Twenty Minutes Into the Future, by John Ostrander

John Ostrander

John Ostrander started his career as a professional writer as a playwright. His best known effort, Bloody Bess, was directed by Stuart Gordon, and starred Dennis Franz, Joe Mantegna, William J. Norris, Meshach Taylor and Joe Mantegna. He has written some of the most important influential comic books of the past 25 years, including Batman, The Spectre, Manhunter, Firestorm, Hawkman, Suicide Squad, Wasteland, X-Men, and The Punisher, as well as Star Wars comics for Dark Horse. New episodes of his creator-owned series, GrimJack, which was first published by First Comics in the 1980s, appear every week on ComicMix.

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11 Responses

  1. Vinnie Bartilucci says:

    Max Headroom ever amazed me with the little background concepts they came up with to flesh out the TV-centric world of theirs. I was always impressed by the room full of commodities traders, trading commercial time. On screen only for a second, but introduced a whole new idea that could easily have been fleshed out.I have a friend (no, really) who knows the location of a buried block of experimental Teflon approximately the size of a cubic football field. He always joked that when we finally run out of oil, he's gonna go dig it up, break it back down into oil and make a mint.As soon as making something locally becomes cheaper than importing it, it becomes a viable possibility to make it locally again. But once you add in the cost of setting up a local factory (not to mention the time it takes to build it) most companies will stick with importing, under the theory that X number of years from now when the oil bubble pops (we're in a speculative market right now, and that's contributing to the rising prices, nearly as much if not more than the oil companies themselves), it'll go back to beibng cheaper to import, and they'll have spent all the money "for nothing". People (like myself) are saying that we need to drill for oil locally, and build more/new refineries to process the oil more efficiently, but not too many of those people grasp that it'll take several YEARS to build those refineries, so there'll be no true "short-term" improvement, as in the next few months. The only hope is that if those steps are started, OPEC might actually think we're serious, and open the spigots on the oil, increase supply, which will lower the price (it really does work), which would cause many of the day-trading speculators to move on to more profitable products (maybe they'll come back to comic books), which would FURTHER drop the price. The trick is to KEEP working on the alternatives, in the hopes that we actually WILL start using less oil, and all of the benefits thatcarries with it.If we start seriously changing power consumption habits, building new and more effiecient energy production systems, and really explore feasible alternative resources, we won't actually see the effects of those changes until, say…twenty minutes into the future.

  2. mike weber says:

    People (like myself) are saying that we need to drill for oil locally, and build more/new refineries to process the oil more efficiently, but not too many of those people grasp that it'll take several YEARS to build those refineries, so there'll be no true "short-term" improvement, as in the next few months. Actually, i have heard politicians and others whose positions depend on short-term effects arguing against allowing more drilling (and against building nuclear plants) because "it won't help now, so we can't afford it".Much the same people who are demanding mandatory improved fuel efficiency in automobiles by 2010 that, given manufcturing and tooling lead times (and the laws of physics and chemistry) , realistically may be possible by 2012 or later. (Well, perhaps such results may be possible by 2010, if you don't care about little things like enjoying the experience of driving the cars…)

    • John Ostrander says:

      MikeI remember when catalytic converters became mandatory on cars despite the auto industry's weeping and moaning that it wouldn't be possible by the deadline, that it would cost too much, it wouldn't work and blah blah blah. Turns out they had secretly already worked all that out. They were waiting until they were compelled to do it and then they made it happen. So I take the auto industry with a very large grain of salt.John

  3. Neil Ottenstein says:

    Brewster Rockit has been doing a "20 Minutes into the Future" gag all week miss Max Headroom a lot. I still don't understand why it hasn't been released on DVD. I guess there is a rights issue somewhere. I'd love to see it again.

  4. John Ostrander says:

    In my morning newspaper here in NJ, there are talks of various municipalities also looking into or actively moving to the 4 day/10 hour work week. Anybody else noting that in there locality?

    • Mike Gold says:

      That's great. Unfortunately, the people they are supposed to be serving still work 5/8. A lot of people won't get the services they need.Out here in the northeast — and in certain other areas of the nation — it can be a great idea if it's widely adopted. It'll cut down commuting time by cutting down the number of cars on the road, and that'll cut down air pollution. The problem is, everybody's going to want to have either Monday or Friday off, so Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays will still suck.We need a World War II like commitment to rebuilding public transportation: electric trollies, commuter trains and other light rail. That means we'll need to build a lot of parking lots. And I, for one, do not dismiss nuclear energy. It's had a very, very good track record here in the States and in most other places that maintained and updated their facilities. There's work to be done to make it all the more safe, to be sure, but that's always the case. When electricity was introduced a century ago, a lot of wooden homes went up in flames after they got wired. Even a half-century ago, cheap aluminum wiring burnt down a lot of houses. We have sufficient experience with nuclear already to make it more safe.But nothing will help end the energy crisis faster than banning SUVs and vans and Hummers and cars that can't average 25 MPG.

  5. Glenn Hauman says:

    John, Max Headroom was updated recently.…Max didn't age well.

  6. Sean D. Martin says:

    Seat belts. windows stickers listing components on hew cars. Catalytic converters. Any increases in fuel efficiency.For every single one the auto industry brought out exactly the same arguments about costing too much and not being able to make deadlines. A broken record they are.And every time people continued to be able to buy cars and the auto industry continued rolling along.A grain of salt? Only if it's about 100 meters across.

  7. Russ Rogers says:

    Moore's Law: Moore's Law is an observation made by Intel Executive, Gordon E. Moore in a 1965 paper that the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit (a computer chip) doubles (a 100% increase), approximately every two years. This trend has continued for half a century and is likely to continue for at least the next decade, probably longer.What this boils down to is that about every two years the current crop of computers is vastly more powerful than the last. Faster, more efficient, more memory.It's also a self fulfilling prophecy. If the entire industry is working under the assumption that you need to be twice as good every two years or you will be obsolete, then you see VAST amounts of money poured into research and development so products can stay "ahead of the curve."My point is, "Where is Moore's Law for the Auto Industry?" If there was some expectation that auto fuel efficiency had to increase by even 8% every two years, then cars that averaged 20 miles to the gallon in 1976 would be averaging 70+ miles to the gallon by 2010.Right now I believe there was a goal of an average of 27 mpg set for 2004 on new car sales in the U.S.; the current goal is an average 35 mpg by 2020. That's an expectation of less than a 3.5% increase in fuel efficiency every 2 years. I'd say these are seriously LOWERED expectations.The fault doesn't just lie with manufacturers or regulators. Consumers just need to demand that each new car they buy be more fuel efficient than the last. Steady increases in efficiency are inevitable as soon as consumers make that a priority.