List of Previous Titles

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Coming of the Drones

We live in a time of very rapid change that makes it impossible for the laws of the land to keep pace. It is also a time when new innovations arrive without the implications being fully anticipated. This is not a call for a slow down in new technology. If it were it would not matter one bit because the forecast is that the pace of new technology is about to rapidly increase. It looks as though it will be a future of build it and then catch-up.

Such is the case concerning the development of commercial drones. They are here, and now uses for them are being sought. One obvious use is that of ariel photography. This replaces the old camera on a balloon and is much more practical as the camera can be moved about as you wish. This would be particulary useful in survey work, and could be used to observe large crowds, whether in peaceful assembly or in uprisings.

On the dark side, drones can be used to deliberately, or accidentally invade people's privacy. Think of the owners of a large estate that is surrounded by walls that lock out curiousity seekers from observing what takes place inside the walls. In most cases probably  nothing out of the ordinary takes place, but the point is made by the installation of the wall that the owner requires his privacy. 

Sending a drone overhead, especially at the low altitudes they fly would be very intimidating. It would not be known if the drone carried a camera or not, so, I think if I were one of the lucky people to have a large estate, this would be a major issue for me.

I suppose the first thing to come to mind is matters dealing with nudity and sex. Some owners probably have liberal attitudes with nudity and sun worship and probably engage in fun outdoors, including sexual intercourse in the sun, that they would rather not be  interrupted by commercial drones. That still leaves police and news helicopters that fly overhead, but usually at much greater heights. Still, cameras with long zooms are very invasive, and are a direct threat.

It would seem to me a much greater concern would be the security threat that one of these drones with camera could represent. In the hands of the wrong people it could gather details of the layout of the property so that a plan to breakin could be developed from the air. Even if the drone were not flown directly over the property, data could still be collected using side-view cameras.

My hope is that there will be such positive uses for the commercial drone as to override loss of privacy concerns. A simple tent could regain the specific privacy you might want. If the drone can serve in life saving situations, or to simply deliver food packages to people who would otherwise find it extremely difficult to go to the shop, then the cost of a tent would be well worth it.

This is a case of our having to stay tuned while the development plays itself out to the nth degree.

These are indeed interesting times!

Copyright (c) 2016
Eugene Carmichael  

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Every country should retain flogging as part of the penal Code

As I wrote that headline I felt myself shake in horror. It seems to be an antiquated form of punishment in these modern times, as though it was something best left to past centuries. It suggests that the people who would carry out such punishment are, themselves barbarians. But are they?

If we were to take a journey back in time, as far as one might like to go, we would find both the  authorities who subjected the convicted to horrible treatment, which we would unhesitatingly call torture, and the convicted who did such stupid things that you almost want to say that they had it coming. Unfortunately, flogging was one of those things that, as we became more enlightened we felt was beneath us.

However, mankind has failed to respond accordingly, so we are faced in these modern times with people who do such awful things all over the world that the justice system really doesn't know how to appropriately respond.

I am presently reviewing the Nazi concentration camp culture because I made the mistake of visiting Dachau concentration camp in Munich. The punishment that was meted out to the few who were actually brought before justice could be considered very mild in the face of what the convicted had done. That is because we face the question of how to properly punish those respensible for crimes against humanity without falling into the same pit ourselves. One way could have been to have sentenced them, in addition to the punishment given, to a regular flogging, which was something they, the Nazis thought appropriate for the prisoner who's only crime was perhaps being Jewish.

It goes back to the beginning of time, in the home and in school. If you didn't conduct yourself properly you had to feel the pain from being flogged. It hurt like hell; it was embarrassing when it took place at school, and it did matter. Unless you were some kind of creep who actually liked pain inflicted upon you, the chances were that you would do better.

I had a head teacher who would send me out into the woods to bring back a stick that was sturdy enough for her to beat the hell out of me with. I cried like a baby while choosing that stick.

What makes me write this is because of a very recent case of some thugs who filmed themselves in a pig farm among the little piglets. The piglets were penned in, and the thugs took turns just jumping on the piglets, crushing them to death. This they did for fun, and posted the video on social media.

