Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "Street theater," Sept. 30, 2006

Dutch elms

These days, everybody is looking up to the Dutch. That's because they're taller. After a 150-year growth spurt, the Netherlands is the tallest nation on Earth with an average male height at just over 6 feet while Dutch women stand on average at 5-foot-7. Researchers attribute the height to a wealthy society that affords its children protein-rich diets and infant pampering.

Texas travelers

Armadillos aren't just Texas novelties anymore. The armored mammals have scurried as far north as Nebraska and have become common roadkill on byways in southern Illinois. Scientists who study animal behavior say the lack of natural predators in the North make it a sensible destination for a vagabond armadillo. But scientists questioned exactly how the armadillos have made it that far north and how they managed to cross the Mississippi river into Illinois and other states. Some insist the armadillos were introduced into other states by humans, while others contend the pests either managed to stow away on barges or trains or possibly even walked the hundreds of miles to Illinois.

Name dropper

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Fire investigators in Wisconsin didn't have much trouble solving an arson case in Waukesha. Especially not when the arsonist left behind his birth certificate. Armed with the birth certificate tip, authorities arrested a 19-year-old man for an arson that burned through a portion of a telecommunications business. No word yet on exactly why the man decided to bring his birth certificate to the crime scene.

Video game

A Houston civic activist's plan to sue the city over traffic video cameras backfired. County bondsman Michael Kubosh intentionally ran a red light at an intersection with a camera, expecting to be ticketed based on video evidence. Next, Kubosh planned to sue the city, saying dispensing red-light tickets based on video evidence runs contrary to state law. But instead of getting his chance to sue, a beat cop saw him run the red and gave him a ticket-ruining his legal case.

Artistic license

For all those who had planned on filing a request with the city of Los Angeles for a permit to paint an elephant: It's too late. A city agency said it would no longer issue elephant-painting permits after a performance artist's display of a painted elephant caused animal-rights activists to complain loudly. The artist had used the elephant as a sort of "elephant in the room" as he spoke out about poverty. The new policy now means all Angelinos will share in the lost privilege of being able to rent an elephant and paint it.

Car trouble

Think finding your car in a parking lot is difficult? One British man forgot where he parked his car and just recently found it after a seven-month search. Eric King, 57, parked his car on a residential side street in Suffolk in February. When he came back to retrieve his Ford Focus, he couldn't find it. The man returned 10 times from his home over 60 miles away to search for the auto. Eventually, residents on the street got suspicious and reported the abandoned car to authorities, who then alerted King.

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