2350: Deer Turrets
Title text: When my great grandfather designed the Titanic and it hit an iceberg and sank, he didn't sit around moping. He took those lessons to his next job designing airships, and he made the Hindenburg completely iceberg-proof!
In this comic Black Hat is giving what appears to be a press conference, in which he's offering a non-apology for his recent actions. This is not uncommon in politics and the military, in which the speaker offers bland admissions, such as "mistakes were made", while minimizing the importance of whatever happened.
In true Black Hat fashion, he has apparently built laser turrets that automatically shoot at nearby wireless devices. This could potentially be useful in a military context, but for reasons unforeseeable, he's mounted them on local deer. This not only releases dangerous and indiscriminate weapons, potentially into populated areas, but also makes those weapons very difficult to identify and recover or shut down. Moreover, he then apparently lost interest in the whole project, presumably making no attempt to contain the damage.
Throughout the exchange, Black Hat shows a typical lack of concern for the consequences of his action, dismissing them as "mistakes", even though they were clearly deliberate actions with very predictable outcomes. He then says that it was also a mistake to invite everyone present without warning them to put their phones in airplane mode, heavily implying that the laser-deer are approaching, and everyone on the audience is in immediate danger.
The title, "Deer Turrets," may be a pun on "deterrents," as laser turrets would certainly deter people with wireless devices from approaching deer.
In the second panel Black Hat uses the common idiom "hindsight is 20/20". This may be a pun, as "hind" is a term for an adult female (doe) deer - as a counterpoint to the adult male (buck) deer being known as a "stag" - and a "sight" is a visual aligning device, often for weaponry. Whether or not the potential pun has any further caliber to its references, this might be the ultimate aim of this wording.
The auto-targeting laser turrets may be a reference to attempts by researchers at the University of Washington to create a laser-based battery charging device . The device in question is mounted on a turret that locates and aims the beam at a photovoltaic cell attached to the battery. The same technology could theoretically be used with a higher-powered laser, but for the application described in the comic, the targeting mechanism would need to be altered to sense any electronic rather than the accompanying photovoltaic cell.
In the title text, Black Hat claims that his great grandfather designed the RMS Titanic, the then-largest ocean-liner in the world which sank after striking an iceberg in 1912, and the LZ 129 Hindenburg, the then-largest airship in the world which caught fire and crashed in 1937. He claims that his ancestor did not retire from the design business after the loss of the Titanic, but instead learned from it and made the Hindenburg "iceberg-proof". This is an obvious and humorous lie for several reasons. First, the lead designers of the Olympic-class Titanic and the Hindenburg-class airship were two different people, Lord Pirrie and Dr. Ludwig Dürr respectively, and Black Hat is probably not one of Dürr's great-grandsons (Lord Pirrie had no children). Secondly, while no airship has been recorded to be destroyed by striking an iceberg, it's not because of any "iceberg-proofing" efforts by Black Hat's great-grandfather, or anyone else -- it's just due to the basic fact that airships fly in the air, where there are no icebergs. Were an airship to strike an iceberg, it would almost certainly be destroyed; in fact, the even deadlier accident on the airship USS Akron resulted from the airship simply striking the (unfrozen) ocean. There is also the implication that the "iceberg proofing" is where the project went awry - a hot enough fire will melt an iceberg, so it may be implied that the "iceberg proofing" was intentionally filling the airship with flammable hydrogen gas so it would explode and melt the iceberg on impact. It is unclear how this would be remotely helpful in case of iceberg collision, but it would be very ironic given the fate of the Hindenburg.
The possibility of mounting devices on wild deer was previously referenced in the title text of 1924: Solar Panels.
Black Hat has built a similar device to target users of Google Glass in 1251: Anti-Glass.
- [Black Hat is at a podium, addressing a crowd]
- Black Hat: Was it a mistake to build turrets that can track nearby wireless devices and fire powerful lasers in their general direction?
- Black Hat: Sure. I realize that now.
- [Face-front view of Black Hat]
- Black Hat: Was it a mistake to mount those turrets on neighborhood deer, release them, then lose interest in the project and move on?
- Black Hat: Yes. Hindsight is 20/20.
- [Close-up, Black Hat holds up his index finger]
- Black Hat: But science is about learning from mistakes
- Black Hat: And not being afraid to make new ones.
- [Side view again]
- Black Hat: Like inviting you here, but not warning you to put your phones in airplane mode.
- Black Hat: Another mistake.
- Black Hat: But that's okay.
- Off-Panel: Gallop gallop
- Audience member: Is it really?!
- Black Hat: I think it's fine.
- Deer: Pew! Pew!
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