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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Paul Ryan fails to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Donald Trump goes golfing for the thirteenth time as president of the United States, and rivers in India and New Zealand are granted full human rights

Weekly Review February 7, 2017, 4:22 pm

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The White House puts Iran “on notice,” Trump threatens to send U.S. troops into Mexico, and Punxsutawney Phil predicts six more weeks of winter

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White nationalists celebrate Trump’s election, and Hillary Clinton’s popular-vote margin of victory climbs to 1.7 million.

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Secrets and Lies·

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In 1973, when Barry Singer was a fifteen-year-old student at New York’s Yeshiva University High School for Boys, the vice principal, Rabbi George Finkelstein, stopped him in a stairwell. Claiming he wanted to check his tzitzit—the strings attached to Singer’s prayer shawl—Finkelstein, Singer says, pushed the boy over the third-floor banister, in full view of his classmates, and reached down his pants. “If he’s not wearing tzitzit,” Finkelstein told the surrounding children, “he’s going over the stairs!”

“He played it as a joke, but I was completely at his mercy,” Singer recalled. For the rest of his time at Yeshiva, Singer would often wear his tzitzit on the outside of his shirt—though this was regarded as rebellious—for fear that Finkelstein might find an excuse to assault him again.

Seeking Asylum·

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Out of sight on Leros, the island of the damned

Poem for Harm·

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Reflections on harm in language and the trouble with Whitman

Good Bad Bad Good·

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About fifteen years ago, my roommate and I developed a classification system for TV and movies. Each title was slotted into one of four categories: Good-Good; Bad-Good; Good-Bad; Bad-Bad. The first qualifier was qualitative, while the second represented a high-low binary, the title’s aspiration toward capital-A Art or lack thereof.

Some taxonomies were inarguable. The O.C., a Fox series about California rich kids and their beautiful swimming pools, was delightfully Good-Bad. Paul Haggis’s heavy-handed morality play, Crash, which won the Oscar for Best Picture, was gallingly Bad-Good. The films of Francois Truffaut, Good-Good; the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, Bad-Bad.

Life after Life·

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For time ylost, this know ye,
By no way may recovered be.

I spent thirty-eight years in prison and have been a free man for just under two. After killing a man named Thomas Allen Fellowes in a drunken, drugged-up fistfight in 1980, when I was nineteen years old, I was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Former California governor Jerry Brown commuted my sentence and I was released in 2017, five days before Christmas. The law in California, like in most states, grants the governor the right to alter sentences. After many years of advocating for the reformation of the prison system into one that encourages rehabilitation, I had my life restored to me.

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.

A solid-gold toilet named “America” was stolen from Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, in Oxfordshire, England.

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Happiness Is a Worn Gun


“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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