Weekly Review — July 7, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Caught in the Web, 1860]

Caught in the Web, 1860.

Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska announced that she would not seek reelection and that she would resign by the end of July. “‘We’re not retreating,'” she said, citing General Douglas MacArthur, who was not the author of the quotation. “‘We are advancing in another direction.'” No one knew why she resigned. “Everybody Iâ??ve talked to thinks itâ??s a little crazy,” said conservative pundit William Kristol. “But maybe not. What is she going to accomplish in the next year as governor?”AP via NO Times-PicayuneLATLATWPPoliticoAnchorage Daily NewsNYTNYTThe U.S. unemployment rate reached 9.5 percent, and reports for June showed that 6.5 million jobs have been lost in the recession so far, wiping out the previous nine years’ gains. Rank-and-file workers in the private sector averaged 33 hours of work per week, the fewest since records began in 1964.BloombergNYTAmish former factory workers in Indiana said that life has improved since they were laid off. “We were all going way too fast,” said Freeman Miller, who started making wooden caskets for pets after he was fired from his manufacturing job.WSJUSA TodayIn an attempt to reduce rampant bribery, staff at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan airport were issued pants without pockets, BBCand a study found that perceived signs of guilt in dogs are probably reactions to subtle cues from their owners. “The most guilty look,” noted Barnard College assistant professor of psychology Alexandra Horowitz, “was when the owner scolded an innocent dog.”WP

Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, recipient of the Medal of Freedom and the Distinguished Service Medal, died,ReutersNYTTimeAFPWPand in Vietnam, where 1.12 boys are born for every girl, the government was confiscating books on how to choose your baby’s sex.Boston GlobeFour thousand U.S. Marines were deployed to the Helmand Province in Afghanistan, where they are under orders to counteract the influence of the Taliban by befriending the locals. “We’re not going to drive to work,” said the brigade’s commander. “We’re going to walk to work.” NYTWPA court in New Delhi overturned a colonial-era law banning gay sex, NYTand at least 140 people were killed in Urumqi, in the Xinjiang region of China, when predominantly Muslim, Turkic-speaking Uighurs protesting discrimination clashed with Han Chinese and security forces. NYTWSJ

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya attempted to stage a dramatic return to his country but was prevented from landing by the military and landed in El Salvador instead.BBCAustralian authorities decreed that anyone who comes within 500 meters of the white humpback whale Migaloo (“white fella” in an aboriginal dialect) will be fined $13,500. BBCThe Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously ruled Al Franken the victor in his close senatorial race against Norm Coleman,AP via WPand Glasgow lifted a thirty-year-old ban on Monty Python’s film The Life of Brian.BBCFormer Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair was found dead in Nashville, possibly a victim of a murder-suicide by his girlfriend.TennesseanDallas Morning NewsThirty-one Xhosa teenagers in South Africa died from botched circumcisions performed without anaesthesia,NYTand an FDA advisory panel voted to ban Percocet and Vicodin.NYTOfficials in Britain said that the number of new cases of swine flu in that country was doubling weekly and could reach 100,000 new cases per day by the end of August; Dr. Richard Jarvis, chairman of the British Medical Association’s public-health committee, cited reports of people throwing “swine flu parties” to expose themselves to the virus and build their immunity. “I don’t think it is a good idea,” he said.Hindustan TimesAP via Star-TribuneBBCUp to one thousand species in the United Kingdom were imperiled by the spread of the ravenous harlequin ladybug. Scientists suggested that the harlequin, an invasive species originally introduced to Europe from Asia to kill other pests, could be controlled by infecting the population with sexually transmitted mites.The Harlequin Ladybird SurveyBBCA flight from Marseille to the Comoros Islands crashed, killing 152 passengers but sparing one, 12-year-old Bahia Bakari, who survived at sea for more than nine hours before being rescued by the Madagascar merchant marine. “I grabbed on to something,” she said, “but I donâ??t know what.” AP via YahooNYTAP via YahooWSJScientists said that a single super-colony of billions of Argentine ants had conquered Europe, the United States, and Japan, forming the largest insect colony ever.BBC

Share
Single Page

More from Sam Stark:

From the February 2015 issue

A Weimar Home Companion

Walter Benjamin on the air

Commentary January 21, 2011, 3:43 pm

United We Brand!

Weekly Review September 28, 2010, 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