Dispatches > Quick Takes
Associated Press/Photo by Tammie Arroyo

Quick Takes

Issue: "Dead heat," Sept. 22, 2012

Bart in abundance

One reason among many the United States Postal Service has a hard time breaking even: It overrates its customers' love for The Simpsons, the long-running Fox cartoon. According to a recent Bloomberg report, the USPS still has more than 600 million commemorative stamps featuring characters from The Simpsons. The postal agency spent $1.2 million in printing costs for the 44-cent Simpsons stamps, but, while they were available for sale in post offices in 2009 and 2010, sold only a third of the 1 billion printed. A report by the inspector general notes that the USPS should scale down the first-run production of commemorative stamps and instead rely on second printings of high-demand products.

Sweet feed

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Joseph Watson's cows may be bound for the slaughterhouse, but until then, they're living the sweet life. That's because in the absence of reasonably priced corn feed, the Kentucky rancher has adopted candy as his animals' primary staple. Watson obtained low-grade chocolates rated as defective, but he says the sweets are viable as cattle feed: "It actually has a higher ratio of fat [than] actually feeding them straight corn," he told WPSD. And with corn prices as high as an elephant's eye, rejected candy is more cost effective also. Besides, the stomach of a ruminant seems like a more ecological destination than a landfill.

Bad sign

A Grand Island, Neb., school district has reportedly told parents of a deaf 3-year-old boy that he can no longer use sign language at school to say his name. The reason: The hand gesture violates the school's weapons policy. The school policy prohibits children from bringing to campus "any instrument … that looks like a weapon." Parents of deaf preschooler Hunter Spanjer said school officials objected when the sign language he used to make his name made his hands look like pistols. Hunter crosses his index and middle fingers and wags his hands to make the sign for his name, in accord with the sign language system Signing Exact English. A school spokesman responded by saying the sign was "not an appropriate thing to do in school."

Painting the town red

Tens of thousands of people in Bunol, Spain, were seeing red on Aug. 29. And they wouldn't have had it any other way. An estimated 40,000 people threw 120 tons of tomatoes at each other in the annual "Tomatina" battle, as the streets of Bunol became soaked in red paste. The traditional hour-long tomato toss, which now includes many tourists, reportedly got its start in a 1945 food fight among children.

Steve's wheels

Take away two of the zeros and it would still cause sticker shock. Setting a new world record for most expensive U.S. car sale, auctioneers in California gaveled away a 1968 Ford GT40 race car for $11 million. The powder-blue racer comes from an impressive product line. In the 1960s, Ford GT40s won the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race four times, ending Ferrari domination of the event. And the particular car sold by RM Auctions was used by Steve McQueen as a camera car in the movie Le Mans.

Pedal push

Motorists stuck in a morning traffic jam in Baton Rouge, La., on Aug. 22 may have seen something odd on Interstate 10: an adult riding a little girl's bike with a police escort. Surgeon Catherine Baucom was attempting to make her way to a local hospital for emergency surgery when she got stuck in the traffic jam. Thinking quickly, Baucom diverted her car, drove to a nearby friend's house and asked to borrow a bicycle. All her friend had was his 7-year-old daughter's one-speed. "It was hot pink and small," Baucom told WMOX. "The helmet was pink with princesses." But, it was enough. Baucom peddled back to I-10, picked up a police escort at a checkpoint, and lane split her way through the traffic jam to make it to the hospital in time to prepare for surgery.

Pinky and the pub

If the price tag isn't enough to sell Australian Anne Free's bar, she'd like to sweeten the deal-with a pig. Free says she'll throw in ownership of locally famous beer-swilling pig Pinky if someone agrees to pick up the tab on her pub in eastern Tasmania. For years, Pinky has entertained guests at Free's pub by sharing pints with customers. Free said she's asking more than $800,000 for her beloved Pub in the Paddock. And once the pub and the beer-drinking pig are sold, she plans to retire back to her family farm.

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