Weekly Review — January 3, 2012, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Babylonian lion, 1875]

People around the world celebrated the passing of another year as 2012 began. The first to ring in the new year were the South Pacific nations of Samoa and Tokelau, which officially switched to the Western side of the international date line by jumping ahead to Saturday on Thursday at midnight. New York City celebrated by dropping the Times Square Ball; objects dropped in other American cities included a giant peach, in Atlanta, a giant sardine, in Eastport, Maine, and a giant conch, a pirate wench, and a giant glittering red high-heeled shoe bearing a drag queen named Sushi, in Key West, Florida. In the Philippines, powerful illegal fireworks sold under such names as “Goodbye Philippines” caused nearly 200 injuries. “Doctors are waiting with surgical saws, bone cutters, and drills in case your fingers need to be amputated,” said health official Enrique Tayag.APUSA TodayUSA TodayOfficials in Beebe, Arkansas, began an investigation when, for the second year in a row, New Year??s fireworks sent blackbirds, which are nightblind, flying at top speed into houses, signs, trees, and the ground, killing scores. “There [was] evidence of fireworks set off in the middle of the roost,” said an Arkansas Game and Fish spokeswoman. “We know it wasn??t a coincidence.” CNNScientists showed that ingestion of the planktonic diatom Pseudo-nitzschia likely caused a wave of apparently crazed seabirds to fly into homes and fall from the sky in Monterey Bay, California, in 1961??the event that is said to have inspired Alfred Hitchcock??s “The Birds.”USA TodayNature GeoscienceUSA Today

Tens of thousands of citizens and military personnel gathered in Pyongyang for the funeral procession of Kim Jong-Il, who ruled North Korea for seventeen years. Kim??s body, a large portrait of him, and a giant wreath were each carried atop mid-1970s armored black Lincoln Continentals. “What are we supposed to do without you?” shouted mourners. Kim??s son, Kim Jong-Un, was formally named North Korea??s new Supreme Leader. Boasting that parts of the country were “socialist fairylands,” a joint editorial published by three major newspapers said “The whole party, the entire army, and all the people should possess a firm conviction that they will become human bulwarks and human shields in defending Kim Jong-Un unto death.”ABCNYTimesGuardianNew York TimesTelegraphWhile on vacation with his family in Hawaii, U.S. President Barack Obama released four sea turtles into Hanauma Bay and signed into law a military-spending bill, despite expressing reservations about certain provisions, including one that imposes sanctions on Iranian oil exports. USA TodayNew York TimesIran announced that it had successfully built and tested the country??s first domestically produced nuclear fuel rod, and threatened to shut down the Strait of Hormuz to oil tankers in response to sanction threats from the West. “Our response to threats is threats,” said Revolutionary Guard deputy commander Hossein Salami. CNNAFP via Raw StoryRival monks brawled with brooms during the annual cleaning of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, GuardianAmericans were found to have purchased record numbers of guns in December. TelegraphLos Angeles police arrested a man believed to have set 53 fires in four nights in and around Hollywood, and impounded his van, which was suspected to contain fire-starting materials. “That??s headed to the crime lab,” said councilman Tom LaBonge.San Jose Mercury NewsNew York TimesLos Angeles Times

A Montoursville, Pennsylvania, couple reportedly pleaded guilty to having sex on a city bus while a friend held their infant daughter in the seat in front of them. “randell was in jail PRC [pre-release center] when it happend,” the woman wrote in response to criticism on Facebook. “i was ridin for my HUSBAND SO STOP TALKIN SHIT.” Smoking GunOne day after Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner announced that she will undergo surgery for thyroid cancer, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez suggested that the United States might have given cancer to several recently diagnosed South American heads of state??a group that includes Fernández, Paraguay??s Fernando Lugo, Brazil??s Dilma Rousseff, and Chávez himself. “It would not be strange if they had developed the technology to induce cancer and nobody knew about it until know,” said Chávez. “It??s a bit difficult to explain this, to reason it, including using the law of probabilities.” New York TimesReutersAn administrative court ruled that the Egyptian military violated female protesters?? rights by subjecting them to invasive “virginity tests” last spring.New York TimesShell Oil denied an environmental group??s claim that oil from an offshore spill had reached the Nigerian coastline. “It must have come from a third party,” said Shell spokesman Precious Okolobo.AFP via Raw StoryNigeria??s president, Goodluck Jonathan, declared a state of emergency in parts of the country struck by a recent surge of Islamist violence, and ended government fuel subsidies for Nigerians, causing an immediate rise in gas prices and riots in Abuja and Kano. “We intend,” said an official with the Nigeria Labour Congress, “to make the country ungovernable.”ReutersBBCAFPWorkers at more than 800 IP addresses belonging to the U.S. House of Representatives were revealed to have illegally downloaded software, television shows, Hollywood films, and pornography, as well as self-help and reference books. Among the books were “Crucial Conversations??Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High,” “Do Not Open??An Encyclopedia of the World??s Best-Kept Secrets,” and “How to Answer Hard Interview Questions And Everything Else You Need to Know to Get the Job You Want.”TorrentFreakBoing Boing

Share
Single Page

More from J Gabriel Boylan:

Weekly Review February 27, 2012, 9:36 pm

Weekly Review

Weekly Review November 8, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Weekly Review September 13, 2011, 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.

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