Dispatches > Quick Takes
Edd Joseph
Photo by David Hedges/SWNS
Edd Joseph

Quick Takes


Issue: "What price conscience?," April 19, 2014

Message sent

William Shakespeare wrote that “revenge should have no bounds.” And with free SMS messaging, and an assist from the Bard himself, one British man has taken Shakespeare’s words to heart. Edd Joseph of Bristol, U.K., tried buying a gaming console from a private seller over the internet in early March. But after Joseph made the $130 payment, the seller refused to ship the device. After trading furious text messages—and finding no other method of recourse—Joseph, 24, used the copy-paste function on his smart phone to put the entire works of William Shakespeare in a text message and send it to his nemesis. Because the text can only be delivered in 160-character chunks, Joseph’s message needed 29,305 parts to reach the scammer’s phone. Thanks to his unlimited data and texting plan, Joseph won’t pay a dime while his opponent’s phone was continuously chiming for the better part of a week.

Motherly love

Few things can stop a mother in pursuit of her children’s safety—not even a moving car. And on March 6, a Lawrence, Mass., mother proved it. Mindy Tran, 22, didn’t have many options when the vehicle occupied only by her two young children began rolling down her driveway and toward traffic. Unable to jump back into the moving vehicle, the mother of two instead lay down behind the tires, creating a human speed bump that slowed down the Honda enough so neighbors could intervene. The incident left Tran with a shattered leg, but her children emerged unscathed.

Clutch klutz

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If you ask Melissa Peters what the best auto theft deterrent device on the market is, her answer will be clear: a clutch. Police in Omaha, Neb., say 17-year-old Mganga H. Mganga surprised Peters on March 27 when he produced a gun and pointed it at her as she was walking to her car to take her son to school and herself to work. Peters had left the keys—and her 13-year-old boy—in the car. After yanking her son from the car, Peters and child fled on foot. But when she turned back, she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. According to police reports, Mganga was struggling to start the manual transmission Dodge, and had somehow rolled the car into her side yard. After several more futile minutes, police arrived and captured Mganga when he tried to flee on foot. 

Banner banter

Labor unions in Wichita, Kan., have become more aggressive in their decisions to picket local businesses. But what the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America Local 201 didn’t anticipate was a car dealership’s penchant for shameless advertising. When Subaru of Wichita opted to use a nonunion firm to hang some drywall, the carpenters union in March sent over picketers carrying a large banner that read, “Shame on Subaru of Wichita.” It didn’t take long for the marketers at the dealership to come up with their own sign, positioned just to the right of the union picket, reading, “for having unbeatable prices.”

Big-time beggar

For decades a blind female beggar named Ayesha worked the streets of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, raking in donations from passersby. How much in donations? Apparently enough to hire an assistant, who reported to local authorities that when she died in March, she had left him to manage an estate worth over $1 million. The assistant, named Ahmad Saidi, said Ayesha had instructed him to distribute her cash, gold, and jewelry to needy residents of Jeddah. More than a decade ago, Saidi helped Ayesha to convert some of her gold takings into cash. Later he advised her to give up begging because of the fortune she had amassed—but she said she preferred to go on working.

Made from scratch

One man’s trash is another man’s helicopter. At least that’s how tinkerer Li Houshang thinks about it. The Chinese farmer from the Hunan province says he’s close to getting his homemade helicopter off the ground—despite being constructed entirely from junk from a scrap heap. Li said he began constructing the helicopter last year by stripping down a motorcycle for its motor, clutch, and throttle. The fuselage and blades come from scrapped metal he welded together in his spare time. And in a test flight earlier this year, Li said he got his contraption nearly 1.5 feet off the ground.

Piercing headache

What’s the cure for a stuffy nose? If you’re a Chinese woman named Zhao, it might be finally removing the bullet lodged in your head for nearly five decades. Identified in local Chinese media only as Zhao, the 62-year-old said she has suffered from a stuffy nose, intermittent headaches, and swollen lymph nodes for the past 10 years. When the pain became too much to bear, Zhao finally went to the hospital. An exam revealed the woman had a bullet lodged in her sinus cavity—apparently from a gunshot wound suffered in 1966. For most of her life, the inch-long bullet caused few problems. But when Zhao’s symptoms began to dominate her life, doctors at a local hospital were able to remove the bullet.


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