Who Will Be the First to Stand Up to the Bullying GOP Nominee?

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Barely a week into his tenure in the White House (and a SHORT one it should be), the GOP nominee has literally been the “bull in the china shop” with disastrous actions that are too numerous to mention here. He has enacted his draconian viewpoint of the world, including the dismantling of ObamaCare (with no plan to replace it, leaving 30 million in the lurch), building the border wall against Mexico (at the States of America’s taxpayers expense; Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has already canceled a state visit because Cheeto Jesus thought it was to discuss Mexico paying for it), and a variety of other items that have run from populous (he might be the ONLY stupid ass to believe that he won the popular vote – and get ready, he’s ready to use taxpayer money on HIS OWN FUCKING CRUSADE to investigate it) to fascist (you DON’T tell departments of the government they can have NO CONTACT with the people – it’s not a business, it is a GOVERNMENT office that is supposed to respond to the people). What has been the question many are asking is who will be the first to stand up to the bullying buffoon (not counting Nieto…sorry, you lost your cred by talking to him during the 2016 campaign).

If you’re thinking that the politicians are going to stand up, you’re fooling yourself. The Democrats are literally rebuilding their “brand” and, short of being able to block some legislation in the Senate (due to the GOP’s bastardly racial gerrymandering (as ruled unconstitutional by the U. S. Supreme Court) of districts from 2010 that has basically made House of Representative elections in the States a worthless endeavor), they really are trying to reconstruct to have some sort of impact in 2018. The GOP? Please excuse me while I pick myself up from a laughing heap on the floor…the GOP is going to use every opportunity that this cretin presents to ram their agenda through. Of course, there’s always that thought that, once they get the things they want, they’ll eject the GOP nominee through what would essentially be a palace coup and install one of their own – a person so heinous that he believes you can use shock therapy on someone to move them from gay to straight – into the Presidency.

Besides, if anyone in the political spectrum was going to stand up to this pile of shit, they would have stopped him in the GOP primaries or the General Election.

Other countries might be the ones to call the GOP nominee’s bluff, but it is a tenuous thing. Nieto’s move may be just the start in a cacophony of rebuttals by nations who, quite honestly, might just tell the GOP nominee to go fuck himself. While it might hurt them, the Chinese aren’t exactly going to buckle under if he blusters on about how they should run their currency, what they should do with their military or other weighty and serious issues. Putin even will reach a point where the GOP nominee becomes a liability rather than comedic relief and will cut him loose. And let’s not even get into our OTHER allies (that’s right…Russia and China are SUPPOSED to be allies) who might be willing to work with our country and the crackpot at the top but aren’t ready to work with a cannon that is looser than a 60-year old whore in Thailand.

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Will it be business? Boy, you have a future in stand-up comedy if you keep firing zingers like that! Besides the oligarchy that is in virtually every Cabinet position, there are more businessman running things in this Administration than you would find…well, in that whorehouse in Thailand. Secondly, these bloodsuckers aren’t interested in the future of the democracy or the ability of the country to function as the leader of the free world. As long as the stock ticker goes up (and, let’s be honest, this could be some of the citizens as well due to their dependencies on 401(k) accounts based on the markets), as long as the balance sheet shows a profit and as long as government isn’t hammering on them, they could give a fuck about which party or person is in charge in the White House, even if they’re standing over a smoking heap at the end of it all.

Perhaps, though, we’ve seen who will be the first harbingers of resistance to the scourge in Washington. The Million Woman March – which featured men and kids too, but whatever – has been estimated at anywhere from 2.9 million to 4 million strong, if you count the different groups that rallied around the world and not just in D. C. on the Saturday immediately following the inauguration. Such areas as Chicago (250,000, enough that they couldn’t march but still held the rally), Los Angeles (100,000), Atlanta (63,000), Seattle (100,000) and Austin (50,000) coincided with the D. C. march, where an estimated 500,000 marchers dwarfed the miniscule efforts of the tiny-handed one and his pitiful gathering.

