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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Futureguess -- forecasting, futurology, prediction's LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, July 16th, 2008
6:17 pm
Friday, June 16th, 2006
1:38 pm
i've been thinking about the future
  • cellphone/ipod/pda's merge into a thin-client device w/wi-fi connectivity.
  • gdrive/livedrive/etc. provide unlimited storage accessible over tcp/ip.
  • itunes/netflix/etc. switch to a streaming "pay-per-use" model w/optional subscription fees.
  • your music/video collection is thus every song and film ever made for only a few bucks a month.
  • boxed software vanishes; subscription-based "software as a service" reigns.
  • web-browsers evolve into thin-client virtual-application windows capable of displaying any type of content: audio/video/graphics/etc. (think RDP, only application-based.)
  • "ownership" becomes uninteresting; "virtual living" ensues.
  • Saturday, August 6th, 2005
    8:14 pm
    Coming Soon--Broccoli and Peach 'Seaweeds'
    California researchers are developing fruit- and vegetable-based surrogates for a paperlike seaweed product [nori] -- typically used in sushi -- to brighten foods and infuse them with all-natural nutrients.

    Today, this chunk of arid farm country appears to be the largest Wi-Fi hot spot in the world, with wireless high-speed Internet access available free for some 600 square miles. Most of that is in eastern Oregon, with some just across the border in southern Washington.

    Driving along the road here, I used my laptop to get e-mail and download video - and you can do that while cruising at 70 miles per hour, mile after mile after mile, at a transmission speed several times as fast as a T-1 line. (Note: it's preferable to do this with someone else driving.)
    Friday, July 22nd, 2005
    8:43 pm
    Notes Toward a 25th Century Setting
    Language: English is still around; North American and Indian versions dominate. It's about as close to English of our time as ours is to 17th century English.

    It's no longer the world language. Spanish may have taken the lead.

    Most major languages of our time are still around, and many minor ones -- but somewhat changed.

    Written English is less formal than it used to be; messaging of one kind or another is a major use. There are highly-formal versions for permanent screens, textbooks, etc.

    The vocabulary has changed enough that writing speech for readers of this time is essentially translation. Some of it is replacement. Some of it is new or or new-meaning words for things we don't yet have -- or which are rare in our time.

    Political institutions: There was a Latin American federation which broke up; the countries which belonged to it are often called "the former South America."

    The United States still exists, though its borders have become more complicated. There are zones where control is shared with Canada or Mexico; and not all of them are at a geographical border.

    Europe and some of what used to be Soviet Asia are under one government.

    China has splintered several times, but is now under one government again.

    India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are intact, and as prosperous as the US -- possibly more so.

    Indonesia, minus Irian Java, is a federation.

    Mecca is an independent city, somewhat equivalent to Vatican City.

    Outside formal politics, most people belong to both local organizations and to worldwide groups.

    In the US, population has declined and risen again several times. Much less of the population is from immigration; the US is no longer as comparatively prosperous as it used to be.
    Tuesday, July 5th, 2005
    7:16 pm
    Betting On the Future: some Internet venues
    The Iowa Political Markets are stuck in 2004. They'll probably open betting on the US Presidential race in two or three years. One big disadvantage: the people in charge decide who to list as candidates for party nominations. As I recall, it took them a while to add Howard Dean. They're academics, which might have something to do with the creaky way in which it's run.

    At least two bookmaker webs, both located in Ireland, have active betting on the next US Presidential election: http:\\tradesports.com and http:\\www.paddypower.com. Both have odds on likely nominees. Paddy Power shows Hilary Clinton as the favorite for the White House, Rudolph Giuliani second. Tradesports has John McCain leading for the Republican nomination, Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. For the election, the Democratic Party is slightly ahead of the Republican Party.

    Long Bets (http://www.longbets.org) involves money, but your winnings go to a charity you select. A quick look shows a prediction for 148 years ahead; most are shorter. Making a prediction requires having a theory behind your prediction, and paying a fee. Betting is always at even odds.

