Code, nerd culture and humor from Greg Knauss.

AAAAAaaaaaagh!”

“Please calm down. Breathe deeply. Anxiety is a normal part of the temporal displacement field. It will pass quickly. OK. OK? OK. Now: Hello. I am you, from the year 2010, two decades in the future.”

“Aaaaaaaagh!”

“I said, calm down. The panic will pass.”

“Calm down? Calm down? You’re fat! And bald! I’m going to be fat and bald!”

“Hold up there, Sparky. You’re already fat. And will it help with the bald thing if I assure you that you’re, um, romantically involved on a regular basis?”

“But…”

Regular basis.

“Yeah, OK, fair trade.”

“I’ve come to the past to tell you two things.”

“Other than the bald thing?”

“Yes. Other than the bald thing.”

“Is it about nuclear war? Because radiation would explain why all your hair has fallen out.”

“In 2010, Apple will introduce a new computer, called the ‘iPad.’”

“Hee!”

“You’re thinking of a sanitary napkin joke, aren’t you?”

“Hee!”

“Would you like me to describe this computer to you?”

“Is Apple even still around? Microsoft just launched Windows 3.0 and—”

“It’s about the size of a piece of paper, half an inch thick and weighs a pound an a half. It has 64GB of storage, can play tens of thousands of songs and can display everything from photos to high-quality video. It has a touch-sensitive screen, is completely wireless and can connect to the Internet from just about anywhere.”

“Aaaaaagh!”

“Pretty cool, huh?”

“Holy crap! Oh, my God! Do you guys have, like, flying cars, too? Did aliens come and give you this technology? That means I can get USENET anywhere.”

“Um. Yeah. The Internet expands a bit from USENET, by the way.”

“Gopher?”

“Yeah. Gopher.”

“Oh, man. Can I see it? Do you have one?”

“Well, no, I don’t have one, because it won’t come out for another two months. But, here, I’ve got a smaller one that can make phone calls, too.”

“Aaaaaaagh! Oh, my God. This is so cool! All this, and I’m getting laid, too? People in the future must be so happy!”

“Actually, no. People are sort of disappointed.”

“What? How is that even possible?”

“That brings me to the second thing I want to tell you. In 2008, America elects a black man President.”

“What? Really? Like Morgan Freeman in ‘Deep Impact’?”

“No, you anachronistic goober. That movie doesn’t even come out until 1998.”

“So, he’s like Disraeli or Thatcher, right? Only Nixon can go to China? He’s really conservative? Please tell me you don’t elect Alan Keyes President.”

“No, no. His name is Barack Hussein Obama.”

“OK, now you’re just screwing with me.”

“No. Totally serious. He’s liberal, intelligent, deliberative, pretty much everything the country needs after Bush.”

“Bush? But Bush is President now. Please don’t tell me that he’s still around in 2008!”

“Oh, no. You’ve got the good Bush. The other one is who Obama is cleaning up after.”

“Wow! That’s awesome. That’s wonderful to hear. People must be really— Oh. You’re going to do that thing again, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I am. A lot of his supporters are disappointed.”

“With what? A liberal black guy got elected President!”

“And in his first year, he prevented a second Great Depression, has stopped torture as official policy, is winding down an unnecessary war, has dramatically opened up the transparency of government and has gone a good way towards restoring America’s place in the world.”

“And people are disappointed?”

“They want more.”

“Like the people disappointed with the computer?”

“Yes.”

“So people in 2010 are dicks?”

“They’re cynics.”

“Oh, please. I’m a cynic, and all this stuff sounds incredibly great.”

“That’s why I wanted to talk to you, 1990 me. Your cynicism is important, even vital. God knows, there are times when it will seem like bunnies-and-rainbows optimism given what actually happens. Things get really, really bad for a while, and no amount of cynicism seems like enough.

“But I also wanted to make sure that there are some things that are, in fact, awesome. The world’s been through a hell of a lot, and I’m not sure I trust my own eyes anymore. I don’t agree with every one of Obama’s policies and I doubt that I’ll buy an iPad, but does that make their existence any less amazing? What would the bright-eyed, long-haired, involuntarily celibate version of myself from two decades ago think?”

“I think it’s amazing. All of it. And I’m even ignoring the fact that you can apparently time-travel.”

“Good. That’s good to know. I look at some of the stuff that’s going on, what we can do and what we’ve done, and I want to be astonished. But some small, mean, broken part of me thinks it will all go to hell, that it’s a trap.”

“Wow. You really are cynical, aren’t you? It all looks great to me. Magic. The future! Man.”

“OK. Thanks. Oh, and two more things.”

“Yeah?”

“Don’t ever used the words ‘Meh’ or ‘Fail.’”

“OK.”

“And in a couple of years, when you’re deciding if you want to go on a blind date with someone’s lawyer friend, do it.”

“Seriously?”

“Talk about awesome.”

Hi there! My name's GREG KNAUSS and I like to make things.

Some of those things are software (like Romantimatic and Buzz Clock), Web sites (like the Webby-nominated Metababy and The American People) and stories (for Web sites like Suck and Fray, print magazines like Worth and Macworld, and books like "Things I Learned About My Dad" and "