Roger Ebert predicts the future

Found via Ebert’s facebook feed.  This is very cool:

Nearly a quarter of a century ago, inhabiting a primitive world where the biggest movies of the moment were such cinematic fossils as “Three Men and a Baby” and “Beverly Hills Cop II,” Ebert took a pretty impressive stab at swami-like crystal ball gazing:

We will have high-definition, wide-screen television sets and a push-button dialing system to order the movie you want at the time you want it. You’ll not go to a video store but instead order a movie on demand and then pay for it. Videocassette tapes as we know them now will be obsolete both for showing prerecorded movies and for recording movies. People will record films on 8mm and will play them back using laser-disk/CD technology. I also am very, very excited by the fact that before long, alternative films will penetrate the entire country. Today seventy-five percent of the gross from a typical art film in America comes from as few as six –six– different theaters in six different cities. Ninety percent of the American motion-picture marketplace never shows art films. With this revolution in delivery and distribution, anyone, in any size town or hamlet, will see the movies he or she wants to see.

OK, so the CD became DVD and 8mm didn’t really go anywhere, but otherwise, Ebert got it pretty much right on the money.

I’ve never tried predicting more than an election in advance.  Very impressive.

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Generation gap and electoral volatility

Having been blogging much because I’ve been working a ton on trying to finish off my conference paper on the generation gap (should be done tonight), but I thought I’d take a break from working to check the blogs and see that Chait has a post that is remarkably similar to what I was just writing in the conclusion:

The 2010 election was largely a result of the generation gap. To oversimplify, the old (conservative) portion of the 2008 electorate showed up, and the young (liberal) portion stayed away. Democrats borrowed a lot of seats in 2008 with a swollen electorate filled with young voters who weren’t likely to stay engaged in 2010. But the corollary of that is that Republicans borrowed those seats right back in 2010 with a disproportionately old electorate that doesn’t reflect what 2012 will look like. The mere fact of having a presidential race will make the House electorate substantially more Democratic.

Indeed, it’s entirely possible that, if the age gap continues, the Congressional vote will continue to swing back and forth like this, with Democrats picking up seats in presidential election years, and losing them in off-years. Obviously, those swings could be obscured by swings going the other way — Democrats could gain seats in a midterm election if the president is a really unpopular Republican, etc. Anyway, my main point is that the salience of age is a new and very important factor in American politics, and it provides some reason for caution in using history to forecast future results.

I especially like it when Chait and I have the same ideas independently, rather than him just making me think about something in a way I previously had not, which is the usual course of things.

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