    Ideosphere (http://ideosphere.com) doesn't involve real money. It was designed by an intelligent libertarian, and therefore has only a minimum of restrictions on what claim you can make. (You need to find a judge for the claim, and need to state it so that it can be judged. "There will be angels blocking traffic in Los Angeles in September of 2015" would qualify, though it might not attract much interest. "A heavenly host will descend on an American city" would not.)
    Monday, July 4th, 2005
    10:56 pm
    Methods: Cool hunting
    Another useful term corrupted: "Cool hunting" originally meant "Find out what teens on the leading edge of fashion are wearing." For example, skateboarders were wearing old sneakers which were only available in resale stores. The manufacturer could then know it should start making that model again.

    Now, the website http://www.coolhunting.com is about "Find out what the avant-garde designers and artists are making."

    Speaking of who's leading edge and who isn't: William Gibson's Pattern Recognition, whose protagonist is a cool hunter, has been praised for this innovative notion. Gibson was over forty years behind Avram Davidson ("The Sources of the Nile," Fantasy & Science Fiction January 1961) and five years behind Kristine Kathryn Rusch ("Coolhunting," Science Fiction Age, July 1998).

    How does a coolhunter know who the early adopters are? By doing intuitively something whose scientific label is "diffusion research." How do they know which early adopters will be imitated?
    They guess.

    Cool hunters are probably more accurate than people who do longer-term fashion forecasts. They're less likely to confuse prediction with planning.
    Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
    8:01 pm
    US Election (written a bit in advance)
    I'll make one firm prediction: Neither major party's Presidential candidate will be anyone now being talked about in newspapers, political blogs, etc.

    I think the Democratic candidate will win.

    One indicator: 2006 election results.
    Tuesday, November 7th, 2006
    7:50 pm
    US Election (written a bit in advance)
    All Representatives, and about 1/3 of Senators, are up for re-election. Currently, there are Republican majorities in both House and Senate.

    My prediction: The Democrats will gain House seats, possibly even a majority. House seats are usually safe; but more Republicans will manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory than Democrats will. And the White House, and the national Republican Party, will help give those seats to Democrats.

    In the Senate, enough Republicans will lose to give Democrats a fragile majority.

    In state elections, more Republican governorships will change hands than Democratic ones.
    Friday, May 27th, 2005
    10:27 pm
    Science Press Releases
    From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
    Public Release: 27-May-2005
    Physical Review Letters
    Physicists control the flip of electron spin in new study
    Today's computers and other technological gizmos operate on electronic charges, but researchers predict that a new generation of smaller, faster, more efficient devices could be developed based on another scientific concept – electronic "spin." The problem, however, is that researchers have found it challenging to control or predict spin – which keeps practical applications out of reach. But physicists now have found a way to manipulate the spin of an electron with voltage from a battery.

    Public Release: 26-May-2005
    New haptics systems challenge stroke patients to grasp, pinch, squeeze their way to recovery
    Stroke patients who face months of tedious rehabilitation to regain the use of impaired limbs may benefit from some new haptics systems -- interfaces that allow them to touch and feel objects in immersive computer environments -- that are being designed at USC's Integrated Media Systems Center (IMSC).
    National Science Foundation

    Public Release: 26-May-2005
    Experimental Biology 2005
    Preliminary data suggest that soda and sweet drinks are the main source of calories in American diet
    Tufts researchers recently reported that while the leading source of calories in the average American diet used to be from white bread, that may have changed. Now, according to preliminary research conducted by scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Americans are drinking these calories instead.

