Since the future is so depressing, let's spend a day enjoying the whimsical charms of the past.

1. The best thing about the dawning of the Atomic Age was the belief that Science was going to save us and Progress would lead us to a better, brighter future. Now Progress is a nice way of explaining layoffs and the industrial revolution is as likely to end up killing us all as saving us. But let us set that aside for the moment in honor of NPF and enjoy this (click to embiggen):

Not a day goes by that I don't wish I had attended Plastics Industries Technical Institute rather than getting a Ph.D. Not even close to kidding.

2. Hey, now that we're all aboard the Fuck Libraries train – pure socialism, and they're like, what, 90% of the federal budget? – take a look at this interesting time capsule. My, how the times have changed.

Early-1971, in an effort to attract as many youngsters to the premises as possible, Marguerite Hart — children's librarian at the newly-opened public library in Troy, Michigan — wrote to a number of notable people with a request: to reply with a congratulatory letter, addressed to the children of Troy, in which the benefits of visiting such a library were explained in some form. It's heartening to know that an impressive 97 people did exactly that, and below are just four of those replies, all from authors: Isaac Asimov; Hardie Gramatky; Theodore Geisel; and E. B. White.

Check out Dr. Seuss. And all the others (including authors, elected officials, etc.) on the Troy Public Library Flickr site. Before they close the library.

3. I have a cellphone from the dark ages. OK, not really, but it predates smartphones by several years. Hand me an iPhone or Android and I stare at it like the apes finding the monolith in 2001. Then I randomly stab my finger at the screen until the owner says, "Here, I'll do it." To smartphone users like you this is comical; it's so obvious that the idea of someone being unable to figure it out is silly. With that in mind, please enjoy this 10-minute video, Now You Can Dial, produced by AT&T in 1954 to…explain using a rotary dial telephone.

Its advice seems ludicrous ("Wait for the dial tone!", the difference between the ring tone and busy signal, how to work the dial) but to people who were used to the operator making connections for them it probably needed to be said.

Also, 1950s corporate film. Win.