Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Life in 40 Years

I read this excellent article, written over forty years ago, about what life would be like in 2008:

It's amazingly accurate on so many different fronts, although it did manage to get a few things wrong. This has inspired me to try to make my own predictions for forty years out in the future. We all need to strive for something and hopefully predicting the future is a way to turn my optimism into something more tangible. With so many great trends I should be able extrapolate out enough things that a few will ultimately turn out to be correct. So, I'll follow in the same writing style:

It's 8am, Tuesday Nov. 18, 2048, and you are headed for an early morning business meeting. You hop out of your cave, waking to the rising sun to start your day. With the abundance of rules and regulations, most people find it easier to live in a cave, than to actually manage to live up to the strict building codes in 2048. Mostly by 2026, in general, the rules had became so complicated that few people without rule-interpretation PhDs were capable of understanding them, let alone their complex justifications. Cave real estate quickly became the hottest growing market, fear is looming that it will become regulated too, one day.

You quickly walk around the corner, giving your legs a brisk workout. You'd use a car, but most of them are still perpetually stuck in the great traffic jam of 2039, waiting for the courts to bring a resolution. It occurred quite randomly one day, when someone stopped in the middle lane and all of the cars backed up all of the way to South America. Since then, nobody's been able to move. If they could just solve the court case, they could start backing up a few feet to give way, but it is only at the beginning phase of the trial. The increase in legal requirements made being a lawyer the hottest job for quite a while, up until everyone realized that everyone else was now a lawyer and there wasn't anyone left over to make food, or farm, or take out the trash, or anything boring like that.

A lion attacks, so you bean it in the head with your trusty supply of old palm pilots, cell phones and RIMs, sending it fleeing in the direction it came. Species laws have tied everyone's hands, so only non-lethal means are acceptable defense for the ever increasing animal encounters. It's not like those devices would work anyways, most batteries are dead; the same laws that protected the animals also indirectly shutdown all of the power-plants. There hasn't been a working battery for at least a decade. Legal cases are pending.

You pass through an uncultivated field of various weird and indistinguishable plants. Although the species laws pushed everyone back to being vegetarian, the side effects of foolishly genetically altering crops made most things un-eatable, and many plants quite lethal. Corn is about the only thing editable, these days. That and medium sized rodents. Not unsuprisingly, corn dogs are now the hottest food source, just don't ask what is in them.

You throw a spear at a passing medium sized rodent. Being made form that unique material, wood has proven more malleable to work with than the uncut blobs of plastic or unrefined steel. With no available power or power tools, wood has certainly become more valuable, although there is a great demand to grind it up and make it into paper to fuel the rising legal tide.

You move on past your local tar pits, trying to avoid the poisonous odor as you go. Large piles of garbage have broken down, everywhere. With the great union walk-off of 2016 for trash-men still in progress -- now only slightly beating the world record for long-term union strikes recently held by the post office, until they went back to work three years ago -- the vast mounds of generated trash had nowhere to go, and no way to get there. Over thirty years of a strike initially produced some pretty high piles of trash, but as the underlying toxins ate through the concrete, ground, immobile subways and other subterranean structures, the hills shrank into rather compact, if only mildly contagious pits of black and bubbling goo. With so many pits, the options for trash disposal are quite a few. If you leave it alone, some problems will just solve themselves.

You catch up with your tribe, just in time to beat up the another one. OK, so, it wasn't really a business meeting, in so much as it was more of a normal territorial skirmish. It keeps everyone busy when it happens that a typical day is often spent idling away the time waiting for some non-protected species to get caught up in a net. Without electronic devices, entertainment like fashion shows and sporting events -- other than tossing lawyers to the lions -- have become quite rare indeed. One has to do something to occupy the mind, it's only a few more decades until they estimate that enough of the trials will be over to allow people to actually move a car or two.

Yep. The future, sounds like it will be quite fantastic. Although for some reason, I keep getting that sense of deja vous with some of my predictions. I can't place my finger on it, but it seems as if something is so similar about our direction, as it relates back to where we've been. What goes up, must come down? Whatever, as that old slightly famous song once chirped: the future is so bright we have to wear shades; at least until the plastic decays and we have to chuck them into one of those tar pits...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Joy of Sharing

Of course it is. Our future is clearly determined by the path we choose to walk. And we humans -- as we all so well know -- have the capacity to rise above all other animals because of our superior intellect and civility. Of all our admirable higher-order attributes, none stands so far above our primitive origins than our innate ability to share.

It is in those simple acts of selfless behavior that we truly rise above our animistic origins and make good on all of our internal might and potential. That is why it is such a treat, no, pleasure, when one of our fellows choose to go above and beyond just sharing. I mean, sharing of the possessions is enough, sharing of ideas is plenty, but those marvelous humans that we so love to encounter go beyond this all by not just idly sharing the good, they also choose to share the bad as well.

Nothing is more impressive than someone willing to share their problems with you. Why, the other day, in a crowded downtown neighborhood, someone was clearly having problems parking their car and trailer. That's right, they had a U-haul trailer attached, and in the tight cramped streets, where there is barely enough room to park a car, and there are huge space consuming snowbanks everywhere, what's a poor driver to do? This one choose to share. Right across several driveways, they found the perfect spot. They shared their problem so well, that one of the poor owners of one of the poor driveways, was entirely unable to get his car out, making him late for whatever it was that he deemed necessary. And they continued to share by making sure they were entirely unavailable to move their vehicle. What truly sweet beings.

Of course, you also have to love those people on the subway who share their inability to get a seat. Yep, they get right there in the doorway, just below the large, bold, "Do not block the Doorway" signs and share their presence with every one trying to get on or off. Even in the circumstance of there being considerably more room in the middle of the subway-car for them to carefully stand and not block anything, they stick to their passion and connect with people from getting on or off. They are truly wonderful people, only out-matched when it is one of the smaller model doorways that only let one and a half people through being so thoughtfully shared by a couple of these kind souls in tandem. Now that's working together for the good of mankind. It it that type of un-adulterating sharing that truly makes any city's subway, "The Better Way", just as the marketers have been sharing with us for so long.

Truly though, these trivial inconvenience sharings are nice, but really the best sharing comes from those just in a bad mood. Nothing is more noble than distributing that dark cloud hanging over your head to as many nearby people as possible. The sharing of angst, anger or frustration is a true gift, particularly if you can pass on exactly what you are experiencing. Why not pick a fight, or berate someone senselessly. Just a simple sneer might do. These things people don't expect, so a sudden emotional gift is sure to do wonders. If this type of sharing involves a car or two, or possibly an executive and some commands, then it reaches a kind of sharing orgasm, where the sharer can proudly effect huge lots of other people, or cause a major conflict or war or something all because of their gift. That is always a truly wonderful occasion.

What noble greatness so often comes from one sharing their distemper. We are bombarded by such grandiose acts of sharing through-out various parts of the world, where the citizens manage to rise so far above just being an animal, and in a great effort share their problems with so many around them. With these awesome acts of kindness, it is not hard to picture our societies going on forever, growing and sharing as they fulfill the full potential of those poor simians who ventured just a little too far away from their tree in search of more food. Our path away from those barren branches is ever towards greatness. The kind that we can share with planet and all its other species around us. Aren't we something.

I just thought I would share that with you, so hopefully you don't share it with too many others.