THE RETURN TRIP – Next to Last Episode

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THE RETURN TRIP – Next to Last Episode

#The enemies of your United States of America, the United Korean Peninsula would take advantage of Stellar Explorer’s imminent failure…

Bitterness To Enemies – Painting by Nicholas Roerich

Ekcello explains the reasoning behind Gus McKinney’s allowed “escape” from Eridanus.

#When the High Counsel convened, some time ago, we had one specific issue to deal with; the effect of the humans on the stability of our society#

#We were prepared to deal with the introduction of change, until the drumbeat of a young pioneer became deafening. Your son Gus’ reluctance to accept his situation Futureforced us to reconsider some of our positions and we discovered we could solve one problem, the one of temporal tampering.

#We had originally assumed that should Stellar Explorer and your sons be allowed to return to Earth, after we made the necessary corrections to their flaws, that it would destabilize the time-stem they were operating in. What we found farther out in the future changed our minds.

#The enemies of your United States of America and treacherous infection to your planet, the United Korean Peninsula would take advantage of Stellar Explorer’s imminent failure and embark on their own space program, go on to dominate your Solar System, and eventually force its flawed ideology on inferior planets they meet along the way. It is not our practice to tamper with the future, its past or its current, but we could not allow that reality to exist in a galaxy where coexistence is so vital, not dominance#

Memories of the long-past Ÿ€Ð invasion is never far from their minds.

#Gus McKinney travels in a vehicle of which there is no match. He will return to the 2051.025 time-stem without knowing how the improvements came to be. He will experience strange dreams in the aftermath, dreams that will haunt him, taunt him, and cause him to search for their meaning.

#We on Eridanus will be watching and waiting#

Those that Gus leaves behind, the Space Family McKinney on Eridanus stand together, bolstered by the wise Ekcello, pinning their hopes on Gus and his indomitable spirit of exploration.


THE RETURN TRIP

Next to Last Episode


page 322

Contents TRT

The Future – As Read in Fiction

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Books That Predicted

the Future

With Eerie Accuracy

When authors write about the future, they have to predict what technology and life might be like decades down the road. While the books are often written as a metaphor for their contemporary society, some authors have made amazingly accurate predictions about what modern life has actually become.

 These are all fiction books that, somehow, managed to predict the future. 

10. They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? By Horace McCoy

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? is a relentlessly bleak book that was published in 1935. It’s about a young man named Robert who moves to Los Angeles to get into the film industry. When Robert tries to get work as an extra on a movie, he meets Gloria, a young woman who wants to be an actress. After failing to get jobs, they decide to join a dance marathon. The problem is that these marathons are death marches that can go on for weeks. The only breaks that the contestants get are 10 minute time-outs after an hour and fifty minutes of dancing. The couple that lasts the longest gets $1,000, and all the contestants are fed.

Throughout the contest, new gimmicks are added to liven up the marathon. Like at the end of the night, there’s a speed walk and the couple that comes in last is eliminated. Another twist that is added to the marathon is two contestants get married, and are saved from elimination. Other times, celebrities show up at the marathon for cameos.

Published in the mid-1930s, They Shoot Horses was written as a metaphor of the plight of people during the Great Depression. However, today it can be seen as a frightfully accurate precursor to reality TV shows.

In reality shows, people voluntarily do things that are physically and mentally grueling and/or humiliating, all for money and their 15 minutes of fame. Reality shows are also known for using gimmicks to make the show more exciting. Finally, celebrities of varying degrees of fame are known to pop up on all types of reality shows, from Big Brother toMasterChef.

The question is, is a grueling dance marathon any more dehumanizing than making someone eat something likehorse rectum or blended rats, like some contestants on Fear Factor had to do?

9. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Infinite Jest is a long and unwieldy book; the story is nearly a thousand pages and there are over 100 pages of footnotes. It’s believed that the book takes place around 2009, in an alternate timeline where the years aren’t numbered. Instead, they are sponsored by companies. For example, there is the Year of the Whopper and the Year of the Depends Adult Undergarment.

Due to the scope of the book, the plot is impossible to summarize in a few sentences, but it’s mostly set at a tennis academy and a halfway house for addicts. Both are in Boston, which is part of the Organization of North American Nations, or O.N.A.N. In this reality, the United States forced Canada and Mexico to join America as one big super state.

There are several groups of characters in the book and some of those people are looking for a lost film called “Entertainment.” The film is supposedly so entertaining that if someone starts to watch it, they can’t stop. They will do nothing else but watch the film. This includes stopping eating and drinking, and eventually, they will die while watching it.

In many ways, Wallace’s novel predicted contemporary life fairly accurately. Most notably, he predicted the way people would consume media and their obsession with entertainment. In the book, people watch teleputers, which are combinations of televisions, phones, and computers. People can get movies and TV shows off the InterLace to watch whenever they want, and then they listen to their teleputers with white ear plugs.

Of course, all of those inventions are now commonplace, albeit not exactly the way that Wallace envisioned it. Teleputers sound a lot like smart phones, Wallace just didn’t predict that they would be mobile and fit in the palm of your hand, while the InterLace is a lot like Netflix. However, Wallace thought that a system like the Interlace would be the death of TV advertising. Finally, the earplugs are, of course, Apple’s earbuds.

Wallace also wrote about video phones, which had been predicted by many other writers before him, but Wallace had an interesting insight. In Infinite Jest, videophones were just a fad because people don’t like seeing themselves on the screen. In real life, there are many reasons people don’t use video chat as frequently as texting. One reason is that people don’t like seeing pictures of themselves.

