2005 and I still don’t have a flying car…

…or my own personal death-ray. What the hell is up with that? Com’on, folks! Didn’t you people watch all those old newsreels from the 1950’s about what life was going to be like in the year 2000? OK, perhaps there weren’t any explicit promises of death-rays in them, but I distinctly remember flying cars zipping all over the place and a totally self-cleaning one-button-push fully automated kitchen and I wasn’t even born when those newsreels were produced. We’re now halfway into the first decade of the 21st Century and the best we’ve been able to manage so far is the Roomba Vacuum which is only of use to people who tend to lead very clean lives already. I don’t think a Roomba would last a week in my little apartment. It would choke to death on socks left on the living room floor within a day or so and there’s no way in hell that little thing is going to be able to move the couch out so it can get to all the popcorn that got dropped down between the cushions during the incredible battle scenes of the extended DVD version of LoTR: TRotK. Let’s face it, the Roomba wasn’t meant for use by real families like mine. What we need is Rosie from The Jetsons.

Anyway, the point is that you inventor-types have had over half a century now to fulfill those promises of old and so far you’re not doing too well. To be fair you guys did manage to at least get us those personal communicators like what we saw in Star Trek, but we had no idea just how friggin’ annoying those damned things would be once everyone and his cousin’s dog had one and insisted on speaking into them at volume levels that would make you think Scotty had a hearing problem. I’ve gotta admit that they do look pretty cool though and they’re still the only thing that comes close to the promise of a videophone you guys made way back when. Still, I’ve been looking forward to having my own flying car ever since I stumbled across those old newsreels as a little kid so let’s get with it and hurry up on that one a bit, OK? I’m ready for it. I mean, it’s not like I haven’t had enough practice with some of the video games I play. At the very least you should be able to get that kitchen thing working, right? I’d probably buy that before the flying car anyway.

10 thoughts on “2005 and I still don’t have a flying car…

  1. Les, stand on the corner of a 4-way-stop and watch typical drivers try to apply the extremely simple rules: “First to stop is first to go.  If two cars stop at the same time, the one on the right goes first.”

    Then ask yourself: do you want any of those nimrods behind the wheel of a flying car?  Speaking as a total nimrod myself, of course.  raspberry

  2. You know, the one thing that always bugged me about those communicators (and links on Babylon 5, and so on) is that it was all on speakerphone, so to speak.  How the hell could anyone have a private conversation on those things?  It’s bad enough when you have to hear ONE side of someone else’s public conversation …

  3. I saw (but first heard) a student walking across the quad on our campus the other day, her voice echoing off the buildings as she talked cheerfully on her cell phone.  Presumably the phone was automatically compensating for high volume.

    If they’d stop to think for just a moment – that microphone is one inch from their mouth!  It should be (and is) able to pick up a whisper. 

    But this leads me to think that the phone is not giving feedback to the user about volume somehow.  Old-timey phones fed some of the user’s voice back in the earpiece.  Hmmm…

  4. …speaking of old-timey phones: we still have a dial phone at home.  The telephone guy whistled and said he hadn’t seen one for years last time he was here.  But what really made me feel old, is when a schoolmate of my sixteen year old son was visiting, and went to the phone to call his mom, only to return and sheepishly ask “How do you work one of these?”

  5. It says something that a kid today can’t figure out a simple rotary phone. Not sure what it says, but it says something.

    GM, you’re right. It’d be a bad idea for everyone to have a flying car so we’d better limit it to me and the more intelligent SEB regulars. That would be better.

    Speaking of Sci-Fi communicators, I always love how they seem to be able to tune to exactly who you want merely by speaking a name, but you have to slap the damned thing to get it to work.

  6. Ack! It was DOF who mentioned the bad driving habits, not GM. Pardon my mixup. I’ve only had two cups of coffee this morning.

  7. FYI – I do have a video phone (the grandparents want to see the little one regularly) you can see what they look like at: http: //www. vialta.com/

  8. It’s something automatic about phones:  if I can’t hear the person on the other end well, I tend to raise my voice.  I try to keep it under control but it’s a very hard habit to break.

    I miss those rotary phones.  I really do.  They made such a satisfying sound with every turn.  I can’t stand those fake rotary-appearing ones they sell these days with push-button keys.

  9. Les: It says something that a kid today can’t figure out a simple rotary phone. Not sure what it says, but it says something.

    After groaning “god I’m getting old”, that’s the second thing that crossed my mind, when Georg (one of the brightest kids in my son’s class) couldn’t operate our rotary dial phone.  Is it really that hard to figure out?

      Having grown up with them, they seem blindingly obvious, but I can’t see them objectively any more- maybe they’re not.  On the other hand, it seems that kids nowadays do less and less manipulation of unfamiliar objects than they used to.  My brother and I took apart everything we could get our hands on, from radios to bombsights, and built lots of stuff too.

    I’m afraid that kind of experience is harder to get nowadays, with more and more products integrated and miniaturized.  We could take a phone apart and fix it forty years ago, or an automobile engine.  Who can take a cell phone apart and fix it today?  And who would?

    I didn’t mean to lapse into incontinent nostalgia.  Sorry.  Lots of modern stuff is the cat’s pajamas.

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