Guns, the big game, and circular fast-food logic
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Guns, the big game, and circular fast-food logic
The Senate Judiciary Committee held its first hearing on gun violence since a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December. Former Arizona representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically injured in a 2011 shooting in Tucson, spoke in favor of new legislation. “Too many children are dying,” said Giffords. “The time is now.” While the hearing was taking place, a gunman shot three people in a Phoenix office building. The previous day, a 15-year-old majorette who performed at President Barack Obama’s inauguration was shot and killed at a park in Chicago, and in Alabama, a man named Jimmy Lee Dykes boarded a bus, shot the driver, and abducted a five-year-old boy who he held hostage for seven days in a six- by eight-foot bunker, until the FBI staged a successful operation to rescue the child. Dykes, who died during the raid, was known to patrol his yard with a flashlight and a firearm, to chase people off his property with a shovel, and to have beaten a neighbor’s dog with a lead pipe. He had been scheduled to appear in court last Wednesday to answer charges that he shot at his neighbors in a dispute over a speed bump. The Sandy Hook Elementary choir opened Super Bowl XLVII at the Superdome in New Orleans, singing “America the Beautiful” with American Idol finalist Jennifer Hudson, whose mother, brother, and seven-year-old nephew were shot and killed five years ago. Destiny’s Child reunited to sing “Bootylicious” at halftime, a power outage at the stadium halted the game for 34 minutes, and the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34–31. To settle wagers placed on the game, San Francisco city librarian Luis Herrera will recite Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” in the atrium of the main branch of the city’s public library, and Episcopal Bishop of California Marc Andrus will reportedly send Episcopal Bishop of Maryland Eugene Sutton local beer and tie-dyed clothing.
Iran claimed to have launched a monkey named Pishgam (“Pioneer”) 72 miles into space, touting the creature’s safe return as important progress since its 2010 launches of a mouse, a turtle, and some worms. “A slight monkey on a suborbital flight,” said space-policy professor John Logsden, “is nothing to get too excited about.” In response to a proposed British government ad campaign that would emphasize negative aspects of life in the United Kingdom in order to dissuade Romanians from immigrating, a Romanian news site launched a campaign designed to attract British tourists, featuring such slogans as “We speak better English than anywhere you’ve been in France.” Latvians protested their country’s bid to adopt the euro, which has been weakened by debt crises throughout the continent. “We don’t want to pay for their problems,” said financial manager Normunds Bernups. “They already have a better standard of living than we do.” A Reykjavik court granted a 15-year-old officially known as “girl” the right to use her given name, which the Icelandic government had barred her from doing because it was too masculine. “Finally,” she said, “I’ll have the name ‘Blær’ in my passport.” Dolce & Gabbana announced the launch of a unisex perfume for newborns, inspired by the freshness of their breath. “D&G say their scent ‘smells of baby,’ ” said fragrance expert Vanessa Musson, “but a baby already smells like a baby.” Frito-Lay announced the release of Taco Bell Doritos, which will taste like Taco Bell Doritos Loco tacos, which taste like Doritos. Hundreds of birds washed up on the southern coast of England coated with a substance suspected to be vegetable oil, and were cleaned with margarine. A Japanese zoo held an earthquake drill in which staff netted a man in a zebra suit, and reports of damage to a home in Swords, Dublin, following a high school party whose invitation had gone viral were found to have been overstated. “There was no goldfish boiled,” explained a family member, “there was no hamster taped to the ceiling.”
Natalie Scott of Stirling, Scotland, pleaded guilty to culpable homicide for killing her partner with a wineglass, and Frederick Gilliard of Blackpool, England, was sentenced to four years in prison for bludgeoning his wife to death with a garden statue shaped like an Easter Island head. “This is going to kill my kids,” he told police at the time of the incident. “We have been married 54 years. I loved that woman.” A Portsmouth, Virginia, man who stole a church van was apprehended when he crashed into a building at the intersection of Effingham and High Streets; thieves abandoned an attempted carjacking in Orlando, Florida, because they couldn’t drive a stick shift; and a Newport News, Virginia, delivery man apprehended a 17-year-old girl who stole money and pizza from him by giving chase in his car as she fled on her bicycle. Three New Hampshire men were arrested in a road-rage incident involving a chainsaw, a baseball bat, and a wooden pole with a knife attached, and an Ottawa man named Richard Blake, on trial for stabbing a couple in their Rideout Circle home, claimed that the SUV he was driving, which had bloody knives in the backseat, had been given to him by a mysterious stranger he met while out buying milk. “I was pretty excited about it,” said Blake. “Free car, you know.”
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Freddie Gray’s relatives arrived for the trial in the afternoon, after the prep-school kids had left. By their dress, they seemed to have just gotten off work in the medical and clerical fields. The family did not appear at ease in the courtroom. They winced and dropped their heads as William Porter and his fellow officer Zachary Novak testified to opening the doors of their police van last April and finding Freddie paralyzed, unresponsive, with mucus pooling at his mouth and nose. Four women and one man mournfully listened as the officers described needing to get gloves before they could touch him.
The first of six Baltimore police officers to be brought before the court for their treatment of Freddie Gray, a black twenty-five-year-old whose death in their custody was the immediate cause of the city’s uprising last spring, William Porter is young, black, and on trial. Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing.
Average speed of Heinz ketchup, from the mouth of an upended bottle, in miles per year:
After studying the fall of 64,000 individual raindrops, scientists found that some small raindrops fall faster than they ought to.
The Playboy mansion in California was bought by the heir to the Twinkie fortune, and a New Mexico man set fire to his apartment to protest his neighbors’ loud lovemaking.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”