Dron­ing on and on

The Compass - - Editorial - Harold Wal­ters My Im­per­fect Slant — Harold Wal­ters lives Hap­pily Ever Af­ter in Dunville. He thinks it’s cool to live in the only Cana­dian prov­ince with its own time zone. He does not think it cool to live in a prov­ince that taxes books. Reach him at gh­wal

Once upon a time when I was a wee bay­boy dwelling in a dif­fer­ent bay, I’d run outdoors at the sound of an air­plane hop­ing to catch a glimpse of such a mar­vel­lous fly­ing ma­chine.

One day a sea­plane from…well, a dif­fer­ent di­men­sion than mine, I s’pose, pitched in the cove. It was a stu­pen­dous ma­chine with a pro­pel­ler like a wind-charger and pon­toons the size of punts. We bay-boys nearly crip­pled our­selves scram­bling down over the Scrapes to stand on the beach rocks and gape.

That was eons ago — Joey Small­wood had just been crowned King of New­found­land, for frig sake — when it was pos­si­ble for cer­tain of man’s con­trap­tions to be truly awe­some, eh b’ys?

Dur­ing that same Age, the most com­mon cam­era was a boxy af­fair with a sim­ple lens in its face and a shut­ter tog­gle switch on one side. If you stood as frozen as a glacier’s butt and was un­afraid of the de­vice steal­ing your soul, you could be sketched off and have your im­age — af­ter the film took a trip to Tooton’s — pre­served for per­pe­tu­ity.

“Harry, my love of all Ages,” says Dear­est Duck, “are you re­turn­ing to the Juras­sic Pe­riod?”

“I’ll get these scrib­bles up to date, my Duck,” say I.

“One can only pray,” says Dear­est Duck. Guess what.

The world took a cou­ple of vi­cious turns. Things and Times changed.

Aero­planes evolved into hu­mon­gous fly­ing cigar tubes that cir­cled the planet at 30,000 feet. A time or two, Dear­est Duck forced this erst­while bay-boy into the bar­rel-belly of one of those air­craft to fol­low our coun­try’s curve from At­lantic to Pa­cific — an amaz­ing and fear­some adventure.

Shortly af­ter my first episode of strato- spheric travel — but not due to — I be­came some­what reclu­sive be­cause my fear of…

… well, fear of those por­ta­ble video cam­eras that had be­come ubiq­ui­tous. Ev­ery­body and his as­sorted kit and kin owned one of those recorders and lugged them around, pok­ing them here and there, film­ing ev­ery­thing in sight — their young­sters in school as­sem­blies and the like; sports gather­ings; folks a’frolic at sum­mer fairs.

I grew un­easy — p’raps even pho­bic — about hav­ing any in­vol­un­tary loss of dis­cre­tion in a pub­lic place cap­tured on film.

For frig sake, it was a risk to pick or scratch any part of your­self in­del­i­cately, eh b’ys?

“Harry!”

Over time, things wors­ened. Smart­phones. Youtube. Face­book. Dash cam­eras.

“Harry, my own reclu­sive love,” says Dear­est Duck, “not only are you be­ing crass but you are dron­ing on and on about old fool­ish­ness.”

“Ah, my Duck,” say I, “You’ve ham­mered the nail all the way into the board.” “Harry?” says Dear­est Duck. “Drones, my Duck,” say I.

The Days of the Drones are upon us and my fears have mul­ti­plied.

You know what I’m talk­ing about — those re­mote-con­trolled toy-like he­li­copter chum­mies with the cam­eras bolted to their un­der­car­riages.

Ama­zon’s on­line cat­a­logue lists them as quad­copters.

Oh, sure, they can be used as tools, I s’pose. They can hover over your roof for a close-up in­spec­tion of the shin­gles. They can flit thither and yon in search of lost pets. They can fly over and record all man­ner of scenic beauty.

But my fear is they’ll be­come more in­tru­sive, more in­va­sive than ei­ther the cam- corder or the Smart­phone.

I fear they’ll be used to peep at sights that ought not be peeped at.

For in­stance, some ya­hoo might glide ‘n hide one in a shady maple, record your back­yard bar­beque and next day post footage of pri­vate ine­bri­a­tion on the In­ter­net.

Or worse. A Tommy-boy might dig­i­tize your Honey’s sun-baked buns while she lies tan­ning, said buns slicked-up with co­coa-but­ter.

“Harry! You are be­ing ridicu­lous. No one is bad enough to do such things.” “You think not, my Duck?”

There is a worst-case sce­nario for folk who fear pri­vacy is at risk.

What if a nasty per­son at the con­trols of a high-end quad­copter flies it stealth­ily in the moon­light and brings its prob­ing cam­era eye within reach of your up­stairs win­dow­pane?

What if he’s bad enough to peek through a gap in the im­per­fectly drawn cur­tains and record any shenani­gans oc­cur­ring in the boudoir?

“Harry! You are aw­ful!”

Yes, I s’pose I am.

Thank you for read­ing, any­way.

I fear they’ll be used to peep at sights that ought not be peeped at.

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