companies trying to deny them access to health care, so Dr. Cherne lays a big goose egg.

Mr. Schlafly on the other hand gives a pretty good description of the Internet in the statement I underlined. He doesn't say exactly how it will take place and the word "computer" is nowhere to be found, but that isn't surprising. 1956 is akin to the Dark Ages when it comes to computers. As for the electrical transmission of matter, we are a long way away from replicators, but maybe we could count 3D printers as the early starting point, "the dot and dash" stage as Schlafly puts it.

Just don't expect one to give you "Earl Grey tea, hot" anytime soon. Just sayin'.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! The editor of Radio & Television News gets a lot of stuff wrong and a UN delegate from the Philippines gets a lot of stuff right.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, February 22, 2013

22 February 2013

Dichen Lachman b. 1982
Jeri Ryan b. 1968
Julie Walters b. 1950

That's a Whedonverse/Star Trek/Harry Potter trifecta for ya, you betcha! Some people may disagree with my selection of just a facial portrait of the lovely Ms. Ryan, but so many of the body shots of her as Seven of Nine lack subtlety, if you get my drift.

Many happy returns to all three actresses.

Today's predictions from the 1956 30th Anniversay issue of Amazing Stories come from their contest winner Clarence W. Van Tilburg.  He made a passel of predictions, so instead of spooning them out one by one, I give all of them here with a reality check after each one in italics and parentheses.

1. Great strides in mental therapy. "Psi" professions operating on a solid premises. (He means psychiatry and psychology. We definitely have better drug choices and the definitions of mental illness are certainly improving.)
2. Banking of human organs; artificial culture of tissues; universal extension of preventative medicine.  (Good calls.)
3. Life expectancy 88 for women 80 for men in US and many other countries, world average 70. (A little high on all, but in the ballpark. The male-female dichotomy has shrunk instead of expanded.)

World Politics
1. The big four: USA, USSR, China, India, India leader of the Asian Commonwealth from Iran to Malaya. (Bold, but not quite right. In 1956, it still wasn't obvious how well Germany and Japan would in the next fifty years. India is a leader in the developing world to be sure, but there is no Asian Commonwealth.)
2. All Central America coalesced into a single political unit. (Swing and a miss.)

Science, Industry, Technology
1. Maximum work week in US and Canada: 20 hours. (Don't we wish?)
2. Top industry: Leisure. (Not as big as oil or food production.)
3. US and USSR have manned satellites and have reached the Moon. (Yes on the manned satellites, only the US made it to the Moon with a manned expedition.)
4. Seas mined in earnest for rare elements and food. (Certainly more than in 1956, but not as much as many people hoped. Petroleum isn't that rare. Yet.)
5. Desalted sea water used for irrigation and industrial purposes. (Some, but not much.)
6. Direct conversion of sunlight into power and synthesis of food on commercial scales. (Yes on solar power and there are a lot of synthetic ingredients in food.)
7. Atomic power in world-wide use. (Yes.)
8. Long-distance travel almost entirely by air at supersonic speeds. (Yes to almost all, supersonic, not so much.)
9. Privately owned helicopters commonly used, heliports on every large building. (It's close enough to get the Flying Cars HELLZ YEAH label. Regular readers will know how I feel about discussing reality and flying cars in the same sentence.)
10. Plastic glass and light metals common in building construction. (True enough.)
11. Moving sidewalks common. (That's a swing and a miss.)
12. Shortwave cooking common. (We call it microwave. Definitely a hit.)
13. Great increase in telescope range, boundaries of universe still unknown. (Exactly right.)

 Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! More from Amazing Stories, a couple of pointy headed intellectuals take their shot, and one of them gives a description of a vague thing that could just be the Internet.  That's a terrific guess from the vantage point of 1956.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

21 February 2013

Ashley Greene b. 1987
Kelsey Grammer b. 1955
Anthony Daniels b. 1946
Alan Rickman b. 1946

Today we get birthdays of actors from the Twilight, X-Men, Star Wars and Harry Potter series. I love same date, same year birthdays. C-3PO and Snape! Who knew?

Alan Rickman gets the picture because All Sentient Beings Love Alan Rickman.

What life will be like... in the year 2001!