Women's March

Before we lay the banner of the salvation of the country at the feet of those who took part in the multitude of marches, however, we’ve got to see some staying power. One of the things that kills a movement faster than anything else is a lackadaisical attitude – a “we did it!” victory lap, if you must – and then not turning out again when it is necessary (say, Election Day 2018). There is another day of marches and protests set for April 15 – Tax Day, or the ritual screwing of the citizens of this country by the government – and let’s see these types of numbers again. If they show up, then we’ve got a movement; if not, then we’ve got to try something else.

As far as myself, I’m going to see what that April 15 march is like where I live. I’m going to continue to hammer on that shiny copper nail head that sits on his tuches and believes he is the Emperor. I’m going to call out those that blindly support him. I’m going to continue to speak through essay as to his worthlessness, inadequacy, and lack of qualifications for the job (and the country) he’s crapping on. Those of you who say “wait and see?” I don’t need to wait and see…and if you “wait and see” too long, there might not be something by that time worth fighting over.

It’s only going to get worse from here. As of this afternoon – because of the direct words and actions by this imbecile along with the fervent nationalistic fervor that is eating at the innards of many countries governments like a rabid tapeworm – atomic scientists in charge of the Doomsday Clock moved it to its closest point since 1953. Let’s hope that “midnight hour” doesn’t strike anytime soon.

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At What Price Security? At What Price Privacy?

BelgiumBombing

As many U. S. citizens awoke this morning, they were greeted by the news of the most recent battle of the civilized world against those who would seek to change it through terrorist attacks. In Belgium, at least three bombs – two in an airport and another in the subway system in Brussels – have killed at least 30 people and injured 230 more (and the numbers are increasing). As always, the world is stunned at the ferocity and sophistication of the attacks as the process begins of investigating and capturing the people involved.

Much of what will occur in Belgium and on the European continent over the next few days will rest in the hands of security agencies and law enforcement investigators, probably with assistance from our Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigations. These two departments – along with INTERPOL, MI6, FIS and several other powerful organizations, not to mention local law enforcement in each country – will put together the smallest threads of evidence, discover how and where the bombs were built and, eventually, find those responsible for the attacks (whether they are apprehended alive or dead doesn’t really matter, unless we’re truly interested in why they did what they did). But what happens for the United States, when we’ve built a society that treasures security as much as their citizens’ privacy?

This is a monumental question today – at what price do we want security? At what price do we sacrifice privacy? – with several cases that the federal government is currently pursuing in courts across the United States. Currently in Brooklyn, a federal judge has denied the U. S. Department of Justice’s request that Apple assist them in unlocking the iPhone of a drug suspect, citing that he lacked the authority to be able to order the computer giant to disable the security protocols that they established to ensure that their customers’ information was safe. Likewise, the popular messaging application WhatsApp has come under scrutiny from the feds because the encryption used in their program prevents anyone outside of the sender and receiver from seeing what has been passed. If pushed in a courtroom, would WhatsApp fall under wiretap orders – more than a decade old that were passed for landlines – or would it be protected under privacy laws?

ApplevsFBI

The biggest fight, however, has been the Department of Justice’s ongoing battle against Apple regarding the iPhone of one of the terrorists responsible for the attacks in San Bernardino, CA, late last year. Syed Farook, one of the terrorists killed after Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, ruthlessly murdered 14 people (most of whom were Farook’s co-workers) and injured another 22 people before they were gunned down by law enforcement as they attempted to escape the scene. As a part of the massive amount of evidence against them, Farook’s iPhone was allegedly found to possibly have information on it that could be beneficial to law enforcement (adding information as to potential accomplices or groups that might have helped the duo), but was inaccessible due to the security features that Apple employs on every iPhone that customers around the world purchase.

If there are too many attempts at an individual’s password for an iPhone, then the phone completely erases whatever information is on the device, locks up and becomes completely useless for whoever has the device, be it the owner, a thief or, in this case, the federal government. Naturally, investigators want to preserve any information that might be on the terrorist’s phone and, in the case of Farook’s phone, the potential destruction of whatever evidence might be contained on the device is something that is necessary to avoid. But should there be some way to get around this security feature?

