Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Into the light," Dec. 3, 2005

ID tag

For shame: A Florida state senator wants to use embarrassment as a tool against drunken driving. Mike Fasano proposed that license plates issued to drivers convicted of drunken driving offenses should begin with "DUI" and be pink. "Maybe it will embarrass people and keep them from drinking and driving," Mr. Fasano said. "Maybe they'll think twice." Of course, the ACLU disagrees. Larry Spalding, a legislative counsel for the group, said it opposed anything that would heap ridicule atop punishment for drunk drivers.

Moon shot

One Chinese real estate firm is looking for lunatics in the strict sense. A company calling itself the "Lunar Embassy to China" has sued the Chinese government after it blocked the group from selling real estate plots on the Moon. In the company's first three days of business, it had sold 49 acres of lunar land to 34 clients. Until Chinese authorities shut it down for profiteering and speculation, the Lunar Embassy was charging about $40 per acre, plus mineral rights.

Canine rescue

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A dog may be man's best friend, but researchers for the American Heart Association believe a dog may actually be a heart's best friend. Researchers say spending time with a docile pup helps quell anxiety and could actually help in the recovery period for heart patients. The study found that petting a dog-even more than visiting with another human or being left alone-helped reduce stress and lower levels of harmful hormones. "They make people happier, calmer, and feel more loved. That is huge when you are scared and not feeling well," said Kathie Cole, a registered nurse at the University of California Medical Center in Los Angeles who led the study.

Jersey humor

New Jersey may be tired of being made fun of, but a recent campaign to spruce up the state's image with a new slogan might not be having its intended effect. While a vast majority of the slogan suggestions from New Jersey citizens have been positive, some have reflected a sarcastic flair for self-denigration. Slogans perpetuating New Jersey's image of political corruption probably won't help the state's tourism business. "New Jersey: We can always use another relative on the payroll," and "Why should death end your voting rights?" were two entries that probably won't get much consideration. Neither will one suggestion that heaped scorn on the state's environmental record: "Come to New Jersey-it's not as bad as it smells."

Long tenure

Albina Cruces Vazquez worked longer than most folks live. After 85 years teaching schoolchildren in Mexico City, Ms. Cruces has decided to call it quits. After all, she's now 102-decades past the time when most people retire: "I don't want to go into retirement, but it is time to give way to some new ideas."

What's in a name?

Residents of Clark, Texas, love television. So much, they were willing to rename their city Dish, Texas, in order to get free television from DISH Network, a satellite television provider. "I'm sure there are some people who are attached to the name (Clark), like the man who founded the town and named it after himself," Mayor Bill Merritt told AFP. "At the meeting last night we had no naysayers." In fact, 12 people-about 10 percent of the town's population-showed up to support the measure.

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