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!
Black Hat has 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 gone and strapped them to local deer. Deer are well-defined by their tendency to move around (which Cueball attempted to exploit for ergonomic reasons in 1329: Standing), typically in areas close to civilization, so attaching wireless-seeking laser robots to them effectively makes them organic killbots. As the last panel reveals, this can be circumvented by disabling wireless access on your devices (airplane mode), though Black Hat doesn't seem particularly concerned with letting people know this, and seems to brush these inventions off as simple mistakes. At least one member of the press isn't convinced, sarcastically asking "is it really?!" It's not clear if the reporter is asking if it's really "another mistake" (i.e. expressing that this was Black Hat's plan all along), or if it's really "okay", but Black Hat chooses to interpret the question as meaning the latter, and declares that he thinks everything's fine -- after all, he's not the one getting shot by deer-mounted lasers.
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.
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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