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Welcome To Crazy Town

Driving around outside of Columbus without satellite radio, without any recorded books, with zero CDs and I mean zero, the way I listen to the radio is I hit the scan button and then wait for a reason to stop scanning. Sometimes it’s a song in the general vein I like, and that might mean good news for twenty miles or so. Sometimes it’s somebody British, saying British things.

This time it was a conservative religious talk show, and the three second-snippet which caused me to stop the scanner included the phrase “homo marriage.”

Chet From Weird Science Making EggsI’m pretty sure the woman who used the term – especially since she proceeded to use it repeatedly for the next half hour – believed that it was the proper term for gay marriage. Because if you’re using terms which would seem normal coming out of Chet from Weird Science, then you can pretty much bet the farm your lingo is legit.

Welcome to Crazy Town, is what I assume the show was called, though the key word there is “assume.” In truth, I can’t tell you who these people were or even what station they were on, but that’s where they were broadcasting from, and I’m pretty sure one of them was the Mayor.

The first thing they were doing was hammering down the following point: Teaching evolution in school without also teaching that Maybe It Was Magic, well that’s not teaching science, that’s indoctrinating students into a non-Christian philosophy, just basically cramming the Opposite of The Bible down their throats and then stamping the word “Science” on it.

“The Word of God predates science!”  One of them complained. He’s the one I think was the Mayor, sounding like Pat Robertson thirty years younger with a couple of solid martinis in him.

They all cracked up at how obvious that was, and then to demonstrate how much it was obviously a bad idea to teach Science without the Word of God, the woman – I’ll call her the Reverse Terminator, because she sounded like she had maybe come forward in time a hundred years, and like she knew nothing about technology of any kind, and was perhaps even unaware I could hear her in my car – pointed out that a recent study had shown NINETY PERCENT of young people now believed in Homo Marriage.

Hell in a handbasket, they all agreed. And then suddenly they were talking about the Bill of Rights, unaware of the irony, since it’s the reason you can’t teach Christianity in schools.

Saul GoodmanThey had a special guy on there and again, I was driving a car, didn’t catch his name. Let’s call him Fast Eddie, because he sounded like a grifter and wanted me to go to his website and get his free pamphlet which would teach me the Bill of Rights.

Hmm, I thought. Why don’t I just consult my own copy of the Bill of Rights, if I’m feeling like I need a refresher? Or perhaps I could google it. Me and George W. Bush – we LOVE to do the google.

Fast Eddie wanted to remind us of various agencies which were buying a bunch of hollow point bullets. All of these agencies seemed like weird agencies to be buying bullets, but if you just do the google the way Me-n-W like to do it, you can easily learn that most large government agencies, even the Social Security Administration, have hundreds of special agents who work in connection with law enforcement to investigate various types of crimes. All of these agencies get trained, all of them carry guns, and hollow point bullets are standard issue.

Fast Eddie, the Reverse Terminator, and The Mayor all wanted to talk about hollow point bullets for a while. They called them Killer Bullets, and were very outraged because I guess if you’re going to allow a federal agent to shoot someone in the line of duty, you want him to do so gently.

Hey, is it okay if Zeke from Tractor Supply picks up a few thousand Killer Bullets? Damn Right! It’s the Second Amendment!

But not the government, and certainly not any government agency which doesn’t intuitively sound like they might need them. They didn’t even want the Department of Homeland Security having hollow point bullets.

I mean, what do they need them for? Did anything about the recent gun debate lead them to believe that there were millions of nutcases in America absolutely slobbering for guns, bullets, and something to shoot?

Gun Show

After all, The Mayor reminded me. Obama is now literally a hitman.

Those are two real words he used together. Literally, hitman.

“He’s killing American citizens with these drones!” The Mayor announced, and no, he’s not. Eric Holder just said that it was technically possible – see this previous post about it.

“These drones are going to have scanners,” the Mayor continued. “They’ll be able to see through the walls of your house.”

“Well what are you doing in your house that you don’t want them to see?” Asked the Reverse Terminator instinctively, cracking me up because telling you what you can do in your own house is something these folks generally like to do.

“Well, anything,” said the Mayor. “You could be fixing dinner, chopping up vegetables, facing your wife and then a SWAT team piles through your door thinking you’re threatening her.”

