What's wrong with that? Many people have less personality than items of furniture, and are not as useful, since you can't sit on them, unless of course you're a deranged psychopath, traffic warden, or my high school sports teacher.
I was equally unsurprised that the report, about printing ID cards in India, said a number of cards were found to feature the fingerprints of a machine operator, instead of the person (or chair) in the photo. This made them "less useful" to police investigating crimes, observers said.
I wonder how was it discovered that operators of print machines were accidentally putting their own fingerprints on the cards?
Did they find an astonishingly large number of matching prints at crime scenes and work it out by themselves?
If I was one of those fingerprint office guys, I would immediately embark on a MASSIVE CRIME SPREE right now, knowing that my fingerprints on bank vaults would be immediately disregarded. Talk about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Anyway, these recent ID card intrigues in India are part of a wider tale that spans Asia: the collision between technology and tradition.
In Thailand, a man in a car was seen driving slowly through a small town, photographing every street.
Suspicious villagers surrounded the car and accused him of being an agent of Satan or a property developer (assuming them to be the same thing, which suggests a high level of psychological insight).
The man told villagers his employer, a US tech firm called Google, wanted pictures of every centimeter of their village because the world's population desperately wanted to gaze at it through their smartphones.
Yeah, right. How believable is that?!
The villagers were skeptical, but found a nice scientific way to solve the dispute. They dragged him to the local temple statue and made him repeat his wild claims in front of it.
The statue raised no objections, possibly being a Google Maps user itself, and the guy was allowed to continue his mission.
In most cases, my sympathies lie with technologists, but not always. For example, consider the amazing time-travel tunnel in Zunyi town, Guizhou province. This is so cool.
Say the digital clock on your mobile phone reads 4pm. You drive through this 400-meter road tunnel, and a couple of minutes later, when you pop out of the other end, it will say 3pm. You've gone back in time one hour! I am not making this up.
Tech people recently told reporters this may be caused by transmitter tower faults, but I much prefer the local theory that the tunnel is a relativistic wormhole taking users 60 minutes back in time.
It would be SO useful, particularly to married men.
WIFE: "Did you remember to buy the stuff I told you to get on your way home?"
HUSBAND: "Er, before I answer that question, darling, I just need to go for a quick drive."
One last example of an interaction between technology and tradition has been found in Japan.
The suicide rate in that country is sadly high--but observers noticed that the computer-generated tip-offs on websites there sometimes told a story, newspapers said.
Lines would pop up saying things like: "People who bought this suicide manual also bought a length of rope."
Sharp-eyed humans can use this info to trace unhappy people and rescue them.
Only humans can make this sort of deduction. Chairs cannot--even those with their own ID cards.
PS I am at Creative Secondary School in the New Territories of Hong Kong this morning -- if you are around, come and say hello.