Weekly Review — July 23, 2012, 10:27 pm

Weekly Review

saluting_the_town_350x278 In Aurora, Colorado, a man wearing a gas mask and other tactical gear entered a midnight screening of Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, set off a tear-gas canister, and fired hundreds of bullets at the audience, killing 12 people and injuring more than 50. The suspected shooter, 24-year-old former neuroscience Ph.D. candidate James Eagan Holmes, was believed to have posted a profile on the website Adult Friend Finder in which he described himself as a “nice guy.” “Well,” he wrote, “as nice enough of a guy who does these sort of shenanigans.” Holmes reportedly had with him at the theater a shotgun, two semi-automatic pistols, and a semi-automatic rifle outfitted with a high-capacity ammunition clip, all loaded from a 6,350-bullet stockpile he had purchased online. After he was apprehended in the parking lot, Holmes identified himself as the Joker and directed police to his apartment, which had been booby-trapped with trip wires, chemicals, and improvised grenades, and where techno music may have been rigged to play while the shooting was taking place. “Make no mistake,” said Aurora’s police chief, “this apartment was designed . . . to kill.”[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9] Insurgents launched at least 40 simultaneous attacks in 15 cities across Iraq, detonating car bombs and storming marketplaces, government offices, and military and law-enforcement targets. At least 106 people were killed in one day, making it the deadliest in Iraq in over two years.[10][11] Syrian rebels bombed a crisis meeting at the National Security headquarters in Damascus, killing the country’s national-security chief, defense minister, and deputy defense minister, who is also the brother-in-law of President Bashar al-Assad. Obama Administration officials said the United States would “accelerate” the strengthening of groups seeking to overthrow Assad, and a Syrian foreign-ministry spokesman said his country would use its chemical and biological weapons only against foreign aggression. “If they exist,” he later added.[12][13][14][15][16]

Mitt Romney insisted he would not make public the income-tax returns he filed for years prior to 2010. “You know, you should really look at where Mitt has led his life and where he’s been financially,” said his wife, Ann, in a TV interview. “He’s a very generous person.”[17][18][19] The American Saddlebred Museum in Lexington, Kentucky, put up for auction Chevaux, a signed painting by a nine-year-old Friesian horse named Justin.[20][21] In an interview with the Hoover Institute, George W. Bush explained his decision to retire from politics. “Eight years was awesome and I was famous and I was powerful,” he said. “But . . . I crawled out of the swamp and I’m not crawling back in.”[22] The town council of Royston, England, voted unanimously to begin culling local pigeons, which have been coating the town in excrement, rather than feeding them contraceptives or using fire gel to fool them into believing their roosts were ablaze. “There is an advantage to this method,” said a retired councilor. “Shot pigeons give us a food source.”[23] A bobcat broke into a Washington State prison.[24] A teenaged bear roamed from a Walmart to a J.C. Penney to a Sears store at a mall in Pittsburgh.[25] Kent Couch and Fareed Lafta abandoned a tandem flight from Oregon to Montana in lawn chairs lofted by helium-filled party balloons when a thunderstorm forced them to make an emergency crash landing. The pair—who met after Lafta sent Couch, a longtime lawn-chair balloonist, a letter saying he hoped to fulfill a childhood dream inspired by the 1980s cartoon show Care Bears—said they were training for a joint flight over Iraq to cheer orphans. “I made a commitment to Fareed and the orphans of Iraq,” said Couch. “Otherwise I’m on the ground for good.”[26]

Microsoft, which posted a quarterly loss for the first time ever, apologized for including the code “B16B00B5” (BIGBOOBS) in one of its programs.[27][28] The manager of the Damson Dene hotel in Crosthwaite, England, replaced his rooms’ bedside Gideon bibles with copies of the erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey. “The Bible remains a source of comfort and inspiration that many people do find helpful,” said local vicar Michael Woodcock.[29] Medieval bras discovered in an Austrian castle were described as a “missing link” in the history of women’s undergarments.[30] Coastal waters near Cape Lookout and Florence, Oregon, were found to be unusually caffeinated.[31] Sewing needles were discovered in turkey sandwiches served to passengers on four Delta flights from Amsterdam.[32] A blind Native American man sued a hospital in South Dakota for leaving him with surgical scars spelling out “KKK” on his abdomen.[33] As Ramadan began, Muslim Olympians debated whether to continue their fasts during the 2012 Games. “I can do it after Ramadan and Allah will accept it because there was an important reason,” said an Egyptian kayaker.[34] Representatives from the gay-hookup app Grindr denied that the influx of Olympic athletes was responsible for a system crash affecting users in East London. “We’d love to believe,” said a spokesperson, “that the best-built men in the world all dressed up in Lycra and congregating in one place can generate a huge increase in Grindr traffic.”[35][36]

