The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Sunday, May 09, 2004

THE STARS AT NIGHT ARE BIG AND BRIGHT, DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS: Texas is currently the only state that permits voters to cast an absentee ballot from outer space. I don’t know why this should be so; recent polls suggest that the effect of the interplanetary vote on state and local politics in Texas is minimal to the point of nonexistence, but I believe that encouraging citizens to take part in the political life of their state is always a good thing. Not everyone in Texas believes this, however, and they warn of dire problems to come, simply because some people are like that. If it’s a cloudy day it’s going to rain, if it’s sunny you’ll get skin cancer. So you can never win.

These same people point out that at the current level of space propulsion technology voting is still not much of a problem for the concerned extraterrestrial citizen of Texas. Chemical propulsion systems are simply too slow to propel Texans far enough away from the Earth, which, as you may know, is bigger than Texas, but not by much, for their votes not to count. But what of the future? The inevitable advance of space propulsion technology will one day create engines capable of reaching speeds approaching the speed of light, which as we all know from high school physics, provided you stayed awake in class that day, will cause the time to slow down aboard the spacecraft the same way it slows down when your father tells you that you have to be more responsible with the family car.

We see here the crux of the problem: interplanetary Texan voters and the election cycle will be out of whack, thereby threatening democracy in Texas. Look, if you will, at Alpha Centauri, which is not, as you may think, an Italian sports car you will never be able to afford on your current salary, but rather the star closest to the Earth, unless you are a Barbra Streisand fan. Space faring Texans exploring this star could, in theory, vote in the Texas gubernatorial race, but in which one? Alpha Centauri is four light years away from the Earth, and Texans who cast their ballots there on Election Day would not have their ballots arrive in Austin until the next race four years later. This sort of disenfranchisement is clearly unfair and I have heard that a federal judge in Houston is considering an injunction against further space travel until such time as Texas can figure out a way to make the vote of every Texan count. There are also rumors that the ACLU is considering launching a test case challenging the laws of relativity, claiming that these so-called laws were designed by the Texas political establishment to deny extraterrestrial Texans their right to vote. As more details become available I will pass them along.



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