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Dispatches Quick Takes

Quick Takes

The Hann-na Hotel (Yoshio Tsunoda/AFLO/Newscom)

Out with the new

In a ruthless business calculation, Japan’s Henn-na Hotel chain announced it would terminate much of its workforce in the name of cost-effectiveness and efficiency. The robots that have been serving as front-desk staff, cleaners, porters, and in-room assistants have to go. Human beings will replace them. The South China Morning Post reports that the hotel found the dinosaur and humanoid robots expensive to service, unable to answer many customer questions, and prone to annoying habits. According to The Wall Street Journal, one in-room assistant interpreted snoring as a command and woke up a guest with a request to repeat it.


 

SWNS

David Woodhouse (SWNS)

Do-it-yourself dentistry

After waiting more than 18 months to see a dentist, a 62-year-old British man opted to yank a sore tooth with his own pliers in January. David Woodhouse of Truro, Cornwall, told the BBC that he made his initial request to see a dentist in mid-2017 after complaining about tooth pain. This past December, emergency officials with the country’s National Health Service offered to pull the sore tooth for him. Woodhouse objected, saying the sore tooth was only part of a larger problem and said he’d hold out for a dental appointment. But three weeks later, the pain became too much for him: “So I got the needle-nose pliers and out it came.”


 

Krieg Barrie

Krieg Barrie

Accidental offering

A Conyers, Ga., resident is out $6,500 after his plan to hide a wad of cash backfired. In January, Devon Silvey, 27, sold his car and took the cash to his mother’s house for safekeeping. Rather than tell his mom about the money, Silvey hid it in an old Mickey Mouse coffee tumbler. When he returned days later, Silvey discovered the mug missing. Silvey’s mother, Lindsay Preiss, had put the mug and other clutter in a box and taken the items to a Goodwill store. “That mug had literally sat in our cabinet untouched for about 15 years,” she told Newsweek, adding that she felt like “the worst mom in the world.” Goodwill apparently sold the mug without checking the contents, and Preiss is now asking the person who bought the mug to return the money.


 

iStock

iStock

Zero tolerance

On second thought, perhaps 30 days in jail is too severe a punishment for speeding around the city on a scooter. A spokesman for the Baltimore Transportation Department said they plan to remove criminal sanctions against electric scooter speeding from an ordinance passed by Baltimore’s City Council last year. Had police enforced the legislation, persons caught zipping around Baltimore on a rental scooter could have faced a $1,000 fine or 30 days of jail time. The harsh penalties, the Transportation Department says, were intended to apply only to officials who operate scooter rental companies. Regular riders will face a $20 citation for speeding.


 

Steverukavina/Twitter

Steverukavina/Twitter

A good time for hockey

Stuck in an hourslong traffic jam, Canadians on Highway 40 east of Montreal reverted to stereotypes. After waiting in their cars for a while, the Canadian motorists eventually hopped out of their vehicles, grabbed their sticks, and started playing hockey on the frozen road. A massive, 75-car pileup caused the Jan. 27 traffic standstill. One Twitter user, responding to a CBC report on the impromptu hockey game, captured the moment: “Of course, in Canada, everyone has an emergency stick and puck in their trunk.”


 

Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP

Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP

When the cows come home

Officials in India’s Hindu north have begun marking stray cows with bar codes in an effort to manage the growing problem of abandoned livestock. As government officials in Uttar Pradesh have closed more and more slaughterhouses, farmers are increasingly cutting their cows loose rather than lose money feeding the animals. The stray cows have become the bane of farmers whose crops become the stray cows’ new pastureland. Many Hindus consider cows to be sacred, and as a result slaughtering the animals is illegal in many Hindu areas of India. Government officials have proposed using abandoned buildings to shelter the animals.


 

Rich Polk/Getty Images for iHeartMedia • Inset: Handout

Ariana Grande (Rich Polk/Getty Images for iHeartMedia • Inset: Handout)

Seven somethings

Pop singer Ariana Grande may make millions with her new hit single “7 Rings,” but that can’t buy her a do-over on a botched tattoo celebrating the song’s release. On Jan. 29, Grande shared a picture of a new hand tattoo on social media. She had instructed the artist to tattoo “seven rings” on her hand in a highly stylized Japanese script known as Kanji. Instead, the artist accidentally tattooed “seven wheels,” a phrase most commonly associated in Japan with a popular barbecue grill.

 


 

Morris MacMatzen/Getty Images

Morris MacMatzen/Getty Images

Unwanted intrusion

At least one nation plans to build a wall to deal with border migration. In January, Denmark started construction on a 43-mile fence along its border with Germany, but not to control human migration. The small Northern European nation is concerned about infected wild boar crossing the border. A recent case of two wild boars infected with African swine fever in Belgium has sparked fears that Denmark’s pork production industry might be threatened. Denmark exports $1.7 billion in pig products each year, making the $12 million fence seem like a reasonable investment. While African swine fever is harmless to humans, pigs usually die from the disease within days of contracting it.


 

Krieg Barrie

Krieg Barrie

Lost and found

Will the owner of an abandoned McDonnell Douglas MD87 please step forward? Officials at the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport in Spain are searching for the owners of an old passenger jet abandoned on their tarmac. A spokesman for the airport said no one knew exactly how long the twin-engine jet had been sitting at Madrid’s airport, but officials believe it has been parked for over a year. Spanish law requires authorities to declare a plane abandoned and wait 15 months prior to taking it over and selling it at a public auction. The plane was last registered in 2009 to Saicus Air, a Spanish cargo service, but the company went out of business the next year.