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Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "What is art?," March 20, 2004

Lesson learned

Ayrton Steenhout's mother knows her son is paying attention at school. A few days after learning first aid in class, the 11-year-old Belgian boy had to use the training to resuscitate his mother, who had collapsed with a heart attack during a family outing. His mother is now fine, and Ayrton is shunning any glory. "I'm no hero," he told Het Laatste Nieuws. "I just did what I had to do."

Out with the new

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A new survey of British teenagers suggests that a strong rebellion is brewing against parents there, with children making a sharp, conscious break with their elders' beliefs. They are, in particular, embracing traditional marriage, drug laws, and patriotism. The Reuters news service reports that Bliss, a popular British teen magazine, polled 5,000 teenagers with an average age of 15. Among the findings:

• 92 percent hope to get married, and at an average age of 24.

• 70 percent think marijuana should not be legalized, and 84 percent believe criminal sentencing is too soft.

• 86 percent expressed pride in being British, with 87 percent opposing the Euro currency and over two-thirds worrying about more European integration.

"This survey is a damning indictment of the damage caused by the lax attitudes of adults inflicted on children," said Bliss editor Helen Johnson. "Young people like tradition and have passionate beliefs about the society they want to live in."

Fryer fire

The address must have sounded familiar when firefighters in Melbourne, Fla., received an emergency call on March 4. They apparently had failed to turn off a fryer as they raced to answer an earlier call, and a fire started at their own firehouse. After fighting the first fire, the men were summoned back to save their station. "We're human," said Chief Robert Apel, "and this kind of relays that to the public."

Leafy green gut

Memo to McDonald's customers who are concerned about their weight: Go easy on the salads. The Reuters news service reports that several options on the chain's new salad menu have more grams of fat than a typical McDonald's cheeseburger has. The "Caesar Salad with Chicken Premiere," for example, has 18.4 grams of fat, while the standard cheeseburger has only 11.5. The key, nutrition experts say, is to pick the right dressing.

All wet

Students and teachers at Taipei's Kungkuan Elementary School thought they had on campus environmentalists' version of holy ground: a "wetland." The school even received a $240,000 government grant to turn the wetland-a rarity in urban areas-into an "ecology park" for insects and butterflies.

But last month the wetland suddenly began drying up. A leak in the school's water pipes turned out to be the wetland's not-so-natural source. When water authorities discovered and fixed the leak, they also inadvertently closed down the ecology park. The school may lose its grant, but at least its water bill will drop. Authorities estimate that plugging the 27-year-old leak will lower the school's monthly water bill from about $1,200 to about $240.

Blamed four

The China Daily reports that officials in South China have stopped issuing license plates with the number four. They apparently believe that the number, which sounds like the word death in local dialects, may be associated with a rise in traffic accidents. Many buildings in the region do not have a fourth floor, according to the paper, and new cell-phone users can obtain compensation for choosing a number that ends with a four.

Picture this

It's not uncommon for someone with a camera to capture criminals on film, but usually the photographers aren't the criminals themselves. The Reuters news service reports that Michael Merritt, Wendell Mackey, and Darnell Robinson playfully snapped pictures of themselves as they drove around Atlanta in a stolen SUV-and then left the disposable camera in the vehicle. Police used the photos to find them, and early this month a jury convicted them of several crimes. Fulton County prosecutor Chris Toles didn't claim too much credit for the verdict: "They basically convicted themselves."

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