The Future That Never Was

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georgejetson I live in the future, and things are not as I was promised.

Back in the 1960’s, when I was Space Cadet Jimmie Joe, there were certain things that we simply knew would exist, off in the far distant future of the 21st Century. The big one, of course, was the flying car. The Jetsons‘ of 1962 got that wrong. Back To The Future of 1985 got it wrong, too. Space Cadet Jimmie Joe has never quite forgiven any of them for that.

The Jetsons‘ had big screen televisions and video phones, which we’ve pretty well matched. We get our dinners from a magic box we call a microwave oven, which is a pretty good substitute for dinner sliding out of the wall on a conveyor belt. And, of course, the Internet. Of all the future tech people wrote about in my childhood, nobody really thought of that one. So much for prognostication.

The future I live in has interesting quirks, some rather depressing. We have 400 channels of television, and nothing much worth watching. We have satellite radio, also with hundreds of channels.  The FM and AM radio bands are filled with screaming DJs, or drivel-filled talk shows that cater to conspiracy theories and “fake news”.

While the future is not quite Blade Runner, neither is it Star Trek.

I ran into one quirk this morning. It turns out that in the 21st century, if the computer goes down the fast food joint can’t serve anything. Nobody knows how to do anything without the computer adjudicating it first.

The grill was still hot. The french fryer still bubbling. The soda machine could still dispense a Coke. But without the computer, nothing happens.

Nobody knows how to take an order, write it down, add up the price, figure out the sales tax, and make a sale. Business comes to a screeching halt, all because the computer crashed.

I suppose that’s all so very futuristic of them, but it sure seems like we missed the boat (flying car) somewhere.

Oh. And my Congressman is suing a cow. A fake cow. For being mean to him.

Welcome to the 21st Century, Space Cadet Jimmie Joe.

 

Last Flight of the Shuttle Atlantis

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Space Shuttle Atlantis Photo Credit NASA

As of this writing, the Space Shuttle Atlantis sits on the pad at Kennedy Space Center Florida, ready for today’s liftoff on a mission to the International Space Station.  Barring any last-minute reprieves, this will be Atlantis’ last flight.  After this mission,  Orbiter OV-104,  first flown in 1985,  will be removed from service as NASA retires the Shuttle fleet.  There are only a few more flights remaining in the construction of the International Space Station, and once those flights are done, the shuttle program will be ended.  The orbiters will be safed, and shipped off to various museums and institutions for display.

Once the last Space Shuttle lands sometime in 2011, the United States will have no manned access to space.  While there is an impressive list of rockets in NASA’s fleet, once the Shuttles are retired, American astronauts will only be able to go into space on the rockets of other nations, primarily Russia.

Essentially, the only way for the United States to access it’s Space Station is to hail a cab.

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