Wednesday, July 31, 2013

31 July 2013

Harry Potter b. 1980 (the character, not Daniel Radcliffe)
J. K. Rowling b. 1965
(won the 2001 Hugo for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)
Michael Biehn b. 1956 (Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss)
Richard Griffiths b. 1947 died 28 March 2013 (Uncle Vernon in the Harry Potter films)

Michael Biehn is the odd man out in this set of birthdays, as today would sensibly be celebrated at Harry Potter Day, since it is the birthday of the author and the character and one of the actors to boot.

Harry Potter is 33! Very likely wondering what he has done with his life since leaving school.

Many happy returns to the living on this list and a fond remembrance of Mr. Griffiths.

In the year 2000!

Prediction:  ...[W]hen the phonograph has been developed, when moving pictures have been perfected, what a vast implement of amusement may be foreseen! Each of these inventions is comparatively new. We imagine... any sounds which have once existed in the presence of a recording machine can be reproduced at will... without any loss of timbre and quality...

[T]he actor's art, like the art of the executant musician, will have the endowment of permanency... By this fact not only will the pleasures of the theatre be made cheap, convenient and varied, but the art of the theatre will be vastly improved.

What [the actor] has once played can, if he choose, be constantly repeated. The executant will be paid by a royalty on each reproduction, when he is wise. Less prudent artists will sell their records for a lump sum, just as the unthrifty author sells his copyrights.

Predictor: T. Baron Russell in his 1905 book A Hundred Years Hence: The Expectations of an Optimist

Reality: Welcome to Wednesday, the first without my man-crush John Elfreth Watkins. His replacement is T. Baron Russell, who wrote several books at the the turn of the 20th Century but is nearly a ghost when it comes to biographical information. He has no page on Wikipedia, nor is this book mentioned there, though I have been able to find the entire text online.

As an intro, I put together several paragraphs and edited them. Expect to see the ellipsis in his quotes often, he is much more wordy than Watkins was. This is a very strong prediction, going from the phonograph and silent films of his day to talking pictures, improved sound fidelity, artists' royalties for film and the improvement of acting techniques. Wow, that's a strong set of assumptions. If you have any questions about the improvement of acting techniques, watch surviving talkies from before 1933 or so, like All Quiet on the Western Front or The Most Dangerous Game. These are considered classics, but the acting is ridiculously hammy. By the mid 1930s, actors had figured out how much they could tone down their gestures and facial expressions as well as deliver lines in a more natural way.

Not all Russell's predictions will be this great, but he's no slouch. I'm sure some readers will feel this change is like Curly being replaced by Shemp, but in the long run I hope it will feel more like Richard Harris being replaced by Michael Gambon.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Another regular coming to the end of his run is Arthur C. Clarke. We will hear from him tomorrow.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

30 July 2013

Christopher Nolan b. 1970 (Inception, Batman trilogy)
Laurence Fishburne b. 1961 (The Matrix, Man of Steel)
Richard Linklater b. 1960 (A Scanner Darkly)
Arnold Schwarzenegger b. 1947 (Conan, Terminator, Predator, Total Recall, etc.)

If I was going to give the Picture Slot to my favorite work on the list, I would either go with Fishburne for The Matrix or Linklater for A Scanner Darkly, my favorite film adaptation of any Philip K. Dick work so far, but even though I hated Governor Schwarzenegger - his first act was to slash the community college budget and throw me out of work for a semester - on this list he is the most important person in the genre.

Many happy returns to the first three guys on the list. Governor, if I survive you, I promise to piss on your grave.


In the Year 2000!
Prediction: Intelligent life will be found on Mars.

Predictor: Robert A. Heinlein in a series of predictions made in 1950 about the year 2000.

Reality: I remember the hope when I was a kid. We were taught there were canals on Mars. Everything else we learned about canals was that they were man made, some of them engineering feats as great as anything in the history of mankind. Naturally but incorrectly, I added two apple and two oranges and got intelligent life on Mars.

In my defense, I was probably eight at the time. Ridiculous Bob has no such excuse.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Regular readers will already know that John Elfreth Watkins no longer holds down the Wednesday slot, so tomorrow will be the first predictions from his contemporary T. Baron Russell.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, July 29, 2013

29 July 2013

Wil Wheaton b. 1972 (Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Big Bang Theory)
David Warner b. 1941 (Tron, Planet of the Apes (reboot), Star Trek: The Next Generation, Babylon 5)

No disrespect to Mr. Warner, whose career in front of the camera now spans fifty years (!), but this first 29th of July on the blog the Picture Slot goes to Mr. Wheaton, who is now a major force in nerd circles by being a proponent of being a nerd and enjoying it.

Many happy returns of the day to both gentlemen.

