Weekly Review — September 27, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Humbug, December 1853]

Mahmoud Abbas went before the United Nations General Assembly in support of Palestine’s bid for UN membership, saying his was a “defenseless people, armed only with their dreams, courage, hope, and slogans.” “Yeah,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his UN address. “Hopes, dreams, and 10,000 missiles.” Abbas returned to cheering crowds in Ramallah, though some Palestinians were skeptical of his quest. “We are not against a peaceful solution, but we don’t believe it,” said one West Bank resident.BBCUnited NationsUnited NationsNY Times

In what it called an expression of Islamic mercy, Iran released a pair of American hikers detained in the country for two years. In exchange, it received $1 million in bail money, posted by Oman.LA Times

After decades of contentious litigation that saw seven of nine eyewitnesses recant their testimony, Troy Davis was executed in Georgia. “The question is not whether you can avoid errors,” said a former prosecutor about Davis’s case. “The only realistic question in an adult mind is which set of errors you’re going to accept.”NY TimesTimeNY Times

As the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York’s Zuccotti Park entered its second week, police used Tasers and pepper spray to control the crowd, corralling some activists behind orange netting and taking others away in handcuffs. Brookfield Office Properties, which owns the park, sent men in suits to pass out fliers laying out rules against tarps and sleeping bags, prompting the protesters to chant “Don’t take the papers” then accuse the men of littering when they left the leaflets on park benches and tables.ABC NewsNew York Magazine Daily IntelWSJThe Nation

Neutrinos blasted from Switzerland arrived in Italy sixty billionths of a second earlier than expected, apparently outpacing the speed of photons and threatening to upend Einstein’s theory of relativity. Physicists advised caution. “The constancy of the speed of light essentially underpins our understanding of space and time and causality,” said Oxford University’s head of particle theory. “If we do not have causality, we are buggered.”ScienceGuardianBBC

At a Republican presidential debate on Thursday, Michele Bachmann pledged to sign the “mother of all repeal bills” to abolish the Department of Education, and Rick Santorum called President Barack Obama “the new King George III.”NY Times

In honor of Pope Benedict XVI’s controversial visit to Germany, a Berlin beermaker brewed an organic pilsner and “ensouled” it by playing Gregorian chants from a boom box on the eve of the new moon.Spiegel OnlineSpiegel Online

Government officials announced the seizure in New York’s Chinatown of 6,000 units of illegally imported pesticides, including vials of a Chinese rat poison, labeled “The cat be unemployed,” that contained the powerful anticoagulant brodifacoum in concentrations sixty times the legal limit. Some of the chemicals, according to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, smelled “like cookies or other objects that would attract the human touch.”NY Times

The Department of Justice admitted it had paid too much for muffins, the Pentagon struggled to meet the “huge gaseous helium requirements” of its blimps, an Arkansan archivist discovered a moon rock among Bill Clinton’s gubernatorial papers, and Chinese panda breeders noticed that Atlanta-born Mei Lan, previously thought to be a female, had testes. “If it wasn’t a giant panda,” said Zoo Atlanta’s mammal curator, “this just would have been a paperwork change.”ReutersWiredReutersAtlanta Journal-Constitution

In Fife, Scotland, the presence of a single red squirrel threatened to scuttle a new housing development. “One red squirrel should not stand in the way of mankind’s march of progress,” said a councillor.Scotsman

Authorities in Edinburgh revealed that a violin case, a potato peeler, and a quill pen had been used this year as weapons on city streets, and in Somalia, the Islamist militant group al-Shabab handed out grenades and Kalashnikovs as prizes in a children’s trivia game.ScotsmanNY Times

An American car club broke a world record by parading fifty-one hearses in Hell, Michigan.Detroit Free Press

Citing evidence of a “live fast and die young” mentality among cephalopods, marine biologists reported that deep-sea squid shoot packets of sperm indiscriminately at members of both sexes. “In the deep, dark habitat where O. deletron lives,” wrote the scientists, “potential mates are few and far between.”GuardianBiology Letters

In California, researchers implicated bottlenose dolphins in a recent rash of porpoise killings, but couldn’t determine whether the mammals were venting sexual frustration or merely practicing infanticide. “We call them ‘porpitrators,'” said cetologist Thomas Jefferson.San Francisco Chronicle

Share
Single Page

More from Anthony Lydgate:

From the July 2014 issue

Vulgar Materialism

Weekly Review April 8, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Afghanistan votes, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of wealthy political donors, and China standardizes its pets 

Weekly Review February 25, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Upheaval in Ukraine, yobbery in the United Kingdom, and a historic douche in the United States

Get access to 167 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

February 2018

The Minds of Others

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Modern Despots

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Before the Deluge

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Notes to Self

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Within Reach

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Bodies in The Forest

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Minds of Others·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Progress is impossible without change,” George Bernard Shaw wrote in 1944, “and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” But progress through persuasion has never seemed harder to achieve. Political segregation has made many Americans inaccessible, even unimaginable, to those on the other side of the partisan divide. On the rare occasions when we do come face-to-face, it is not clear what we could say to change each other’s minds or reach a worthwhile compromise. Psychological research has shown that humans often fail to process facts that conflict with our preexisting worldviews. The stakes are simply too high: our self-worth and identity are entangled with our beliefs — and with those who share them. The weakness of logic as a tool of persuasion, combined with the urgency of the political moment, can be paralyzing.