Finally, Wallace predicted the rise of Donald Trump. In his book, the President is the loudest and brashest right wing sensationalist of the mid-1990s – Rush Limbaugh

8. Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke

Childhood’s End, by famed sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke, is about an invasion of Earth by a group of aliens called the Overlords. The Overlords aren’t violent, but they hide themselves from human eyes. Through a spokesperson at the United Nations, they say that they will reveal themselves to humankind in 50 years. 

During those 50 years, the Overlords improve life on Earth in many ways – ignorance, poverty, hunger, and disease are all things of the past. Of course, the Overlords also help advance human technology. One of those technologies was a type of virtual reality that is like a movie, but it is so realistic that you can’t tell the difference between the movie and real life. “The program,” as Clarke called it, would appeal to all the senses and would allow the person to be someone completely different from themselves, or even a plant. Why someone would want to be a plant is beyond us, but that isn’t the only head scratching prediction Clarke made.

He also predicted that in the early 2000s, people might watch TV for three hours a day. The only way someone would be able to watch all the programming would be to never sleep, as opposed to it being impossible.

So while Clarke didn’t foresee cable TV or YouTube, he did correctly predict video games and virtual reality. This is pretty impressive considering that when the book was published in 1953, televisions in homes were just becoming common.

7. The Plot Against America by Phillip Roth

In Phillip Roth’s 2004 book, The Plot Against America, a well-known celebrity gets into politics and starts to spew conspiracy theories about minorities. Finding his niche, the celebrity, with no political experience, panders to racists and anti-Semites. Surprisingly, he wins the nomination of the Republican Party and then goes on to win the presidency. As president, he aligns himself with a notorious and brutal world leader and this creates global tension and conflict. He also begins to persecute the minorities that he villainized in his campaign.

The Plot Against America takes place in an alternate timeline and it starts in 1940. The celebrity who is running for president is Charles Lindbergh, who uses a platform rife with anti-Semitism to become president. After he’s elected, the world leader that Lindbergh associates himself with is Adolf Hitler.

Of course, the parallels in Roth’s book to real life should be obvious to anyone who wasn’t living under a rock in 2016. But if you were in a coma or something, let us fill you in. Celebrity real estate mogul Donald Trump ran for the Republican ticket with no political experience. His platform included racist conspiracy theories and he spoutedoffensive rhetoric about minorities. He found popularity among white nationalists and people who were anti-immigration and then shamelessly pandered to them. Amazingly, he not only won the Republican nomination, but he went on to win the presidency.

So far, as president, Trump has alienated several of America’s allies, but talks glowingly about Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose government has a horrendous record of human rights violations, which includes state-sponsored human trafficking.

The final similarity between President Trump and President Lindbergh is that after Trump became President, he started to persecute those he villainized in his campaign,specifically Muslims and undocumented immigrants.

6. Neuromancer by William Gibson

William Gibson’s 1984 novel, Neuromancer, not only gave birth to the cyberpunk genre, but it also predicted cyberspace and the internet.

The book follows Case, a former computer hacker and drug addict. Before the book starts, Case was fired from his job and his central nervous system was poisoned, so he couldn’t “jack in” to cyberspace, which is called “the matrix.” Millions of people can jack into the matrix, which is a 3D virtual world that appeals to all the senses. One day, Case meets a mysterious employer who says he will help Case get back into the matrix, but in exchange, Case has to complete an incredibly difficult hack.

In 1984, there was an internet, but only a handful of universities used it. Gibson foresaw that it would eventually connect millions of computers. Of course, the internet isn’t as immersive as the matrix Gibson predicted (yet) but he did predict the rise of technological addiction and people’s need to be online.

5. Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut’s debut novel, Player Piano, was published in 1952, and it takes place in the near future, 10 years after the Third World War. Since people were needed to fight the war, factories were designed to be more autonomous. Also, the stock market is controlled by a computer that tells the factories how many products the world needs. Unfortunately, this automation leads to massive unemployment. Only managers and engineers, who have doctorates, are employed and everyone else can either join the Reconstruction and Reclamation Corps, where they do meaningless work like fill potholes, or they can join the army. However, being in the army has kind of lost its meaning as well, because there is nothing to fight for. Essentially, Player Piano is about how automation could make life purposeless for many people.

Of course, we are a long way from the world of Player Piano, but Vonnegut did correctly predict the rise of automation in society, and that it would cause people to lose their jobs. Many people have blamed these job losses on China, or immigrants, but that isn’t exactly the case. Since 2000, America has lost 5 million manufacturing jobs, but American manufacturing output has increased during that time; meaning the jobs are being lost to computers and robots, not to other countries or people.

We’re seeing automation take over jobs more and more every day. Just a few examples include with self-checkout lanes at the grocery store or McDonald’s automated menus. In the future, more jobs are expected to be lost to automation. Drones are already being tested for deliveries by companies like Amazon. Notably, by 2020, self-driving cars are expected to be the norm and this will eliminate all driving jobs. It is expected to get so bad that, over the next 20 years in a country like Canada, four out of 10 jobs will be lost to automation.

So what do you want to do? Join the army or the Reconstruction and Reclamation Corps?

4. Earth by David Brin

David Brin is best known for writing the book The Postman, which was made into one of Kevin Costner’s worst movies (and that is saying something). In 1989, Brin published the novel Earth, which takes place in the year 2038. While the novel does have a plot, the book is more or less Brin’s predictions about the future. If you’re curious what the plot is, it’s that an artificial black hole has fallen into the Earth’s core. Scientists have a year to fix it, or the Earth may be destroyed.

The book has a large cast of characters and through these characters, Brin explores what life might be like in the future. Currently, there is a website that keeps track of his predictions, and there are 14 predictions confirmed to have come true and another eight that are likely.

