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Those high-tech problems

When I first heard about drone-grabbing eagles, I got excited, before I realized I wasn't thinking about the welfare of the eagles. A bird has feelings, too, and I forgot that at first when I heard about the police force in the Netherlands that u...

Terry Woster

When I first heard about drone-grabbing eagles, I got excited, before I realized I wasn't thinking about the welfare of the eagles.

A bird has feelings, too, and I forgot that at first when I heard about the police force in the Netherlands that uses eagles to swoop out of the sky and capture drones. No, I was thinking, "What a great idea. Grab those things, throw them to earth and watch them crash and burn.''

Here's what I'm talking about: A recent news piece about the Netherlands eagle project said, "For years the government has been looking for ways to counter the undesirable use of drones.'' I'm not sure who decides whether use of a drone is desirable or undesirable. I guess that's in the eye of the beholder, and if you're the person who has a drone-snatching eagle, you're pretty much the beholder of record.

The statement went on to say, "Sometimes a low-tech solution for a high-tech problem is more obvious than it seems. This is the case with our specially trained birds of prey. By using these birds' animal instincts, we can offer an effective solution to a new threat."

I like the idea of controlling drones because I've read about drones hovering near airports, in folks' backyards and outside bedroom windows and, in general, being unrestrained in their operation. It isn't the drone's fault. It's the operator, as is often the case with our high-tech developments. They become high-tech problems used by humans without a lick of self-restraint.

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And, no, it isn't just drones being used without restraint. Look at how many people around you use the high-tech development of the smart-phone (what a wonderful tool for good, am I right?) in unrestrained ways. I'll rest my case on that one by simply asking, "Do we need laws telling folks not to text and drive? Really? Do we have to caution people in theaters or at the movie houses not to use their cell phones while the performance is underway? Seriously?''

Unfortunately, yes, really and seriously.

Restraint. What a quaint concept from a long-forgotten time when telephones hung on walls and a drone was a low humming noise or a male bee in a colony. Restrain oneself? Might as well expect someone to throw a cloak over a puddle in the street so someone else could reach the sidewalk with dry shoes. That used to be a thing, too. Quaint, huh?

I know I'm too old for the modern world, but I related to what Susan Cain said in her book, "Quiet. The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking." She wrote of the shift within the past century from a culture of character to a culture of personality. During the culture of character, what mattered were the good deeds a person did when nobody was looking. In the culture of personality, what matters is to be magnetic and charismatic - to be noticed. If it's all about personality and attention instead of character, then what's the point of self-restraint? Hence, the behavior of many personalities in sports, show-business, politics and the like. Hence, too, I suppose, the popularity of reality TV, in which people become celebrities simply for being on television acting wacky.

I read recently about the Ring of Kerry, a popular tourist circle on the southwest coast of Ireland. Out in the ocean off that coast is Skellig Michael, the magnificent island featured in the last scene of Star Wars. It's where Luke Skywalker was hanging out, remember? When I saw a news program featuring flocks of laughing tourists climbing the island's steps, I didn't think, "Wow, would I love to do that.'' I thought, "Oh, man, they're going to overrun the place and ruin it.''

I have too little faith in our human capacity for self-restraint these days. That's probably why I got excited about the eagles as a way to knock those own-them-yourself drones out of the sky rather than expecting restraint from the operators.

But it isn't fair to ask eagles to do that. They deserve better, even if we don't.

Related Topics: TERRY WOSTER
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