Week in Review

by by Beatrice Igne-Bianchi

illustration by by Robert Sandle

Bummer, Hummer

Let the obituaries begin. Reminisce the prom queen’s misfortune when her Hummer limo ran out of gas and when you claimed that Transformers had no impact on your purchase of an HX.  Then date the scrapbook 1992- 2010, because as of February 24 Hummer is finished.
After two years of trying to auction off the brand, General Motors says that without an unforeseen buyer, it plans to permanently wind down its production of the brand.  The announcement comes after a $150 million deal with China’s Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machines fell through.  A combination of Chinese government intervention and insufficient capital has killed the acquisition.
Following a government bailout, GM first established the deal in June, trying to sell a brand with declining profits and unshakable anti-environmental taint.  Hummer’s emissions-monger reputation caused the Chinese government reversal.  Facing blame for the climate change impasse in Copenhagen, China hopes to indicate its environmental commitment by disallowing Hummer.
Many signals pointed to Hummer’s fatal demise, including criticism from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who once claimed he would buy a fleet of Hummers.  Although steroid-raging to tree-hugging is a trendy move these days, when the Kindergarten Cop disowns you, it’s time for termination.


Kentucky Throws Down the Gauntlet

Remember that moment in US History class, in your junior year of high school, when you found out that Alexander Hamilton was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr? And you were all like, “Wait wait wait—a duel?!” Well, you’re not the only one who giggles incredulously at the once-widespread (and often lethal) practice of dueling: former dueling hotbed Kentucky is looking to amend the portion of its state constitution that bars state officials from having ever participated in duels with deadly weapons.
Fed up with the chuckling that routinely greets the swearing-in of present-day officials, Democratic State Representative Darryl Owens is sponsoring a bill to remove any mention of dueling from Kentucky’s oath of office. Last week, Owens told the Associated Press that “the laughter as a result of the dueling portion detracts […] from what should be a solemn and important occasion.” His proposal has already been approved by the House Committee on Elections, Constitutional Amendments, and Intergovernmental Affairs. It is now up for review by the State House and Senate, and should they deem the proposal worthy, the issue will be put to voters come November.
While the paranoid among us might worry that an amended oath could trigger reenactments of the Burr-Hamilton showdown, Andrew Malcolm of the L.A. Times, for one, speculates that a broad resurgence in dueling might not be such a bad thing. He writes, “Have those elected political folks put their own bodies where their overblown rhetoric is. See if that tones things down a bit on the sound bites that pass for political dialogue these days.” And from that point of view, Dick Cheney has never looked scarier.


Mile High Madness

Once upon a time—which is to say, on February 26—there was a Ryanair plane flying from Krakow to the East Midlands, which sounds like the name of some islands but actually refers to the region in England where Weetabix cereal is made.
A man on this plane felt an itch in his brain, and realized it was the itch of feeling lucky! So he decided to buy a lottery scratch-card on the plane, which is apparently something you can do on discount European flights.
The man got his card and then scratched and scratched, and suddenly, his prize was revealed: he had won €10,000!
This man was so anxious to claim his winnings that he demanded it from the cabin staff immediately. The staff got their feathers all ruffled and said, “Sorry, sir, but we don’t exactly have that kind of cash kicking around the aircraft!” The man did not like this news one bit. Red-faced and hornet-angry, he decided to eat his ticket.
“No, no!” said the other passengers.
“No, no!” said the crew members.
“Do not eat your ticket!”
But he did, and then he could not claim his prize winnings at all, so Ryanair is now letting passengers vote on the charity it will go to instead.
That’s why you should always fly Lufthansa, now offering great winter-season ski deals.


They Got Game

Olympic athletes are famous for their discipline and endurance. It’s in their DNA to give 110 percent. And as reported last week, giving it one’s all is not limited to the rinks and slopes—it extends to the bedroom. The winter wonder men and women have already polished off Vancouver’s supply of rubbers, which prompted an emergency shipment to the Olympic site.
Luckily, the Canadian Foundation for Aids Research (CANFAR) came quickly to the rescue. In three large boxes, the organization expedited 8,500 party hats for the Olympic-sized libidos. “When we heard about the condom shortage in Vancouver, we felt it important to respond immediately,” said Kerry Whiteside, CANFAR’s Executive Director, as reported by Canada’s National Post.
At the start of the games, health representatives in Vancouver provided 10,000 free condoms to the 7,000 athletes and officials—that’s roughly 14 condoms a head. But less than two weeks into the start of the Olympics, raincoats were running dangerously low. So if everyone’s doing it that comes to a grand total of sex once a day during the week, and twice nightly come the weekend.
The Olympic Games popped a cherry of its own—this is the first time there has been a shortage of preservatives since the distribution of free condoms began at the 1992 Barcelona games. Not a bad way to warm up before a routine.