Every decision you take these days, you must think technology. I told my children to be really careful about naming their first pet, adopted from a dog rescue shelter, because “her name will be the answer to your internet security question for the rest of your lives”. So she was very nearly the only dog in the world called EasyPassword.
When naming each of my children, I of course checked on the internet to see if their names were available, and chose the names Jem_527, Kelci_286 and Lexi_762. But my wife vetoed the number bits, as she totally doesn’t understand the web. She got her wish, as I have long believed in the Golden Rule for Married Men, which goes like this. How to Lose an Argument with a Woman: 1) Take part.
Technology puts power in the palm of your hand, allowing people with quick reactions to change the course of history. A few days ago, a man went out of his house and saw a naked couple blatantly engaging in what we might call conjugal behavior. Shocked, he used his phone to summon police to the street in the south of Sweden, according to a report I was forwarded from Sydostran, the local newspaper. Police arrived at high speed, but flatly refused to arrest the pair, pointing out that they were having a cuddle in their own home, while their accuser was peeping through their window.
My take on this is that the caller probably didn’t really “get” the whole Peeping Tom thing. The peeper is not supposed to call the cops: that’s the job of the peepees, so to speak. (So much for the much-vaunted Swedish education system!)
Many people are not ready for the technology era. In Florida recently, a man and his wife were accused by immigration officials of being in a fake marriage for a passport, according to a report sent to me from the Sun-Sentinel newspaper. The judge asked them to prove they were a real couple. The man offered to show him their digitally recorded bedroom videos. The horrified judge refused to look.
Can judges decline evidence on the basis of it being too icky and embarrassing? If so, Italian judges could use this excuse to avoid seeing evidence of any of the evening activities of Silvio Berlusconi, the chubby, sex-obsessed 77-year-old. Prosecutor: “We will now show the video evidence, your honour.” Judge: “Eww, no! You want I should lose my lunch?”
The saddest tech news report of recent days may be the one about Christopher Viatafa, a California guy who Googled himself, as one does. Up popped his name on a “Police Most Wanted” list. He’d been charged with firing a gun in a public place. That’s a crime in America now? I thought you got awards from the NRA for that sort of thing.
Anyway, judges worldwide are choosing not to jail people. The hot new thing is to put folks “under house arrest”. That’s when you can’t go to work but have to stay at home and watch TV and sleep and surf the net. Not sure how this qualifies as a punishment. How to get sentenced? Not sure, but I’m going to start by Googling myself.
(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send ideas and comments via www.mrjam.org