Movies released
Cowboys & Aliens, released 2011  

In the year 2000! (or sooner)

Predictor: The Royal Society of Medicine in the OMNI Future Almanac, published 1982

Predictions (reality): Medicines that will be available by 2000 or sooner

Aggression control achieved (Oh, no, you dint!)
Drugs available that safely heighten perceptions, alter emotional experience and generate unique hallucinations (Well, there are some drugs that do all those things, but they existed in 1982 as well. The most debatable word in the prediction is "available".)
Extension of childhood to delay adolescence (Great idea, but the historical trend has been going in the opposite direction since at least 1840.)
Guilt provoked or relieved by drugs (If these drugs exist and Dick Cheney is using one of them, make him use the other one.)
Maternal behavior turned on and off at will (What does that make this set of predictions now, zero for five?)
Memory increased or shortened (If you really need it shortened, watching TV and drinking alcohol are pretty reliable, both in the long term and the short term)

This is the last of this set from OMNI Future Almanac. Next week, Monday goes back to the other member of the tag team, the Popular Mechanics predictions.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Can there be any Heinlein predictions left that aren't ridiculous? Signs point to no, as the Magic Eight Ball used to say.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

28 July 2013

Prediction: When all guns are confiscated in 1989 and eight hundred thousand citizens are arrested, the time has come for the Organization to begin its plan to overthrow the United States government and eliminate all nonwhites from the Earth.

Predictor: William Luther Pierce, writing under the pseudonym Andrew McDonald in The Turner Diaries

Reality: Conservatives of today have a lot of the same paranoia that Pierce exhibited back in the 1980s when he wrote this steaming pile of crap, though they detest being called racist. If anything positive can be said about Pierce, at least he wasn't a whiny little hypocrite. He completely understood he was a racist.

In an earlier post about this book, the race war begins in the late 1990s. This date is from the original publication in the early 1980s. The later book adds eight years to the rest of the dates, so I assume in the later version the gun confiscation happens in 1997.

This is the first time I will be using the label "Thanks to Paul Brians". Professor Brians has compiled  an extensive list of fiction that deals with nuclear war. I am using this as a source for this blog and have found a lot of references to predictions with dates I would not have found otherwise. There is enough source material now that Sundays will now become Nuclear War Day, predictions from books about nuclear wars that should have taken place by now and thankfully haven't. There will also be several exact date predictions I'll be using that will pop up throughout the year.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

The final six predictions from The British Royal Society of Medicine about the advances to be expected before the year 2000.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

27 July 2013

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau b. 1970 (Game of Thrones)
Julian McMahon b. 1968 (Fantastic Four, Charmed)

Many happy returns to Jaime Lannister and Doctor Doom, an odd couple if there ever was one.

Release dates

Planet of the Apes (reboot) released 27 July 2001
The Guild, episode 1 of season 1 released, 2007 

Felicia Day and company started a series about a group of online game players interacting with one another in real life as well six years ago today. It has had quite an impact on the way original stories are presented to the public. Best wishes to Ms. Day, her cast and crew.

As for Tim Burton, his career is checkered at best and his Planet of the Apes is one of his many films best forgotten, in my never humble opinion.

Songs of the Future!

Cuz they say two thousand zero zero party over,
Oops out of time
So tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1999

Predictor: Prince in the lyrics of 1999, recorded 1982

Reality: A lot of people got all antsy about the change of the calendar, but we survived it pretty well. Even if the song was not prophetic, I do nominate side one of this album as the best single side of vinyl of all time. In order, the tracks are:

Little Red Corvette

Seriously, if a compilation calls itself The Best of Prince and it doesn't have all three of those songs, it's not the best of Prince.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Another exact date from the racist fantasy The Turner Diaries.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, July 26, 2013

26 July 2013

Olivia Williams b. 1968 (Dollhouse)
Kevin Spacey b. 1959 (Superman Returns)
Nana Visitor b. 1957 (Deep Space Nine, Battlestar Galactica)

In terms of overall fame, I would say Mr. Spacey is the best known actor on this list, but in terms of being recognized for genre work, the nod goes to Ms. Visitor.

And besides, the website is woefully short of women with crinkle cut fries on their noses.

Many happy returns to all concerned.


In the year 2000!

Prediction: Cops in flying suits will direct traffic in the air over Paris.

Predictor: French postcards from the turn of the 20th Century.

Reality: Um, guys... physics? Besides no flying suit being able to do this, the cop probably wouldn't want to be that close to a propeller.

Points in the favor of this picture is that the planes are close to the right shape. These postcards were produced up to 1910, so this could have been after actual heavier than air flying craft existed, but at least there is a propeller instead of flapping wings.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Songs from the future features the first song from an album that gets my vote for the best single side of vinyl of all time.

Cue the synthesizers.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

25 July 2013

D.B. Woodside b. 1969 (Buffy)

Mr. Woodside's best known role is likely on 24, but genre fans might remember him as the principal of Sunnydale High School once it was rebuilt. Many happy returns of the day to Mr. Woodside.

