Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Iraq: Terror without end," Oct. 2, 2004

What a drag

Just as easily as following breadcrumbs, police on Sept. 19 followed drag marks to the house of a man who they say had stolen pieces of machinery from a lumberyard five blocks away. The Milwaukee, Wis., man, whom police did not identify, allegedly stole nearly $5,000 worth of equipment, including an engine, transmission, and the scoop end of a front-end loader. The hulking loot apparently dug grooves in the road as the man pulled it back to his home.

Scorpion queen

After 32 days and seven stings, Nur Malena Hassan of Kuantan, Malaysia, has reclaimed the world record for most time enclosed in a room with thousands of scorpions. Ms. Nur Malena began her record attempt in August when she entered a locked glass box with more than 6,000 of the arachnids at a local shopping mall (see Quick Takes, Sept. 4, 2004). She built up a resistance to scorpion stings during five years of training but still passes out if stung more than three times in a short period.

Vanity, vanity

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The price of Holland's famous "free-love" lifestyle is often an unhappy sex life, according to a survey of more than 1,000 Dutch singles. The poll, conducted by the online journal Mvlife, found that less than one-fifth of Dutch singles said they are happy with their sex lives and two-thirds said married couples are happier. About half of Dutch single men and a third of Dutch single women reported having regular one-night stands.

Wake-up call

A Sept. 16 phone call from Dane Squires of Toronto came as a surprise to his daughter Trina. The reason: She was attending his funeral at the time. Relatives believed that a train had run over Mr. Squires on Sept. 10; the badly mutilated corpse resembled the retired welder, and his sister had identified the body as his. It wasn't his body, though, and Mr. Squires learned of the mix-up by reading his own obituary in the newspaper. When he called his daughter to clear things up, she thought a ghost was talking to her, said her uncle, Gilbert Squires: "She totally, totally lost it."

Dog food

Boshintang, or dog soup, is a Korean delicacy, but three workers at a car rental agency in Seoul may have gone too far when they made the dish at work last month. The problem: They used their employer's pedigreed Jindo dog for the soup, and the boss is now suing them for $70,000. The AFP news service reports that the dog had been tethered in the company parking lot when the men decided to make the dish.

Swedish sick day

Apparently, being sick of work is enough reason to call in sick in Sweden. A government poll found that 65 percent of Swedes believe that they can call in sick and receive state benefits because of stress at work. Forty-one percent said conflicts with co-workers entitled them to a sick day with benefits, while 40 percent said feeling tired was a good reason to stay home. Swedish welfare authorities are reportedly getting sick and tired of such excuses. Anna Hedborg, director of Sweden's National Social Insurance Board, wrote in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper that officials would make clear that sick-day policies have limits: "People should really know sick leave is linked to sickness."

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