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2020 in the rear view mirror

Milo Yield
Laugh Tracks in the Dust, Damphewmore, Acres Kan.

I’m writing this before the new year rings in, but you’ll be reading it in the New Year 2021 — and let’s all hope and pray that the new year is monumentally better than the old one. I’ve already put 2020 into my rear view mirror.

***

So, here we are in a new year, so let’s talk a bit about new things. I saw recently some new applications for the use of aerial drones. Some of the new apps appear wonderful. Other’s downright scary.



First, the wonderful ones. The first new practical use of drone technology is to plant trees without a human needed to turn a spade in the ashes of a burned out forest hillside. Nope, this new drone can be loaded with “encapsulated tree seeds” and “shot” into the ground like a rifle bullet by the drone flying overhead. Just imagine how many billions of new trees can be planted with this new virtually labor-free, and cheaper technology — worldwide!

A second wonderful use of drone technology is fire fighting in burning structures. In the video I saw of this new drone tech in use, two small, but powerful, drones — each with a fire hose attached — were air borne and attacking an out-of-control blaze in a six-story building. All the firefighters on the ground were required to do wuz hook up the hose and manipulate the movement of the drones and the direction they were spraying water or retardant on the fire. There were no ladders needed and the danger to firefighters wuz minimal.



Now, the third new use of drone technology is downright scary to me. It can kill a “bad person” or “assailant” or terrorist remotely. In this application, the drone is loaded (programmed) with both “face recognition” software and a “guided bullet.” It is designed to shoot the “target face” right between the eyes — even in a crowd or when the “target” is out of sight to the drone operator. This new drone tech is scary because who determines the facial recognition is an uncontrollable factor.

***

Now, let’s not leave this drone theme yet. Given the new drone apps explained above, let’s get a bit fanciful and describe some problems in agriculture that new drone apps might very well solve in the future.

How about controlling invasive plant species? I think every plant species reflects a “signature” color detectable by mechanical eye. So, how about a new drone app that can identify uber-nuisance, uber-invasive eastern redcedar tree from the air and spray them with Tordon or some other herbicide?

Similarly, how about a similar drone app that can identify and eradicate serecia lespedeza, or cockleburs, or sandburs, or johnsongrass? Come on, scientists and engineers, let’s get ‘er done!

I read recently that the invasive Burmese boa constrictor is an immense problem in the Florida Everglades. Why can’t drones be programmed to fly the everglades and get the boa population back under control.

***

Another rapidly expanding new technology is gene manipulation in living organisms for the benefit of humankind. I read just last week about federal approval to “genetically engineer” pigs so they can be used to grow internal organs for humans that won’t be rejected by the human body. Imagine non-rejectable “pig” kidneys and hearts for humans. The skin from these pigs is safer and better to use for human burn victims. A plus is that the pork from these pigs can still be eaten.

I think some offshoot of gene manipulation is behind the development of the new covid 19 vaccines we’ll hopefully soon be receiving.

***

The sad news of the week is that the coronovirus finally claimed a personal friend that I’ve known for decades. It’s so sad for everyone — and scary, too.

***

A bit of bittersweet news is that our granddaughter and her family have completed their move 1,300 miles east to rural North Carolina. We wish them well in their new home and careers, but having two great-grandchildren move so far away means we’ll miss out on a lot of their lives.

***

Reader emails continue. This one has a great post-Christmas story. It’s from an old friend, N.G. Neer, from southeast Kansas. He wrote:

“Milo, this afternoon I was filling up the truck when a fellow I know pulled in to do the same. He had a pretty, red, thick-walled aluminum farm gate about 18 feet long strapped to his pickup and projecting well above the cab. I strolled over and politely asked, ‘Christmas present for your wife?’

“He said, ‘You bet it is! She’s been whining about that old extra-tight wire gate down in the east pasture since the day we got married. She’s getting to an age now where she simply doesn’t have enough ‘umphhh’ to open and close it without struggling.’

“I wanted to be a mouse in the corner when he announced the new gate was her Christmas present. I will admit I had to laugh wondering what she might be getting him in return for such a ‘thoughtful’ present.”

***

Wisdom words for the week: “People don’t want to hear your opinion. They want to hear their opinion coming out of your mouth.” May 2021 go from better to best.


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