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Barack Hussein Obama was reelected president of the United States, receiving 332 electoral votes to Mitt Romney’s 206, and nearly sweeping battleground states. The Democratic Party enlarged its Senate majority, and the Republican Party retained control of the House of Representatives. “Man, sometimes God really sucks,” said conservative radio host Glenn Beck. Fox News commentator Karl Rove, whose super PAC achieved a 1 percent success rate on the $104 million it invested in various races, challenged the network on air, claiming it had prematurely called Ohio, and the election, for Obama. “There’s a bunch of cats and dogs elsewhere, which add up to another 720,000 votes,” said Rove. “Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better?” asked anchor Megyn Kelly. An official “President Elect” Romney website went live after Romney had conceded; private jets carrying guests to Romney’s post-election party overwhelmed Boston’s Logan International Airport; and staffers taking taxis home from Romney’s concession speech found that their campaign credit cards had been canceled. “Fiscally conservative,” said one aide. Maine, Maryland, and Washington became the first states to legalize same-sex marriage by referendum, and voters in Colorado and Washington approved the decriminalization of marijuana for recreational use. “Federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug,” said Colorado governor John Hickenlooper. “Don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too soon.” CIA director David Petraeus resigned after an FBI investigation revealed that he had been involved in an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Former aides expressed surprise at Petraeus’s infidelity. “I never heard him say, ‘Wow, she was hot,’” said one.
Israel fired across its border into Syria, for the first time since 1973, after a stray mortar shell landed in the Golan Heights, and violence in northern Syria led at least 11,000 people to flee the country in one day. At a luxury hotel in Qatar, Syrian rebel groups formed a coalition in hopes of gaining international recognition and increased aid from foreign governments. Pakistani flagmakers were anticipating increased sales of American flags for use in effigies following Barack Obama’s reelection. Iranian fighter jets fired on* an American Predator drone flying in international airspace, and Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, denied that the country was pursuing an atomic bomb. “Those who are stockpiling nuclear weapons,” he said, “they are mentally retarded.” Jared Lee Loughner, who killed six people in an assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was sentenced to seven consecutive life terms and 140 additional years in federal prison. Citing inclement weather, the Federal Emergency Management Agency closed several centers dedicated to helping victims of Hurricane Sandy, and a National Guard truck transporting storm-relief workers in New York City’s Chinatown killed an 82-year-old man after running a red light. In Far Rockaway, Queens, six port-a-potties and fuel for electric generators were stolen overnight from a tent acting as a temporary polling place. Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued an emergency order instituting gasoline rationing. “Social pressure,” he said, “will ensure compliance.” New Yorkers were trading gas for sex on Craigslist.
The director general of the BBC resigned after one of the network’s current-affairs programs wrongly implicated a former member of parliament in a child sex-abuse scandal, and Kevin Clash, the voice of Sesame Street’s Elmo, took a leave of absence after he was accused of having sex with a teenage boy. Sesame Workshop said that it would continue to feature the character on the show. “Elmo is bigger than any one person,” the production company said in a statement. Police in Belize accused antivirus-software programmer John McAfee—who had been abusing hallucinogenic drugs in pursuit of a “super perv powder”—of murdering an American expatriate. Users of the website Reddit accurately diagnosed a man with testicular cancer after he got a positive result from a pregnancy test, and four Nigerian girls developed a generator powered by urine. A nine-year-old Ukrainian boy stole $4,000 of his parents’ savings from the family sofa and spent it on candy. A South African man suspected of selling body parts on the black market was arrested after police found his nephew’s genitals in his wallet. Activists launched condom-filled balloons into North Korea, and Los Angeles pornographers blamed a recent syphilis outbreak and poor voter outreach for a referendum result mandating the use of condoms in adult films. “Those of us in the industry who worked with the political strategists and consultants learned a lot,” said pornographer Christian Mann.
More from Jacob Z. Gross:
Weekly Review — July 29, 2014, 8:00 am
The quixotic quest for a Gaza ceasefire; West African doctors face mortal peril; and Russian gecko porn, restored
Weekly Review — June 17, 2014, 8:00 am
ISIS launches a major offensive in Iraq, the 2014 World Cup begins, and Florida keeps on being Florida
Weekly Review — April 29, 2014, 8:00 am
The U.S. Supreme Court and L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling remark on race and opportunity, the FCC prepares to end net neutrality, and white supremacists propagandize children’s Easter eggs
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.”