Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Abortion: Delta force," Jan. 22, 2005

"Warning" abuse

The winner of the wackiest consumer warning label of the year was found affixed to a toilet brush: "Do not use for personal hygiene." The caution took top honors in an annual contest by Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch to show how corporate liability-phobia results in the ridiculous. Ed Gyetvai, of Oldcastle, Ont., won $500 for the toilet-brush submission. Second prize, $250, went for a label on a children's scooter that said, "This product moves when used."

Snowfall windfall

South Texans considered a Christmas snowfall nothing short of miraculous, and where better to cash in on miracles than eBay? After a cheese sandwich bearing a reported likeness of the Virgin Mary sold for $28,000, Texas entrepreneurs scrambled to turn their record 1.5-inch snowfall into gold. A 23-year-old Brownsville man is asking $5,000 for a 3-pound snowball, while a seller in Corpus Christi priced a bowl of snow at $250,000. The bids so far: $5.50 for the snowball (plus $20 for shipping in dry ice), $0 for the bowl.

Big Bird diet

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Sesame Street muppets are ready to enlist in the war on fat with a new American Heart Association study showing 10 percent of kids ages 2 to 5 are overweight. As season 36 gets underway in April, producers promise more shows that stress exercise and a healthy diet. Cookie Monster will reportedly rap: "Taking only cookies all wrong, 'cause you also gotta eat fruit or veggies or meat-boiled or stewed, whole or chewed, you'd feel just great if you'd eat some healthy food." There's no word whether Big Bird is high in protein and low in fat, however.

Knowing left from right

Target's decision to ban Salvation Army bellringers from its stores may have cost the charity millions in donations, but one Florida woman did more than her part to make up for the shortfall. When a volunteer in Ft. Lauderdale opened a jammed coin-sorting machine over the weekend, she found a diamond engagement ring wedged into the mechanism. Salvation Army officials speculate the ring might be a gift from a jilted party trying to make the best of a bad breakup. Or, it could simply have slipped off the finger of a donor who intended to drop only a few coins into the kettle. A spokesperson said the rightful owner could reclaim it by describing certain identifying characteristics-if, as feared, her right hand didn't know what her left hand was doing.

Joke's on you

Harvey Kash, founder of the court monitoring group Americans for Legal Reform, should know when he's about to be outlawyered. Mr. Kash and a friend were arrested outside a courthouse on Long Island, N.Y., Jan. 10 on disorderly conduct charges. A lawyer standing near the pair in the screening line reported the two men to court authorities for "being abusive" and "causing a disturbance," according to a court spokesman. Their crime? Telling lawyer jokes too loudly.

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