    Public Release: 26-May-2005
    American Psychological Society 17th Annual Convention
    Grasping metaphors: UC San Diego research ties brain area to figures of speech
    A region of the brain known as the angular gyrus is partly responsible for the human ability to understand metaphor, according to research led by V. S. Ramachandran, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California, San Diego.
    Kavli Foundation, Mind-Brain Foundation, R. Geckler
    Sunday, May 22nd, 2005
    9:03 pm
    Tech and Science
    From the NYTimes:
    Fabrizio Fante and Eugene John Bellida dream of a world in which everyone has the power to greenlight a movie. The young entrepreneur-filmmakers - who operate a pair of related Web sites, moviesforthemasses.org and IBI Films (at ibiny.com) - have been asking Internet visitors to vote for film projects by donating at least $1 toward any of a list of movie synopses, promising to put the money into the designated film and give every donor an executive producer credit.

    My take: Unworkably inefficient. The data entry expense alone is probably more than a dollar per person. I suspect anyone whose knowledge of economics includes Ronald Coase's Theory of the Firm could think of numerous other problems.
    From the Smartmobs LiveJournal feed:


    Roadcasting allows anyone to have their own radio station, broadcasted among cars in an ad-hoc network within a 30-mile radius. It plays the songs that people want to hear and transforms car radio into an interactive medium.

    The source code is available in order to encourage the development of the service so that it may one day become the preferred radio delivery method.

    Authors: Jim Garretson, Whitney Hess, Jordan Kanarek, Mathilde Pignol and Megan Shia, for the Masters in Human Computer Interaction at Carnegie Melon.

    Via unmediated http://www.unmediated.org/archives/2005/05/roadcasting.php
    From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
    Public Release: 22-May-2005
    The anatomy of sarcasm: Researchers reveal how the brain handles this complex communication
    The ability to comprehend sarcasm depends upon a carefully orchestrated sequence of complex cognitive skills based in specific parts of the brain. Yeah, right, and I'm the Tooth Fairy. But it's true: New research details an "anatomy of sarcasm" that explains how the mind puts sharp-tongued words into context.
    From the Christian Science Monitor:
    Need a tutor? Call India.
    Like other oursourced services, Americans students' tutors may now be on the other side of the world. By Anupreeta Das and Amanda Paulson
    Tuesday, May 17th, 2005
    8:40 pm
    Beyond the governments we know
    From a post I made in rec.arts.sf.composition:

    "Government" and "the State" are nowhere near being exact synonyms. Non-state governments include: hunter-gatherer bands; shifting agriculture tribes; nomadic tribes, and governments which have authority over a number of such tribes.

    Feudal governments are an intermediate case, I think.

    Questions which might be useful to sf writers:

    1) What kind of government comes after states? (Possible answers include "none," of course.)

    2) If state governments are replaced by something else, will anti-statists welcome or oppose that replacement? (Both, I suspect -- resulting in some heated discussion.)

    3) If state governments are replaced by something else, how will people who've been loyal to the State react?

    4) How will myths, legends, and historical fiction view the governments of our simpler, kinder (and simultaneously barbaric and violent) age?

    Crossposted to dsgood
    Saturday, May 14th, 2005
    5:23 pm
    Mad science breathing down our necks
    From the smartmobs LiveJournal feed:

    02:08 am - Japanese Use Cell Phone QR Bar Code Readers to Check Food Safety

    QR codes are reducing the fear factor for foodstuffs in Japan as agricultural associations embrace the new wireless technology tagging fresh produce for quick access to mobile information web sites. Gail Nakada reports for Wireless Watch Japan [http://www.wirelesswatch.jp].

    "A new English language report [.PDF] [http://www.nttdocomo.com/files/presscenter/34_No25_Doc.pdf] released this month by NTT DoCoMo on QR code use in agriculture reveals the growing popularity of this medium.

    "In the supermarket, consumers use camera equipped cell phones to scan the QR code on the label. The code links to a mobile website detailing origin, soil composition, organic fertilizer content percentage (as opposed to chemical), use of pesticides and herbicides and even the name of the farm it was grown on".

    Smartmobs snipped this: Consumers can also access the same information over the Ibaraki Agricultural Produce Net website [http://ibrk.jp/] by inputting a numbered code on each label.