The feds did kindly ask Apple to create a “backdoor” that would allow them to access Farook’s phone but, with their customers not only in the United States but worldwide in mind, Apple politely declined to create such a plan, program or application to assist the government. In Apple’s eyes, allowing such a move for the government would allow them to do that with virtually any iPhone they wanted access to (see the Brooklyn case above). For their part, the feds are saying no, we’ll only use it this one time, honest as they try to plead their case to the court of public opinion.

Currently the battle is raging in the real courts, with the Department of Justice so far winning the judicial argument as Apple maintains its privacy and security rights. The higher up the debate in the judicial branch has gone, however, it has become more difficult for the feds to be able to justify their breach of privacy and security, especially the “one time only” usage of such programs to penetrate Apple’s devices. Public opinion is split on the issue, with some attacking Apple for its stance while others are applauding Apple for standing up for the rights of citizens not only from the U. S. but also around the world. That battle has paused, at least for the moment, as the federal government yesterday asked to cancel a hearing in Los Angeles for reasons unknown.

The answers to the questions that surround this case – at what price security? at what price privacy? – are ones that, if you ask ten different U. S. citizens, you would probably end up with ten different answers. Since the attacks of 9/11, the U. S. citizen has consistently given up pieces of their privacy, their right to keep the government out of certain aspects of their lives, in exchange for the (false?) cocoon of “security” that is supposed to be provided by said government. And, for the most part, it has worked – there hasn’t been another 9/11 style attack in the nearly 15 years since that dark day.

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Just how far does the government need to go, though? Whether you like him or not, whistleblower Edward Snowden pointed out the vast amounts of data that is scooped up by U. S. agencies in the name of “homeland security,” and in many cases it was questioned why the government needed such extreme measures. The result was a minimal slowdown on data taken but, in the end, vast amounts of data collection continue unabated.

The need to be “safe” is an emotion that human beings consistently want to feel but it shouldn’t come at the sacrifice of the government consistently invading private aspects of your life. What books you order from Amazon, the websites you read online, even particular groups you interact with physically or online – all of these things are something that shouldn’t be known by the government. At the snap of a finger, however, a dossier can be created on probably every U. S. citizen that can trace their activities, a penetration into personal life that the government shouldn’t have.

I am fine with a “surgical” strike by law enforcement groups like the FBI. Go to the courts and obtain a subpoena, have a singular target for a specific time and ask whatever tech companies might have on the subject. A blanket gathering of information is not what was envisioned by the creators of the United States, in fact the federal government was meant to stay as far away from infringing on the individual as possible. Furthermore, to tell a company they HAVE to do something against their will – especially when that would violate the personal trust that people have put in a product that company produces – also violates the rights of the people against potential tyranny.

General Michael Hayden, a former director of the National Security Agency, said it best. “Look, I used to run the NSA, OK?” Hayden told USA TODAY earlier this year. “Back doors are good. Please, please, Lord, put back doors in, because I and a whole bunch of other talented security services around the world — even though that back door was not intended for me — that back door will make it easier for me to do what I want to do, which is to penetrate.”

The battle between the rights of the people and the protection of those people by the government will continue to rage onward. But the answer to the questions asked is that security shouldn’t be an extreme price, but privacy shouldn’t be sacrificed at the altar of security. Once privacy is shattered, any semblance of security disappears also.

Which Side Are You On? “Star Wars” vs. “Star Trek”

WarsVersusTrek

There are many great conundrums in life. “Less Filling” versus “Tastes Great”; Ginger versus Mary Ann; and, since we just completed Thanksgiving, white meat versus dark meat. But there is potentially no greater debate than that of two of the greatest followings of the late 20th/early 21st century:  are you Star Wars or Star Trek?

Ever since the time of Jules Verne – hell, if we are serious, we’ve wondered since we drew images on the caves 35,000 years ago – man has tried to figure out what was beyond our earthly bounds. Leonardo da Vinci is alleged to have created blueprints for rockets and their flight; H. G. Wells used his imagination towards the subject to pen some of the great science fiction of the early 20th century and Albert Einstein actually did the math that would lead to our voyages to the stars. It wasn’t until other German scientists, led by Werner von Braun, actually harnessed the power of rocketry that those dreams became reality.

