Posted on Jun 21 2012

Jaime R. Vergara

 By Jaime R. Vergara
Special to the Saipan Tribune

A person who is lazy, aka, loafer, parasite, slug, and of course, the queen bee’s handy buzzer, has been our definition of the word “drone.” Since we had forsaken the starched khaki uniform after ROTC in College, we had not bothered to keep up with the terminologies casually used in military discourse. “Drone” is one of ’em terms that goes beyond the apiary!

The drone in apiculture (bee land) has two functions in relation to the queen bee. It mates with the queen bee and enables the creation of multi-million sperms that ensures apiary population, as well as to fertilize the queen bee’s eggs. But as their name has since come to imply, they are robotic and monotonous. And they produce no honey! The word also applies to certain male ants and wasps. (No comment on WASPs.)

Now I pay a little attention to terms my students’ use, for in the alleged boring ambience of university life where often, adults are treated like children with nary a habit for creativity, motivity, and innovation, many act like passive receptacles waiting to be instructed on what to do. The frequency of escape to computer games for the males, and compulsive shopping for the females, is high.

The computer games students describe when asked about their day involve electronic gadgetries and military planes. One told of his excitement of having a captured P51 Mustang outmaneuver an F-86 Sabre over the Korean skies!

The robotic actions of the bored females in heading to the new malls, unaffordable to many, are sporting enough to enjoy the trying and fitting of clothes and accessories involved. In fact, the purchase, if one is made, becomes anticlimactic. The excitement of shopping and price bargaining are what make the juices flow.

We have also become accustomed to news of military drones used in going after the leadership of Al-Qaeda, and/or the Taliban. The political repercussions of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) going off target in Afghanistan and Pakistan have been enormous. The news that Iran and Venezuela are building drones of their own has shaken the cowboy boots of some in the Pentagon, making them more militant.

It’s the military drones that caught our attention this week. First, there was that crash of the secret X-47B UCAV in Maryland (captured only in tarmac tarp-covered display by weather satellites), and then the sudden appearance of a truck-pulled UFO widely reported to have appeared in the Washington DC’s beltway. Having lived just a golf whack off I-495 by the 9-hole Jefferson Links in Falls Church, VA, I can visualize what kind of a traffic jam the UCAV might have caused in the Capital’s suburbia.

Being in an aerospace university in China, we see the remote controlled miniature aerials flying in the field all the time. But like the powder (mix of sulfur, charcoal, and saltpeter) that Chinese searchers of elixir for immortality discovered long ago, which became the pyrotechnic composition in fireworks (chemical explosives to the Arab world, India, and Europe), China’s drones are used for weather forecasting and forest fire mitigation!

“Oh, yeah,” the skeptics will say. Well, yes, yah! Genghis Khan had his horse-riding Mongolian archers, Japan’s Shogun had his two-sword Samurai turned Ronin, the Brits their musketeers, modern Taipan their Tong bullies, Arizona its 9mms, but China Shaolin monks work their Kung Fu as hand combat against the knife. China’s Peoples Liberation Army organizes best when assisting disasters than when launching an attack on cousins across the Taiwan Straits.

In fact, one of PLA’s heralded heroes is a 22-year old orphaned soldier named Lei Feng who died from a fallen telephone pole when struck by a backing truck he was guiding. Not a really heroic exit. No matter. He is an exemplar by virtue of how he lived his life rather than whether he excelled in war. Lei Feng, the quintessential ’volunteer’ died in Fushun not too far from here in Shenyang.

Recently, menial worker Guo Ming Yi, a poor but charismatic Lei Feng devotee, came to speak to university students. The Fushun resident heads a voluntary group that assists folks in dire need, but more importantly, his group promotes a life style of sharing in as simple as passing without much fanfare one’s extra bottle of water in the bus on a hot summer day if one is in need. His message that there is more to life than making a lot of renminbi was timely, though not as widely heeded as his superstar stature attracted the flash of female students’ cameras.

Drones. They are the robots of warfare. We thought our young ’uns creativity is busy tinkering with digitized butlers for mama’s kitchen! Not at Lockheed SkunkWorks!

The regular fireworks in China are magnificent from my 11th floor window. Guns are routinely rounded up; it is illegal to own one. The normal catch consists of old rifles from the civil war, not the Magnum9 favorite of neighboring SoKor and Japan cities, and faraway New Jersey shores.

This week, China announced that the U.S. Naval fleet’s aggressive behavior and flagrant war-mongering pronouncements in the Western Pacific will be matched by China’s Naval power. Let us hope encounters, if any, will be limited to drones.

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