Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "When the base cracks," July 21, 2007

Last second

British grandmother Jenny Brown would be able to brag to her grandchildren about getting second place in a baking competition, except for one problem: She was the contest's only entrant. The 62-year-old Brown entered her Victoria sponge cake into a contest put on by the Wimblington Sports Committee, but judges marked her down because her cake had imprints from the oven rack. "The judges had an expectation and I suppose they didn't feel as though it qualified for first place," said a committee spokeswoman. It's not the first time Brown's baking has been rejected by judges. "About 11 years ago I entered a show with some fruit scones," she told the BBC. "I was the only entrant but I came third."

Brick outhouse

With digs like this, China's newly opened public restroom might just come to be known as the Royal Flush. With televisions, radios, and elaborate porcelain urinal sculptures, the new public facilities in Chongqing are fit for a king. And with 1,000 toilets spread through over 32,000 square feet and four stories, it's big enough for the king's army. An official with the city's tourist association hopes the public restroom becomes a tourist destination and has already submitted it to Guinness for consideration as the world's largest public restroom. "We are spreading toilet culture. People can listen to gentle music and watch TV," said local tourism official Lu Xiaoqing. "After they use the bathroom they will be very, very happy."

Desperate measures

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After failing 14 times to join the United Nations, Taiwan appears willing to try anything. The island nation off China's coast even seems willing to turn to famed goth-rocker Ozzy Osbourne for help. When not brain-addled from years of drug usage, Osbourne plans to help promote and manage a band that will tour around the world to raise awareness for Taiwan's attempt to join the UN. The band, ChthoniC, will play 80 cities worldwide, including 20 U.S. gigs that Osbourne will bankroll and manage. China has long blocked Taiwan's application because it sees the island nation as part of its sovereign territory.

Cats 'n' dogs

It's easy to understand how Tahoe the kitten got its name. Victoria, Texas, resident Eunice Collins discovered the kitten under the hood of her Chevrolet Tahoe when she heard it meow as she drove. Collins stopped the SUV and decided to take the kitten home, where the lucky engine-hog of a kitten quickly became attached to Collins' dog, a 3-year-old dachshund named Lillie. So close that after a few days, the kitten began to nurse on her adopted dog mother. Now, Collins reports, Lillie has gone into full-blown mother mode, nursing the feline orphan every morning and evening and after naps.

Bones to pick

Villagers in a central Chinese hamlet knew exactly what to do when they discovered dinosaur bones nearly two decades ago: Eat them. Mistaking the fossils for dragon bones with healing powers, the Henan province villagers began boiling the bones for soup and even grinding them to powder for medical remedies. Scientists have no idea how many fossils the villagers have consumed, but they announced this month that they were able this year to excavate a 60-foot plant-eating dinosaur shortly after arriving on the scene.

Little terror

She has more than five dozen offenses on her record-most for burglary-and her latest exploits involved a 50-minute car chase in May in which Australian police clocked her driving nearly 90 miles per hour in a stolen Toyota Land Cruiser. Yet, at most, she faces two months in detention. Why? Because she's 12. Australian law prohibits the release of the renegade Australian girl's name, but court testimony in July indicates the girl's mother blames her criminal behavior on poorly behaved cousins and the girl's abuse of paint solvent.

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