Ranking right up there with ninjas and getting to touch a boob, lasers were a very prominent fixture of my male adolescence. They combined the instant power-trip of gun ownership with the classy sophistication of high science; they were pure, microwave murder, that just happened to go well with spandex; they were a god-like power that paired beautifully, somehow, with both robots and aliens. But sadly, the reality of lasers has always disappointed. They’ve been too pricey, too bulky, and too weak to be effective weapons. Much like the flying car and teleportation, lasers seemed to always be relegated to ‘the future,’ and far beyond our grasp. Well, don’t say the government never did nothin’ for you… because that would be a double negative, and poor grammar is the first step on the slippery slope to perversion. But also because the United States Military is all over that shit, son:
The Advanced Tactical Laser is a stand-alone weapon meant to be mounted on the belly of a Hercules class military transport plane. It has an effective range of over 20km, in which it can cause ‘catastrophic destruction’ with absolutely no traceable munitions fragments left at the scene. It was developed by a division of the US Air Force called the Directed Energy Directorate, which manages to sound both absolutely terrifying and retardedly redundant at the same time.
“So…you direct the directed energy?”
“Yes. I’m the director of the Directed Energy Directorate.”
“Oh. I see. You direct the directed directorate.”
“You’re the direct energy dire-”
“SHUT THE FUCK UP.”The chief engineer, Cynthia Kaiser, states that the most enticing aspect of the weapon is its ‘plausible deniability,’ citing that the lack of munitions fragments mean the responsible party could theoretically deny any involvement with an attack. Now, there are two things wrong with that statement:
First, the most enticing aspect of the weapon is – clearly – the radical factor. The United States has ray guns now. Like Star Trek. Like Buck Rogers. The U.S. government now has the exact same weapons as the motherfucking Transformers!
Second, it’s not ‘plausible deniability’ if the only one in existence is in your possession. I’m pretty sure that if a red bolt streaks from the sky and causes Moscow to spontaneously explode one day, Russia’s going to know exactly who to point the death at. You can’t be all “what? Ain’t no fragments with our names on it. Coulda’ been anybody’s laser.” BECAUSE YOU HAVE THE ONLY LASER.
However, there is another aspect that might explain this ‘plausible deniability,’ and it’s rooted in basic psychology: Even if you know for sure that a party is guilty, most will stay silent if there is even a remote chance of error, for fear they will suffer repercussions for the accusation. So though it might seem a bit stupid to assume that your super laser has ‘plausible deniability’ when you are, in fact, the only super laser operator in the world, you’ve got to remember that it’s not so much the fact that nobody knows it was you that gets you off the hook; it’s that they’re all too scared to say it. And the United States are making god damn sure you’re going to be too scared, because this is the ATL:
It looks like a giant, evil robotic eye! It dwells in the sky, and fires superheated invisible death at you from an entire state away. Look at that guy’s expression: He’s fucking terrified! And he works for the eye! So, are you gonna be the one stepping to the flying robot Sauron? I rather thought not.
Here, let’s put it another way: Say there are ten people enclosed in a room with one giant grizzly bear. The lights flicker, briefly, and then go off. From the darkness, a horrendous roar echoes against the walls. When the lights come up again, one of the men has had his arms ripped off, and enormous claw-marks torn throughout his body. The man next to you screams “my god, that bear ate him alive!” Frightened whispers and terrified sobs rise up, as the remaining people cower against the walls. But one woman calls for calm; she raises her arms and addresses the others, “hold on!” she cries “let’s not go bandying about accusations here.” The room falls silent, and she continues “nobody saw anything; any bear could’ve done that.” There are timid nods, murmurs of soft agreement. The people begin to uneasily step forward. “NO,” you cry in outrage “DON’T YOU SEE?! THERE IS ONLY ONE BEAR HERE!”
The people all turn to you, their tense silence now returned. You scan their faces – hoping to find one among them who understands your clear, unmistakable logic – but there is only blank resignation. Finally, your gaze falls onto the bear. As you lock eyes, there is a long moment, so still that time itself seems to be holding its breath. Nothing moves, nor even breathes. But you grow weary, and at last you blink. Though you know it objectively impossible, you swear you see it smile… just before the lights go off again.
And that’s really the ‘plausible deniability,’ they’re speaking of.
So basically, you see how lasers are like bears now. Right?