The Drones – Part Four – The Right To Self Defence

Pshaw!

What right? You hardly have it if you are attacked by robbers or murderers – if the cops can punish you for protecting yourself in your own home, how do you hope to establish a right to do it when pestered by someone flying a drone?

Still, if there are no legal means to protect yourself from surveillance, intrusion, and harm that at least clarifies the situation somewhat, what? What?

a. The drone has to start from somewhere, and the programs that control a lot of their flight have provisions to return the thing to the point where it took off from. Whether this is done by memory or GPS I don’t know, but I have seen it in operation and I know it is not dependant upon a lot of light. The drone can pitch off and return in semi-darkness.

There are lights on the drones that are put there to aid the flyer orientate themselves – if they are turned on they can also help the drone-hunter to follow the aircraft back to base. In most cases this will be very close to the pilot flying it.

b. Attacking people is illegal. To do it legally you need to be a member of the Police Service or the armed forces in receipt of a legitimate order through the proper chain of command. Most people will not be in this situation.

Attacking drones is also illegal, but on a lower scale of offence. If you are going to baseball bat something, bat the drone. It’s still wrong, but it’ll play better in front of the magistrate.

c. Attacking the drone while it is in the air over your property is also probably illegal – ( Hell, everything is illegal in Australia ) – but particularly illegal if you discharge a firearm at it. Resist the temptation to loose off with the 12 gauge.

You may reflect, however, that ancient and medieval people shot fowls out of the air by various means long before gunpowder was invented. There are illustrations in textbooks of the methods which they adopted – and in many cases they were quite quiet affairs. I should avoid crossbows for legal reasons.

Side note: the Swiss or French police seem to be training birds of prey to attack drones to protect sensitive installations. They are, of course, free within their own countries to do as they see fit.

d. The drone flies on a radio signal from the controller. Interfere with this signal and the drone reverts to that return-to-base mode.

e. Drone flyers who use them to spy do so for a number of reasons, but the chief one is that they are smartarses. This character trait invariably means that they are also going to give themselves away by bragging locally or by posting their feats on the internet… Capitalise upon this flaw – make careful enquiries and keep diligent watch. You will eventually find them.

Smartarses also offend repeatedly – because it boosts their ego to bully and menace. If you’ve been pestered once, prepare for the next incursion in whatever way you feel best, knowing that your vigilance will be rewarded.

f. Drones do not fly forever. Their propellers break and their batteries lose capacity and their radio systems go out of tune. This will remove some of them from the scene quickly, and the cost of replacement will mean that they do not return. The expensive ones will require repair too, and here is where you enter the system. Make contact with the repair facility and pay for the names and addresses of their clients. Pay well – information is valuable.

 

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The Drones – Part One – Hovering For All

I noted a passing reference on Facebook to laws restricting drone operation here in Australia for private operators. I’m not going to say the Facebook posting was sensational and inaccurate – because that sort of thing would be hard to believe of Facebook… but it certainly did stir up a conversation about drone flying. The conversation went on to include other uses of surveillance cameras in our lives.

I have only encountered drones on two or three occasions – in all cases being used for recreational purposes and seemingly being operated in a safe and responsible manner. They seemed harmless enough, and the users kept them away from people as they hovered in the air. One was just a chap playing with it to see if he could fly it, and the other two were utilising onboard cameras to film a crowd at a hot rod show and the Perth skyline at dusk.

The only intrusive part of them was a constant buzz or whir, and even that was much less than a motorbike or lawn mower. I was impressed with the ability of the drone to return unaided to the point from which it was launched. I felt no sense of menace from any of the machines.

But then, I was not sunbaking nude on the Perth foreshore, growing drugs in my back garden, or erecting an illegal shed in defiance of the local council, so I had no undercurrent of guilt to worry me. I also had no sense of political grievance or jealousy in operation. There was more a sense of wonder at the sophistication of the R/C flying – in particular as much of it seemed to be automatic.

But there is a darker side – which I’ll canvass tomorrow. Charge your LiPo cells and stay tuned.

Less May Very Well Be More

Mies van der Rohe was thinking of architecture when he used a variation of the phrase that heads this column. It has since been adopted by minimalists all over the world to cut away the dross in many aspects of life.

I’ve been looking at the lives of some of the people I know to see if they use the philosophy. In a lot of cases I can be forgiven for thinking that they don’t – they have vast collections of weapons, armour, sewing materials, toy cars, and books…their lives have more more than most. How can they be minimalists?

Well, if look really carefully I can see the tiny little sections of their milieu that are clean, bare, and soothing. One person does not keep credit cards. Another eschews all interest in Facebook and social media. A third edits out all unused hobby items and gives or sells them away. No-one does it all at once, and no-one lives in a clean white space…or even a beige one. But they have all made a start.

