Bacon, drones, and ammo: The American way to tech

We live in an era of unprecedented technological advances and unimaginable breakthroughs. Yet still we find a way to screw it up

Bacon, drones, and ammo: The American way to tech
Reuters/Carlo Allegri

It’s the age-old adage: Science giveth and the rubes taketh away. Because of this universal truth, I’m stuck in jail again, this time somewhere in the general area of Oregon.

It started a couple of weeks ago with my semi-annual doctor’s visit. Since moving to the great Northeast, I’ve had to switch doctors, which is never good, but especially so in this case because my primary physician in Gotham had more in common with Doc Holliday than Marcus Welby. My physicals used to take place at McGinty’s Bar and Grill. Now, I had to go to his office, give blood, cough, look left, the whole ride. What did I get for my efforts?

Doctor: “Mr. Cringely, your cholesterol is shockingly high, sir. I suggest an immediate change in diet, more fruits and vegetables. I’ll have the nurse print you a list.”
Me: “I eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, doc. Potato chips are veggies, right?”
Doctor [dead serious]: “It’s not a joking matter, Mr. Cringely. You’re basically a solid. Diet or die.”

He now has me eating food with the same spice palette as a shoebox, swallowing various anti-cholesterol drugs, and -- worst of all -- rationing my scotch intake. I think he said “cut out entirely,” but all I could hear was “rationing.” They’re basically synonyms.

Our prayers are answered

With such a culinary landscape stretching out before me, you can understand my enthusiasm when I found out that researchers in Oregon have patented a new strain of highly nutritious seaweed with one Cringely-winning characteristic: it tastes like bacon. When you’re in a high-cholesterol way, you can’t read that and not immediately steal InfoWorld's American Express card to pay for a plane ticket. (If anyone wants it, send me 15 bitcoins or a fifth of Johnny Walker Black, whichever’s easier.)

That part went fine. I hired a local amateur thespian to infiltrate the lab staff and pretend she was fascinated by seaweed research. She then conveniently forgot to lock the lab door, and I snuck in. The researchers at good ol' State College still have no idea that Sample Tray 11.5K ended up flavoring last night’s garden burger. Indeed, it tastes like bacon, if by "bacon" you mean chicken dragged through a smokehouse, then coated in salt and smashed flat with a hammer. For the record, it's still better than tofu, which is why this remains a case of “science giveth.”

Plans go awry

Then things went to hell shortly after lunch today in the motel parking lot. That’s when I encountered the rube part of the equation personified by two highly overweight individuals covered in barbed wire tattoos and chinstrap beards attempting to test-launch a quadcopter drone with a shotgun mounted on it.

Being the curious journalistic type, I gently inquired what had inspired this particular brain fart. They gleefully pulled up a YouTube video of a similar contraption carrying a 9mm handgun, not a 12-gauge street sweeper, and no doubt piloted by comparable men. The beer-swilling, drone-flying guys who posted the video were still one up on my Oregon parking lot attendants, however, in that they fired their weapon via remote control. My boys did great on beer swilling and almost OK on drone flying, but couldn’t get their shotgun to fire no matter how loudly they yelled or shook the clicker.

It might have gone OK after that if not for two sudden developments. First, I’d had quite a lot of beer and scotch myself in addition to the leftovers from Sample Tray 11.5K for lunch, so I may have been feeling feisty. Second, they somehow got the shotgun to work, and this being a parking lot, it worked too well on a certain someone’s overpriced rental leased without the optional flying-shotgun-drone insurance package. The resulting damage prompted a brouhaha betwixt myself and the two drone-snipers, which seems to have culminated with my grabbing their downed copter-gun, with which I chased them around the parking lot.

Apparently a flying shotgun drone isn’t enough to interest Oregon’s finest until you chase a couple of uber-tubbies around a parking lot with it. Then you’ll meet every cop in the state -- hence my current incarcerated status.

I don’t know what it is about our species; we can take fantastic technologies, like privately piloted UAFs or 3D printing, and do amazing things with them, like expand the state of investigative journalism or print a new skull for a troubled little girl. But there always has to be one -- disturbingly large -- element of the population that has to take those platforms, drag them into the muck, and do something stupid and destructive. These are kind of people who’ll find a way to ruin seaweed bacon.

That said, I'd kill for a slab of that seaweed bacon here in the hoosegow. More importantly, Pammy, if you’re reading this, stop ducking my calls and bail me out.


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