The world is a funny place. While we increasingly get our news in soundbites, headlines, ticker banners on screens, there is a deep web of stuff that happens, gets reported but is buried under the scramble not to be left out of reporting the current top three headlines, even if reporting is just repeating what someone else has reported.

So I’ve been on a bit of a sojourn into past times, and I’ve found some things that were drowned out by the strident fuss at the time.

In 2010, the BBC reported that contractors completed renovation work at the kitchen at police station – and that as soon as they did, before the officers had time to move their things back in, but while the police station was manned, someone entered, removed all the cupboards, fittings and – even – the kitchen sink and disappeared with them.

A year later, Johannesburg Police reported that three quarters of their new generation traffic lights weren’t working because thieves had identified the new models and stolen the SIM cards that communicated with central control. Worse, it wasn’t just vandalism – the thieves used the cards to run up big bills

American criminals are subject to a system of sentencing that seems downright bizarre to the rest of us – what’s the point in sentencing someone to 300 years or more in jail? But in 1997, Jerry Dwayne Williams was sentenced to the oddball term of “25 years to life” after being convicted and sentenced under California’s “three strikes” law. His crime? Stealing a slice of pizza. Although nominally a misdemeanour, his prior record meant that it was tried as a felony. His offence was not as minor as it first sounds: he and a friend went up to four young people sitting at an outdoor table eating pizza and “asked” for a slice. When refused, they took a slice each anyway.

Not a new story, but an old crime: a man has returned some stones he stole from a museum 20 years ago. He attached a note saying that the stones had brought him 20 years of bad luck and imploring others not to steal antiquities.

This year is the 20 year anniversary of the arrest of Kevin Mitnick. Proving that nothing really changes, he was a phreaker and hacker and stole tens of thousands of credit card records. Showing a sign of the times, the New York Times reported ” he had become a suspect in a rash of break-ins on the global Internet computer network..” That sounds delightfully archaic terminology. So does the description of Mitnick as “a persistent and elusive computer break-in expert.”

In 1993, according to the New York Daily News, Keron Thomas “swiped an A train and took it on a three-hour joyride.” When he died, 20 years later, his sister told the newspaper “he lived a short life but it was fulfilling.” His father said “we called him the Human MapQuest.”

The New York Times is a rich source of things that aren’t funny but you can’t help laughing. There’s the 1998 story of a fad of injecting cocaine into the penis to increase sexual performance. One man suffered “a painful and persistent erection”. What actually happened was that, as with other cocaine use, he developed a result of a blood clot. That led to infection. Both of his legs, and nine fingers were amputated. His penis fell off off without surgical intervention.

These and other stories made me chuckle. That global internet computer network thingy has many uses !……………

words by JG - The Blog