Weekly Review — September 30, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Christian martyr, 1855]

A Christian martyr.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 777 points in one day after the House of Representatives failed to pass a Wall Street bailout plan, first put forth by President George W. Bush, that would have granted Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson up to $700 billion to buy, at any price, toxic mortgage-backed assets from financial firms. “It’s not based on any particular data point,” said a Treasury spokeswoman of the $700 billion figure. “We just wanted to choose a really large number.”Wall Street JournalWashington PostForbes.comSenator John McCain announced that fixing the economy was more important than politicking, suspended his campaign, and attempted without success to postpone his first debate with Senator Barack Obama, although he continued to run campaign advertisements, including one that declared him the winner of the debate, and appeared on CBS with Katie Couric. McCain then joined congressional leaders, including Obama, at the White House to discuss the stimulus package. “I didn’t see any sign,” said Representative Barney Frank, “of our Republican colleagues paying any attention to him whatsoever.” “All he has done,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of McCain, “is stand in front of the cameras.”Washington PostWashington PostThe New York TimesPoliticoThe Los Angeles Times“He was my dear,” said former Brazilian beauty queen Maria Garcinda Teixeira de Jesus, 77, who had a tryst with McCain in 1957, “and my coconut dessert.”Daily News“If money isn’t loosened up,” said President Bush of the U.S. economy, “this sucker could go down.”The New York Times

Somali pirates lowered from $35 million to $20 million their ransom demands for a captured Ukrainian ship carrying 33 Russian tanks and various munitions.BBCRussian officials sought to ban South Park, The Simpsons, and Family Guy from television, and sent a fleet of warships, including nuclear-powered guided-missile cruiser “Peter the Great,” to Venezuela to participate in military exercises.Daily TelegraphBBCThe military government of Myanmar freed 9,002 prisoners, including the country’s longest-serving political prisoner, journalist Win Tin,The New York Timesand Guantanamo Bay prosecutor Army Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld resigned after his superiors failed to turn over evidence to a detainee’s lawyers. “I am highly concerned,” he said, “about the slipshod, uncertain ‘procedure’ for affording defense counsel discovery.”The Washington PostIn India, a mob of recently dismissed workers at an auto-parts manufacturer beat their boss to death. “This is by no means,” said an executive at the parent company, “a regular labor conflict.”Times OnlineKenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga admitted to being circumcised, BBCa man flew across the English Channel using a homemade jet-propelled wing,CNNand Chineseastronauts conducted the country’s first-ever spacewalk. “After the Olympics, it’s the most exciting thing that enhances our national pride and dignity this year,” said He Haihong, a Beijing sales manager.Boston GlobeTwo British archaeologists claimed to have solved the mystery of Stonehenge, putting forth a theory that the stones had healing properties,CNNand geologists found that Iran is sinking. National Geographic

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican candidate for vice president, visited New York City and met with world leaders from Afghanistan,Iraq, and Colombia, as well as Henry Kissinger and Bono, and agreed to speak to the press. “It was great,” she said.CNNMSNBCPaul Newman died.CNNA flock of wild turkeys terrorized a town in Oregon;Gazette Timesa large pig, the size of a “Shetland pony,” held an Australian woman hostage in her home;BBCand a man in Kentucky sued his doctor after his penis was amputated during a circumcision.WLKYA dog in Alabama brought home a child’s foot.APA Colorado teenager was arrested for attempting to kill his mother, with plans to use her money to buy breast implants for his girlfriend,CNNand Louisiana State Representative John LeBruzzo suggested offering poor women $1,000 to get their tubes tied. Times-PicayuneFraternity members at Arizona State University caused a traffic accident by vomiting milk onto passing cars,The Arizona Republicand someone at George Fox University, a Christian college in Oregon, lynched Barack Obama in effigy.APA Jewish temple in Dothan, Alabama, offered $50,000 to Jewish families who move to the town,CNNand researchers in New York City announced that white flight had reversed for the first time in fifty years, with more than 100,000 white people introduced to the city’s rolls since 2000.The New York TimesCongress lifted a 26-year ban on offshore drilling,Bloombergscientists hunted for crops that could withstand climate change,BBCand starving polar bears were eating each other.CNNResearchers found that 55 percent of U.S. citizens believe they have been helped by a guardian angel. “Americans,” said one scholar of religion, “live in an enchanted world.”TIME

Share
Single Page

More from Genevieve Smith:

From the May 2014 issue

50,000 Life Coaches Can’t Be Wrong

Inside the industry that’s making therapy obsolete

From the June 2012 issue

In recovery

Twelve steps to prosperity

Commentary May 23, 2012, 3:44 pm

The Underearners Test

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

February 2020

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.

Dearest Lizzie

= 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