Saturday, March 11, 2017

"Living in community"

I don't know I was thinking about this when I first got up this morning, but I found myself thinking about the bill proposed here about allowing homeowners to (or, I think actually: holding them harmless if they do) shoot down unauthorized drones on their property.

Drones are a tool. In some cases, they can be a really useful tool (searching a large park area for a lost kid, for example: I suspect in some cases they could save lives). Or they're a really cool tool: I'd love to be able to see my field sites from the air, and there are probably some research questions that could be answered faster or better with one.

But: like any tool, people can misuse them. When I first heard about drones for "civilian" use being equipped with cameras, practically my first thought was, "No woman is ever going to be able to sunbathe in the "privacy" of her backyard any more. (Not that I DO, but I know some people like to). And I don't even mean nude sunbathing, which is perhaps a legal gray area in a densely-populated area - even being ogled from afar while in a modest bathing suit is icky and gross.

But they had a reaction story from someone who owned, I think it was, a business that sold drones. And he was upset: why should homeowners be able to destroy someone else's property?

And that's where I got to thinking about the "living in community" thing: Sir, are you really saying you want your customers to be able to fly their mini-copters over their neighbor's backyards without asking the neighbor's permission first? You really want to be the guy who sells a product that annoys the heck out of people and makes them angry? Because I'd be angry if I were digging around in the garden and spotted a drone hovering around. Angry and creeped out, because why would someone want to be spying on me like that (provided the thing had a camera).

I mean, with permission, carry on then: I have heard of roofing companies that use camera equipped drones for roof inspections, and that's a good use of them. But in that case the homeowner would invite the roofer over, and ask them to use the drone....

My feeling is: if you don't want intrusive laws (and I think most of us don't), don't do behaviors that encourage people to promote those types of laws.

Drones are just the latest one. Flying a drone and especially hovering a drone over someone's property without their prior and explicit permission is kind of a jerk move (and new permission in each case: I might let someone fly a drone over my tree so I could see if there was damage to the top of it, but I wouldn't want that person to feel like they could fly it over my property any time then).

It violates a person's "personal space" in a sense. Yes, we all have to live together in this world no one owns the air, but to hover your loud, buzzy toy that might or might not have a camera running on it in someone's backyard does feel like a violation of their rights.

I have similar feelings about boom cars. I have real issues with that one jerk who decides it's just fine to drive around (or worse, park) in a residential area with their boom car going late at night. Noise pollution is a thing. I've been awakened by boom cars. Not that I think we need more laws but I do think people need to think of their neighbors a little more. (I often cite my rule, in my neighborhood, of not edging or doing any loud lawn tasks before 10 am on the weekends, even though by then in high summer it's darned hot some days and it would be more fun to do those tasks at 7 am when it's a good bit cooler).

And similarly: cell phone use while driving. I know I've reported a couple times here near-misses where I had to use all my defensive-driving prowess to avoid being hit by someone gabbing away or, worse, looking down to text while they drive. And yes, some areas have laws about this because people don't seem to have the common sense God gave a goose on this matter. (Locally, they are banned in school zones). We shouldn't HAVE to have laws about this but people never seem to go "I can't do these two things safely together so I'll set the phone down." (I KNOW I could not drive and talk on the phone at the same time, so my phone stays turned off, or, if I need to make a call, I find a parking lot to pull into).

I don't know. The human-population is ever growing (even though I live in one of the less-dense areas) and we have to be able to live with each other. To me, it seems simple: "Love your neighbor as you love yourself" or "what would be abhorrent to you, do not do to your neighbor" and I know that having someone run loud equipment early in the morning (before I was up) would be abhorrent to me, and I also know that some people sleep a good bit later than I do on weekends. I just wish the 2-am-drivers would realize the same thing. And if everyone followed the Golden Rule, we probably wouldn't wind up with laws like "Homeowners who shoot down unauthorized drones will be held harmless" because there wouldn't BE anyone flying unauthorized drones. Don't like intrusive laws? Then don't behave in ways that encourage people to propose them.

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