    12:14 pm - Amateur Genetic Engineering


    DNA Hack [http://www.dnahack.com] is website for Amateur Genetic Engineering. The site has tons of resources, supplies, how-tos and this interesting snippet from Michael Schrage in the June 2003 Technology Review: "Maybe bathtub biotech will be the next to capture the mindshare of the techie tinkerers. Maybe bioinformatics and the diffusion of genetic engineering technologies will inspire a new generation of bio-hackers. Certainly the technologies are there for those inclinded to genetically edit their plants or pets. Maybe a mouse or E. coli genome becomes the next operating system for hobbyists to profitably twiddle. Perhaps this decade will bring a Linus Torvalds or Bill Gates of bio-hackerdom -- a hobbyist-turned-entrepreneur who can simultaneously innovate and market his or her DNA-driven ideas

    Via Make [http://www.makezine.com/blog/archive/2005/05/dna_hacking.html]
    Wednesday, May 11th, 2005
    8:55 pm
    New evangelism: mini loans
    Churches in Africa and elsewhere see small loans as a higher form of charity. By Michael D. Kerlin

    Developer tactics to avoid housing bust
    Home-building communities are trying to quell speculation in the housing market. By Ron Scherer
    From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
    Public Release: 11-May-2005
    Journal of American Geriatrics Society
    African Americans just as likely to be diagnosed with depression
    A study in the May Journal of the American Geriatrics Society combats the notion that ethnic differences and inherent biases are responsible for a lower number of depression diagnoses in the African American elderly population versus whites.

    Public Release: 11-May-2005
    Human Reproduction
    Season of birth influences age of menopause, say Italian researchers
    Research by Italian experts on the menopause has found that that the month and the season in which a woman is born influence the age at which she reaches menopause. The research is published (12 May) in Human Reproduction.

    Public Release: 10-May-2005
    Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
    Purdue study finds races react differently to dietary salt, calcium
    African-American and Caucasian adolescent girls handle sodium and calcium differently, which may help explain why the races have different rates of hypertension and osteoporosis, according to research at Purdue University. Nutrition researchers discovered Caucasian girls lose more calcium in their urine than African-American girls, but both races lose calcium at an accelerated rate when they consume a high-salt diet.
    National Institutes of Health
    Tuesday, May 10th, 2005
    10:28 pm
    Economics and other sciences
    From Crooked Timber:

    Rum, Sodomy and the Nash
    Posted by Henry

    Stephen Bainbridge ruminates on Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin novels and the reasons for the success of the British Navy in its wars against Napoleonic France and the US. He gives a brief discussion of a paper by Douglas W. Allen, which analyzes the institutions of the British Navy as a solution to a set of principal-agent problems. Now, the paper is interesting, but it seems to me to be flawed, in a manner that’s unfortunately rather typical of many economists who analyze social institutions.
    From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
    Public Release: 10-May-2005
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
    Certain fish have a special mating preference
    A biologist at Washington University in St. Louis has shown that for some fish species, females prefer males with larger sexual organs, and actually choose them for mating. That does not exclude males with an average-sized sex organ, called a gonopodium. These fish out-compete the larger-endowed males in a predator-laden environment because they have a faster burst speed than the males with larger genitalia ? their endowment slows them down, making them easy prey.
    National Science Foundation, US Environmental Protection Agency

    Public Release: 10-May-2005
    Journal of Animal Ecology
    Ocean climate predicts elk population in Canadian Rockies
    Mark Hebblewhite can look at specific climate statistics from the north Pacific Ocean and tell you how the elk are doing in Banff National Park.

    Public Release: 10-May-2005
    Magnetic stimulation treatment for depression helping difficult-to-treat cases at UT Southwestern
    Barbara Baas ran away from home and tried to kill herself as a teenager. As an adult, she has tried more than 15 varieties of antidepressants. But, thanks to a new weapon, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), she has finally reached a truce in a 45-year battle.
    Monday, May 9th, 2005
    11:03 pm
    Buckyball pollution, etc.
    From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
    Public Release: 9-May-2005
    Environmental Science & Technology
    New research raises questions about buckyballs and the environment
    In a challenge to conventional wisdom, scientists have found that buckyballs dissolve in water and could have a negative impact on soil bacteria. The findings raise new questions about how the nanoparticles might behave in the environment and how they should be regulated.

