The Right To Get Droned

April 22nd, 2014

By now, most of you have heard of Cliven Bundy – the ranger out in Nevada who decided twenty years ago that federal laws and grazing fees don’t apply to his particular cattle. You see, his livestock are eating the grass on someone else’s land. Specifically government land. And when that happens, you are supposed to pay a fee for access to that land. It’s a reasonable (and uncontroversial) form of capitalism, since you’re doing nothing to maintain the land, and you do not own it, yet you are extracting a resource from it. He claims he doesn’t recognize the federal government as existing (usually while waving an American flag) and has gone to court multiple times to avoid paying the grazing fees. Repeatedly, the courts have struck his arguments down.

It got to the point where the federal government seized his cattle, in an effort to make him pay the $1 million in fines and fees he owed. Now, just to be clear, when he was costing the government money, that was FREEDOM! But when the government was costing him money, that was tyranny. Yes, some people believe that his decision to break the law makes him a patriot because something something New World Order Agenda 21 FEMA camps. I’m not going to get into a debate on this topic because it’s too stupid to rationally process. If I took a crowbar to every parking meter where I parked my car, I’d wind up in jail. If I decided to open a warehouse or a storefront inside the local park without getting any sort of approval, I’d get shut down. Every other rancher manages to obey the law, and Cliven Bundy isn’t some special little snowflake.

Things spun rapidly and stupidly out of control, and they somehow wound up having a stand-off between a bunch of local militias (who rushed to the defense of the man breaking the law) and the U.S. government. Once again, remember, they seized his cattle for repeated and willful violation of the law. Not because they were jack-booted Nazi thugs or whatever. So you had armed soldiers on one side of the stand-off, and a bunch of guys who decided to play army with live ammo on the other. In the end, the government backed off (for now). Then the ass backwards version of this story hit Facebook (because if you are getting your news from Facebook there is something wrong with you) and it somehow became a symbol of resistance to oppression and the power of the second amendment.

You all need to stop. Seriously. Just stop. And please understand, I’m not making a statement in favor of or against the second amendment. I actually have a lot of mixed feelings about the issue of gun control versus gun rights, but that’s not what is at issue here. The presence of civilian firepower in an armed stand-off only works because our government is NOT the monster that most of those people think it to be. If it was, there’d be a smoldering fucking crater where those militia members had set up camp, and a drone pilot in an undisclosed bunker would be getting a bronze star right now. The stand-off worked because the government has a vested interest in not murdering its own citizens. An infinite number of Bushmasters are useless against GPS guided ordinance.

Oh, and speaking of monsters, one of the militia spokesmen said they had “stratergized” putting the women in front of the armed militia members, so the television cameras could record them being shot by the government troops. See, that’s the type of world this guy thinks he lives in. He believes that the United States government will gun down a row of unarmed civilians, on camera, over some cattle. If the government this guy wets the bed over at night actually existed, his family would be sifting through rubble and ash looking for bone shards right now. We can all be glad that it doesn’t – even if it means we have to suffer a gaggle of wanna-be John Waynes.

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22 Replies

February 6th, 2014

So, over the past day or so, this link has been making the rounds. It is a series of photographs of self described creationists who, in response to the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham over creationism, intelligent design, evolution, and science in general, thought it’d be amusing to make one of those, “We’re real people and our words are important!” picture feeds where they all hold up pieces of paper with witty phrases on them. There were a lot of these going around when Occupy was at its height, and I guess they’re still a thing.

Anyway, the questions are insipidly thick, and generally either contain some sort of pithy bumper-sticker worthy turn of phrase or a gross, almost criminal misunderstanding of basic scientific principle. A few of the true gems contain both! Now, when I say basic? I’m not saying that they don’t quite grasp the intricacies of unified field theory. I’m saying that I don’t think they know what the word “science” means. At first, I thought I should just leave it alone. It’s just a bunch of people expressing their opinions on the internet, and fuck knows I believe in the right to do that.