Predictor: Robert A. Heinlein in the 30th Anniversary issue of Amazing Stories, 1956

Predictions: lab outpost on Pluto...
the Sahara Sea...
Telepathy for military purposes...
We finished World War III with 100,000,000 more people than when we started...
Five billion sometime in the 21st Century...
Still no cure for the common cold.
Reality: I found this picture of Heinlein weeks ago, but decided to use another because this makes him look ridiculous. With this set of predictions, I realized I should have two pictures, The Sensible Heinlein and The Ridiculous Heinlein.

This set of predictions deserves this awful sports coat.

We don't have a lab outpost on the Moon, much less Pluto. We didn't flood the Sahara. We don't use ESP for military purposes. We didn't have World War III, we passed five billion in the 1980s.

He's right about the common cold, though.  I don't know how he does it.

 Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! Still plumbing the depths of this issue of Amazing Stories, a reader named Clarence W. Van Tilburg wins the prediction contest and while not perfect, he does a hell of a lot better than Heinlein.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

20 February 2013

Pierre Boulle b. 1912 died 1/30/1994
 Boulle was credited with the screenplay for The Bridge Over the River Kwai, which was actually written by blacklisted writers Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson, the credit was changed posthumously in 1980. He did write the original novel.

He is mentioned here because of his other best known novel, Planet of the Apes.


What life will be like... in the year 2001!

Predictor: Lilly Daché (milliner and fashion expert)
Contra-magnetism will mean fabrics will repel dirt...
Whites and pastels will be worn in all seasons...

Predictor: Herb Score (pitcher, Cleveland Indians)
Plastic domes over stadiums keep out bad weather...
Parking not a problem, fans come in on helicopters...
No vendors in the stands, vending machines on the back of every chair...

Reality: We don't have fabrics that repel dirt quite yet, but Ms. Daché gets some points for predicting the "no white after Labor Day" rule would be largely forgotten.

Herb Score gets a point for domed stadiums, but we still don't use helicopters like buses and there are still vendors at ball games. I, for one, kinda like it that way. Sometimes you miss a play when the popcorn guy walks by, but it's part of the ambiance.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! Even when I mix things up for the sake of variety, we can't escape Robert A. Heinlein, who made a special batch of predictions for this issue of Amazing Stories, almost all of them amazingly wrong.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

19 February 2013

What life will be like... in the year 2001!

Predictor: Sid Caesar, host of the TV variety hit Your Show of Shows
The Pocket TV will be so common people will take it for granted...
Einstein's theory of relativity will be understood by every schoolchild because he will see it on his pocket TV in the helicopter on his way to school.

Predictor: John Cameron Swayze, anchorman and spokesman*
No major war between 1956 and 2001...
Light-weight low priced private air transport...
Cities disperse, the slums will disappear...
Reality: The modern high end cell phone is kinda sorta like a pocket TV, though streaming a TV program is an expensive way to use one. Transistor radios hit the market in 1955, so the idea of miniaturization is definitely in the public mind. Also in the public mind in the mid 1950s was that "Einstein's theory of relativity" was the most difficult concept ever devised by man. It is not yet a concept understood by schoolchildren.

Swayze was right about no major war. The middle part of the century was big on the idea that cities were intolerable and had to be abolished. We kinda got over that.

 And then we have the helicopter school bus and "light-weight low priced private air transport", which are both roundabout ways to say... Flying Cars HELLZ YEAH!

It is the express policy of this blog never to discuss reality and flying cars at the same time. So it is written and so it shall be. Amen.

* Some younger readers might need more explanation of who John Cameron Swayze was. He was one of the original anchormen for evening news broadcasts, but by the time I was growing up, he was the spokesman for Timex watches, the commercials that brought us the deathless tagline "It takes a licking and keeps on ticking". Wikipedia says that John Cameron Swayze was a sixth cousin to the now more famous Patrick Swayze, both deceased. I'm not as close to my cousins as some other people are, but "sixth cousin" seems a polite way of saying "not really related at all".

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! Sure, we start the week with predictions about TV, war, city life and flying cars, but tomorrow we get to what really matters: fashion and baseball.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, February 18, 2013

18 February 2013

Announcing... Amazing Stories Week!

Regular readers will know I have a daily routine Monday through Friday for the predictions, but I came across a great discovery this weekend and I'm going to throw a monkey wrench into the monotonous machine, based on First Rule of Blogging (H.): It's my blog and you are not the boss of me!

