We’re Still Waiting for The Ultrasonic Shower

A few weeks ago I finished reading Bill Bryson’s 1994 book following the history of the United States and the development of American English – Made in America. At almost 600 pages it has taken me around six months to get through the entire book, but it is a fantastic read.

One of the last chapters of the book focuses on language from the time of the Space Race. In particular, the following excerpt about words from the 1970s is just as true today:

In  1959, in one of those delving into the future that magazines found so satisfying at the time, Newsweek presented this confident scenario for the lucky housewife of 1979: ‘Waking to cool 1970-style music from a tiny phonograph built into her pillow, the housewife yawned, flicked a bedside switch to turn on the electronic recipe-maker, then rose and stepped into her ultrasonic shower.’

Among the many things Newsweek’s soothsayer failed to foresee was that by 1979 the housewife would be an endangered species. What the world got instead were words like workaholic, drive-by shootings, crack cocaine, AIDS, repetitive stress injury, gridlock and serial killer. We’re still waiting for the ultrasonic shower.

Personally, I am still waiting for my jetpack.

Quote for Today

We are told to remember the idea, not the man, because a man can fail. He can be caught, he can be killed and forgotten, but 400 years later, an idea can still change the world. I’ve witnessed first hand the power of ideas, I’ve seen people kill in the name of them, and die defending them… but you cannot kiss an idea, cannot touch it, or hold it… ideas do not bleed, they do not feel pain, they do not love…

From V for Vendetta regarding Guy Fawks.