But the more I thought about it, the more annoyed I got. Because these were smarmy, self satisfied, stupid questions being asked in a format that allows for no genuine response or explanation. And they were “ordinary folks” asking questions of a celebrity. Quite frankly, Bill Nye is too classy a guy to individually tear these inane messages apart. I, on the other hand, am pretty much a huge prick. I’m also just another “ordinary guy” on the internet. Hell, without Buzzfeed pimping my replies, I’m practically the underdog! So when you stick your head in front of a camera and decide you want to run down a chunk of your fifteen minutes being a smug asshole? Well, that makes you fair game.

22 Replies

Click For Imgur Gallery

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On Ballots And Bravado

January 31st, 2014

A recent essay over at Politico has attempted to make a case against early voting. It’s essentialy nine paragraphs of C rate concern trolling that both completely misses the point of early voting and manages to make no concrete argument against it.

Before I tear their into their actual arguments, I’d like to take a moment to address the authors of this essay. Not just to point out that they are, by default, highly partisan, but to suggest that they completely lack the perspective and personal knowledge necessary to hold an informed opinion on the topic. I’m going to take a wild guess and say that John McGinnis and Eugene Kontorovich, both professors of law at Northwestern University, have never waited half a day in the cold to vote. Or been told by their boss that even though they can take off the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November (by law), they really “better not” if they want their jobs to be there when they come back. I suspect that they show up at a very well maintained grade school or church in their local town, talk to a nice lady (probably named Delores), and are in-and-out of that booth in thirty seconds flat.

And since their political affiliations do matter? I’m also going to take another wild guess and say that John McGinnis and Eugene Kontorovich don’t give one rat fuck about “voter cohesion” or the spirited debate that takes place before an election. That nothing in the last 46 days of an election has ever made either one of them think, “Hmmm, I’d better vote for a Democrat”. That John McGinnis, the author of The Origin of Conservatism and frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal and National Review, knows who he is going to vote for before the names even show up on the ballot. I doubt that the guy who went from fretting about the filibustering of judicial nominees in 2005 to cheering the filibustering of them in 2010 finds himself paralyzed by indecision on election day. I’m taking a similar guess about Eugene Kontorovich, a libertarian blogger for The Volokh Conspiracy, even though I don’t know as much about him because he doesn’t even have the common sense to have his intern or his TA or his nephew make a Wikipedia page for him.

Their other arguments are the most basic sort of destroyable tripe. There’s some slippery slope prattle in there (presumably it will allow the degenerate electorate to start voting for box turtles or something) as well as the false appeal to noble tradition (go ahead and ask a black guy born before 1944 for more information about the conservative reverence of said tradition).

But more to the point, the entire essay exists in a completely bullshit fantasy world where democracy happens the way it does in fifth grade civics books. I’ve heard citizens engaging in debate about the best options for the country. It usually ends with, “Well, fuck you!” Go scroll your Facebook feed back to November of 2012 for more recent data on that subject. The example they point to (in case you hadn’t figured out that they are old white guys yet) is the Kennedy/Nixon debates. They make no mention, of course, of how politics, the media, the public’s relationship the government, or the amount of information available has changed since then. They seem incredibly concerned about debate performance in a world where debate performance counts for less and less. They also chose, without even a hint of irony, an election that took place before the Voting Rights Act.

Additionally, they seem to imagine a world where early voting has become mandatory or, at least, the preffered way to vote. As if undecided voters (also known as the middle third) will be unwilling to wait until election day to make up their minds. Either that or they really believe that die-hard liberals and conservatives are going to jump ship and vote for the opposing party. Now, you may see that in local elections – my very blue state has a very red governor, for example – but even in that extreme example, most Jerseyans made up their mind about Christie and Buono shortly after asking, “Who the fuck is Barbara Buono?” and those poll numbers didn’t change in the months leading up to the election.