Some of the predictions that Brin did get right are global warming, rising sea levels, and the breaking of the levees on the Mississippi River. Another natural disaster that is postulated in the book that came true was the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster.

In 1990, people knew about the internet, but Brin accurately predicted the World Wide Web that was invented by Tim Berners-Lee a year after the book was published. On the “net,” as Brin calls it, there are pages full of hyperlinks. Brin also thought that the net would be used by major news outlets and citizen reporters, along with everyday people who wanted to express themselves. Finally, he also foresaw spam and Trojan horse viruses.

At the time of this list, Brin still has about 21 years to be proven right on the rest of his predictions. So far, only one prediction from his book has been disproven. In Earth, the characters haven’t discovered any Earth-like planets and they didn’t think they would be found any time soon. In reality, we have found several Earth-like planets that are in habitable zones around their star. The first was Kepler-186f; its discovery was announced by NASA in 2014.

3. The World Set Free by H.G. Wells

In The World Set Free, H.G. Wells predicted atomic bombs, even going as far to use the term “atomic bomb” in his book. His bombs are uranium-based and they are about the size of an orange. The explosion is caused by the splitting of atoms and after the explosion, there is corrosive radiation left over. What is so impressive about this is that Wells wrote the book in 1913, 32 years before the first nuclear bomb was tested.

The World Set Free also has an interesting role in the technology it predicted – it helpedinspire its invention.

In 1932, English scientists had successfully split an atom through artificial means and the experiment didn’t show any evidence that splitting an atom would cause a huge release of energy. Later that year, Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard read The World Set Free and thought that Wells was correct. Splitting an atom would probably release a lot of energy; the question was how to split the atom. A year later, he had a eureka moment. Szilard said, “It suddenly occurred to me that if we could find an element which is split by neutrons and which would emit two neutrons when it absorbed one neutron, such an element, if assembled in sufficiently large mass, could sustain a nuclear chain reaction.”

Szilard patented the idea in 1933, but he was disturbed by The World Set Free. He didn’t want the patent to become public because it might fall into the wrong hands. Something else that worried him was the rise of Nazism. So in 1939, he drafted the letter that was sent by Albert Einstein to Franklin Roosevelt, saying that Germany was stockpiling uranium. This letter, in turn, gave birth to the Manhattan Project. Szilard and some British scientists worked with the Americans, and this eventually led to the first nuclear bombs. Two of those bombs were dropped on Japan in August 1945 at the tail end of World War II.

Wells died in 1946, after having seen the weapon that he warned against used on civilians in a war.

2. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Yeah, you knew this one was coming.

Published in 1935, Brave New World takes place in the year 632 A.F., which is actually 2540 A.D. (A.F. stands for After Ford, as in the industrialist Henry Ford). In the future, babies are born in labs, meaning the family unit is dead. When they are children, they are told in whispers while they sleep to buy things and to love consumer products. When they are older, the state demands that they be sexually promiscuous, and women wear their birth control on their belts. No one has any real worries about life because mood enhancing drugs are widely available and its usage is encouraged.

Of course, contemporary society isn’t quite to the point of Brave New World, but in all fairness to its author, Aldous Huxley, we still have over 520 years to go. However, he did accurately depict several aspects of contemporary culture, including our consumerist-heavy society. He also predicted antidepressants and their prevalence in modern society.

What’s interesting about Brave New World‘s relationship to contemporary society, is that in 1985, writer and media critic Neil Postman published the non-fiction book Amusing Ourselves to Death. In the book, Postman accurately predicts the rise of a candidate like Donald Trump and the prevalence of fake news in society. In the introduction of the book, Postman explains that he got the idea in 1984, when he was participating in a panel on parallels between George Orwell’s 1984 and real life in 1984.

What Postman realized is that modern life is becoming more like Brave New World than1984. Postman wrote:

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that therewould be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture.”

Essentially, what Postman says Huxley was warning us against is the dangers of beingoppressed by our own amusement; meaning we use endless streams of entertainment to distract ourselves and fail to engage with real life.

1. Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner

Stand on Zanzibar is probably the least well known book on the list, but it is the most accurate prediction of what life would be like in the future. 

The book, which was written in 1968, follows a large cast of characters, but many chapters are backstory and information about the world of 2010. According to the website The Millions, there are at least 17 amazingly accurate predictions that Brunner makes about 2010 in Stand on Zanzibar.

In the book, a major problem in society is that individuals are committing random acts of violence, often at schools. Terrorists also threaten American interests and attack American buildings. Between 1960 and 2010, Brunner predicted that prices would increase six fold because of inflation; it actually increased sevenfold. America’s biggest rival is China, and not the Soviet Union. It’s also a different dynamic because instead of warfare or a weapons race, the competition is seen in economics, trade, and technology. 

As for the rest of the world, the countries of Europe have formed into one union. Britain is part of it, but they tend to side with the United States, while the other European countries are critical of American actions. Africa is behind the rest of the world, while Israel’s existence is still a source of tension in the Middle East.

When it comes to the lives of everyday people, marriage still happens but young people prefer to have short-term relationships instead of committing to someone long-term. Society is also much more liberal. Homosexuality and bisexuality is accepted. Black people are in a better position in society, but racial tension is still prevalent.

When it comes to technology, Brin predicted that cars would run on electric fuel cells. Honda and General Motors are the two biggest manufacturers. And even though General Motors is a Detroit based company, Detroit is a rundown ghost town, but they have a unique techno music scene, which really did emerge in the 1990s.

