Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "Iraq and terrorism," Nov. 11, 2006

The ears have it

A mystery sound in Auckland, New Zealand, has made life unbearable for some residents with super ears. Scientists confirm the presence of an intermittent low-level drone sounding off at a frequency of 56 hertz. Very few people can hear sound waves of that frequency, but those who do report an annoying rumble like an airplane passing overhead. Scientists can't pinpoint the source of the noise, but one who has studied the noise says it's not a geological phenomenon. One man with exceptional ears even tried to intentionally damage his hearing by holding a chainsaw close to his ear in hopes of escaping the drone.

Selling strong

Elvis has left the top of the list. For years the king of rock 'n' roll had reigned atop Forbes.com's list of top-earning dead celebrities-a study that keeps track of post-mortem record sales, royalties, and licensing deals. Now dead grunge rocker and former Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain has supplanted Presley. According to Forbes.com, Cobain earned roughly $50 million between October 2005 and October 2006 while Elvis netted $42 million over the same period.

Disturbing the peace

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Stung by the experience, seniors at Liberty High School in Renton, Wash., will likely not soon forget what happened when they took their senior picture. Posed outside school, the photo shoot was interrupted when one student accidentally stepped on a huge yellow jacket nest. The ensuing swarm resulted in mass chaos, 44 stung students, and-according to a school district spokeswoman quoted in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer-a "fair amount of swatting and running." A beekeeper called to the scene left only after he filled up a 5-gallon barrel with parts of the yellow jacket nest.

Hunting trap

Some Wyoming hunters will have to pay for their quick trigger fingers. On Oct. 1, officials from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department set up a decoy bull elk alongside a road north of Pinedale, Wyo., and sat back and watched as nine of the 62 motorists who passed the elk stopped to shoot at it. Officials dished out fines to the nine poachers on charges ranging from shooting from the roadway to hunting out of season.

Another Model T

After 21 years, Ford Motor Company has finally ended an era and produced its last Ford Taurus. Ford sold close to 7 million Tauruses despite snickers from car review magazines that mocked the vehicle's "flying potato" styling. By 1992, the Taurus had become the top-selling vehicle in the United States, only to be supplanted by the Toyota Camry in 1997. For helping to save Ford from the doldrums in the 1980s, some automotive experts call the Taurus the most important vehicle since Ford's Model T.

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