The Drones – Part Five – The Innocents

Want to know how to get in trouble with four different levels of government at one time in the comfort of your own suburb?

Buy a balsawood airplane kit, build it, wind the rubber band motor inside it, and let it go on the school oval at 4:30 on Saturday afternoon. No matter how deserted the suburb is, before that propellor stops turning and the thing starts to glide into the bushes you will have the school principal, the council ranger, the local police sergeant, and the deputy head of CASA chasing you across the oval. You have offended local, state, and commonwealth rules – mostly by trying to have fun. Don’t be angry at the bureaucrats – they live for this sort of thing.

That’s a $ 29 Guillows kit – imagine how much trouble you can get into with a $2000 electric drone.

And therein lies the sad tale of our society. Logic would say that the open oval would be the perfect place for a youngster to fly the toy airplane or drone he gets for Christmas. But government in all its forms says not, and I’ll bet that they will be running kids and their parents off the ovals all over Australia on Boxing Day. And the kids will be trying to fly from the streets and backyards and crashing, intruding, and losing their Christmas presents all over the place.

Oh, someone will come out with a solution – a sand paddock 50 kilometres outside Perth where they can purchase temporary permission to fly the drones for ten-minute periods ( book your ten minutes by filling in a form at the shire office between 9:00 and 5:00 and have your $ 20 ready ) before being turned off again. There will be a Shire Drone Flying Officer and he will be a serious man.

Is it any wonder that the hobby of drone racing has stalled? Is it any wonder that kids are not building R/C aircraft?

Bring back innocent fun, and take away the impetus for the other sort.

 

 

Advertisements

The Drones – Part Three – The Right To Menace

I am good at menacing. I do it every time I can find an innocent person who is in no position to defend themselves. There are plenty of these about – they work in retail shops. If I have five cents in my pocket I can go and browbeat them, traduce them, and terrify them with threats of exposure on Travelguide, YouTube, and Choice magazine. Or I can buy five cents worth of sweets and bugger off.

Some days it is a close run decision.

The drone menace, on the other hand, is less clear-cut. It would appear to have several aspects:

a. The drones may fall upon people and injure them. Quite apart from the physical weight of the things – which can be considerable if they are larger commercial jobs – they have anything up to eight flailing propellers working at high speed like knives in an abattoir. It’s not just the dropping on people that is dangerous – swishing through the crowd sideways may be horrifyingly worse.

If this is an inadvertent thing – failure of control or bad flying – it is one thing, but what it if were deliberate? We’ve seen people drive into crowds with murder in their hearts before.

b. The drones may be modified to carry destructive payloads. They need not drop themselves into a crowd if they can be rigged to drop something else. You can make up your own list of frightfulness that might be precipitated on others.*

c. The drones may interfere with other aircraft in the air…or even on the ground if they are operated within airports. We’re told that there are automatic controls that prohibit this in signals sent by the manufacturers via internet to the drones. From China. Now there’s foolproof, if ever I’ve heard it.

d. The drones may interfere with essential public services like firefighting by flying where aerial tankers are in operation. This has apparently happened.

e. The drones may intrude into secret governmental and military areas. Again we are told that there are controls in place to stop this…here I am inclined to have more faith. I’ll bet the SAS would love to open up on a drone over Campbell Barracks, and perhaps they have already. We’ll never know.

f. Drones may be used to snoop and spy on commercial properties for commercial or governmental purposes. Someone has already suggested council surveillance of blocks in rural areas to spy on people erecting sheds without permission. It sounds just petty enough to be true.

g. Drones may be used to snoop and spy on private matters for private delectation and troublemaking. Leading to private defence and public nuisance. What price privacy and good order?

h. Drones might be used to disrupt and harass legitimate events – sporting venues, religious ceremonies, weddings, civic affairs. Political parties could be targeted by their rivals.

Some of these troubles may be fended off already by technical means. Others might be circumscribed by the law but the fact of the matter is that at the moment of the offence any obedience to law would still rest with the person running the drone…and they might be willing to do it at any risk. There are already enough people who commit offences in all other divisions of law despite clearer sanctions and a history of enforcement. The drone situation is still very much in the ” hold my beer ” stage.

