Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "Our pork," Dec. 8, 2007

Sing along

If a group of Thai generals get their way, motorists in the Asian nation will soon have to stop twice a day while loudspeakers in parks and buildings across the country blare the Thai national anthem. Sensing a lack of patriotism, Thailand's military elite already succeeded in getting the 68-second anthem played at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. every day. The bill proposed to the nation's parliament would require drivers to participate. But at the risk of alienating the nation's military junta, lawmakers concerned about extra traffic jams are quietly trying to pigeonhole the idea.

Crop collapse

A dysfunctional grain silo caused a mess for one Iowa family as scary as it was corny. Jesse and Jennifer Kellett were relaxing at their Hillsboro, Iowa, home with their two children when a neighboring grain bin gave way and spilled 500,000 bushels of corn-much of which filled up the Kellett's home and threatened to crush the trapped family of four. Mother Jennifer and daughter Sheyanne crawled to safety, but rescue workers had to work for hours to dig out Jesse Kellett and his 11-year-old son, Jordan. The impact of the collapse was felt for miles: "When it happened, my house shook, and I'm clear on the other end of this town," Hillsboro resident Naomi Sanderson told the Burlington Hawk Eye.

Burning issue

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Thankfully, Southern California doesn't get that cold anyway. But should certain Golden State residents wish to burn some logs in the fireplace, they might need to check with state pollution authorities first. With federal air-quality deadlines looming, officials with the South Coast Air Quality Management District are considering an outright ban on fireplaces in new homes built in Los Angeles County, Orange County, and parts of two other Southern California counties. With the region lagging behind benchmarks set by federal clean-air standards, the environmental agency has also proposed requiring homeowners to pay for $3,600 in pollution-control devices or to close up their chimneys before completing the sale of a house.

Leaving a mark

A would-be kidnapper got an arm full of lead when he tried to pull a Tucker, Ga., teen into a van near Tucker Middle School on Nov. 19. According to police, two men in a van tried to kidnap the 14-year-old girl who was returning from dance practice. Police said the quick-thinking girl managed to escape when she impaled one of the men in the arm with a sharpened pencil. The girl's mother credited God for her daughter's survival. "I thank my Father that's she's home," Allicia Brown said. "I'm glad that she just didn't become a victim and let them take her. She is a very strong, strong baby."

Speaking terms

Few family feuds could have implications more dire than the dispute between two elderly Mexican brothers believed to be the last two native speakers of the ancient Zoque language. Mexican linguists say if the two 70-year-old brothers don't bury the hatchet soon and talk to each other, the pre-Columbian indigenous language could become lost forever. As one last desperate measure, linguists studying the Zoque language plan on recording the two men telling stories separately.

Eating leftovers

What can gross out a 10-year-old boy? Discovering he wasn't the first person to bite into his dinner. David Walker, a 10-year-old Briton from Gloucestershire, bit into a small sausage only to discover the small, hard object in his mouth was actually a human tooth-and it wasn't his. The discovery of another human's baby tooth in his sausage was enough to send the boy bolting from the table. "It was a pretty gross moment," father Andrew Walker told the Daily Mail. "David ran upstairs and cleaned his teeth because he was so upset. Nobody else finished their meal."

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