ARE YOU BEING WATCHED?

This is an English language lesson taking a look at privacy.

The keywords of the lesson are, as usual, highlighted in bold for learning and practice.

We are forever aware that we are being watched.

But who is watching us and why?

The basic premise is that everyone is entitled to privacy in their daily life.

Our private life is our own affair and not for public consumption if we are law-abiding citizens.

Such privacy should be beyond the snooping lenses of photographers, the investigative mind of a story-seeking journalist, a nosy neighbour or a distrusting family relative.

As children, we are watched over by angels from above, by our parents and guardians, babysitters, nannies and other carers, religious and community do-gooders.

As we grow older, we become aware of armed forces, police, private security personnel and vigilantes who all play a role in watching over us for our security and protection.

Wherever we go in our towns and cities, there are surveillance cameras in place everywhere.

Inside shopping malls, outside public toilets, in schools and the workplace, at traffic lights.  We even install them to our homes and inside our motor vehicles.

All right, we know they are there for the prevention of crime such as attacks, bank robberies and shoplifting but they are watching us nevertheless.

We might all feel a sense of paranoia if we know we are being watched and even if we do not know.  That is spying plain and simple.

A criminal can easily build up a detailed profile of a persons lifestyle with the intent of burgling their home when they are out (or even when they are at home sleeping), stealing their car or emptying their bank account online.

We have all watched movies such as James Bond where the spying can be done by a contrapcion or device, not always done in person.  They can be very difficult to detect.

What about voyeurs?

The French coined phrase refers to the folk who are viewing you for personal pleasure and sexual gratification than for a legitimate purpose.  In public toilets, hotel rooms, car parks, even in your own house or car.

What of the Peeping Tom?  Someone who intrudes upon your privacy by peeping or spying on you from a distance.

There are those among us of extrovert nature who are attention-seeking and enjoy the thrill of being watched.  You would say that of professional entertainers such as actors, magicians, comedians and circus performers who are in the public eye and for whom being watched is part of the job.

Whoever Big Brother is, we are constantly reminded that Big Brother is there.

So the question remains – Who is watching us?

Aliens perhaps from another planet and universe.

Might you well wonder!

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THE JAILBIRD OF ALCATRAZ

This is an English language lesson and the keywords of the lesson are highlighted in bold.

So let me begin.

I am a jailbird and I want to tell you my incredible true story.

I am one of the few prisoners to have ever escaped from Alcatraz, probably the worlds most famous top security prison of all time.

Alcatraz is located on a tiny island in the middle of San Francisco Bay and is infamously known as the Rock.

It was America’s most feared prison for more than twenty five years.

Sean Connery made it famous in a 1990s Hollywood movie.

Famous detainees included the gangsters Al Capone, Jamie ‘Whitey’ Bolger and the man we know in stories as the Birdman of Alcatraz.

Escape was thought to be impossible but on the night of 12th June 1962, I managed it with the assistance of two cell-mates.

Not until a quarter past seven the following morning did a prison guard realize that three prisoners were missing from their cell and raise the alarm.

The prison guards and police started a huge manhunt and continued the search for weeks afterwards.

We would never be captured.

So how was it done?

We used spoons to dig holes in the air vents in the backs of our cells.

While two of us were digging, one of us would play the accordion to cover up the sound.

We made paper-mache heads with newspaper and glue, painted them and attached hair.

We put other pillows on the bed under the sheets to look like a body.

We climbed the pipes in the utility corridor to get to the top of the cell block and climb out of the vent.

We left the island on a raft we had made using raincoats.

The accordion was used to blow up the raft quickly.

I like to think that the prison closed in 1963 because my co-escapees and I a year earlier proved a point but we all know that the real reason was because the prison was just was too expensive to run.

Today the prison on Alcatraz is a popular Museum and tourist attraction.

Some thirty years after my escape, I have returned, incognito of course, to Alcatraz island.

I have paid my admission money and taken the guided tour, even asked questions to the well-informed guide.

Selfies have been posted on social media showing me in places which serve as memories to this day.

How intriguing it was to listen to the tour guide explain how I escaped that night and what might have become of my cell-mates and I.

Did I drown in the icy cold waters?  Did I have an accident during my escape?  Was I actually shot dead and there is a cover-up story?  Did I make it to Brazil or some other far-flung place?

For the record I suppose, I am still a wanted man according to the FBI and I am still a fugitive.

Today, I consider myself a free man and to me, Alcatraz represents freedom and liberty.