*Naturally I exclude the Air Force and Army drones that drop Hellfire missiles and 30mm cannon shells on people. These are perfectly all right.

 

 

 

 

What Do You Do When You Don’t Have Statues To Remove?

Why, you remove names! Names of people you don’t like. And you make censorship sound virtuous!

Our localities saw fights between whites and blacks in the nineteenth century – for the most part the whites won. Now the blacks want the names of the regions where these fights occurred to be changed so that the settlers are vilified and forgotten.

They have a problem: there aren’t many equestrian statues of the settlers in question to haul away. No-one bothered to cast them back then and the only thing remaining is a few gravestones and the map names of outlying townships and electoral areas. This must be a frustrating setback to the politically ambitious and the racially virtuous.

No matter – local activists have demanded that the names be expunged and replaced by what they tell us are aboriginal names. History will be smudged over, re-written, or outright traduced…and it likely will be with the blessing of local academics and political opportunists. They would howl at the same thing bring done to European or Middle Eastern history, but they are delighted to be able to do it here.

I’m afraid I have a sad prediction to make – the very people who have cried loudest in the past about spiritual matters and sacred sites will likely take to the graves of the settlers in our local cemetaries with spades. I hope the cops are ready for it, and I hope the shire councils can stand the cost of replacement headstones. Otherwise we all stand a chance of being expunged at the convenience of activists.

The Right Wrong Right Side Of The Road

Which side of the road do you drive on where you live? if you’re in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaya, Siam, South India, North India, East North India, South Africa, Rhodesia, and Japan, you drive on the left hand side of the road. If you are elsewhere you drive on the right.

The chief need, whether on left or right, is to do it well. With dignity. With foresight. With accuracy. All concepts that I am desperate to introduce to the residents of our street.

We are a mixed lot here in Dreyer Way, and generally benefit from it. All races, all nationalities, all ages. We do not hold wild parties and we keep our lawns mowed. We do not break into each other’s houses. We pick up litter after bin night. But we also do not know how to park in the street to save our lives. If we do not learn, some of us will risk losing them.

The convention in Western Australia – at one time enforced by the police – was that you had to park your car as close to the curb as practicable. It had to be in a place that did not obstruct other road users or the driveways and pathways that served the street. The car had to be parked on the left of the street. This seems to have changed.

On days that see tradesmen working in the street – house repairers or lawn mowing men, etc. there is no problem – they follow the old rules and you can navigate around them as you go along. They are never loud or unruly and do not speed in the street. They may be different when they get out on the open highway, but at least they are exemplary here. The residents, however, have taken to parking every which way on both sides of the street – even when their own driveways are unoccupied. Their travelling guests follow suit, and often will stop opposite a car that is properly parked on the left hand side. This narrows the street’s passageway to door-wrenching size.

Please note that our house is base to four cars – Two big ones, one medium-sized sporter, and my little Suzuki. We park on our own drive and lawn and do not encumber the rest of the way.

The bottleneck is next door, and I am starting to think that there might have to be some creative thinking to solve it. I do not want to make enemies of the neighbours but I also do not want be barricaded into my yard. It might be too much to hope that a Sherman tank with a mine plow will come down the street and shove the Mazdas aside, but I may have to resort to driving over the next door’s council nature strip to bypass their visitor’s bus. Perhaps the council garbage truck will loosen their doors a little at about 5:00 AM. I’ll listen out…

Note: Apparently they also drive on the left side of the road in England, North England, West England, and Even Further West England. I’m glad they have followed our lead.

The Creepy Clown Phenomenon

A recent remake of a horror movie has also repeated a strange cultural phenomenon – the amateur creepy clown menacing the local suburbs.

We’ve seen internet posts threatening various areas of the city, followed by defiance from the residents and officially stern warnings from the police that this sort of activity is going to get the teenagers who do it into trouble. This is all to be expected – it is the foolish response to a commercial promotion and the official reaction to it. Predictable.

The Guild takes no stance on this – neither do I personally. While I think it is just one of those things – like presidential elections – that is beneath contempt, I do retain at least small interest in watching and waiting for the inevitable.

