The Boot On The Neck

How many of us have a boot on our necks? I would say most of us – at least most of us within Western society. And in many cases we have paid the cobbler’s bill.

Consider – here, right now, as I type this in Perth, Western Australia – I have the following overlords:

  1. The Australian Federal Government – who will prevent me from selling my land to overseas buyers without scrutiny, from importing cigars without a tax, and divulging military and naval codes. They may also prevent me from tearing a tag off a mattress, for all I know…
  2. The Western Australian State Government – who will regulate my ability to make liquor from toenails and to sell it to prospective clients, and who will also want a tax for every piece of paper I touch. I am not sure if they tax toilet paper, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
  3. The Melville City Council who demand obeisance for every bit of building I wish to do on my lot and who send snoopers with cameras to make sure that what eventuates is to their taste. I look forward to my encounter with the next snooper – I have a camera too and a website that can mock him.
  4. Every trade and professional guild and self-interest group that have gotten a charter from the state government to fix prices and exclude foreigners from their specialty. They have immense and frightening powers – and I am free of them all…having retired.
  5.  The Cat. There is no appeal against the judgement of Cat Meow. If he decides that you will sleep rigid for 8 hours to provide a convenient resting place you must resign yourself to it. So far there has been no demand for human sacrifice but it is early days…
  6. My hobby club. I don’t know yet the extent of the control it will exercise – but there is a constitution with numerous clauses on discipline. Only hobbies could engender such control…

Note that there are no secret societies, religious organisations, or ex-service clubs included in this list. I do not think I could bear the burden if there were. As it is I am doing research to see how I may free myself from passwords or other forms of electronic pavlovism.

Stay calm. I intend to keep my clothes on…

 

I Prayed For Guidance

And then that darned ‘ol God told me to do something different from what I wanted to do. Talk about annoyed. I mean, what’s the point of having a God if they’re going to boss you around…

So I switched gods. The second one I chose allowed the thing I wanted to do – indeed made it into a virtue instead of a vice. And then snuck up on me and hit me with dietary laws that meant I couldn’t cook my favourite recipes. Not only that, I had to not eat all day for a month. Not even a chocolate bar.

So I decided to ditch the Almighties and find a guru, sage, or wise man  ( or wise woman ) to tell me that I could do whatever I wanted to do without guilt. Took a bit of shopping but I got the combination I wanted. And then the bill hit me – it turned out the guru’s idea of tithes was my pocket open all the time to pay for his Rolls Royces.

So I’m back on my own again. My People have rejected me and they talked to Everyone Else and they’re not having a bar of me either. I’m either going to have to become an atheist or start my own religion. Neither idea seems really appealing as they would both require a good deal of thinking. And you never can tell where that might lead to – like as not I would be forbidding myself from things. And then where would I be when it came to being happy?

Being Labelled As An Idiot Is Fine….

As long as it is on a sticker – not a brass plate.

We all make foolish errors from time to time. And not just errors – we make foolish choices, utter foolish statements, and espouse foolish ideas. If we are lucky , we find out about them before real harm is done. Then we have the gravest test of our character  – I call it the Will Rogers moment.

It’s the point at which we realise we are in a hole and holding a shovel. What we do with the implement after that realisation defines us. If we dig ourselves out of it, we are wise – if we dig ourselves deeper, we are foolish.

I’m brought to this thought by watching politicians discover their mistakes – We’ve seen it most poignantly here in Australia with the discovery of archaic dual-citizenship laws that were used as political tools to oust members of parliament. It continues, and the lawmakers show no sign of ceasing to dig – and no signs of mending the law to recover some of their dignity. We laughed with them at the start but by God, we’re laughing at them now.

The US President, Mr. Trump, has also found it politic to change his mind about enforcing a law regarding immigrants. The awful truth that the law was one devised by his political opponents has now come to light, and they will need to call the spin doctors and the lobbying journalists in to adjust the telling of the truth accordingly. I expect some whoppers from the other party in the next little while.

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

The Drones – Part Two – The Right To Hide Vs The Right To Spy

I am unsettled by the concept of legal rights. Oh, I like ’em when they make my life freer and easier and protect me from tyranny. I treasure my copy of Tom Paine’s Rights Of Man, as well as a red cap and a pike on which to exhibit aristocrat’s heads. The guillotining has stopped for the present but I am ready when it starts up again. In the meantime I have my knitting…

But I am not at all sure about the business of rights in the flying of electric drone aircraft – and it bothers me because the shop that I write weblog columns for sells a number of them. I am unsure exactly what to think.

It has been suggested to me that I am the king of my domestic castle and should hold the sole right of privacy within my property. Hah. I have a wife, daughter, and Siamese cat, and have a more realistic idea of my royal position… But I am still apparently to be guaranteed complete privacy within my Hardies Super Sixdom – my back yard should be inviolate and I have been told that I should be free to sunbake nude there all year-long provided I cannot be seen from the footpath.

A delightful prospect. Particularly in the July rains. I shall prepare myself accordingly.

But what if my neighbour puts up a stepladder against the side of his fence and peers in at me while I lie there. What right have I then? What right he…or she? What is the law that keeps them off the stepladder, legitimately trimming their mango trees? Or cleaning the gutters or painting the roof? What law, indeed, prohibits them from sitting on the roof at any time that they choose? Provided they sit quietly and don’t pelt passers-by with mangoes, they would seem to be legitimately – if eccentrically – in possession of their own property and free to sit on that roof.

And I free to sit on mine.

Clothed?

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.