Index — January 20, 2017, 2:09 pm

Cabinet of Curiosities

A numerical investigation of Donald Trump’s appointees

Number of years education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos spent on the board of the right-wing Acton Institute think tank : 10

Date on which the Acton Institute published a blog post titled “Bring Back Child Labor” : 11/3/2016

Number of years for which DeVos’s former school-choice advocacy group has owed election fines : 8

Amount they currently owe : $5,300,000

Value of a donation that presidential adviser Jared Kushner’s father pledged to Harvard, where Kushner later received a B.A. : $2,500,000

Of a donation pledged to New York University, where Kushner later received a J.D. and an M.B.A. : $3,000,000

Estimated value of the retirement package given to Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson from ExxonMobil : $180,000,000

Amount of a payment error for which Treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnunchin’s bank once moved to foreclose on a home : $0.27

Age of the homeowner : 90

Estimated portion of the bank’s California foreclosures that occurred in primarily non-white communities : 7/10

Number of times that Mnunchin’s official Republican Party biography mentions Goldman Sachs, where he worked for 17 years : 0

Distance in miles between the home of Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary nominee, and Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort : 1.2

Number of cabinet-level appointees who are billionaires : 3

Who are millionaires : 12

Who are former generals : 2

Date on which defense secretary nominee James “Mad Dog” Mattis publicly proclaimed it is “fun to shoot some people” : 2/1/2005

Number of Americans who homeland security nominee John Kelly said died from “narcoterrorism” between 2001 and 2014 : 500,000

Who actually died from all forms of terrorism during that period : 3,084

Estimated attendance at a 2007 prayer vigil for drought relief convened by Sonny Perdue, the agriculture secretary nominee : 250

Number of times that proposed EPA administrator Scott Pruitt sued the EPA as attorney general of Oklahoma : 14

Percentage score that the League of Conservation Voters gives Ryan Zinke, the nominee for secretary of the interior : 3

That Planned Parenthood gives Tom Price, the nominee for secretary of health and human services : 0

That the American Civil Liberties Union gives Jeff Sessions, the nominee for attorney general : 0

Date on which Jeff Sessions promised to “vigorously” prosecute adult obscenity laws : 1/10/16

Number of pornographic films in which Donald Trump has appeared : 2

Number of weeks that energy secretary nominee Rick Perry spent on Dancing With the Stars before being eliminated : 3

Percentage of the Energy Department’s budget that goes toward nuclear security : 65

Date of a presidential primary debate at which Perry expressed his desire to eliminate the Energy Department : 11/9/2011

Portion of cabinet nominees who have no public-sector experience : 3/8

Who have expressed a fondness for the novels of Ayn Rand : 1/8

Number of cabinet-level nominees Trump personally attacked during the presidential campaign : 3

Percentage of critical government positions requiring Senate confirmation for which Trump has announced nominees : 4

Length, in hours, of a concert performed by Bruce Springsteen for Obama’s departing staffers : 2

Date on which the B Street Band, a Springsteen tribute group, announced that they would no longer be performing at an inaugural ball : 1/16/2017

Time on Inauguration Day at which Donald Trump was officially sworn in as president of the United States : 12:00

At which the head of the D.C. National Guard was forced to resign : 12:01

Number of inauguration parades at which Charlie Brotman served as announcer before being dismissed by the Trump campaign : 16

Minimum number of U.S. representatives who boycotted the inauguration : 67

Number of buses that applied for parking permits for the Inauguration Day ceremony : 447

For the Women’s March on Washington : 2,066

Number of protests taking place worldwide in solidarity with the Women’s March : 616

Single Page

More from Matthew Sherrill:

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In the heart of the US Capitol there’s a small men’s room with an uplifting Franklin Delano Roo­sevelt quotation above the door. Making use of the facilities there after lunch in the nearby House dining room about a year ago, I found myself standing next to Trent Lott. Once a mighty power in the building as Senate Republican leader, he had been forced to resign his post following some imprudently affectionate references to his fellow Republican senator, arch-segregationist Strom Thurmond. Now he was visiting the Capitol as a lucratively employed lobbyist.

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The squatter camp outside Lawley township, in the southwest of Johannesburg, stretches for miles against a bare hillside, without electricity, water, or toilets. I visited on a blustery morning in October with a local journalist named Mophethe Thebe, who spent much of his childhood in the area. As we drove toward the settlement he pointed out land that had been abandoned by white Afrikaner farmers after the end of apartheid in 1994, and had since been taken over by impoverished black settlers who built over the former farms with half-paved roadways and tiny brick houses. You could still see stands of headstones inscribed in Afrikaans, all that remained visible of the former inhabitants.

The Story of Storytelling·

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The story begins, as so many do, with a journey. In this case, it’s a seemingly simple one: a young girl, cloaked in red, must carry a basket of food through the woods to her bedridden grandmother. Along the way, she meets a duplicitous wolf who persuades her to dawdle: Notice the robins, he says; Laze in the sun, breathe in the hyacinth and bluebells; Wouldn’t your grandmother like a fresh bouquet? Meanwhile, he hastens to her grandmother’s cottage, where he swallows the old woman whole, slips into her bed, and waits for his final course.

Run Me to Earth·

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They were released.

For the first time in seven years, they stood outside in the courtyard of the reeducation center. They looked across at the gate. They remembered none of this. The flagpole and the towers. The cameras. Prany counted the sentries in the towers. He heard the rattle of keys as the guard behind him, wearing a green uniform, undid his handcuffs. Then the guard undid Vang’s. They rubbed their free wrists. Vang made fists with his hands.

Prany dug the soles of his new shoes into the dirt. He watched Vang’s hands and then turned to see the building they had exited. It resembled a schoolhouse or a gymnasium. The flag flapped in the wind. The sun on him. The immense sky. His neck was stiff. He knew that if they were forced to run right now his legs might buckle. Not because he was weak, but because in this moment, in the new environment, out in the open, his entire body felt uncertain.

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Ten years ago, a week after his sixtieth birthday, and six months after his first appointment with an oncologist, my father died. That afternoon, I went to my parents’ bedroom to clear up the remains of the lunch my mother had brought him not long before he collapsed. A copy of Yiyun Li’s novel The Vagrants, which he’d asked me for after I reviewed it in a newspaper, was open on his bedside table. He had gotten about halfway through it. The Vagrants isn’t what you’d call a consoling book—it centers on a young woman’s unjust execution in a provincial Chinese town in 1979—and I had mixed feelings about it being the last thing he’d read. Perhaps an adolescent part of me had been happy to let him have it out of a need to see him as a more fearless reader than he might have wanted to be just then. Still, my father had read Proust and Robert Musil while working as a real estate agent. There was comfort, of a sort, for me, and maybe him, in his refusal of comfort reading.

Cost of renting a giant panda from the Chinese government, per day:


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.

Classes at a Catholic school in Durham, North Carolina, were canceled in anticipation of protests against a lesbian alumna, who had been invited to speak at a Black History Month event.

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Happiness Is a Worn Gun


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.”

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