Dispatches > Quick Takes
Associated Press/Photo by Craig Ruttle

Quick Takes

Issue: "2011 Books of the Year," July 2, 2011

Apple of their eyes

Forget Times Square or the Empire State Building-according to one researcher, the most photographed object in Manhattan is the Fifth Avenue Apple Store. Digital cartographer and researcher Eric Fischer used mapping software to analyze pictures taken by New York City tourists to discover what most captured out-of-towners during their stays in the Big Apple. More popular than familiar icons, the transparent façade of Manhattan's Apple Store turned out to be the most photographed landmark on the island.

Sour Krauts

According to a survey of 30,000 users of the multilingual social networking website Badoo, the Germans have a lot to learn about making people laugh. Renowned for engineering, Germany was ranked last in a funniest country survey by the social networking website. "Germans are brilliant at so many things, including making cars and beating us at football. Unfortunately, telling jokes isn't always one of them," said a UK spokesman for Badoo.

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The 5 least funny nations (as rated by Badoo.com users)

  1. Germany
  2. Russia
  3. Turkey
  4. United Kingdom
  5. United States

Trump card

Donald Trump may be making waves in the United States for his foray into presidential politics or for eating pizza with a fork, but across the pond in Scotland, the flashy New York tycoon is known as something else-a bad neighbor. The U.S. real estate magnate has been waging turf war against an Aberdeenshire man whose property lies adjacent to Trump's newest project, a championship-level golf course in Balmedie. But in seeking more land for the sprawling project, Trump has attempted to buy out neighbors, including the 20-year home of David Milne, who has refused to sell.

In response, Trump has criticized Milne's home as an eyesore. And then, in May, contractors for Trump built a fence and planted trees around Milne's property to remove it from sight. Soon after, Milne received a $4,600 bill from Trump's organization-half the cost of the fence and tree project. But Milne told reporters that he's not budging. "There is no way I'm going to pay it," Milne (below) told a Scottish tabloid, The Daily Record. "As far as I'm concerned it's just another attempt to intimidate and bully me. But it's not going to work. I'm not paying any attention to it at all."

Udder madness

Possibly coming soon to Chinese grocery stores: human breast milk-produced by cows. Chinese scientists from Agricultural University in Beijing are close to marketing milk from genetically modified cows that is identical to human breast milk. To make the milk, researchers inserted human genes into cloned cow embryos that were then implanted into surrogate cows for birth. According to Sky News, the transgenic herd now numbers 300 and the milk produced by it is still undergoing safety testing.

Eat freaks

It was the unstoppable force versus the immovable object: a Denny's restaurant's steadfast promise to keep the flapjacks coming during its $5 all-you-can-eat pancake promotion versus the insatiable stomachs-and patience-of seven teenage boys from Orange County, Calif. The friends marched into the local Denny's and each ordered the all-you-can-eat pancake special, then attempted to defeat the promotion by spending the next 24 hours eating pancakes.

Orange County Reporter journalist Greg Hardesty, father of one of the boys, posted on his Facebook page: "They ate 301, averaging more than 14,000 calories per person-all for $5 each. They are establishing a new category for the Guinness Book of World Records." Each boy ate an average of 43 pancakes, and Hardesty later reported that one of the teen gluttons nearly fell asleep in the restaurant bathroom. Denny's employees, despite running out of pancake batter and having to make a run to the store to buy more, held true to the promise and managed to feed the teens into quitting after the day-long contest.

All that you can't leave behind

Law enforcement authorities will tell you that picking up hitchhikers is dangerous. But Edmonton Oilers center Gilbert Brule is probably happy he didn't take that advice. The 24-year-old professional hockey player was driving with his girlfriend, Kelsey Nichols, to take his dog to a local park near Vancouver on May 31 when the pair drove past two hitchhikers. From the passenger seat, Brule thought he recognized one of the hitchhikers as international rockstar Bono from U2.

After convincing his girlfriend to turn the car around, Brule's suspicions were confirmed: The U2 frontman was trying to thumb a ride with his assistant in West Vancouver. Bono explained that he and his friend had been out for a walk and then it began raining. He asked Brule and Nichols if they could drive him to Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver. The pair instantly obliged and spent the car ride fielding questions from Bono about Brule's hockey career. In appreciation, the U2 frontman rewarded Brule and Nichols with three tickets and backstage passes to U2's concert in Edmonton days later.

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