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21 Predictions for 1993 from 1893

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The future just isn’t what it used to be. As a prelude to the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, the American Press Association asked 74 of America’s best thinkers to predict what the 1990s would be like. The answers ranged from the grossly wrong to the freakishly prophetic.

1. Mary E. Lease, Political Activist

“Three hours will constitute a long day’s work by the end of the next century.”

2. Thomas De Witt Talmage, Preacher

“Longevity will be so improved that 150 years will be no unusual age to reach.”

3. Asa C. Matthews, Comptroller of the Treasury

“In the 1990s, the United States will be a government of perhaps 60 states, situated in both North and South America.”

4. Nym Crinkle, Critic

“In 100 years Denver will be as big as New York and . . . if the republic remains politically compact and doesn’t fall apart at the Mississippi River, Canada will be either part of it or an independent sovereignty.”

5. Charles B. Lewis, Humorist

“We shall not only restore the dress of our great-grandfathers before we stop, but run the costumes of Adam and Eve a pretty close shave.”

6. Van Buren Denslow, Professor

“Trousers will be relegated to bookkeepers, barbers, pastry bakers, and cripples.”

7. Kate Field, Journalist

“The waist line will be just below the bosom.”

8. Edgar W. Nye, Humorist

“Politically, there will be far less money expended in electing officials, I fancy. And many of our leading politicians out of a job will be living on the island.” [That is, incarcerated].

9. Erastus Wiman, Journalist

“There will be no need of a standing army.”

10. John Habberton, Author

“All marriages will be happy—for the law will put to death any man or woman who assumes conjugal position without the proper physical, mental, and financial qualifications.”

11. Thomas Dixon Jr., Minister

“Law will be simplified and brought within the reach of the common people . . . The occupation of 2/3 of the lawyers will be destroyed.”

12. Felix Oswald, Naturalist

“Transcontinental mail will be forwarded by means of pneumatic tubes.”

13. Samuel Barton, Financier

“Transportation facilities will have so improved that the orange district of Florida will practically furnish the United States all the oranges that it requires.”

14. George F. Kunz, Mineralogist

“We are going to see a wonderful development in the use of jewels in American churches.”

15. E. J. Edwards, Journalist

“By the year 1993, the mechanical work of publishing newspapers may be done entirely by electricity.”

16. Thomas L. James, U.S. Postmaster General

“Postage will be reduced to one cent.”

17. John Clark Ridpath, Editor

“Aluminum will be the shining symbol of that age. The houses and cities of men, built of aluminum, shall flash in the rising sun with surpassing brilliance.”

18. John Ingalls, Lawyer

“Long before 1993, the journey from New York to San Francisco, and from New York to London, will be made between the sunrise and sunset of a summer day. The railway and the steamship will be as obsolete as the stagecoach.”

19. Terence V. Powderly, Union Leader

“Labor organizations will have disappeared, for there will be no longer a necessity for their existence.”

20. Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Poet

"Mesmerism will take the place of anesthetics in surgery. Theosophy—the religion of high thinking and selfless living—will take the place of creeds and dogmas. Clairvoyancy or spiritual insight will be almost universal."

21. James William Sullivan, Editor

“I find that I am unable to prophesy. The future is a fancyland palace whose portals I cannot enter.”

You can find these predictions and more in Dave Walter’s book, Today Then.

Ralph Heimans/Buckingham Palace/PA Wire via Getty Images
Pop Culture
The Cult of Prince Philip
Ralph Heimans/Buckingham Palace/PA Wire via Getty Images
Ralph Heimans/Buckingham Palace/PA Wire via Getty Images

For seven decades, Prince Philip has been one of the more colorful figures in Britain's Royal Family, prone to jarring remarks and quips about women, the deaf, and overweight children.

"You're too fat to be an astronaut," he once told a boy sharing his dream of space travel.

British media who delighted in quoting him are still lamenting the 96-year-old's recent retirement from public duties. But the people of the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu are likely to be optimistic he'll now have the time to join them: They worship him as a god and have based a religion on him.

Followers of the Prince Philip Movement, which started in the 1960s, believe that the prince was born to fulfill an ancient prophecy: that the son of an ancient mountain spirit would one day take the form of a pale-skinned man, travel abroad, marry a powerful lady, and eventually return to the island. When villagers saw the prince’s portrait, they felt the spirit in it, and when he visited Vanuatu in 1974, they were convinced.

Chief Jack Naiva, a respected warrior in the culture, greeted the royal yacht and caught sight of Philip on board. "I saw him standing on the deck in his white uniform," Naiva once said. "I knew then that he was the true messiah."

True believers assign large world movements to the machinations of Philip. They once claimed his powers had enabled a black man to become president of the United States and that his "magic" had assisted in helping locate Osama bin Laden. The community has corresponded with Buckingham Palace and even sent Philip a nal-nal, a traditional club for killing pigs, as a token of its appreciation. In return, he sent a portrait in which he’s holding the gift.

Sikor Natuan, the son of the local chief, holds two official portraits of Britain's Prince Philip in front of the chief's hut in the remote village of Yaohnanen on Tanna in Vanuatu.

The picture is now part of a shrine set up in Yaohnanen in Vanuatu that includes other photos and a Union flag. In May 2017, shortly after the Prince announced his retirement, a cyclone threatened the island—and its shrine. But according to Matthew Baylis, an author who has lived with the tribe, the natives didn't see this so much as a cause for concern as they did a harbinger of the prince's arrival so he can bask in their worship.

To date, Prince Philip has not announced any plans to relocate.

A version of this story ran in a 2012 issue of Mental Floss magazine.

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]


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