Weekly Review — October 14, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

The world economy continued its collapse. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 22 percent over eight days, Wall Street lost $2.4 trillion in market value, and Iceland went bankrupt.CNNBusiness WeekThe head of the International Monetary Fund warned that the world was on the “brink of systemic meltdown,”BBCand Democrats in Congress called for a $150 billion economic stimulus plan to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure.Yahoo! NewsBarack Obama called for firms that create jobs to be rewarded with tax credits and for a moratorium on foreclosures;AFPJohn McCain refused to answer questions about his economic plan, but was reportedly considering a cut in the capital gains tax.AP“I’m not sure anyone is FDR this time,” said one historian of Wall Street. “I don’t think either candidate has a clue what they’re dealing with here.”BloombergGeneral Motors was talking to Chrysler about a merger,The New York Timesand a yachtmaker in Snohomish, Washington, announced it would lay off 780 employees and close its doors.Komonews.comThe Britishfuneral-services industry faced a backlog of hundreds of corpses as undertakers, unable to obtain credit, refused to perform burials for the poor until the government guarantees reimbursements.The Daily MailBritain,France, Germany, and other European nations agreed to provide hundreds of billions of dollars to guarantee loans and to prop up banks, leading to a 936-point rally in the Dow,Europe Pledges Billions for Banks and the big counter in New York City that tracks the national debt ran out of digits.AP

A draft U.S. National Intelligence Estimate reported that the government of Afghanistan, plagued by corruption and at war with a resurgent Taliban, is in a “downward spiral.”The New York TimesU.S. National Park officials in Arizona, hoping to track poachers, planned to embed security microchips into saguaro cacti,The Scotsmanand Australian police tasered a ram that was blocking traffic.News.com.auAlaskan lawmakers issued a report concluding that Governor Sarah Palin broke state ethics laws when she sought to have her ex-brother-in law, a state trooper, fired from his post. Palin announced that the report cleared her of any “legal wrongdoing or unethical activity,” even though it did not.CBS NewsMost Alaskanglaciers were retreating,Science Dailyand in Nova Scotia a moose fell to its death from a helicopter sling.CBCAbsentee ballots in Rensselaer County, New York, listed “Barack Osama” as a presidential candidate,Albany Times Unionand researchers in Ohio, where polls show Obama with a seven-point lead over McCain, said that narcissists are more likely to seek–and to be granted–authority over others. “They are usually charming and extroverted,” explained a psychologist. “But the problem is, they don’t necessarily make better leaders.”Science DailyBloomberg News via Yahoo!People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals issued a statement to protest the annual Festival Gastronomico del Gato in Canete, Peru, during which people eat catburgers to ward off bronchial disease,The Sunand bathers along India’s Great Kali River were being eaten by giant goonches.The Sun

The United States removed North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism after the nation agreed to provide UN inspectors full access to its nuclear program.BBC NewsConnecticut legalized gay marriage,The Washington PostAustrian politician Joerg Haider (who once praised the Third Reich for its “orderly employment policy”) died in a car crash,CNNand a Kansas man who attained notoriety because his girlfriend lived in their bathroom for two years and became stuck to a toilet seat won $20,000 in the state lottery for the second time.AP via SFGate.comMatani, a three-year-old Nepalese girl with thighs like a deer and a neck like a conch shell, a member of the Shakya goldsmith caste, was named as the “kumari,” or incarnation of the goddess Taleju, after spending a night alone with the heads of ritually slaughtered goats and buffaloes. She will wear red, and pin up her hair, and devotees will touch her feet with their foreheads, and upon menarche she will retire and then likely be spurned by all potential suitors, for the man who marries a former kumari dies young. “I feel a bit sad,” said her father, “but since my child has become a living goddess, I feel proud.”CNNThe number of dead zones in the oceans was rising by 5 percent each year,Reutersand California farmers facing severe drought were increasingly dependent on dowsers, or “water witches,” to identify the best spots for drilling wells.The New York TimesJoey Chestnut ate 45 slices of pizza in ten minutes in Times Square,CNNPaddington Bear turned 50,The Independentand Nobel Prizes were awarded to former president of Finland Martti Ahtisaari, French author Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio, and American economist Paul Krugman. “To be absolutely, totally honest,” said Krugman, “I thought this day might come someday.”CNNThe New York TimesThe New York Times

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

December 2019

Trash, Rock, Destroy

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Make Way for Tomorrow

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Red Dot

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Gimme Shelter

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Body Language

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Gimme Shelter·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

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.

The exterior of my hermitage was washed the color of runny egg yolk. Two redwood French doors with plexiglass windows hung cockeyed from creaky hinges at the entrance, and a combination lock provided meager security against intruders. White beadboard capped the roof, its brim shading a front porch set on cinder blocks.

After living on the East Coast for eight years, I’d recently left New York City to take a job at an investigative reporting magazine in San Francisco. If it seems odd that I was a fully employed editor who lived in a thirty-two-square-foot shack, that’s precisely the point: my situation was evidence of how distorted the Bay Area housing market had become, the brutality inflicted upon the poor now trickling up to everyone but the super-rich. The problem was nationwide, although, as Californians tend to do, they’d taken this trend to an extreme. Across the state, a quarter of all apartment dwellers spent half of their incomes on rent. Nearly half of the country’s unsheltered homeless population lived in California, even while the state had the highest concentration of billionaires in the nation. In the Bay Area, including West Oakland, where my shack was located, the crisis was most acute. Tent cities had sprung up along the sidewalks, swarming with capitalism’s refugees. Telegraph, Mission, Market, Grant: every bridge and overpass had become someone’s roof.

Post
Perhaps the World Ends Here·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Climate disaster at Wounded Knee

Article
Body Language·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

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.

But somebody has slipped. The school is putting on the musical South Pacific, and there are not enough roles for the girls, and she is as tall as or taller than the boys, and so they have done what is unthinkable in this striving 1980s town, in this place where the men do the driving and the women make their mouths into perfect Os to apply lipstick in the rearview. For the musical, they have made her a boy.

No, she thinks. They have allowed her to be a boy.

Article
Trash, Rock, Destroy·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

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.

In an email before our meeting, Despentes asked that we not do a photo shoot. “There are so many images available already,” she explained. Much had been written about her, too. A Google search yielded page after page: profiles, interviews, reviews, bits and bobs—she read from Pasolini at a concert with Béatrice Dalle; someone accused her of plagiarizing a translation; a teacher in Switzerland was fired for teaching her work. The week I met her, she appeared in the culture magazine Les Inrockuptibles in conversation with the rapper-turned-actor JoeyStarr. The woman is simply always in the news.

Article
The Red Dot·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

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.

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.

The Chevrolet Suburban sport utility vehicle was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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