But my biggest problem with the article is that it doesn’t even attempt to address the issue that early voting seeks to correct. They poo-poo one solution, and then sort of shurg their shoulders and say that they’re really sorry some folks can’t get to vote, but hey. . . fuck em. That’s the price we must pay in order to have some mythical voter cohesion thing happen, and so people will still give a shit about whatever op-ed they publish the last week of October. They barely acknowledge that the current system sucks, and then offer zero solutions to fix it. Moving election day to a weekend? Not on the table. Making election day a national holiday? Nary a mention. Setting a minimum mandatory ratio of voting machines and polling places per registered voter (or even probable voter)? Notably absent.

Just the same old shitty status quo that just so happens to favor their preferred party’s election outcomes (not that that ever comes up in their article). Just two more hacks, hacking away while pretending not to be hacks. But I’ll tell you what. When  John McGinnis and Eugene Kontorovich spend a few election days freezing their toes off in the bad(est) part of Detroit for six hours to cast a ballot? When they work three part time jobs in two different counties, neither of which they can afford to even live in, and have to navigate the crumbling remnants of a never great in the first place mass transit system to get to their polling place? When they have to wait until thirty seconds before they go to vote to have some jackoff in a tri-corn hat with nothing better to do challenging every voter that isn’t sufficiently melanin-deficient? I’d be delighted to hear what they have to say about early voting, and voting rights in general.

Until then they can fuck right off to hell.

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Words Matter (And So Do Four Hour Traffic Jams)

January 8th, 2014

“What I’ve seen today for the first time is unacceptable.” – Chris Christie

At first, I thought that was just a ham-fisted way to mention that he’s never heard of the gleefully routine pettiness of his high level staff and associates. It’s an awfully laid out sentence in what should have been a manicured press release. My initial reaction was to adjust it for him.

What I’ve seen today (for the first time) is unacceptable.

But you really can’t have a parenthetical statement in the opening line of a press release, either. It seems too meandering. So then I thought that he could at least have handled it with some commas.

What I’ve seen today, for the first time, is unacceptable.

That’s still pretty shit, though. In fact, it’s damn near Yodaspeak. So I meditated on that sentence some more, realizing that the smart move was to not try to cram in the “but guys, I’m blameless” buffer into that statement. Yet they want it in there because, since that’s the line that will be quoted, the press will do their work of driving the narrative that Christie had no idea about the lane closures. I spent a long time thinking on it before realizing the truth. It’s not an awkward sentence. It’s a Freudian slip.

What I’ve seen today, for the first time is unacceptable.

“Yeah, I knew my little stooges were doing this shit. That’s how we roll, after all. The voters wanted to elect Tony Soprano, and they got what they voted for. Hell, I’m probably the one who came up with this crap in the first place. But now that we’ve been caught? That shit is suddenly an outrage. Before they had us dead to rights, I didn’t care. But for the first time, I now find it unacceptable.”

Language, kids. Language always gives you away.

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Portrait Of A Villain

July 17th, 2013

If you want to call for a boycott of the new issue of Rolling Stone because of the cover, obviously, that’s your right. Go ahead. Knock yourself out. But honestly, you’re kind of missing the point. I didn’t initially see it as glamorizing Tsarnaev, and I only see it that way now through the lens of other people’s opinions. The cover also refers to him as a monster and a radical islamist, for what it’s worth.

So, what picture should they have used? A mugshot, perhaps? That’d be the mugshot we’ve seen a billion times. Maybe a picture of him in custody, or at his arrest. I suppose those are all valid options. But they don’t fit the story, and they don’t have the impact that the actual photo does. The point of the article is to ask how an otherwise normal, well adjusted kid turns into a terrorist and a murderer – which is a bit of an uncomfortable question. We don’t like to do that here in America, because it makes it slightly harder to decide who the bad guys are.

I mean, are we really so thick that we need a scary picture on the cover of the magazine to identify him as the Boston Bomber? Should they have red-stamped “EVIL DUDE” on his forehead, just to make sure everyone could keep up? Maybe Rolling Stone should have written “This Photo Is Supposed To Be Ironic” somewhere as a caption.

