Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "John Roberts: Bush's pick," July 30, 2005

Infamous footware

She may not be Imelda Marcos, but she's getting close. The AFP news service reports that the average British woman spends more than $54,000 on shoes during her lifetime. The survey, conducted by the Churchill Home Insurance group, also found that one-third of British women have 25 or more pairs of shoes, 60 percent have at least 10 handbags, and 80 percent have at least 10 belts.

French roast

Forget global terrorism or rampant European unemployment. What's really important to French President Jacque Chirac is scoreboarding the United Kingdom. Mr. Chirac chose Bastille Day to declare that the French have no need to "envy or copy" Great Britain's culture. The remarks came weeks after the French president roasted British cuisine, calling it among the world's worst. But the United Kingdom picked up an unusual ally in the verbal spat with Mr. Chirac: A provincial governor in Japan recently sparked controversy when he suggested that French is "a failed international language" because it can't be used to count numbers very well. In French, some numbers prove burdensome. Ninety, for example, translates in French as "four-twenty-ten."

Sydney wanted crackers

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When Michael Toth's $1,200 parrot, Sydney, flew the coop, he painted the neighborhood with fliers informing neighbors of the 3-year-old macaw's disappearance. The plan worked, too. Tina and Clay Putnam spotted the bird on a railing in their backyard. While one sped to the phone to call Mr. Toth, the other worked a plan to keep the parrot from flying away again. What kept Sydney the parrot perched? Crackers, which Mr. Putnam fed the parrot continuously until its owner arrived.

Drunk rider

Fictional cowboys never have to contend with such a law, but Millard G. Dwyer of Somerset, Ky., found out last month that drunk-driving laws apply regardless of vehicle. Police pulled over and arrested Mr. Dwyer for riding his horse drunk. A breathalizer showed Mr. Dwyer's blood-alcohol level near 0.111 percent, well above the state limit of 0.08. The drunken rider wasn't hard to spot. Authorities pulled him over while he was holding up traffic on a state highway by weaving his horse across the lanes.

Free ride

Melissa Chavez of Santa Fe, N.M., wanted a ride, but not the one she got when she flagged down a cop. Police say the 26-year-old outlaw hailed a squad car like a taxi and asked the officer for a ride despite having an outstanding warrant for her arrest. After running a background check, the officer took her directly to jail.

Blast from the past

Thorsten Jahn says he "wanted to preserve the past in an original way," so the German man and a friend hit upon a unique idea: canning the noxious-smelling exhaust from a communist-era Trabant car and selling it online. The Reuters news service reports that the pair made 1,800 cans and is selling them quickly for $4.81 a can. Mr. Jahn says "Trabi" fumes are a vanishing resource: "The smell is something very special and scarce nowadays."


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