On Second Thought

Published: Monday, Dec. 30 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

Popular Mechanics went out on a limb and said computers in the future would weigh no more than 1.5 tons.

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This is the time of year when people forget Alex Lewyt, president of the Lewyt Vacuum Cleaner Co., and go on to write predictions for the new year and beyond. Lewyt predicted we would have nuclear-powered vacuums by now.

Actually, every time of the year is when people forget Lewyt. Imagine having little mushroom clouds of dust all over your house.

Actually, I think I heard the president of Iran say he only wanted to enrich uranium to make peaceful vacuum cleaners.

Lewyt isn’t alone in making bad predictions, of course. In 1949, Popular Mechanics went out on a limb and said computers in the future would weigh no more than 1.5 tons. That’s technically true, of course. Ironically, however, today’s computers weigh only ounces. It’s the people who weigh tons.

Folks today won’t go out on a limb because the limb won’t hold them.

In 1900, the Ladies Home Journal said by the year 2000 we no longer would have the letters C, X, or Q. That would have been bad news for students at Xavier College in Cincinnati, the Queen City.

In 1876, the president of Western Union predicted the telephone never would amount to much because it “has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.” Given what a lot of people use their smart phones for these day, he may have been onto something.

In addition to predicting the future, people make resolutions this time of year. We like to tell ourselves we will lose weight and write the great American novel. Then we spend the rest of the year complaining about politicians who can’t keep their promises.

Speaking of which, 2014 will be a big election year. That is a reminder for you to change the batteries in your remote so you can dodge those political ads more quickly.

Jay Evensen is associate editor of the Deseret News editorial page. E-mail him at even@desnews.com. For more content, visit his web site, www.jayevensen.com.

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