In truth, I think the public reaction to that photograph says a lot more about how we, as a people, view celebrity, media, and popular culture than it does about Rolling Stone. What people are saying when they complain about that photo is that they made Tsarnaev seem pretty, and he doesn’t deserve to be pretty. He’s a villain, and he needs to be shown with a sneer on his face, lit from underneath like a camp counselor’s horror story. The photo makes someone we’ve all decided is “the other” look not just like one of us, but like someone our media might idolize.

Perhaps it makes parents uncomfortable because it’s a face they might see on a poster on their kids’ wall, and thus they have rolled out the fainting couches. Look, if you can’t explain to your children that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is different from Justin Bieber (which should be a bonus for you, because now you’ve found someone more awful than Justin Bieber), maybe the problem is your shitty parenting.

And as for the people who are upset that Rolling Stone did not, instead, feature an article about the people who died during the bombing? Arguing from an emotional appeal is weasel work at best, so cut the shit. That’s not the topic of the article. What you’re asking is for a completely different thing than was delivered. Besides which, most of you didn’t give two shits about those families’ stories until the internet told you you were supposed to be angry about it again.

So like I said, if you want to boycott the magazine, that’s fine. But cast off the lie that you’re protesting in outrage, and own up to the fact that the photo just plain makes you uncomfortable. Rolling Stone featured a real life antagonist in the same context that we reverently reserve for the semi-talented collection of carnival barkers, circus clowns, stage acts, and jackals that comprise our lauded and finely cultivated celebrity population. Those are people to be breathlessly lionized on their rise to stardom and ruthlessly derided during their fall from grace.

We can’t handle the idea that Tsarnaev is a person (a very bad person, if you like, but still a person) and might have had reasons (again, very bad reasons) for his actions. We refuse to interface with him, or even the concept of him, in that way. It’s why that photo is so jarring, so stark, and perhaps, so necessary.

 

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Tyrants, Tin Pots and Timidity

June 2nd, 2011

First off. . . holy hell, has Osama bin Laden really been dead for a whole month? I guess time flies when you’re having fun.

Or maybe I should start calling him Usama bin Laden again? Fox News certainly has, and I found that a bit odd. I mean, for years the government (especially the FBI and the CIA) referred to him as Usama bin Laden, and often truncated that to just “UBL” for short. And then after 9/11, we all just agreed to call him Osama, though it would take another year or two for us to decide how to spell al-Qaeda. But now, immediately after his death, Fox (and only Fox) went back to Usama.

I actually prefer the FBI’s spelling, since in my mind he will always by UBL. But I have to wonder why Fox, the network that practically invented and most definitely mainstreamed the classic Obama/Osama verbal swap, is suddenly going with the alternate spelling. Maybe they were afraid their frothing blowhards and fanatically unserious Serious People wouldn’t be able to get through a whole story without conflating the names a dozen times. Perhaps changing the spelling and pronunciation was a way to make it easier for the Life Support Systems For Hair (Shep Smith excluded) that dominate their broadcast day.

So, mental time capsuling and grammatical conspiracy theories not withstanding, I suppose it’s time to spend a few embarrassing and loathsome minutes talking about the 2012 GOP field. And before you suggest that words like embarrassing or loathsome are poisoning the well, I might direct you to the Pew Poll recently conducted that asked respondents to come up with a single word that best described their impression of the candidates running for the Republican nomination.

First, let me get the personal grievances out of the way. I’d say that the most embarrassing thing on this list is that “not good” is two words, but the fact that some people chose the word “republican” to describe Republican candidates for President should tell you most of what you need to know about our electorate. I am a bit unclear on why “disappointed” is flagged as a neutral comment, other than perhaps as a balancing concession (and it should be noted that “disappointed” is the most popular of all the supposedly neutral responses).

