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A Roman protester was shot twice in the head and killed by a 20-year-old paramilitary officer at the G-8 summit in Genoa, Italy; the Land Rover in which the police were riding then backed up and ran over the body before speeding away. Three days earlier, British prime minister Tony Blair declared that people have been “far too apologetic” toward demonstrators who disrupt gatherings of world leaders, noting that “if the public knew their views, they’d disagree with them.” Hundreds of thousands of semi-naked youths were gyrating in the streets of Berlin during its eleventh annual Love Parade. Russian president Vladimir Putin declared that Lenin’s body will remain on display in Moscow, despite calls for it to be buried. “Once I see an overwhelming majority of people wanting to tackle the Lenin question, we will discuss it,” he said. “But today I don’t see it and therefore we will not talk about it.” A study by computer scientists, mechanical engineers, and social scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology found that four million to six million votes cast last November were not counted. Human-rights groups were putting the finishing touches on Peekabooty, anticensorship software that would defeat all Web filters and allow Internet users in countries such as Saudi Arabia, China, and North Korea access to government-censored sites. Tradeunions and human-rights groups filed suit against Coca-Cola for allegedly hiring right-wing death squads to terrorize workers at bottling plants in Colombia. Indian nationalists in Bombay were protesting the name of President Bush’s cat, India. “Mr. President, don’t make a mistake,” read the posters. “Indians are lions, not cats.”
A train carrying toxic chemicals, including hydrochloric acid, was burning in a tunnel beneath downtown Baltimore, moving officials to cancel an Orioles game and to recommend that residents stay inside with their windows closed. Scientists reported that introverted firefighters are more susceptible to injuries on the job. A study found that media accounts of “social anxiety disorder” increased from 50 in 1997 and 1998 to more than a billion in 1999, following a public-relations campaign coordinated by SmithKline Beecham, the makers of the antidepressant Paxil. According to new research, Abraham Lincoln was prone to sudden fits of rage, the result of mercury poisoning from the little blue pills he’d been prescribed for melancholia. A New York City artist, distraught after her boyfriend ended their relationship by email, broadcast her suicide attempt over the Internet; she was rescued when a witness called 911. Obese people who exercise were found to have half the death rate of skinny people who don’t. Scientists revealed that, if the Arctic ice cap continues to shrink, the stretch of land between London and Stockholm will become almost uninhabitable. Ukraine’s president ordered 35,000 prisoners released, spurring fears that the convicts would carry tuberculosis into the population. The FBI noticed it was missing 184 laptops, some containing classified information, and 449 guns. The IRS sent about 523,000 notices to taxpayers mistakenly informing them that they would get the maximum possible refund check under President Bush’stax-cut plan. The agency hopes to mail corrected notices this week. Scientists built an atomic clock that is accurate to within a second for two billion years, an improvement over the previously most accurate clock, which loses a second about every 20 million years.
An 18-year-old man attempted to rob a Eugene, Oregon, porn shop with his thumb and forefinger held in the shape of a gun. A British judge was trying to decide whether a ban on public cavorting with inflatable sex dolls contravenes European Union human-rights legislation. A study found that husbands and wives keep big secrets from each other. Astronomers discovered that rings around “young, hot, and hefty” stars are far more numerous than previously suspected. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston filed a $50 million lawsuit against the jeweler who made their wedding rings for reneging on her promise to break the mold. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned that the economy probably won’t improve anytime soon. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neil proposed reviewing whether the corporate income tax is really necessary. Vice President Dick Cheney thought it would be a good idea for the Navy to pay his $186,000 home electric bill. A natural-gas well exploded near Waco, Texas, killing two Halliburton Company workers. Greek monks agreed to lift a century-old curse dooming an island village to “never sleep again” for bringing the wrath of the Ottoman Empire on their monastery. “This will be a relief for many people here,” said the mayor. Zanzibari men were refusing to sleep in their houses to evade Popo Bawa, a sexually voracious ghost who sodomizes victims in their sleep. Egypt put on trial 52 men suspected of being gay. A spokesman for Egypt’s Human Rights Center for the Assistance of Prisoners declared, “No one has the right to be queer, because this goes against nature.” A dead chipmunk found near Lake Tahoe tested positive for bubonic plague.
More from Elizabeth Giddens:
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.”