Anyone wishing to stay on top of world happenings can now easily do so through television, radio, Internet and newspapers. In typical double-edged-sword fashion, this is both good and bad. Sixty years ago, people’s worlds were smaller and more insular. It took days, weeks or even months to hear what was happening in the next town — never mind across the country or around the world. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Particularly when people do strange, crazy or criminal things. Here’s a collection of recent news tidbits.
1. Customs officers in Melbourne, Australia discovered a woman on a Singapore flight smuggling 51 tropical fish in a specially made apron under her skirt (BBC News, June 6, 2005). The officers became suspicious when they heard “flipping noises from the vicinity of her waist” (Ibid). If convicted of smuggling wildlife, she could spend up to ten years in prison and pay over $80,000 (US dollars) in fines. Sheesh!
2. Researchers trying to understand autism and phobias have experimented with an oxytocin nasal spray (BBC News, June 2, 2005). Oxytocin promotes social interactions by stimulating bonding between males and females and also between mothers and infants. What they discovered was that trust levels in test subjects rose considerably after inhaling the spray. They stress that the idea of releasing it through air vents in political rallies or lacing investment bankers’ cologne with the molecule remains science fiction. Doesn’t it seem that if there’s a way to exploit this, it’s only a matter of time until it happens?
3. A sicko from Fort McMurray was recently charged with molesting a young child live on the Internet (Brethour, June 4, 2005). An American woman, her boyfriend and his male roommate were engaging in sexual role-playing on the Internet when she observed the abuse. She ended her phone call with the man and used the call display on her phone to alert police. Is there no end to the brazenness of these perpetrators? The very technology that titillates these people involved in this risky behaviour is being used to catch them. Are the penalties harsh enough to stop these destructive, soul-destroying acts?
4. The home improvement craze sweeping the country has convinced even the most inept amateur that he or she can take on projects. Incidents of amputated fingers, eye injuries and broken bones are on the rise (Power Tools, June 30, 2005). Failing to take precautions or use protective gear like goggles, dust masks, gloves, and hearing protection increases the risk of injury and separates the amateur from the pro. Apparently, circular saws are especially dangerous. Personally, I wouldn’t allow the risk of death and dismemberment to get in the way of a good project, but hey that’s just me!
5. In the United States, Medicaid will no longer pay for Viagra for convicted rapists and other high-risk sex offenders after their convictions (Jones, May 23, 2005). Well, duh! I’m no expert, but is erectile dysfunction in convicted sex offenders really a bad thing?
Would our grandparents have believed this stuff? Are we better off or worse off for knowing these news tidbits? Life in 2005 — strange but true, from where I sit.
Australia nets slippery passenger (2005, June 6). BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4613985.stm
Brethour, P. (2005, June 4). Tracking a child pornographer’s prize. Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. http://www.digitaldefence.ca/display_article.php?id=39
Jones, C. (2005, May 23). No more free Viagra for rapists. USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-05-23-sex-offenders-viagra_x.htm
Power Tools Causing More Injuries (2005, June 30). Home Improvement Retailing: Industry News. http://powershift.ca/hir/new/industry/
Scientists create ‘trust potion’ (2005, June 2). BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4599299.stm
*Reprinted with permission