My friend Alan Ponder has a terrific collection of old science fiction magazines, the ones printed on pulp paper, known as "the pulps" to their fans. In 1956, Amazing Stories turned 30 and devoted the last few pages of the April issue to predictions from people in many fields of what the world would look like in 2001.

In other words, a big old goldmine for this blog.

I'll be printing the predictions from today to next Monday, starting out with what easily can be considered the wackiest from a guy who made a real effort to be odd and was taken seriously by many people of the time.

It's hard for me to give an modern example to the young people of what he was like. There are people trying to be outrageous for the sake of outrage now, many of them political pundits. But this guy was very different and he had some talent, something most pundits lack completely.

Prediction: I believe that art and science will have merged by 2001...

The secret of this harmony can be seen today in cosmic radiation... Beauty is mathematical too - I refer you to the works of Bach - and the beauty of the logarithmic curve of the rhinceros horn, with its repetition in the internal sedillas of the cauliflower can be seen by the aware eye of today and will been seen, and acted upon, by the awakened artists of 2001...

By 2001, such things will have lost their rigidity and gained, instead, have found the unity that is found in cosmic radiation, the cauliflower and the rhinoceros horn.

They will have realized the secret of life, of art, and of power, is viscosity.

Predictor: Salvador Dali, in the 30th anniversary of Amazing Stories, April 1956

Reality check: In the interest of full disclosure, I concede that I did a Dadaist editing job on this famous surrealist's prose. I only published every third sentence in his three paragraph tour de force, but also added his final sentence, the first mention of "viscosity".

Some readers might say, "But, Professor! You shouldn't edit someone's words in such a strange and didactic way. This statement has lost all meaning."

Let me make my case in two parts.

Part 1. See the First Rule of Blogging (H.).

2. I swear on the Collected Works of Leonhard Euler that absolutely no meaning has been removed from Mr. Dali's statement. True, many words have gone missing and yes, those words formed sentences with subjects and verbs. But this edited version makes every bit as much sense as what he wrote and the editors of Amazing decided to publish. If you think this version is meaningless, you would not be convinced much by the full text.

Looking ahead one day... INTO THE FUTURE! The 57th anniversary celebration of Amazing Stories' 30th Anniversary continues, with visits from Sid Caesar and John Cameron Swayze.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

17 February 2013

Bonnie Wright b. 1991
Joseph Gordon-Levitt b. 1981
Rene Russo b. 1954

The actress who played Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter films turns 22, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the kid on Third Rock From The Sun and now a movie star in his own right, turns 32, and the delicious Rene Russo is now 59.

Many happy returns to them all.

Prediction: 1996: The Eugenics Wars end. Instead of killing the genetically enhanced “supermen” dictators, they are put in suspended animation in the SS Botany Bay, and sent off into deep space. Among the sleeping exiles is Khan Noonien Singh.

Predictor: Space Seed, a first season episode from Star Trek, written by Gene L. Coon and Cary Wilber, aired 16 February 1967
Reality: Okay, where to begin? Predictions have so much to do with the time in which they are made and in the late sixties, everybody was caught up in the mood of optimism about space exploration and obviously going to the moon was just the beginning, but this one assumes a lot. Less that thirty years after the show is aired, mankind is supposed to have

1. Perfected suspended animation
2. Have enough spaceships lying around that one could be spared to be a deep space deep freeze
3. Have a world government in an advanced enough state that everyone could agree that shipping the tyrants into space was a good idea

How did this prediction do?  I'd have to give it the big goose egg.



Had to get that our of my system. You never know when the next opportunity will present itself.

Looking ahead one day... INTO THE FUTURE! Switching out of the weekly routine for a set of predictions that are simply amazing from Amazing Stories in 1956, looking ahead to the year 2001.

A brief preview of what's in store. Sid Caesar, Salvador Dali, Herb Score, Robert A. Heinlein and... the future of pencils!

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

16 February 2013

Sarah Clarke b. 1972
LeVar Burton b. 1957
Ardwight Chamberlain b. 1957
Jeremy Bulloch b. 1945

For those keeping score at home, today we have birthdays for actors from Twilight, Star Trek, Babylon 5 and Star Wars. Levar Burton gets the photo op. His exact birthday boy pal is the voice for Ambassador Kosh. Jeremy Bulloch was the original actor inside the Boba Fett costume, though he didn't do the voice, a common situation in the Star Wars franchise.

