Tuesday, August 21, 2012


A boy who stabbed his foster carer to death after he was grounded has been detained for seven years. The 14-year-old attacked 34-year-old Dawn McKenzie who bled to death after being stabbed 10 times on the head and body. The court heard that, in the days leading up to the killing, the boy's X-box, mobile phone and laptop had been taken from him.
In his defence advocate Donald Findlay QC said his client had spent his early years falling victim to physical abuse from his natural parents - and that this prevented him from learning the differences between right and wrong.  He also said that his client's mental condition meant he was unable to keep being grounded in perspective and was unable to fully explain why he killed his carer. The court heard that the teenager was suffering from a mental condition, called a dissociative state, in which he was unable to properly distinguish between reality and fiction.
Defense council naturally had to do his utmost to explain the boy’s behavior and childhood abuse is a good enough excuse for sending someone off the rails though in the millions of cases of child abuse not many result in murder. Mental conditions are also pretty standard when it comes to an explanation but if you were to ask me (and I could be far off the mark here but somehow I doubt it) it had little if anything to do with abuse, mental condition or being grounded but everything to do with the boy being deprived of his electronic crutches at which he flew into a raging temper with this painful result.
I think I wrote once before about watching a family dining out here in Vamos and how one kid was quite simply not a part of the evening’s roistering (they seemed to be a very happy family otherwise) but was intent the whole evening in playing with his I-pod or whatever it was, to the extent that he didn’t even seem to be that interested in his food. An e-mail from a friend (a computer whiz by the way) taking a well-earned break of a couple of days out in the wilds had his two kids, as he put it, going cold turkey, deprived of their gadgets.
A 17-year-old has out-tapped the competition to hold onto the title of being the US's fastest texter. Austin Weirschke from Wisconsin beat 10 other competitors at the sixth National Texting Championship held in New York. Contestants had to do one task with their vision blocked and another with their hands behind their back.  (That is something else, wouldn’t you agree?) The competition - which is sponsored by LG Electronics and featured one device with a physical keyboard - put three skills to the test: accuracy, speed and dexterity. Two of the tests were straight-forward - memorising and then typing phrases as quickly as possible, and translating text abbreviations into "regular speak" such as TTYL (talk to you later). But others were more challenging, including writing words backwards - or text sdrawkcab as the round was dubbed - and having to tap out the words to the song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star within 45 seconds while wearing darkened glasses that blocked the competitors' view. Oh, hey!  Oi vey! What is the point?
 This is the point I’m trying to make, Austin Weirschjke said he typically sent 500 texts a day to his friends, but attributed his success to added practice with his mother. The writer Malcolm Gladwell once wrote that studies suggested that it typically took 10,000 hours - or 417 full days - of practice to become an elite performer. Is there no better way to spend one’s life than indulging in this futile occupation, concentrating on this little gadget in your hand to the exclusion of all else, even if it did mean a big monetary prize in the end. I mean, come on, get a life, listen to the birds, smell the flowers, look at the mountains, pet your dog, talk to people, but unfortunately this lack must apply to a whole generation, texting or playing endless computer games.
We had an American visitor who was taken down south to visit the ancient ruins at Phaestos and who spent the drive, instead of looking at magnificent scenery he would be seeing for the first and more than likely the last time in his life had his head down, eyes glued to his sat-nav, or I-pod or whatever it was, to tell him exactly where he was.
When you stop for a moment to think about it, it really is sad. Reality can only be experienced through an electronic device. That’s progress?


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