Prediction: In 1935 and 1937, the world was swept by influenza epidemics of unusual virulence.

Predictor: H.G. Wells in The Shape of Things to Come, published 1933

Reality: Wells' book paints a pretty dismal picture of the remaining years of the 20th Century. The eventually successful flu vaccine creation started in 1931, but didn't get put in place until World War II. No flu epidemic since 1918 compares to the slaughter of that awful year, and unless the anti-vaccination movement becomes much bigger than it is now, we are very unlikely to see a repeat of that catastrophe.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Another Friday is upon us, and that means another French postcard.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

24 July 2013

Anna Paquin b. 1982 (X-Men, True Blood)
Summer Glau b. 1981 (Angel, Dollhouse, Firefly/Serenity, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, The 4400)
Rose Byrne b. 1979 (X-Men: First Class, 28 Weeks Later)

Yet again, a whole lot of pretty to choose from, but because of my partiality to Joss Whedon (and his not subtle tip of the hat to the great Frank Frazetta in this framing), I'm going with Ms. Glau as River Tam in Serenity.

And as always, I wish many happy returns of the day to all concerned.

Prediction: There will be no wild animals except in menageries. Rats and mice will have been exterminated. The horse will have become practically extinct. A few of high breed will be kept by the rich for racing, hunting and exercise. The automobile will have driven out the horse. Cattle and sheep will have no horns. They will be unable to run faster than the fattened hog of today. A century ago the wild hog could outrun a horse. Food animals will be bred to expend practically all of their life energy in producing meat, milk, wool and other by-products. Horns, bones, muscles and lungs will have been neglected.

Predictor: John Elfreth Watkins in a 1900 issue of The Ladies' Home Journal

Reality: It's a sad day here at the blog, because this is the last of the predictions from John Elfreth Watkins. No longer will the tinted photo of 1900's version of The Most Interesting Man in the World be looking out at us every Wednesday morning. I do have his replacement lined up, but quite honestly, though T. Baron Russell gets some stuff right, it just won't be the same. As my tribute to him, I have included the label Never To Be Forgotten. When I select the Predictions of the Year and present them between Christmas and New Year's, I'm sure we'll see him again.

And, oh yeah, the reality check. We still have plenty of wild animals and it's a good thing too. Cattle and sheep still have horns. The lives of food animals can be pretty miserable, but this prediction is way, way off. Sorry to see Mr. Watkins leave the field with such a disappointing result.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

We hear from H.G. Wells again from The Shape of Things to Come.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE! 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

23 July 2013

Daniel Radcliffe b. 1989 (Harry Potter)
Charisma Carpenter b. 1970 (Angel, Buffy)
Woody Harrelson b. 1961 (The Hunger Games, Zombieland, A Scanner Darkly)

A nice selection of birthdays today. Charisma Carpenter certainly qualifies for the Cute Girl = Picture Slot criterion, but I decided instead to have a picture of young Daniel instead, here dressed up for his role in the Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying instead of his more famous role on film. I'm always happy when an actor with a career defining role can get a chance to do something else.

Many happy returns of the day to all.

Prediction: 7/20/1996: First manned landing on Mars (Harry Bedrosian, Christopher Luden, Abe Cooper) finds the remains of a Martian.

Predictor: The Eye of the Octopus, Larry Niven, published 1966

Reality: As little regard as I have for Niven, the small benefit of the doubt I will give him is that this was written in the late 1960s, the most optimistic era for the general concept of space travel before or since. In 1966, we hadn't reached the moon yet but it was on a real life "to do"list and it got done. In the minds of sci-fi folk, a moon base and then further exploration were the obvious and inevitable next steps, but the reality of budgets and lack of profitability got in the way.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

  Our time is finite, all things must pass and several other completely true cliches cannot change the sad fact we face tomorrow.

The last of the predictions of John Elfreth Watkins.
Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, July 22, 2013

22 July 2013

Rhys Ifans b. 1967 (The Amazing Spider-Man, Harry Potter)
John Leguizamo b. 1964 (Ice Age)
Willem Dafoe b. 1955 (Spider-Man, John Carter)
Danny Glover b. 1946  (2012)
Terence Stamp b. 1938 (Superman)
Louise Fletcher b. 1934 (Deep Space Nine)

These actors all have a lot of non-genre in their careers and are arguably better known for it, but Stamp as General Zod is iconic enough to get the picture slot this year.

Many happy returns to them all.

Predictor: The British Royal Society of Medicine, published in OMNI Future Almanac in 1982

Predictions (reality): Medical treatments that will be available in the 1990s

1. Artificial womb in use (Wikipedia still calls it theoretical.)

2. Contraceptives now safe, convenient and inexpensive (Well, one political party in the U.S. is doing all it can to remove "convenient" from the list.)

