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February 14, 2010

What future we were making
Posted by Avram Grumer at 01:34 AM *

Over at Michael Bérubé’s joint, people are discussing which science fiction movie most plausibly depicts what out lives are going to be like over the next few decades.

Rather than try to predict the future, I’m going to predict the present and recent past! I’ve believed for several years now that the SF movie that most accurately predicted the first decade of the 21st century (even though it’s set in the 22nd) is Woody Allen’s 1973 film, Sleeper. Let’s check off some bullet points:

  • Steak considered a healthy food? Check!
  • Robot dogs? Check!
  • Orgasmotron? Check!
  • Police state obsessed with the threat of terrorists? Check!
  • Cloning? Check!
  • Funky futuristic-looking McDonalds? Check!
  • Giant strawberries? Check!
  • A political class that can’t remember as far back as the Nixon administration? Check! Check! Check!
Comments on What future we were making:
#1 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 02:04 AM:

Title explanation, because otherwise I’ll forget within six months:
“‘We were making the future,’ he said, ‘and hardly any of us troubled to think what future we were making. And here it is!’”
— HG Wells, When the Sleeper Wakes, upon which Allen’s Sleeper was very loosely based.

#2 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 02:14 AM:

See also Network and The Space Merchants.

#3 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 02:17 AM:

I was just watching "back to the future ", and Doc was
planning to go forward 25 years from 1985.
Max Headroom was predictive of media behaviour. The execs watching the online rankings to fond the next star...

#4 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 02:19 AM:

Mostly, I'm hoping that the science fiction novel we're living in isn't Parable of the Sower.

#5 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 02:24 AM:

I need to read The Space Merchants.

Network's not SF, but man. We just watched it for the first time last year, and holy crap, how prophetic.

#6 ::: VCarlson ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 02:24 AM:

But what I remember most vividly about that film was "Didn't they know about hot fudge?"

I'm still waiting for that one.

#7 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 02:33 AM:

VCarlson @6, is this close enough?

#8 ::: VCarlson ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 02:46 AM:

Avram @7: Y'know, that occurred to me while I was dosing my cat. It's pretty darn close, though in my case, one of the enjoyments of hot fudge is its mouth feel.

#9 ::: Samuel Bierwagen ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 03:17 AM:

@2:

Objection! The Space Merchants is from 1952, and is about as predictive as spit. Typical 50s era predictions of rampant overpopulation and pollution. The population bomb remains unexploded, and industrial pollution was eliminated.

Well, some of it. Kinda.

#10 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 04:04 AM:

Samuel Bierwagen @ 9: The population bomb remains unexploded, and industrial pollution was eliminated.

Someone living in Mexico City might disagree with that.

But I was thinking more of the book's depiction of global hypercapitalism, the branding of culture, advertising museums, etc., which were much more unusual and fairly spot-on.

#11 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 04:08 AM:

Also, before Network, there was A Face In The Crowd.

#12 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 04:44 AM:

I once found a giant strawberry in a local grocery store. It had to be 8 1/2 centimeters long, and plump to match. And it was delicious.
It's been more than 30 years since I saw Sleeper, but I just wish someone would invent that shiny ball that people pass around and it makes them giggle when they hold it and while they are all doing that, I can make a beeline for the food...

#13 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 04:49 AM:

Note to self: must see Sleeper one of these days.

#14 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 09:24 AM:

One big inaccuracy... Sleeper assumed that Tricky Dick would do something so awful that every American would erase prety much all traces of his existence. That being said, except for that scene, and for some of the skits in Everything You've Wanted to Know About Sex, I've never found him funny.

#15 ::: Wesley Osam ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 09:39 AM:

I've often thought, over the last ten years, that the world was getting far too much like Brazil.

#16 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 10:07 AM:

I'm pretty sure you can get a phone that will transmit and receive live video, too.

#17 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 10:26 AM:

Like Calvin, I want to know where the rocket boots are.

