Weekly Review — August 21, 2007, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Tempest, December 1878]

Jittery global markets brought on by the subprime mortgage crisis led the Federal Reserve to cut its discount rate on loans to banks by half a percentage point.AP via ForbesCiting America’s $1 trillion debt to China, Senator Joe Biden warned, “We have to get off that sucking off of that breast which is China.”Des Moines RegisterIt was reported that a South Carolina small-parts supplier run by twin sisters had cheated the Pentagon out of $20.5 million in shipping costs; two 19-cent washers sent to an Army base in Texas, for instance, incurred a $998,798 charge.BloombergJenna Bush, the younger of the President’s twin daughters by one minute, got engaged to tobacco heir Henry Hager.BreitbartBaptist pastor Wiley S. Drake instructed his Buena Park, California, congregation to pray for the deaths of two members of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. “Let his days be few,” read the prayer, “and let another take his office. Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.”The Los Angeles TimesIt emerged that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act will allow the National Security Agency to intercept telephone calls, emails, and other Internet communications made by British citizens across American networks.GuardianThe CIA was editing Wikipedia; one CIA entry concerned lyrics in a song from the television show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” A CIA spokesperson responding to queries about the edits stated, “I cannot confirm that the traffic you cite came from agency computers. I’d like in any case to underscore a far larger and more significant point that no one should doubt or forget: The CIA has a vital mission in protecting the United States, and the focus of this agency is there, on that decisive work.”AP via TimeNewsCloud.comBBC

Interpol sought the arrest of Saddam Hussein’s eldest daughter and his first wife for allegedly providing support to Iraqi insurgents.NYTIn northern Iraq, a series of bombings targeting the Yazidi Kurds killed 344 people.BBCA 1994 interview with Dick Cheney regarding the first Gulf war was released to the web. Asked whether U.S. forces should have invaded Baghdad in an attempt to oust Saddam Hussein, Cheney said, “No . . . we would have been all alone . . . It would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq. Once you got to Iraq and took it over, took down Saddam Hussein’s government, then what are you going to put in its place?” Cheney described Iraq as a “quagmire,” predicting sectarian conflict and the pointless loss of American lives. “How many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth? Our judgment was, uh, not very many, and I think we got it right.”YouTubeA federal jury convicted Jose Padilla on terrorism conspiracy charges,NYTwhile six of the Bali bombers got their jail terms reduced for good behavior.news.com.auTwo Manhattan firefighters died fighting a blaze in an abandoned skyscraper next to Ground Zero.AP via YahooA car bomb in Kandahar, Afghanistan, killed 13 civilians,NYTand toy manufacturer Mattel recalled 436,000 miniature cars shaped like the character Sarge from the animated film “Cars” because they were coated with lead paint.NYT

Scientists analyzing the urine of the lonely found higher levels of epinephrine, a “fight or flight” chemical that contributes to physiological decay over time;biosingularity.wordpress.coma study suggested that women with breast implants were three times more likely to commit suicide than those without;Boston Heraldand the Army’ssuicide rate was at an all-time high, leading the Army to hold a poster contest.Army TimesAP via NYTA Massachusetts man pleaded guilty to intentionally eating glass in over a dozen restaurants to collect insurance compensation.AP via SFGate.comAn earthquake along the southern coast of Peru killed 510 people.NYTGermanphysicists claimed to have broken the speed of light,TelegraphUKand Scottishphysicists reversed the Casimir force to make objects levitate.TelegraphUKDavid Beckham scored on a free kick during his first game for the LA Galaxy,AP via Breitbartand astronomers observed a dying star named Mira shedding a dazzling, comet-like tail.BBCA study found that mothers who ate junk food while pregnant predisposed their children to obesity.Times of IndiaAfter widespread flooding, 53,000 Bangladeshis contracted diarrhea,Reuters via AlertNetan Australian woman was crushed to death by her sexually aroused pet camel,AP via The Starand a couple in China named their baby “@.”AP via SFGate.com

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I.

That year, the year of the Ghost Ship fire, I lived in a shack. I’d found the place just as September’s Indian summer was giving way to a wet October. There was no plumbing or running water to wash my hands or brush my teeth before sleep. Electricity came from an extension cord that snaked through a yard of coyote mint and monkey flower and up into a hole I’d drilled in my floorboards. The structure was smaller than a cell at San Quentin—a tiny house or a huge coffin, depending on how you looked at it—four by eight and ten feet tall, so cramped it fit little but a mattress, my suit jackets and ties, a space heater, some novels, and the mason jar I peed in.

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I am eight years old, sitting in my childhood kitchen, ready to watch one of the home videos my father has made. The videotape still exists somewhere, so somewhere she still is, that girl on the screen: hair that tangles, freckles across her nose that in time will spread across one side of her forehead. A body that can throw a baseball the way her father has shown her. A body in which bones and hormones lie in wait, ready to bloom into the wide hips her mother has given her. A body that has scars: the scars over her lungs and heart from the scalpel that saved her when she was a baby, the invisible scars left by a man who touched her when she was young. A body is a record or a body is freedom or a body is a battleground. Already, at eight, she knows it to be all three.

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The writer and filmmaker Virginie Despentes lives in a nondescript modern building in the Belleville neighborhood of Paris. I know it well: it has a Bricorama—like a French Home Depot—on the ground floor, where we sometimes had cause to shop back when we lived in the neighborhood. The people who work there seemed to hate their jobs more than most; they were often absent from the sales floor. In the elevator to Despentes’s apartment, I marvel that while I was trying to get someone to help me find bathroom grout she was right upstairs, with her partner, Tania, a Spanish tattoo artist who goes by the name La Rata, like someone out of one of Despentes’s novels.

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That night at the window, looking out at the street full of snow, big flakes falling through the streetlight, I listened to what Anna was saying. She was speaking of a man named Karl. We both knew him as a casual acquaintance—thin and lanky like Ichabod Crane, with long hair—operating a restaurant down in the village whimsically called the Gist Mill, with wood paneling, a large painting of an old gristmill on a river on one wall, tin ceilings, and a row of teller cages from its previous life as a bank. Karl used to run along the river, starting at his apartment in town and turning back about two miles down the path. He had been going through the divorce—this was a couple of years ago, of course, Anna said—and was trying to run through his pain.

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At Ivanwald, men learn to be leaders by loving their leaders. “They’re so busy loving us,” a brother once explained to me, “but who’s loving them?” We were. The brothers each paid $400 per month for room and board, but we were also the caretakers of The Cedars, cleaning its gutters, mowing its lawns, whacking weeds and blowing leaves and sanding. And we were called to serve on Tuesday mornings, when The Cedars hosted a regular prayer breakfast typically presided over by Ed Meese, the former attorney general. Each week the breakfast brought together a rotating group of ambassadors, businessmen, and American politicians. Three of Ivanwald’s brothers also attended, wearing crisp shirts starched just for the occasion; one would sit at the table while the other two poured coffee. 

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