Weekly Review — March 19, 2012, 5:28 pm

Weekly Review

humbug_350x387 A gunman killed a teacher and three children on the playground of the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, France, and then fled on a black scooter. “We all know each other in this school, do you understand?” said one mother. “All the children here are a family.” A ballistics analysis showed that one of the weapons used at Ozar Hatorah was used in similar attacks targeting French soldiers of North African and Caribbean descent around Toulouse in the preceding week. “The entire Republic is mobilizing in the face of this tragedy,” said President Nicolas Sarkozy, who called on schools to observe a minute of silence.[1][2][3][4] A year and two days after a magnitude-9.0 earthquake killed 16,000 people in Japan and crippled the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear facility, a series of aftershocks struck the northeast of the country, prompting officials in the town of Otsuchi to issue a coastal evacuation order. In nearby Kamaishi, residents honored the efforts of Atsushi Chiba, a retired undertaker who cared for and performed Buddhist rites on almost 1,000 bodies following the 2011 quake. “I dreaded finding my mother’s body, lying alone on the cold ground among strangers,” said a local woman. “When I saw her peaceful, clean face, I knew someone had taken care of her until I arrived. That saved me.”[5][6]

Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, the U.S. Army soldier accused of killing sixteen Afghan villagers last week, was put in solitary confinement at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he met with his legal counsel, which will be led by the attorney who defended serial killer Ted Bundy.[7] Emails leaked to Britain’s Guardian newspaper by Syrian dissidents showed that the day after government forces began attacking the city of Homs, President Bashar al-Assad sent his wife the lyrics to Blake Shelton’s “God Gave Me You,” whose first verse reads, “I’ve been a walking heartache/ I’ve made a mess of me/ The person that I’ve been lately/ Ain’t who I wanna be.” Another email, sent to Assad, reportedly contained the image of a cartoon camel in thigh-high boots and bondage gear.[8][9] A pair of cigarette-smoking Slovak tweens inadvertently burned down a fourteenth-century Gothic castle, melting three bells, and an Iowa teenager faced arson charges after he set fire to several bags of beef jerky.[10][11] The U.S. Department of Agriculture decided that schools throughout the country would no longer be obliged to serve “pink slime,” a form of lean beef created with leftover cuts that are ground up, demulsified in a centrifuge, and sprayed with ammonium hydroxide.[12] State officials in Peru, New York, set out dried corn and Jell-O-laced doughnuts in an effort to capture feral swine, which were foraging intensively on upstate farms. “I’ve never worked with an animal this smart,” said one wildlife biologist. “They’re the most destructive mammal out there.”[13] After finishing second in the Alabama and Mississippi Republican primaries, Newt Gingrich continued to ignore outside calls to suspend his presidential campaign. “Our political system,” he said in Illinois, “is so methodically and deliberately stupid.” Rick Santorum, who won both states, spoke to Mississippians about climate change. “The dangers of carbon dioxide?” he asked. “Tell that to a plant, how dangerous carbon dioxide is.”[14][15][16]

Botanists at Cornell University waited for a corpse flower to bloom, primatologists were conducting an emergency study of the endangered Malagasy silky sifaka, herpetologists identified a new species of leopard frog near Yankee Stadium, neurobiologists found that sex-starved fruit flies take solace in alcohol, and ornithologists recommended creating “vulture restaurants” to lure griffon and African white-backed vultures, which cannot see directly ahead while flying, away from wind turbines. “These are big birds with big beaks,” said ornithologist Graham Martin. “I did lose a bit of my thumb.”[17][18][19][20][21] Actor James Van Der Beek announced the birth of a son on Twitter, and on the outskirts of Dawson Creek, British Columbia, a cat was found frozen into a block of ice at the Mile Zero Trailer Park.[22][23] Former U.S. vice president Dick Cheney canceled a trip to Canada over concerns the country was too dangerous, and a Colorado man was killed by a 20-foot avalanche of pinto beans.[24][25] Apiologists observed increased neural activity in the brains of Japanese honeybee workers taking part in hot defensive bee balls, and bee rustlers stole several beehives from a Houston-area restaurateur. “Someone that does bees,” said chef Randy Evans, “stole these bees.”[26][27] Scottish psychologists, after failing to find evidence that humans could see into the future, urged their colleagues “not to venture too far down the rabbit hole,” and Til, a rare earless rabbit born at a small zoo in eastern Germany, was crushed under a cameraman’s shoe shortly before a press conference that had been scheduled in the rabbit’s honor. “We are all shocked,” said the zoo’s director, Uwe Dempewolf. “No one could have foreseen this.”[28][29]

Share
Single Page
undefined

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