FlandersSo let’s all reflect on what a grasp it takes on law enforcement budgets if we think SWAT teams are going to be called in every time the X-Ray Drones see a knife. And let’s also reflect on how creepy it is that the Mayor went there first – What if the drones think I’m threatening my wife at knifepoint?

Good question, Mayor of Crazy Town. What if the flying robot thinks that, and then the SWAT guys all turn into incompetent bufoons who would do whatever the flying robot says? Say, would you like to talk to some SWAT guys about whether or not they are drooling morons?

Anywho, if that’s what you conservatives are listening to all day, no wonder you’re all losing your minds. And if you’re wondering why no one is as outraged as you about Benghazi, Chicken Little, it’s because absolutely EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS is an Obama conspiracy when you’re broadcasting from Crazy Town.

A nice place to visit though. I imagine one could get a pretty tasty slice of apple pie there, yes sir. But I don’t think I’ll be visiting the local real estate office. And also I think someone should go check on The Mayor’s wife.

 

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Where Do You Stand On Killer Robots?

Angry MobI assume here in America, this issue will shake down along political lines since that’s what everything else does. Even the Boston Bombing turns out to be political – did you hear all that shit last week? It was like the opposite of 9/11.

“See?” Everybody said. “This is exactly why we’re right about whatever we were already talking about! Screw you, Everybody Else!”

One would think we could all get along with regards to killer robots, but that’s not the vibe I’m getting off this country right now, dude. My first guess would be that Republicans would be all for killer robots, reasoning then that they have the right to bear them because of the air-tight Second And Only Amendment and their typical academic status as constitutional scholars.

But on the other hand, fifty percent of Republicans in a recent poll said that they think the citizenry might have to take arms and revolt against the federal government pretty soon here. Even if they have the right to their own killer robots, one has to reason that the federal government would have more of them. Maybe killer robots are like Obamacare – Super Duper Bad.

It’ll be quite an occasion for popcorn, watching Fox News decide that for all of them in a single news cycle. PEOPLE OF NASCAR! WE HAVE RENDERED OUR DECISION ON KILLER ROBOTS!

Too much? That might have been too much, I’m sorry about that one.

Let me back up a little bit. Here’s a BBC News article entitled Campaigners Call For International Ban On “Killer Robots.” And no it’s not a joke, it’s not a cartoon, there’s a real woman named Jody Williams, from the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, and she has a pretty good point.

We shouldn’t be too surprised about the killer robots; we’ve been talking about drones for years.I’ve never really understood why people act like drones are so bad. It seems to me that we’ve been sending teams of covert humans to kill people and blow stuff up for decades. Remember The Bridge on the River Kwai? Way shorter movie with drones, right?

Anyway, we can’t act like the morality is new – we already kill folks, we already blow stuff up.

Nick FuryI’m not even sure we should knock it off. I mean, I suspect that we should knock it off, sure. But I’ll bet there’s a whole lotta shit going on in the world that I don’t know anything about. They have to cut the heads off some serpents and all that. And they have to arm certain groups of pricks to get certain more controllable pricks in office in countries that have stuff we’d like to get, stuff we’d have an easier time getting if we could control the pricks in charge.

That really does appear to be how we roll, and I might not like the sound of it and you might not ether, but I don’t see either of us hitting the fence for Mexico. We’re complicit in it, and we shouldn’t pretend that we’re not.

All right then, groovy. So, morality aside, we send out teams to kill folks. It would be a lot cooler if they could fly their guns over instead, that way the only thing we could lose would be the guns.

And that’s drones – flying, remote-control camera guns. If we’re going to kill folks, I’d rather do it that way. Call me crazy.

But that doesn’t make me Pro Killer Robot. The distinction, according to the gang over at The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, is when there’s no one flying the camera gun. It’s just flying around, killing.

Soon we’ll be able to build drones that don’t take orders from a person, little artificially intelligent war birds flying around deciding for themselves who to shoot and what to blow up. This technology, they tell us, is right around the corner and there is no reason to believe the world’s scientists will all collectively agree, That’s Too Evil, Let’s Not Do That.

Evil RobotsAs we all know, scientists have been skewing Evil for quite some time now. Hey did you hear that most bacteria will be immune to all known antibiotics very soon, and that we’re putting basically zero time and energy into figuring out what to do about it?

Sure, but we’re nipping at the heels of artificially intelligent death machines. What could go wrong?

