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News Quirks 

Published May 11, 2011 at 9:16 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

Two men who fled from a home invasion in Charlotte, N.C., left behind a black T-shirt that showed a photo of a man and the legend “Making money is my thang.” The homeowner recognized the photo as one of the men who had just robbed him. He turned out to be Tyrone Huntley, 25, whom police arrested. (Charlotte Observer)

How Rich Folks Think

Authorities in Polk County, Fla., charged Richard Ludwig, 54, with finding a lost credit card and using it to buy two large pizzas with extra olives. When sheriff’s deputies asked if financial problems might explain his action, the Michigan dentist, who said he was visiting central Florida to watch his son play in a baseball tournament, reportedly laughed and informed them that his net worth was between $3 million and $4 million. He did admit that risking his career and reputation for a couple of pizzas was “dumb.” (Orlando’s WKMG-TV)

Opening the Floodgates

Tennessee lawmakers voted to remove a law that set an age limit of 1 year old on breast-feeding in public, despite the objection of Sen. Bo Watson (R-Hixson). “Is 35 a child? I know that sounds crazy, but I’m thinking of a situation in a bar where maybe things got a little crazy,” Watson orated. “I know I’m going way out on a fringe thinking a 14-year-old, but weird things happen in our society.” (Knoxville News-Sentinel)

Go Green, Pay Green

A bill in Oregon’s House of Representatives would require owners of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles to pay for the miles they drive to compensate the state for the gas taxes they don’t pay. The 1.43-cents fee amounts to the same as the gas tax paid for a vehicle that gets 21 miles per gallon. (Associated Press)

Lawmakers in cash-strapped Washington state are considering charging owners of electric vehicles a flat $100-a-year fee, regardless of miles driven. (Associated Press)

Who You Gonna Call?

A little-known Philadelphia company has quietly gained control of nearly a quarter of the 7.87 million toll-free, 1-800 numbers in the United States and Canada, often snapping them up the moment the previous users relinquish them. As of March, PrimeTel Communications administered 1.7 million 1-800 numbers — more than any other company, including Verizon and AT&T. The numbers 1-800-Chicago, 1-800-FIRETIP, 1-800-Cadillac, 1-800-Minolta, 1-800-Cameras, 1-800-Worship, 1-800-Beatles and 1-800-Whirlpool, for example, all connect to a recording of a woman offering “one-on-one talk with a nasty girl” for $2.99 a minute. Although most numbers reach erotic chat lines, some connect to ads for a mortgage brokerage based in New Jersey, a dieting website or a travel reservation service. PrimeTel also owns a dominant share of toll-free numbers with other prefixes, such as 1-888 and 1-866. “They started by getting numbers for phone sex, then getting good numbers in general, then they started taking all phone numbers,” said Bill Quimby, whose company specializes in helping businesses obtain easy-to-remember digits to connect with customers. (Associated Press)

Salt in the Wound

The New York Times departed from its official style by dropping the honorific “Mr.” on second reference to the late Osama bin Laden. (memo from Tom Jolly, associate managing editor, reported by the Poynter Institute)

Problem Solved

Changing diets for cows and sheep might reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, according to research funded by Britain’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Feeding the animals high-sugar grasses, for example, could reduce the animals’ methane emissions by 20 percent for every kilogram of weight gain, and naked oats could reduce methane emissions from sheep by 33 percent. Burping and farting cows and sheep account for nearly 9 percent of all British greenhouse gas emissions. (Reuters)

To help Workforce Central Florida raise awareness of its services, the federally funded jobs agency created a cartoon character named Dr. Evil Unemployment and spent more than $14,000 on 6000 satiny superhero capes to distribute to jobless residents who became a fan on its Facebook page, took a Facebook quiz or had their photo taken with a foam cutout of Dr. Evil Unemployment. “Everyone is a superhero in the fight against unemployment,” agency vice president Kimberly Sullivan declared before public ridicule ended the program but after the money was spent. (Orlando Sentinel)

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About The Author

Roland Sweet

Roland Sweet was the author of a syndicated column called "News Quirks," which appeared weekly in Seven Days.


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