Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Simpsons: Fair or Foul?," June 11, 2005

Bird battle

Tim Taylor, owner of Thruway Auto Glass in Syracuse, N.Y., has an animal to thank for his burgeoning business. A local woodpecker has been attacking its reflection in the side mirrors of cars, leaving vehicle owners to either cover up their mirrors or bring in their autos to Mr. Taylor for repair. "People come in pretty mad," Mr. Taylor said. "One guy's been in here three times already because he keeps forgetting to cover up the mirrors." Bird experts say the woodpeckers are just protecting their turf from foes, real or imagined. But that's no solace for Anne Miller. After having both the mirrors on her Pontiac Grand Prix shattered, she spotted a woodpecker attacking its reflection on a neighbor's Malibu. "I told him to shoo. He did. Then he came right back and finished the job," she said. "Instead of flying off, he walked across the windshield and did the passenger mirror. I was flabbergasted."

War of a lifetime

The war ended 60 years ago, but some soldiers might not have gotten the word. Japanese diplomats and journalists descended on Mindanao, Philippines, last month in search of two World War II holdouts. A Japanese lumber businessman reported seeing two men, believed to be Yoshio Yamakawa, 87, and Tsuzuki Nakauchi, 85, former members of Japan's 30th Division. The two men went into hiding because they feared courts martial after abandoning their units. Japanese officials say it could be a hoax but admit there are precedents for going AWOL so long. Many Japanese didn't surrender until 1948, three years following the end of the war. In March 1974, a Japanese intelligence officer came out of hiding on a tiny Philippines island.

Flower power

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This summer, a rather large flower will bloom in San Francisco. So what's the big stink? The flower. San Francisco's Conservatory of Flowers is hosting the annual blooming of titan arum-more commonly known as "corpse flower." The flower, now about five feet tall, is so named because its pungent odor smells like old, dirty, gym socks or rotting meat. Visitor Tricia Hall explained why visitors have swarmed the site in the days before the flower is set to bud: "We were able to enjoy it without being driven away" by the smell.

Memory trick

A Port Richey, Fla., music store manager was arrested by sheriff's deputies and charged with a felony after he sold 11 organs over 18 months to a 79-year-old woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease. The store manager, Scott L. Heyder, 36, charged the woman over $25,000-even selling her four organs in one day-but only ever delivered one. Mr. Heyder was charged with felony exploitation.

Bathroom break

Apparently equality in the bathroom runs on a 2:1 ratio. The New York City Council approved a measure in late May requiring many new and renovated buildings to have twice as many women's restrooms as men's. Council officials hope the ordinance will help ease the long lines that form for use of the women's restrooms. Dance halls, arenas, and sports stadiums will be the first to be forced to implement the Women's Restroom Equality Bill.

Heat stroke

England's grandfather of all clocks, Big Ben, survived Lufwaffe bombings but couldn't beat the heat. A heat wave in London with temperatures topping 90 degrees may have stalled Big Ben twice on May 27. The 147-year-old clock has had its problems through the years, stopping once in 1962, once in 1976, and twice in 1997. Engineers won't comment on what caused the clock to stop ticking, but previous stoppages have been weather-related.

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