TV channels are played all over the world thanks to satellites and the TV system allows people to watch shows on their own schedule. Inflight entertainment on planes is in the back of the seats and they feature videos and news. Also, in the book the characters can phone each other on video screens, but instead of a picture of themselves, they use avatars, which can look like the caller or someone completely different. There are also laser printers, which print documents.

Pharmaceuticals are used to help sexual performance, and they are advertised. Due to a societal and political backlash, tobacco has been marginalized and marijuana has become decriminalized. Finally, the President of the United States is President Obomi, which is an amazing fluke or actual evidence that Brunner somehow saw or experienced 2010.

In all, Stand on Zanzibar is a pretty remarkable vision of the future. Unfortunately, the author, John Brunner, did not get to see many of his predictions come true – he died in 1995 at the age of 60.


The Future

– As Read in Fiction

Game Changing Moments – WIF History

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Historical Moments

That Changed

Everything

Like the moment when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was taken out because his assassin stopped for a sandwich, some small moments in history can have absolutely incredible impact. While most things in the world take place because of boring and tedious work done over decades, there are those times when things hang in the balance, and the wrong move can alter the course of history forever. Below are several scenarios where the history of the world changed in a very short span of time – if these things had happened differently, we could be living with a very different world today.

 10. James Comey Releasing The Final Report About Hillary Clinton

Certainly, there are many factors involved in the recent election that caused it to come out the way it did, and no one can say that Hillary Clinton was an incredibly strong campaigner. However, when it got close to the end, most of the polls said that Hillary Clinton was going to win handily, and yet somehow she did not manage to do so. In fact, while locking up the popular vote, she lost the Electoral College by quite a lot. Some of the reason for her inability to cross the finish line at the end is that her candidacy was not the most exciting, but the folks at FiveThirtyEight, who perform statistical number crunching of elections, believe it was at least the final straw.

They believe that the final Comey letter about Hillary Clinton, her “October Surprise” as it were, was essentially the straw that broke the camel’s back. After all the various election ads against her, and all the various things that she was questioned over such as Benghazi, a final suggestion that she was once again being investigated, after it was supposed to be over, likely tipped the final scales in favor of Donald Trump. While we cannot know for sure how Hillary Clinton would have governed, it is safe to say that she would have had a very different presidency from Donald Trump, and left a very different mark on the world.

9. The Assassination Of Abraham Lincoln

Just weeks before the American Civil War came to a close, Abraham Lincoln found himself inside Ford’s Theater to relax and take in a show. Then, as we all know, the actor and southern sympathizer John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln in the head and ended the second term of his presidency early. Unfortunately, while Booth shot Lincoln in the head, he may have also shot himself, and the South, in the foot. The problem is that right after the Civil War, Lincoln’s plan was to try to get the South rebuilt, forgiven and friendly with the North again as soon as possible. He wanted true reconciliation and reconstruction, and he didn’t want to waste any time. However, the so-called radical Republicans in congress wanted stricter measures against the South, for which the South didn’t want to cooperate.

Then Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s successor, was much more of a Southern sympathizer, which meant that the radical Republicans did not want to work with him on Southern reconstruction, or really on anything. This led to an atmosphere where, instead of both sides working together to rebuild and reconcile, the South tried to get away with as much as it could, and the North tried to punish them for past crimes. This eventually led to Andrew Johnson’s impeachment, and poor leadership that caused the Jim Crow South to be an issue to this very day. The South is still a bit of a mess, all because one angry Southerner’s misguided desire for revenge caused him to take out the man with the plan and influence to fix it. And while some may think Lincoln couldn’t have done it, there is evidence that Lincoln already had support for plans similar to those presented by Andrew Johnson, but that support was withdrawn when Johnson was sworn in, because many politicians did not want to work with a Southern sympathizer.

8. The Yalta Conference Reinforced Soviet Hegemony In Eastern Europe

The Cold War raged up until very recently and if you asked some, it never ended at all. Certainly, even if it did end temporarily, it would seem that a serious conflict with the Russians is nearing again. People are once again getting worried about a violent and global domination-hungry Russia, and tensions have not been higher since the early days of the Cold War. However, it is possible all of this could have long ago been avoided, or at least been very different from how it is now. At the Yalta Conference, in the final discussions between the three major allied leaders, Franklin Roosevelt was nearing the end of his life, and his skills as a negotiator were greatly slipping.

It was said Winston Churchill could not convince Stalin (and did not get along with the man), but Roosevelt was able to get on with him as a friend and equal, and get a lot out of him in terms of negotiation. Experts say that at the Yalta Conference, Roosevelt was exhausted and gave away far too much to Stalin, basically giving away the Eastern European countries that went on to be held by the Soviet Union for decades. While Stalin already held some of the territory, Roosevelt basically gave it up without a fight. If he had managed to get Stalin to back off from much of Eastern Europe to begin with, Churchill may never have given his Iron Curtain speech, and we may not have a man like Putin today who thinks half of Europe belongs to his country by birthright.

7. The Challenger Disaster Was Caused By A Dangerous Few Moments Of Groupthink In A Single Meeting

The Challenger was set to launch, and people were incredibly excited to see it, with NASA promoting it as much as possible. Then, disaster struck. After watching the shuttle explode on national TV, with school children watching around the country, it turned out that the issue was a faulty o-ring that messed up the heat seal and caused the whole thing to be consumed. Immediately many people wondered how the shuttle could go up like that at all. After all, there were procedures in place to test every last part down to the last decimal to make sure there were no issues.

However, it quickly turned it that it did indeed come down to human error. At a meeting the issue of the o-ring had been brought up, but those who were in charge of the meeting seemed uninterested in seriously discussing it, and even though many in the meeting knew it needed to be discussed more for safety, they did not want to upset their superiors. In the end, the meeting became such a perfect example of the psychological phenomenon of groupthink – where people make bad decisions to not rock the boat in a group, even when they know the decision is catastrophically terrible – that mock ups of the meeting have been made using professional actors, in order to help teach the concept to psychology students.

