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Odd Things Are Happening Across America


Every day in America, we hear a good number of odd-but-true stories, and some of them are worth passing along. For example:

Not long ago, we told you about specialized summer camps that are popping up around America -- camps for violinists, bird-watchers, that sort of thing. Well, we've since found what may be the most bizarre camp of all, in Rolla, Missouri. It's for teenagers who like to blow things up. It's an explosives camp, with real dynamite and the like. The hope is that some of these kids will go into demolition or fireworks careers. Things went well this year at this camp. In fact, they were booming.

Recently the Kansas State Lottery got into real trouble. Nothing illegal. No fooling with the winning numbers or anything like that. But the lottery angered Kansans when it offered, as a prize, free admission to events in the neighboring state of Missouri. Even worse, ads for the contest made fun of Kansas towns. One said the lottery had toyed with the idea of a getaway to Garden City, Kansas, but "couldn't say that with a straight face." For the record, there's lots going on in Garden City, like the big "Beef Empire Days" that promote its corn-fed Kansas steers. Maybe the people at the Kansas State Lottery are vegetarians.

And finally, news that kudzu can be a good thing. Kudzu is a pesky vine that runs amok in the American South, blanketing barns and choking crops. But scientists in Boston have found that kudzu contains a compound that can reduce people's cravings for alcohol. Subjects offered free beer who had taken some capsules of the kudzu compound drank far less per session than those who got a placebo. This suggests a country-and-western song title: "I'm Not a Low-Down, No-Good Drunk No More Since the Kudzu Grabbed My Beer."

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