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Is there anyone out there who still expects anything from the Angelides Commission? After AIG? After TARP? After Treasury’s gargantuan tax breaks for banks, Geithner’s preposterous asset buying program, the Citigroup $300 billion plus “ring fence,” or the FDIC’s guarantees of bank debts? Or, for that matter, the proposed new financial “reform” legislation that does little to rein in “too big to fail” banks and their long deadly chains of derivatives and credit default swaps? Probably not. But since the Commission is finally holding its first hearings this week, let’s just for a moment suspend disbelief and imagine how we skeptics might be proved wrong. One telltale sign will come right at the start: Are the bankers who are testifying required to do so under oath or not? If the answer is no, relax and go see a disaster movie. You can be sure that it will all be just for show. –“Ask Holder to Be Bolder: Resolving the Mysteries of AIG,” Tom Ferguson, New Deal 2.0
A Harper’s Magazine history of whitewash: John T. Flynn on the Pecora Commission and the Depression, circa 1934: “The Marines Land in Wall Street” (free PDF–and highly recommended);
Christopher Hitchens on closeted Republican conservatives, circa 1987: “It Dares not Speak Its Name: Fear and self-loathing on the gay right” (subs);
and free: Benjamin DeMott on terrorism and 9/11, circa 2004: Whitewash as public service: How the 9/11 Commission Report defrauds the nation”;
and the Harper’s Index searchable archive, for all statistics on “corruption”
Emet means truth. It is my ur-word. It is the essence of Hashem, the impetus of creation, the midwife of the Covenant. These are poor words, but they will do. I could go on for hours. Ruth has advised against that… Ruth had a job as a community worker. She arrived unbidden at the home of an at-risk youth to give his parents a list of behaviors to stop. They nearly pushed her down a flight of stairs. She was fired. She had a volunteer position at a daycare. A boy asked her what it was like to not have a thingie. She answered, in great detail. Some policemen were called, most certainly an overreaction, but Ruth raised her voice and informed them that law is a deterrent to crime, not to gender. She is no longer welcome at the daycare. –“Marked Man,” The Golem Blog, The Morning News
When executives at Unilever noticed that much of their office space was either unused or unoccupied as workers traveled, they took away 36 percent of their employees’ personal space. The company’s offices in Leatherhead, England, now feature “agile” space: a largely open office where workers rearrange themselves throughout the day depending upon their tasks. They can collaborate with one another while sitting at a table, take a break in a curvy “vitality” space or concentrate alone in a small individual work area. The company’s design for its corporate offices in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., resembles a large house more than a cube farm. Renovations in Bogota and Singapore are scheduled to be finished in 2010. –“On the death of the Cubicle,” Susan E. Reed, Global Post
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
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 tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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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.”