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Stranger than Fiction

An interface of human frailties

THE GLOBE AND MAIL - Canada's National Newspaper

By Jack Kapica

THE Internet was, not too long ago, declared to be too technical for ordinary people. But anyone who has tried to nurse sick software or implant a new photo scanner without running into an organ-rejection problem, as Cyberia did last weekend, knows very well that computers can be as organic as the family dog and more human than a monosyllabic adolescent.

Lots of evidence has recently come to light to support this theory that computers are either organic or close enough to organic to be the same thing.

Take, for instance, the case of Andrea Lynn Vickery, a 34-year-old housewife living in San Antonio, Tex., who developed a too-human relationship with the Internet. Her husband divorced her and got custody of their six-year-old daughter because Mrs. Vickery had become so addicted to Internet "chat rooms" that she spent up to 16 hours a day on them.

But this was not the reason Mrs. Vickery came to be news. That process started when she used the chat rooms to look for a hit man to murder her former husband so she could get her daughter back (to join her in the joys of chat rooms, presumably). In November, she gave a $1,000 down payment to a retired U.S. soldier, Robert E. Lee Smith Jr., who called the police -- but only after he paid off his Visa bill with the advance and after his own wife accused him of seeing another woman.

Last week, Mrs. Vickery was fined $1,000 and ordered to perform 1,000 hours of community service by a Texas court. The intended victim is apparently still alive.

-- Cyberia appears every Friday. Jack Kapica may be reached at For previous columns and discussion forum go to


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