Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Ten Commandments showdown," Aug. 30, 2003

Choosy mothers choose suitors

Many parents lament their daughters' taste in men, but Donna Wood of Southbridge, Mass., is doing something about it. Prompted by her 22-year-old daughter Kara's latest beau ("he was covered in tattoos, was a lot older than she is, and was just horrifying"), Mrs. Wood decided to find her a groom. She took out an ad in the local newspaper and put a sign in her yard calling for prospective sons-in-law to submit essays and photos. Mrs. Wood, her husband, and two family friends will then interview candidates, conduct criminal background checks, and pick one. The Woods will allow their daughter some input on the choice, but the committee will make the final call. "We have to make the decision because if there's one bad guy and one good guy," said Mrs. Wood, "she'll pick the bad one."

Stress test

Joy Connor is one committed scholar. The respiratory therapy student and expectant mother went into labor while taking the second of four final exams on Aug. 13 at Omaha's Metropolitan Community College. But instead of leaving for the hospital, she continued taking her exams, even when contractions were only five minutes apart: "After every question, I'd kind of sit there and breathe." Ms. Connor, who eventually went to the hospital after the tests and gave birth to a daughter, said she wanted to complete the exams so she could focus attention on her newborn child.

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Hassan Saeed Aksh of the United Arab Emirates never visited a hospital during his 120-year life, until the day he died. The Gulf News reports that Mr. Aksh made his first visit to a hospital last week in order to undergo a routine stomach operation but died a few hours later. His sons say their former diver father was fit and alert until the very end.

Discriminating Dane

The Danish pizzeria owner who refused service to French and German tourists because of their governments' anti-U.S. stand (WORLD, May 3) is about to do jail time for his stand. A Danish court last week gave Aage Bjerre a choice of punishments: a $780 fine or eight days in jail. He chose jail. With his restaurant permit in jeopardy, Mr. Bjerre this month sold his pizzeria and now plans to sell pizzas on the Internet: "My home page will clearly say: 'No pizzas for the French or Germans.'"

Head trauma

Police visited the Liverpool home of artist Richard Morrison after his house was burglarized, but they weren't at first interested in the burglary. The burglar himself had alerted them after he found in Mr. Morrison's home what he thought was a severed head, the Reuters news service reported. It was actually a work of Mr. Morrison's art-bacon wrapped around a wire frame in the shape of a head. Police say the burglar was so spooked by what he thought he had found that he confessed his crimes to his mother.

Pride before the capture

Byron Johnson was the most-wanted fugitive in Lincoln, Neb., until he decided to brag about it. Mr. Johnson had escaped from the state penitentiary on Aug. 13 and managed to elude authorities in Lincoln until Aug. 15. That's when he approached two strangers on the street, identified himself as the subject of the highly publicized manhunt, and asked for help in buying a gun, according to the Omaha World-Herald. When the two men asked him to prove he truly was escapee Byron Johnson, he went to buy a newspaper with his picture in it, giving the men time to call the local Crime Stoppers line. Half an hour later, two police officers caught him after a chase on foot. "We're not dealing with Harry Houdini here," Nebraska State Patrol Lt. Mark Funkhauser told the paper.

Daytime defenders

Sweden should be safe from invasion-between 9 and 5 on weekdays. The Reuters news service reports that Sweden's Social Democratic government last week ordered its military to operate only during office hours. The move was part of a money-saving plan that includes cutting fighter-plane patrols and keeping ships in port. A government commission recently concluded that Sweden faces little likelihood of military engagement.

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