The reading list
“A secret question hovers over us, a sense of disappointment, a broken promise we were given as children about what our adult world was supposed to be like. I am referring not to the standard false promises that children are always given (about how the world is fair, or how those who work hard shall be rewarded), but to a particular generational promise — given to those who were children in the fifties, sixties, seventies, or eighties — one that was never quite articulated as a promise but rather as a set of assumptions about what our adult world would be like. And since it was never quite promised, now that it has failed to come true, we're left confused: indignant, but at the same time, embarrassed at our own indignation, ashamed we were ever so silly to believe our elders to begin with.
“Where, in short, are the flying cars? Where are the force fields, tractor beams, teleportation pods, antigravity sleds, tricorders, immortality drugs, colonies on Mars, and all the other technological wonders any child growing up in the mid-to-late twentieth century assumed would exist by now? Even those inventions that seemed ready to emerge — like cloning or cryogenics — ended up betraying their lofty promises. What happened to them?
“We are well informed of the wonders of computers, as if this is some sort of unanticipated compensation, but, in fact, we haven't moved even computing to the point of progress that people in the fifties expected we'd have reached by now. We don't have computers we can have an interesting conversation with, or robots that can walk our dogs or take our clothes to the Laundromat.”
From “Of flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit” at thebaffler.com
What causes popcorn kernels to explode and pop open?
Wisdom of the ages
“A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“He was my muse for the better part of my sci-fi career. He lives on through his legion of fans. In the world of science fiction and fantasy and imagination, he is immortal.” – Director Steven Spielberg in a statement after the death of science fiction-fantasy master Ray Bradbury.
The kernel is about 14 percent water, which creates steam when the kernel is heated, and the steam cannot escape.
bosh (bosh), n. – absurd or foolish talk; nonsense, as in: “The editorial writer felt his sensibilities being bashed by the politician's bosh.” From the Turkish bos, “empty.”
Today in history
On this date in 1898, China leased Hong Kong's new territories to Britain for 99 years; China got Hong Kong back right on time, but Hong Kong never really went back, if you know what we mean.
Now you know
In 1998, Sergey Brin and Larry Page incorporated the Internet search engine company Google in Menlo Park, Calif. Although still in beta, Google.com was getting 10,000 queries a day at that time. Within a year, the company was doing 3 million searches a day. (World Almanac)