Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "Too close to call," Oct. 28, 2006

Scooby snack

Roll over, dog biscuits, and tell Fido the news: Pedigree and Good Humor have joined forces to create an ice-cream-sandwich dog treat. Since many dogs are lactose intolerant, the ice cream will be dairy-based, but not necessarily lactose-rich. And while Pedigree promises the treats will satisfy your dog's sweet tooth, the frozen treats actually have no added sugar (not ideal for human tastes).

Sharing the secret

With their numbers dropping to a 50-year low, the fraternal order of Masons has decided to begin recruiting. The move puts the Freemasons, a once-secret society, a bit further out in the open. And the efforts seem to be working. In Massachusetts, where the number of Masons dropped to about 42,000 last year, recruiting efforts seem to be finally attracting younger members to replace an aging populace. "There's definitely a mystique here," 31-year-old rock guitarist Nikki Stone told The Boston Globe while attending a recruiting event. "As a guy with a rock 'n' roll background, it seems cooler than the Knights of Columbus."

Ancient script

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Cursive is dying, and no one seems to care. Of the 1.5 million high-school students who wrote an essay for the SAT college prep tests this year, just 15 percent composed in cursive script. The rest used block print. Some elementary-school teachers report that handwriting lessons have been trimmed to just minutes, whereas until the 1970s penmanship was a class unto itself. According to handwriting teachers, students now are taught just enough cursive to understand how to read it.

Tea party

In seeming contradiction to common understandings of biology, Coca-Cola plans to release what it will bill as a negative-calorie beverage nationwide in February 2007. Coke says its Enviga Green Tea will actually burn calories, which, if true, will combine two fads (bottled green tea and weight loss) into what could become a mega fad. According to studies funded by Coca-Cola, drinking three bottles of Enviga a day will raise a person's metabolism enough to burn an additional 60 to 100 calories daily. Since each bottle contains 5 calories, drinking Enviga, according to Coke, will make you lose weight. Coke makes no promises about what sort of jittery mess you might become if you drink three bottles of the caffeine-laden Enviga.

Trust issues

When Congress created the $1 billon trust fund for World Trade Center rescue workers who got sick breathing in tiny particles of the rubble in the terrorist attack's aftermath, it may not have imagined the fund being so stingy. According to the New York Post, since opening for business, the trust fund has doled out $350,000 a year plus benefits for its administrator, Christine LaSala, who spent more than $550 an hour on senior-level attorneys working to deny over 5,000 claims.

Ripple effect

Even as "The Wave"-one of sport's most controversial fan diversions-turned 25 years old this month, its creator had to defend its honor against hard-core fans who find the rhythmic cheer distracting. "It's just a fun little thing," 62-year-old professional cheerleader George Henderson told the San Jose Mercury News. "And I'm glad I invented it." Popular history of the Wave holds that Henderson, known as the mascot Krazy George, started the Wave during an American League Championship Series game when the Oakland Athletics hosted the New York Yankees in 1981.

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