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Oct 24, 2009

A Singular Window

Car exhaust calliope

Now and then I see something and think, "you know -- those things weren't around before our time, and they won't be around after."  My list, so far, of stuff that will only exist within the 50 to 150 year window we're in at the moment.

Fifteen year old virgins.  In agrarian times, fifteen year olds were plenty old enough for marriage.  In the latter half of the twentieth century, a whole lot of states considered it illegal for fifteen year olds to be having sex.  These days, parents are fighting a losing effort to keep their high schoolers from sleeping with each other.

Cars with internal combustion engines.  Before the 20th century, they didn't exist in quantity.  Before long, I suspect that climate/cost concerns plus improved battery technology will take the IC engine off the road.

Lifetime employment with large corporations.  That window opened and shut within two generations.

Common folk traveling to see something radically new.  Before the middle of the 20th century, very few regular folk could travel far from home to see something very very different.  Today, millions of Americans regularly travel to South America, Europe and Asia to some very new things.  But I suspect in a few decades, we'll have the technology to "walk" the streets of Rio, Nice and Karachi from the comfort of our own living rooms. We'll have local access to the foods and styles of everywhere, as will they.  So sure, we'll be able to travel to Moscow or Jakarta in 2080.  But it won't seem nearly as special as a trip would, today.

Marriage for love that lasts forever.  Nineteenth century marriages were much more practical than romantic. 21st century marriages are less likely to last forever.  (See report: Marriage's Best Days Have Gone By)

America is the world's only superpower.  You don't need to read Paul Kennedy to know it won't last forever. And you don't need to be a radical to think the monopoly will last much longer.

Penny loafers, mullets, and pet rocks.  I'm pretty sure about at least two of those.

Additions or arguments?


Popular Science scan from the Modern Mechanix blog.

10:29 PM in Misc. 2009 | Permalink


Inexpensive, mass-produced meat. For reasons that more or less parallel the IC engine. I don't think everyone will go vegetarian--I certainly won't--but I do think higher prices and lower supplies will become more acceptable tradeoffs for better quality and more environmentally-friendly practices. Eventually.

Posted by: B | Oct 26, 2009 10:16:53 AM

Physical objects that play music. Shellac is long gone, tape cassettes are gone, vinyl is a novelty at this point. I predict CDs will be gone within a couple of decades and after that music will be digital only, and physical recordings of music will have existed for just about 150 years.

Someone just today gave me a treasure trove of 78s. I haven't looked at the dates but judging by the labels and the contents, some go back to the 1930s. Great songs and excellent condition too. It wasn't until after I gratefully accepted them that I realized I have no way to play them.

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