3. Permanent stimulator of intelligence found (Umm, dude... what?)

4. Safe, short-acting intoxicant available to replace to replace alcohol (Does it taste as good as red wine, India pale ale or a nice rum? Then screw it.)

5. Synthetic blood in use (Yeah, and we use it to feed vampires. Okay, just kidding. Wired says it's still in the future.)

6. Vaccine ends tooth decay (Yeah, but the dental industry is keeping it away from us, man. I know because I'm taking the permanent stimulator of intelligence.)

I would like to make clear that even with the slanderous rumor from commenter Zombie Rotten McDonald and the evidence from this update, the author of this blog does not have a Weed Card.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Larry Niven gives an exact date for an exact prediction that is exactly 100% wrong.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

21 July 2013

Rory Culkin b. 1989 (Signs)
Lana Wachowski b. 1965 (The Matrix, Cloud Atlas)
Robin Williams b. 1951 (Night at the Museum, Mork and Mindy)

Ms. Wachowski gets the Picture Slot because her career is more associated with genre films than are the careers of the two actors.

Many happy returns to all.


Prediction: "Within twenty years, more than half the population of the United States will be living in automobile trailers!"

Predictor: Statistician Roger W. Babson in 1935, published in the pages of Popular Mechanics

Reality: Yeah, half the country were hobos in 1955. Little known fact.

Okay, I'm kidding, of course. Even counting the trailer parks that aren't truly mobile at the drop of a hat, I couldn't find any estimates that were over 10% of the population.

This is not the first prediction from Babson that was found in Popular Mechanics that has been published here. His prediction from 1928 was much more accurate about life in 1978 than this one from 1935 resembled 1955.

And here's a link to the Popular Mechanics book if you'd like to get a copy for your own bad self. It's a lot of fun to thumb through.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

The third of four posts from OMNI Future Almanac on the future of medicine we can expect before the year 2000.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

20 July 2013

Roberto Orci b. 1973 (writer, Xena, Star Trek (reboot))
Josh Holloway b. 1969 (Lost)
Carlos Saldanha b. 1968 (co-director Ice Age)
Reed Diamond b. 1967 (Dollhouse)

In a situation like this, I often go with the Whedonverse actor in the picture slot, but even though I gave up on Lost well before the ending that disappointed many, there's no denying how popular it was during much of its run.

Movies released
The Dark Knight Rises released 2012

There was a time not so long ago that I saw nearly every big budget sci-fi and comic book movie that came out, but a few bad experiences cured me of this habit. For me, The Dark Knight was one of those bad experiences, so I didn't see The Dark Knight Rises.

Songs of the Future!

Prediction: The public discovers the world will end in 1977, five years in the future

Predictor: David Bowie in the song Five Years from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, released in 1972

Reality: The world didn't end, of course, but music fans will likely have noticed that I use the label "We've got ____ years/And that's all we've got" for all apocalypses with specific dates on them, which is the hook from Five Years.

Five Years is song one on side one on Ziggy and it's one of the best opening songs on an album of all time as far as I'm concerned. More than that, I once remember playing the album for a friend who asked if it was a greatest hits compilation.  For those of us who were listening to the radio in 1972 (a mere 41 years ago) the songs are that familiar and that good.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Yet another bold prediction with a cool illustration from Popular Mechanics.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE! 

Friday, July 19, 2013

19 July 2013

Campbell Scott b. 1961 (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Benedict Cumberbatch b. 1976 (Star Trek Into Darkness)

No cute girls on the list of birthdays this year, so it only fair that the Picture Slot goes to Mr C. as a little present "for the ladies" as the dated cliche goes.

Many happy returns to both gentlemen.

Prediction: "... I expect robots in Japanese nursing homes by 2020, and in widespread use by 2025."

Predictor: Jaron Lanier in Who Owns the Future?, published 2013

Reality: I've taken this book out from the library and so far I'm enjoying reading it. It has very few predictions with dates on them. Instead, most of the advances in technology he posits are for "this century", which is too vague and too far in the future to be useful by this blog's criteria. Still, it does include a few dates and anything before 2020 is certainly fair game here, and I'll stretch things to 2025 if I think they are interesting enough.

For those unaware of the name, Mr. Lanier has been in the computer industry for a very long time and to this day is often involved in leading edge projects. He is given credit for popularizing the phrase "virtual reality" back in the 1980s. His more recent work includes advising on the design the virtual world game/product Second Life and consulting on the look of gadgets in the Steven Speilberg film Minority Report.

As for whether this his prediction about robots will actually take place, it's still anybody's guess. He specified Japan because "trustworthy fictional robots have been a Japanese cultural export for decades."

