Lately I have been thinking of myself as a time machine. Though not a particularly versatile time machine, I admit. I lack a reverse gear; and my forward travel is limited to the standard rate of time, rather like a log raft drifting down the Mississippi River. All the same, I am happy to be making steady progress toward my desired temporal destinations. Here is a small sampling of my itinerary.
Dec 21, 2012 - End date of the Mayan Calendar
I wish to visit this date and see the conclusion of the current 5125-year-long cycle of the Mayan Long Count calendar. Various people (sensationalists, mostly) have predicted a global cataclysm. I plan to arrive at the solstice and see if the cataclysm occurs.
2020 - China's fragmenting and decline
George Friedman, whose STRATFOR company provides analysis and forecasting of the geopolitical scene, has predicted that by 2020 China will have clearly failed to integrate its dynamic economy with its third-world political and banking structures. The era of Chinese unraveling should provide a fascinating stop on my time tour.
2022 - Peak rate of US retirement
The baby boomers had their peak birthrate in 1957. Therefore, their retirement rate should peak 65 years later in 2022. I will be in my early 70s and will have a personal interest in the demographic situation.
April 13, 2029 - First approach by the killer asteroid Apophis
The 25-million ton, 820 foot-wide asteroid 9942 Apophis, named after the Egyptian god of darkness and destruction, will whiz by the Earth in 2029. The asteroid should get extensive news coverage (especially if it foils the astronomers' calculations and actually hits the Earth). This promises to be a rewarding spectacle for the weary time traveler. If Apophis misses the target, it will get another toss in 2036.
2029 - Successful reverse engineering of the human brain
Ray Kurzweil, brilliant inventor and sometime crackpot concerning health issues, has predicted that all aspects of the human brain - including emotions, curiosity, and personality quirks - will have been understood and simulated by 2029. I plan to show up in 2029 and see how all this pans out. Perhaps I can purchase a companion for my declining years, either a perky but scatter-brained model from Microsoft or else an elegant but snooty model from Apple.
2035 - Flight of an all-electric airliner
The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) plans to have an airliner powered by lithium-ion batteries by 2035. It will be well worth the extensive time travel to see this exciting technology, even if the time machine (i.e., my own self) is getting a bit rickety by then. How wonderful to buzz through the clouds on an electric plane!
2042 - Non-Hispanic whites become a minority of the US population
With decades of increasing Hispanic immigration in store for the US, the non-Hispanic whites (my crowd) will dip below 50% by 2042, never to regain majority status. If I pace myself, I may be able to stretch out my time travel long enough to visit this tumultuous era. By then it should be easy to get first-rate corn tortillas in grocery stores.