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

A Humbug (Weekly)Violent demonstrations in Kiev resulted in the deaths of dozens of antigovernment protesters, the ouster of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, the release from prison of opposition leader and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, and the passage of a law returning Yanukovych’s 345-acre Mezhyhirya compound along the Dnieper River to state ownership. “It’s like we entered Berlin and seized the Reichstag,” said one of the thousands of Kievans who came to see Mezhyhirya’s golf course and private zoo. Partially incinerated financial records recovered by a diver from a nearby reservoir indicated that Yanukovych had spent $115,000 on a statue of a running boar. “Let him be hanged or hidden away in a place where nobody will find him,” a demonstrator said of Yanukovych, who was suspected to have fled by helicopter to Balaklava.[1][2][3][4] During political demonstrations in Venezuela’s central Carabobo state, Génesis Carmona, a 22-year-old marketing student and former Miss Tourism, was shot in the head by members of a progovernment militia, and Geraldine Moreno Orozco, a 22-year-old cytotechnology student, was shot in the head by national guardsmen. In a broadcast on Venezuelan state television, President Nicolás Maduro, who denied press credentials to seven CNN reporters and ejected three U.S. diplomats from the country, appeared to confuse the distress signal SOS, used in the popular Twitter hashtag #SOSVenezuela, with the Rioplatense Spanish verb sos, meaning “you are.” “¿Sos Venezuela, ah?” said Maduro. “¡Sos gringo!” “This is not how democracies behave,” said U.S. secretary of state John Kerry.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11] A New Flemish Alliance parliamentarian questioned the Belgian prime minister’s choice of a francophone zoo to house a pair of giant pandas. “He was not acting as prime minister of all Belgians,” said the parliamentarian. “The pandas,” said the zoo’s owner, “are Chinese.”[12]

Chevron delivered gift certificates for a large pizza and a two-liter bottle of soda to 100 households in Bobtown, Pennsylvania, following an explosion and five-day-long fire at a fracking well in neighboring Dunkard Township. “We are committed to taking action,” said a letter accompanying the certificates.[13] Cornish bakers sent pasties to flood workers in Somerset, and Welsh fishermen left unable to work by bad weather called for the creation of an emergency fund. “We are on stop,” said seafood distributor Skip Rudder.[14][15] The U.S. Department of Homeland Security denied New Jersey an exception from a federal law requiring that all domestic shipments be delivered by U.S.-flagged vessels, temporarily stranding 40,000 tons of rock salt in Searsport, Maine. “We’re all in the same boat,” said a New Jersey public-works director.[16] The Akan-language interjection tweaa, used to express contempt, was banned from Ghana’s parliament, and U.K. House of Commons speaker John Bercrow called for an end to “yobbery and public-school twittishness” during Questions to the Prime Minister.[17][18] Psychiatrists in Coventry found that preteens who change schools frequently are likelier to exhibit psychosis. “There are areas of darkness we have not explored,” said a British researcher.[19] Neuroscientists at Harvard demonstrated that the movements of an avatar monkey could be controlled by the nerve impulses of a master monkey.[20] It was reported that a Pocatello, Idaho, zoning-board meeting had been moved from the Paradice Conference Room at city hall to a larger venue after more than 100 residents attended to debate the proposed construction of a mosque. “I get very fearful, because I live close to this place,” said the Reverend Jim Jones.[21][22]

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

Emirati clerics issued a fatwa prohibiting one-way travel to Mars.[23] Police in Kazakhstan detained seven women protesting a ban on synthetic underwear, biophysicists in Queensland used squeezed light to examine living yeast cells, and archaeologists in Manhattan determined a cylinder of mammal bone to be a nineteenth-century douche.[24][25][26] Workers at Iron Maiden Hog Farm in Kentucky were attempting to inoculate sows against porcine epidemic diarrhea virus by feeding them the ground intestines of piglets who had succumbed to the disease.[27] Clown trade groups noted a decline in membership. “The older clowns,” said Clowns of America International president Clyde D. Scope, “are passing away.”[28][29] Geologists attributed Yellowstone National Park’s high rates of helium-4 emission to accumulations of the gas within Earth’s crust. “You have these old crustal rocks just sitting around,” said one chemist, “giving up all their long-held secrets.”[30] Dozens of elderly relatives separated six decades ago by the division of the Korean Peninsula were reunited at North Korea’s Mount Kumgang resort. “You look old,” said a 93-year-old South Korean father to his 64-year-old North Korean son. “Come give me a hug.”[31] Captive Asian elephants were observed to grasp the genitals of distressed members of their herd in order to console them.[32][33]


Sign up and get the Weekly Review delivered to your inbox every Tuesday morning.

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 January 14, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

A Pakistani ninth-grader sacrifices himself to save his classmates, Chris Christie saves himself, and Cormac McCarthy’s ex-wife chooses an unconventional holster 

Get access to 169 years of
Harper’s for only $23.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

February 2020

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.

Dearest Lizzie

= 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.

The commissioner of CPB admitted that “leadership just got a little overzealous” when detaining hundreds of U.S. citizens of Iranian descent in the wake of Qassem Soleimani’s assassination.

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