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!
Saturday is song day and one we get our first lyrics from David Bowie, who wrote a lot of songs about the future.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

18 July 2013

Syd Mead b. 1933

Most other great science fiction illustrators are known best for the work they did in the science fiction magazines. While Mead did do some book illustrations, some of his best work is in catalogs from companies like U.S. Steel and Sony, depicting a smooth and shiny future. Regular readers may recall the illustration I nicked from the 1988 Los Angeles Times Magazine I recapped titled L.A. 2013.

In the late 1970s, he started doing posters and design work in movies like the first Star Trek, Blade Runner and Tron. More recent films with his signature look include Johnny Mnemonic and Mission: Impossible III.

Many happy returns to a man who did as much as anyone to give the future a look of hope and glamor.

Movies released
The Dark Knight released, 2008
Jurassic Park III released , 2001  

Prediction: In 2010, the nursing facilities in Disneyville in Florida will use nurses that are holograms.

Predictor: Arthur C. Clarke in Odyssey Two, published 1982

Reality: In Clarke's story, the holograms are fairly realistic and one cantankerous old female patient is proud she can tell the difference and plays tricks on the mechanical helpmates. Holographic technology looked like it was going to get cool back about thirty to forty years ago, but the present day uses are on a much more modest scale.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

On the subject of future health care, we have a prediction about robotic health care providers from Jaron Lanier's new book Who Owns the Future?
Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

17 July 2013

Tim Rose b. 1956 (voice of General Ackbar and Howard the Duck)
J. Michael Straczynski b. 1954 (writer Babylon 5, Thor)
Donald Sutherland b. 1935 (The Hunger Games, Invasion of the Body Snatchers)

I just don't get enough chances to remind people of Howard the Duck, a pretty good comic book that was turned into a truly awful movie. Mr. Straczynski is still getting paid to write, good for him. Mr. Sutherland gets the picture slot because I decided it's Awesome Grey Facial Hair day.

Prediction: To England in Two Days. Fast electric ships, crossing the ocean at more than a mile a minute, will go from New York to Liverpool in two days. The bodies of these ships will be built above the waves. They will be supported upon runners, somewhat like those of the sleigh. These runners will be very buoyant. Upon their under sides will be apertures expelling jets of air. In this way a film of air will be kept between them and the water’s surface. This film, together with the small surface of the runners, will reduce friction against the waves to the smallest possible degree. Propellers turned by electricity will screw themselves through both the water beneath and the air above. Ships with cabins artificially cooled will be entirely fireproof. In storm they will dive below the water and there await fair weather.

Predictor: John Elfreth Watkins in a 1900 issue of The Ladies' Home Journal

Reality: It's a big swing and a miss for my man crush today. Cunard does still have ships going between London and New York if you have seven days you want to fritter away in idleness.

Ah, frittering. Oh, idleness. Such luxuries. 

He saw airships being used in war and that's about it, which is not that surprising when you realize he is making his predictions before the Wright brothers got their contraption airborne. In his favor, a combination catamaran/hovercraft/submarine would be pretty damned cool.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Arthur C. Clarke stays earthbound for this prediction, foreseeing exciting advances in health care.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

16 July 2013


Jerry Doyle b. 1956

Mr. Doyle has gone from actor to right/libertarian talk show host, probably not such a bad idea given how dodgy a career as a character actor can be. The blog wishes him many happy returns.

Movies released
Inception released, 2010
I, Robot released 16 July 2004

In the Year 2000!

Prediction: A thousand miles an hour at a cent a mile will be commonplace; short hauls will be made in evacuated subways at extreme speed.

Predictor: Robert A. Heinlein in a 1950 list of predictions

Reality: Wow, I never knew the 16th of July was National Right Wing Bald Guy day. I guess I should read the memos more often.

This prediction comes in three parts.

1. A thousand miles an hour will be commonplace. Strike one. Supersonic travel is certainly possible but very rare indeed.

2. Traveling at a penny a mile. Okay, ignoring missing the speed of travel, a penny a mile is $1 for 100 miles, which would say cross country trips should be about $30. Not even close. In 1965, he amended this one to say a 1950 penny because he didn't realize how much inflation would be. The CPI of 2000 divided by the CPI of 1950 is about 7.2, so that would bring the price up to $216 one way from coast to coast. That's closer, but Southwest has it dirt cheap at $316 and shorter trips like San Francisco to Los Angeles have an even worse miss by percentage. It should be $27 by Heinlein's guess, actually $79 on Southwest's Wanna Get Away price. I'll call this a foul tip for strike two.

3. Short hauls will be made in evacuated subways at extreme speed. If Ridiculous Bob had added "in Japan and parts of Europe", he'd get some points, but I'm going to call this a swing and a miss for strike three.