Perth has a number of outer-metropolitan suburbs that are still semi-rural. Many of the properties in them are owned by small-plot users, and some of the small plots are used for fruit-growing, wine making, and other activities. The people who own them and engage in these lucrative activities are varied…but many of them have a European migrant background – Italy, Greece, the Balkans, Poland…etc. Lovely decent people who like to live their lives undisturbed by officialdom or by private troublemakers. They often strike me as people who value their privacy, and who are prepared to take vigorous action to preserve it.

I would hesitate to use the term Moustache Pete as it may be a little pejorative. Moustache Piotr or Moustache Petros likewise. But you get my drift.

Could it be possible that some wisenheimer teenager will put on a creepy clown mask and hide along the roadside in one of our outer suburbs. Might they pop out and try to terrify these citizens as they go along the street?

Can you say ” double barreled 12 gauge Boito hammer gun  “? Can you say it in Italian, Greek, or Serbo-Croatian? The sound it makes is remarkably similar in all three languages…

Best to just go back to your video games, children.

The Little World – Applying For A Fun Licence

” This is a free country, isn’t it? ”

Fine words, and perfectly appropriate at the polling booth or in the public bar, but hesitate before uttering them in your local hobby shop. Because the answer may turn out to be ” No “.

I’m driven to this conclusion by looking at the goods on offer in the shop. Fine models, glorious kits, magnificent engines, and more trouble than you can pack into a Gladstone bag. In many cases you may be free to purchase the fun, but you will be forbidden to have it…or at least you will need to go a’begging to someone for permission to play somewhere.

If that sounds over the top, consider that here in Perth – the most isolated capital city in the world with hundreds or thousands of kilometres between us and other cities – we need to go to one special secluded spot on the outskirts of town to fly a toy airplane. We need to go 20 kilometres to sail a toy boat, and we can go to Bunbury or buggery if we want to run a toy car.

Noise, pollution, disturbance, wildlife, public nuisance,etc. etc. Councils jealously guard their parks and schools jealously guard their ovals, and woe betide the trespasser. The drone flyers have it even worse as they are the bete noir of everybody. Doesn’t stop the hobby shops from trying to sell lots of different drones, but when it comes to clubs flying them…?

So far the toy train people can escape most of the contumely and control as their layouts are inside, and on their own property. If they take them outside they can be harassed for creating an attractive nuisance or for spoiling the council’s view of what the garden should look like.

The toy soldier, car, and doll collectors also escape most of this problem…but this is probably only because the police and council haven’t figured out an angle that can either fee or fine the collector. Have no fear…they are probably working on it. They already have a stranglehold on the militaria collectors who just want to trade old muskets.

I am not going to worry too much. I’m sure I contravene a number of regulations by collecting toy cars and taking pictures of them and a zealous enemy could put in so many council complaints as to make the hobby miserable, but collecting enemies could also be a lot of fun.

Particularly if you pin them to a board or press them between the pages of a thick book.

The Nose To Tailer

Having just written a humorous Facebook post about nose-to-tail car accidents in morning rush hour…and that will tell you a lot about my behaviour on social media when they let me loose…I have dived for the editorial keys to vindicate myself.

Let me say at the outset that I am against such accidents – both on principle and in practice. I think they should be avoided. I have so far managed to not be there when they have happened.

But unfortunately I suspect that I don’t really have a say in the matter anyway. The behaviour of the drivers of the large SUV and tray-top vehicles seems to determine when these will occur, and they are getting more desperate by the day.

My life currently allows me to be off the road during morning and afternoon crushes, and sometimes to be on public transport for the average town journey. It is heaven not to have to worry about the driving and parking, and makes a journey into our main city shops actually worthwhile. I am also able to access at least two major suburban shopping complexes on the bus or train, so as long as I am not buying a refrigerator I can do my shopping on foot.

Nose-to-tail has no winners. Everyone accuses everyone else and everyone and authority blames them all. It only wants one link in a crash chain to have no insurance or license to delay any repairs or settlement, and the meat in the sandwich cars can sometimes be written off with horrifying ease.

Let’s hope that winter eases up in a month or so and we can get back to dry roads and small comfortable motor crashes…