reading about the future in old sci-fi, summer observer wallpaper, colors and advertising

Wendy Lesser looks at the reissue of The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov. Does this excerpt sound like anything we might be familiar with,

The world we inhabit is one in which weekly newsmagazines, printed on paper in columns of type, are considered primitive and profoundly obsolescent; in which an entire bookshelf of bound volumes can be stored in a gadget the size of a fingertip; in which a mechanical device that is only about four inches long and a fraction of an inch thick can record whatever we like, play it back to us through a tiny earpiece, and rest comfortably in a pocket when not in use; in which space flight has been invented but is rarely used by humans, who have lost interest in it after the initial decades of excitement; in which hand-held or easily portable computers are a commonplace item; in which literature can hardly be distinguished from film in the public mind; and in which some members of society long fruitlessly for a past era when all such developments were unknown and almost inconceivable.

That was Asimov’s brain high on imagination and prescience in 1955.

summer observer wallpaper

Walt Whitman could not see into the future any more than Issac, but looking around and having some insight into the human condition and the human heart he wrote about and to the future, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry (1900)

Flood-tide below me! I see you face to face!
Clouds of the west–sun there half an hour high–I see you also face
to face.

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes, how curious
you are to me!
On the ferry-boats the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning
home, are more curious to me than you suppose,
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence are more
to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.


What is it then between us?
What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us?


It is not upon you alone the dark patches fall,
The dark threw its patches down upon me also,
The best I had done seem’d to me blank and suspicious,
My great thoughts as I supposed them, were they not in reality meagre?
Nor is it you alone who know what it is to be evil,
I am he who knew what it was to be evil,
I too knitted the old knot of contrariety,
Blabb’d, blush’d, resented, lied, stole, grudg’d,
Had guile, anger, lust, hot wishes I dared not speak,
Was wayward, vain, greedy, shallow, sly, cowardly, malignant,
The wolf, the snake, the hog, not wanting in me.
The cheating look, the frivolous word, the adulterous wish, not wanting,


Closer yet I approach you,
What thought you have of me now, I had as much of you–I laid in my
stores in advance,
I consider’d long and seriously of you before you were born.

Who was to know what should come home to me?
Who knows but I am enjoying this?
Who knows, for all the distance, but I am as good as looking at you
now, for all you cannot see me?

– The full poem is at the link.

retiring summer

Advertising is a form of advocacy. A television commercial or magazine ad says we really feel this is a wonderful product or service and your life will be better if you buy it. Colour Boosts Brain Performance and Receptivity to Advertising, Depending on Task: UBC Study

A new University of British Columbia study reconciles a debate that has long raged among marketers and psychologists: What colour most improves brain performance and receptivity to advertising, red or blue?

It turns out they both can, it just depends on the nature of the task or message. The study, which could have major implications for advertising and interior design, finds that red is the most effective at enhancing our attention to detail, while blue is best at boosting our ability to think creatively.

We’re all immune to being manipulated, right? All those swirling colors, the dramatic pans of the camera from long shot to close-up and the sweeping pans of vistas enhanced by swirls of color make us look away and ignore what’s going on, right? I’m not sure what pushes one to a final decision on what to purchase, but advertisers and network news have gotten good at getting our attention. On the other hand the way some products are pushed it seems a given they are meant to have a narrow appeal to people already predisposed to buying what someone is selling,  “Restoring Honor”: Glenn Beck honors Glenn Beck

The “spirit of God unleashed”: Beck claims divine influence over his event. In the days and weeks leading up to the weekend of 8-28, Beck repeatedly promoted the idea that God was directly involved in the weekend’s events. He predicted “a miracle” would occur at the event, said that attendees would “see the spirit of God unleashed,” and claimed the rally will produce an “awakening.”

So in other words Beck is no Isaac Asimov.