Because of the extensive amount of time I have spent configuring my laptop, I am extremely behind on my blog-reading. I spent all of last night awake trying to catch up. I still have not.

A large part of the problem is a prolific blogger like Atrios. On a whim, I selected his latest post "The Freepi Make Threats," instead of reading in chronological order, like I normally do. Since the link to the forum page where various right-wingers make homicidal threats against international observers planning to monitor the November elections was down (although the site seems to be the right wing political version of Slashdot, as I have already spotted two dupes, here and here). Even though I had already got the gist of the now-removed comments ("The UN is evil! Death to the 'rats!"), I decided to look at the blog post who trackbacked Atrios: The fanciful world of John Titor.

The name seemed slighly familiar, but I assumed that Titor was the ringleader of these anti-UN, black helicopter/blue helmet watching, conspiracy theorists. Instead, it seems that in late 2000 and early 2001, a man using the alias John Titor posted on a online bulletin board, claiming to be a time traveler from a "worldline" where Y2K had occurred, followed by a civil war in early 2005 between rural and urban (red and blue) America, spurred by the 2004 elections. Taking advantage of American strife, the world erupts into a short nuclear war which kills half of the world's population and wipes several American cities clean off the map. This gives victory to rural America, leading to more decentralized forms of governments. Titor claimed this was a stopover for an already completed mission to 1975 to retrieve an IBM 5100, and return it to his native 2036.

Electoral Nightmare
Despite the old-skool sci-fi feel (the entire "man from post-apocalyptic America returns to past where everyone assumes he's crazy in order to retrieve technology needed in the future" is so La Jetée/Twelve Monkeys) of the story, it is obvious that Titor is not your average mentally ill person. This is what one engineer said about the 5100:

If 'John Titor' and his tales of time travel are a hoax, the inclusion of the 5100 is a remarkable bit of technology that is quite plausible for a society that needs basic data processing, but lacks working hardware and working applications. It's -astonishingly- plausible. I mean no disrespect to those who believe the 'John Titor' story, but only wish to point out the masterful inclusion of something that really could be true. Imagine a 2030's recon group accessing an old IBM branch office, with old archives of business applications stored on old tapes, just waiting for the correct hardware to run on. It would be a virtual gold-mine, with the right hardware...

Almost four years after his appearance, his "Election War" seems more believable than ever. The only consideration of violence I can remember reading about in the fateful winter was choice #14 in Salon's humorous "Choose Your Own Adventure" spoof:
14 . Civil War! Tanks roll into Washington as fires fill the congressional halls and the White House turns red with blood. Yes, for those of you who remember the classic Choose-Your-Own-Adventure "UFO 54-40," this is one of those surprise endings you can only find by cheating. But in this bizarre election year, anything is possible, so there you go.

This year, the stakes are higher than ever. In 2000, there was some hope that George W. Bush would be the "compassionate conservative" that he claimed he was and be the moderate president that the Democratic Party desperately wanted him to be. Even before September 11, that hope died. Afterwards, especially after March 2003, it was clear that the Bush adminstration had its own neoconservative mandate.

Unless this upcoming election is a landslide, I think it is extremely likely that this polarized state of affairs will continue. While I doubt that this country will break into all-out war (I hope we are civilized enough not solve our differences in the cutthroat atmospheres of the courtroom, and the pressroom, instead), I would not be surprised if there were "incidents." And I am not referring to international terrorism. "Maxwell," who wrote a letter to late last month, agrees...sort of:

To me, I believe this can be prevented. Just take a look at Kerry vs. Bush. Kerry is the most Liberal candidate since George McGovern. He has participated with Communist groups during his youth and funds radical anarchist groups which are determine to stop America's democratic process. Giving these combinations in place, Titor might be right about a next Civil War in 2005, but he could be wrong if Bush is re-elected. If Kerry is elected and starts to trample on our rights, I'll be joining you guys pretty soon. I should take a self-defense class or a firing arms class in the future or maybe both.

Imbibe from the party line lately, Maxwell?