Some South African ATMs have pepper-spray squirters that are intended to debilitate anyone who tries to tamper with them or install a card-skimmer. The idea is that spray incapacitates you while the cops come out. Unfortunately, they've also been known to incapacitate the poor bastards who install them by randomly firing capsaicin at them.
The extreme measure is the latest in South Africa's escalating war against armed robbers who target banks and cash delivery vans. The number of cash machines blown up with explosives has risen from 54 in 2006 to 387 in 2007 and nearly 500 last year.
The technology uses cameras to detect people tampering with the card slots. Another machine then ejects pepper spray to stun the culprit while police response teams race to the scene.
But the mechanism backfired in one incident last week when pepper spray was inadvertently inhaled by three technicians who required treatment from paramedics.
Nelson E. Ross’s “small booklet” sets out the principles of sending telegrams “in the most economical manner possible,” so you can take full advantage of a communications medium that “annihilates distance and commands immediate attention.”
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