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National polls showed President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney to be virtually tied, suggesting that Tuesday’s presidential election will be among the closest in U.S. history. Obama held a rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, at which Stevie Wonder performed “Higher Ground” and “Superstition.” Romney campaigned in the traditionally Democratic state of Pennsylvania, taking the stage in Bucks County to the theme song from Rocky. Vice president Joe Biden admitted to watching clips of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on Air Force Two, and Republican VP candidate Paul Ryan played cornhole with his children and several Romney grandchildren while tailgating outside the Green Bay Packers game in Wisconsin on Sunday. “You have to have your cheese on your head,” Ryan told the kids. Tiny campaign signs set up outside prairie-dog burrows near Boulder, Colorado, were evenly split between the presidential candidates, and in Kenya, a bull named Barack Obama beat a larger bull named Mitt Romney in a fight. “It’s clear now,” said a spectator, “that Romney can’t beat Obama.” A blindfolded Egyptian child selected the new Coptic pope, and Muslim clerics suggested that Hurricane Sandy, which killed 113 people in the U.S. and left 8.5 million without power, was punishment for the ills of American society. “It is revenge from God,” tweeted Egyptian cleric Wagdi Ghoneim. In New York City, where the storm killed at least 41 people, an estimated 750 shoppers waited in line outside Apple’s flagship store to buy the new iPad mini. “There’s no electricity,” said Eytan Friedman, “so I figured I’d get up early and get my new iPad rather than lie in bed and stare at the ceiling.” New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg insisted that holding the New York Marathon as scheduled would boost the city’s morale, then canceled the event a few hours later and announced that blankets and bottled water intended for runners would instead be distributed to hurricane victims. “I feel like it was a trick,” said Italian runner Giuseppe Paladino. “I feel like I was robbed.”
Russia’s parliament approved an expanded definition of high treason that includes “giving financial, technical, consulting or other help” to foreign entities. Russian president Vladimir Putin warned that groups engaged in “totalitarian activities” were “growing like mushrooms” in the country; nationalists marched in Moscow to protest Putin’s support of Caucasian and Central Asian immigrants; and a pro-Kremlin Russian youth group promoted a ban on Mormons because of their “questionable activities.” In the United States, the Christian American Family Association accused “Mix It Up at Lunch Day,” on which children sit with someone new in the cafeteria, of being “a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools.” “I use poisoned Halloween candy as an illustration,” said Bryan Fischer, the group’s director of issue analysis. “This looks harmless on the surface, but you don’t realize how toxic it is.” Trick-or-treaters in Royton, England, were given packets of cocaine instead of sweets, and in Surrey, a former history teacher built a 60-foot World War I–style trench in his backyard. “We can hear the gunfire from the house,” said his neighbor, “but as it isn’t very often we don’t mind.” France’s equality ministry began “sensitization sessions” for government ministers after Housing Minister Cécile Duflot was catcalled at the National Assembly by male legislators, who claimed they were merely complimenting her flowered dress. Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri, stopped telling users where to find prostitutes in China, and Israel’s minister of public diplomacy toured Tikun Olam, Israel’s largest medical-marijuana farm. “This is God’s doing,” says the farm’s logo, “and it’s marvelous in our eyes.”
Biologists with Alaska’s fish and game department killed a grizzly bear that was attempting to break into homes in the Stuckagain Heights neighborhood of Anchorage, while a bear that had stolen local chickens remained at large. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals requested that a memorial sign be placed at an Irvine, California, site where hundreds of saltwater bass died in a traffic accident. “Although such signs are traditionally reserved for human fatalities,” the group wrote, “I hope you’ll make an exception because of the enormous suffering involved.” Computer scientists at University College London and the University of Barcelona created a program in which rats control a person-shaped avatar that interacts with human subjects in virtual reality, and a lonely Seoul elephant spoke Korean to his trainers. Pet behaviorist Karen Wild helped design a bedtime story to relax the United Kingdom’s dogs during Guy Fawkes Night fireworks, and NASA considered sending Camilla Corona, a rubber chicken with a popular Twitter feed, to the International Space Station. “Sometimes,” said one of her followers, “she says things that are at a high scientific level.”
More from Sara Breselor:
Weekly Review — April 14, 2015, 8:00 am
Michael Slager is charged with murder, Hillary Clinton declares her candidacy for president, and a Utah television personality gets probation for kicking a barn owl
Weekly Review — January 20, 2015, 8:00 am
The Pope says climate change is mostly man made, Al Qaeda claims responsibility for the attack on Charlie Hebdo, and residents of a town in Denmark agree to have sex more often
Weekly Review — December 23, 2014, 8:00 am
North Korea attacks the U.S. film industry, Pakistan reinstates the death penalty, and a Pennsylvania electrician stabs a Virgin Mary lawn ornament in the head
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.”