A 1968 book predicts life in the year 2018

In 1968, the Foreign Policy Association gathered experts together to predict what life would be like in the year 2018 -- and issued their forecast in the book Toward the Year 2018.

The book jacket promised that the contents were "MORE AMAZING THAN SCIENCE FICTION," and, like a lot of sci fi, it wound up frequently missing the mark. The 1968 progrosticators figured that we people of the future would have TV ads for anti-gravity belts, the "suppression of lightning," a country powered heavily by nuclear, and the ability to launch "a man-made hurricane" as an offensive weapon.

But as this writeup in the New Yorker notes ...

But for every amusingly wrong prediction, there’s one unnervingly close to the mark. It’s the same Thomas Malone who, amid predictions of weaponized hurricanes, wonders aloud whether “large-scale climate modification will be effected inadvertently” from rising levels of carbon dioxide. Such global warming, he predicts, might require the creation of an international climate body with “policing powers”—an undertaking, he adds, heartbreakingly, that should be “as nonpolitical as possible.” Gordon F. MacDonald, a fellow early advocate on climate change, writes a chapter on space that largely shrugs at manned interplanetary travel—a near-heresy in 1968—by cannily observing that while the Apollo missions would soon exhaust their political usefulness, weather and communications satellites would not. “A global communication system . . . would permit the use of giant computer complexes,” he adds, noting the revolutionary potential of a data bank that “could be queried at any time.” What “Toward the Year 2018” gets most consistently right is the integration of computing into daily life.
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Did Nostradamus predict President Trump?

Michel de Nostradame, the 16th century apothecary and seer, published prophecies that remain chilling to this day. Their power is in their peculiar mix of vagueness and specifics: they describe nightmarish scenes with names and analogies that adhere with unsettling elegance to the political forces and personas of later ages.

Here, for example, is a classic quatrain held to describe the French Revolution:

"From the enslaved populace, songs, Chants and demands While princes and lords are held captive in prisons. These will in the future by headless idiots Be received as divine prayers."

Once you've decided what any given quatrain is about, it reads like an eyewitness report by an educated man from an earlier era, trying naively to describe in terms meaningful to him the sights of an apocalyptic technological future. You can imagine him getting high, looking into the fire or a glass ball, and feverishly transcribing the incomprehensible terrors he observes.

Among Nostradamus' greatest hits were Hitler (to whom references to "Hister" are said to apply); Saddam Hussein, whose name accommodates the terrifying "Mabus" character; and Barack Obama, of course, who fits that name even better.

Sure, it's all quite silly, a load of could-mean-anything Renaissance creepypasta. And there's humor to be found in the fact that Nostradamus is so good at predicting things that have already happened.

But where's Donald Trump?

He's mad, he's bad, and he's on track to be the Republican nominee for U.S. Read the rest

Noted Nostradamus scholar incarcerated

Dave Mabus, a Nostradamus crank known for unceasing and threatening rants directed at scientists, journalists, atheists and so forth, is apparently under arrest after widening his list to include law enforcement. [Ars Technica] Read the rest