Since that time, mankind has achieved tremendous feats in the weightlessness beyond our Earth. There were the Apollo landings by NASA in the 1960s/70s, but the then-U. S. S. R. achieved longevity records for time in space and actually built the first long-term space station, Mir, in the 1980s (Skylab, for all of its exploits in the 1970s, only had three missions total with the longest lasting 84 days). Today, the International Space Station stands as perhaps the closest thing to mankind, regardless of nationality, joining together in our best efforts in space and its exploration.

The reach beyond the moon, however, has been limited to unmanned probes and satellites chocked full of cameras and data recorders that can capture the base information of the bodies it passes. These devices, however, lack the human capability of viewing the universe surrounding us and its wonder, of transmitting this astonishment back to a ravenous audience who wants to know what is out in the heavens beyond. Thus, we have to depend on the visionaries who have crafted a universe that soothes our curiosity somewhat but lights the fire of that same curiosity on another hand.

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The visionary Gene Roddenberry was the first to take a crack at this difficult task. Star Trek, created by Roddenberry in 1966, showed a Planet Earth that didn’t recognize national boundaries anymore but organized under the “United Federation of Planets.” The flagship of the Federation was the starship Enterprise, captained by James Kirk (and later Jean-Luc Picard) and replete with all nationalities from Planet Earth on board.  There was even an alien, Mr. Spock, who hailed from the planet Vulcan. Their “five year mission” was to explore the galaxies and discover new situations, something that has been a human trait since crawling out of the primordial ooze.

The show wasn’t initially popular as people had a difficult time wrapping their minds around Roddenberry’s concept. Roddenberry was trying to detail the difficulties of society at that time in an arena where such discussion could be possible. While it may seem that Kirk’s machismo and swashbuckling style was the rule, examinations of race relations, destruction of the environment and the devastating effects of war were the overarching storylines that appeared. These themes (as well as many others) were the true staple of Roddenberry’s work on the program and over the wealth of Star Trek-related spinoffs over the past 50 years.

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In 1977, another entry came into the view of what the galaxy looked like. Envisioned by George Lucas and nearly as dear to him as Star Trek had been to Roddenberry, the movie Star Wars premiered on May 25, 1977. Initially not thought to be much by the studios (Star Wars was a toss-in with American Graffiti by Universal Studios to sign Lucas to a contract), the film would turn out to be one of the biggest movies of 1977, earning over $775 million ($1.3 billion today) worldwide in box office receipts (all totaled, the Star Wars franchise has earned over $4.4 billion in its existence). The film would go on to have five sequels/prequels, with the sixth – Star Wars:  The Force Awakens – set for release on December 18.

Since Star Wars joined into the “vision of space race” with Star Trek, however, there has been a battle between the franchises for the minds of fans. Many involved in this battle believe that a person may accept one of the franchises but cannot accept the other, forcing many to choose sides in this epic battle. My question would be…why? The two shows come at the subject of the universe from two completely different angles and, through combination, offer an excellent approach.

When he first conceived Star Trek, Roddenberry envisioned the “perfect” state of humanity – perhaps most importantly peace among the Planet Earth’s nations – that continued to thirst for adventure, knowledge and exploration of the interplanetary universe that surrounded their ship. They would achieve those goals in a state-of-the-art vessel that included the scientific devices that might be found in any assortment of satellites along with the eyes that could relate the wonder of what was being seen.

Star Trek came at the questions regarding the universe from a purely scientific standpoint. There was the philosophical contemplation about man’s (or any species’) place in the galaxies, the dilemma over how to handle a race or species that wasn’t as scientifically advanced and many other conundrums that we face even today. The devices used during the run of the Star Trek franchise have also become scientific items that are commonly used such as cellphones, medical scanners and the like. The Star Trek universe is continuing to expand despite turning 50 next year… a new television/web series is set to premiere on CBS in 2017.

Instead of an array of devices (although some of them were quite impressive…who doesn’t want a lightsaber?), Star Wars chose to tell the story of space as an opera, a Shakespearean play, rather than as a scientific endeavor. The clash of good versus evil, father versus son and even the collision of worlds and their destruction formed the basis for what essentially was a soap opera for geeks (and we can say that proudly, by the way). Each new incarnation of the film extended the story and it isn’t over yet; over the next few years, there are two more Star Wars-specific films in the works and several movie projects on characters – providing “background” to the stories being told – that make up the Star Wars universe.

