Weekly Review — November 18, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Tempest, December 1878]

Doctors in Berlin announced that they had cured a man of AIDS by giving him transplanted blood stem cells from a donor naturally resistant to the virus; other researchers cautioned that the treatment was of little immediate use, and justified in this case only because the patient had leukemia. “Frankly,” said Dr. Robert C. Gallo of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, “I’d rather take the medicine.”NYTA German shoplifter with no arms stole a 24-inch television. “It’s hard to believe,” said a police officer, “that the sight of an armless man walking along with a giant TV clamped to his body did not get anyone’s attention.”Short NewsA man in a motorized wheelchair robbed a Space Coast Credit Union branch in Merritt Island, Florida, telling employees that he was rigged with explosives; police caught him ten minutes later and recovered the stolen money from his prosthetic leg.Local6Huseyin Kalkan, the mayor of Batman, Turkey, said that the town would sue Warner Bros. for a portion of the royalties from the movie The Dark Knight.” “There is,” said Kalkan, “only one Batman.”VarietyA sixth severed foot washed ashore in Canada,CNNand Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who is expected to sign a $7 million book deal, was asked if she planned to run for president in 2012. “I’m like, okay, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I’m like, Don’t let me miss the open door,” she said. “I’ll plow through that door.”AP via IHTThe Secret Service assigned official code names to President-elect Barack Obama (“Renegade”), First Lady Michelle Obama (“Renaissance”), and their daughters Malia (“Radiance”) and Sasha (“Rosebud”).Chicago TribuneIn Chicago, a relaxed-looking Obama, who gained 700,000 Facebook friends since his election, met with Senator John McCain, who has lost 1,000 Facebook friends,The GuardianSlateand astronomers in Canada and the United States, observing the constellations Piscis Austrinus and Pegasus, captured the first images of distant, dusty planets orbiting young, bright stars.NYT

The price of oil fell below $60 per barrel, a 20-month low,NYTand it was announced that a portion of the government’s $700 billion bailout package may be used to pay year-end bonuses on Wall Street.CBSComputer giant Sun Microsystems shed 6,000 jobs,LATimesand sales rose for Hormel Foods Corporation, which produces SPAM. “We are scheduled to work every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas,” said Darwin Sellers, a SPAM “formulator” who adds salt, sugar, and nitrates to rectangles of pork at a plant in Minnesota. “The man upstairs [would like] to get us to work eight days a week.”NYTBarack Obama’s chief-of-staff, Rahm Emanuel, apologized to the Arab community for remarks made by his father, Benjamin Emanuel, who told an Israeli newspaper that his son would “obviously influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn’t he? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to be mopping floors at the White House.”BBCAssailants sprayed acid in the faces of 15 schoolgirls in Kandahar, Afghanistan,.BBCand an Indian high court dismissed arguments that homosexual intercourse should be banned for causing bodily injuries.Times Of IndiaIndia’s space program landed a probe painted with the national flag on the surface of the moon.BBC

Nigerian police discovered a massive baby farm in the city of Enugu,AFP via News.com.auand a grandmother in Ohio gave birth to her daughter’s triplets.AP via YahooOfficials in Nebraska were scrambling to change a “safe haven” law, whereby children can be legally abandoned at hospitals, because it failed to specify an age limit for the children. “Please don’t bring your teenager to Nebraska,” said Governor Dave Heineman, responding to a spate of abandoned out-of-state teens. “Think of what you are saying. You are saying you no longer support them. You no longer love them.” CNNDon Dollar, a City Hall employee in Vernon, Mississippi, said that anyone who was happy with Obama’s victory should seek religious forgiveness. “This is a community that’s supposed to be filled with a bunch of Christian folks. If they’re not disappointed, they need to be at the altar.”IHTHolocaust survivors demanded that the Mormon church stop posthumously baptizing Jews killed in concentration camps,CNNand the Supreme Court was weighing a free-speech suit filed by adherents to the Summum church, in Pleasant Grove City, Utah. Members of the church claim that the city is discriminating against them by displaying a red granite plaque of the Ten Commandments in a public park but refusing to display a monument inscribed with their own faith’s Seven Aphorisms, which were communicated via telepathy from divine beings to a man named Corky Ra. Ron Temu and Su Menu, two Summum worshippers, argued that the Commandments were compatible with the Aphorisms, as both were handed down to Moses on Mount Sinai. “If you look at them side by side,” said Su Menu of the two monuments while sitting in a metal pyramid and drinking an alcoholic sacramental nectar beside a mummified Doberman pinscher, “they really are saying similar things.”NYT

Share
Single Page

More from Gemma Sieff:

Weekly Review February 3, 2017, 12:17 pm

Weekly Review

Donald Trump bans citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, a Trump supporter is charged with killing seven people at a mosque in Quebec, and the last man on the moon dies

From the February 2016 issue

Isn’t It Romantic?

Looking for love in the age of Tinder

Weekly Review January 20, 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

Gimme Shelter

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Body Language

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

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.

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.

An eight-foot minke whale washed ashore on the Thames, the third beaching of a dead whale on the river in two months.

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