Ah, and here I think I’ve found the fault line along which the two parties will divide. Speaking for the liberals, Ms. Jody Williams – and you know she’s speaking for the liberals because she has a Commie-Terrorist Nobel Prize for bringing about a ban on anti-personnel land mines.

“As people learn about our campaign, they will flock to it.

“The public conscience is horrified to learn about this possible advance in weapons systems. People don’t want killer robots out there.

“Normal human beings find it repulsive.”

I’m not sure why she’s speaking in Approximate Haiku Format, but that’s probably why I don’t have a Nobel Prize. Regardless, it does seem like that will be our attitude on the liberal side. Gross, we don’t need killer robots we need schools! And bike trails!

And then speaking for the Republicans, Roboticist Professor Ronald Arkin from the Georgia Institute of Technology:

“The most important thing from my point of view is that we do not rush these systems into the battlefield.

A moratorium as opposed to ban – where we say, ‘we’re not going to do this until we can do it right’ – makes far more sense to me than simply crying out, ‘ban the killer robots’.

“Why should we do that now?”

Good point – it’s important to call Right Nowsies, in case we get a hankerin’ for some killer robots later on. We don’t want to flip-flop. And who knows, there might be a way to make a bunch of cash off of killer robots. Now, if only someone who owned a killer robot company could get elected Vice President, he could get his illiterate stooge President pal to start a war somewhere, ram that funding through. Make some Killer Robot Cheddar.

And rushing the systems to the battlefield – that IS the mistake they’re always making in Killer Robot Movies. They turn on the killer robot and set it to kill and damn it, it’s killing everybody!

more robotsYou have to take it nice and easy with your robot armies. Don’t go running off all pell-mell, tumble bumble. Put your thinking cap on, this is serious.

If we get all hysterical now about killer robots, Professor Ronald Arkin reminds us, then we won’t have time to really carefully consider how badass it would be to have them. Who knows, maybe we can make them so they’re nice to us, and killy only to say, well, folks who are different. Folks who hate freedom. That sort of thing.

And again, if you outlaw killer robot armies, then only outlaws will have killer robot armies. Is that what you want you naive, draft-dodging, bunny-kissing communist?

Anyway, the upcoming hilarious partisan debate aside, I’m all for signing up for this Ban on Killer Robots, but I think it’s kind of silly and misguided. See, we won’t have any idea that anyone has Killer Robots until they have Killer Robots. And then we’re going to I guess say ,”Hey, Remember? We agreed no killer robots!”

And because of the Ban, they’ll have to turn off their Killer Robots and hand ’em over. Cause that’s how the world works, that’s how Killer Robots work, and that’s how the mad scientists who create them work.

How far away is this stuff? Well, the article also quotes a directive issued by the US Department of Defense in November 2012, that all weapons with a degree of autonomy:

“shall be designed to allow commanders and operators to exercise appropriate levels of human judgment over the use of force”.

Make sure and mull over the ominous use of the word “appropriate” in that statement, and then have yourself a nice night’s sleep.

 

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A Word About Drone Strikes

televisionIf the way you approach news is, you let your television barf into your brain and then you run around rebarfing whatever collection of sounds you heard out into the ears or onto the screens of anyone within your actual or digital reach, then you’ve probably been doing a lot of hand-wringing and lamenting about how Obama thinks he can drone strike you while you play cornhole.

Or perhaps you think that background checks would be a violation of your Second Amendment rights. (No, and I dare you to make me explain that to you).

Both of these things are clearly, demonstrably false. If you’re still saying them, then you’re wrong (best case), not very bright (sorry) or lying (Why?).

Most of the people I know fall under the first category – you’re simply uninformed. But you know, in the Internet Age, you shouldn’t be staying uninformed very long. Your convictions are pretty meaningless if you aren’t checking into them to verify their validity, or if you simply stick your fingers into your ears when someone calmly and efficiently explains to you that you’re wrong. That’s how convictions turn into lies and delusions.

Here’s an article on Forbes entitled Rand Paul Shockingly Now Supports The Use Of Drones On US Soil To Kill Americans-So What Was That Filibuster Thing All About? I’m not crazy about the unreasonably long title, but there, we get some quotes from Rand Paul, who famously filibustered old-school about Eric Holder’s announcement that sure, it was POSSIBLE Obama could order a drone strike on US citizens on US soil.

