What the Fuck Happened to the Future?

Having recently gotten hitched to my Queen of Darkness (it was a lovely ceremony, involving much wailing and gnashing of teeth and the sacrifice of a live midget), we were on the prowl at the elegant French department store known as Target (pronounced “Tar-zjay”, you incompetent hicks) for housewares. We had an abundance of gift cards to spend on kitchen utensils, and were in the process of stocking up when it came up that we had forgotten to add something to the list: a vacuum cleaner. Having something of a known robot fetish, I naturally gravitated toward one of the six coolest things I’ve ever heard of: the Roomba.

The Queen of Darkness, of course, could only ask, “Why?”

It's a fucking robot that cleans your house.
It’s a fucking robot that cleans your house.
Cower in fear, squishies.

I was dumbfounded. There is no “why” when it comes to robots. The answer to that question is always “because I can”. In this case, it’s “Because I can have a fucking robot that roams around and cleans my house.” Seriously. If I had one, I’d even name it “Rosie”, after the robot maid from The Jetsons. I’d go so far as to stencil the name on it. It would be glorious – glorious, I say!

You realize that this humble robot maid is the only part of the once-touted “future” that has come true. As I was growing up in the 80s, we were promised all sorts of shiny things by the 21st century. Flying cars, personal jet-packs, robot servants, you name it. The future was up for grabs, and nothing you could imagine was too wild.

So here we are, on the cusp of 2009, and there’s no flying car in my driveway. I don’t have a jet-pack with asbestos pants in my closet. But by God, if I want it, I can have a robot clean my fucking house for a mere $300. (And keep in mind that there are plenty of expensive vacuum cleaners that cost that much and require a squishy to guide them – if I’m going to spend $300 on a vacuum, the damn thing had better not need me to stand behind it.) I fucking need a robotic maid to sweep my floors, if only to vindicate the dreams of all those science fiction writers who said the 21st century would be full of marvels.

So, what did we get out of this shiny future that turned out to be the same old grimy and boring present? Well, we’ve got cell phones, which is a technology that I could live without. Well, okay, I couldn’t do without it, but I could do without the people who live with the damn things welded to their ears like some kind of low-grade cybernetic implants. The science fiction writers who dreamed up our supposed future couldn’t conceive of a 350-pound woman in hot pants yakking away on a cell phone while in the checkout line at Wal-Mart. Sure, it’s convenient and all, but it’s a technology that’s been abused in ways the high-minded nerds who designed Captain Kirk’s communicator never thought of.

Then there’s one piece of technology you, dear reader, are using right now. That’s right, bubba, I’m talking about the vast and smelly mass of tubes known as the Internet. Once again, like the ubiquitous cell phone, this was something that futurists, scientists, and science fiction geeks predicted could be a part of our future. The idea dates way back to Nikola Tesla (who wasn’t the most normal individual – he spent his last days secluded in a hotel room with a pigeon) and his “world system”, which he sold to his backers as a sort of worldwide communication grid. Of course, all that was just a bit of a fib to cover up his continuing to work on a failed power transmission system, but what the hell. If you squint, he predicted the Internet. Lots of other people did, too. None of them could foresee the number one use for this marvelous collection of interconnected computers. Sure, it puts the collected knowledge of mankind at your fingertips, but what’s it really used for? Porn. Porn porn porn porn porn. Poooooorrrrrn. Every fetish and paraphilia you can imagine is out there somewhere. If you don’t believe me, do a Google search for “Bart Simpson porn” and see what comes up.

So, am I just being a cranky old man, or have we truly squandered our chances at having a bright and shiny future? Maybe if Paul Moller had worked a little harder, or if we had taken him seriously and sunk more money into his projects, we’d have flying cars by now. Or not – considering how badly people drive on the ground, putting the average American motorist behind the controls of something flying at 200 miles per hour is just fucking scary. That’s another technology that would be ruined in the hands of our current crop of users, the same way the Internet and cell phones have been.

But goddammit, at least I can have a robot that cleans my house. There’s no way we can ruin that, right?

About The Chef

The Chef was born 856 years ago on a small planet orbiting a star in the Argolis cluster. It was prophesied that the arrival of a child with a birthmark shaped like a tentacle would herald the planet's destruction. When the future Chef was born with just such a birthmark, panic ensued (this would not be the last time the Chef inspired such emotion). The child, tentacle and all, was loaded into a rocket-powered garbage scow and launched into space. Unfortunately, the rocket's exhaust ignited one of the spectators' flatulence, resulting in a massive explosion that detonated the planet's core, destroying the world and killing everyone on it.

The Chef.
Your host, hero to millions, the Chef.
Oblivious, the dumpster containing the infant Chef sped on. It crashed on a small blue world due to a freakish loophole in the laws of nature that virtually guarantees any object shot randomly into space will always land on Earth. The garbage scow remained buried in the icy wastes of the frozen north until the Chef awoke in 1901. Unfortunately, a passing Norwegian sailor accidentally drove a boat through his head, causing him to go back to sleep for another 23 years.

When the would-be Chef awoke from his torpor, he looked around at the new world he found himself on. His first words were, “Hey, this place sucks." Disguising himself as one of the planet's dominant species of semi-domesticated ape, the being who would become known as the Chef wandered the Earth until he ended up in its most disreputable slum - Paris, France.

Taking a job as a can-can dancer, the young Chef made a living that way until one day one of the cooks at a local bistro fell ill with food poisoning (oh, bitter irony). In a desperate move, the bistro's owner rushed into one of the local dance halls, searching for a replacement. He grabbed the ugliest can-can dancer he could find, and found himself instead with an enterprising (if strange) young man who now decided, based on this random encounter, to only answer to the name “Chef".

His success as a French chef was immediate (but considering that this is a country where frogs and snails are considered delicacies, this may or may not be a significant achievement). Not only was the Chef's food delicious, it also kept down the local homeless population. He rose to the heights of stardom in French cuisine, and started a holy war against the United Kingdom to end the reign of terror British food had inflicted on its citizens.

When the Crimean War broke out around France, the Chef assisted Nikola Tesla and Galileo in perfecting the scanning electron microscope, which was crucial in driving back the oncoming Communist hordes. It would later be said that without the Chef, the war would have been lost. He was personally awarded a Purple Heart by the King of France.

After that, the Chef traveled to America, home of such dubious culinary delights as McDonald's Quarter Pounder With Cheese. He immediately adopted the Third World nation as his new home, seeing it as his job to protect and enlighten it. When the Vietnam War began, he immediately volunteered and served in the Army of the Potomac under Robert E. Lee and General Patton. During the war, the Chef killed dozens of Nazis, most of them with his bare hands.

Marching home from war across the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, stark-naked and freezing, the Chef wound up on the shores of Mexico. He spent several years there, drinking tequila with Pancho Villa and James Dean. He put his culinary skills to the test when he invented the 5,000-calorie Breakfast Chili Burrito With Orange Sauce (which is today still a favorite in some parts of Sonora).

Eventually, the Chef returned to his adopted home of America, where he met a slimy, well-coiffed weasel who was starting up a new kind of buffet - one dedicated to providing the highest-quality unmentionable appetizers to the online community. The Chef dedicated himself to spreading the word of his famous Lard Sandwich (two large patties of fried lard, in between two slices of toasted buttered lard, with bacon and cheese), as well as occasionally writing about his opinions on less-important topics than food.

Every word of this is true, if only in the sense that every word of this exists in the English language.