Weekly Review — April 30, 2012, 6:52 pm

Weekly Review

humbug_350x387

Imprisoned Chinese lawyer and human rights activist Chen Guangcheng escaped house arrest in Shandong Province and fled to Beijing, where he was reportedly being harbored at the American Embassy on the eve of an official visit by secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Chen, who is known for exposing forced abortions and sterilizations in rural China, had remained in bed for weeks in order to convince guards of his frailty, then scaled the wall surrounding his home in Dongshigu. “He’s blind,” said dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, “so the night to him is nothing.” Several of Chen’s accomplices, including a woman who drove him the 300 miles to the capital, have since disappeared. “It’s hard to call this a victory if everyone involved in his escape ends up detained, arrested and imprisoned,” said a researcher from Human Rights Watch.[1][2][3] Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, was convicted by an international tribunal in The Hague of aiding and abetting crimes against humanity—including murder, sexual enslavement, and the conscription of child soldiers—in conjunction with his support for the rebel Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone. “He once told Sierra Leoneans that we are going to taste the bitterness of war, so Charles Taylor should taste the bitterness of the law,” said one survivor of an RUF campaign. “They could jail him for 100 years,” said another, “and it wouldn’t make a difference.”[4][5][6] Pakistan deported Osama bin Laden’s three widows and 11 of his children and grandchildren to Saudi Arabia, the United States agreed to transfer 9,000 Marines out of Okinawa, and Mitt Romney won five more Republican primaries, leaving him 297 delegates shy of the total he needs to win the party’s presidential nomination. “I can say with confidence and gratitude,” said Romney in New Hampshire, “that you have given me a great honor and solemn responsibility.”[7][8][9][10][11]

Tens of thousands of people gathered in Oslo’s Youngstorget Square to heckle Anders Behring Breivik by singing “Children of the Rainbow,” a Norwegian translation of Pete Seeger’s “Rainbow Race,” which Breivik had cited as an example of cultural Marxism in recent court testimony about the massacre he carried out last summer on Utøya Island.[12] The Supreme Command of the North Korean People’s Army threatened to “reduce all ratlike groups … to ashes in three or four minutes, or in much shorter time”; the Dalai Lama said he loved George W. Bush as a human being; and Vice President Joe Biden touted President Barack Obama’s robust foreign policy to a crowd of New York University students. “This guy’s got a backbone like a ramrod,” said Biden. “For real. For real.”[13][14][15] William Lawlis Pace, a former cemetery custodian who lived for 94 and a half years with a bullet in his head, died at the age of 103, and officials in Old Lyme, Connecticut, hunted a goose with an arrow through its cheek.[16][17] Officials in New York cracked down on stagnant birdbath water and the illegal trade in black-bear gallbladders. “We have some people come in to buy 20 galls or more, and obviously they’re a dealer,” said an upstate taxidermist. “We also have Ma and Pa come up, and they’ll buy two galls. That’s obviously for their own consumption.”[18][19] A fishery commissioner in Michigan mailed two pounds of frozen Lake Huron lamprey to the English city of Gloucester, where, pursuant to medieval tradition, the eel-like parasite will be stewed in vinegar, cinnamon, and its own blood, baked into an ornately decorated tall crust, and presented to Queen Elizabeth II in honor of her Diamond Jubilee. Conservationists pointed out that the lamprey, which is considered invasive in the Great Lakes region, is a protected species in Gloucester’s River Severn. “It would be like us making a pie,” said the Michigan commissioner, “out of piping plover.”[20][21]

Scientists determined that zebrafish are more sociable when given mescaline, that male spotted bowerbirds who groom their bush tomatoes have more sex, and that pig mucus can be used to enhance the antiviral properties of commercial genital lubricants.[22][23][24] The National Endowment for the Arts earmarked $40,000 for the development of a video game based on Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, an Idaho man was arrested for turning an assault rifle on his neighbor and demanding that he moonwalk, and officials in Kyrgyzstan snuffed the country’s Eternal Flame because of an unpaid gas bill.[25][26][27] Astrophysicists found that slow-moving giant snowballs punch glittering holes through Saturn’s outermost ring, and that the Sombrero Galaxy has both a disk and a bulge.[28][29] Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who is serving 14 years in federal prison, was nearing the end of a three-month stint washing dishes, after which he expected to teach other inmates about literature or Greek mythology. “He knows a great deal about Shakespeare,” said one of Blagojevich’s friends.[30] Donald Trump flew to Scotland to testify against the construction of an offshore wind farm. “I’m an expert in tourism. I have won many, many awards,” said Trump. “You’re a liar!” shouted a protester. “You destroy people’s lives in Aberdeenshire!”[31] Investigators in the Scottish village of Heck determined that an otter was likely responsible for a rash of koi thefts, and British designers lamented the rising popularity of high-end fashion that is marketed to kids but poorly suited to their bodies. “Children have big tummies,” said one clothier, “and stand in funny ways.” [32][33]

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 169 years of
Harper’s for only $23.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

November 2019

The K-12 Takeover

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The $68,000 Fish

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Men at Work

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

To Serve Is to Rule

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Bird Angle

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Men at Work·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“You’re being reborn,” the voice says. “Exiting the womb of your mother. Coming into the earth as a small baby. Everything is new.” It is a Saturday morning in mid-March, and right now I’m lying on a yoga mat in a lodge in Ohio, surrounded by fifty other men who’ve come to the Midwest for a weekend of manhood-confirming adventures. The voice in question belongs to Aaron Blaine, a facilitator for Evryman, the men’s group orchestrating this three-day retreat. All around me, men are shedding tears as Blaine leads us on a guided meditation, a kind of archetypal montage of Norman Rockwell boyhood. “You’re starting to figure things out,” he says, in somniferous baritone. “Snow, for the first time. Sunshine. Start to notice the smells, the tastes, the confusion. The fear. And you’re growing. You’re about ten years old. The world’s huge and scary.”

