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In Moscow, a hundred-year moratorium was placed on gay-pride parades, and Judge Marina Syrova sentenced members of the punk band Pussy Riot to two years in a prison camp for felony hooliganism related to an impromptu anti-Putin performance at a Russian Orthodox cathedral in February. Before delivering her verdict, Syrova read aloud from a court psychiatrist’s evaluation of the band’s leader, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, whom the doctor had diagnosed with an affliction he identified as “mixed-personality disorder” and characterized as involving stubbornness, “inflated self-esteem,” and a “proactive approach to life.” Upon hearing their sentence, the members of the band laughed. Pro–Pussy Riot demonstrators outside the Russian consulate in Marseille were arrested for wearing balaclavas. “Absurd!” said the protesters. “Ridiculous!” Police killed 34 workers on strike from a platinum mine in Marikana, South Africa. “We are aware,” said an officer of the London-based company that owns the mine, “that it will take some time for some trust to be regained.” Elderly women in Swaziland were growing Swazi Gold, a potent variety of marijuana. “If you grow corn or cabbages,” said one grandmother, “the baboons steal them.” Muslims celebrated the end of Ramadan. Revelers in Mogadishu fired guns in the air to mark the city’s first peaceful Eid al-Fitr in years, while in Damascus, Bashar al-Assad emerged from hiding to pray at the Rihab al-Hamad mosque next to his palace. The United Nations observer mission in Syria ended with heavy fighting still taking place around the country. Afghanistan’s education ministry approved a new history curriculum that largely omits the coups and Soviet invasion of the 1970s, the rise of the Taliban, and the American invasion after 9/11. “It is as if someone is trying,” said an Afghan journalist, “to hide the sun with two fingers.”
“Social welfare” nonprofits, which are not required to disclose the names of any of their donors, were reportedly spending more on TV ads in support of U.S. presidential candidates than were super PACs, which are. “We can take corporate money, personal money, cash, shekels, whatever you got,” said the director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. Senate candidate Todd Akin (R., Mo.) defended his categorical opposition to abortion. “If it’s a legitimate rape,” Akin explained, “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Vice President Joe Biden, addressing a predominantly African-American crowd, spoke of Mitt Romney’s desire to deregulate Wall Street. “They’re going to put y’all back in chains!” said Biden. The Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament, invited former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and financier Darla Moore to become its first female members since it was founded 80 years ago. The Iowa State Fair, at which vendors offered 57 types of food on a stick, concluded in Des Moines. “Fairs and carnivals are roller coasters of stimulation,” said an overconsumption expert. “Carnies understood this long before neuroscience did.” In Japan, where the offspring of pale grass blue butterflies captured near Fukushima were showing drastic mutations of their antennae, eyes, and wings, the country’s “last ninja” spoke about the end of his kind. “Ninjas just don’t fit into the modern day,” said Jinichi Kawakami, head of the Ban clan. “We can’t try out murder or poisons.”
Pig-rearing squatters were threatening the Nazca geoglyphs of Peru. A Belgian gynecologist found that uterine length-to-width ratios in fertile women are nearly golden, and American demographers announced that the U.S. population had surpassed one hundred million times ?. Particle physicists at the Large Hadron Collider created a quark-gluon plasma with a temperature of 9.9 trillion degrees Fahrenheit, and astronomers observed that the sun is very round. Researchers discovered that the black hole at the center of the Phoenix galaxy cluster, unlike the black hole at the center of the Perseus galaxy cluster, was not emitting a B-flat fifty-seven octaves below middle C. “There are times,” said one astrophysicist, “when the music essentially stops.” Crickets raised amid silence were found to be more aggressive than those raised amid song. Caraquenians in red trousers called for the return of Matisse’s Odalisque in Red Trousers, and Niçois defended the purity of the salade niçoise. “Lemon and shallots, no, no!” said one woman. “I refuse any gastronomic fundamentalism,” said a local chef. In Wales, National Health Service officials expressed concern about inappropriate emergency calls from sufferers of hamster bites and hangovers, and from a man who needed help spreading ointment on his back. Queen Elizabeth II’s corgis, Holly, Monty, and Willow, and her dorgis, Candy, Cider, and Vulcan, attacked Princess Margaret’s Norfolk terrier Max at Balmoral Castle. “Unfortunately the dog boy lost control,” said a witness. “There was blood everywhere.”
More from Anthony Lydgate:
Weekly Review — April 8, 2014, 8:00 am
Afghanistan votes, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of wealthy political donors, and China standardizes its pets
Weekly Review — February 25, 2014, 8:00 am
Upheaval in Ukraine, yobbery in the United Kingdom, and a historic douche in the United States
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.”