Some are started on the road by chance…they have changed their life circumstances and do not have possessions they once owned. They may pine for them or not – in some cases I think they came to regard the possessions as owning them, and the separation has more freedom than deprivation in it.

Some have looked ahead and seen the entanglements…and have been strong enough to avoid them. There’s a degree of discipline and sensibility in this if a person knows their own limitations and is determined to stay within them.

Some have been attracted by a growing movement in the world for simplicity. This isn’t even religious in some instances – just people wanting to free some part of their psyche from the entanglements of possessions and relationship and acquaintance.

Of course there are detractors. Anything that you do or feel or think will be a target for someone’s disapproval. You have only to set outside a café on a busy street with a bag of Maltesers and pick off passers-by with a slingshot to find that out. You’d think people would be grateful to get free chocolate candy, but No…However, every individual can design their life and surroundings to some small extent, and the incipient minimalist can make those tiny little islands of simplicity in the hope that they will one day coalesce into a haven of calm.

Me? I am going to go through my shed and discard all that I derive no good from. It’s started already and the floor is getting less crowded already. That this will make room for more model building is inevitable, but then model building does me good.

And then I shall start on the clothes closet. The time has come to admit to myself that I shall never wear the historical costumes again. I must find someone who will.

The Little World – It Was Just Sitting There

How many of your good ideas have just been sitting there in the store waiting for your brain to come along and see them? I say your brain, rather than your eyes, because you can look at something for months and years without perceiving it. It is only when the brain stirs that the magic begins.

My latest Ahah! moment was in our local electronics parts store whence I had repaired for plugs, sockets, and pilot lamps. These got, I dawdled through the place marvelling at the rubbish they sold. A spring-powered fly swatter? Disco lights? Don’t need ’em. I mean I’m 69…I can get disco lights by standing up quickly…

But they also sold parts for radio-control model cars and buggies. These were unattractive, but the spare electric motors for them were wonderful. I have to wonder what the operators are doing if they burn them out, but then the large number of spares for suspensions and steering are a clue. They are thrashing the guts out of the stuff.

I won’t be that hard on the electric motor I bought. I’ve no idea what it will power, but at $ 17 for a 6900 rpm 12 volt motor that looks like it could power a bomber, I couldn’t resist.

It was just sitting there calling to me. Hold my beer and stand back.

Trash And Treasure Is Never Treasure

We have all gone to the Trash And Treasure, flea market, retro market, bring and buy, parish jumble sale, or weekend market in our time. Some of us have picked up bargains – the rest have picked up garbage. The really fortunate ones have picked up a bacterial infection and vowed never to do it again.

It is a basic feature of human psychology – that desire for a good buy. If it can be a swingeing bargain or a criminal rort, so much the better. But it does lead us down some dark passageways of the soul:

a. We seek for these El Dorados of dreck in the worst places. Council car parks on Sunday morning when we otherwise we could be asleep in bed or awake in the arms of a lover. It is the unwashed bottom of the top of the morning – either cold and wet or hot and distressing, and we’re out there looking for bargain clothespegs? Sheesh…

b. We deal with people we would avoid under any other circumstances. To a man, or woman, they have the look of wolves fattened on babies. None of them love us, and we do not love them, and the emotions are entirely justified from either side.

c. We do not need what we seek. We do not seek what we need. It is all greed or grot.

d. Just as Quentin Crisp eventually had to admit that there was no great dark man, we must eventually admit that there is no great dark treasure to be found. We can’t even find Quentin Crisp.

e. We do need the money in our pocket that we think we do not need. Just today a letter arrived from the water supply racket telling me that the state government will remove a subsidy they used to give to old people to help them pay for water. The money will presumably be given to mining magnates or their bankers. I now need to save my money for water. I would like to make water on the state government…

f. The things discarded by others were discarded for a good reason. They are ugly, broken, useless, poisonous, sad, or superfluous. What they are for others they will be for us, but doubly so because we spend real money on them. And if we want to resell them we will have to return to the garbage sale and become the persons we bought it from to get even a pittance back. Do we really want to exchange our souls for that?

g. We can live without it. We lived without it until we arose this morning, and we can make it through to the evening without it.

h. No-one looks cool at a junk market. Sellers, buyers, pickpockets, etc…All have a patina of naff on them, that they could have avoided assuming by staying home and doing something useful.

Well, that should make Sunday morning a lot more fun. See you at the markets?

The Little World – The Chef’s Knife

I am always fascinated with the fancy kitchen sections of the local Myers and David Jones stores. All those implements! All those pots and pans! All those knives! It makes the kitchen drawer at our place look like a scrap heap.

The fascination continues when I see professional chefs whacking away at the raw ingredients on the television cooking shows – or setting out to work on restaurant kitchens. The preparation of their knives, with the hours of sharpening and honing…It amazes me to see that much effort being put into something that very quickly becomes as blunt as it was before it all started. I used to cut meat with knives – human meat, with tiny little knives – and when I was worried about whether it was becoming dull, I just took out the blade and slotted another one in there. The chief trick was not to stick it in the nurse as I did so.