#18 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 10:33 AM:

Wesley Osam @ 15.... We're missing Robert de Niro as a freedom fighter.

#19 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 10:39 AM:

Steak considered a healthy food?

This reminds me of 1954's non-SF movie Athena. Jane Powell plays the daughter of a family obsessed with healthy nutrition and plenty of exercise. She falls in love with a promising young senator, who may one day become President. His associates question the advisability of marrying a woman with such an eccentric background, derisively suggesting that, with such a First Lady, people at banquets would be served yogurt.

#20 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 10:43 AM:

@18: so were they, unfortunately...

#21 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 12:57 PM:

Serge @14: Richard Nixon appears in Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex?

#22 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 01:25 PM:

My second favorite scene in a Woody Allen movie (I've stood in a LOT of movie lines with pretentious people so you can guess the first) is about 30 seconds in Broadway Danny Rose. His character, the lead, is a second class agent for third class acts who knows that if he ever has a hit act they're going to immediately get a new agent. The scene is at a Thanksgiving dinner he's done for his eight or nine clients who are about as energetic and argumentative as new puppies but not as well behaved. It clearly conveys that he's inept when it comes to food, and almost as inept a host as they are as performers, but he's promised to take care of them and he's not going to leave them stuck staring at the walls of a cheap actor's hotel all by themselves at Thanksgiving even if it hosting Thanksgiving kills him. It's a tiny little scene, but boy, does it work!

And as a history major I think that Zelig is one of the funniest films ever made (*maybe* tied with Forgotten Silver, where Harvey Weinstein makes a deadpan joke that I thought would stop me from ever breathing again), but that may be my Gary Larson "Ooh, a Goldfish!" tendencies coming out.

#23 ::: Matthew Daly ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 01:36 PM:

Over time, I find myself increasingly agitated that all the conditions are right for The Running Man and yet they don't make the damned show already. Come on guys, Richard Dawson isn't going to live forever!

#24 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 01:49 PM:

NelC @ 21... Well, he was called Tricky Dick, but mercifully we were spared his appearance in that other movie.

#25 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 02:27 PM:

Serge @ 24 ...
Speaking of "tricky dick", I once stumbled into watching Orgasmo by channel flipping until my attention was caught. It took me quite a while (having stumbled into the middle of it) to realize that I was watching an intentionally humourous spoof, rather than a spectacularly bad movie.

#26 ::: Neil in Chicago ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 03:46 PM:

Serge @ 14 — try What's Up Tiger Lily? and What's New Pussycat?. If neither does anything for you, then, ok, give up on him.

#27 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 04:43 PM:

Serge @ 14: Pretty much what most people remember about Nixon is 1) China and 2) impeachment. (We don't count. We have either memory or education.) So that bit is nearly true.

#28 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 06:07 PM:

Neil in Chicago @ 26... Alas, those two definitely didn't do it, no. Watching John Carradine as a mad scientist, on the other hand...

#29 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 06:10 PM:

xeger @ 25...

You stumbled into the middle of it?
("Serge, get your mind out of the gutter!")

#30 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 06:12 PM:

Matt @ #4 -- Indeed, I've had that same thought, especially reading news about the dysfunctional government and collapsing state university system in California. And that other countries are moving forward with big technology and infrastructure while we . . . do what we do.

#31 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 06:12 PM:

D Potter @ 27... On the other hand, Dick did get rehabilitated in the public eye in the 1990s. And Dubya made him look good.

#32 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 08:33 PM:

Serge #31: Hmph -- Nixon got rehabilitated first because his henchmen got back into the halls of power, and then because he died....

#33 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 08:39 PM:

Serge @31: I was never a Nixon fan, but I joke that he was the most liberal president we've had in the past 40 years.

I mean, the EPA, opening relations with China. The price freeze alone would make the current set of Republicans heads explode with outrage from the 'government interference with the sacred operation of the free market'.

#34 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 08:51 PM:

Serge @14, well, Nixon wasn't exactly known for comedy.

