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Quick Takes


City Hall Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Quick Takes
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Predatory service

The mayor of London has a choice—cats or rats. London Assembly Member Tom Copley called on Mayor Sadiq Khan to end the pestilence of mice at London’s City Hall by getting a cat, “preferably rehoming one from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.” In a Feb. 18 interview with The Telegraph, Copley complained that mice recently tumbled down from ceiling panels and fell into a crowd of visiting schoolchildren. If Khan acquires a cat for City Hall, the feline will join an auspicious group of government cats that keep buildings like Number 10 Downing Street, the Foreign Office, and the Treasury free of vermin.

Road test

Who’s a good driver? Everyone is, if you ask them. That’s the finding of an American Automobile Association survey published in February that found 83 percent of American drivers consider themselves somewhat or much more careful compared with other drivers they encounter. Very young drivers were among the most confident, with only 0.2 percent of 16- to 18-year-olds regarding themselves as less careful than the average driver. More specific questions, though, revealed one-third of drivers had texted while driving in the previous month and half admitted they speed 15 mph above the speed limit.

Snow falls

Adrian Solano of Venezuela managed entry into the qualifying round of the Nordic World Ski Championships in Lahti, Finland, which began Feb. 22, only to gain the twitter label “world’s worst skier.” After nearly falling at the starting gate, Solano wobbled through his start, took a tumble around one of the first curves, and repeatedly fell before running out of time only about a third of the way through the course. The problem: Solano had trained for the event but never on actual snow in his tropical South American home country. He had instead trained using skis with wheels on them. Solano remained upbeat after the race: “Maybe I have fallen many times, but what really counts is that I will always continue to rise.”

Trash collection

A long-suffering Maryland mother has gained a modicum of revenge on her college-student son. When 18-year-old Connor Cox opened a parcel from his mother at Westminster College in Pennsylvania, he expected cookies. What he got instead in the care package was the garbage he left strewn across his room after a recent trip home. Confused, Cox called his mother, Terri: “[I said,] ‘Did you send me the wrong package? Why did you send me this?’” His mother told him she was just forwarding his trash. The college student said the prank gave him a good laugh.

Stepping out

Kick up your heels, Henryetta. The small Oklahoma town (population 5,765) deep in the heart of the Bible Belt has finally lifted a 40-year-old ban on public dancing within 500 feet of a church. The issue came before the City Council after town residents scolded Joni Insabella for planning a Valentine’s Day dance at her business (see Quick Takes, March 4, 2017). “We weren’t having alcohol or anything. We just wanted it to be fun for the community,” said Insabella, who ended up canceling the event. When news spread, the town’s mayor claimed to have never heard of the seldom-enforced ban. Neither had the City Council, which on Feb. 21 voted unanimously to repeal the ban.

College English

Goodbye style manuals, hello social justice grammar. The director of the Writing Center at the University of Washington issued a statement in February calling prescriptive grammar rules racist and promising to encourage students to see grammar as a “set of choices with various consequences.” Asao Inoue attributed the statement to the ongoing work of the Writing Center’s staff, noting that racism can be found “in the systems, structures, rules, languages, expectations, and guidelines that make up our classes.”

Cattle call

Police in Suffield, Conn., posted a warning to local residents on their Facebook page on Feb. 19: Don’t open doors to unfamiliar cows. Earlier that morning, officers with the police department spotted a pair of black-and-white bovines standing at the front door of a local house. Authorities say the cows escaped from a nearby pen due to a faulty fence. Officers were able to round up the cows in short order.

Deer crossing?

Drivers during certain seasons are wise to watch out for deer, but how many airplane pilots would think to do so? An American Eagle CRJ-700 jet reportedly hit a deer while attempting to take off from the Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Feb. 15. Nobody was harmed among the 44 passengers and four crew members, but the collision caused a fuel leak that shut down the runway and prompted an emergency evacuation of the plane.

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