You do not need to know my name then or now.

You just need to know what I did and why I did it.

Long Live the Rock!

IT’S A CRIME

This is an English language lesson where we look at crime and and describe it.

The keywords of the lesson are highlighted in bold.  They should be practiced and learnt.

First of all, what is a crime?

Well, a crime is a wrongdoing.  It means an offender has broken the law and should be punished.

Throughout life but especially so in childhood, we are taught by our parents, teachers and other servant guardians of the community the differences between right and wrong.

We commit a crime and are apprehended, caught red-handed so to speak.

We are arrested by a police officer, charged with an offence against the law, possibly detained in a jail, considered a suspect for the crime while the crime is investigated by a detective.

Witnesses make statements about the crime and forensic DNA or fingerprinting analysis is carried out at the scene of the crime..

Eventually, we face a trial in a courtroom based on the evidence.

Depending on the severity of the crime, we are sentenced for a period of time in prison, fined a sum of money or ordered to do community service.

Our fate is decided by a Judge and Jury.

We might  have a good defense to the charge levied against us.

We might get a reprieve by way of a suspended sentence, a sort of second chance.  The punishment will only become activated if the offence is repeated.

We are represented in the courtroom by a lawyer who mitigates our plea and who provides information of any alibi which verifies that we could not possibly have done the crime as alleged by the prosecution.

If found guilty, showing regret and remorse are important factors in persuading the Judge to show leniency in the conviction.

In summary, keep this in mind..  If you break the law, it’s a crime.  So be a good citizen and don’t break the law.

Not only that.  If you see or know of a crime being committed, report it to the police and play your part in bringing the offender to justice.

 

WHAT’S A CRIME?

Let’s take a look in this lesson at the different types of crimes.

In the simplest terms, a crime can be committed against a person or property, against someone or something.

The keywords of the lesson have been highlighted in bold.  They should be practiced and learnt.

One of the most common crimes committed is stealing something which does not belong to us.

Stealing is theft, no two ways about it and if you take it, you are a thief.

Shoplifting is a form of theft, taking or lifting something from a shop shelf without having the intention to pay for it.

Easy pickings you might think but not with so many security cameras, cctv surveillance about the place, presence of store detectives and electronic price tagging of goods.

Hands up who is not afraid of being mugged in the street by an offender who sees opportunity to take your money, your bag or your cellphone?

Or who has not been a victim in some shape or form of having something taken from you by a pickpocket while travelling on public transport or while congregated in a crowded area?

Literally, the act of having something picked out of your pocket without you knowing it.

The enterprise of the pickpocket is never better typified than in Charles Dickens’ book and later film ‘Oliver Twist’ set in victorian London.

I have a confession to make.  I stole apples from the trees in the orchard near to my house. as a ten year old kid.  Actually I got caught by the orchard owner who dunked my head in a barrel of water.

Did my punishment fit the crime?

Anyway, I can honestly say, hand on my heart, that I have never broken in and burgled a house, nor have I ever robbed anyone or anything, though films like ‘Now You See Me’ lead me to border-line temptation.

Robbery is much more serious than Burglary because it involves violence and so therefore hurt and injury to another person while committing the act of theft.

Alas, we have all watched films about bank robberies and art or gold bullion heists.c

Assault is, unfortunately, commonplace and again I ask; hands up who has not been threatened or been beaten up by the school bully in childhood?

Killing someone, taking life, is a whole different ‘ball game’ and an offender can expect a long prison sentence for the crime if you are convicted.

Few countries these days apply corporal punishment for the most serious of crimes such as terrorism, treason, murder, rape or fraud but hanging, beheading, lethal injection, the electric chair and being shot are still practised.

A criminal may be gulty of causing damage to property by an act of arson, graffiti defacing or vandalism.  Setting fire to a building, breaking a window, writing on a door, window or other structure, destroying a book, can all be considered as examples as criminal damage.

All crimes are, of course, illegal acts and therefore fundamentally wrong.

It does not mean, however, that all crimes merit or deserve punishment to the Court.

Some crimes are so petty, the offender is likely to be let-off with just a caution, ticking-off or a warning and perhaps a clip of the ear!

Accidents happen, accepted and we do not always have intention to do something wrong.

As a final footnote to this lesson, my message is to live by the letter of the law and do not break the law or accept the consequences.

Are You Being Watched?

                                                                                ARE YOU BEING WATCHED?

