Weekly Review — August 24, 2004, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A grasshopper driving a chariot, 1875]

Senator Pat Roberts, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, proposed eliminating the CIA, removing the National Security Agency from the Pentagon’s control, and creating three new spy agencies governed by a national intelligence director.New York TimesThe American Civil Liberties Union warned that the federal government has been using corporations to carry out surveillance of citizens because private firms are not subject to many privacy and civil-liberties laws.WiredSenator Ted Kennedy confirmed that he had been placed on the federal “no-fly” list designed to prevent terrorists from boarding commercial aircraft.ReutersOil prices rose above $49.Agence France-PresseThe U.S. Army announced that it will withhold 15 percent of the fees billed by the Halliburton Company but almost immediately decided to “withhold” the decision pending further review.New York TimesPresident Bush was concerned about the “Soviet dinar,” andAgence France-PressePresident Silvio Berlusconi of Italy underwent a hair transplant.TelegraphGerman men were being admonished to pee sitting down by a gadget called the WC ghost; when the device detects a lifted toilet seat, it says, in German: “Hey, stand peeing (“Stehpinkeln”) is not allowed here and will be punished with fines, so if you don’t want any trouble, you’d best sit down.” It was reported that the term for a man who pees sitting down, “Sitzpinkler,” is a synonym for “wimp.”Telegraph

A bioethicist writing in The Lancet called for an investigation into the role of doctors and nurses in the torture program that was exposed at Abu Ghraib; he cited evidence that doctors or medics covered up the abuse by falsifying death certificates and actively participated by reviving unconscious prisoners.Associated PressTwenty-seven inmates of the county jail in Clearwater, Florida, who were released so that they could flee Hurricane Charley were still at large; 256 inmates were let out of jail but most returned in four days as instructed.WTSP TampaThere was a prison uprising in Olmito, Texas.Associated PressMoktada al-Sadr refused to disarm the Mahdi Army,Washington Postbombs went off at United Nations voter registration offices in Afghanistan, andAssociated PressKathmandu was being blockaded by Maoist rebels.Associated PressAn audit by international observers confirmed that Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez fairly won the referendum on his rule.ReutersA 57-year-old partially deaf Texan veteran with skin cancer was called up to report for active duty.The MonitorThe Sierra Club released a report denouncing the Bush Administration for lying about the risks posed by the smoke and dust in lower Manhattan after 9/11; the EPA was aware of the risks, from asbestos, concrete dust, glass fibers, and other substances, by September 27 but continued to claim that the air was safe.NewsdayJohn Kerry’s war record continued to excite controversy.Washington PostPresident Bush said that he opposes “legacy” admissions to colleges and universities, andAssociated Pressan Australian drunk ate a cup of maggots, a pint of anchovies, drank a pint of mouthwash, and chewed off a mouse’s tail in a pub competition.BBCPeople were still starving in North Korea.BBC

A British scientist warned that a gigantic section of La Palma island in the Canaries is poised to fall into the ocean, an event that would trigger “mega-tsunamis” 50 to 100 meters high that will crash into Africa’s west coast, the Caribbean, and the eastern United States.GuardianTwenty people were stuck on a roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park after a power outage; eight people were stuck upside down.CBS 2 New YorkDemographers said that Japan’s population could decline 20 percent by 2050.CNNA 105-pound woman in Kennebunk, Maine, ate 38 lobsters (9.76 pounds of meat) in 12 minutes and won the World Lobster Eating Contest.Associated PressA new survey found that about 10 percent of the world’s food crops are irrigated with sewage.New ScientistChildren living next to gas stations, a French study found, are four times more likely to develop leukemia.New ScientistKorean researchers found that leukemia deaths are 70 percent higher among people who live near AM radio broadcasting towers.WiredA new report concluded that deaths from brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and motor neurone disease have tripled in the last 20 years.GuardianEdvard Munch’s The Scream was stolen by armed robbers from a crowded museum in Oslo, Norway.ReutersThe European Environment Agency said that winters on the continent could disappear by 2080.ReutersScience labs were experiencing a monkey shortage.New ScientistHippos were dying in Uganda.Agence France-Presse

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“You’re being reborn,” the voice says. “Exiting the womb of your mother. Coming into the earth as a small baby. Everything is new.” It is a Saturday morning in mid-March, and right now I’m lying on a yoga mat in a lodge in Ohio, surrounded by fifty other men who’ve come to the Midwest for a weekend of manhood-confirming adventures. The voice in question belongs to Aaron Blaine, a facilitator for Evryman, the men’s group orchestrating this three-day retreat. All around me, men are shedding tears as Blaine leads us on a guided meditation, a kind of archetypal montage of Norman Rockwell boyhood. “You’re starting to figure things out,” he says, in somniferous baritone. “Snow, for the first time. Sunshine. Start to notice the smells, the tastes, the confusion. The fear. And you’re growing. You’re about ten years old. The world’s huge and scary.”

Even though it’s only the second day of the Evryman retreat, it’s worth noting that I’ve already been the subject of light fraternal teasing. Already I’ve been the recipient of countless unsought hugs. Already I have sat in Large Groups and Small Groups, and watched dozens of middle-aged men weep with shame and contrition. I’ve had a guy in the military tell me he wants to be “a rock for his family.” I’ve heard a guy from Ohio say that his beard “means something.” Twice I’ve hiked through the woods to “reconnect with Mother Nature,” and I have been addressed by numerous men as both “dude” and “brother.” I have performed yoga and yard drills and morning calisthenics. I’ve heard seven different men play acoustic guitar. I’ve heard a man describe his father by saying, “There wasn’t a lot of ball-tossing when I was growing up.” Three times I’ve been queried about how I’m “processing everything,” and at the urinal on Friday night, two men warned me about the upcoming “Anger Ceremony,” which is rumored to be the weekend’s “pièce de résistance.”

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The WASP story is personal for me. I arrived at Yale in 1971 from a thoroughly mediocre suburb in New Jersey, the second-generation hybrid of Irish and Italian stock riding the postwar boom. Those sockless people in Top-Siders, whose ancestors’ names and portraits adorned the walls, were entirely new to me. I made friends with some, but I was not free of a corrosive envy of their habitus of ease and entitlement.

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Last May, the families of students at Cypress Academy, an independent charter school in New Orleans, received an email announcing that the school would close when classes ended the following week and that all its students would be transferred to another nearby charter for the upcoming year. Parents would have the option of entering their children in the city’s charter-enrollment lottery, but the lottery’s first round had already taken place, and the most desirable spots for the fall were filled.

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how high? that high

He had his stick that was used mostly to point at your head if your head wasn’t held up proudly.

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He came up to me once because there was something about how I was moving my feet that wasn’t according to the regulations or his expectations.

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