6. The Hessian Commander Neglected A Note Saying George Washington Was Crossing The Delaware

The Crossing of the Delaware is one of the most famous moments in the American Revolution, and has been immortalized with an incredibly famous painting, which stirs the imagination of the bold deed performed by George Washington and his men, in order to take the enemy off guard when they were at their most vulnerable. It was a crucial point in the war that we all know very well, and it could have turned out very differently if the Hessian Commander had taken the warnings he got more seriously.

The Hessian Commander was found much later with a note that told of Washington planning an imminent attack, something a spy had slipped the commander days before. However, he did not take the warnings particularly seriously, and was caught up not properly prepared when Washington came for him and his men. Part of the issue was that they were constantly being harassed by local militias, which made things more chaotic when the full attack from the Colonials arrived. However, the simple fact of the matter is that if the commander had prepared himself for a full blown attack (not just from the local militias, but from Washington) and stayed alert, the entire plan may have been foiled.

5. Andrew Wakefield’s Fake Anti-MMR Study Is Causing Deaths To This Day

Andrew Wakefield is a man who has more blood on his hands than most people who have ever been called a doctor – which he isn’t anymore, because he was kicked off the medical register in the UK for his fraudulent nonsense. Back in the late 1990s Wakefield published a fraudulent medical paper that he was later forced to retract, claiming that vaccines caused autism in children. Despite the fact that the study was swiftly disproven, and Wakefield shown as the scam artist he is, this is still causing horrible problems to this day.

His paper was a catalyst that started a movement, now endorsed by multiple celebrities, to not vaccinate your children. This nonsense has already led to outbreaks of measles in the United States, and has led to more bouts of whooping cough and other potentially deadly diseases that we had previously had under control. Just one fraudulent scientific paper is causing increased deaths decades later, due to so many people that listened to bad medical advice, and decided to embrace conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, it’s hard to convince these anti-vaxxers to protect their children and everyone else’s, because anti-vaccine believers tend to have a cult-like mindset. If you believe that vaccines don’t cause autism, in their mind, you are a part of the big cover-up, or a sheep unwilling to see the truth.

4. President Truman’s Controversial Decision To Launch Two Atomic Bombs On Populated Cities

The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a moment in history that will remain in infamy forever. Some people defend it saying that at that point, nothing less had any chance of convincing the Japanese to surrender peacefully, and that otherwise we would have had total war that led to way more deaths on both sides overall. Others would argue that the Japanese were already low on resources and morale, and we could have possibly worked out a peaceful surrender from them without dropping two giant bombs on populated cities.

However, whether you agree with the decision or not, it was an historic moment that forever shaped the globe. Since then nuclear paranoia set in, and countries immediately started racing to build as many of their own and test them all over the world, releasing untold amounts of radiation. This global arms race persists today, where many people still face the possibility of nuclear annihilation daily, and are only comforted by the fact that nuclear war would be unlikely to happen because it would be a no win scenario.

The world could possibly have been a very different place. Even if nuclear testing had continued in various countries, without the historic example of heavily populated cities being leveled in a moment, the true paranoia we see today would likely not exist – we might have had a world where people knew a nuclear weapon existed, but didn’t particularly fear them and feel so paranoid, because they had no proper context in which to put a real life nuclear attack.

3. Teddy Kennedy’s Actions Immediately Following Chappaquiddick Ruined His Presidential Dreams

Most people have heard of Teddy Kennedy, one of the three original Kennedy brothers and often called the lion of the senate. Some wondered, as he got on in years, why he never sought the presidency, and the answer is that he once did, and ended up being sunk by his own actions. Back when he was younger, he was a very powerful up and coming politician, and was indeed running for president. He was charismatic, had a lot of support, and likely would have won the Democratic primary, with a good chance at the general election. And while we cannot know exactly what kind of policies he would have had, the Kennedys never did anything small, so it is certainly likely he would have had a strong historical impact as president. However, just as his star was as bright as it could be, he got himself into big trouble.

He was out with a woman in his car on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, when the car crashed over a bridge into the water. He managed to make it out of the car, but not with the woman – Mary Jo Kopechne. He did not notify the police until many hours later, and not until after he had had a good talk with his lawyers about how he could get out of trouble. Many speculated that he did not go to the police immediately or report it because he was drunk and wanted to sober up – he suspected he would be arrested for things like manslaughter and drunk driving if he went to the police right away. Still, he was a Kennedy and they were known for being playboys, he could have potentially managed to avoid it sinking his political career if he had went straight to the police, but the way he handled the incident sunk him. Most people were rather disturbed how callously he left the woman to die.

2. Reagan’s Firing Of Over 1000 Air Traffic Controllers Has Had Lasting Repercussions For All Unions

Many people do not remember the firing of the air traffic controllers under President Reagan, but it still has vast ramifications to this day. The short version of the story is that the then-union for the air traffic controllers was on strike for better pay, and the negotiations were simply not going very well at all. Both sides kept going back and forth, and an agreement was not being put in place quickly enough. Fed up with the entire thing, President Reagan declared it an illegal strike and threatened to fire each and every single one of them if they didn’t stop striking. Unfortunately for them, they called what they thought was a bluff. It wasn’t, and they were all fired.