Being able to accept both Star Trek and Star Wars as a future existence would be perhaps the way it was meant to be. While we have the technological amazement and advancements that would make such a journey a true adventure, there is also the potential for the dramatic and even perhaps violent turns that such journeys can take. In a perfect world, an interdependency between the two franchises and their theories would also prove to be the best approach to the potential problems of intergalactic travel, with each side providing the answer to the questions that are presented.

Thus, as both franchises continue on their individual courses, perhaps they are more alike than they realize. Perhaps they look to achieve the best that the human being – and aliens – can achieve in the myriad of parts that make us whole. Perhaps, just perhaps, Star Wars and Star Trek are the epitome of what we can be rather than the “one side or another” proposition that is offered.

If You Could Change Everything, Would You Do It?

TheThinker

One of the greatest traits of humans is their never-ceasing ability to question its surroundings, its science and even itself. The ability to innovate – Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press, Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison’s work in radio and electricity, Albert Einstein’s work with theoretical physics…all have expanded our knowledge of the world and, at the same time, expanded the knowledge of ourselves. But at what point does that innovation go beyond the expansion of human knowledge and enter into realms that shouldn’t be explored?

A recent article at BusinessInsider.com discussed the issue of what the next great innovation will be in technology. It won’t come in any grand leap in computer technology or even in some areas that would be truly fascinating, such as virtual reality. According to those who were surveyed, the next great “leap” will come in the arena of genetics.

This research, as related by BusinessInsider.com’s Kevin Loria, would be the ability to look at the human genome – the basic building block for the traits that make everyone individualistic – and be able to manipulate particular segments of the DNA code. Through the analysis, it is predicted that debilitating diseases could be found and cut out, potential errors in the DNA sequence could be reversed to prevent mental illness and even the creation of the “superhuman” resilient to all diseases could potentially be created.

This process, called gene-editing (also known as CRISPR), is something that has scientists in a frenzy as to the possibilities. “We’re basically able to have a molecular scalpel for genomes,” Jennifer Doudna, a biologist credited as one of the co-discoverers of CRISPR who has used the technology, is quoted by Loria. “All the technologies in the past were sort of like sledgehammers…This just gives scientists the capability do something that is incredibly powerful.”

The ever-inquisitive nature of humans reaches into every aspect of life, even (believe it or not) the 2016 Presidential campaign. A question in New York Times Magazine that was blasted over the internet – “Could you kill Baby Hitler?” – has become an intriguing experiment with the human psyche (according to the Times statisticians, 42% of people responded “yes,” 30% responded “no” and 28% “not sure”). The question, when posed to GOP Presidential candidate Jeb Bush, brought no hesitation in his reply.

Asked if he had the opportunity to kill an infant Hitler – if he knew what that baby would become but not what effect his death in infancy would have on the overall world – Bush responded to The Huffington Post, “Hell, yeah, I would! You gotta step up, man!” After some contemplation on the potential ramifications of such an act, Bush doesn’t change his mind, instead doubling down by repeating, “It could have a dangerous effect on everything else, but I’d do it – I mean, Hitler,” Bush concluded.

In essence, the question has become “If you could change everything, would you do it?”

People may hear the word “existential” in their lives but not really have an idea as to what it actually means. Many may hear the term “existential threat” and conjure up something that is a threat to their very existence. This is the literal definition of “existential”; for example, if a politician says “Vladimir Putin is an existential threat to the United States,” it literally means that Putin is a threat to the U. S. and its citizens.

When people use the term “existential questions,” they are actually pondering the meaning and thought behind the practice of living, the very essence of being. There is actually a branch of philosophy dedicated to existentialism, with the founders being the philosophers Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre and Fyodor Dostoyevsky (among others). There are different branches on the Tree of Existentialism, but basically they all come back to the individual being the starting point for pretty much everything.

Finally, an “existential crisis” sounds like something that might come out of deep introspection through Existentialism, but is actually a tool used to joke about someone who is thinking too deeply (normally about themselves). If you’ve heard the term “navel gazing,” then this is what they were talking about.