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, a first season episode from Star Trek, written by Gene L. Coon and Cary Wilber, aired 16 February 1967

Reality: Okay, let's do a little math on this one. How old are these genetic supermen in 1992? Ricardo Montalban was 47 when he played this role, but he always looked terrific and could easily pass for ten years younger. (Note: he did not look mahvelous. He is Ricardo, not Fernando, let's not confuse the two.) Khan was frozen four years later in 1996, so even if he was in his early thirties in the early 1990s, he would have been born in the early 1960s or late 1950s.

That would mean the genetics program that created these despots had already begun before the Star Trek episode was written. No program like this existed then.

In defense of Coon and Wilber, let me say "Math is hard."

Looking ahead one day... INTO THE FUTURE! Do you think one blog post is enough to deal with the legacy of Khan Noonien Singh? Oh no, my friend, this story has an end as well. (And a sequel, but we won't be getting in to that.)

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, February 15, 2013

15 February 2013

In the Year 2000!

Prediction: Live performances will be accompanied by instruments played by robots.

Predictor: French postcards from 1900

Reality: The idea is not that far off, though the technology used and the location isn't on the money. At a nice theater like the one shown, there will probably still be a live orchestra, but lots of live vocal performances are sung to pre-recorded tracks, and not just at karaoke bars, isn't that right, Ms. Knowles-Carter?

Looking ahead one day... INTO THE FUTURE! Three words: Khan Noonien Singh.

Or I could make that one word. KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

14 February 2013

Simon Pegg b. 1970
Anton Lesser b. 1952
Andrew Robinson b. 1942

Happy birthdays to all mentioned. Mr. Pegg (right, with cricket bat) gets the photo because Shaun of the Dead is my favorite piece of zombie based entertainment of all time.

I haven't seen the comedy Warm Bodies yet. That could be cute, but it has a high hurdle to vault to replace Shaun at the top of my list.

Andrew Robinson played Garak on Deep Space Nine, so this post gets a Star Trek label.

Movies released
Daredevil released 2003

By no means the best comic book movie, but it was when Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner made the decision to become a couple, so it has some nice Valentine's Day undertones. (Affleck and Garner were both in Pearl Harbor, but he was dating Jennifer Lopez then. Nice trade-up for Affleck in my opinion.)

In the Year 2000!

Prediction: Men will be living on the moon.

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

Reality: Not so much. I know that as a nerd I'm supposed to be all "Outer space, yay!", but as I have said before and will say again.

Any place where you have to bring your own water and breathable air is actively trying to kill you.

Looking ahead one day... INTO THE FUTURE! French postcards. You know what I'm talking about by now. Click on the link if unclear on the concept.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

13 February 2013

Neal McDonough b. 1966
Pernilla August b. 1958

Happy birthday to Ms. August, best known in genre films for playing Anakin's mom in that movie most sci-fi fans are trying to forget.

She is totally not to blame for the suckitude. Her last name is neither Lucas or Binks, if you get my drift.

In the Year 2000!

Prediction: There will be air-ships, but they will not successfully compete with surface cars and water vessels for passenger or freight traffic. They will be maintained as deadly war-vessels by all military nations. Some will transport men and goods. Others will be used by scientists making observations at great heights above the earth.

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

Reality: Regular readers will know I have as soft spot for old John E., owner of the least hipster-ish soul patch in human history. He's writing this way before Kitty Hawk, so when he thinks about "air-ships" he's thinking about blimps. He makes some bold predictions, but nearly all of them are extensions of things already in existence in 1900. if he had predicted huge pressurized aircraft traveling hundreds of miles an hour at altitudes of six miles of more, he would have had to be wacky.

That is not the facial hair of a wacky person.

Looking ahead one day... INTO THE FUTURE! Arthur C. Clarke predicts men living on the moon... in the year 2000!

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

12 February 2013

Prediction: Mankind will not destroy itself, nor will "Civilization" be destroyed.

Predictor: Robert A. Heinlein, 1950, predicting the Year 2000

Reality: Last week, we had a quote from a Heinlein essay in 1947 predicting the end of the United States in 1986. He was definitely influenced then by "Hap" Arnold's view of what the next war would look like. Three years later, he had definitely calmed down. The set of predictions this one was taken from does not give the change of heart any context, whether he realized the nuclear war scenario was completely profitless for both sides or he thought the U.S. had shown sufficient preparedness to avoid being in second place.

