Weekly Review — January 22, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

President George W. Bush called for $145 billion in tax cuts, describing the measures as a “shot in the arm” for the U.S. economy, which caused stock values to plunge in Australia, Tokyo, Hong Kong, China, and across Europe. “There’s something approaching panic in the market,” said an analyst with Bank of America. “The short-term risks,” explained Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, “are to the downside.”BBC NewsNew York TimesBBC NewsResearchers found that foreigners invested $414 billion in American companies in 2007, up 90 percent from 2006. “This is a vote of confidence in the American economy,” said Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert M. Kimmitt. “Do we want the communists to own the banks, or the terrorists?” asked financial commentator Jim Cramer. “I’ll take any of it.”New York TimesNew York TimesJohn McCain won the South Carolina Republican primary, Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton won in the Nevada caucuses,CNN.comand the Supreme Court decided that Texas could exclude Dennis Kucinich’s name from the ballots in the Democratic primary because Kucinich refused to take a party loyalty oath.AP via Google NewsBritish researchers determined that children universally dislike clowns, finding them “unknowable,”Reuters via Yahoo! Newsand a German merchant ship set sail for Venezuela partially powered by a fuel-saving kite.Reuters via IHT

It emerged that the ongoing riots that followed the Kenyan presidential election, in which at least 650 people were killed, had been partially planned; leaflets calling for ethnic killings had been distributed prior to the election, and village elders had encouraged young Kalenjin men (allied with the defeated Raila Odinga) to hunt Kikuyus (allied with victor Mwai Kibaki) with bows and arrows. “We attack people, we burn their homes, and then we take their animals,” said a Kalenjin man. “The community raised the money for the gasoline.”New York TimesNew York TimesNew York TimesA babysitter in Honolulu threw a toddler off an overpass into busy traffic,The Honolulu Advertiserand parents in Australia were suing an embryo-testing clinic for allowing their child to carry a cancer gene.The Daily TelegraphResearchers in San Diego announced that they had clonedhuman embryos from skin cells,New York Timesthe FDA determined that cloned animals are acceptable food,BBC Newsand Hungarianscientists created a computer program that, based on its analysis of 6,000 barks from 14 Hungarian sheepdogs, can exceed human capability in accurately classifying sheepdog barks.Science DailyThe thoughts of a monkey in North Carolina controlled the actions of a robot in Japan.Information Week

The lone power plant operating in Hamas-controlled Gaza was shut down for lack of fuel. “At least 800,000 people,” said official Derar Abu Sissi, “are now in darkness.”BBC NewsChess master Bobby Fischer died in Iceland,New York Timesa man in Las Vegas was arrested for killing his girlfriend by driving a six-inch stake into her head,Fox 5 Newsand a Winchester, Virginia, man was arrested for burning an 11-year-old girl with a Hot Pocket sandwich.NBC4.comA New York City construction worker was suing a hospital for treating his head injury by knocking him out and giving him an unwanted rectal exam,AP via SFGate.comand the ACLU filed a brief in support of Senator Larry Craig (R., Idaho), arguing that people who engage in sex acts in public bathrooms have an expectation of privacy.ABC 7 NewsScientists funded by mobile-phone companies found that if the phones are used before bedtime their radiation can reduce sleep and cause headaches and confusion; the Mobile Manufacturers Forum insisted that the “results were inconclusive.”The IndependentIt was observed that Tahina spectabilis, a giant palm tree of Madagascar, commits suicide when it flowers at the end of its century-long lifespan,BBC Newsand New York researchers using carbon nanotubes created the darkest material known to history.BBC NewsScientists in Chicago found that lonely people are more likely to assign human qualities to their pets and to believe in God,Science Dailyand Louis de Cazenave of the Fifth Senegalese Rifles, one of the last two French veterans of World War I, died at age 110. “War,” he explained in 2005, “is something absurd, useless, that nothing can justify.” BBC News

Share
Single Page

More from Paul Ford:

From the May 2010 issue

Just like heaven

Weekly Review March 23, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Weekly Review November 24, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Get access to 169 years of
Harper’s for only $23.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

February 2020

Dearest Lizzie

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Trumpism After Trump

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“My Gang Is Jesus”

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Cancer Chair

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Birds

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Skinning Tree

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Interpretation of Dreams

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Trumpism After Trump·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The city was not beautiful; no one made that claim for it. At the height of summer, people in suits, shellacked by the sun, moved like harassed insects to avoid the concentrated light. There was a civil war–like fracture in America—the president had said so—but little of it showed in the capital. Everyone was polite and smooth in their exchanges. The corridor between Dupont Circle and Georgetown was like the dream of Yugoslav planners: long blocks of uniform earth-toned buildings that made the classical edifices of the Hill seem the residue of ancestors straining for pedigree. Bunting, starched and perfectly ruffled in red-white-and-blue fans, hung everywhere—from air conditioners, from gutters, from statues of dead revolutionaries. Coming from Berlin, where the manual laborers are white, I felt as though I was entering the heart of a caste civilization. Untouchables in hard hats drilled into sidewalks, carried pylons, and ate lunch from metal boxes, while waiters in restaurants complimented old respectable bobbing heads on how well they were progressing with their rib eyes and iceberg wedges.

