Weekly Review — December 31, 2010, 6:38 pm

Yearly Review

Two thousand seven hundred twenty-two days after
U.S. troops crossed the Kuwaiti border into Iraq,
U.S. combat operations there officially ended. The
U.S.-led war in Afghanistan turned older than the Soviet
Union’s 3,339-day campaign in the country. Twenty-one
percent of young veterans of the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan were unemployed, Iraqi government officials
said that some 58,000 stray dogs in Baghdad had been
poisoned or shot, and Target, a dog rescued from
Afghanistan after she alerted troops to a suicide bomber
and saved dozens of soldiers, was accidentally
euthanized. The Supreme Court upheld the right to record
women crushing small animals with their feet and
overturned two precedents to rule that the government
cannot ban corporations from spending money in political
elections. The U.S. House and Senate finalized a
watered-down, 2,000-page financial-reform bill. “Not to
be funny about it,” JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon told
the FCIC, “but my daughter asked me… ‘What’s the
financial crisis,’ and I said, ‘Well, it’s something
that happens every five to seven years.'” The Texas
State Board of Education voted to revise its
social-studies curriculum, mandating that the
U.S. government should not be called “democratic,” and
Republicans took control of the House. A Virginia judge
voided the provision in Obama’s health-care law
requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance. A
Texas newborn with a heart defect was denied health
insurance because of his pre-existing condition. “It
would be hard to argue that we’re going backwards,” said
Obama. “I think what you can argue is we’re stuck in
neutral.”

An earthquake registering 7.0 on the Richter scale hit
Haiti. The media questioned whether it was appropriate
for journalists in Haiti to be wearing tight T-shirts on
air. A 42-year-old man died of stroke after becoming
over-excited while watching the film “Avatar,” and video
surfaced of an Indonesian two-year-old smoking and
propelling himself around on a toy truck because he is
too out of shape to toddle. An unemployed security
worker won Spain’s first siesta championship. A
three-year-old girl in South Korea died of starvation
while her parents played a child-rearing game online, a
Kentucky man was charged with wanton endangerment after
he got drunk and put his five-week-old son to bed in an
oven, and a Georgia mother punished her 12-year-old son
for his bad grades by forcing him to hammer to death his
pet hamster. The body of a registered Japanese
centenarian was found in her son’s backpack. A Minnesota
couple asked visitors to their website to vote on
whether they should keep or abort the wife’s fetus, and
a woman in Florida live-tweeted her
abortion. “Definitely bleeding now,” read one tweet. The
birth-control pill turned 50. J.D. Salinger, Art Clokey,
the creator of Gumby, and the world’s ugliest dog died,
as did Viva Leroy Nash, the oldest U.S. death-row
inmate, of natural causes. PETA proposed replacing
Punxsutawney Phil with a robotic stand-in to celebrate
Groundhog Day, and the American Kennel Club announced
that it will let mutts, or “All Americans,” compete in
shows. In advance of a visit from 5’4″ President Dmitry
Medvedev, a Russian town, Omsk, took down posters for a
children’s theater show that read, “We await you, merry
gnome,” and England’s Prince William agreed to blow a
young boy’s vuvuzela. New Jersey police forced a woman
to put clothes on a Venus de Milo snow sculpture.

BP claimed it may have trouble covering the costs of the
Deepwater Horizon spill if it is prevented from further
drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The twenty-first winter
Olympic Games opened in Vancouver without enough snow, a
piece of ice measuring 100 square miles broke off of
Greenland, and researchers determined that climate
change could make the world more fragrant. The
five-story-tall Taylor Glacier in Antarctica was spewing
a blood-red waterfall. British researchers said that the
G-spot does not exist and concluded that the chicken
came before the egg. Scientists learned that the
“mustache” worn by the male Molly fish in Mexico
attracts females, who are sexually stimulated when the
mustache is rubbed against their genitals, and that the
erect penis of the giant squid is almost as long as its
entire body. Exposure to antidepressants in the ocean
was making shrimp suicidal, and female snails exposed to
the chemical TBT were growing penises from their
heads. A pair of swans stunned staff at a British
wildfowl sanctuary by becoming only the second couple in
40 years to divorce. Seventy-five starlings fell from
the sky in Somerset, England, and 10,000 birds were
trapped in the twin beams of light projected up from the
World Trade Center site, dazzled and unable to return to
their migratory paths. Russia announced plans to divert
the asteroid Apophis, which has a “1-in-250,000” chance
of striking Earth in 2036; an Oregon man found a
4.5-billion-year-old meteorite on the side of the road;
and the Hubble Space Telescope captured images of a
sun-like star eating a nearby planet. At a museum in
Paris, the cable holding Foucault’s first pendulum
snapped, leaving the bob to crash to the marble floor,
where it was damaged beyond repair.

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To look at him, Sweet Macho was a beautiful horse, lean and strong with muscles that twitched beneath his shining black coat. A former racehorse, he carried himself with ceremony, prancing the field behind our house as though it were the winner’s circle. When he approached us that day at the edge of the yard, his eyes shone with what might’ve looked like intelligence but was actually a form of insanity. Not that there was any telling our mother’s boyfriend this — he fancied himself a cowboy.

“Horse 1,” by Nine Francois. Courtesy the artist and AgavePrint, Austin, Texas
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What We Think About When We Think About Soccer, by Simon Critchley. Penguin Books. 224 pages. $20.

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