Yet we know that people do change their minds. We are constantly molded by our environment and our culture, by the events of the world, by the gossip we hear and the books we read. In the essays that follow, seven writers explore the ways that persuasion operates in our lives, from the intimate to the far-reaching. Some consider the ethics and mechanics of persuasion itself — in religion, politics, and foreign policy — and others turn their attention to the channels through which it acts, such as music, protest, and technology. How, they ask, can we persuade others to join our cause or see things the way we do? And when it comes to our own openness to change, how do we decide when to compromise and when to resist?

Illustration (detail) by Lincoln Agnew
Article
Within Reach·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On a balmy day last spring, Connor Chase sat on a red couch in the waiting room of a medical clinic in Columbus, Ohio, and watched the traffic on the street. His bleached-blond hair fell into his eyes as he scrolled through his phone to distract himself. Waiting to see Mimi Rivard, a nurse practitioner, was making Chase nervous: it would be the first time he would tell a medical professional that he was transgender.

By the time he arrived at the Equitas Health clinic, Chase was eighteen, and had long since come to dread doctors and hospitals. As a child, he’d had asthma, migraines, two surgeries for a tumor that had caused deafness in one ear, and gangrene from an infected bug bite. Doctors had always assumed he was a girl. After puberty, Chase said, he avoided looking in the mirror because his chest and hips “didn’t feel like my body.” He liked it when strangers saw him as male, but his voice was high-pitched, so he rarely spoke in public. Then, when Chase was fourteen, he watched a video on YouTube in which a twentysomething trans man described taking testosterone to lower his voice and appear more masculine. Suddenly, Chase had an explanation for how he felt — and what he wanted.

Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Before the Deluge·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In the summer of 2016, when Congress installed a financial control board to address Puerto Rico’s crippling debt, I traveled to San Juan, the capital. The island owed some $120 billion, and Wall Street was demanding action. On the news, President Obama announced his appointments to the Junta de Supervisión y Administración Financiera. “The task ahead for Puerto Rico is not an easy one,” he said. “But I am confident Puerto Rico is up to the challenge of stabilizing the fiscal situation, restoring growth, and building a better future for all Puerto Ricans.” Among locals, however, the control board was widely viewed as a transparent effort to satisfy mainland creditors — just the latest tool of colonialist plundering that went back generations.

Photograph from Puerto Rico by Christopher Gregory
Article
Monumental Error·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In 1899, the art critic Layton Crippen complained in the New York Times that private donors and committees had been permitted to run amok, erecting all across the city a large number of “painfully ugly monuments.” The very worst statues had been dumped in Central Park. “The sculptures go as far toward spoiling the Park as it is possible to spoil it,” he wrote. Even worse, he lamented, no organization had “power of removal” to correct the damage that was being done.

Illustration by Steve Brodner
Post
CamperForce·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

After losing their savings in the stock market crash of 2008, seniors Barb and Chuck find seasonal employment at Amazon fulfillment centers.

Amount Arizona’s Red Feather Lodge offered to pay to reopen the Grand Canyon during the 2013 government shutdown:

$25,000

A Brazilian cat gave birth to a dog.

Trump’s former chief strategist, whom Trump said had “lost his mind,” issued a statement saying that Trump’s son did not commit treason; the US ambassador to the United Nations announced that “no one questions” Trump’s mental stability; and the director of the CIA said that Trump, who requested “killer graphics” in his intelligence briefings, is able to read.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Report — From the June 2013 issue

How to Make Your Own AR-15

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"Gun owners have long been the hypochondriacs of American politics. Over the past twenty years, the gun-rights movement has won just about every battle it has fought; states have passed at least a hundred laws loosening gun restrictions since President Obama took office. Yet the National Rifle Association has continued to insist that government confiscation of privately owned firearms is nigh. The NRA’s alarmism helped maintain an active membership, but the strategy was risky: sooner or later, gun guys might have realized that they’d been had. Then came the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, followed swiftly by the nightmare the NRA had been promising for decades: a dedicated push at every level of government for new gun laws. The gun-rights movement was now that most insufferable of species: a hypochondriac taken suddenly, seriously ill."

Subscribe Today