The question I am asking here is – Are you being Watched?  In fact, are you even remotely aware that you are being watched?  Is it ‘Big Brother’ watching you or is it something or someone else?

We might all feel a sense of paranoia if we know we are being watched and even if we do not know.

Our Privacy is a big issue these days and we do what we can in order to ensure that we maintain a private life beyond the snooping lenses of photographers, the investigative mind of a story-seeking journalist, a nosy neighbour or a distrusting family relative?

The problem is very much where to draw the line in the sand.  If you are a public figure, you must expect that your private life is going to be prevailed upon much more than if you are an ordinary not famous at all person who is just living their ordinary everyday humdrum life.

So who is watching us and why?

As children, we are watched over by our parents and guardians, babysitters, nannies and other carers, religious do gooders.  We are not yet capable of independently managing our lives.

Wherever we go in our towns and cities, there are surveillance cameras in place essentially for the prevention of crime such as Bank robberies and Shoplifting but they are watching us on camera nevertheless and even though this is considered by most to be a legitimate watching of our activities, it is still intrusive.  Security Guards are employed by Corporate institutions and large office blocks to monitor who comes and goes.  Remember at school the school register?  It is a document of record .

Who else is watching us?  Might you wonder!

Not all the watching of our activities is visual.  Our activities are monitored behind the scenes, every time we fill out a form with our name, address and our personal details, every time we use an ATM Debit or Credit Card, every time we make a telephone call, receive or send a text message or email, log on or off to the computer, buy or sell a product, come or go from our home.  Information is valuable and law and order must prevail but does it justify the creation of a system, which I shall call ‘Big Brother’ for want of another name, whereby every one of us is being tracked for lifestyle irregularities, criminal activities.  They may or may not be the same thing.  What if you are being watched by aliens from outer space?

Every resident or citizen is accountable to the laws of the country where he or she lives, this is undeniable.  We are all watched over by the guardians of our nation – from the armed forces to the police, from private security personnel to vigilantes.

What about the private investigator?  Are you a cheating husband or wife?  Have you doing things in your workplace which you should not such as stealing stationary, work products or availing yourself of the facilities at the workplace such as the internet, telephone calls?  If a child of yours was about to enter into an dubious marriage with someone, is it not unreasonable to want to check them out?  Being followed, having your phone (or your car tapped with a wire or other gadget).  Being watched at a distance  by someone with a zoom lens camera.  There are many ways, in fact, a Private Investigator might be able to watch you and you will never realize it.

So who is watching on the Internet?

We all endeavour to use the Internet in a responsible way, browsing and surfing, copying and pasting, clicking and registering etc.  Ebay is an example of a website where we could be watched.  Yes okay, it is not you personally being watched but the product or service you are selling but nevertheless, it is another spin on the concept of being watched which you may not have accounted for.

What about Voyeurs?

This French coined phrase refers to the folk who are viewing you for personal pleasure rather than for a legitimate purpose.  The voyeur may operate with or without a camera.  Another common term to refer to such a person is ‘Peeping Tom’ which implies that you are intruding upon the privacy of another person by peeping or spying on them through a window or from a distance.  The Voyeur will most likely be sexually motivated and  get a ‘kick’ about watching you undress in the bedroom or even using the bathroom.  It is even possible for the voyeur to watch you through a modern cell phone or electronic device such as a computer or laptop.

The voyeurism may not be limited to your own home but could be happening in the most unsuspecting of places such as public toilets, Hotel rooms, Car Parks.  Even in your own motor car!

There is another purpose to the voyeurism besides sexual gratification.  A detailed profile can be built up of your lifestyle by a criminal who may have the intent of engaging in a criminal act against you.  Burgling your home when you are not there.  Emptying your Bank Accounts online.

The Mother who is breast-feeding her baby in a public place will no doubt be aware of watching eyes but she chooses to be oblivious to it.  There are those among us of extrovert nature who are attention seeking and enjoy the thrill of being watched.  In some distances, depending on our appearance or what we are doing, not so much watched as stared at disbelievingly and gorped at.

Let us not overlook mentioning those who  are performers such as actors comedians magicians artists singers dancers and are being watched by an audience.  A performance can, of course, be watched on any public stage such as a theatre, seen in a cinema film or TV programme or nowadays broadcast over the Internet using a computer or smartphone.

Everyone is entitled to privacy in their daily life.  The price of that privacy should not be costed.  Our private life is our own affair and not for public consumption.  Defining what is rated for public interest is another matter.  So – who’s watching us?