Friday, February 12, 2010

From the Man in the Street to the Farmer in the Dell

Every now and then it seems appropriate that the Chutzpah of the Week award should go to some relatively ordinary man in the street who happens to get recognized by the media. That was the case with Paul Jacobs, who literally was in the street in his village of Broughton to protect that street from intrusion by Google Street View. This came to the attention of Andy Dolan, a reporter for the Daily Mail; and Jacobs' award was presented shortly thereafter.

This time around the award will shift from a literal man in the street to a famer in the dell (even if his farm may not literally be in a dell). The venue, in turn, has shifted from an English village trying to hang on to its traditional values (and privacy) to a Russian province with an east coast on the Pacific Ocean and a western border with China. The grounds for chutzpah appeared this morning in a report on the BBC News Web site:

A Russian farmer has been convicted of planting landmines around his field to ward off trespassers.

Alexander Skopintsev, from the eastern region of Primorye near China's border, laid the three devices on his land after building them in his garage.

The 73-year-old had apparently been concerned about the frequent theft of potatoes from his farm.

He was arrested after an intruder set off one of the tripwire-style mines in August and was injured in the blast.

Skopintsev was convicted for the unlawful construction and storage of weapons and received a two-and-a-half year suspended sentence.

"Skopintsev testified that he had prepared the explosive devices to protect his garden against thieves," regional prosecutors said in a statement reported by RIA-Novosti news agency.

The law-and-order side of me sympathizes with both the conviction and the suspension of sentence; but, when you are in such a remote location, just what do you do to protect your property? A "knowledge economy" is supposed to reward innovative thinking; so, at the very least, Skopintsev deserves the Chutzpah of the Week award for pushing the envelope of what we think about innovation!

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