#35 ::: Rick York ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 08:58 PM:

I'm 65 and prior to 9/11/01, the most important national events for me were the assassination of JFK and the Nixon's resignation.

At no time in 1974 could I have imagined that, as an old line progressive, I would look back on the Nixon days with nostalgia.

The worm always turns.

#36 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 09:03 PM:

"There is an old Vulcan proverb: only Nixon could go to China."
- Spock

As for Nixon and comedy... There was 1968's What's So Bad About Feeling Good? All right, Dom DeLuise's character of the President trying to save New Yorkers from being happy was named J.Gardner Monroe, but he was definitely Dick.

#37 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 09:11 PM:

Rick York @ 35... Weird, eh? Reading or remembering the SF of that era, for example Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar, which is set in 2010 by the way, what struck me is one assumption. If we weren't going to choke on our own refuse, Progress would happen in a continuous manner. Did SF consider that the pendulum would swing back to Conservatism, except in satirical pieces?

#38 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 10:15 PM:

What gives me hope in these dark times is the certainty that, someday, Rush Limbaugh will die, and hoping this involves being found naked and OD'd on oxycontin by the morning crew of a petting zoo.

But then I think of the poor animals.

#39 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 10:31 PM:

I was recently reading Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House (1959) for the first time; in the second half of the book, a professor's wife is introduced as a credulous nutball with the culminating detail of being delayed for a week because of taking yoga lessons.

#40 ::: Matthew Ernest ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 10:50 PM:

"We're missing Robert de Niro as a freedom fighter."

We did get a plumber portrayed as a patriot.

#41 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 11:49 PM:

Stephan, the rest of my family is asleep. My new job is with the federal government which means tomorrow is a holiday so I'm still up. I about fell out of my chair trying not to laugh too loud....

and my fuzzy kitty is looking at me as if I've lost my mind...

#42 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 11:59 PM:

Matthew Ernest #40: "We're missing Robert de Niro as a freedom fighter." We did get a plumber portrayed as a patriot.

Check!

#43 ::: Arthur D. ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 12:25 AM:

I always liked Sleeper, if only for it's wacky view of the future. One thing always bugged me about the DVD version though. Can anyone tell me if the original version had a McDonald's joke in it?

#44 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 02:16 AM:

@38: Well, we already have Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck to replace Rush, so what good would it do for him to die?

But how about comparing American social conservatives to Iran for our future?

Women in the home: check
Gays out of sight: check
Election fraud: check
Using external threats to maintain power: check
Corruption at the highest levels: check
Replacing science with God in schools: check

#45 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 03:21 AM:

Arthur D @43, I've never seen the DVD version, and I remember a McDonalds joke in the movie.

Paul @44, I've actually seen some commentary (I forget where, or I'd link to it) claiming that Ahmadinejad is, for Iranians, very like GW Bush was for us -- something of a rural bumpkin, not well-liked in the big cities, lots of support in the military. I don't know enough about him or Iranian politics and culture to know if that's true.

#46 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 10:46 AM:

Paul #44:

How does your checklist differ from the US in the 1920s or 1950s?

#47 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 10:52 AM:

anyone else here feel a mite skeptical about the orgasmotron link?

i mean--maybe dr. stuart meloy *has* invented a little gizmo that has these effects. but i'd expect to hear more about it. i'd also expect there to be an fda device trial in the works.

here's my only confident prediction: if it works, the price will not stay at $12,000.00 for very long. there's almost nothing cheaper in the world right now than small digital electronic devices ('cept maybe human life), and it will take no more than two weeks for one of meloy's to be sent to china and turned into a million clones selling for $4.95.

it will be a fun story to watch--either this will shake things up a fair bit, or the story will turn out to fall short of the hype in various ways.

#48 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 10:58 AM:

kid bitzer @ 47... I like your choice of words.

#49 ::: Nina ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 11:03 AM:

Dark chocolate is so a health food. Just full of antioxidants. And phenylwhatever. And milk chocolate has milk, you know.

