Ragsdale Pontiac-Cadillac, meet the Discovery Channel. While washing a new Cadillac SRX at the dealership in Auburn, Mass., on Monday, June 20, service department employee Jose Torres noticed something unusual in the brook that runs near the dealership. It turned out to be a 4-foot alligator -- quite a surprise, since gators aren't native to Massachusetts. The store called the cops, who took the gator to Tufts University. Boston media speculated that the critter got too big for its owner, who let it go. They also noted that a family of ducks previously seen in the neighborhood is no longer there.
KEEPING THE SKIES SAFE -- How strange is our national-security insecurity? Nathan Rau, a 31-year-old Minneapolis lawyer, told The New York Times last week that the key to his Audi -- the kind that's hidden inside a fob and flips out with the push of a button -- was confiscated by security guards at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Rau says guards ran the fob through an X-ray machine three times before it was taken from him. The reason? "Well, sir, that's a switchblade style, and that's a prohibited item," Rau said he was told. An Audi of America spokesman told Automotive News he wasn't aware of any other such incidents.
DON'T TALK, DRIVE -- There's some new scientific evidence that talking on a phone while driving is indeed distracting -- even if the driver is using a hands-free phone. Imaging tests show the brain directs resources to either visual input or auditory input but cannot fully activate both at the same time, researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore tell Reuters. Said Steven Yantis, a professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences who led the study: "Directing attention to listening effectively turns down the volume on input to the visual parts of the brain."
COST CRUNCH -- Much has been written about what it costs General Motors to produce a car, but we've never seen a cost breakdown like the one on theonion.com, a Web site known for satirical humor. According to a graphic that appeared on the site this month, a 2005 Chevrolet Impala with a suggested retail price of $23,010 costs $24,352 to build. Some cost factors: $5,550 for marketing "aimed at convincing people they want cars bigger than they need or should be able to afford"; $2,750 for "therapy sessions for top executives burdened with guilt of firing tens of thousands of workers"; and $3,522 for "hand-painting 'WHAM!' design on front and side airbags."