Monday, March 26, 2007

Future Shock

Yesterday, the Strib offered us an absurd glimpse into the life of a family existing in (since "living in" wouldn't be quite the appropriate term here) The House of 2037. I had a hearty laugh over the section-long piece and searched throughout it to find the hidden "April fools!" message, a la the famous SI Sidd Finch hoax. I couldn't find it. Then I remembered that April Fool's day is still a week away.

And then I wept.

To say that this utopian barf-puddle of an oh-so-depressing (and gloriously socialist) future borders on the self-parody would spot on. But that would also make for a really short ThunderJournal post. So to illustrate how bad this thing is, I have fashioned a fun interactive game.

Below are 13 items. Some are verbatim cut-and-paste jobs from the extensive graphical representations of the piece. Some are merely summaries written by me that, while snarky or humorously rendered, are an accurate recreation. Some I just made up. See if you can guess which are real and which are the product of my sick sick mind. If you have a strong stomach, you can find the "real" ones somewhere in here. For those who have less time and more sanity, the answers are given below.

Brace yourselves...and let's begin:

1. In one of the more striking architectural features of the House of 2037, the chimney is replaced with a giant egg beater.

2. Since television viewing is a major contributor to our obesity epidemic, all television sitcoms and dramas will be abolished and replaced by 24-hour live streaming video of both polar icecaps. Should circumstances warrant, these images will be briefly interrupted with news reports detailing the latest developments from the front in the war against Eastasia.

3. Retractable shutters lower to protect roof garden and windows from hail and wind damage, both of which are more likely in the future.

4. Downspouts drain into cisterns that manage water in a future with prodigious rains alternating with drought.

5. Rotating 50mm cannon turrets mounted on the roof help defend the home against the frequent space alien and zombie invasions that will occur in the future.

6. Emily, 37, is preparing dinner when she receives a video call from her husband, Yaochuan, 29, in Shanghai, China, where he resides. Emily is a recently married Internet bride. Yaochuan sought a wife of child-bearing age in the United States because of the lack of women in China.

7. Emily explains that they are running low on carbon points. The points are carried on the carbon debit card issued to each household. In addition to money, points are subtracted when family members buy high-carbon-emitting goods and services, such as gasoline or airline tickets. The couple don’t have enough for Yaochuan’s flight to Minneapolis unless he’s able to purchase more from a frugal family selling points on the carbon exchange. Yaochuan says he’ll do that. He’ll see her next week. He plans to stay a month, so they can “work” on a pregnancy.

8. Emily anxiously anticipates Yaochuan's visit. One of the side effects of global warming in China - a nation that will have been especially hard hit by the crisis - is that Chinese men have evolved freakishly enormous penises.

9. Debra, 82, spent the afternoon with bedding plants in the home’s green-roof garden. Taking full advantage of the longer growing season, she’s aware there are weather “surprises” with global warming’s climate change. Just now, Debra is taking a call from her insurance provider on a personal computing device. She’s told that the device has been recording a fast heart rate, but there’s no indication that she’s on her treadmill. The embedded chips in Debra’s clothing monitor her health and notify her insurer of possible problems. She explains that she’s fine. It’s just her first time in the garden since November.

10. There are no solar panels on the house because it has since been long-settled science that the sun provides minimal energy to the earth.

11. Car barns house the shared hydrogen or electric vehicles, which are maintained by the community and checked out by residents.

12. Fire hydrants supplied by rain runoff, wetlands and raw sewage surround the car barns to make it easier to douse fires caused by the frequent hydrogen car explosions.

13. No basement. Despite all the dire predictions about the severity of future weather, The House of the Future contains no basement. Instead, when the daily tornado comes around, the occupants will huddle in a "safe room," which is presumably reinforced with crusty recycled toilet paper.

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ANSWERS: 2, 5, 8, 10 & 12 are made up. Scary, huh?

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