You guys realize that you are only about a year away from being vaporized by a death-beam from outer space, right?
So let's talk about Christmas.
I got about seven hundred gift catalogs in the mail today, and every one of them featured some sort of item with GPS built in. GPS, as you all know, is the Global Positioning System ? a series of satellites in geosynchronous orbit around the Earth that send out signals by which, with a proper receiver, you can be located. With a GPS you can find out where you are, anywhere on the planet, at any time, within a three-foot radius.
I bought one. I get lost a lot. Should you buy one?
You already have.
All cell phones must have a GPS chip in them BY LAW. It may not be activated, but it's there. Haven't you watched CSI, or Bones, or Crossing Jordan ? the "Buried Alive" episodes ? where the hero/heroine is buried alive and they find them by their ever-diminishing GPS cell phone signal? Never mind that my cell phone won't work if I can see my own shadow, let alone buried six feet under ground, the concept is totally based on reality. At any given time, you can be located, pinpointed, from space. Ergo, at any time, the government could totally vaporize you with a death beam, from space.
The only thing keeping you from being vaporized right now by a death beam from space is that the government can't get the death beam to work. (Mainly because they actually set a goal to build a space-based death beam back in the '80s, and pursued it by giving huge, no-bid contracts to defense companies based on screenings of the film Real Genius, without any contingency for actually making it work.)
Of course, you could use a GPS to kill someone without a death beam, I suppose. For instance, I was walking around Paris last summer, using my GPS receiver to find Metro Stations and such, and my GPS actually speaks French. I don't, but it does. My GPS could have just led me into a Muslim neighborhood, then, totally without my knowing, said in French, "Hey, is that your sister eating pork rinds and giving Muhammad a golden shower?" I would think I'd just asked how to get to the nearest falafel stand, and the next you'd hear from me, some whack-job would be sawing my head off on YouTube. (Then you could be all, "Hey, stop goofing around getting your head sawed off and get to work on the new book, would you!")
I realized that after the robot overlords, robot parents blog, I may seem like a bit of a conspiracy wingnut. Not true. Kennedy has been dead for forty-some years, and I don't really care what happened that day in Dallas. Even if the Pope was doing Marilyn Monroe doggie-style on the grassy knoll while she licked the gun oil from a .30-06 in-between singing "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" and writing checks to Castro, and the sight of it gave Kennedy an aneurism that blew out the back of his head ? I don't care. Never have.
"But Chris," you say, "you are just being paranoid. The government would never vaporize their own citizens just for disagreeing with them."
Like they would never hold prisoners without representation, or evidence, for an indeterminate time. Like they would never transport prisoners to other countries for the purpose of torture. Like they would never condone torture or call the Geneva Conventions "quaint." Like they would never go through your phone or internet records without a warrant. Like they would never reveal the identity of a covert agent because she was married to a diplomat who reported facts that contradicted their propaganda. Like they would never report false intelligence information to further the prosecution of a war. Like they would never pardon a traitor who revealed the identity of a covert agent. Like they would never claim fiscal responsibility while simultaneously doubling the national debt. Like they would never accuse a war hero who lost three limbs in combat of being a traitor. Like they wouldn't cause the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians and thousands of American soldiers while claiming to be "pro life." Like they wouldn't call themselves "free market capitalists," then award no-bid contracts in the hundreds of billions to defense companies and oppose competitive bidding from pharmaceutical companies for the Medicare prescription program. Like they would never ? well, what the hell wouldn't they do? I think vaporizing you from space is a minor infraction. And you are carrying the targeting device with you right now.
They fucked up the beam, that's the only reason I'm still able to type and I'm not drifting over the Pacific in a little puff of smoke and ash. (And you aren't going, "Hey, why are you floating vaporized over the Pacific, instead of working on the new book?")
So, you know, a GPS might make a nice gift this Christmas. They've certainly come down in price from last year. Do we need a machine that tells us where we are?
Maybe what we need is a machine not to tell us WHERE we are, but WHO we are. Something that would make us look into our hearts and answer questions honestly about what is right and wrong, about what it actually means to be free, and human, and humane. About whether we really want to live up to the values of our faith and our country, not the manipulated dogma of people with a selfish agenda. We need a machine that tells us what it is to be decent, and kind, and forgiving, and generous, and just, and fair, and humble. And not just a voting machine (although we can use that until the new thing comes out). Something cool.
And we need it before they figure out how to work the death beam.