#50 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 11:16 AM:

#43:
Yes. There was a sign that said

McDonalds
Over 100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 served.

#51 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 11:20 AM:

#44:
How many checks before checkmate?

#52 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 11:30 AM:

serge @48...well, it's a family blog, y'know, so i tried to be discreet.

i guess i could have said: if people think this device will constitute an exogenous erogenous appendage, then they've got another thing coming.

#53 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 01:13 PM:

kid bitzer @ 47: The remote could be $4.95 (except you want better quality control than that?) but it works by electrical nerve stimulation, which means there's another part that's surgically implanted. That's why it costs $12,000.

This picture shows both pieces. The manufacturer describes the procedure here. The devices are approved for treating chronic pain conditions, and the Orgasmotron effect is down to different placement of the electrodes.

#54 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 01:23 PM:

The "orgasmotron" requires wiring direct into your spinal cord. Small digital devices might be cheap, but safe neurosurgery isn't, and won't be for some time.

#55 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 01:38 PM:

kid bitzer @ 52... it's a family blog

What kind of family are we?

#56 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 01:53 PM:

serge @ 55

"what kind of family are we?"

the kind of family that writes hundreds of comments devoted to talking about what kind of family we are.

and, curiously enough, actually succeeds in making itself that kind of family, just by doing so!

#57 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 02:11 PM:

Kid Bitzer #47:
My price prediction:
Like drugs. Your first fix is free, but the price goes up when you're hooked.

#58 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 02:45 PM:

kid bitzer @ 56... In other words, our kind of family.

#59 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 03:26 PM:

Angiportus, #12: Would that I could find delicious giant strawberries at my grocery store! My impression of the ones I encounter is that there must be a standard strawberry-unit of flavor, of which any given strawberry has one unit. So normal-size strawberries taste like strawberries, but the bigger they get, the less flavorful they become, because that one standard unit is spread thru so much more volume.

Stefan, #38: I'd settle for him being found naked in an underage-male brothel on one of his sex-tourism trips. Can you imagine all the "I guess even Viagra wasn't enough any more" jokes?

#60 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 03:28 PM:

Oops. My previous comment hit the review flag because I used the V-word.

#61 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 03:50 PM:

I talked nice to the gnomes and they let the comment through.

#62 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 03:51 PM:

#59: Of course if that happened pundits on Fox News and other conservative outlets would immediately start asking "What's really wrong with being found naked in an underage-male brothel, anyway?" and suggest that liberals are picking on Rush for helping impoverished youngsters make a living.

#63 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 04:23 PM:

Alan Braggins #54: Yeah, that was what squicked me out (and I left a comment there to that effect): You've got wires running through your skin to your spinal cord -- that sounds to me like an invitation to trouble, starting with infections.

#64 ::: --E ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 04:55 PM:

#59: I am not a fan of strawberries, but I would be if I learned where the Soup Nazi gets his produce. The first time I went there, the fruit that came with my soup was two strawberries the size of my fist, sweet as sugar cubes and rich with flavor.

-------

For me, the most accurate future-prediction movie is The Running Man.

#65 ::: --E ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 04:56 PM:

#59: I am not a fan of strawberries, but I would be if I learned where the Soup Nazi gets his produce. The first time I went there, the fruit that came with my soup was two strawberries the size of my fist, sweet as sugar cubes and rich with flavor.

-------

For me, the most accurate future-prediction movie is The Running Man.

#66 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 05:03 PM:

#63 David Harmon "that was what squicked me out (and I left a comment there to that effect): You've got wires running through your skin "

hey, if you want the orgasms, then you have to get past the penetration anxiety.

some things just have to be over come.

#67 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 07:08 PM:

Lee, your theory about strawberry flavor density rings true. The big one was not flavorless by any means, but I found tiny strawberries amidst the ground-cover near our library and they were astoundingly, mindblowingly scrumptious.

#68 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 07:17 PM:

The strawberry theory holds true for chocolate as well--witness the size of a Hershey bar required for happiness, as opposed to a bar of Green & Black.