If instead he had written "In the 21st Century, high speed rail will be seen as an evil liberal plot", that would have been a tape measure home run. It's ironic that high speed trains were so beloved by both Heinlein and Ayn Rand and are now so despised by people who share those writers' world view.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

To be fair to Heinlein, tomorrow I'll trot out a prediction about transportation in the year 2000 from my man crush John Elfreth Watkins that is just as far off.
Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, July 15, 2013

15 July 2013

Terry O’Quinn b. 1952 (Lost, Star Trek, The X-Files, Falling Skies)

While he has done other work, sci-fi TV shows have been Mr. O'Quinns bread and butter for about three decades now. Best wishes to him on his birthday.

Movies released
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince released, 2009
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 released, 2011

Predictor: The British Royal Society of Medicine in the OMNI Future Almanac, published 1982

Prediction (reality): Drug advances available by 1990

Allergy relief perfected (not quite, but close)
Autoimmune illnesses conquered (no)
Cancer cure available (no)
Depression relief reliable (debatable)
Hypertension therapy effective (better than it used to be)
Mental illness successfully treatable (no, about 35% of the public are still voting Republican)

The reality checks here are more about what is available now in 2013 more than making sure the checklist was accurate in 1900. In any event, autoimmune illness and cancer are much tougher problems to solve that we had hoped. Here's hoping politicians will still think basic research is worth paying for.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Robert A. Heinlein looks at the future of transportation here on Earth... and get it almost completely wrong.


Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

14 July 2013

Matthew Fox b. 1966 (Lost, World War Z, Speed Racer)
Jane Espenson b. 1964 (writer, Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Jackie Earle Haley b. 1961 (Watchmen, A Nightmare on Elm Street)

Fox is the best known of the people listed, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Haley, a child actor whose career included a thirteen year hiatus.

He also played a creepy right-wing vigilante who is sent to prison for murder. For some reason, that story line resonates with me today.

Many happy returns to all.
Movies released
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice released, 2010
I Am Legend released, 2007

Prediction: By 1972, we will have installed radio and visual telescopes on the Moon.

Predictor: Popular Mechanics, 1967

Reality: 1967 was close to the height of the excitement for space exploration. As reasons go for wanting permanent bases on the Moon, this idea is as good as any and better than most. Still, the cost was prohibitive and we didn't do it.

Never to be Forgotten

Cory Monteith died yesterday, his body found in a hotel in Vancouver. He was 31 years old. His best known role by far is Finn Hudson on Glee, but a lot of his earlier career was in small roles on sci-fi TV shows like Stargate, Supernatural, Smallvile and Flash Gordon. It's very likely he will not be remembered for these parts, but his career is a textbook example of the people who plug along, taking lots of jobs and finally catching a huge break. In this day and age, a lot of those roles are going to be in sci-fi and fantasy.

I didn't follow Glee, but I knew who Mr. Monteith was. Reading his obituaries online, several mentioned that he had been treated for drug addiction when he was 19, which pre-dates any work on film, and he did check into rehab earlier this year.

I went to bed last night thinking about one kind of unfairness this world bestows on us, the stark reminder that the law does not promise justice. This morning, a very different kind of unfairness was the first news story of the day.

Best wishes to the family, friends and fans of Cory Monteith. May he never be forgotten.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

More from OMNI Future Almanac on the future of medicine we can expect before the year 2000.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

13 July 2013

Fran Kranz b. 1981 (Dollhouse)
Gil Birmingham b. 1953 (Twilight)
Cheech Marin b. 1946 (Spy Kids)
Harrison Ford b. 1942 (Star Wars)
Sir Patrick Stewart b. 1940 (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

Today presents a difficult decision. Harrison Ford or Sir Patrick Stewart? Star Wars or Star Trek?

Kingdoms have swayed in the balance of simpler decisions.

But this year, I found out a few things about Sir Patrick that give him the nod in the first 13th of July this blog will celebrate.

He does charitable work for two causes, ending domestic violence and helping people with post traumatic stress disorder. Here's a video from a comic convention where he talks to the crowd about why.

Sir Patrick is a wonderful mensch as well as an A-Number-1 Tip-Top Actor. Many happy returns to everyone on the list.

(Thanks to Laura Eakins for pointing out an earlier error on my part. My data base erroneously had Mr. Ford's birthday on 14 July.)

Songs of the Future!

For the next few Saturdays, this blog will celebrate popular songs that predicted future events, with dates included that have already passed or will happen soon. With this last criterion, a song like In the Year 2525 is not going to be included.

Song and songwriter: Marathon by Jacques Brel, 1968, English lyrics by Mort Shuman and Eric Blau

And the Seventies flash and the Eighties bang
And the Nineties whimper and the century hangs
Robots working in the cotton fields
Vacations on Venus just a tourist deal
Fornication on tape, instant happiness...

Reality: The predictions about the decades are vague, but flash, bang and whimper sound like a war and its aftermath. This is written at a time of great nuclear anxiety, but as we know, there wasn't a big nuclear war and with any luck there won't be one.

So let's go with the specific predictions.