Share
Single Page

More from Ryann Liebenthal:

From the July 2015 issue

Bleakness Stakes

Weekly Review May 19, 2015, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

An Amtrak train derails, a Bangladeshi blogger is hacked to death, and an African-American boy who was maced at an anti–police-brutality protest is grateful he wasn’t shot

Weekly Review February 17, 2015, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

A Muslim family is killed over a parking space in North Carolina, Netflix launches in Cuba, and an Indian woman who is 95 percent genetically male gives birth to twins

Get access to 168 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

January 2019

Machine Politics

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Polar Light

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Donald Trump Is a Good President

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Resistances

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Long Shot

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Machine Politics·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The Goliath of totalitarianism will be brought down by the David of the microchip,” Ronald Reagan said in 1989. He was speaking to a thousand British notables in London’s historic Guildhall, several months before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Reagan proclaimed that the world was on the precipice of “a new era in human history,” one that would bring “peace and freedom for all.” Communism was crumbling, just as fascism had before it. Liberal democracies would soon encircle the globe, thanks to the innovations of Silicon Valley. “I believe,” he said, “that more than armies, more than diplomacy, more than the best intentions of democratic nations, the communications revolution will be the greatest force for the advancement of human freedom the world has ever seen.”

At the time, most everyone thought Reagan was right. The twentieth century had been dominated by media that delivered the same material to millions of people at the same time—radio and newspapers, movies and television. These were the kinds of one-to-many, top-down mass media that Orwell’s Big Brother had used to stay in power. Now, however, Americans were catching sight of the internet. They believed that it would do what earlier media could not: it would allow people to speak for themselves, directly to one another, around the world. “True personalization is now upon us,” wrote MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte in his 1995 bestseller Being Digital. Corporations, industries, and even whole nations would soon be transformed as centralized authorities were demolished. Hierarchies would dissolve and peer-to-peer collaborations would take their place. “Like a force of nature,” wrote Negroponte, “the digital age cannot be denied or stopped.”

Illustration (detail) by Lincoln Agnew
Article
Long Shot·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Ihave had many names, but as a sniper I went by Azad, which means “free” or “freedom” in Kurdish. I had been fighting for sixteen months in Kurdish territory in northern Syria when in April 2015 I was asked to leave my position on the eastern front, close to the Turkish border, and join an advance on our southwestern one. Eight months earlier, we had been down to our last few hundred yards, and, outnumbered five to one, had made a last stand in Kobanî. In January, after more than four months of fighting street-to-street and room-by-room, we recaptured the town and reversed what was, until then, an unstoppable jihadi tide. In the battles since, we had pushed ­ISIS far enough in every direction that crossing our territory was no longer a short dash through the streets but a five-hour drive across open country. As we set out to the north, I could make out the snowy peaks in southern Turkey where they say Noah once beached his ark. Below them, rolling toward us, were the wide, grassy valleys and pine forests of Mesopotamia, the land between the Euphrates and the Tigris where our people have lived for twelve thousand years.

The story of my people is filled with bitter ironies. The Kurds are one of the world’s oldest peoples and, as pioneers of agriculture, were once among its most advanced. Though the rest of the world now largely overlooks that it was Kurds who were among the first to create a civilization, the evidence is there. In 1995, German archaeologists began excavating a temple at Göbekli Tepe in northern Kurdistan. They found a structure flanked by stone pillars carved with bulls, foxes, and cranes, which they dated to around 10,000 bce. At the end of the last Ice Age, and seven thousand years before the erection of Stonehenge or the pyramids at Giza, my ancestors were living together as shamans, artists, farmers, and engineers.

Fighters of the YJA-STAR, the women’s force in the PKK, Sinjar, Iraq, November 2015 (detail)
Article
Polar Light·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

To get oriented here is difficult. The light is flat because the sky is overcast. The sun’s weak rays create only a few anemic shadows by which to judge scale and distance. Far-off objects like mountain peaks have crisp edges because the atmosphere itself is as transparent as first-water diamonds, but the mountains are not nearly as close as they seem. It’s about negative-twelve degrees Fahrenheit, but the wind is relatively calm, moving over the snow distractedly, like an animal scampering.

