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Photo by Kent Williams

Quick Takes

News

Issue: "Terrific and timely," June 29, 2013

Catch of the day

They don’t call boat captain Matt Potter “Mako Matt” for nothing. On June 3 Potter and his crew caught a 1,323-pound mako shark off the coast of California, quite likely a record size catch from a rod and reel. The man who reeled in the shark, Jason Johnston of Mesquite, Texas , had not really wanted to go on the trip, considering himself more of a hunter than fisherman. But he gave in to a friend and ended up with what may be a record haul, if validated by the International Game Fish Association. Potter told Field & Stream that crew members knew they were dealing with a big fish from the moment they saw its fin: “We’ve caught a lot of 800- and 900-pound fish, and this thing looked like it could have eaten any of them.”

Chinese checkers

In an increasingly futile attempt to control information in the internet age, Chinese censors blocked results for search terms “today” and “tomorrow” from the nation’s popular micro-blogging site Sina Weibo. The censors’ actions, which occurred in the days leading up to the June 4 anniversary of Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, were an attempt to quell discussion and knowledge of the infamous crushing of pro-democracy protests by the Chinese military. Other banned words and phrases included “big yellow duck”—terms that, if searched, would lead to a photoshopped depiction of the famous Tank Man blocking not tanks, but big yellow ducks.

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In Brunete, Spain, if you don’t pick up your dog’s droppings, you may just get a package in the mail titled “lost property.” The town has deputized a group of volunteers to scour the park in search of dog owners who don’t clean up their pets’ messes. After spotting a culprit, the volunteers are to engage the perpetrator in casual conversation and get the name of the dog. From there, the poop is scooped, the name cross-checked with a city database, and the feces are mailed back to the owner. The plan seems to be working. In February, 147 droppings were mailed back to owners. And the town has reported a 70 percent drop in unattended dung.

Long and lost

Mark it up to unintended consequences. Because of a tweak in European Union regulations, the German language has lost its longest word. The word,Rindfleischetikettierungsueberwachungsaufgabenuebertragungsgesetz, means “law delegating beef label monitoring” and was used to describe a particular code in the German province of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. But as the EU law changed on June 3, the 65-character word died along with it.

Past and present

When Marion Shurtleff of San Clemente, Calif., bought a Bible at a local bookstore in March, she at first ignored the old handwritten notes folded neatly into its pages. Then, in May, Shurtleff, 75, took a closer look and was amazed. The old notes had her name on them and were penned in her own handwriting. “I hollered. I started shaking. I cried. I had goose bumps,” she explained to KCAL-TV in Los Angeles. The notes were actually an essay she wrote for a Girl Scout merit badge 65 years ago. Even stranger: She had been living in Kentucky at the time she wrote the paper. The California retiree says she can’t explain how her essay traversed both time and space to come back to her, but she says she will try to track down the person who gave the Bible to the bookstore.

Chewed out

The bad news: For chewing a pastry into the shape of a gun at school, 7-year-old Joshua Welch earned a two-day suspension. The good news: He also earned a lifetime membership in the National Rifle Association. The kerfuffle began on March 1 when the suburban Baltimore youngster tried to chew his Pop-Tart into the shape of a mountain. His teacher, however, thought she saw a gun in the pastry Rorschach. The school’s zero tolerance policy meant that young Joshua had to endure a two-day suspension. But at a May 29 fundraiser for local Republicans, state lawmaker Nicholaus Kipke presented Joshua with a lifetime membership in the NRA that cost the delegate $550.

Come on down

Federal investigators didn’t have to use undercover video to determine that Cathy Wrench Cashwell’s worker’s compensation claim was bogus. They say they knew when they saw her on The Price Is Right spinning the big wheel for the Showcase Showdown. Back in 2004, the Fayetteville, N.C., postal worker claimed a shoulder injury sustained at work had left her unable to do her job. But, as fraud investigators learned, she was well enough to compete on The Price Is Right in 2009 and also go ziplining as part of a Carnival Cruise vacation in 2010. Cashwell pleaded guilty to fraud in federal court on June 3.

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