Robots working in the cotton fields: Big machines driven by humans, yes. Robots, no.
Vacations on Venus: No. Way too hot and a poisonous atmosphere.
Fornication on tape: Video taped porn? Yeah, absolutely.
Instant happiness: There are mood-altering drugs that could be called "instant happiness", but they don't work in all cases.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

The next few Mondays will be predictions from OMNI Future Almanac, so I'll be handing Sunday chores over to Popular Mechanics.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, July 12, 2013

12 July 2013

Michelle Rodriguez b. 1978 (Lost, Avatar, Battle Los Angeles)
Topher Grace b. 1978 (Spider-Man 3, Predators)
Byung-hun Lee b. 1970 (G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra)

I always like an exact same birthday pair. Many happy returns to all three.

Movies released
The Cabin in the Woods released, 2012  

In the Year 2000!

Prediction: Police will apprehend villains with the help of x-ray technology

Predictor: postcards released by Hildebrands German Chocolate in 1900

Reality: Surveillance cameras make sense, Surveillance x-ray machines not so much. I do love that the clothing of 2000 will be exactly like the clothing of 1900 in this series, which sad to say like John Elfreth Watkins will be coming to an end soon.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Saturday is going to get a  new regular feature, at least for a month or two. Predictions from songs, the first from Jacques Brel, with help from Eric Blau and Mort Shuman.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

11 July 2013

Rachael Taylor b. 1984 (Transformers, The Darkest Hour)
Greg Mottola b. 1964 (director, Paul)
Sela Ward b. 1956 (The Day After Tomorrow)
Stephen Lang b. 1952 (Avatar)

No one on the list is best known for their work in genre films and they all have many credits. Ms. Taylor easily qualifies for the Pretty Girl = Picture Slot criterion, but I chose Ms. Ward who is much closer to my age to mellow out the Dirty Old Man vibe a little.

Many happy returns to all our birthday boys and girls.

Movies released
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix released, 2007
Journey to the Center of the Earth released, 2008

Prediction: The mother of all thought-cities, the World Encyclopedia Establishment, is founded in 2012, during the era of the Air Dictatorship 2010-2030.

Predictor: H.G. Wells, Shape of Things to Come

Reality: A city whose main trade is the gathering and storing of knowledge is an interesting idea. In reality, it's kinda sorta what college towns are, but if I were to describe anything that actually existed in 2012 as a "thought-city", it would probably be the Internet.

Wells never said it had to be a deep thought-city exactly. A dirty thought-city should also qualify.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

It's German chocolate postcard time again. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

10 July 2013

Chiwetel Ejiofor b. 1977 (Serenity)
Peter Serafinowicz b. 1972 (Star Wars, Shaun of the Dead)
Fiona Shaw b. 1958 (Harry Potter)
Ron Glass b. 1945 (Firefly, Serenity)
Nikola Tesla b. 1856 died 7 January 1943

Nice selection of birthdays. I am breaking the Cute Girl = Picture Slot because Ron Glass as Shepherd Book has facial hair almost as cool as Mr. Wednesday on this blog, John Elfreth Watkins.

Many happy returns of the day to every one but Tesla, who died 70 years ago.

In the year 2000!

Prediction: Few drugs will be swallowed or taken into the stomach unless needed for the direct treatment of that organ itself. Drugs needed by the lungs, for instance, will be applied directly to those organs through the skin and flesh. They will be carried with the electric current applied without pain to the outside skin of the body. Microscopes will lay bare the vital organs, through the living flesh, of men and animals. The living body will to all medical purposes be transparent. Not only will it be possible for a physician to actually see a living, throbbing heart inside the chest, but he will be able to magnify and photograph any part of it. This work will be done with rays of invisible light.

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

Reality: Watkins opens with his weakest card, the direct application of medicine to the flesh near the organ to be treated. Most medicine is either swallowed or injected today, methods similar to 1900. He then goes big on microscopes and x-rays and gets it completely right. Once again, he isn't a magical thinker, but instead a well-read person extrapolating advances from cool stuff already in existence. Wilhelm Röntgen published the x-ray picture of his hand wearing a ring in 1896, and a learned fellow working at the Smithsonian like Watkins would certainly know about this by 1900.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

It's H.G. Wells again, with an exciting prediction for the year 2012.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

9 July 2013

Georgie Henley b. 1995 (Narnia)
Linda Park b. 1978 (Enterprise)
Jimmy Smits b. 1955 (Star Wars)

Many happy returns to today's birthday boys and girls.

Movies released 
Predators released, 2010
Despicable Me released, 2010

Prediction: 2007: The moon is colonized when Jacob Hovestraydt founds Hovestraydt City

Predictor: Patchwork Girl by Larry Niven, published 1986

Reality: We all know the first moon colony will be called Gingrichistan.

