: A man was arrested in Zimbabwe a few days ago for having impure thoughts about a woman at a bus stop. "So that's illegal now?" I asked a woman named Wincey, who told me the tale.
Wincey handed me a recent news report downloaded from Bulowaya24, a news website in Zimbabwe.
People waiting at a bus station noticed that Clifford Mavete, 27, was "sweating and exhibiting an expression synonymous with that of a person engaging in sex while his eyes were glued at the woman who was standing in front of him," it said. In other words, his face was remotely committing assault.
The tense scene involving two people not actually doing anything to each other escalated dramatically when the woman complaned aginst him.
The crowd took Mavete to the police station where officers charged the man with 'mind crimes'. Luckily, this has been made a recognized crime: mubobobo (magical remote assault).
Last month in Africa, a man was arrested for "tapping his foot on the ground and facially expressing excitement".
I said: "If mind crimes are now illegal, you might as well lock up every man on the planet right now." The women replied: "Good idea."
This whole mind-reading thing is very distressing. The US Army last week announced they had invented mind-reading binoculars. When you clamp them on to your face, they start monitoring your brain activity and learning what your mind thinks of as enemies. This could be bad. A LOT of bosses could die.
The following day, I got a press announcement from Toyota of Japan telling me they had unveiled a "mind-reading car" called the Insect. It spots the owner approaching, unlocks itself, and then guesses where you want to go. "Good morning, Mr Vittachi, we're off to the Toyota showroom to buy expensive branded accessories again, because I know that deep down that's where you'd like to spend your day."
Why do scientists spend massive amounts of time and money inventing stuff that's CLEARLY bad for society? Mubobobo ordinances plus d mind-reading gear equals male misery for sure.
For a bit of sanity, I turned to the Asian newspapers. Sex crimes are caused by chow mein, a politician in India warned last week. Chemicals in Chinese fried noodles make men unable to control their urges. "Chow mein leads to hormonal imbalance evoking an urge to indulge in such acts," Jitender Chhatar of Chandigarh was quoted as saying in the Times of India.
I love chow mein. Just execute me now.
A woman was murdered by her seafood appetizer, AFP reported. But some thought the tale smelt fishy. Yoon, a 20-something South Korean, was found asphyxiated near a plate of angry live octopuses in sesame oil.
Whodunnit? Her boyfriend Kim pointed to the tentacle in her throat. Her dinner dunnit.
Reporters became suspicious when her father said that she always cut her food small, and was just not the sort of girl who tries to swallow whole creatures alive (yeah, some girls are like that, go figure).
After investigators found that her life had been insured shortly before her death, courts decided Kim had suffocated her and framed her dinner. The dinner declined to comment.
Now you see why there aren't many Asian crime novels? Who'd buy a book called The Seafood Appetizer Murders?
Amazed scientists found a 500-million-year-old insect, and noticed it had a complex brain, top science journal Nature reports this month. This shows insects were once smart, but their brains shrank to tiny little dots, like those of amoebas, ultra-nationalist politicians and One Direction fans. I have enough trouble trying to outfox bugs as they are: imagine the horror of BRAINY ones. "This is your mosquito speaking. You cannot see me but I am somewhere in your bedroom and plan to torment you all night. Mwa ha ha ha ha."
A zoo boss in China found a way to make his peacock fan out his magnificent tail feathers for cash. Staff at Beijing Wildlife Zoo at Daixing collects a special fee from visitors and usher them into a space in front of a curiously static peacock. A button is pressed and the famous peacock tail rises behind the bird. Cameras are banned, because staff photographers take pictures and sell them to you. Park executive Liu Xin Cheng told the Chinese press that he did not think putting an artificial tail on a real peacock's butt was cruel. I can think of few more pleasant ways to pass an hour than devising suitable punishments for this gentleman, all involving uncomfortable apparatus on tender rear parts.
Bus lanes should be cancelled because they slow down private cars, campaigners in Delhi complained last week. "Car owners... get exhausted sitting in their cars due to traffic jams," B.B. Sharan, head of a motoring group, told the BBC. Poor little car owners! Sitting behind your chauffeur sighing can be really tiring. Besides, saving time is not important for lowly people. "How does it matter if a peon reaches office five minutes before time?" Mr Sharan thundered.
I wouldn't like to be the peon who makes his tea. No, scrub that, I WOULD like to be the guy who makes his tea. Another opportunity for creativity.
Astronomers discovered a planet made of diamond, a science journal reported last week. I already saw this. It's on the third finger of Shilpa Shetty's left hand. If not, it soon will be.
An Indian politician who was asked for his ID card at a toll plaza on the night of Oct 10 got out his gun and pointed it at staff. Vitthal Radadiya: living proof that you shouldn't watch too many movies.
(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveler. Send comments and ideas via www.mrjam.org)