8ofNine

8ofNine
My Family (a long time ago)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Glance At the Future


The year was 1973. I was in 6th grade and my teacher gave us an assignment to write about we thought it would be like in the year 1999. My little 12-year old brain buzzed with excitement as Mr. McCarthy explained that we could write about anything we wanted to, as long as it was about what it would be like in 26 years. Now at that time of my life the future was not really something I thought about much, unless it was in regard to being a professional baseball player or going to junior high school the next year and ditching elementary school. But thinking about what it would be like when I was a grownup was not something I gave much valuable thinking time to.  

I vaguely remember doing the project. I know I got some of my ideas from a television show that used to tell us about what life would be like in the 21st century. I probably asked my older brothers what they thought it would be like because, after all, they were the smartest guys I knew (some people might say they were the biggest wise guys I knew!). Wherever the ideas came from, I wrote the paper and passed it in, hoping that Mr. McCarthy would like it enough to give me at least a C. It turns out that he liked it enough to give me an A, and he even wrote “Excellent job – I enjoyed reading it.”

As I read through the project now, almost 40 years later, I can see just how idealistic and na├»ve I was. Please keep in mind that there was no World Wide Web or 100 channel cable back then, so I was somewhat limited in scope and my view of the world. However, there’s a lot of good stuff in there, so here for your reading pleasure is Part 1 of the mind of a 12-year old (spelling and grammar errors included) looking ahead twice as many years as he had actually been alive:

I have 8 children, 5 boys and 3 girls.  
Hello reality! It is hard enough with 2 kids, let alone 8 kids. How my parents ever survived 9 kids with their sanity intact I’ll never know! But it does show that I liked being part of a big family, otherwise I would have said I had a much lower number of kids.

There is only 2 seasons, Fanter (winter and fall) and Sprumm (summer and spring).
Well, here in New England we only have 2 seasons, too, Decent Weather and Lousy Weather. This would have put a dent in the fashion industry because there would be new styles only twice a year instead of 4 times.

A different kind of electricity is now in use. Scientists take pollution out of the air and water and then put it through a special process called Nultripoll. This is done at huge Edison plants in every state. The pollution is taking in by huge pipes that look like smoke stacks. When the air is taken in, big filters take out particles of smoke and exhaust emission and other pollutants from factories like sulfer and carbon monoxide. The pollutants then go in machines at the other end of the building. When the idea came out people thought the taxes would go sky-high. The government paid for it.  
Ah, to be so innocent, thinking that the government would take care of things and not have to raise taxes! Good thing that no politicians ever got hold of this because they would have spent millions just studying the feasibility of such an operation! Maybe Edison would still be in business if they did this. Oh, and because the pollution would have been greatly reduced, there’d be no global warming either.

Since 1973 schools have changed so much they don’t even have schools anymore. Instead of schools, a robot teacher is at your house. Every year you have it programmed at a higher speed. 
I’m not sure how this was supposed to work with multiple kids in different grades, but not having to go to school seemed like a pretty good idea to me at that time. Although the teachers’ union probably would have never allowed it to happen. I wonder if we still would have had recess?

Some people thought it never would be done, but it has. Humans have gone out of the Milky Way! They can now go to places maybe 100 light years away, and even further. They call this space travel Zing-Fast. 
As you can see from what I called this type of space travel, I never had a chance of a career in advertising. I was a little off scientifically, too, as it has been estimated that the Milky Way is 100,000 – 120,000 light years in diameter! If we could only go 100 light years away, we’d never make it very far in the Milky Way and forget about out of it. And why I call humans “they”, like I’m not part of that group, I’m not quite sure.

The food crisis is over. You don’t have to buy big pieces of meat for $5 and up. You don’t have to buy big 20 pound turkeys for the holidays. You just take a food pill for every item you want. Though small they really fill you up. Every month you buy about 200 – 250 food pills (depending on the size of your family). If there is 8 people in a family it would cost $292. 
I think I had been influenced by the Jetsons a little too much on this one. Thanksgiving without turkey and all the trimmings just wouldn’t cut it. But hey, feeding a family of 8 for $292 a month, even back then, would have been incredible (funny how I didn’t pick a nice round number, like $250 or $300).

There is no war. Since 1973 there wasn’t another war. You can also go into Russia. You could do this since 1985. 
Once again the idealism of a child comes through, thinking that Vietnam would be the last war the United States would be involved in. And while the Berlin Wall was not part of Russia, it did come down in 1989, so I had the right idea, if not the right country.

The idealistic mind of a 12-year old: there’s no energy problem, no pollution problem, no global warming, no food crisis and no war. We can travel up to 100 light years away in space and our kids are taught by robots. Other than our kids being taught by robots, I’d take all that.

Come back again next week when I present Part 2 of my glance into the (then) distant future.

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