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We are all immigrants from the past. Or will be.

One day you will fall asleep in your quarters high in the imperial tower of the capital of Now. You will awaken in a ditch in some cornfield out in the sticks.
Uh oh.  You fell asleep here.  Where the future was.
Actually not. You will awaken in the same tower in the same city, but while you were sleeping, the capital of Now will have changed locations. You will have to find out where it has moved and pack your bags. After a while you will become used to this – perhaps even good at it -- and learn to pack light.

The new capital of Now, New Capital, is a bit like Old Capital, but the practices are a bit different. As you have done a number of times before, you will learn the new ways, the new practices, the new language.

New Capital will grant you the opportunity to create the new ways, to actually influence where the New Capital of Now actually moves as it must from time to time. But as a cultural artifact, you are "from" somewhere else, and your manners mark you as an immigrant from The Past. The more familiarity you have with former ways and practices, the more distant that Past was.

Many of the residents of New Capital will have been born there. They are by definition young, since they have not yet experienced a capital move. Those who believe that being born in the capital of Now ensures automatic continuing citizenship there are sadly mistaken. You know that many of them will be lost in the very first move. They are a bit cocky now, but they will be less so when starving. If the idea brings a chuckle to you, you may as well. They laugh at you because your suitcase doesn't have wheels and you must carry it along. Well screw them. (To-do: Get suitcase with wheels.)

Most of the citizens of Now harbor erroneous beliefs that will be their undoing. Actually, everyone in Now knows that most citizens harbor erroneous beliefs that will be their undoing. Few of them know what those beliefs are, but erroneous beliefs are a universally available commodity. Knowing which way to bet is the only guarantee of making the next capital move.

The amazing iPhone 8
So here's a tip: The belief that the Next Version will always be better is sadly 19th Century and wrong. Originating in the Industrial Revolution's First World optimism of bigger ships, bigger machines and bigger empires and bolstered now by decades of Moore's Law, six generations of classic iPods, and four generations of iPhones, the reality is based on the continuing helplessness of oppressed people, cheap access to toxic materials, and unsustainable levels of consumer credit.

What will stop the capital of Now from moving to Foxconn city in China when some of its one million citizens start rereading Mao during the retooling for iPhone 23 and refuse to kill themselves working so someone else can amass great wealth? At some point, betting against Jules Verne will pay off when Now moves somewhere else, perhaps even somewhere sensible. (To-do: learn how to grow tomatoes.)

Ah, you laugh at me? As it is written on the leering skulls in the catacomb, "As I am, so shall you be." But only if you're lucky, immigrant!

H. Doug Matsuoka
8 February 2011
Makiki, Honolulu

Edit: OK, Nokia just woke up in the cornfield: Painful Realization from gizmodo.com.

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