Weekly Review — March 25, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: All In My Eye, December 1853]

An American cattleman.

As the war in Iraq stretched beyond its fifth year the U.S. death toll rose to 4,000, and a national conference intended to reconcile sectarian groups was boycotted by Sunnis.BBC NewsAssociated PressMSNBCSenator John McCain visited Jordan and told reporters that it was “common knowledge and has been reported in the media that Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran.” Senator Joe Lieberman was seen whispering into McCain’s ear, after which McCain apologized. “The Iranians are training extremists,” he explained. “Not Al Qaeda.” Later, in Jerusalem, a fistfight among photographers, soldiers, police officers, and tourists erupted at McCain’s Western Wall photo shoot, resulting in damage to several pairs of sunglasses.Washington PostNew York TimesIn response to fury over a handful of remarks made by Reverend Jeremiah Wright over the course of his 36 years as a pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, Senator Barack Obama delivered a nuanced and serious speech about race in America. “I think it’s an obligation of any opponent to use this issue,” said Congressman Peter King (R.-NY), “to make Reverend Wright a centerpiece of the campaign.”Washington PostNewsdayThe National Archives released more than 11,000 pages of Senator Hillary Clinton’s daily schedules as first lady, providing proof that she once read If You Give a Moose a Muffin out loud to a group of children.Washington PostScientists concluded that destroying information by throwing it into a black hole was not effective, because the information could leak from the hole at 1,000 bits per second, the same speed as a dial-up Internet connection.Scientific American

The Dalai Lama said that he would resign as the spiritual leader of Tibet if violence in the area escalated. Washington PostFrancisco Duque III, the Philippine Secretary of Health, encouraged Roman Catholic worshippers who planned on flaying the skin off their backs or crucifying themselves on Easter to get a tetanus shot first and to use clean whips and nails. Daily TelegraphMikhail Gorbachev admitted that he is a Christian,The Telegraphand Michael Stipe, lead singer of R.E.M., announced that he is gay. “I thought it was pretty obvious,” said Stipe, who has been explaining that he is not heterosexual for nearly a decade.US WeeklyPlaygirl invited former New York governor Eliot Spitzer to pose nude in its pages; Spitzer’s replacement, David Paterson, became the first black governor of New York and promptly admitted that he had in the past frequented a New York City Days Inn hotel to have sex with “a woman other than my wife.”PlaygirlNew York Daily NewsTheodore Pederson, once an aide to former New Jersey governor James McGreevey, said that for three years he, McGreevey, and Dina Matos (who would later marry McGreevey) would have dinner and drinks at T.G.I. Friday’s and follow that with sex as a threesome. “Friday night specials,” Pederson said, “developed into Saturday mornings.”The Star-LedgerResearchers found that a diet that includes lots of folate will keep sperm healthy.BBC News

The cubicle turned 40, Viagra turned 10, and Hotel Luxor, the oldest whorehouse in Germany’s red light district, announced that it would close for lack of business.TimeYahoo NewsAssociated PressMarvin Richardson, an organic strawberry farmer in Idaho who is challenging Senator Larry Craig for his Senate seat, had his name legally changed to Pro-Life. CBS NewsAn 81-year-old Australian committed suicide by building a robot that shot him four times in the head,Fox Newsand ABBA’s former drummer Ola Brunkert accidentally cut his neck on a piece of shattered glass at his Mallorca home, walked outside, collapsed in his garden, and died. Associated PressHorst Rippert, an 88-year-old former German fighter pilot, told the biographer of Antoine de Saint-Exupery that one of the 28 planes that Rippert gunned down during World War II was piloted by The Little Prince author. “If I had known,” Rippert said, “I wouldn’t have fired.” The ScotsmanPresident George W. Bush spoke with soldiers in Afghanistan. “I’m a little envious,” he said via a remote video link. “It must be exciting for youâ??in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger.”ReutersAn elderly German woman filed a lawsuit against a hospital in Bavaria after she checked in for a leg operation and was instead given a new anus.Fox NewsA study concluded that 95 percent of all Native Americans in North, Central, and South America descended from six “founding mothers” who lived 20,000 years ago;E Newsresearchers discovered a hidden ocean underneath the crust of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon;Scientific Americanand a NASA probe revealed that Mars may be covered in table salt.BBC NewsIt was reported that Petra, the German black swan who fell in love with a swan-shaped paddleboat two years ago, has moved on to a new relationship with a live white swan. The two are now building a nest together.Cnews

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In 1973, when Barry Singer was a fifteen-year-old student at New York’s Yeshiva University High School for Boys, the vice principal, Rabbi George Finkelstein, stopped him in a stairwell. Claiming he wanted to check his tzitzit—the strings attached to Singer’s prayer shawl—Finkelstein, Singer says, pushed the boy over the third-floor banister, in full view of his classmates, and reached down his pants. “If he’s not wearing tzitzit,” Finkelstein told the surrounding children, “he’s going over the stairs!”

“He played it as a joke, but I was completely at his mercy,” Singer recalled. For the rest of his time at Yeshiva, Singer would often wear his tzitzit on the outside of his shirt—though this was regarded as rebellious—for fear that Finkelstein might find an excuse to assault him again.

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About fifteen years ago, my roommate and I developed a classification system for TV and movies. Each title was slotted into one of four categories: Good-Good; Bad-Good; Good-Bad; Bad-Bad. The first qualifier was qualitative, while the second represented a high-low binary, the title’s aspiration toward capital-A Art or lack thereof.

Some taxonomies were inarguable. The O.C., a Fox series about California rich kids and their beautiful swimming pools, was delightfully Good-Bad. Paul Haggis’s heavy-handed morality play, Crash, which won the Oscar for Best Picture, was gallingly Bad-Good. The films of Francois Truffaut, Good-Good; the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, Bad-Bad.

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For time ylost, this know ye,
By no way may recovered be.
—Chaucer

I spent thirty-eight years in prison and have been a free man for just under two. After killing a man named Thomas Allen Fellowes in a drunken, drugged-up fistfight in 1980, when I was nineteen years old, I was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Former California governor Jerry Brown commuted my sentence and I was released in 2017, five days before Christmas. The law in California, like in most states, grants the governor the right to alter sentences. After many years of advocating for the reformation of the prison system into one that encourages rehabilitation, I had my life restored to me.

Cost of renting a giant panda from the Chinese government, per day:

$1,500

A recent earthquake in Chile was found to have shifted the city of Concepción ten feet to the west, shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 microseconds, and shifted the planet’s axis by nearly three inches.

A solid-gold toilet named “America” was stolen from Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, in Oxfordshire, England.

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