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Tomorrow's Info Today: Staying Ahead of the News Cycle

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I keep having these moments in which I attempt to write about some current event (you know, small stuff like economic collapse, an escalating war in Afghanistan, global climate change) but the news cycle has passed me by before I can reduce thought to keyboard. With the proliferation of infotainment sources, 24/7 outlets, do-it-yourself journalism, incessant crawls and tweets, and the ever-expanding blogosphere, one might argue that we have democratized the media in a meaningful way -- something doubly important in light of recently revealed Bush Administration plans to suspend the First Amendment and eviscerate non-compliant shops right after 9/11. Yet at times it seems to me as if we have simply democratized "information anxiety" instead, since, in the prescient words of Francis Bacon, "he that increaseth knowledge increaseth anxiety."

So I've come up with a personal coping strategy. From now on, I will only get my news from future-based sources, and thus seek to remain ahead of the curve. Outlandish, you say? Impossible? You are obviously so behind the times -- haven't you heard about FutureNews ("bringing you the best of tomorrow today") yet? That's what happens when you go offline for a few hours, take a walk, use the lavatory, power down, or blink. And don't even think about taking ill for a moment; even a one-day outpatient procedure will have you feeling like Rip Van Winkle in no time at all! Thus, for you Luddites out there who've eaten a slow-food meal or driven through an area without cell service or lost the remote to your HDTV in the last couple of days, here's my belated attempt to catch you up with the latest news of what will be happening in the not-too-distant future:

Vulture Capitalism (Ravena Review, 29 October 2009, by A. Morrall)

"Swooping in like postmodern birds of prey, a new breed of risk-taking raider has emerged from the financial wilderness. These bold venture seekers abide by one simple premise, the new law of the marketplace jungle: buy ultra-low and sell super-high. With real estate values at an all-time ebb (adjusted for inflation) and currencies worldwide remarkably devalued, the time is ripe and the pickings are easy for keen-eyed speculators to make a megabuck. With unemployment sky-high and families on the verge of faltering, personal collectibles and private possessions can be had for a mere pittance right now. Calling themselves 'vulture capitalists,' these sophisticated scavengers are taking flight and circling their wagons wherever there's a profit to be made. 'There's no price too low for us to pay,' said one proponent, who chose to remain anonymous. 'I just picked up an entire labor union's pension fund for a few grand and then grabbed a 2006 Hummer for $250 bucks from some poor sucker. Life is good.' There was no word on whether the vehicle's former owner also threw in the shirt off his back."

Commonizing the Privates (London Lodestar, 11 September 2010, by W. Ginstanley)

"It's called the 'really free market' and it might be coming soon to a neighborhood near you. What started as a small-scale movement in America has now spread across the globe. Hordes of people rendered homeless and jobless by the economic downslide, faced with the prospect of having no place to turn for food and lodging, have taken to 'liberating' items ranging from supermarket fare to whole apartment complexes.... 'It's just plain old theft, no matter what they call it,' said Sgt. Rich Dickstein. But police have been slow to pursue these cases, perhaps due to their sheer volume, and there has been frequent mention in the underground media of laid-off officers participating in such actions. 'Cops kick ass!' said a bandana-wearing youth carrying a liberated pizza to her new dwelling, variously referred to as the Diddley Squat or the Bates Hotel. 'I'm glad they're finally on our side, helping return the people's stuff back to the people for a change.' Some scholars have termed this new movement 'Commonism' and have suggested that it may result in the end of private property if left unchecked."

The Green Thumb Economy (Miami Metronome, 22 February 2011, by D. Forrest)

"On the heels of a deep recession, and with a boost from Washington, D.C., the long-awaited move to a 'green collar' economy seems poised to finally take hold. Promising millions of new jobs in alternative energy production industries, retrofitting and weatherizing existing structures, and upgrading the nation's power and communications grids, this plan has unfolded slowly despite early promises of 'shovel-ready' work from prior stimulus packages. In the interim, however, some have taken it upon themselves to usher in a green economy and provide for their families in the process. Reminiscent of 'victory gardens' from the World War II era, people around the nation have been planting crops in their yards, creating community gardens in abandoned lots, developing urban rooftop vegetable beds, and building year-round greenhouses in colder climates. This has been accompanied by a resurgence of interest in food preservation techniques such as canning, curing, and dehydrating, and the result has been the production of an estimated 10 million tons of food. Sources close to agribusiness companies have said that this unlicensed farming threatens to further destabilize world commodities markets, and are lobbying Congress for strict regulation of what they have termed 'guerrilla gardening.'"

The Dehumanization of Dehumanization (Boulder Blade, 1 May 2015, by R. Deckard)

"Automation has reached new heights with the development of a series of fully-functional robotic 'drones' to accomplish tasks often considered dirty, dangerous, or degrading. The devices -- called Symbiorgs, or 'Syms' for short -- have a human-like appearance and third-generation algorithmic brains. They can be programmed for general purposes such as clean-up operations and staffing nuclear power plants, although their first deployment announced this week by BTO Enterprises, Inc., has been as prison guards in over 800 privately-owned facilities. Another 7500 Syms have been purchased by the U.S. military for low-level services including interrogations and renditions. Human rights groups have complained that these quasi-beings could be exploited, but a spokesman at BTO dismissed the charge. 'They're not human, so they have no human rights,' said Frank Lee Bogguss. 'They're just machines, like a vacuum cleaner or a toaster oven, so if they happen to injure someone else it'll merely be an unfortunate accident.' Corporate security firms and cash-strapped police departments have been enthusiastic about the concept since it was first proposed in 2010 at an international conference aimed at bringing a halt to growing civilian unrest and the illegal development of community-based alternative economies and food-sharing programs."

Nano, Nano (Queensland Quarterly, 3 November 2020, by A. Dundee)

"Following the successful teleportation of light beams and then later actual atoms, Australian scientists announced today the first-ever manipulation of matter in a recombinant procedure known colloquially as nanotechnology. Working from a unified theory which holds that all things are made from the same fundamental forces and elementary particles, researchers have isolated the process in which anything can be reassembled into anything else. 'It's analogous to reading the human genome,' said Dr. Sven Nordquist, leader of the research team at Curie-US Labs in Auckland. 'Once you crack the code of any substance, you can reconstruct it from scratch using material from another source. It's a bit like the proverbial 'replicator' device of Star Trek fame, but it works on sound physical principles and not just speculative science.' For their first successful attempt, scientists chose a highly symbolic chain of transmogrification, converting a can of GMO creamed corn into a paperback copy of the book Mutant Message Down Under. Next up for the team is a much bigger challenge: attempting to turn an aging and now-repentant Rush Limbaugh into a human being."

A Dream of the End? (Faraway Times, 6 June 2023, by P. Wylie):

"One person now exists for every hundred-plus alive at the century's turn.... Even that stubborn breed called mankind has finally got the point. It took a ninety-percent extermination, in a series of incalculably grim calamities, to shatter humanity's deluded attitude toward its political and economic system and, above all, to erase its near-indelible idea that it existed above and outside nature and could do with and to nature as it pleased.... All that now remains is hope."

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