So nit-picking not withstanding, this is where we are, folks. Most of the flakes, fakers and phonies have finally worn out their media welcomes. Donald Trump, who in his own head would never want to run for the office of the President because he is convinced that the office of The Donald is already a step or two above god, has finally gone back to being a hack-ass reality television star. Mitch Daniels, who was the most serious candidate that no one knew about, had the common sense to not run. Chris Christie, who ran for Governor for the specific purpose of building an asinine conservative-friendly executive record and assured us the other month that he could easily beat Obama, is also not going to run.

Newt Gingrich entered the race, promptly set his own hair on fire by telling the truth (which didn’t make sense because that’s clearly not Newt’s strong suit), and then invited the entire D.C. punditocracy to take turns putting that fire out by punching him in the head. He is a victim of the nasty, backstabbing culture he helped create in Washington, and his abject failures couldn’t have happened to a slimier guy. What’s sad is that in this weak field, his complete implosion still doesn’t put him completely out of the running.

Herman Cain is the new Donald Trump. That’s all.

Michele Bachman is the old Michele Bachman. That’s also all.

And of course, there is Sarah Palin. There is always Sarah Palin, isn’t there? Hell, I’ve typed that name so many times that the keystrokes themselves almost feel familiar, and there’s a good chance that if you’re reading my blog right now, it’s because of Sarah Palin in the first place. Apparently she’s on some kind of supporter funded vacation that is in no way a campaign tour, despite having strumpeted her Totally Not A Tour Bus up in so much jingoistic schlock that the exhaust fumes actually spell out Joe McCarthy in cartoon bubble letters when the engine starts up.

I’ve never believed she actually has the drive or the determination to run for President, at least not on a major party ticket. I’m open to the possibility of her running as a Tea Party candidate spoiler, but I think even she realizes that if she Nader’ed a Presidential election she’d lose some of her loyal followers. So no, I don’t thinks he will run for President, and while I’m perfectly happy to be wrong (dear god, let that woman run), I don’t think I am.

I think she’d run for Vice President again, though. Because I think she thinks she could beat Biden this time around. And she’s always more than happy to let someone else do a bunch of work for her while she smiles and takes all the publicity. Just ask the organizers of Rolling Thunder. She also loves having someone else to blame for her failures. And I think that a guy like, say, Mitt Romney, who has a decent chance at winning the primary only because everyone else’s chances also suck, would happily hitch his hopes to the horrific harpy if he thought it would put him in the White House. So don’t be stunned if, a  year from now, we’re all looking at Romney/Palin stickers. It really wouldn’t be much different than the McCain/Palin stickers. Or the McCain/Palin campaign, really.

And Romney is finally positioning himself, playing on the only aspects of his personality that appeal to his base. Basically his campaign boils down to “I’m A Really Rich Guy And I Have Presidenting Hair“. Which, when you think about it, is twice as much as Reagan had to run on. Of course, Romney will never be Reagan, no matter how much he’s going to have to sniff The Gipper’s crap and declare it to be chocolate over the next year or so. And Romney is maneuverable, absurdly flexible, and actually much smarter than the dolt he plays on television. So no, I don’t think RomneyCare or his infinite flip-floppery will keep him from the nomination. It’s much more likely that his religion will. That and he’s a creepy little freak.

And finally Tim Pawlenty. Tim Pawlenty. Maybe if I just type his name over and over I’ll remember anything about him. Other than the fact that he calls himself T-Paw with a straight face (hell, the guy probably has sex with a straight face) and is so bad at attack politics that he practically called himself a doofus without meaning to. Actually, the best thing he has to run on is that no one really remembers anything about him. Maybe that’s his plan, hoping that voters will get into the ballot box and be so disgusted with everyone else that they’ll vote for that Tim Paw-Something guy that they’ve heard mentioned on television.

But in spite of his charisma deficiency, it’s important to note that Tim Pawlenty (jeez, I can’t even spell his name without forgetting what I’m typing) is a short sighted bullet point generating idiot. And to prove my point, here are his brilliant thoughts on how to reform (and by reform I mean eradicate) Medicare. “It will include something called performance pay. We will begin to move providers from getting paid not just for the volume of procedures they crank out, but whether people are actually getting healthier and getting better.”