In either case, Grumpy Old Bob gets one right. We haven't destroyed ourselves with nukes.

Looking ahead one day... INTO THE FUTURE! Wednesday is John Elfreth Watkins Day. In 1900, he looks at the future of airships... in the year 2000!

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, February 11, 2013

11 February 2013

Taylor Lautner b. 1992

Wow. Today is the first day Taylor Lautner can legally have a drink. And judging from current events, he is also officially too old to date Taylor Swift.

Win-win, buddy! Many happy returns.

Prediction: "The greatest development in sports over the next thirty years will be the combination of computer technology with increased emphasis on the selection and training of athletes as currently practiced by East Germany and other Soviet-bloc countries."

Predictor: OMNI Future Almanac in 1982

Reality: Yep. Computers and selection process. It worked for the Commie Krauts, it will work for us.

If you are a sports fan, you will recognize an ingredient in the East German success story that the writers skipped over, one that did have an impact on sports in the thirty years after 1982.

They give numerical predictions as well.

65 home runs in one season by a designated hitter: Barry Bonds hit 73 in 2001. All the guys who out-did Roger Maris - Bonds, Sosa and McGwire - were all in the National League, the one that still doesn't have a DH.
160 bases in one season by a "designated runner": Rickey Henderson stole 130 in 1982 when this book was being written. No one has stolen more since. There is no designated runner and baseball statisticians are no longer in love with the stolen base.
175 walks in one season, 40% intentional: Bonds was walked 232 times in 2004, 120 were intentional. That's about 52%.
110-mile-per-hour fastball: Aroldis Chapman was clocked at 105 mph in a relief appearance in September 2010.

So OMNI goes 2 for 4, which is to say "There's Barry Bonds juiced to the gills and then there's reality."

Looking ahead one day... INTO THE FUTURE! Tuesday is reserved for Heinlein. In 1947, he was sure that nukes would be flying before the century was up. By 1950, he'd had a change of heart.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

10 February 2013

Elizabeth Banks b. 1974
Laura Dern b. 1967
Jerry Goldsmith b. 1929 died 7/21/2004

For importance to the genre, I should put up a picture of Jerry Goldsmith, vital to the Star Trek franchise, but I'm a dirty old man and pretty girls are trump, so I have this picture of Laura Dern from Jurassic Park, the great scene where she and Sam Neill see a living dinosaur for the first time.

I loved that on the big screen.

Movies released
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island released, 2012

For movies in the 21st Century, my criterion for including them is $100 million in box office. I may have to pump that up.

Prediction: In 1987, the Soviets invade Alaska, triggering an all-out nuclear assault on both sides.

Predictor: World War Three, a 1982 NBC mini-series starring David Soul, Brian Keith and Rock Hudson as The President.

Reality: The 1980s were the end of the Golden Age of entertainment based on the idea that OMG WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE ROASTING AND SCREAMING!

This was also the era of the lavish mini-series.

This wasn't one of them.

We avoided all-out toe-to-toe nuclear confrontation with the Russkies. There still might be all-out toe-to-toe nuclear confrontation with the Red Yellow Peril. (The Orange Peril? No, that's John Boehner's nickname.) But there's no profit in it, and both sides are definitely keen on profit, even though the Chinese call themselves Commie and scholars like Victoria Jackson consider Obama a Commie.

We're going to have to figure out another way to have an apocalypse. But don't worry, we are very clever and persistent.

Looking ahead one day... INTO THE FUTURE! Every other Monday, the OMNI Future Almanac gets a turn at bat and it is absolutely chock full. So much fun stuff.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

9 February 2013


Tom Hiddleston b. 1981
Ciarán Hinds b. 1953

Two actors I really like, but Hiddleston gets the nod because... Loki horns!

I mean, seriously.

Hinds has been in several genre projects, including a major role in the soon to be release Season Three of Game of Thrones. I might very well use a picture of him next 9th of February. 

Prediction: 2013: Oregon is a post apocalyptic hellhole that can only be saved… by a postman.

Predictor: The Postman released 25 December 1997

Reality: Not a post apocalyptic hellhole just yet. Of course, who can blame Kevin Costner? After making an epic like Waterworld, who could resist being the hero of another post-apocalyptic hellhole? It's more than mortal man can resist.

Looking ahead one day... INTO THE FUTURE! It's 1987 and Rock Hudson is president.