Operating theatres and professional kitchens must be on another planet, if the circumstances of the average home workshop are taken into account. If you are a modeller I would be willing to bet that you can sit at the workbench, stretch out your hand, and find:

a. An Exacto, Stanley, or Excel knife. It will have a blade that is still good for a few more cuts…even if you have been peeling the armour belt off a battleship. There will be a packet of spare blades in the tool cabinet but they will be going slightly rusty from not being used.

b. A chisel-like object. I have no idea what it started life as – a teaspoon – a ruler – a Barbie doll – whatever. It has now been sharpened to a fare-thee-well and is used as a chisel. Not well, mind…not efficiently…but it has the ideal shape to get in and horse out whatever will not yield to the Exacto knife. At some stage of the game this chisel has gone into your hand.

c. A drill that does not work. It might be an electic drill with a bad cord or a yankee drill with a bent spiral. Occasionally it is a perfectly functioning pin drill that has never actually gone through anything in its existence  – but looks so cool that you keep it.

d. Five paint brushes. One too good to use, one quite good, one acceptable, one slightly damaged, and one that is horrible.

e. A ruler with many of the markings worn off.

f. A pair of pliers that pinches the fold of skin between your thumb and fingers every damned time you use it, no matter in what position you hold it.

g. A pencil that is about 3 inches long. It never gets any shorter, no matter how much you sharpen it, and you cannot remember it ever being any longer than 3 inches. Quite possibly it was used to write the Bible.

h. The Thing. It may have been a marlin spike from a clipper ship. Or a fuel rod from a reactor. Or the last remains of the USS MAINE. Whatever it started life as, it is now the Thing, and it is used to Do Stuff. Weird stuff like drift wheels off axles or remove ear tags or evert the insides of stuffed toy Koalas for sewing. There is no way of knowing what it can do or when you will need it, so keep it close.

Of course this list says nothing about the tools we find that we absolutely need at Bunnings, nor the useless junk that other people waste their money on when they go to the same store. Or the siren call of the used-tool hawker at the markets. These mechanical schmatter merchants know us better than we know ourselves.

The New DIN Units Of Measurement – How They Will Affect You

dscf5520For years we have been able to go to the DIN – the Deutsches Institut für Normung – for a series of standards with which to measure the world. It is associated with the ISO and has been active for nearly a century. Like other national and international bodies, the units of measurement that it has given us are basically useless when it comes to actually living a happy life.

An example would be the DIN A standards that we all adhere to when we use paper – you know, the A4, A3, A0 stuff. Have you ever tried to use A4 paper in the toilet? Slick, hard, and liable to get stuck to the bottom of your shoe at the worst time. You might as well use old SATURDAY EVENING POST covers with the staples still on.

Because of this, and worse, we have decided to establish an entirely new set of measurement units. It should allow us to circumvent the advertising agencies.

a. The Metric Gerbil – MG – is a basic measurement of light. 1 Metric gerbil is enough light to find a tub of leftover pudding in the refrigerator when the little bulb burns out. 2 Metric Gerbils are sufficient to find change down the back of the couch.

b. The Mixed Blessing -Mb – This is a fractional unit of measurement based upon the fact that when something good happens – the clothes all come in dry from the line – there is a downside – they are as stiff as boards and need to be folded with a sheet-metal break.

c. The Whew – Ww – This unit quantifies the sense of relief one feels when something ceases. For every 5 minutes of something you get 1 minute of not-something. But sometimes that 1 minute is enough to prise open a window and escape. This is frequently used at cocktail parties around election time.

d. The Smorgasbord – SGB – is the unit used to measure the degree of nutritional regret. It may be used to analyse meals taken or avoided ( -ve SGB or +ve SGB ) and is further broken down into courses. 3 SSGB ( soup  ) equal 1 DSGB ( dessert ). No SGB scoring is available for tofu.

e. The Imperial Sniff – Imp Snf – is used to rank members of the social elite who visit retail establishments. It is never used in single digits – these are the better classes, after all. Wealthier Sniffers can achieve 10X to 100X of the Imp Snf – nobility sometimes goes to 1000X, particularly if they are associated with areas of Europe that have regressed into the 16th century. Royalty are never measured for the Sniff – it being thought that they are obliged to be above it. Must make having a head cold a messy affair for them…

f. The Shaughnessy Index of Truth – SHit for short – is named after Hap Shaughnessy of the Red Green Show. It has the distinction of being the only negative index in regular use. Hap invented it while working with NASA on the artificial diamond venture. Ask him. He’ll tell you.

Finally, you may have been wondering how DIN could abandon their old standards so quickly – well, they haven’t…the DIN we were referring to is Dick’s Index of Niceness. All the measurement and none of the umlauts.