Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "Can't run or hide," Oct. 14, 2006

Drag race

Forget giving female competitors performance enhancers like human growth hormones or steroids-why not just bring some natural testosterone to the team. That's what some competitors in China's Ethnic Minority Games must have figured. Complaints poured in after the female dragon boat racing event when, as Chinese paper Xinxua reported, some "big women with Adam's apples" were seen behind the wheel. An investigation revealed some competitors in the female event were men in wigs. Event officials blame subsequent mob violence on the cross-dressing fix and other cheating allegations.

Breaking into prison

A Florida teen may be sorry for what he wished. The 14-year-old boy staged an elaborate runaway attempt, leaving the country and flying back to Cuba to stay with his mother, according to his father, Cuban-born immigrant Alfredo Diaz. Diaz says his son somehow managed to buy a plane ticket to Havana over the internet and cleared customs with his immigration documents. Diaz thinks his son ran away after he became angry because his dad took away his computer and iPod privileges. The boy, who must not have read much about communism, apparently thinks life will be better in Castro's Cuba.

Border ball

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Mark it up to the law of unintended consequences. Where the border between the United States and Mexico intersects the Pacific Ocean, there's a beach with a fence dividing the two nations. And since there's a beach, there's volleyball. According to L.A. Weekly, beachgoers on both sides of the border have begun to use the fence as a volleyball net in what amounts to possibly the first true international volleyball game. Of course, the international border creates some unique problems. The fence is much, much taller than a normal net (no spiking over the two-story-tall fence) and there's no switching sides. Also, according to an interview in L.A. Weekly, Team USA player Brent Hoff openly wondered if a good volley between his squad and Team Mexico would amount to customs violations-since technically goods are being transferred across the border.

Everywhere you want it to be

When Stevens Creek Community Church in Augusta, Ga., had trouble raising funds during a building drive, Pastor Marty Baker decided people weren't giving because they didn't carry cash. Baker's uniquely 21st-century solution: Install "giving kiosks" at the church. Now when parishioners want to donate money, all they have to do is swipe a credit or debit card.

What a dope

Bradley Robinson of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, hatched an ingenious plan to try to convince police officers that the two pounds of marijuana he had been caught with weren't his. He told cops he actually stole the weed. Robinson apparently hoped his confession would angle him out of the possession charge. It didn't work. "If you steal it, you steal it and you possess it," a local district attorney said. "It's a double whammy."

What's eating the goats?

Once again, Chattanooga's kudzu-eating goats have made the news. Some locals were stirred into a panic when a young goat was suspiciously found dead in a Missionary Ridge roadside pen. Local officials released the goats to help control the spread of kudzu, a plant that has become the South's green scourge. Officials had feared wild animals had killed the young goat. And despite an examiner's report that the goat died of natural causes, officials released guard donkeys into the pen for protection. The idea of guard donkeys apparently isn't as crazy as it sounds. The two donkeys, officials say, will kick any predators that come close to the goats.

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