Weekly Review — December 23, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: All In My Eye, December 1853]
An American cattleman.

President George W. Bush announced a $13.4 billion bailout for General Motors and Chrysler. The bailout, which will make use of funds authorized by Congress in October for the rescue of U.S. financial institutions, requires among other things that the automakers sell their fleets of private aircraft. “I’ve abandoned free-market principles,” said Bush, “to save the free-market system.”New York TimesBreitbartPresident-elect Barack Obama called for an expansion of his economic recovery plan in order to save a half-million more jobs atop the 2.5 million he already hopes to save, at a total cost of $600 billion or $700 billion, then left for vacation in Hawaii, where he stayed with his family in a five-bedroom, $9 million home.KHON2New York TimesOfficials in Washington, D.C., warned that if the two to four million visitors expected for Obama’s inauguration actually show up the city’s public transportation system will crash.Washington PostWelfare rolls were growing for the first time in a dozen years;Washington Postthe Federal Reserve cut its interest rate from one percent to a range between zero and 0.25 percent, the lowest rate on record;BBCand companies including FedEx, Motorola, General Motors, and Resorts International were forgoing contributions to employee 401(k) plans. “It has been a grand experiment,” said an economics professor of employee-investment plans, “and it has failed.” New York TimesA Missouri state representative filed legislation to legalize the sale of margarine.St. Lewis Today

Hamas announced that it was formally ending its truce with Israel,.New York Timesand dynamite was found inside a high-end department store in Paris after an unknown group warned that explosives were hidden there. The group demanded France withdraw its military from Afghanistan, and threatened further attacks.Washington PostIllinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, speaking to reporters for the first time since federal criminal complaints were filed against him, denied any wrongdoing and quoted, from memory, the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. New York TimesCleveland Clinic surgeons performed the nation’s first face transplant;Live Sciencethe Bush Administration issued new rules that will allow health-care workers, from doctors to janitors, to refuse to perform services that violate their religious beliefs;Washington Postand the owner of Soapy’s Car Wash in Paw Paw, Michigan, found a heart on the floor of one of the wash bays. “We’re obviously hoping it’s an animal,” said the village police chief.Kalamazoo GazetteThe abuse by Iraqi soldiers and police of such prescription drugs as Artane and Valiumâ??known on the Iraqi street as “the capsule,” “the cross,” or “the eyebrow”â??was on the rise. “We don’t commit suicide,” explained an officer, “and that’s why we resort to Artane and other drugs.”New York TimesA recent poll found that more than a quarter of U.S. teenagers think that violence is at least sometimes acceptable,Live Scienceand the Florida Department of Law Enforcement began investigating allegations that children sent to the Florida School for Boys 50 years ago were abused and possibly killed after a group of men, now in their 60s, told investigators they believe the bodies of classmates are buried on the school’s premises. One of the men, Dick Colon, remembered wanting to save a black teenager whom he found inside a running clothes dryer. “I said, ‘Do it! Do it! Do it!’ And then I thought to myself, ‘If you do it, they’re gonna put you in there. You’re gonna be next.’ And I walked away,” he said. “A chicken shit, I was.”CNNAfter offering tips at a security seminar in Mexico on how to avoid being kidnapped, Felix Batista, an American who has negotiated the release of many kidnapping victims, was kidnapped.New York TimesThe cofounder of online gambling company PartyGaming pleaded guilty to a charge related to online betting and agreed to pay $300 million to the United States. “I acknowledge my actions,” said Anurag Dikshit, “and have come to believe that what I did was wrong.”Financial TimesDeep Throat died.New York Times

The Vatican said that homosexuality, currently punishable by law in 85 countries, should not be a crime.China National NewsArchaeologists unearthed a Roman oil lamp that depicts a woman receiving a gynecological exam by a doctor holding a vaginal speculum.Latin American Herald TribuneDoctors found that women with overactive bladders and restless legs are more likely to have persistent imminent orgasms,Science Dailyand researchers were studying whether hirsute women are more likely to have G spots and whether women with small G spots can grow them with practice.New ScientistMice were suspected as the cause of a Toronto fire that killed 100 cats at a shelter. “It’s unfortunate,” said a spokesman, “and ironic.”BBCA New Jersey ShopRite refused to decorate the birthday cake of a three-year-old boy with his name, Adolf Hitler Campbell. “ShopRite can’t even make a cake for a three-year-old,” said the boy’s mother. “That’s sad.”LehighValleyLive.comScientists learned that the presence of elephants can make smaller animals feel safe; found the largest tear ever detected in Earth’s magnetic field; and reported that the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space was lowering, which would mean that the sky is falling.New ScientistSalonScience DailyA three-day-old baby boy undergoing brain surgery to remove what was believed to be a tumor was instead found to have in his skull a tiny foot and other partially formed appendages. “It looked like the breech delivery of a baby,” the pediatric neurosurgeon said, “coming out of the brain.” Colorado Gazette

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Editor's Note

Many comedians consider stand-up the purest form of comedy; Doug Stanhope considers it the freest. “Once you do stand-up, it spoils you for everything else,” he says. “You’re the director, performer, and producer.” Unlike most of his peers, however, Stanhope has designed his career around exploring that freedom, which means choosing a life on the road. Perhaps this is why, although he is extremely ambitious, prolific, and one of the best stand-ups performing, so many Americans haven’t heard of him. Many comedians approach the road as a means to an end: a way to develop their skills, start booking bigger venues, and, if they’re lucky, get themselves airlifted to Hollywood. But life isn’t happening on a sit-com set or a sketch show — at least not the life that has interested Stanhope. He isn’t waiting to be invited to the party; indeed, he’s been hosting his own party for years.

Because of the present comedy boom, civilians are starting to hear about Doug Stanhope from other comedians like Ricky Gervais, Sarah Silverman, and Louis CK. But Stanhope has been building a devoted fan base for the past two decades, largely by word of mouth. On tour, he prefers the unencumbered arrival and the quick exit: cheap motels where you can pull the van up to the door of the room and park. He’s especially pleased if there’s an on-site bar, which increases the odds of hearing a good story from the sort of person who tends to drink away the afternoon in the depressed cities where he performs. Stanhope’s America isn’t the one still yammering on about its potential or struggling with losing hope. For the most part, hope is gone. On Word of Mouth, his 2002 album, he says, “America may be the best country, but that’s like being the prettiest Denny’s waitress. Just because you’re the best doesn’t make you good.”

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“He explained how sober Doug structured the bits and worked out the material’s logic; drunk Doug found the funny.”
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