#69 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 08:44 PM:

The itsy bitsy strawberries that grow in our lawn in the spring and fall are scrumptuous, if rather a lot of seeds. They taste like crunchy strawberry sugar cubes.

#70 ::: Evil ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 09:59 PM:

#63 As a purely practical advancement in the device, I could see an fully sub-dermal induction based variant... I'd suspect it wouldn't take much current to stimulate the nerve in the necessary fashion.

#71 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 10:18 PM:

Back when I was working at CopyMat, Kaiser Northern California (whose offices were near there) sponsored a small farmer's-market-health-fair kind of thing once or twice a year in a nearby park. One time I bought some strawberries there, and failed to notice the name of the farm. They were the best strawberries ever, full of sweet flavor. (Later I once had strawberries and cream, and it tasted similar...only these strawberries didn't need the cream.) For a while after I kept buying strawberries at farmers' markets and I kept being disappointed.

(They weren't huge strawberries, but they weren't tiny either.)

#72 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 04:04 AM:

Neil@26: Especially the early, funny ones, innit.

#73 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 05:21 AM:

And apples--the biggest ones I ever saw were some mutant [?] Granny Smiths at a farmer's market, but they were nearly tasteless. But one giant Golden Delicious I gleaned, years later, was, well, delicious.
I just want to get the chance to try some of those white and golden strawberries I've heard of.

#74 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 06:46 AM:

Bruce @ 22: That was the last of his movies I got to see in theaters. It was funny and touching.

Plus I love the glass harmonica.

Serge @ 37: Consider The Stochastic Man and In the Ocean of Night.

#75 ::: Anonymous Coward ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 09:45 AM:

David Harmon @#63:

You've got wires running through your skin to your spinal cord -- that sounds to me like an invitation to trouble, starting with infections.

and Evil @#70:

#63 As a purely practical advancement in the device, I could see an fully sub-dermal induction based variant... I'd suspect it wouldn't take much current to stimulate the nerve in the necessary fashion.

(Posting anonymous to try and prevent RL/ML linkage where it should not be...)

FYI, David Harmon, neural implants of the type described are fully implanted - there are no wires exiting through the skin except during the short-term trials to see if the therapy works for the patient and/or if the lead is properly placed for the desired stimulation. Once the lead placement is deemed correct and the therapy is working, the device that generates the stimulation is implanted subcutaneously with the lead "tunneled" over from the therapy site to the device site - all are fully under the skin and stay there.

Neural stimulation is on the market/being developed for a number of ailments, and not all are spinal cord. There's also vagal nerve stimulation, deep brain stimulation (yes, wires into the brain via a hole cut in the skull) and a number of other sites. The orgasmic effects are not exactly common, but not exactly rare, I gather, but it is an indication that the electrodes are either in the wrong position to deliver the desired therapy, or they have a wide enough field of effect that even in the correct position there's enough "stimulation bleed-over" that the pleasure circuits get "tickled". Or, the therapy site is just too close to the pleasure circuits to avoid the secondary effects.

It is worth noting that these effects truly are secondary, and more importantly from a regulatory viewpoint they are off label uses, and thus the implantation of a neural stimulation device approved for, say, spinal cord stimulation to alleviate chronic back pain just for the orgasmic effect could get a doctor in a heap of trouble. The manufacturers most certainly cannot market existing devices for this purpose, yet.

I would imagine that the clinical trials, etc. necessary to get an implantable device intended solely for the pleasurable effects past the FDA or other regulatory bodies would be difficult, though there may be a population of disabled patients that would be the correct target for such a device - and that would make it easier. No "John or Jane Doe off the street" would be able to get this device, at least not in the near future.

