You've found Father McKenzie. But are you really looking for Eleanor Rigby?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"The suggestion that gamma rays would make the fridge redundant was voted the worst."


'... Back in the '50s, Hollywood assumed that by 2000 the American cities would be utopias served by an army of robot servants. So we shouldn’t exactly be bursting with pride over the fact that here in the future we’ve replaced "robots" with "grossly underpaid immigrants"...' (Cracked)


'... If you'd asked someone 30 years ago what the future would hold, their list might have included: (A) Personal hoverpacks; (B) Roast dinner and vanilla ice-cream flavoured protein pills; and (C) Silver unisex body-suits. If you ask someone today, the list is (A) Global warming; (B) Massive species extinction including the hideous drowning of all polar bears; and (C) Violent, desperate, escalating wars over oil and water.
Let's face it, if the future were a holiday destination, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade would have issued a high-alert travel warning...'

- Fiona Scott-Norman, "A seriously good giggle: Many of the performers at this year's Comedy Festival are striving for social relevance along with laughs," Melbourne Age (14 March 2008).

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Take that, Curto! Climb aboard the atomic helicopter parked on the roof of your 300-story high apartment block on the Great Barrier Reef and fly off to Moon City One to hide yourself in shame!


Future homeowners: Two models in 1956 in a mock-up of future housework. Step into your nylon tights, pull a polyester chair near to the popup table and relax. Because this is the luxury of 21stcentury living - Fifties style.
Half a century ago, the Daily Mail's Ideal Home Show included its first House of the Future.
Designed by radical architects Alison and Peter Smithson, it was their prediction for the style of living we would enjoy today. And how very backward it makes us look.
In their house, there was no refrigerator. Instead, gamma rays blasted meat, fish and dairy products to kill germs. The kitchen hob was a thing of the past - electric pans made supper on any surface.
And although most of us believe a particularly squishy sofa is a must for modern living, the designers thought soft furnishing would be history by now.
They predicted that we would relax on glass reinforced polyester chairs - and tables would rise from the floor at the press of a switch.
Showers would wash the user - and then blow him or her dry, while thermostatic controls around the house would allow us to abandon our different togs of duvets and sleep under one nylon sheet.
In fact, designers predicted nylon would be our favourite material. Even the male model, Peter, wears thick nylon tights. Sportswear designer Teddy Tinling who designed the models' clothing, said at the time: "The clothes worn by the man are plain and unembellished. This is in keeping with the times, a kind of Superman trend to fit in with the Space Age."
To mark the show's centenary, show organisers looked back at some of the most memorable predictions from the 1956 House of the Future.
The suggestion that gamma rays would make the fridge redundant was voted the worst.
But because many homes did not have a fridge in 1956, perhaps it is understandable that the designers did not predict our modern reliance on it.
The furniture and fittings in the one-bedroom showhouse were made from materials available since the Second World War, such as moulded plastics, stainless steel and glass fibre. Although we do use those materials at home today, the prediction that we would live in a series of plastic pods joined by passageways proved a little extreme.
Other worst predictions include electric folding front doors and a warm air curtain to remove dust.
But there are a few, such as the self-cleaning bath and the dishwasher that scrapes the plates, that we might wish had become a part of life.
Others will strike a chord with today's innovators. The roof was curved and dished to allow sunlight to penetrate and rainwater would flow to a central point to water a central patio garden.
Some predictions were spot-on. The designers thought we would use shortwave transmitters to turn on the TV and high-frequency ovens for cooking at high speeds - now remote controls and microwave ovens.
Spokesman for the show Maxine Soghmanian said it had "launched countless household products from the first-ever electric kettle (1920) to the largest home plasma screen (2006), but we have to admit some of the predictions in the Fifties were a bit off the mark."...
- Beth Hale, " Folding front doors and blow-dry showers: How a 1956 vision of today's homes got it wrong", Daily Mail (UK) (13 February 2008)

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