You know this has to end badly.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, February 8, 2013

8 February 2013

Seth Green b. 1974
Ethan Phillips b. 1955
Nick Nolte b. 1941
John Williams b. 1932

That's a lot of cool people for a single day, but this time around I'm going to go with Seth Green as Oz on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

In the Year 2000!

Prediction: Ships will be equipped with railroad wheels for ease of travel on both land and sea.

Predictor: The postcards from Hildebrands German Chocolate published in 1900.

Reality: Ships tend to be wide, rails tend to be narrow. The basic need was real, but this isn't the technology for it.

And since I've been saying the French postcards show people being dicks in the future, it should be noted that this German postcard is depicting a naval battle, so the Germans display some dickishness as well.

Fair is fair.

Looking ahead one day... INTO THE FUTURE! Oregon is a post-apocalyptic hellhole in the year 2013, and it can only be saved... by a postman.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

7 February 2013

Prediction: By the year 2000, we will be recording information directly onto the brain. Instant expertise will be possible, replaying a memory will be like reliving a thing and unpleasant memories will be erased.

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

Reality: Hmm. Sounds like the central plot devices in Joss Whedon's Dollhouse and Charlie Kaufman's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

If I recall correctly, neither of those stories ended well.

I don't know if anyone is even working on this kind of thing. From what little I know about brain research, this sounds way beyond our capabilities. There are certainly drugs that have amnesia as a side effect, but they cannot pluck out the bad memories from the good. The one thing that is getting clearer on the quantitative side of psychological research is that memory is not as good a recording device as we might hope.

I'm giving old ACC a big fat goose egg on this one, and that's probably good news for mankind in general.

Looking ahead one day... INTO THE FUTURE! It's the German chocolate company's turn to show us a glimpse of things to come, this time a strange sea battle... in the year 2000!

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

6 February 2013

Rip Torn b. 1931

Fine actor with a somewhat silly name (Torn is his actual last name, Rip an obvious nickname from his youth) Rip Torn has a long and praiseworthy career in film and on the stage. his best known work in the sci-fi genre is in the Men In Black series.

Prediction: Automobiles will be cheaper than horses are today. Farmers will own automobile hay-wagons, automobile truck-wagons, plows, harrows and hay-rakes. A one-pound motor in one of these vehicles will do the work of a pair of horses or more. Children will ride in automobile sleighs in winter. Automobiles will have been substituted for every horse vehicle now known. There will be, as already exist today, automobile hearses, automobile police patrols, automobile ambulances, automobile street sweepers. The horse in harness will be as scarce, if, indeed, not even scarcer, then as the yoked ox is today.

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

Reality: Watkins does incredibly well with this one. I'd have to do some study to see if a car really is cheaper than a horse, but there is no question it is faster and more convenient. Nobody uses vehicles with one pound motors producing two horsepower and "automobile sleighs" are more toys for adults rather than kids, but if you think about how expensive and relatively rare autos were in 1900, this was a bold prediction which understood where the world was heading with remarkable accuracy.

Good on ya, Mr. Watkins.

Looking ahead one day... INTO THE FUTURE! Arthur C. Clarke predicts an interesting plot device used by Charlie Kaufman and Joss Whedon that thankfully is still science fiction and I hope always will be, so (spoiler warning) it does not come to pass... in the year 2000!

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

5 February 2013

 Movie releases
Spy Kid 3-D: Game Over released 2003

Tom Wilkinson b. 1948

Mr. Wilkinson's long career with many fine films in it has very few forays into the genre, but he was in Batman Begins, so the blog wishes him a happy birthday.

Prediction: “Here lie the bare bones of the United States of America, conceived in freedom, died in bondage. 1776-1986. Death came mercifully, in one stroke, during senility. “Rest in Peace!”

Year of Prediction: 1947 in the essay The Last Days of the United States by Robert A. Heinlein, 1947

Reality: Heinlein read "Hap" Arnold's report and freaked the fuck out. As he often did, he wrote his view that Arnold was a visionary and everyone else was an idiot in forceful prose, starting with the quote above, the number pulled out of... a hat.

A hat being worn by his ass.

To be fair, grumpy old Bob calmed down within a few years, and his prediction in 1950 for the year 2000 is much more optimistic. We'll read that when he gets his turn again next Tuesday.

