Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Considering the heavens," Jan. 24, 2004

Charter miscommunication

Timothy Dumouchel doesn't want his MTV, or any other cable channel for that matter. The Wisconsinite is threatening to sue Charter Communications because, he says, the company has turned his entire family into "lazy channel surfers" against their will. Mr. Dumouchel says he told Charter to discontinue his cable service in August 1999, and while the company did stop billing him, the cable service continued, even after repeated requests to shut it down. He now says the resulting TV addiction harmed his family: "I believe the reason I smoke and drink every day and my wife is overweight is because we watched TV every day for the last four years." Charter official John Miller said his company's product is good, but "I don't think it's reached a medical level yet where it could be proved to be addictive." The remedy Mr. Dumouchel seeks won't exactly get him and his wife out of the house: He says he'll drop the complaint in exchange for free lifetime internet service from Charter.

Wave of courage

After 13-year-old surfer Bethany Hamilton lost her arm during an October shark attack, she called the incident "God's plan for my life" and said she was "going to go with it" (Quotables, Dec. 6). Just 10 weeks later, Miss Hamilton showed what she meant by placing fifth in her age group in the National Scholastic Surfing Association meet in Hawaii on Jan. 10. Bobbi Lee, the NSSA Hawaii Conference director, says she offered to give the surfer extra time between heats, but Miss Hamilton refused: "She said she wanted to be treated like anybody else."

Dutch decency

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The Dutch government may allow drugs, euthanasia, and prostitution, but it does have some standards. The Reuters news service reports that the Dutch Finance Ministry has ordered employees not to wear white socks because they "transgress the limits of decent dress behavior." An internal memo encouraged ministry employees to dress in a way that conveys "reliability and professionalism."

British invasion

Would you trust Bill Clinton to repel an invasion? The Reuters news service reports that the mayor of the English town of Sandwich last week nominated the former U.S. president to be Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, an honorary military position that dates back to 1226 and technically carries the responsibility of protecting England's southeast coast. But in making the nomination, which awaits approval from the prime minister and the queen, Mayor Joe Trussler seemed to hope that Mr. Clinton would prompt an invasion. "He plays golf and the Americans love British history," the mayor said, "so he may draw greater tourism."

Running scared

Police in northern Denmark received a panicked call shortly after the theft of a car last week-from the thieves who stole the car. The Berlingske Tidende, a local paper, reports that the car's owner witnessed the theft and gave chase in another car. The two thieves, who confessed over the phone, apparently preferred facing the police rather than their victim.

Another name dropper

Surveillance cameras may not have been clear enough to finger Alfred Pleasant Hemric Jr. as the alleged robber of a Salisbury, N.C., bank earlier this month, but Mr. Hemric made sure police knew who their man was. In his rush to leave the scene, he apparently dropped his wallet, which included his driver's license. Witnesses identified the man on the license as the one who displayed a semi-automatic handgun and demanded money from a teller.

Laughing matter?

Step aside, Tim Russert, many young adults apparently consider Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, Jay Leno, and David Letterman to be authoritative news sources. A Pew study of how people obtain political news finds that one in five of those under 30 get their information from comedy TV shows. The study also shows that one-third of the population obtains political information from the internet.

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