[caption id="attachment_271890" align="aligncenter" width="690"]True-color satellite image of Earth centered on the South Pole during winter solstice © Planet Observer/Universal Images Group/Getty Images. True-color satellite image of Earth centered on the South Pole during winter solstice © Planet Observer/Universal Images Group/Getty Images.[/caption]

Four of the six people living here are in their tents now, next to their cookstoves, two by two, warming up and preparing their suppers. I’m the fifth of the group, almost motionless at the moment, a hundred yards south of the tent cluster, kneeling on a patch of bluish ice in the midst of a great expanse of white. I’m trying to discern a small object entombed there a few inches below the surface. Against the porcelain whites of this gently sloping landscape, I must appear starkly apparent in my cobalt blue parka and wind pants. I shift slowly right and left, lean slightly forward, then settle back, trying to get the fluxless sunlight to reveal more of the shape and texture of the object.

A multiple-exposure photograph (detail) taken every hour from 1:30 pm on December 8, 1965, to 10:10 am on December 9, 1965, showing the sun in its orbit above the South Pole, Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station © Georg Gerster/Panos Pictures
Article
Donald Trump Is a Good President·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In all sincerity, I like Americans a lot; I’ve met many lovely people in the United States, and I empathize with the shame many Americans (and not only “New York intellectuals”) feel at having such an appalling clown for a leader.

However, I have to ask—and I know what I’m requesting isn’t easy for you—that you consider things for a moment from a non-American point of view. I don’t mean “from a French point of view,” which would be asking too much; let’s say, “from the point of view of the rest of the world.”On the numerous occasions when I’ve been questioned about Donald Trump’s election, I’ve replied that I don’t give a shit. France isn’t Wyoming or Arkansas. France is an independent country, more or less, and will become totally independent once again when the European Union is dissolved (the sooner, the better).

Illustration (detail) by Ricardo Martínez
Article
Resistances·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The prepositions you’re most likely to encounter after the title of a poem are “for” or “to” and sometimes “after”—“for my daughter”; “to Bobby”; “after Pound”; etc. They signify dedication, address, homage, imitation. In the recent poems of Fred Moten, we encounter “with,” a preposition that denotes accompaniment. The little difference makes a big difference, emphasizing collaboration over the economy of the gift, suggesting that the poet and his company are fellow travelers, in the same time zone, alongside each other in the present tense of composition. (Given Moten’s acclaimed critical work on jazz, the “with” is immediately evocative of musical performance, e.g., “Miles Davis with Sonny Rollins.”) Not all “withs” are the same—there is a different intimacy in the poem “fifty little springs,” which is “with aviva,” Moten’s wife’s Hebrew name (which means springtime), than there is in “resistances,” which is “with” a critic and an artist, interlocutors of Moten’s. (The poem “13. southern pear trees” has no preposition after the title, but is excerpted from another responding to the work of Zoe Leonard, and so is still a work of fellowship.) The scale of that “with” can be small (“with aviva, as if we were all alone”) or vast (“with everybody we don’t know”), but either way the poem becomes an instance of alongsidedness instead of belatedness; the poems request, with that subtle prepositional shift, that we think of ourselves as participants in the production of meaning and not mere recipients of someone else’s eloquence.

“Untitled,” 1989, by Zoe Leonard © Zoe Leonard (detail)

Estimated number of times in the Fall of 1990 that George Bush told a joke about his dog asking for a wine list with her Alpo:

10

French researchers reported that 52 percent of young women exposed to Francis Cabrel’s ballad “Je l’aime à mourir” gave their phone numbers to an average-looking young man who hit on them, whereas only 28 percent of those exposed to Vincent Delerm’s “L’heure du thé” did so.

Migrant children were teargassed; carbon dioxide levels have reached three to five million year high; missionary killed by remote tribe

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Happiness Is a Worn Gun

By

Illustration by Stan Fellows

Illustration by Stan Fellows

“Nowadays, most states let just about anybody who wants a concealed-handgun permit have one; in seventeen states, you don’t even have to be a resident. Nobody knows exactly how many Americans carry guns, because not all states release their numbers, and even if they did, not all permit holders carry all the time. But it’s safe to assume that as many as 6 million Americans are walking around with firearms under their clothes.”

Subscribe Today