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Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak called “timeout” and decided to make peace with Ariel Sharon, the right-wing opposition leader, instead of with the Palestinians.Gun sales in Israel were on the rise.The United States Congress increased military aid to Israel by $60 million, bringing the total up to $1.9 billion; Israel put a rush on its order for a new German submarine; according to some reports, the submarine will be equipped with nuclear weapons.Islamic students demonstrated in front of the U.S. embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, chanting “Kill All Jews.” Music by Richard Wagner was performed in concert in Israel for the first time; the “Siegfried Idyll” was protested briefly by a Holocaust survivor who stood up before the concert and made loud noises with a rattle.A mob in Sri Lanka stormed a detention center and murdered twenty-four inmates, most of whom were Tamil Tiger rebels who had surrendered under a government-sponsored rehabilitation program.A mob in Borneo cut off two people’s heads, mounted the heads on pointed sticks, and paraded their trophies through the streets.After overthrowing their military tyrant, citizens of the Ivory Coast turned on one another with machetes and clubs.Hippies chanting “Eat The Rich” threw stones and horse manure at police in Montreal as they protested a meeting of finance ministers from around the world.Islam Karimov, president of Uzbekistan, was busy repressing Muslims; torture was said to be systematic.Umar Husseinzoda, the leader of the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan, was telling his people that God had visited a drought upon them for their impiety.
Thirty thousand Koreans flipped cards on command to entertain Secretary of State Madeleine Albright with images of tractors and potatoes as she sat next to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il.Leonard Downey, Jr., the executive editor of the Washington Post, reminded readers that in his tireless quest for objectivity, he does not vote, nor does he allow himself “to decide, even privately, which candidate would make the better president or member of the city council, or what position I would take on any issue.” San Francisco relaxed stringent graduation requirements after it was learned that thirty percent of the senior class would not graduate.Fat people were still buying soap that was said to make one lose weight without really trying.Governor George W. Bush went up in the polls, then down.Hillary Rodham Clinton got spooked by accusations that she was not sufficiently loyal to Israel and returned $50,000 in campaign contributions to some Arabs.The American Muslim Political Coordinating Committee endorsed Bush for the presidency.Dick Gephardt, the House Minority Leader, appeared at a meeting of the Democratic caucus with his face smeared with red and blue paint, wearing a breastplate, and wielding a spear.Republican partisans were running a knock-off of the famous “Daisy” commercial used by LBJ against Barry Goldwater in 1964; the ad claimed that Clinton and Gore sold the nation’s security to the Red Chinese.Congress passed an official secrets act that criminalized the disclosure of any “properly classified” government secrets, including revelations of illegal acts by criminals who happen to be government officials.Russian hackers penetrated Microsoft’s computer network using a well-known Trojan attack and for six weeks had access to the company’s internal computer records, including the source code of some programs; the security breach was discovered only when system administrators noticed passwords being emailed to an address in St.Petersburg.
State agricultural agents were storming homes in Florida and chopping down citrus trees in an effort to eradicate the citrus canker virus; Agriculture Secretary Bob Crawford ordered sensitivity training to help soothe homeowners who were upset at having their property destroyed.A new insecticide called the Green Muscle appeared to be effective in killing locusts.Montrose Chemical Corporation agreed to compensateCalifornians for a gigantic DDT deposit just off the coast of Los Angeles, the result of thirty years of offshore dumping.The Food and Drug Administration proposed banning two antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones, which are given to whole flocks of chickens in their water, because they cause camplyobacter bacteria to develop a resistance to antibiotics.Ben and Jerry’s Homemade Inc.recalled 80,000 pints of Peanut Butter Cup ice cream because of the presence of nuts other than peanuts, which could cause fatal allergic reactions in some people.The House of Representatives voted to establish retirement homes for chimpanzees who have been the subject of medical experiments.Scientists at the University of Chicago believe that zebra finches sing songs in their dreams, perhaps in order to memorize the melodies; their conclusion was based on a study of the songbirds’ brainwaves.Humanities professors, such as Harvard’s Elaine Scarry, were using M.R.I. brain-scan imaging to locate the parts of the brain that fill with blood when a subject is thinking about a loved one or reading a particularly good bit in a novel; it has not been proven that changes in blood flow indicate anything in particular other than changes in blood flow.”Economy-class syndrome” was blamed for the death of a British woman who had just made a twenty-hour flight to London from Australia; the syndrome, more properly known as deep-vein thrombosis, occurs when a long, cramped period of inactivity leads to a blood clot.A hog that was allowed to travel in the cabin of a six-hour US Airways flight ran squealing up and down the aisle and tried to break into the cockpit; passengers did not beat it to death.StarLink genetically modified corn was found in Japanese snack food.French supermarkets were selling meat thought to be contaminated with mad cow disease.
More from Roger D. Hodge:
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”