Looking ahead one day... INTO THE FUTURE! Wednesday is John Elfreth Watkins Day here on the blog, and from his vantage point in 1900, he sees nothing but good things for the horseless carriage... in the year 2000!

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, February 4, 2013

4 February 2013

 In the Year 2000!

Prediction: In the future suburb of Totenville, such great things lie in store for you.

You'll eat food from sawdust...
shop by picture-phone...
and cook on a solar range!

Predictor: Popular Mechanics, 1950

Reality: Let's take them from bottom to top, right to left, leaving the best for last.

Cook on a solar range? Not yet.

Shop by picture-phone? More likely on the Internet, but in 2000 the phone and the Internet were pretty near inseparable.

Eat food from sawdust? Well, it's your place and if you want, you can order something on the phone from Big Fascist Pizza (Domino's, Papa John's, take your pick), but if I have a vote, I vote no.

Just sayin'.

Once again, this and so much more can be found in the 2009 book from the publishers of Popular Mechanics, The Wonderful Future That Never Was, available in paperback from Amazon.

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE!  In 1947, Robert A. Heinlein finds a way to celebrate You Have Official Permission To Freak The Fuck Out Day.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

3 February 2013

Warwick Davis b. 1970  

Many happy returns to Mr. Davis, who has appeared in the Star Wars and Harry Potter series, as well as other fantasy genre films like Willow and Labyrinth.

Prediction: The next war will be fought with intercontinental missiles armed with atomic bombs.

Predictor: General Henry "Hap" Arnold, United States Army Air Force, reported in the November 19, 1945 of LIFE magazine

Reality: Usually, I want a date on a prediction to use it on this blog, but this one was too important to pass up. My thanks to Professor Ian Abrams of Drexel University for letting me know about this. Follow this link to his webpage with full-size scans of all the pages from the LIFE magazine story.

A short recap: In late 1945, Gen. Arnold makes a report to his higher-ups in the Pentagon about his view of the future of warfare. It is, in the immortal words of Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove, toe-to-toe nuclear confrontation with the Russkies. News of this report makes it to the general public and in November of 1945, LIFE magazine turns the report into this nine page spread with beautiful and terrifying illustrations by Alexander Leydenfrost, Noel Sickles and Matt Greene, including the two page Leydenfrost spread reproduced here of exactly which cities would get nuked.

Some historical perspective on late 1945.  The bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki dropped less than six months before. The Family of Nuclear Nations has one member. Intercontinental ballistic missiles are still a few years away. At the time, LIFE's circulation was about one magazine for every ten people living in the United States. Given how many of these are going to be read by more than one person in a household - not to mention how many would be in the waiting rooms of doctors and dentists - this is most certainly the Ground Zero of the nuclear anxiety that would grip the public imagination for decades to come, especially since the source has a high placed member of the armed forces who had just successfully concluded The Biggest War Ever Fought.

I am going to re-publish this post with the link to Ian Abrams' wonderful source website every November 19 for as long as this blog exists, a day I am going to call You Have Official Permission To Freak The Fuck Out Day.

 Again, my thanks to Professor Abrams of Drexel for giving me this information.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! It's Monday and Popular Mechanics lets us know how fabulous life will be in the new suburb named Totenville... IN THE YEAR 2000!

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

2 February 2013

Brent Spiner b. 1949

Many happy returns, Commander.  All y'all know that he has a lovely singing voice as well, right?  Check him out in Sundays In The Park With George, starring Mandy Patankin and Bernadette Peters.  Great stuff.

Prediction: 1990: 82.4% of the world’s population is under 21 years old.

Predictor: Logan’s Run, the novel by William F. Nolan & George Clayton Johnson

Reality: Nothing at all like it. There are some parts of Africa so ravaged by disease that the median age is between 14-20, but in the most populous nations on earth the median is well over 35 or even 40. Way less than half the population is under 21.

Though completely off, it is a refreshing change for most futuristic worries about population, which are concerned with an aging population as more diseases are eradicated. These are closer to the truth but massively overblown.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! A reader sends a link to what has to be considered the Ground Zero of nuclear war paranoia, the creation of a not often celebrated holiday I like to call You Have Official Permission To Freak The Fuck Out Day.

Seriously, tomorrow is going to be the most interesting post in this blog's history, which now stretches back far beyond four weeks.

Okay, I got a little snarky there, it's a hard habit to break. Don't miss tomorrow's post.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!