    Public Release: 9-May-2005
    Journal of the Geological Society
    Surf not up for Palaeozoic creatures - new model reveals ancient sea was a giant lake
    The ancient sea was more like a giant salty lake than a rolling ocean, report scientists from Imperial College London in the May edition of the Journal of the Geological Society. A new computer model that simulates how tides in North West Europe would have behaved 300 million years ago shows a sea with so little movement that it was unlike any on Earth today.

    Public Release: 9-May-2005
    Hand gestures linked to better speaking
    Can't find the right word? You might want to start moving your hands. New research at the University of Alberta suggests that gesturing while you talk may improve your access to language.

    Public Release: 9-May-2005
    Geophysical Research Letters
    As world warms, vegetation changes may influence extreme weather
    Extreme weather events, such as storms and heat waves, can vary substantially depending on how vegetation responds to global warming. This is believed to be the first study to indicate that as vegetation responds to climate change, those changes in ground cover may affect where and how often extreme weather events occur.
    National Science Foundation, Packard Foundation
    Tuesday, April 19th, 2005
    12:07 pm
    The revolution will be cameraphoned
    what are blockies?
    With blockies, you can post your cameraphone pictures on any public surface, using special stickers...
    See something cool on the street? Take a picture and send it to blockies so others can see it and start adding to the real-world photo album you just created.

    Here's how it works: You need a cameraphone, and a Blockies sticker. Each sticker has a unique code on it, so any place you put a Blockies sticker gets tagged with that code. Whenever you send pictures to Blockies.com from your cameraphone, you put the code in a message to nyc@blockies.com, and we link your picture to that location. It's like posting a polaroid on a street corner.

    Other people can see your picture on their phones by text messaging us the sticker code. Anyone can add photos to any sticker, making a collection or photo album of that spot, and all pictures are archived on Blockies.com.

    Stick these up anywhere and everywhere. Bar bathrooms. Bus stops. Sidewalks. Wherever you want to leave your photo message.

    like a message in a bottle..only less wet.

    Thanks to Smartmobs feed on LiveJournal
    Sunday, April 10th, 2005
    6:05 pm
    Notes on fictional futures
    From a post I made in rec.arts.sf.composition:

    How far in the future [is your story set]? If it's five years or more, I would expect there to be some startling changes: perhaps in technology, perhaps in political alignments.

    Twenty years: turn-of-the-millenium women's clothing appears in fashion magazines (or their electronic replacements) -- reproduced in much more expensive fabrics. Nostalgic tv shows about the 1990s. Historical romances set in the gentler, simpler time of the 1980s.

    Fifty years: Discussion of American politics commonly includes nostalgic references to the 2000's -- when Americans agreed on basic political beliefs, and politicians (and others involved in public affairs; party volunteers, for example) were polite to those on the other side.

    [No, I am not joking in the two previous paragraphs. And I am not using hyperbole.]
    Sunday, February 27th, 2005
    11:37 pm
    Politics in Science Fiction #2 -- Getting Changes Wrong A
    In 1965, it was obvious to the meanest intelligence that Barry Goldwater had led American conservatism to permanent defeat.

    In 1955, it was obvious to the meanest intelligence that Southern politics would be dominated by segregationist Democrats for at least the rest of the century.

    In 1905, Americans moving to Mexico outnumbered Mexicans moving to the US. To the best of my knowledge, nobody speculated that this would reverse five years later.

    In the 1950s, Arthur C. Clarke and other British sf writers took for granted that England would remain a world power and would be a leading power in space. By then, it was no longer a major power. (And yes, I mean "England" rather than "United Kingdom." Ask your friendly neighborhood Scottish Nationalist or Welsh Nationalist for the explanation.)