I had come to Washington to witness either the birth of an ideology or what may turn out to be the passing of a kidney stone through the Republican Party. There was a new movement afoot: National Conservatives, they called themselves, and they were gathering here, at the Ritz-Carlton, at 22nd Street and M. Disparate tribes had posted up for the potlatch: reformacons, blood-and-soilers, curious liberal nationalists, “Austrians,” repentant neocons, evangelical Christians, corporate raiders, cattle ranchers, Silicon Valley dissidents, Buckleyites, Straussians, Orthodox Jews, Catholics, Mormons, Tories, dark-web spiders, tradcons, Lone Conservatives, Fed-Socs, Young Republicans, Reaganites in amber. Most straddled more than one category.

Article
The Cancer Chair·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The second-worst thing about cancer chairs is that they are attached to televisions. Someone somewhere is always at war with silence. It’s impossible to read, so I answer email, or watch some cop drama on my computer, or, if it seems unavoidable, explore the lives of my nurses. A trip to Cozumel with old girlfriends, a costume party with political overtones, an advanced degree on the internet: they’re all the same, these lives, which is to say that the nurses tell me nothing, perhaps because amid the din and pain it’s impossible to say anything of substance, or perhaps because they know that nothing is precisely what we both expect. It’s the very currency of the place. Perhaps they are being excruciatingly candid.

There is a cancer camaraderie I’ve never felt. That I find inimical, in fact. Along with the official optimism that percolates out of pamphlets, the milestone celebrations that seem aimed at children, the lemonade people squeeze out of their tumors. My stoniness has not always served me well. Among the cancer staff, there is special affection for the jocular sufferer, the one who makes light of lousy bowel movements and extols the spiritual tonic of neuropathy. And why not? Spend your waking life in hell, and you too might cherish the soul who’d learned to praise the flames. I can’t do it. I’m not chipper by nature, and just hearing the word cancer makes me feel like I’m wearing a welder’s mask.

Article
“My Gang Is Jesus”·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

When Demétrio Martins was ready to preach, he pushed a joystick that angled the seat of his wheelchair forward, slowly lifting him to a standing position. Restraints held his body upright. His atrophied right arm lay on an armrest, and with his left hand, he put a microphone to his lips. “Proverbs, chapter fourteen, verse twelve,” he said. “ ‘There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is . . .’ ”

The congregation finished: “ ‘Death.’ ”

The Assembly of God True Grapevine was little more than a fluorescent-lit room wedged between a bar and an empty lot in Jacaré, a poor neighborhood on Rio de Janeiro’s north side. A few dozen people sat in the rows of plastic lawn chairs that served as pews, while shuddering wall fans circulated hot air. The congregation was largely female; of the few men in attendance, most wore collared shirts and old leather shoes. Now and then, Martins veered from Portuguese into celestial tongues. People rose from their seats, thrust their hands into the air, and shouted, “Hallelujah!”

Article
The Birds·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On December 7, 2016, a drone departed from an Amazon warehouse in the United Kingdom, ascended to an altitude of four hundred feet, and flew to a nearby farm. There it glided down to the front lawn and released from its clutches a small box containing an Amazon streaming device and a bag of popcorn. This was the first successful flight of Prime Air, Amazon’s drone delivery program. If instituted as a regular service, it would slash the costs of “last-mile delivery,” the shortest and most expensive leg of a package’s journey from warehouse to doorstep. Drones don’t get into fender benders, don’t hit rush-hour traffic, and don’t need humans to accompany them, all of which, Amazon says, could enable it to offer thirty-minute delivery for up to 90 percent of domestic shipments while also reducing carbon emissions. After years of testing, Amazon wrote to the Federal Aviation Administration last summer to ask for permission to conduct limited commercial deliveries with its drones, attaching this diagram to show how the system would work. (Amazon insisted that we note that the diagram is not to scale.) Amazon is not the only company working toward such an automated future—­UPS, FedEx, Uber, and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, have similar programs—­but its plans offer the most detailed vision of what seems to be an impending reality, one in which parce­l-toting drones are a constant presence in the sky, doing much more than just delivering popcorn.

Article
The Skinning Tree·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Every year in Lusk, Wyoming, during the second week of July, locals gather to reenact a day in 1849 when members of a nearby band of Sioux are said to have skinned a white man alive. None of the actors are Native American. The white participants dress up like Indians and redden their skin with body paint made from iron ore.

The town prepares all year, and the performance, The Legend of Rawhide, has a cast and crew of hundreds, almost all local volunteers, including elementary school children. There are six generations of Rawhide actors in one family; three or four generations seems to be the average. The show is performed twice, on Friday and Saturday night.

The plot is based on an event that, as local legend has it, occurred fifteen miles south of Lusk, in Rawhide Buttes. It goes like this: Clyde Pickett is traveling with a wagon train to California. He tells the other Pioneers: “The only good Injun’s a dead Injun.” Clyde loves Kate Farley, and to impress her, he shoots the first Indian he sees, who happens to be an Indian Princess. The Indians approach the Pioneers and ask that the murderer give himself up. Clyde won’t admit he did it. The Indians attack the wagon train and, eventually, Clyde surrenders. The Indians tie Clyde to the Skinning Tree and flay him alive. Later, Kate retrieves her dead lover’s body and the wagon train continues west.

Cost of renting a giant panda from the Chinese government, per day:

$1,500

A recent earthquake in Chile was found to have shifted the city of Concepción ten feet to the west, shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 microseconds, and shifted the planet’s axis by nearly three inches.

In response to a major volcanic eruption, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines vowed he would “eat that ashfall. I’m even going to pee on Taal, that goddamned volcano.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Jesus Plus Nothing

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

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. 

Subscribe Today