Finally! Some Flying Cars!

Remember how everyone used to say that we would have flying cars in the future? How we would have these robots that liked nothing better than to do our chores for us and take the dog for a walk? As far as I can tell a Roomba vacuum cleaner is about as close as we have come and I hear they scare most dogs (although they make great kid's playmates) so we still have a long way to go. Wired magazine would like us to experience the future right now. They've put together a festival "inspired by World Fairs of the past" called NextFest, running June 24 - 26, 2005 in Chicago, and once again flying cars are on the menu.

NextFest also sponsors NextMusic, a musical event taking place on June 22, 2005 at Vic Theater in Chicago. Curated (isn't that a great word?) by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco fame, this evening of music also offers a sneak preview of NextFest (itself a sneak peek at the future, making the entire thing almost too portentous.) Joanna Newsom and the Handsome Family will be performing. Tickets are only fifteen dollars!

There will be a variety of panels at NextFest proper, in addition to 100 hands on exhibitions grouped into seven subjects; communication, design, entertainment, exploration, health, security, and transportation (that must be where we'll find the rocket cars). The exhibits sound almost frighteningly cool. Communications talks about turning doodles into ringtones, which reminds me of a panel at Balticon 39 about turning the fruit fly genome into music. Design offers kitchen counters that keep themselves clean, a swoony concept if I ever heard one and plastic that fixes itself. Entertainment doesn't sound terribly futuristic as it mentions video games that inspire exercise, (it's like they never even heard of Dance Dance Revolution) and a robot that can spin records which just tells me they haven't ever taken a close look at the expression on the face of a wedding DJ. Okay, wait, they do have human Pac-Man and a Philip K. Dick robot.

Exploration sounds more like the thing with a Mars capable spacesuit, a robotic lobster and nuclear spaceships. This is not just any robotic lobster; this is a robotic lobster that would list interests as espionage and blowing up mines in war zones if it were writing a personal ad. Health is a bit creepy touting "pets like your old pets but newer, a robotic seal to soothe the weary, a suit to turn you into SuperMan" but nothing about shots with no needles or a tricorder to diagnose my every ache and pain. I also have to wonder, when we are all SuperMen, won't none of us be SuperMen? We'll all be AverageMen in the same suits.

The most interesting thing I found listed under security is called brain fingerprinting. This device rests on the head and records brainwave activity, reacting when the wearer sees an image they've been previously exposed to. What's the purpose? Wired says, "Such brain fingerprinting has been proven to reveal witnesses to a crime - and possible perps." Isn't that intriguing? Of course it does nothing for our jonesing for the flying cars so it's time for transportation. Here I see hydrogen vehicles of all types, a super fast electric car and finally flying cars, but they say of the future. An exhibition on Saturday called Fast, Furious, and Amphibious: Vehicles of the Future, sounds wonderful but still too far into the future. I think that when it comes to flying cars it's like Alice in Wonderland's jam. It's always coming tomorrow but never today. Instead of rocket cars we're going to have to be happy with a horse that moves like a rocket, for a little while at least.

Afleet Alex won the Belmont Stakes by seven lengths in a beautiful race. I hear he is going to continue racing as a four year old. This is exciting news for race fans who will be able to watch him run at various tracks next year. It's also good news to parents who might have been concerned about what kind of blog entries the colt would be making once he started his career as a stud. Looks like he'll be kid safe for at least another year. W00t!