They will be arrested and tried and sentenced to something that will amount to a slap on the wrist, compared with what they should receive. If only they could be sentenced to three or four floggings of twenty-five lashing each time, on the bare buttocks with the Cat-o-Nine tails. I doubt whether they would think it was funny then, and I doublt whether they would  think about repeating the behaviour, and most likely it would discourage other numb-nuts from doing the same thing.

Presently, there are some 36 countries that hold flogging as part of their penal code, or practise it anyway behind closed doors. Many of those countries practise Sharia Law, but apparently Barbados, Singapore, and Trinidad & Tobago are on the list, if my informatin is current. I think these countries should continue to retain this punishment in cases where it would be a travesty not to flog them, and other countries might want to think about bringing back the sanction.

Some people can only learn the very hard way. If that is so, then so be it!

Copyright (c) 2016
Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, January 17, 2016

A Most Curious Justice System

Last week, a friend of mine asked me to provide her with transportation to one of the principal police stations where she would renew her identity document. We first had to go the local town hall to obtain a current certificate acknowledging that she was a resident of our town, and then we drove to the appointed police station. We arrived a few minutes early ,which was enough time to get some pictures. With those in hand she and I went into the waiting room, and within five minutes her name was called, whereupon she went to the desk, and out of my sight.

She was gone a long time. They called the names of several people after her who went in and came out with the documents they required. Where was she? Finally she emerged, accompanied by three policemen. She had been arrested and was being marched off to be processed and sent to jail for six months.


Whatever Spanish I thought I knew escaped out the window. I just did not understand. I still don't understand.

She has never been to court over any matter and heard a judge sentence her to time in prison, so why is she now locked up as a common prisoner in a women's prison? It seems that the matter stems from something that occured several years ago. She was engaged in an unpleasent event with a person who apparently accused her of theft. A warrant was issued for her arrest, of which she was not aware. She has continued to live in the same house for those several years, so you might wonder why no policman ever came to her house to take her in.

To apply for important documents, such as identification cards or passports we must all attend at a police station. Apparently, at that time they search the master data base for information, and if there are any outstanding matters against you that is when they are going to be resolved.

What a shock! I'm only talking about myself. For her I can only imagine that she must have thought it was all a walking nightmare.

The question remains: How can we find ourselves locked up in a prison with common criminals without going through the courts? I can see being held in detention in a jail cell at the police station while enquiries are being made, but to be held in a prison while serving a sentence of a specified time period without the order of a judge just blows my mind.

Evidently it can be done, and presumably it is legal. I have never heard of it being done anywhere else in the modern world, but then I am no expert of judicial matters, nor have I ever had the need for such information.

Sometimes I have to wonder how justified is it to feel safe and secure in my everyday life. I have suddenly found myself in a hospital emergency room, but that is entirely different.

Copyright (c) 2016
Eugene Carmichael 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Tears of a President

Recently, President Obama held a news conference to announce that he was taking an Executive Order to close a loophole(s) that allowed people to avoid undergoing a background check before buying a gun. It was while giving his reasons for taking the action that he recounted some of the more than 170 mass shooting incidents that have occurred only while he has been in office, that tears came to his eyes, and he became very distraught. So much so that it was difficult for him to finish what he was saying.

As President, one of the things he has to contend with is death, and the sense of loss by family and friends. This includes deaths and injuries caused through violent weather; the loss of lives in the field of war, and the impact on wives and husbands and children. And then, there's the death toll caused by people who act without sense, or reason, or rhyme. In so many of those cases, the President himself is the Mourner-in-Chief.

Is it reasonable to expect that any human being at all might find oneself simply worn down, to the point of simply not being able to control one's emotions, and tears fall freely. Is that reasonable?

I think so.

The President was recalling the worst case to happen that involved 28 deaths, 20 of those being first-graders at Sandy Hook, Newton, Connecticut. Twenty children set out for school that day, only to be cut down by a young assasin's bullet. No reason given could possibly suffice to justify such a hideous thing to happen. I live in Spain and I clearly remember how dumbstruck I felt upon the news. Yet, to date those responsible have not lifted a finger to do any thing at all about stopping the madness. So, it was left up to the president to try and make a difference through an Executive Order.