In looking at these two circumstances, there is plenty to think about in these two “existential questions.” With the first subject, mankind would have the ability to pretty much eradicate any issues that may face humanity. Conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, neuromuscular diseases (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS) and others) could be an afterthought in the future if doctors could identify in a single strand of DNA those “trigger points” and remove them from the sequence rather than let them reach actual life.

Then there would be the “other side” of the equation, however. With the ability to manipulate the genome to take away disease, people could also ensure that they have a blonde-haired, blue-eyed child (boy or girl), cause mutations in musculature or height, even perhaps remove the ability to feel pain or maybe even block emotional feelings. While the ability to edit the genome may be a breakthrough that leads us into a bold new future, it could also lead us down a dark path to manipulation.

In the case of Governor Bush, the question has been the subject of plenty of alternate history and science fiction tomes. The killing of Hitler – whether as a child (the preferred theory as he would supposedly be defenseless) or before he reached the apex of his power in Nazi Germany (the theory here is during his service in World War I) – would have theoretically prevented the horror that was World War II and additionally the ghastly philosophy that Hitler inflicted on the Jewish race, the Final Solution (or the Holocaust). If this were to be done from OUR future, however, what would be the ramifications?

The theory on this part is the “Butterfly Effect” which basically says even the smallest action has bigger ramifications (the “butterfly” flapping its wings causes a hurricane thousands of miles away). With the death of Hitler, would WWII have been avoided? At what point would you kill Hitler, in his youth or as an adult? If you waited until he was an adult, would that be too late?

The existential questions continue…if Hitler hadn’t come along at that particular point in history, could someone else who lived in that time simply taken his place? What if one of the people who died during WWII actually went on to discover a cure for cancer or significant breakthroughs in another scientific field? Add into this the fact that, no matter how many times people may use the term “I could kill you,” the ability for one human to kill another isn’t as easy as it sounds, there is plenty to think about.

For myself, the first question is surprisingly easy. As a general rule, I would be against any manipulation of the human genetic code, but as a way of eradicating disease it would be a viable idea. If the debilitating diseases that plague mankind (yes, even the Plague) could be controlled and/or eliminated, think of the improvements in people’s lives (and the ability to bring down medical costs and spending on disease control)! We would be tremendously advanced as a species if we could improve on our basic genetic code and its inherent imperfections to the point of eliminating them completely.

Where I would have a problem, though, is when it is done for simply cosmetic or aesthetic purposes. Don’t like your eye color? Changing your genetic code (or doing it to an in utero child) just so you can satisfy your own vanity is about the most narcissistic thing imaginable. In my mind, we don’t come up with tremendous breakthroughs in our existence to simply use them to change what we see in the mirror, we come up with them to improve mankind and its world.

The second question is a much thornier one. Besides being one of the pivotal moments in human history, not just the 20th century, World War II and its players had a seminal impact on how the world is shaped today. By eliminating Hitler from the equation – and, in theory, eliminating the catalyst for the start of WWII – what effect would that have on the world today? You may not think that is a big deal, but (using the “Butterfly Effect”) what if the lack of WWII caused your grandfather to not enter the military, where he would meet your grandmother at a base dance that led to their marriage and the birth of your father/mother? The resulting theory would be that YOU do not exist.

I would have to use one of science fiction’s greatest creations in musing over killing Hitler or not. In the Star Trek universe, the Prime Directive is the governing philosophy of the United Federation of Planets. In that codified theory, representatives of the Federation aren’t to have an impact on developing societies or their historical direction. With this in mind – and the potential ramifications, both good and bad, in the historical sense – I would have to say that I wouldn’t kill Hitler if given the chance. There is simply too much that could occur otherwise – and in some cases, could be even worse – than even the genocide, hatred and pain that Hitler’s short existence brought about.

Where would you land on these subjects? And what does it say about you? If you could change everything, would you do it?

What Does hitchBOT’s Destruction Say about the U. S.?

hitchBOT

It was a story that I had heard about a couple of years ago and thought was pretty cool. Researchers in Canada were building a robot that was incapable of movement but, through usage of linguistic programming and some limited conversation skills, would be able to traverse long distances. How, you might ask? Through the kindness of the human race, which would transport the robot around for nothing. A GPS system would keep track of where it was and, at 20-minute intervals, would snap a photo of its surroundings.

