Weekly Review — February 7, 2012, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Humbug, December 1853]

Russia and China vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Syria for its campaign to suppress dissent and backing an Arab League plan for Bashar al-Assad to step down as Syrian leader. The vote came as the Assad regime was launching a major offensive on the city of Homs, whose residents were under mortar attack over the weekend and into Monday morning. “A couple members of this council remain steadfast in their willingness to sell out the Syrian people and shield a craven tyrant,” said the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov argued that the resolution placed too little emphasis on the “armed extremists” attempting to unseat Assad, and characterized Western reactions as “somewhere on the verge of hysteria.” “People are in a state of panic,” said one Homs resident. “They are screaming, ??May God help us?? or ??Where are the Arabs???” In Damascus, one of the Syrian cities previously least affected by civil strife, residents were stockpiling food and water and enduring rolling blackouts. “Nobody is comfortable anymore,” said one socialite, adding that she had curtailed her weekly visits to the nail salon. “And I paint my nails black when I come, just like the situation.”ReutersNPRReuters via The Daily StarAFPNY TimesAt least 70 people died in a riot at a soccer stadium in Port Said, Egypt, and in Moscow, tens of thousands of activists rallied in Bolotnaya Square to oppose Vladimir Putin??s presidential candidacy, while tens of thousands of Putin supporters rallied at Poklonnaya Gora, calling the antigovernment activists “Orange trash” and “Bolotnaya snot.” Putin??s detractors, some of them dressed as condoms, turned out in spite of below-freezing temperatures. “We are not revolutionaries in mink coats!” shouted one speaker. “I am!” replied a woman in a mink coat. “We are a snowball,” said an interior decorator, “and we are rolling.”NY TimesNY TimesRIA Novosti

A cold snap in Europe killed scores in Ukraine, dumped three feet of snow on Sarajevo, caused a dam in Bulgaria to collapse, and forced temporary shutdowns of the Roman Colosseum and the Manneken-Pis, a 17th-century bronze statue in Brussels that depicts a young boy urinating.AP via CTVAP via Yahoo!ReutersTwo of the three peacocks living on the grounds of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York failed to display their plumage, auguring an extended winter. “They??re not allowed to have anything with sugar,” said a local woman of the birds, whose names are Jim, Phil and Harry, “and they probably shouldn??t have the Chinese noodles.”New York TimesA fifth of dogs and a quarter of cats in America were classified as obese. “I didn??t notice the weight creeping on,” said an Atlanta woman of her dog, Dodger. “All of a sudden he was just this fat dog.”CNNThe New York Giants, who won the Super Bowl in Indianapolis on Sunday, observed their Friday post-practice ritual of eating pizzas from a Long Island restaurant, which packaged the pies in heat-retaining bags and sent them by police escort to La Guardia Airport for the flight to Indiana.ReutersNY PostNewt Gingrich??s presidential campaign deployed robo-calls falsely accusing Mitt Romney of having deprived Holocaust survivors in nursing homes of kosher meals during his tenure as Massachusetts governor, and New Jersey governor Chris Christie refused to apologize for calling a gay state assemblyman “numbnuts.”Atlantic WireNJ.comLouis Helmburg III, a college student in West Virginia, filed suit against the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and one of its members for negligence, claiming that the accidental detonation of a bottle rocket inside the member??s rectum had startled Helmburg and caused him to fall off the fraternity??s deck.UPI

In India, where busloads of underprivileged children donned Gandhi costumes to mark the 64th anniversary of the Mahatma??s death, people continued to plug headphones into robots?? crotches in order to have their fortunes told.Chron.comDiscoverMitt Romney said on CNN that he wasn??t “concerned about the very poor,” and the Dutch bedding company Snurk angered Swedish homeless-advocacy groups by selling luxury duvet covers resembling cardboard boxes.APUPIA hotel guest in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, discovered a Manchurian black water snake hanging from her trouser press, and a 12-year-old ball python named Annie latched onto a Wisconsin woman??s face during a book-club meeting.UPIUPIResidents of Ísafjörður, a town in northwestern Iceland, celebrated the return of the sun, which arrived several days late, and Russian scientists had nearly penetrated the two and a half miles of ice atop Antarctica??s Lake Vostok, which has remained sealed off for more than twenty million years. “If it doesn??t go well,” said one researcher of the drilling, “it casts a pall over the whole effort to explore this wet underside of Antarctica.”The Reykjavík GrapevineWashington PostBBCA federal judge in Iowa approved a fire sale of eighteen llamas, and American monkey-lovers continued to evade wildlife-control agents. “It??s not what I fought for, to be treated like this,” said Jim Clark, a disabled Vietnam veteran who lives in a motor home on the Texas-Louisiana border with his wife, Donita, and their four capuchins, Tina Marie, Meeko Mae, Sara Jo, and Hayley Suzanne. “So many of us want to disappear,” said Ann Newman, president of the Simian Society of America, “and have our own community where we can safely keep our monkeys.”KCCI Des MoinesAP via USA TODAY

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 169 years of
Harper’s for only $23.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

February 2020

Dearest Lizzie

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

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.

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.

A decorated veteran of the American wars in Vietnam and Iraq had his prosthetic limbs repossessed from his home in Mississippi when the VA declined to pay for them.

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