Here's a fun fact. Heinlein reprints, Niven novels and the science fiction of Newt Gingrich are all published by Baen Books.

Here's a second fun fact. References to Newt Gingrich's alternate history book have been scrubbed from the Baen website.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

John Elfreth Watkins predicts the future of medicine... in the year 2000!
Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, July 8, 2013

8 July 2013

Billy Crudup b. 1968 (Watchmen)
Kevin Bacon b. 1958 (X-Men: First Class)
Keith Carradine b. 1949 (Dollhouse, Star Trek: Enterprise)
Jeffrey Tambor b. 1944 (Hellboy)

Four good actors are celebrating birthdays today, all with long successful careers that have very few roles in genre films or TV.

Many happy returns to them all.

Movies released

Fantastic Four released 8 July 2005

I was a big fan of FF when I was a kid, but the movies have been a huge disappointment.

Predictor: British Royal Society of Medicine (BRSM) in OMNI Future Almanac, published 1982

Prediction (reality): These medical advances will be available by 1990.

New generations of antibacterials perfected (Um, fellas? The process of evolution would like to have a word with you on the definition of "perfected".)

Dental caries conquered (not yet)

Male contraceptives developed (What's wrong with the stuff the womenfolk use? Unless it's Viagra, the menfolk are wary of drugs messing with the basic operation of the equipment.)

Asthma controlled (Inhalers have been around since 1955, the drugs have improved but the treatment is just about the same as before)

Bacterial and viral illnesses fall to new drugs (True enough, but some mutate into antibiotic resistant strains)

Anxiety and tension control achieved (There have been treatments since benzodiazepine was invented in 1955, but some people still have very severe panic attacks.)


This is one of the great things about the OMNI Future Almanac. I can open it up, flip a few pages and find a gold mine of predictions with dates. There are twenty four predictions from the BRSM that would be achieved before the end of the 20th Century, so I'm going to split them into four sections and dole them out over the next few weeks.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Larry Niven will make a prediction about space exploration and it will be completely wrong.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

7 July 2013

Robia LaMorte b. 1970 (Buffy)
Akiva Goldsman b. 1962 (writer I, Robot, I Am Legend, several Batman movies)
Jon Pertwee (3rd Doctor) b. 1919 died 20 May 1996
Robert A. Heinlein b 1907 died 5/8/1988
(won 1956 Hugo for Double Star)
(won 1960 Hugo for Starship Troopers)
(won 1962 Hugo for Stranger In A Strange Land)
(won 1967 Hugo for The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress)

Regular readers will know that I beat up the corpse of Heinlein on a regular basis, but even I know that he is incredibly important in the genre. He's one of the big guns from the era when most sci-fi was on the page instead of on the screen and many of his books have made the transition from book to movie. Still, Picture Slot = Pretty Girl is a solid system, and it's not like I never post a picture of old Bob, whether Sensible or Ridiculous.

Besides her role as Jenny Calendar on Buffy, Ms. LaMorte's next best known gig was as the dancer named Pearl from Prince's videos and tour for Diamonds and Pearls.

Fun facts to know and tell. I'm chock full of them.

Prediction: In the 2010 United States census, there will be five million more women than men.

Predictor: James Blish from the novel They Shall Have Stars, published 1956

Reality: He's absolutely money, as the phrase from Swingers goes. It was between 5.1 and 5.2 million in the 2010 census, so rounded to the nearest million, he's perfect.

He gets the number right, but his reason for bringing it up is wrong. One of the heroes of the book works on Jupiter. Spending time back on Earth in 2013 and in the U.S., he meets a woman who he doesn't think is quite pretty or clever or special enough to interest an important manly man such as himself, and he considers her "one of the five million surplus women of the 2010 census".

Leaving the chauvinism aside for the moment, today there aren't any "surplus women" in the pool of bachelors and bachelorettes. Between 20 and 30, men outnumber women. This is even the case is we look at the numbers between 20 to 40 and if we extend the eligible pool from 20 to 50, then the gender mix is almost exactly even.

The "surplus woman" situation of today is almost entirely about the numbers for the population 50 and older. Women live longer, or to put it more harshly, men die younger.

It's possible to have a "surplus woman" situation in the younger demographic, but it was actually worse when Blish was a young man than it is today. Big wars are the main cause for situations like this, and World War II is as big a war as humans have seen so far. The United States didn't lose anywhere near the percentage of men that the other major combatants did, but it was still over 400,000, almost all men between the ages of 20 to 40. Blish worked as a technician during WW II and married in 1947, so he was an eligible bachelor during one of America's largest "surplus women" situations. (The era after the Civil War was much more pronounced. More people died and the total population was much smaller.)

Jeez, that was long winded. Must be the last day of a four day weekend or something.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

OMNI Future Almanac gets another shot. They aren't perfect, but they are specific, I'll give them that.
Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!