Looking at America's problem of mass killings by use of guns it seems to us who live offshore that America has compacted an agreement between one another whereby some will act as murderers and then they will double-up as suicides. Now, certain States have made wearing your gun on your hip legal. Wasn't this what people did during the infamous period known as The Wild West?

The reaction to Mr. Obama's show of raw emotion by Republicans was along the lines of: "Crocodile tears; insincere; weak leadership; what's he done to make it better; it's happening on his watch; politically contrived, and just acting."

The response from the Democrats was, "We should all be crying."

The world may be crying for you, America, but this one is for you to get sorted. Either you are all doomed or you will wake up and turn things around. Instead of buying more guns everytime there is an incident, as Trevor Noah asks,:" shouldn't you be buying bullet proof vests?"

You have met the enemy. It's You!

Copyright (c) 2016
Eugene Carmichael


Friday, January 1, 2016

Day One in a New Born's Life

The New Born of whom I speak is the year 2016 and this is its first day. The sound today is one of stillness after all that celebrating in the first minutes of its arrival. I sat on my sofa and watched as it arrived in many parts of the world. As usual people were very animated. It brought together massive crowds to welcome the new comer with hope for general improvement, but the fact is that no-one can know what 2016 will bring. For so many 2015 brought misery and suffering, and death. I don't think any of the people who so cheerfully welcomed 2015 had that in mind.

New Year celebrations are all about that fundamental spirit in humans whereby hope springs eternal. Everytime I buy another lottery ticket the same thought goes through my mind. Should I one day win 100 million euros that may just about cover all the money I have spent on buying lottery chances.

Of course, New Years in Dubai took centre stage, as it usually does for the most elaborate and costly firework display. This year, unwittingly there was added a real life disaster in the form of a massive hotel fire that burned in the shadow of all the fireworks. Thankfully, it appears that there was no loss of life reported the last time I checked. One of the most interesting decisions had to be made as to whether to go ahead with the planned event. A firework show that runs for 25 minutes would bear a truly frightening cost, so with everything in place, to cancel at the last minute would have been even more of a challenging thing to do than to go ahead.

I suppose there is room for both optimists and pessimists at midnight to choose whether they are celebrating, just because, or because they are celebrating whatever the previous year meant to them. My family and I have a lot to be thankful for that 2015 gave to us. We did not lose anyone from the family during 2015, so that alone is worth cheering and being thankful for. So many families had to live with tragedy, including that mass of people who moved from Africa and the Middle East into Europe, or tried to do so. We are told that more than 3,000 people lost their lives in the Great Migration, but really, no one can know for sure.

We were treated to news footage, day after day of such desperate human suffering that if you were not touched you simply are not a human being. One man actually told me that he simply did not care. That statement sticks in my mind and has coloured my thinking of him.

This New Year will likely bring a worse season of people running for their lives because one man insists on holding on to power. We have been promised that the next decade will continue to bring us change, but that the volume of change will accelerate to dizzing speed, so we can reasonably assume that we will see some amazing new technologies over this year, and beyond.

I have to mention that just as important is hope, so is it important to expect disappointments from time to time. My hero is/was Bill Cosby, but he has been arrested and charged with the commission of a sexual offence, and it is also alleged that he improperly treated as many as 50 women in the same way. Say it isn't so! I cannot make any suggestion as to how this may turn out for Bill, one of the (previous)  most respected men in America, whose accomplishments raised up the entire black community. I can certainly say thank you to him for having so carefully crafted his career that it achieved that end. However, this is not the ending I would have scripted.

Hope! Trust! I hope and trust that 2016 will bring good health, first and foremost to all readers, together with prosperity in both economic and social terms. If we can all do our part to solve the problems of the world, then perhaps we will have all done a lot.

I also hope that we can all meet back here in one year's time.

Copyright (c) 2016
Eugene Carmichael