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The Future is even weirder than you imagine

Essay by Stephen Lyons

Humor – February 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

ONLY FOOLS PREDICT the future, which is why I’m perfect for the job.

What a century it’s been! Who could have guessed that you could get a decent cup of coffee in southeastern Utah and that three rare species would make incredible comebacks: rottweilers, condors, and Jerry Brown. Who had the vision to predict that one of the most popular bumper stickers in eastern Washington would say, “Save Our Dams”? Or that Ted Turner would own 1 percent of all the land in New Mexico?

This next century will be filled with more technological wonders, including genetically-altered carrots that recite the Gettysburg Address and computers so tiny that you won’t know if you are actually using them. An additional five billion friendly humans will come onboard Spaceship Earth by mid century to help fill all those Wal-Mart jobs.

Children born today may live to be 120, though they will continue to be a pain-in-the-neck as teenagers. The Rolling Stones will turn 200 and still be performing. Hybrid SUV’s will come on the market, powered by half gasoline, and a half a ton of coal. Who knows: you might even receive your luggage at the Denver International Airport.

Still, some predictions remain to be made that are uniquely western.

Here’s a few news stories we can all look forward to in the coming century:

* Western senators attempt to block the expansion of wilderness web sites, claiming they will cost thousands of jobs in the timber and mining industry.

* Ted Turner buys the rest of Montana.

* Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene Tribe, financially flush from bingo revenues, purchases a National Hockey League team. The tribe changes the team’s name from “Redskins” to “White Honky Dog Breath” (“Euro Trash Collectors” for short).

* During a nasty spring storm, Wyoming blows away. No one notices, not even Wyoming residents.

* The Farm Bureau solves the Northwest salmon crisis by releasing robot sockeyes with sufficient artificial intelligence to negotiate the 300 dams now operating on the Columbia and Snake rivers. The Bureau proposes robots to replace all endangered species and large murals to replace wetlands.

* Ted Turner buys the rest of New Mexico, except for Gallup.

* The Aryan Nations disband because of inbreeding and an over-consumption of white bread, processed sugar and Velveeta.

* After years of study, painted cattle guards are declared “ineffective.” The beef industry calls the findings politically motivated.

* New age capital of the world, Sedona, Ariz., vanishes in a fit of mellowness and harmony. A batch of bad crystals from Santa Fé is blamed.

* The first six-headed baby is born downwind from Washington’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Engineers deny any connection to stored nuclear waste and blame a new genetic predisposition for multiple heads and the work of radical environmentalists.

* The first Hispanic governor is elected in Idaho and immediately declares the state a Spanish-speaking-only state.

* The first confirmed case of brucellosis is found … on Mars.

* Texas annexes Colorado. No one detects any difference.

* Burning Man Festival is renamed Burning Person Festival. Tiny Town, Colorado, is renamed Little People Town.

* Utah turns over Zion National Park, Orrin Hatch and Jazz power forward Karl Malone to the International Olympic Committee, thus completing the original deal that brought the 2002 Winter Olympics to Salt Lake City.

* Vail, Colorado citizens riot when a shipment of brie is stuck in a snowstorm on Loveland Pass. A lippo-suction clinic and juice bar sustain moderate damage.

* Earth First! admits grammatical error, drops exclamation point from its name, but might consider a question mark.

* In its voracious quest for fresh drinking water, Phoenix — population 16 million — accidentally drills through to the Indian Ocean. Las Vegas follows suit the next year.

* Residents of an exclusive Sun Valley, Idaho, gated community are locked inside for three months because someone misplaced the key. They survive on ample supplies of beluga caviar and Perrier.

* Scientists discover Jack-a-lopes in northern Nevada, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denies the species protection under pressure from the state’s congressional delegation.

* After a 700-year absence, the Anasazi people return to the Four Corners area, but leave after a month, citing “cultural differences.”

* Idaho Congressman Charles Chenoweth-Hage-Symns-Kempthorne-Burton-Gingrich warns against coming Y3K crisis. “Be ready. This time it’s real.”

Stephen Lyons is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News ( He ponders the future from Pullman, Washington.