Now, any of you out there that are actual medical professionals are probably extracting your fists from your computer monitors right now, but I’ll explain the problem for those of you that aren’t already frothing at the mouth. The very reason that Medicare is both so expensive and so necessary is that it universally covers people at an age where no other insurance carrier would want them enrolled. At an age when medical costs skyrocket and when injuries and illnesses become more common, more dangerous, and infinitely more complex.

Any system that “rewards success” by its very nature punishes failure. A “performance pay” Medicare system would force providers to question what impact certain procedures and even certain patients will have on their success rate. That sure does sound a whole freaking lot like “putting government bureaucrats between people and their doctors” to me. Which, of course, is incredibly bad.

Unless a Republican does it.

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Theater Of Victory

May 2nd, 2011

I knew, deep down, that not a whole day would go by before the death of Osama bin Laden became incorporated into the bullshit kabuki theater that is American politics. It crossed my mind less than an hour after I heard the news, because that’s where my brain lives. But I was willing to just let the whole thing skate and wait for the right to politicize the shit out of it. Somehow, they still think they own 9/11 and all of its political proceeds. I expect a cease and desist order from Rudy Giuliani just for mentioning the date in print.

And while there are times that I wish Obama was a more confrontational politician, it’s times like these that I’m glad he relies so heavily on the rope-a-dope. It helps, of course, that his political rivals long since rode the train all the way to Dope City. His speech about the death of bin Laden was so politically neutral, so meticulously groomed. And the reaction from the foaming-mouth right was so immediate and vulgar.

They are already demanding to see the body, or photographs of the body, or some other evidence other than the word of the President and the entire United States military that bin Laden is dead. I imagine in about six months they’ll be asking for his Long Form Death Certificate and then analyzing the resulting PDF with the sort of scrutiny normally reserved for the Zapruder film and all of the technical knowledge of, well. . . a typical teabagger, actually. Sorry fellas, but you are the stereotype now.

Call me cagey, but I now wonder if the release of Obama’s Long Form Birth Certificate wasn’t a carefully timed political maneuver, designed to draw attention to the stark contrast between the GOP’s focus and Obama’s own. And it’d be crass, if the entire birther issue weren’t more than just unscheduled racism and character assassination in the first place.

And what a contrast it is, too. It’s a subconscious gut check about each group’s priorities, and as political theater (if that’s what it really is) it works wonderfully. Plus, Obama gets to be casual and take none of the actual credit for the contrast, which leaves the right’s feverish wailing that he is taking credit for the kill (and not even in a flight suit, for frig’s sake) sounding all the more hollow. Like I said, the guy knows how to work the rope-a-dope.

As for the Republicans who are now howling that he didn’t give George Bush enough credit for helping to hunt down bin Laden? You guys probably want to let that one slide. Just let it go. I know you have the built-in burning fury to piss and moan on everything that your side doesn’t get the credit for, but this one is a losing battle.

Because I will bury your asses with 2002 videos of George W. Bush feeling “not that concerned” about bin Laden’s whereabouts, followed swiftly by reminders of the CIA closing down the unit dedicated to hunting bin Laden in 2006.

I guess rope-a-dope isn’t my style. I prefer the one-two punch.

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A Hell of a Run

May 2nd, 2011

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A Cold Wind

April 28th, 2011

What I find most telling about the Ryan budget isn’t its built-in loathing of the very government it seeks to reform. That’s not exactly news coming from a conservative. More so, it’s the way they are trying to sell it to seniors. On every talk show, in every sound bite, and at ever town hall I see, Republican Congressmen and shills alike are scarcely able to open their mouths before pointing out that none of the changes will affect people over the age of fifty-five (which, itself, is only partly true). They then look on with universally stunned expressions when their older constituents tell them that’s still unacceptable.

