Weekly Review — November 6, 2012, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

National polls showed President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney to be virtually tied, suggesting that Tuesday’s presidential election will be among the closest in U.S. history.[1][2] Obama held a rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, at which Stevie Wonder performed “Higher Ground” and “Superstition.” Romney campaigned in the traditionally Democratic state of Pennsylvania, taking the stage in Bucks County to the theme song from Rocky.[3][4] Vice president Joe Biden admitted to watching clips of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on Air Force Two, and Republican VP candidate Paul Ryan played cornhole with his children and several Romney grandchildren while tailgating outside the Green Bay Packers game in Wisconsin on Sunday. “You have to have your cheese on your head,” Ryan told the kids.[5][6] Tiny campaign signs set up outside prairie-dog burrows near Boulder, Colorado, were evenly split between the presidential candidates, and in Kenya, a bull named Barack Obama beat a larger bull named Mitt Romney in a fight. “It’s clear now,” said a spectator, “that Romney can’t beat Obama.”[7][8] A blindfolded Egyptian child selected the new Coptic pope, and Muslim clerics suggested that Hurricane Sandy, which killed 113 people in the U.S. and left 8.5 million without power, was punishment for the ills of American society. “It is revenge from God,” tweeted Egyptian cleric Wagdi Ghoneim.[9][10][11][12] In New York City, where the storm killed at least 41 people, an estimated 750 shoppers waited in line outside Apple’s flagship store to buy the new iPad mini. “There’s no electricity,” said Eytan Friedman, “so I figured I’d get up early and get my new iPad rather than lie in bed and stare at the ceiling.”[13] New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg insisted that holding the New York Marathon as scheduled would boost the city’s morale, then canceled the event a few hours later and announced that blankets and bottled water intended for runners would instead be distributed to hurricane victims. “I feel like it was a trick,” said Italian runner Giuseppe Paladino. “I feel like I was robbed.”[14][15]

Russia’s parliament approved an expanded definition of high treason that includes “giving financial, technical, consulting or other help” to foreign entities. Russian president Vladimir Putin warned that groups engaged in “totalitarian activities” were “growing like mushrooms” in the country; nationalists marched in Moscow to protest Putin’s support of Caucasian and Central Asian immigrants; and a pro-Kremlin Russian youth group promoted a ban on Mormons because of their “questionable activities.”[16][17][18] In the United States, the Christian American Family Association accused “Mix It Up at Lunch Day,” on which children sit with someone new in the cafeteria, of being “a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools.” “I use poisoned Halloween candy as an illustration,” said Bryan Fischer, the group’s director of issue analysis. “This looks harmless on the surface, but you don’t realize how toxic it is.”[19] Trick-or-treaters in Royton, England, were given packets of cocaine instead of sweets, and in Surrey, a former history teacher built a 60-foot World War I–style trench in his backyard. “We can hear the gunfire from the house,” said his neighbor, “but as it isn’t very often we don’t mind.”[20][21] France’s equality ministry began “sensitization sessions” for government ministers after Housing Minister Cécile Duflot was catcalled at the National Assembly by male legislators, who claimed they were merely complimenting her flowered dress.[22] Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri, stopped telling users where to find prostitutes in China, and Israel’s minister of public diplomacy toured Tikun Olam, Israel’s largest medical-marijuana farm. “This is God’s doing,” says the farm’s logo, “and it’s marvelous in our eyes.”[23][24]

Biologists with Alaska’s fish and game department killed a grizzly bear that was attempting to break into homes in the Stuckagain Heights neighborhood of Anchorage, while a bear that had stolen local chickens remained at large.[25][26] People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals requested that a memorial sign be placed at an Irvine, California, site where hundreds of saltwater bass died in a traffic accident. “Although such signs are traditionally reserved for human fatalities,” the group wrote, “I hope you’ll make an exception because of the enormous suffering involved.”[27][28] Computer scientists at University College London and the University of Barcelona created a program in which rats control a person-shaped avatar that interacts with human subjects in virtual reality, and a lonely Seoul elephant spoke Korean to his trainers.[29][30] Pet behaviorist Karen Wild helped design a bedtime story to relax the United Kingdom’s dogs during Guy Fawkes Night fireworks, and NASA considered sending Camilla Corona, a rubber chicken with a popular Twitter feed, to the International Space Station. “Sometimes,” said one of her followers, “she says things that are at a high scientific level.”[31][32]

Share
Single Page
undefined

More from Sara Breselor:

Weekly Review April 14, 2015, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Michael Slager is charged with murder, Hillary Clinton declares her candidacy for president, and a Utah television personality gets probation for kicking a barn owl

Weekly Review January 20, 2015, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

The Pope says climate change is mostly man made, Al Qaeda claims responsibility for the attack on Charlie Hebdo, and residents of a town in Denmark agree to have sex more often

Weekly Review December 23, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

North Korea attacks the U.S. film industry, Pakistan reinstates the death penalty, and a Pennsylvania electrician stabs a Virgin Mary lawn ornament in the head

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.

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
Burning Down the House·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Discussed in this essay:

Plagued by Fire: The Dreams and Furies of Frank Lloyd Wright, by Paul Hendrickson. Knopf. 624 pages. $35.

Frank Lloyd Wright isn’t just the greatest of all American architects. He has so eclipsed the competition that he can sometimes seem the only one. Who are his potential rivals? Henry Hobson Richardson, that Gilded Age starchitect in monumental stone? Louis Sullivan, lyric poet of the office building and Wright’s own Chicago mentor, best known for his dictum that form follows function? “Yes,” Wright corrected him with typical one-upmanship, “but more important now, form and function are one.” For architects with the misfortune to follow him, Wright is seen as having created the standards by which they are judged. If we know the name Frank Gehry, it’s probably because he designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, in 1997. And Gehry’s deconstructed ship of titanium and glass would be unimaginable if Wright hadn’t built his own astonishing Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue some forty years earlier.

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.

Sebastian Gorka, the former deputy assistant to the president who now hosts a radio show called America First, was banned from YouTube for repeatedly uploading audio from the rock band Imagine Dragons without copyright permission.

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