Tuesday, 13 March 2018

The Future Dimly Discerned

We live in uncertain times. Globalisation and fast-paced technological change make future predictions, even relatively short-term ones, difficult. We live in a time of unprecedented wealth, for the few. The disparity in income between the First and Third world continues to grow. In Europe and America, the income growth between the top 1% and those scraping a living on minimum wage is also disproportionate. Meanwhile, house prices and house rents continue to soar within the context of static wages, for the most. We in the West live under the protective umbrella of 'Pax Americana'. This is the price we must pay for peace. The host of interacting, and for the most part, unknown and uncontrollable forces, makes crystal ball gazing a  peril bedecked affair –a swirling gas mixture where shapes and shades flit and fade out, stage left (stop waxing lyrical and mixing metaphors, Flaxen, you poncy git).

Anyway, tis nice to note that folks in our recent past, although eminently qualified in their well-defined field, were equally crap at divining the future.......

Here are Flaxen's classic and blatantly wrong predictions concerning our life today. If the post renders tears, then don't forget to catch them in a sterile screw-top container, make sure to catch them all. Someday, maybe soon, clever scientists will be able to reconstruct your body from the DNA contained within. Why they would want to do such a thing, I have absolutely no idea.

1. In 1982 it was predicted, by a reputable source, that 20 years hence there would be colonies on the Moon. This is an obviously silly future prediction as it follows a decade after the last lunar visit. Surely by this time the money and effort required to pursue such a dream did not exist. It could be argued that the Apollo programme was a political stunt to gain an edge over the Soviets. Once achieved the political will and especially the vast finances required, drifted away like a snot ball on a windy day. Domestic economic reality intervened putting manned space travel on the back burner and rightly so.

There are many soothsayers of the Doomsday persuasion. They gain a perverted satisfaction by ringing the death knell. Armageddon prophecies and prophets have always been rampant, but yet, we are still here.

2. The Y2K disaster. This was supposedly a fault of lazy programmers of the 1970s who couldn't be bothered to put the extra effort in producing code for an event 30 years hence. And who can blame them? Aren't we all inherently lazy? The predictions were dire. Aeroplanes would fall from the sky, computers would stop computing and civilisation would come to an end. I remember asking a computer programmer friend about the consequences. He looked at me and smiled. "By December 1999 everything will be sorted out". He and a lot of other IT consultants made a lot of money from this scare.

3. Harold Camping was a radio broadcaster with a large following in the US. Anyways, he predicted the 'Rapture' and the end of the world. The event would occur on May the 21st, 2001. On that date, the deserved, in Christ's eyes, would be whisked to Heaven, while the remainder would face tribulation and much woe, and perhaps a little wailing and gnashing of teeth. His followers sold their earthly goods and awaited salvation, which did not come. Chastised, Camping admitted an error in his calculations and thus the fateful date was moved to a day in October. Predictably, nowt happened and his dispirited and now penniless followers drifted away to the real world. There is a price to be paid for hubris. Here is a piece of Flaxen inspired doggerel on his just demise:  

You made your predictions quite categorical,
Date and year were virtually undeniable.
Except your pontifications were completely unreliable,
And your followers were left bewildered, high and dryable. Arse.

4. A shorter working week. I clearly recall a 'Careers Development' class in 1972 at school. Our teacher, Mr Knowles declaimed in no uncertain terms that our generation would be the 'leisure generation' and within a few scant years, we would be working a meagre 15 hours a week. I, of course, being of an impudent nature and somewhat of the class clown, shouted out: "What 15 hours every bloody week". Mr Knowles replied with prescient wisdom: "Not you Flaxen, for you, I see a Job involving heavy labour in the hottest of environments and at least 50 hours a week”. To be fair to Mr Knowles he wasn't that far off the mark as my first job after leaving school was in a foundry. More about this in a future post. Obviously, this prediction has not transpired. Indeed, we are working more hours for less pay than our fathers. Perhaps we should blame Globalisation and economic forces, which are dimly discerned by experts and the common folk alike. 

5. "Nuclear powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality in 10 years”. Speaketh Alex Lewyt, president of a vacuum cleaner company in 1955. This is an interesting quote if we take it in historical context. Following the unleashing of the A-bomb in the mid-1940s everyone became interested in harnessing nuclear energy. The potential of atomic energy seemed limitless. Post-Chernobyl we are little more sanguine and worldly wise. Imagine a vacuum cleaner giving off an ethereal green glow. After parking said vacuum in the closet consider the dead beasties glowing poignant on the inefficient shielding surrounding the throbbing, glowing, nuclear core.  As for the ones that get away, they will slither off to the basement to mutate, some more and return to wreak havoc on the hitherto, placid domestic scene.

So there you have it, Flaxen's top 5 failed predictions. If anyone out there would like to predict our world c2050, please be candid. As for your genial host, by then, I will be part of the universe once more. Entropy would have taken my body and rendered it into its constituent parts. One day, when our planet disintegrates, my molecules will float for an eternity, or at least until our universe settles down to 'heat death'. Arse, big sublimated arse.   


  1. Nuclear powered automobiles, sirloin steaks grown in vitrio. I notice you slipped one in about tear-based embryos. What's not to like?

    1. There is probably more than enough material for a dozen posts on this very topic.

  2. I now have a shorter working week - I’m retired.

    1. I will be embarking on said lifestyle, very soon....

    2. Take it from one who's been there: if your SWMBO remains extant, you will be not so much "retired", but more "under new management".

    3. Just worked out the 'Ryder Haggard' reference, Ted. I'll make sure I have a man cave to hide.