Some of them even repeat the point. They assure them that their benefits won’t be changing. Just the ones for their kids and grandkids, as if that suddenly makes it okay. In their tiny little hearts, which must be colder than Ayn Rand’s vagina, they assume that their, “I got mine, fuck all y’all!” outlook on life is truly universal.

And for those of us who actually are under fifty-five, it’s not exactly a selling point. They’re telling us that this plan is so good, they wouldn’t dare try to give it to anyone who already has proper Medicare. And they can twist and spin and sputter and half-truth all they want, but the Ryan plan for Medicare is a bloody voucher plan. It’s inherently similar to the Republican solution for any government-run organization. Instead of spending taxpayer money to get a job done, they’d rather hand our money back to us (mostly) and tell us to go out and individually purchase insurance. That hard-line economic conservatives would be inherently opposed to collective bargaining isn’t a surprise, really. It’s just obnoxious and dangerously misplaced.

But it’s the same song and dance for every program. Education? Social Security? Let every individual fend for themselves in the private market. Oh, and while we’re at it? Completely deregulate those markets just to make sure that consumers can’t get a fair shake. Hell, even the military is slowly being privatized, and at great cost to both the taxpayers that fund it and any innocent civilians that happen to be swarthy looking in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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Unquestionably The Future

April 18th, 2011

While conversing with a friend about how addictive and clever cell phones have become over the past few years, I sent her (as I often do) a link to a particular Three Panel Soul that I feel really speaks to the heart of the matter. I’ve loved that particular comic (and the work that Matt and Ian do in general) for years. But looking at it this morning, for maybe the hundredth time, I started to think on the deeper implications of those words.

And not in a bad way, either. Some people would look at that comic and lament for how small and introspective the human race has become as a result of technology. They’d conjure up cliche imagery of throngs of people, standing shoulder to shoulder, eyes locked on tiny little screens as the wonder of blah blah blah. You know the rest. A hundred dark horse critics could paint a thousand pictures of dystopian isolationism and I’d have seen it all before.

They’re full of it, by the way. They’re thoroughly missing the point. But I’ll get to that later.

Behind the clever flying-cars trope is a much more meaningful comparison of what we expected the future to be like versus what the future will actually be like. It touches on some of the same themes that Scott Ramsoomair played with recently over at VGCats (where flying cars were also mentioned). But while Scott laments the future that will never be, Ian and Matt suggest that that future was silly anyway. That it was the product of overly simplistic expectations – humanity’s attempt to imagine the future by looking at the present and assuming that the future would just be more of that, only slightly different.

Would we really ever have imagined flying cars without the invention of flying planes? The flying car, my friends, is Put A Clock On It imagination. Take two things that already exist and mush them together. It’s only the prospect of personal freedom (and probably the Back to the Future movies) that makes the idea appealing. And maybe it’d even be totally sweet. But it’s not a brilliant or really, even a clever idea.

Now, you could argue that smart phones are really just the same thing. Take an idea that already exists (the computer) and apply it to another medium. But the difference is far vaster. Because it’s not just the computer aspect, or just the internet aspect of the device that makes it amazing. It’s the information and the connectivity. It is the ability, from almost anywhere on the planet (insert snarky cell phone coverage joke here) to call up any piece of information known to mankind.

That sort of communicative power most certainly is addictive and is amazing. I’ve had what most people would call a modern phone for less than a month. And in that time, I’ve deposited checks right from my camera, arranged and organized airline tickets and rental cars, found obscure eateries, reconnected with two old friends, purchased birthday presents, researched technical specifications (ironically, for an accessory for said phone), recorded moments of hilarity both impromptu and deliberate. . . the list is staggering. More staggering is that I was able to do this from anywhere I happened to be at the very moment those situations arose.

But most staggering of all is that the technology that is going to change the world (hell, is already changing the world) is tiny, portable and more than anything else, is designed to allow one person to talk to another. It isn’t propulsion or destruction that is changing human culture. It’s communication. I tell you, it almost makes my cynical heart flutter.

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