The View From Here
Takoma Park, Maryland July 23, 1998

Yesterday's Tomorrows

or, The Future isn't want it used to be

Get my digressions out of the way

Science Fiction can't and doesn't try to predict the future.

We missed the internet.

Millenianists Logical critique

The last 4,234 times a charasmatic preacher said the world would end on July 8, 1998, at 1:23 pm, that preacher was wrong. Why will this one be right

b> Why does God care if you wear a hat?

c> The combination of deep spiritual belief, a desire to see the infidels perish, and only the nice people like us saved, is interesting pyschology. There's a certain echo of the ten year old waiting for a bus in the rain, and Mom's late, and I'll die of drowning or pneumonia or something, and then they'll be sorry. Death will reveal how we suffered nobly and how saintly we were. The fascination with rules, numbers, patterns, and prediction is part of the same phenomenon. Sagan's Demon Haunted World

B. Sweeping generalities here

1) Tomorrow will be like yesterday

2) I'm not quite sure when the future -- the idea of a future different from the present or past -- was invented.
3) Pre-renaissance (pre generalized and distributed wealth and technology) you live and suffer a lot, you die, you go to heaven. King is always on throne, nothing ever changes, the world is static. Some religions have shampoo instuctions attached: repeat as needed.
4) Renaissance -- measurement, time, discovery, exploration. (Also the plague meant there were suddenly half as many people sharing the same accumulated wealth.) The plague itself was change.
5) The Enlightenment -- the clockwork universe. Ordered, rational, conforming to rules. Take Newton and run with it. Know the states and position of everything in the universe at any given time, and you can predict where it was and where it will be for all time. Dull and complicated math shows this is not true.
6) 19th century

13) In the future, all nouns will become verbs.

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