PresidentOf course, if you continue Holder’s paragraph, you’ll find that he was talking about extraordinary circumstances in which there’s not only a clear and present danger to national security, but also one in which all levels of local, state and federal law enforcement have somehow failed or are unable to address the threat, leaving the President in the weird, barely-precedented position of having to command the US military to enforce the laws. Holder specifically held up 9/11 and Pearl Harbor as instances of extraordinary circumstances.

So Rand Paul filibustered – not the normal Republican way, where they hold up a Filibuster Card and then nobody filibusters, we all just agree they extra super duper would have – but actually by talking. Admirable, except a great thing to talk about would have been the end of Eric Holder’s pargraph, which addresses every single problem Rand Paul has with drone strikes on US citizens.

In fact the article lays out clarifying statements by Paul to Fox News (surprise) in which he says, well, I never said drones were bad, I would love to see a drone shoot a liquor store robbery suspect just as much as I’d love to see a cop shoot one. Cause he’s all for the Second Amendment, not so much for the Fourth. The Bill of Rights is like a salad bar, yes?

And then later he clarifies his situation by explaining:

““My comments last night left the mistaken impression that my position on drones had changed, Let me be clear: it has not. Armed drones should not be used in normal crime situations. They only may only be considered in extraordinary, lethal situations where there is an ongoing, imminent threat. I described that scenario previously during my Senate filibuster.”

Which. Is. What. Holder. Said. In. The. First Place.

Rand Paul was the one talking about drones-n-liquor store robberies.

Nonetheless, millions of Americans are still carping about how Obama wants to drone strike them. And it’s in on this leg of our journey that one moves from “mistaken” or “uninformed” to “not very bright” or “lying.”

You know what’s funny is, I am all for drone strikes in the outrageous scenario Holder was talking about. We know the President can order nuclear strikes for instance, missile strikes. He can send a team of Navy SEALs to put a bullet in your head.

Ah, but not US Citizens – not on US soil, right?

Well, why not? I mean, certainly not under normal circumstances, but Holder and Paul both agree, in extraordinary circumstances like 9/11, where there is an imminent threat, things change. What if terrorists hijacked another airplane full of civilians and they were headed for downtown New York again. We had six minutes to shoot it down before it got over the city.

Don’t you think the President can have that plane shot down? Don’t you think he should? Or do you figure – post 9/11 – that the terrorists are bluffing?

Suppose the Boston bombers were holed up somewhere, still lighting off bombs like Dr. Claw. They’re US citizens on US soil – can we drone strike them, or do we have to lose a few SWAT guys getting in the door? Why would Obama be ordering such a strike – well, Holder explained that he wouldn’t be, unless somehow every other branch of law enforcement failed.

A zombie apocalypse erupts in Hawaii, and there’s no way to contain it – isn’t it time for a nuclear strike on civilians on US soil? I mean, zombies are technically possible, they’re just very, very, very unlikely.

Holder’s problem was he answered the question too accurately – Sure, it’s technically POSSIBLE in the right set of crazy ass circumstances – when he should have realized he was talking to a vast army of flipper-whacking seal people and simply said “No! Never forget 9/11! Go Bucks!”

Mission AccomplishedLike when Bush told us the terrorists “hated freedom” and that’s why they attacked us. Yes, talk to us like we’re toddlers, we love that.

Now suddenly Paul’s saying drones are cool for shooting robbery suspects, then clarifying that he was not, then agreeing with Eric Holder. In his filibuster, he was bullshitting us, plain and simple, and millions of people slurped it up like pigs at a trough.

I hate to be blunt, and I hate to call so many people morons, but the information is right in front of you, and you’re choosing to bark out the lies. You’re choosing to, so that’s on you.

I’m not even going to argue about it. Go on over and yell at the Forbes article – I just think it’s funny. The last election showed very clearly what happens if conservatives keep running the same play. Even with a struggling economy and billions upon billions of dollars against him, Obama handed Romney his ass in the most humiliating and hilarious way.

What we have here in Rand Paul is a nice new Tea Party Ralph Nader, eager to hamstring the right-wing and hand over the House to the liberals in 2014. Is that really what you guys want? Or do you think maybe you ought to start giving your fellow citizens a little more credit, and dialing down the jackassery a little bit? If Romney couldn’t win, there’s no way this guy will – ah, but he’ll drag the rest of you down, even the ones who are smart.

Well go right ahead, that’s my thinking – I’m certainly not going to stop him.

 

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