Christened hitchBOT, the robot – a gangly looking creation that still had some charm to it (as you can see in the photo above) – was able to get across the expanse of Canada in 2014, a 3700-mile trip that saw hitchBOT endear itself to the Canadian people. Earlier this year, hitchBOT got much the same reception as it crossed the Netherlands and Germany without as much as a scratch on its metallic frame and no damage to its sensitive computer systems.

So what would happen if hitchBOT attempted to cross the United States? The result is a saddening thought on the human – or perhaps the U. S. – condition as it aims straight at the heart and ignorance of people in the U. S.

Starting in Boston two weeks ago, hitchBOT had slowly been able to work his way down the Eastern Seaboard, taking in a Boston Red Sox game (probably should have headed to Yankee Stadium to see a real team play) and other “events.” The goodwill ended for hitchBOT on Saturday, however, as hitchBOT was found decapitated outside of Philadelphia, its useless arms and legs ripped from its body (the appendages were added to give hitchBOT a more “human” appearance) and the “head” nowhere to be found. From photos of the scene on Sunday, hitchBOT looked no different than the trash that fills the gutters of a major U. S. city.

“Sadly, sadly it’s come to an end,” Frauke Zeller, one of the robot’s co-creators, told the Associated Press after learning of hitchBOT’s demise. Zeller hasn’t committed to rebuilding hitchBOT and taking another shot at the U. S., but it seems that others working on the project are at least open to the idea. In a note on hitchBOT’s website, they say, “Sometimes bad things happen to good robots. We know that many of hitchBOT’s fans will be disappointed, but we want them to be assured that this great experiment is not over.”

The better experiment might be how shitty is the United States that some jackass/es gets their jollies out of the destruction of something they don’t own?

Sure, there are other countries where hitchBOT might not have had a really good time either. Some of the more criminally active areas of South America or Africa probably would have sent hitchBOT back in pieces also. The Middle East would have been difficult, too, but the place is a fucking war zone; humans have trouble getting out of there in one piece literally, mentally and emotionally. But this happened in the United States, where we are supposedly so civilized that we are the GREATEST NATION ON EARTH!!!

There is a brilliant video clip from the HBO show The Newsroom where Jeff Daniels, playing a television anchor, is on a discussion forum at a university. After a coed asks what makes the U. S. the greatest country on Earth, Daniels’ character Will McAvoy rips into her with a three-minute diatribe that says the only things that the U. S. is Number One in is number of persons incarcerated in prison, the number of people who believe angels exist and military spending (all correct, by the way). He then laments that we used to be a country that did good things and for the right reasons, to the utter silence of the auditorium.

(Would have liked to have embedded the video of this clip here, but HBO seems to have stretched their tentacles out and removed that capability. You can find it on YouTube, however.)

We used to be a country where people could depend on each other despite their differences. We used to be a country where you could potentially even work your way across the U. S., doing small jobs to earn some cash before heading onto the next town. Up until probably the 1970s, people freely traversed the continent and seldom met with any issues. Now, we can’t even exit our doorways without a feeling of dread, wary of those we see and willing to destroy anything we don’t understand.

How many of us actually know who our neighbors are? How many would see someone from the subdivision they live in needing some help getting back home from the grocery store and offer a ride? As a nation we’ve cocooned ourselves to the point that we refuse human interaction, settling for a virtual version across smartphones and computers instead of the real thing.

The destruction of hitchBOT is an extension of this malady. When faced with something that we might not understand, we choose not to engage it. Worse yet, someone with a brain the size of a walnut thought it would be better to destroy the robot rather than just let it be. That’s right, U. S. citizens…we let the equivalent of the “flour bag baby” with a microchip die and it didn’t even reach the 30-day mark of the experiment.

I certainly hope that the researchers in Canada make another run at hitchBOT. Maybe hitchBOT II will have some defense mechanisms that will keep it better protected. Then people in the U. S. can stupidly complain about Canada using “militaristic robots” to invade the country.