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Friday, September 23, 2016

Dronetastic.

Wait a minute. Here they come again! Everybody DOWN! Damn it. Okay, that was just a pizza delivery to the neighbors. You can all stand up again.

Oh, hi. Kind of caught us at a bad time, actually. We are in the midst of a coordinated drone attack. No, not the military kind they use overseas. These are domestic drones of the kind you can buy at the corner store. As you may have heard, there are now hundreds of thousands of these suckers. The skies are black with them. One flock covers three whole states, and when they move ... oh, it's like THUNDER! (No, wait ... that was the buffalo, as described by a space archeologist on Star Trek. Sorry.)

Now, when I say "attack", I don't exactly mean they are targeting us. It's just that there are so freaking many of these things, it starts to feel like an assault after a while. The pizza delivery joint down the street is using one. So is the florist. And last week our nasty neighbors bought one for their fourteen year old, and the first thing the little sucker did with it was drop a water balloon on the man-sized tuber. (Actually, he rather likes that in as much a there hasn't been a lot of rain lately ... but that's not the point!)

Whoa, Tubey ... heads up.The ones that really annoy me are those mosquito-sized drones. I don't even know how they manage to engineer a flying machine that tiny. Where do they find bicycle parts small enough to make that thing fly? They somehow even designed them so that they can replicate themselves by dropping little developmental nodules into standing water, which later hatch and .... hey ... or maybe those are just mosquitoes. Okay, um ... forget that last bit.

I should put out notice to our neighbors that their new-found obsession with drone technology is a bit like whacking a hornet's nest with a stick. They need to be reminded that we have a mad scientist in residence by the name of Mitch Macaphee. He hasn't taken much notice of the flying machines thus far, buried as he is in his laboratory. But I think it's just a matter of time, frankly. And yes, he is the designer of Marvin (my personal robot assistant), but don't let that fool you. Not all of his inventions are non-threatening lumps of useless technology. (Sorry, Marvin.)

Purism deconstructed.

There seems to be considerable interest in third party candidates this year, even though neither of the major/minor candidates is anything to write home about. Jill Stein is a smart person with whom I agree across a broad range of policies, but her notion of how presidential elections work is severely stunted and bizarre. Moreover, the party she represents is almost a total waste of space - an environmental activist party that only appears once every four years to compete in the presidential race. When it comes to organizing, they're not exactly Saul Alinsky.

Just do it, then move on.Gary Johnson, on the other hand, is clearly not the brightest ex-governor on the porch and hasn't made much of a case for why young people should give their vote to a ticket that's floated in part with Koch money, most likely. Perhaps his supporters are not aware that he would slash spending on just about any program that ever benefited them in any way. If American style libertarianism is about anything, it's about that. Not that it's likely to be much of a problem - he, like Stein, have no conceivable path to victory in this election. All they have is an extraordinary opportunity to hand Donald Trump and the hyper-reactionary Republican party an electoral victory this November that they don't deserve and that will have repercussions for many years to come.

That is not an exaggeration. Elections have consequences, and I am saying this as someone who voted for Nader in 2000 (in New York state, of course). We are still living with the consequences of the election of Ronald Reagan, from the fallout from his Afghan "freedom fighters" (now called Al Qaeda and the Taliban), to his reactionary Supreme Court picks, to his war on labor. We also feel the effects of Dubya's clueless reign, with troops deployed in all of the countries he invaded, a massively outsourced national security state, and our national budget buckling under the strain of his tax cuts for the richest Americans. If Trump wins, it will be because Democrats and progressives sat on their hands or actively voted for someone other than Clinton. That would be a disaster for poor and working people here and around the world.

No, Clinton isn't a great candidate. But voting is a shitty way to protest. Voting should be strategic, and there is no coherent rationale for withdrawing support from the Democratic ticket that will lead to better policy.