Camera Unlost, But Not Quite Found

Status: True
Earlier today I read (via blogdex) the tale of a woman named Judith and her camera that was lost, then found, but still (paradoxically) remains lost. I thought it was interesting, but didn't consider it might be a hoax. However, several people have emailed me about it, so I thought I'd take a closer look at it. Here's the jist of the tale.

Judith lost her camera while on vacation in Hawaii. Back home she decided to create a photo blog of her vacation using pictures found on Flickr of the places she visited. About two weeks into this blog, she posts this message, explaining that she had received a call from a Hawaiian park ranger telling her that her camera had been found by a Canadian couple. Judith called the Canadian couple, only to learn that they didn't want to return the camera because their son (who happens to have diabetes) found it and now considers it to be his lucky camera. So Judith remains camera-less. The behavior of the Canadian couple has outraged netizens.

In terms of evaluating whether any of this is true, there's not, at first glance, much to go on. We kind of have to take Judith's word that what she's saying is true. But what I found most curious was how quickly Judith's blog went from being extremely obscure, to being all over the internet. Usually if you can figure out who's spreading a story, that will shed some light on whether or not a story is true. In this case, it wasn't hard to figure out how the story spread so far, so fast.

Following a chain of links soon led back to the well-known blogger Anil Dash, who seems to have been the first to post a link to Judith's lost-camera story. Boing Boing picked it up from him, and then it was all over the internet. Knowing this made it pretty easy to figure out that the Judith in question must be Judith Zissman, San Francisco artist and creator of (Anil mentions Judith Zissman elsewhere in his blog.) Judith is an artist, so maybe the lost camera blog is all an exercise in creative writing. (Wouldn't be the first time the internet has seen that.) But I doubt it. She seems fairly credible to me... and whether you believe the story is true all boils down to whether you believe Judith is telling the truth. I don't see any reason not to believe her. So for now I'm listing this as not a hoax.

(And in a separate story, Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing is now being threatened by someone claiming to be the lawyer of the Canadian couple that took the camera. But it doesn't seem to be a real lawyer... just some random crackpot trying to get attention.)

Exploration/Travel Law/Police/Crime

Posted on Tue Feb 21, 2006


I don't know about the blogs, etc, but if the story is true, a queue should be formed in which we could slap the couple repeatedly.
Posted by Mickyfinn  on  Tue Feb 21, 2006  at  09:32 AM
It plays into a universal fear of Canadians. All Canadians are evil, belive me. I mean, I am one. I'm sure evil!
Posted by Dracul  on  Tue Feb 21, 2006  at  01:16 PM
The couple who refues to return her camera should be turned into skinbags, they're trashing Canadians 'nice' reputation.
Posted by Zoe  on  Tue Feb 21, 2006  at  02:52 PM
This story is so boring I can't even.........zzzzzzzzzz
Posted by Lonewatchman  on  Tue Feb 21, 2006  at  03:28 PM
Blame Canada!
Posted by DJ  on  Tue Feb 21, 2006  at  03:41 PM
I believe this falls under the legal principle, "Finders keepers; losers weepers."
Posted by Joe  on  Tue Feb 21, 2006  at  04:11 PM
The ad hoc "finders keepers losers weepers" legal principle does in fact have de jeure relevance here, ipso facto the related but somewhat controversial "liar liar pants on fire" and "I know you are but what am I" also may apply, prima facie and depending upon circumstances.
Posted by UsuallyDark  on  Tue Feb 21, 2006  at  05:15 PM
I'm Canadian, and I am appalled that one of my own citizens would do this. This is theft. I empathize with this child, but nothing excuses this crime. Publish the names of the family, and see what they do once their friends know what kind of people they are.

I am also ashamed at the thoughts of so many of my American neighbours. Your suggestions only bring disrepute upon yourselves. I have to think that most of these ill-conceived thoughts come from a few immature young people who still haven't managed to grow up. One such person suggested
Posted by joe_canadian  on  Sat Feb 25, 2006  at  09:20 AM
Well, it not just finders keepers, its THEFT BY FINDING. If you find something that cannot be identified,like a $10 bill, fine its yours. When you keep something and you know the owner, that is THEFT! Lets hope nobody steals anything of theirs, because then they'll know exactly how it feels. The next time they go back to Hawaii, there will in all liklihood be a warrant to arrest waiting for them.
Posted by Art Arthrs  on  Mon Feb 27, 2006  at  09:18 AM
oh , i forgot, now their kid has this sense of entitlement, are they going to return the goods he shoplifts?
Posted by Art Arthrs  on  Mon Feb 27, 2006  at  09:50 AM
"Sorry, since he found the handgun he's been so happy with it we went and bought ammunition for it and paid for firing range lessons and a shoulder holster. It's a lucky gun. It would break his heart if we tried to take it away from him and he would likely kill us both. -- Oh -- you lost the camera? Never saw it, don't know what you're talking about." *click*
Posted by DJ  on  Tue Feb 28, 2006  at  08:43 AM
Where the story falls apart is that people who find a $500 camera and keep it do not inform park rangers of their find. They certainly would not give their name and address, or any other contact information such as an e-mail address, to the park rangers. The other dead giveaway is that the couple had to be Canadian or German or French, one of the countries which refused to participate in the Iraq misadventure. The whole thing is an experiment to see if people will believe lies, and apparently they will.
Posted by Bob  on  Fri Mar 03, 2006  at  01:38 AM
Just yesterday I red in the Toronto Sun (March 19th, 2006) that the camera WAS returned, along with a picture of Miss Zissman.
Not because of goodwill on the Canadian family's part, I'm sad and ashamed to say.

The Park Rangers found a law in which the Canadian family can be banned from EVER entering the states for removal of "property on National Park grounds", which they stretched to cover the camera.

So, they ponied up and gave Miss Zissman her camera back.
Posted by Shi-chan  on  Mon Mar 20, 2006  at  07:18 PM
I'm still not sure I believe the story. It's just not working for me. Anybody know how to check with the Park Service and see if all this stuff really happened? I'm not accusing Zissman; it just doesn't quite add all up. Maybe because, if true, the Canadian couple would turn out to be the most screwed up set of parents I've ever heard of. I have a 9-year old. Such a thing would never be an issue, with or without handicaps.

And, if they can afford a trip to Hawaii, and presumably a computer and/or printer to actually use the camera and burn photos to disc, how could they not at least have simply bought Zissman a new one if they really needed to hang on the "lucky" one? And the memory cards too? Just doesn't sound right.
Posted by DJ  on  Thu Mar 23, 2006  at  03:59 PM
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.