I contribute a weekly column to the Platte County Landmark under the “Rambling Moron” name. It’s a great Northland Newspaper and well worth a subscription. The following is an copy of my article which appeared in the 10/25/12 edition – printed with permission.
THIS ISN’T THE FUTURE WE WERE PROMISED
A couple of weeks ago, we saw a world record broken by Felix Baumgartner who jumped out of a weather balloon from 25 miles above the earth. On his way down, he broke the speed of sound, reaching a top speed of 833 miles per hour wearing nothing but a few sheets of Aluminum Foil.
“That’s great,” I tweeted, “but I’m still waiting for my flying car.”
It seems that this generation has been jipped of their technological advances. We’re in a black hole of inventions. Unless, of course, you count the app that makes fart noises on your iPhone.
The children of the 20’s and 30’s grew up and were given telephones, radio and the promises of Buck Rogers. The children of the 40’s and 50’s saw the technological inventions born from a world at war like automobiles and television. The kids of the 60’s were given space flight and a moon landing. My generation – the children of the 70’s and 80’s were given jack squat.
Oh, sure, my childhood was focused on the future we were supposed to get. The ones promised in Star Wars and Star Trek. But where’s my service robot? After I write this column, I’m going to have to go upstairs and make my own breakfast. C3P0 was supposed to be doing that for me. Where’s my laser gun? The only laser I can get ahold of is one that will fix my cataracts or erase that tattoo of an old girlfriend’s name off my butt.
My childhood was filled with shows like Knight Rider that promised intelligent technology and talking cars. The closest thing that comes to it is the iPhone’s “Siri,” but have you tried to have a conversation with her? I’ve gotten more wrong answers from that girl than on my college chemistry exam. The iPhone is probably the preeminent technological advance of the 21st Century. But have you tried actually making a call from that phone?
My 5th grade Science Fair project was all about the Space Shuttle, the brand new mode of transportation that was going to send folks to space as often as once a week. Now, you see photos of Space Shuttle Endeavor being trucked through the streets of Los Angeles to live the rest of its days in mothballs at a California museum, leaving only the International Space Station the mantle of manned spaceflight that was handed down decades ago in my childhood.
And then we come to the flying car, popularized by The Jetsons. I recall how excited I was going to be as I was dropped off at school by by parents by being literally dropped out of the bottom of our flying car. Just last week, I dropped off my son out of a Ford Freestyle after waiting in a 10 minute line. Furthermore, I went in the WRONG line and was scolded by a woman who looks as if she spent her early days IN the 1940’s dreaming of the days she could scold someone in a flying car.
No, this isn’t the future we were promised. We can’t transport ourselves across a room. Nor can we order our own R2D2 to change a lightbulb. But hopefully, my son can drop his daughter Judy, of course, from his Chevrolet Feather flying car. . .and not just some guy dropping out of an even higher weather balloon.