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Y2K Returns: Zombie Draft – they’re coming for your driver’s license

July 21, 2014

This post is about the recent Pennsylvania Y2K mistake “zombie draft”, sending military draft letters to dead people. See CNET: “Y2K glitch orders 14K deceased men to join the military draft” by Dara Kerr:

Is the US recruiting a zombie army? No, it just appears an Y2K bug temporarily resurfaced.

Kerr also provides link to the AP story: “14,000 draft notices sent to men born in 1800s” by Michael Ribinkam. And see also Zombie Army: Y2K Bug Sends Draft Notices to 14,000 Pennsylvanian Men From the 19th Century” by Mary-Ann Russon, and Penn Live: “Pennsylvania’s zombie army?: State sends draft letters to 14K dead men” and “Pa.’s zombie army? Racist monkey T-shirts? West Philly robbery outrage: Daily Buzz” both by John Luciew, who juxtaposes this ‘zombie draft’ story with another story of an “accidental” racism, with a subheading titled:

“Oversight or offensive?”

Questions of “oversight or offensive” are becoming increasingly common refrain. Consider again, the Obama float, and consider the kerfuffle over the Washington “Redskins”. Andrew Johnson of National Review also noted these two stories together in “Judge Bars Use of ‘Redskins’ in His Courtroom“. And recall Korean Zombie’s objections to Rising Sun insignia (here and here). When symbols are so overloaded with meaning it becomes difficult to speak in global public discourse without offending someone. As is so often a problem for law: was it intentional?

The computer data entry mistake that caused draft letters to be sent to dead people was probably not intentional. But the reporters who called it a “zombie draft”, they are repeating it intentionally, in part because it gets attention, but also it’s a funny because it hits on some unusual political points to discuss of controversial issues in a funny way.

First military drafts are a sensitive subject. While referring to “zombie draft” we should notice that we have not drafted anyone in a long time. The nation has no political will to use the draft for a foreign war. That is the political lesson of Vietnam: don’t draft the rich kids and their friends, it will erupt the college campuses and eventually sway the parents and the whole effort crashes down. Instead, never-ending war can be waged with “volunteers” and paid mercenaries. We can recruit heavily in poor neighborhoods and immigrants and anyone willing to fight for us. And we can buy fancy weapon systems. Then we do atrocities in other countries and no one on the college campuses even talks about it, all too busy being indoctrinated by neoliberal pragmatism.

Rep. Charles Rangel would support having a draft to balance the demographics of our military, to

compel the American public to have a stake in the wars we fight as a nation.

Israel conscripts all it’s children (except the very religious). In the early Obama years there were hints of the conscription idea and talk of national public service. That idea seems a zombie. Americans are not interested in being conscripted. Recall also the Canadians in WW2 used the phrase “zombie” to refer to conscripts because they were less passionate fighters, but also used the same phrase to refer to military deserters.

We are all zombies now, the public discourse has deserted the military a long time ago. We send money but we are not interested in sending all our kids to service. ‘Do it with machines, with less educated angry young males, with a few well schooled natural born leaders, and leave the rest of us out of it.’ How long can that attitude last? The history of empires like that does not bode well.

It was a hard won, expensive fight, but Rangel won his primary. Maybe it’s time to talk again about the zombie draft? Maybe if we draft upper-class New Englanders and valley girls, maybe the military would be better?

This Pennsylvania Y2K “zombie draft” is also a reminder of another issue that Boomers don’t like, the idea of losing their drivers license. This Y2K glitch reminded how many old people have driver’s licenses. See this editorial available at both “Editorial: Draft notice glitch highlighted a more important issue” and “EDITORIAL: Zombies with driver’s licenses drafted in Pa.?“:

is the military manning up for the zombie apocalypse? Nah … Y2K-like computer glitch … Those 14,000 men who got zombie draft notices were between 93 and 97 in 1990 — and they all had to have had active licenses or they wouldn’t have been in the system. That’s a lot of nonagenarians out driving around Keystone state roads.

And also “Zombies with driver’s licenses drafted“:

We all got a little chuckle from this oddball story

Anyone can report to PennDOT by writing a detailed letter regarding their observations and the driver’s specific medical impairment(s). The letter must also include the writer’s name and contact information. This letter can be mailed to: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation P.O. Box 68682, Harrisburg, PA 17106-8682. The driver may be required to take a medical or drivers exam, or both. Learn more by visiting

Every “chuckle” has a second meaning. Watch out Boomers, they want to take your license away. They can create more government jobs for more eye exams and repeat road tests, enhanced reflex testing? But better yet, autonomous cars!!! If robots are good enough to fight our wars, surely they can chauffeur us around. What a boon to that industry it will be when governments start systematic revocation of old people’s driving privileges.

The big destination for this summer’s zombies is Philadelphia with museums of stolen art and stories about cracked liberty, but be careful driving and be sure to use full four digit year dates because for some, the Spirit of ’76 was the election of Jimmy Carter and an end to drafts, end to foreign wars, bring home the troops (and give them autonomous electric powered cars).


From → computers, war

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