Skip to main content

Dispatches Quick Takes

Quick Takes

(Illustration by Jakob Hinrichs)

Getting a handle on horns

Many drivers in Mumbai, India, reportedly honk their car horns incessantly. Police hope to put a stop to the resulting noise pollution by using stoplights. Officials with the Mumbai police conducted tests in November and December of a system that would prevent red traffic lights from turning green if noise levels reached 85 decibels or higher. City officials say local drivers honk their horns even at red lights. During the test, the traffic light’s countdown timer reset if the noise got too loud and a display posted the message “honk more, wait more.” A police spokesman said the 2019 tests went well and the police plan to try the system at 10 more locations in March. According to the TomTom Traffic Index, Mumbai was the world’s fourth-most-congested city in 2019.


 

Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

River walk

Minneapolis firefighters were called to drag a lost man out of the Mississippi River on Feb. 8. According to emergency responders, the man was trying to walk home in the early morning hours when he began following Google Maps walking directions. At some point, the man walked onto the frozen river, likely misunderstanding directions to cross on the Stone Arch Bridge near the city’s downtown. As a result of his wrong turn, the unidentified man fell through ice and got stuck in the frigid river. Emergency workers treated him for mild hypothermia.


 

Merseyside Police

Ian Trainer (Merseyside Police)

Getting an earful

A judge in the United Kingdom has sentenced a man to six months in jail after he refused to turn down the volume on his stereo. But it wasn’t a young man playing rock or rap music. It was an elderly man playing classical music. Ian Trainer’s neighbors had complained to police about his classical music habits for several years. Trainer said his partial deafness requires him to play his stereo loudly, but a judge placed a restraining order on the 82-year-old Aintree, U.K., resident that requires him to keep the volume at 65 decibels or below. In December, neighbors called police because the retiree was once again in violation of the court order. On Feb. 6, the court sentenced Trainer to 24 weeks in jail.


 

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem by Laura Lachman

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem by Laura Lachman

A memorable swim

An Israeli man taking a morning swim made a stunning archaeological find last year. Rafi Bahalul discovered an ancient Egyptian anchor while off the shore of Atlit, Israel. “I saw it, kept on swimming for a few meters, then realized what I had seen,” Bahalul told Haaretz. “It was like entering an Egyptian temple at the bottom of the Mediterranean.” Archaeologists, who say recent stormy weather unearthed the stone from the sand, dated the stone anchor to Egypt’s New Kingdom 3,400 years ago.


 

WOIO

WOIO

Paper chase

An Ohio man looking for a letter from a student loan company ended up with 79 bins of mail after a computer glitch. Dan Cain had 55,000 pieces of identical mail waiting for him at the Twinsburg, Ohio, post office, all from the College Avenue Student Loan Company. A glitch in the company’s computers generated the mass mailing. Cain said it took him two trips to the post office to load up the mail in his car and bring the letters home. He told WOIO that he doesn’t know what to do with all that paper: “I just may start a fire, a bonfire, and burn it all.”


 

iStock

iStock

Streaming positive

Streaming music service Spotify has debuted a series of playlists and a podcast for dogs left at home for hours when their owners go to work. The Swedish company says the podcast, designed exclusively for dogs, features music and actors repeating words of affirmation and praise to their doggy listeners. The company says it got the idea after a survey of users revealed a quarter of pet owners turn on music for their animals when they are away.


 

Gary Landers/AP

Gary Landers/AP

Dopey sports fans

Citing depression and long-suffering, fans of the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals have petitioned the Ohio State Medical Board to consider their fandom to be a qualifying condition for the use of medical marijuana. The state passed a law to legalize medicinal use of cannabis in 2016, and the program recorded its first sale in 2019. “We’ve been suffering for 30 years, all of us,” petitioner Vincent Morano told The Cincinnati Inquirer. “Everybody’s got the blues and [medical marijuana] could ease their pain away.” The board denied the application.


 

iStock

iStock

Sending a message

A New South Wales man pleaded guilty to violating an Australian law meant to ban texting and driving because police spotted him using his mobile phone while riding a horse. Pleading guilty in Mudgee Local Court, the 30-year-old confessed that his horse was moving about 6 mph while he made a phone call from the saddle late last year. “Under the road rules a horse is a vehicle,” Magistrate David Day noted. “And he didn’t have a hands-free device fitted to the horse.” Despite the guilty plea, the judge allowed the defendant to essentially go free without penalty.