    In 1987, Michael F. Flynn's In the Country of the Blind -- set at an indefinite time in the 21st century -- had the Soviet Union as part of the background. (Analog, October and November 1987.) The novel relied on the assumption that social prediction could be an exact science.

    In 1988, Flynn had a two-part article which made it clear that he really believed this. ("The State of Psychohistory," Analog, April and May 1988.) The article contained projections for (among other countries) the Soviet Union well into the future.

    [In 2003, Tor published a revised version of the novel. The Soviet Union had disappeared from the revision. A revised version of the article was included; it had no mention that the original version had been overoptimistic about the Soviet Union's health. I'm not yet certain whether the 1990 Baen version and the 1993 Pan version of the novel had been updated.]

    How can an sf writer avoid getting future politics too far wrong? It's not possible to avoid all mistakes, but there are ways to minimize them.

    1. Look to see what's already happened. In the US, the post-WWII baby boom is generally considered to have begun in 1946. By 1948, it should have been obvious that American high schools would have to cope with much larger numbers of students; and that American colleges would have the same problem a few years farther down the road.

    In the UK, the post-war continuation of food rationing ought to have been a strong clue that one was not living in a world-power country.

    2. Assume that everything which looks strong may be weaker than any sane person imagines. An important industry can become minor. One country's dominance in an economic sector can disappear. Any political party can go the way of the Liberal Party in England, or the Italian Communist Party.

    3. Do not read National Review for facts about American politics. Don't read The Nation, The New Republic, or Reason for facts, either. These are magazines of opinion, not magazines of fact.

    On the other hand, blogs of opinion are currently better at finding some facts than newspapers and other traditional news media. (For a quick introduction to some blogs worth watching, see http://politicalwire.com/southpaws and http://politicalwire.com/wingers.)

    The equivalent is probably true in other countries.

    4. Look for American political news at the state level and lower. That's where national changes start. (http://stateline.org has state political headlines and summaries with links to newspapers. http://polstate.com has reports from individuals.)

    5. If you're sure you understand another country's politics: pray for humility, have your medication adjusted, or take some other action to reduce your level of certainty. In extreme cases, place large bets on the next election there. (For US and UK elections, see http://tradesports.com.)
    Monday, February 7th, 2005
    11:27 pm
    Some predictions
    2008: In the US Presidential election, the Democratic candidate wins. Democratic majority in the Senate; Republicans hold on to the House, but their majority is seriously eroded. Pundits begin predicting the demise of the Republican Party and of conservatism.

    From alt.history.future, some guesses:

    2020: There are men on the Moon, again, and on Mars -- from the European Community, China, and India.

    Nevada, Arizona, and parts of New Mexico are no longer gaining population; the cost of providing water has driven up the cost of living. The Plains States are gaining population.

    Western Canada has gained enough population that Ontario and Quebec no longer have the majority of Canada's population. And at least one province along the Atlantic coast is unexpectedly gaining population.

    2024: The Republican candidate wins the US Presidential election. Pundits begin predicting the demise of the Republican Party and of liberalism.

    2050: The Republican Party supports gay rights. The Republican Party has always supported gay rights.

    The Russian Federation has fallen apart. Russia itself still exists, and still includes Siberia. However, parts of Russia are economically dominated by EU corporations who've moved in to escape rising labor costs in Ukraine and the Baltic countries. Finnish is being heard again in Karelia.
    Monday, January 3rd, 2005
    9:55 pm
    2008 politics
    Quoted at http://politics1.org:
    Fresh face, new voice
    Keep a lookout for Sen. Russ Feingold, the second half of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance duo, who just won a third term from Wisconsin voters. He's on a nationwide mission to test out his progressive message that's liberal on some issues, like universal healthcare, and conservative on others, like the deficit. Fans think he can bridge the blue-state-red-state divide, making him not just a voice for a changing Democratic Party but a possible '08 presidential candidate. He's not the only one: Republicans are keeping an eye on Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who's on his own message tour.
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