Month: November 2015

Saving the Past for the Future

They say that history always repeats itself. But, what if we are losing our history? How can that be with all the data floating around. Some people commemorate loved ones, both relatives and pets with photos and paintings. Dottie Dowling (see Facebook page) does wonderful photos, especially of animals and Carol McClees,,  is frequently commissioned to paint people’s pets so they have a memory of them.

Bad Future Predictions

The Huffington Post had a funny article about predictions of the future that didn’t quite work out.

1859 – People that Edwin Drake knew thought he was bonkers for trying to drill in the Earth to find oil. Whales were plentiful and would do just fine.

1873 – The Queen’s surgeon said that it would be crazy to do surgery on chest, abdomen and brain and that no one would ever do such an inhumane thing.

1878 – An Oxford professor thought the electric light was a gimmick for the grand Paris Exhibition and that it would fade away and never be heard of again.

1883 – Of all people, someone as intelligent and learned as Lord Kelvin thought that x-rays were a hoax.

1888 – Possibly his proof was that no one had so far been successful but a professor Joseph Le Conte felt that this proved that a self propelled flying machine was impossible.  Good think most inventors don’t listen to this kind of logic.

1903 – A bank president told Henry Ford’s attorney not to invest in Ford Motor Company because cars were a fad and we would always use horses.

1912 – The Syracuse Herald was a bit too fast with their reporting on the Titanic. They claimed that all passengers had been saved and the ship was damaged but making its way to Halifax. Wrong!

1919 – Hall of fame baseball player, Tris Speaker, said it was a supremely dumb idea to convert Babe Ruth from the best left handed pitcher in all of baseball to a right fielder. However, the Babe went on to hold the record for the most home runs in one year for 34 years and the most career home runs record for 39 years.

1920 – The New York Times decided that a rocket would never be able to get out of Earth’s atmosphere. Maybe their descendants were the ones who said the moon walk was a hoax staged on a Hollywood set.

1944 – A modeling agency told Marilyn Monroe that she should get a secretarial job or get married.

1948 – A radio pioneer declared that TV was just a “flash in the pan”

1955 – Variety magazine proclaimed that Rock n Roll would disappear by June of that year.

2005 – And of course since this was in the Huffington Post, the last is that the LA Weekly said when the Huffington Post was launched that it would not survive.


History of Predicting the Future

Many people have tried to predict the future. It seems deeply embedded in various religions. Jesus was part of a group predicting the apocalypse. However the meaning of the word has changed. It originally meant a revelation of God’s will rather than the end of the world as it has come to mean now.

Jewish Predictions

Jewish belief in the apocalypse is that the current world is ruled by evil and that a Messiah will come and deliver believers to a new era that will by ruled by God. Predictions of when the Messiah would come were discouraged so that people wouldn’t lose their belief if the prediction was wrong. We have been waiting 2,000 years.

There have been many false predictions over the years. You would think that people would look at the track record and avoid making predictions of the end of the world. Here are some of the ones.

The final battle was going to be fought in the year 66-70 as the Jews battled the Romans. Then Hilary Poitiers said it would end in 365 and Martin of Tours said it would happen before the year 400.

Christian predictions

Then the year 500, 793 and 800 and a waffle by Gregory of Tours saying 799-806. Have you noticed that a lot of the predictions are for turn of the century and turn of the millennium. They probably didn’t stop to think that telling time in this way was a human construct and there was nothing special about these dates.

Then there was 848, 992-5 by an assortment of Christians, January 1, 1000 and 1033. We skip the 1100s and the end of the world predictions start up again in the 1200s. and 1300s, skip the 1400s and then more in the 1500s. (There might have been some in the 1100s and 1400s but they weren’t mentioned in the article we read.

The Demise Gets More Frequent

There were many predictions of the end of the world in the 1500, 1600s, 1700s and 1800s. Some reworked their calculations when the world didn’t end after the first date they predicted. Cotton Mather tried 3 times. It is not clear if the increase was because with a greater population and therefore more people who might make predictions or that historical recordation improved and we just will never know the true extend of predictions in earlier times.

Aliens enter the picture

In the 1900s the bad predictions did not let up. Jeane Dixon got this one wrong. Unfortunately for Jim Jones’ followers in Guyana, Jim Jones decided not to wait for the apocalypse and created his own. Then Charles Manson murdered people to start a race war that would create an apocalypse. The Heaven’s Gate Cult believed an alien spacecraft was in the shadow of Halley’s comet and we were supposed to die as it came by so that our souls could get to the spacecraft. Thirty nine of them committed suicide so they could get to the spaceship.

And the hits just keep on coming. It seems like they are getting more frequent. When will people learn?


More on Cars

Are we in for a future of the Jetsons with flying cars? Or as mentioned in a prior post, most people not owning cars, but instead, doing taxis, limo rental, uber type services and the like. Will the cars drive themselves or will we still be at the wheel?

The Future is More of the Past

I just had my eyes opened. I just found some articles that my father had sent me in  1987. I had never gotten around to reading them at the time and felt guilty about throwing them away without looking at them.

Finally, in 2015 I unburied them and looked through them. It was very interesting and made me question even more whether I wanted to trust what advice people had to give about the stock market and the economy.

Crash of 1987

The articles talk about the stock market crash of 1987 and what were the causes and what should people do. A number of people were comparing the downturn to 1929 which in retrospect is a severely overblown reaction.

Some people felt that modern safeguards would prevent a meltdown to the 1929 levels. Between Social Security, unemployment insurance and an active Federal Reserve, many felt that they would prevent a complete 1929 style meltdown. At the time they were written, the downturn seemed to be only in the stock market and not in the general economy.

Worse than 1929?

One analyst felt that these only treated the symptoms and not the underlying causes. He felt that 1987 might be even worse than 1929. He said in both cases that excessive world wide debt and a contracting economy had been the cause of the crash.

He also said that legislators had gone overboard after the 1929 crash and there was too much New Deal social legislation and also business regulation. He felt that this was having a major drag on the economy. Sounds like the Republicans of 2015. Not much has changed.

Back to the Future

Another article said that people got too caught up in the euphoria of the stock market rise and that they didn’t pay attention to the warning signs. That sounds like what happens at any market peak to me. They said that people didn’t pay attention to low earning yields and dividends on stocks and figured that corporate earnings would increase and yields along with it.

Other problems were inflationary expectations which were much higher back then than they are now. Also there was a stalemate between Congress and the President. Perhaps not the inflation (although people keep beating that drum) it sounds a lot like today doesn’t it?

At least I didn’t read anything about people jumping out of windows in 1987 the way some did in 1929. There were a number of comments about people who had bought on margin and were facing margin calls. This was much worse in 1929 because there were fewer safeguards to keep people out of trouble back then. In 1929, everyone from tycoons to blue collar workers was buying on margin since it seemed like the joy ride would never end.