At first people thought this would be a huge disaster, because air traffic controllers are really important, but he put in military controllers until others could be trained and everything worked out okay. This was a huge blow to unions in general and greatly set them back over the years. However, this wasn’t necessarily something Reagan would have wanted. He didn’t think unions in general were bad or that workers shouldn’t have rights, but he saw a situation where these were vital jobs that absolutely must be filled, and the terms could not be agreed upon. He saw it as an extreme act in an emergency – he did not plan to break the backs of labor unions.

1. Colin Powell’s False Presentation About Iraq Got Us Into War With A Potential Ally

Colin Powell’s presentation about WMDs before congress will go down as one of the most pivotal moments in history. Now, there is some debate and confusion as to whether Powell was simply being used, or was complicit in what was happening. Either way, an incredibly false and misleading presentation made it look like there were WMDs in Iraq when there actually were none at all. This led the United States into a full blown war in Iraq that has had lasting ramifications to this very day. And to make matters worse, there is reason believe that if we hadn’t taken out Saddam, we may have had a stable ally in the region who could have been of great help.

When Saddam Hussein was captured, he explained that he was actually shocked and confused that Iraq was attacked. He thought that the United States would want to ally with him to help find terrorists after what happened on 9/11, and didn’t understand why he was a target when none of the terrorists were from Iraq. He had thought he could help us and that what happened would bring Iraq and the United States closer together. While some may believe Saddam to be brutal, he kept the region stable, something we have been unable to accomplish. If Saddam had remained in power and his words are to be believed, we may have had both a stable Iraq and a solid and stalwart ally in the region.


Game Changing Moments

– WIF History

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 198

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 198

…Landslide, avalanche, drubbing, rout, outclassed, destroyed, Waterloo, and the Battle of Little Big Horn or even Cornwallis in the 1st American Revolution…

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis

On November 2nd 2032, the only polls that count are the exit variety. By 3 Image result for white flag of surrender gifPM Election DayEastern Time, the regretful tatters of a white flag can be seen hanging from the rafters at the Crowne Plaza New York City ballroom, the site of the would-be Freelove victory celebration.

One veteran columnist, wise to the intricacies of Election Day chalk, suggested that the only way the Crippen/Walker ticket were to lose this election, would be, to immediately concede or pull out of the race completely; too early for one, too late for the other.

When the smoke clears, after the polls close on the West Coast, the only Democratic institutions left standing are two California Senators, the Governor of Porto Rico and the dog catcher for Orange County Florida.

Landslide, avalanche, drubbing, rout, outclassed, destroyed, Waterloo, and the Battle of Little Big Horn are all terms that could be applied unmercifully to this national election and whose memory will not easily escape even the shortest of recollection.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~3 Years Later~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The first three years in office, for 1st time politician Prez Roy, as he will be lovingly nicknamed, are unbelievably tranquil. No new wars started by anyone, a robust economy fueled by international cooperation, and the slogan “hydrogen {not gasoline} in every tank”; prescriptions-all for a sustained love affair between the American public and the Crippen presidency.

Some of their success in the Retro Future had as much to do with “being in the right place, at the right time”, but he and Charlotte Walker have assembled a competent group of advisers, as well as the streamlined Cabinet, where nonpolitical-types fill vitally important jobs and do not go toddling off to the private sector at the dangling of a lobbyist dollar or two.

So as a result of quality hires and keeping top-notch personnel in each case {not the same-old Washington insider sapsuckers} many potential crises fall harmlessly to the wayside. To be sure, the old guard would love to hate every successful minute of the Crippen White House, if it weren’t for straightforward policy making and the regularly scheduled press conferences, i.e. a B.S.-free zone.


THE RETURN TRIP

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Episode 198


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Contents TRT

 

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 191

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 191

…What you see is what you get with candidate Roy and what you get is an ambitious agenda…

The informative exercise called a news conference is something that a president, or a would-be, must handle himself. The Press Secretary can be a stopgap mouthpiece, but when it comes to the Washington Press Corps, face-to-face access to the leader of the free world is a very necessary evil and Roy Crippen best acquaint himself with those assigned to report on his campaign.

As the general election rapidly approaches, Roy is pressed on issues that do not have the slightest thing to do with the subject of space. That is where Charlotte Walker comes in handy. As an unconventional non-politician that he is, she embodies the savvy he lacks. As an added bonus, she has an enlightened bent that sets her apart from party regulars.

They often share the podium at these pressers, projecting themselves as a true team, an elected duo who will to tackle the tough issues head on. What you see is what you get and what you get is an ambitious agenda:

  1. Reducing the size and scope of the Federal Government
  2. Cabinet positions halved or quartered
  3. Continuing campaign funding reforms
  4. Replacing welfare with a public service contract
  5. Mandatory high school graduation, with a goal of graduating 150,000 US born engineering students/yr
  6. Discontinue America’s “Policeman of the World” policies that drag the USA into regional conflicts we do not fully understand
  7. Individual state autonomy, including single states that embrace like-minded policies like:

a) Religion

b) Fiscal responsibility

c) Gun control

d) Crime-free zones

Roy will forever trumpet his own vested interests related to the obvious:

  • A meteor defense shield (that replaced the missile defense shield and prevents the 10,000 lb. strike that wiped out Madagascar in 2027)
  • Space Colony II (its immediate construction and deployment)
  • Accelerated funding for the Steven W. Hawking Foundation sponsored SOL Project (achieving the speed-of-light and Earth-like planet/colony search)

THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 191


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Contents TRT

 

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 177

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 177

…The world as we know it has an expiration date, unless we reach for the stars…

Roy continues his Chicago campaign speech.

“Think about it closely. Picture the world within the framework of our children and our grandchildren, not just our own short lifetimes. A watershed moment is at SOL-logohand my fellow citizens of planet Earth. What if we do not deploy a Space Colony II? What if we don’t achieve the speed-of-light and aggressively fund the SOL Project? What if we sit on our butts without giving ourselves a hand up and out, settling for the status quo?

