Dispatches > Quick Takes
Krieg Barrie

Quick Takes


Issue: "Reaping a whirlwind," Aug. 24, 2013

Fee for service

Impatient with the speed of official rescue workers, a 48-year-old Texas woman phoned in her own helicopter rescue. The trouble began for Nancy Allen on July 23 when she slipped and hurt herself while ascending Mount St. Helens in Washington with her daughter. The Houston woman phoned local sheriffs from 6,000 feet up the mountain saying she would need a rescue. Three hours later, rescue workers had reached the woman. But after several hours of descending the mountain in a rescue basket, Allen reportedly threw in the towel. From the side of the mountain, she chartered a $1,000-per-hour helicopter to stage an airlift the rest of the way down.

Winged sentries

Who doesn’t get wary around an angered goose? According to a report in China’s The People’s Daily, police in the nation’s Xinjiang Province are encouraging citizens to trade in their guard dogs for guard geese. “Among all poultry, geese [are known] for being extremely vigilant and having excellent hearing,” Zhang Quansheng, a police chief near the Kazakhstan border, told the paper. “Geese are very brave. They spread their wings and will attack any strangers entering [someone’s] home.” According to the government news service, the geese are making headway in curtailing local crime. In June, local thieves managed to drug two guard dogs, but were hemmed in by nearly two dozen guard geese that squawked so loudly they woke up the security guard.

Written warning

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Chicago police have tried a lot of things to shrink the violent crime numbers in their city, and now they’re trying a preemptive approach: the strongly worded letter. On July 19, district commanders in the Chicago Police force began delivering memos to those they suspect may soon commit a violent crime with a gun. The message: We’re watching you. The plan was developed with help from a Yale University professor who studied the city’s gun problem over a recent five-year period. Police officials hand-delivered the letters to 400 hardened criminals to put them on notice.

Recording oldies

For those whom traditional caskets and funerals aren’t sufficiently retro, a British company is offering to take your loved one’s ashes and turn it into a vinyl record. The company, And Vinyly, says it can take cremated ashes, mix it with vinyl pellets, and press the amalgam into 30 12-inch records. Customers must provide not only the ashes, but also the audio for the recording and about $4,600 for the basic package. The company suggests customers pick any audio they want but insist they aren’t responsible for any copyright infringement. 

Mass rescue

To save a Japanese woman who had slipped into an 8-inch gap between a commuter train and the station platform, passengers waiting on a platform outside of Tokyo banded together to tilt the 32-ton car just enough so the woman could be dragged out of harm’s way. The woman slipped into the tight squeeze during the morning rush on July 22. And when a public announcement asking for help went out over the loudspeakers, the scores of Japanese passengers sprang into action. The unidentified woman was not injured, but the train was delayed by 8 minutes.

Always faithful

When all others in Lance Cpl. Myles Kerr’s age group passed the finish line at the Jeff Drench Memorial 5k in Charlevoix, Mich., on July 25, Marine Corps friends of Kerr became worried. Kerr had opted to run the race wearing combat boots and a rucksack, and his friends assumed that’s why he was lagging behind. But when Kerr turned the final corner and headed for the finish line, his fellow Marines noticed he was running alongside a young boy who was struggling to keep pace. Earlier in the race, Kerr had noticed the 9-year-old Boden Fuchs struggling and apparently separated from his running companions. “Sir? Will you please run with me?” the boy reportedly asked the Marine. Kerr obliged, encouraging the boy all the way to the finish line.

Graveyard cash

They may have bought the farm, but that hasn’t stopped long-dead farmers from receiving subsidies from the federal government. The Government Accountability Office divulged on July 29 that the Department of Agriculture had paid out approximately $22 million in subsidies to farmers who were at least two years dead. The subsidies were part of the USDA’s program to help farmers afford crop insurance. The revelation came as Congress entered debates over a proposed trillion-dollar farm bill.

Bakery drop

An unidentified flying object caused a stir in Shanghai when it was spotted overhead in late July. The object, which measured nearly 4 feet by 4 feet and weighed just over 20 pounds, was seen floating over the city’s Huangpu River. After concerned phone calls and some reporting by the Chinese news website EastDay.com, the object was confirmed to be a drone—but not a military one. According to reports, the drone was a test project by a local bakery that wanted to see if it could avoid Shanghai’s traffic by delivering a cake across town by air.


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