Weekly Review — September 28, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Caught in the Web, 1860]

Caught in the Web, 1860.

Republican senators blocked a $726 billion defense bill containing provisions to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and provide U.S. citizenship to some foreign-born children of undocumented immigrants.WSJLady Gaga lobbied senators to support the legistlation, arguing that it made more sense to ban U.S. soldiers who do not believe in equality; the new ban, she suggested, could be called “If You Don’t Like It, Go Home.” ABCStephen Colbert testified before Congress in support of migrant workers. “I like talking about people who don??t have any power,” he said. NYTCuba detailed plans to license private entrepreneurs in 178 professions, including music and clowning. NYTIn the Gulf of Mexico, scientists speculated that an underwater “blizzard” of gooey organic matter (commonly known as marine snow or sea snot) was an effect of the BP oil spill. “I suspect,” said sea-snot expert Alice Alldredge, “the bottom-dwelling organisms might not be so happy.” National GeographicHBO released a previously unaired 1998 television clip of Christine O’Donnell, now a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Delaware, in which she said evolution is a myth. “Why aren’t monkeys still evolving into humans?” she demanded to know. HBO via ThinkprogressScientists announced the discovery of two new dinosaur species in Utah. One had fifteen horns on its large head and has been named Kosmoceratops; the other, with no remarkable features, has been named Utahceratops. CSM

Computer worm Stuxnet was reportedly targeting Iranian nuclear facilities. Exploiting security flaws in Microsoft Windows, it is the first known worm designed to infect industrial-control systems. Computer-security experts said the complexity of the worm suggested it was probably made by a government agency. SymantecPC MagNYTCSMCSMGuardianJames Heselden, owner of the Segway company, died in a mysterious Segway accident; his body was found in a river along with his Segway. CNNThe Justice Department “reluctantly” invoked “state secrets” in asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit on behalf of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Aulaqi, a cleric now living in Yemen who was targeted for assassination by the CIA,WPWPand it was revealed that the CIA was maintaining an elite paramilitary force of 3,000 soldiers known as “Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams” for use in the war in Afghanistan and the “secret” war in Pakistan.WPThe Justice Department reported that “a significant number” of FBI employees had conspired with supervisors to cheat on a skills-assessment exam, TPMand the University of Illinois denied emeritus status to retired professor and former Weatherman William Ayers, after university trustee Christopher Kennedy complained that Ayers had once dedicated a book to Sirhan Sirhan.Chicago Tribune

Eight thousand laptops sent by the United States to the children of Babil, Iraq, were missing; at least half had been auctioned off by Iraqis for about $10 each. NYTThe United Nations was $180 million short of funds needed to feed 6 million Pakistani flood victims through the end of this year.AFP via GoogleNewly released documents itemized the more than $1 billion that Canada spent to host the G-8 for three days in June, including $60 million for lodging and food, $4 million for a steel fence, and $42,000 for a harpoon system to disable speedboat attackers. NYTIt was estimated that the costs of dementia worldwide would reach $604 billion this year, or one percent of global GDP,Reutersand scientists confirmed that four-year-olds can understand irony.TelegraphVideo-rental chain Blockbuster declared bankruptcy,Newsweekand Brooklyn beekeepers fought in vain to save a bee colony after its hive was wrecked by a tornado, but all its honey had already been stolen by “robber bees” from other colonies . NYTFrench chocolatier Georges Larnicol launched a boat made out of chocolate in the port of Concarneau. BBCA poorly designed luxury hotel in Las Vegas, covered in reflective glass, condensed the rays of the sun and beamed them down on the resort’s swimming pool, causing plastic in the vicinity to melt. One hotel guest said that his hair had been scorched, and that hotel employees laughed at him, saying “Yes, we call it the death ray.” Las Vegas Review-Journal

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 June 29, 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

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.

The commissioner of CPB admitted that “leadership just got a little overzealous” when detaining hundreds of U.S. citizens of Iranian descent in the wake of Qassem Soleimani’s assassination.

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