“There is a simple answer to those questions; the what-ifs and should-haves will be our ultimate undoing. The world as we know it has an expiration date, unless we reach for the stars. As President of the United States of America, the leader of the free world, I will work tirelessly for the purpose of our participation in the greater galactic neighborhood we refer to as the Milky Way. I invite the rest of the world to join us in speeding up the technological processes necessary to accomplish these things before the end of this decade.”

The huge gathering in the Hilton ballroom has been clobbered over the head with a sledgehammer. They have been told, ‘You are trapped in a burning building and there is one way out… will you get out or will you perish in the flames?’

The worldwide digital audience, the national addressees in particular are cautiously enthusiastic. All of Crippen’s futurist views are outdone by the lack of the long awaited announcement of his vice-presidential running mate, but no one dare doubt his reasoning. It is hard to doubt someone so prepared, so sincere. Freelove’s camp is especially anxious to have another person to sling mud at, seeing that mud just doesn’t stick to Roy Crippen.

At the reception following his “Space Speech”, aspiring first lady Francine is at his side, amid all the optimistic talk. He treats his campaign people like royalty and their loyalty is secure. If someone dares to falsely accuse their candidate of wrongness, be prepared for a fight.

One such loyalist compliments Roy on his tie. He knows most by name, “Why thank you Barb. Francine picks out all my clothes. Without her fashion sense, I would be wearing dirty jeans and Bart Simpson tee-shirts.”

Francine rolls her eyes.

Barbara Z. laughs like it was the funniest thing she has heard in a year.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 177


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Contents TRT

Sci-Fi Commuting – WIF Into the Future

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Sci-Fi Methods of Travel

We May Soon Be Using

The world’s population is growing every day, which means that there are more commuters who need to get around. The increase in commuters will make gridlock in urban areas much worse, and will also put a lot of pressure on aging and outdated public transit systems. Not to mention, it could be devastating to the environment. To combat the growing problem, new, inexpensive, and innovative forms of transportation are going to be needed. While self-driving cars are expected to become the norm in about 25 years, what other forms of transportation will we be using?

10. Drone Train

In his video, designer Dahir Insaat shows how a large drone tethered to a track would be a cheap and eco-friendly way to transport lots of people. Insaat doesn’t give many details about his system, but claims that it can all be made with current technology and would be environmentally friendly.

Besides being a tethered drone, something else that stands out about the design is the inside of the drone where the passengers are held. It looks more like a bar and restaurant than a cramped train or airplane. And if you had to travel over a long distance, which would you rather choose?

9. Lopifit

If our ancestors knew that we had machines that allowed us to run or walk in one spot, they would probably laugh at us (but hopefully if you time travel and meet your ancient ancestors, the treadmill isn’t the topic you lead with). Trying to remedy the ridiculousness of treadmills and turn them into functional modes of transportation is the Dutch company Lopifit.

The Lopifit is a scooter-type vehicle that utilizes a battery and is powered by someone walking on a treadmill. The battery range is 34 miles and its top speed is about 15 miles per hour, which is faster than the average speed of a bicycle. It has six gears, can climb hills and even has interchangeable wheels for off road excursions. One Lopifit will set you back 1,899 Euros ($2,100 USD).

8. Quadrofoil

There’s a saying about boats: they’re holes in water that you dump money into. They are hard to maintain and most of them aren’t exactly energy efficient, meaning they’re expensive to drive as well.

For these reasons, boats like the Quadrofoil may become more popular in the future. The two passenger boat has an all-electric motor and from one charge, it has a 60 mile range. The boat uses hydrofoil technology, which means it uses special vanes, or wings, that push it out of the water, which cuts down on resistance and makes the boat go faster. In the case of the Quadrofoil, that’s about 21 knots (about 18 MPH).

The boat is almost silent and can be used in environmentally protected sanctuaries. If you want one, it costs about $18,700 for a baseline model.

7. The Shweeb

Bicycles are great for getting around, but they do have a few downsides. Once you get somewhere, you have to lock it up, then you have to find some place to store your helmet. Not to mention the contemptuous relationship between cyclists and drivers and how many people are killed and injured every year while riding a bike. For these reasons, the future of cycling may be something like The Shweeb, which is a human-powered monorail. The system uses aerodynamic pods in a tube that hang from low resistance tracks. By just pedaling, most riders reach 28 MPH, and up to five cars can be linked together.

A proof of concept was built at an amusement park in New Zealand and the designer says that they could be easily and inexpensively expanded to cities. Since they are powered by humans, there would be a minimal carbon footprint. Now, we just need to do something about that ridiculous name and we’re all set.

6. cTrain

Boston boasts a population of over 667,000 people and is one of the major tourist cities in the United States. That means when there is an event or bad weather, the city can become nightmarishly gridlocked. Their transit infrastructure is also badly out of date and to get moderate upgrades, it is going to cost the city $7.3 billion. Of course, Boston isn’t alone in this and cities across the world are struggling with gridlock and aging and inadequate public transit systems. However, we use Boston as the example, because a transit designer in Boston has a way to alter the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority for a measly $2.3 billion.

Emil Jacob’s idea is to replace all the buses, subways, and commuter rail with elevated electric street cars. The cTrain, which is short for Caterpillar Train, would use narrow cable-like rail lines that are elevated about two stories over the road. The system would run cars on top of the track, while other cars hang below, meaning two trains could use the track at the same time. A 40-foot train car could run on the same amount of power required to operate three golf carts and it could travel at speeds of 50 to 100 MPH.