EVIL, the current thresholds generally are quite low, but there are few inductive "through the skin" hookups on the market for anything other than device reprogramming, and that's more of a radio patch than a true inductive couple. There are some rechargeable devices, but they aren't the leading edge - it is just safer for a patient who's got one to keep it as long as it works well, rather than take it out and replace it with a new one. All current implantable devices that I know of use a permanent lithium-chemistry battery that lasts from 3-10 years depending on system type and patient needs. They get explanted and replaced with new devices when the battery gets too low. Making a replaceable battery would complicate the devices immensely for no practical benefit, as when you have the patient open it doesn't make sense to just replace a battery when the device technology has advanced so much since the last one was put in. Better therapy for the same medical risk, it is literally a no-brainer for doctors to pick the better therapy option.

The variant I've been joking about is a modification of a deep brain stimulation system - the "drunk button". DBS can also be used to stimulate the pleasure centers directly. This, of course, leads directly to the droud/wirehead problem...

The therapy potentials are absolutely fantastic, and there are a large quantity of researchers/companies/VC types chasing the various markets. The videos of what some of the available devices do for patient suffering from severe Dystonia (Wikipedia) bring tears. A person who previously could not straighten their arms/legs/back and/or open their hands can walk almost normally...

#76 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 10:58 AM:

doctor:

"good lord, miss kittrick: these batteries are designed to last three to ten years, but yours lasted less than one month! what happened to it?"

"it got exhausted."

#77 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 01:58 PM:

NCAR turns 50: In 1973, NCAR’s Mesa Lab was thrust into the national spotlight when Woody Allen flung himself off the top of one of the building towers while filming the movie Sleeper.

Nixon as comedian: He did appear on Laugh In.

Evil @70: As a purely practical advancement in the device, I could see an fully sub-dermal induction based variant... I'd suspect it wouldn't take much current to stimulate the nerve in the necessary fashion.

See the January National Geographic.

#78 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 07:35 PM:

TexAnne @ 68:

That implies that there is such a thing as a chocolate singularity: a brown hole?

-- ducks and runs for cover --

-- peeps over the fence long enough to say:

Look up why the Russians hated the term "black hole"

-- runs away again, snickering --

#79 ::: older ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2010, 12:20 PM:

My husband and I agree that we are living in The Future right now, and it's completely different from what we imagined.

"I pulled my phone out of my pocket and took a picture which I posted immediately for everyone to see." Nothing like this ever happened in the SF I read, and yet it's routine now.

Oh, and "We went down to the courthouse to buy some fresh cookies". But that's just *our* reality.

#80 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2010, 12:42 PM:

Live in the future! Live in the future!
A fair for all and no fair for anybody!

#81 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 04:31 AM:

I just spotted this amazing prediction:

Chatroulette! is a new videochat site that leaves you with an undeniably WTF feeling. It randomly connects you with another stranger, and there seem to be thousands online. Don't like who you're looking at? Just hit "Next" and you'll be linked to another user. I'd say that the participants are 65 percent dudes in dorm rooms, 30 percent men masturbating, and 5 percent "other."

--Boing Boing, Feb. 10, 2010

She went out on the terrace where, yes, the receiver was propped against the balustrade. She lay down in the flowerbed, slipped on the headset, and toggled ON/OFF.

Eeny meeny miny mo: the concept of Mrs. Manresa zipped through hyperspace until it had connected with... whose would it be tonight?

A scrawl of a man was spread-eagled against what might have been graph paper and then resolved as a white tiled wall. Mrs. Manresa sighed, knowing all too well what this tableau prefigured.

True to form, the scrawly Adam began to construct an Eve on the tiles, turning from time to time to check the screen of his own receiver to make sure his audience was still there. When the grafitto was complete, he started wanking off.

--Thomas M. Disch, "Concepts", 1978

#82 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2010, 12:17 PM:

My usual "future" reaction, other than "where's my flying car?", is http://xkcd.com/354/ - I mean, ok, we're not going to the moon on vacation, but still, by the 21st Century I was going to be the unbelievably old age of 44...

Avram@34, Nixon was well-known for comedy, from the Checkers speech to "I am not a crook". It just wasn't intentionally funny, unlike, say, Bill Clinton saying he didn't inhale.

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