Even though it’s only the second day of the Evryman retreat, it’s worth noting that I’ve already been the subject of light fraternal teasing. Already I’ve been the recipient of countless unsought hugs. Already I have sat in Large Groups and Small Groups, and watched dozens of middle-aged men weep with shame and contrition. I’ve had a guy in the military tell me he wants to be “a rock for his family.” I’ve heard a guy from Ohio say that his beard “means something.” Twice I’ve hiked through the woods to “reconnect with Mother Nature,” and I have been addressed by numerous men as both “dude” and “brother.” I have performed yoga and yard drills and morning calisthenics. I’ve heard seven different men play acoustic guitar. I’ve heard a man describe his father by saying, “There wasn’t a lot of ball-tossing when I was growing up.” Three times I’ve been queried about how I’m “processing everything,” and at the urinal on Friday night, two men warned me about the upcoming “Anger Ceremony,” which is rumored to be the weekend’s “pièce de résistance.”

Article
To Serve Is to Rule·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The WASP story is personal for me. I arrived at Yale in 1971 from a thoroughly mediocre suburb in New Jersey, the second-generation hybrid of Irish and Italian stock riding the postwar boom. Those sockless people in Top-Siders, whose ancestors’ names and portraits adorned the walls, were entirely new to me. I made friends with some, but I was not free of a corrosive envy of their habitus of ease and entitlement.

I used to visit one of those friends in the Hamptons, in the 1970s, when the area was about wood-paneled Ford station wagons, not Lamborghinis. There was some money in the family, but not gobs, yet they lived two blocks from the beach—prime real estate. Now, down the road from what used to be their house is the residence of Ira Rennert. It’s one of the largest private homes in the United States. The union-busting, pension-fund-looting Rennert, whose wealth comes from, among other things, chemical companies that are some of the worst polluters in the country, made his first money in the 1980s as a cog in Michael Milken’s junk-bond machine. In 2015, a court ordered him to return $215 million he had appropriated from one of his companies to pay for the house. One-hundred-car garages and twenty-one (or maybe twenty-nine) bedrooms don’t come cheap.

Article
The Bird Angle·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I slept for a good seven hours on the overnight flight from Spain to Peru, and while I slept I dreamed that I was leading American visitors around a park in Berlin, looking for birds on a hazy, overcast day. There wasn’t much to see until we noticed a distant commotion in the sky. Large raptors were panicking, driven back and forth by something threatening them from above. The commotion moved closer. The clouds parted, an oval aperture backed with blue. In it two seraphim hovered motionless. “Those are angels,” I told the group.

They were between us and the sun, but an easy ­I.D. Size aside, no other European bird has two sets of wings. The upper wings cast their faces into shadow. Despite the glare I could make out their striking peaches-­and-­cream coloration. Ivory white predominates, hair a faint yellow, eyes blue, wings indescribably iridescent. Faces blank and expressionless, as with all birds.

Article
The K-12 Takeover·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Last May, the families of students at Cypress Academy, an independent charter school in New Orleans, received an email announcing that the school would close when classes ended the following week and that all its students would be transferred to another nearby charter for the upcoming year. Parents would have the option of entering their children in the city’s charter-enrollment lottery, but the lottery’s first round had already taken place, and the most desirable spots for the fall were filled.

Founded in 2015, a decade after New Orleans became the nation’s first city to begin replacing all its public schools with charters, Cypress was something of a rarity. Like about nine in ten of the city’s charter schools, it filled spaces by lottery rather than by selective admission. But while most of the nonselective schools in New Orleans had majority populations of low-income African-American students, Cypress mirrored the city’s demographics, drawing the children of professionals—African-American and white alike—as well as poorer students. Cypress reserved 20 percent of its seats for children with reading difficulties, and it offered a progressive education model, including “learning by doing,” rather than the strict conduct codes that dominated the city’s nonselective schools. In just three years, the school had outperformed many established charters—a particular feat given that one in four Cypress students had a disability, double the New Orleans average. Families flocked to Cypress, especially ones with children who had disabilities.

Article
Five Stories·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

how high? that high

He had his stick that was used mostly to point at your head if your head wasn’t held up proudly.

I still like that man—Holger! He had been an orphan!

He came up to me once because there was something about how I was moving my feet that wasn’t according to the regulations or his expectations.

The room was a short wide room with a short wide window with plenty of artificial light.

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 first person awarded the title of royal consort in Thailand had her title removed for trying to “elevate herself to the same state as the queen” and “disloyalty.”

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