Besides just being cheaper to install instead of upgrading, the cTrain would be less expensive to operate and it would be much more environmentally friendly.

5. 3D Express Coach

If you hate traffic, you might want to avoid China. It’s already home to the world’s longest traffic jam (it was 62 miles long and lasted for 12 days) and 14 million new cars are bought there every year. China’s population is also expected to increase by over 100 million people over the next 15 years – meaning the Chinese government will really need to think outside the box if they want to keep their citizens moving without poisoning everyone. One proposal is the 3D Express Coach that was first unveiled by the Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Company in 2010.

The vehicles, which can carry 300 people, span the whole road and on both sides of the double lane road are tracks. This would allow the bus to travel over the cars, which would have a twofold effect. The first is that it removes buses from the road, which would alleviate traffic. Secondly, by avoiding traffic and going above it, the 3D Express Coach can keep to their schedule, making them more reliable.

Test tracks for the Coach Express are set to be laid in China in 2016.

4. The Horizon System

An interesting, but far out way to travel long distances is the Horizon System, which was developed by a group of Scottish students. How it works is that you arrive at the airports of the future, which they call SkyStations. They will be placed throughout the cities and equipped with restaurants, bars, and an augmented reality mall. Which we guess is a thing that might exist at some point?

Once your SkyLink pod arrives, you board it, and you can go to another SkyStation nearby, or if you have a longer distance to travel, your pod will meet up with other pods on a specialized airstrip. Then, a drone will swoop down and, using powerful magnets, the SkyShip will pick up your pod like an “Eagle catching its prey.” This recharges the SkyShips’ battery, which allows the SkyShips to always be running.

After picking up the pods, the SkyShip will start to climb. Once it reaches a certain elevation, the pods will open up and you’ll be able to leave your seat. When you reach your destination, the SkyShip will drop off your pod at the airstrip and it will take you to the nearest SkyStation.

Of course, there is a long way to go before we have drones that can pick up trains, but the Horizon System shows what exciting things may come with advancements in transportation.

3. skyTran

Bordering the line between transportation and amusement park ride is NASA’s skyTran. The system uses rocket shaped cars that hold four people and hang from a cable. Using electromagnets, each car can reach 60 MPH, but they only use one-third of the energy of a hybrid car.

To install a skyTran system, it would cost a city $8 million per a kilometer and then it’s $25,000 to $30,000 per car, which is relatively cheap compared to the alternatives. For example, it costs anywhere from $100 million to $2 billion to build one kilometer of an underground system. Another bonus is that the skyTran can be set up in a matter of days, instead of months or years. The electromagnets also mean that it uses less energy, making the cars cheaper to run. SkyTran would be a personal transit system where electricity isn’t relied on.

Currently, skyTran is being tested in Tel Aviv, Israel. If the tests are successful, three other cities in Israel and several in the United States will be installing skyTran systems in 2018.

2. Passenger Drones

Flying cars may look cool in movies like Blade Runner, but there are some serious problems with them. For example, if you get into a fender bender or your flying car stalls in the sky, it could be a lot more serious than having a head-on collision on the ground. Plus, instead of just a driver’s license, people would also need a pilot’s license, which would be much harder to get because flying is obviously more complicated than driving. And if you’ve done some driving in a city with a lot of traffic, you know that many people should have never been granted their driver’s license (Toronto, we’re looking in your direction), so why would anyone risk using a flying car?

Tackling many of these potential problems is EHang Inc., a Chinese drone company. At the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, they unveiled the 184, a personal autonomous aerial vehicle, which is the world’s first passenger drone. It’s a single person drone that uses eight propellers and goes 1,000 to 1,650 feet off the ground, but it has a maximum altitude of 11,500 feet . It has a top speed of 62 MPH, and it can carry 264 pounds. The biggest limitation is that it can only keep a passenger airborne at sea level for 23 minutes and it takes two hours to charge it.

The controls for flying one are Idiocracytype easy. There are two commands that can be controlled on a tablet: take off, and land. Once the drone is in the air, it will guide itself to your destination and land safely on its own.

The EHang is expected to go on sale later in 2016 with a price tag between $200,000 and $300,000.

1. Evacuated Tube Transport

An interesting thing about air is that while we can’t feel it while we are standing still or moving slowly, the faster you move, the more air resistance you meet, and the more it slows you down. However, if there was no air, we could move around much more freely. Of course if there was no air we’d all die, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, a lack of air resistance is the idea behind evacuated tube transport, which would use frictionless vehicles in an airless or near airless tube.

One example of an evacuated tube transport system is Elon Musk’s Hyperloop. The Hyperloop removes most of the air from a steel tube, and then cars are pushed using a tiny amount of air compression. Musk proposed that the first Hyperloop would connect Los Angeles to San Francisco, a distance of about 380 miles. The passenger cars could leave every 10 seconds and they could reach 760 MPH, meaning the trip would be done in half an hour (whereas by car, it would be about a six hour drive). The cost of the Hyperloop is $6 billion, which sounds like a lot of money. However, California is already building a much-delayed, high speed train, and it’s costing them ten times more with a price tag of at least $64 billion. Then when it is done, it will only go 220 MPH – not nearly as fast as the Hyperloop. Musk has already raised $120 million in investor money and wants to have the systemcarrying passengers by 2021.

Beyond California, another company called ET3 wants to use the same principle and have frictionless trains that travel from continent to continent. Their vacuum tube uses electromagnets and cars would carry six people, reaching speeds of 4,000 MPH, which is more than five times faster than the current land speed record. However, due to the way the car increases its velocity, passengers inside never feel like they are going faster than a sharp turn in a car.


Sci-Fi Commuting

WIF Future-001

– WIF Into the Future