Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

"Quick Takes" Continued...

Issue: "Baghdad set free," April 19, 2003

Reptile in peace

If a dog can be a man's best friend, can a reptile be a woman's son? According to a 53-year-old Thai woman, the lizard she buried this month was the reincarnation of her son who died two years ago. When the monitor lizard followed Jamlong Taengnian home after her 12-year-old son's funeral, she believed her son had come back as the lost lizard. So when the reptile died, Ms. Jamlong held a formal burial. She even placed a photo of her dead son, Charoen, beside the reptile's lifeless body. Hundreds of well-wishers gathered for the service.

Beer nuts

Beer, baseball, and barbarian fans have long been a volatile mix, and the combination came to a head again last week in Chicago. Eric Dybas told police that he had been drinking all day before he rushed onto the field and attacked an umpire during an April 15 game between the Kansas City Royals and the Chicago White Sox. He was the fourth fan to run onto the field during the game. In a Royals-Sox game in Chicago last year, a drunken father and son also rushed the field and attacked Royals coach Tom Gamboa. Major league baseball executives last week promised to "spare no expenses" in beefing up ballpark security, but others in the sport admitted that extra security measures wouldn't guarantee safety. "You still couldn't prevent a person, one lunatic or whatever you want to call it, from trying to get his 10 seconds of fame," said Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry.

Dirty money

Criminals have long dealt in laundered money, but a thief in Goteberg, Sweden, tried his hand at vacuuming it. Goteberg police arrested 44-year-old Mikael Persson after they saw him use a vacuum cleaner to pull coins out of two of the city's parking meters. Mr. Persson used stolen keys to open the fronts of the meters, then vacuumed the coins out of their small holding areas, which cannot be reached by hand. When caught, he had $260 worth of coins in his pocket. But Mr. Persson has come clean: He pleaded guilty to the crime and awaits sentencing.

Cheaper than eviction

Douglas Rau has tried just about everything to get his due. Now he's trying bribery. The Massachusetts landlord with about 100 renters has started awarding prizes to tenants who pay on time. "It's pretty bad that you've got to do this to get people to do what they're already supposed to do on their own accord," Mr. Rau said. "But it seems like everybody thinks somebody owes them something." In Mr. Rau's first-ever renters' lottery, tenant Pablo Gallero won a four-day trip to the Bahamas. The package cost the landlord nearly $1,000-or one-fifth the court and repair cost of evicting a non-paying tenant. Mr. Rau said the first prize wouldn't be the last, as four tenants chronically late in their payments have forked over their rent money promptly.

Mama's boy

Tom Snyder of Murray, Utah, is a self-proclaimed atheist, but he wants to say a prayer to "Our Mother, who art in heaven," before a meeting of the Salt Lake City suburb's city council. The Utah Supreme Court this month decided to let him. If the city is going to have prayers before meetings, the court ruled in a 4-1 decision, then it must allow access to anyone who seeks it. Salt Lake City ended public prayer after a similar ruling in 1993.

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