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Striding angrily through the aisles with a retinue of glum executives in tow, Mr Putin came to a halt in the supermarket’s cold meat section and gesticulated towards a packet of sausages priced at just under £5. Rounding on Yuri Kobaladze, the chain’s head of corporate relations, Mr Putin demanded: “Why do your sausages cost 240 roubles? Is that normal?” “But these are high quality sausages,” Mr Kobaladze replied, looking crestfallen. With a look of relief crossing his face, the executive spotted some cheaper sausages. “Look, these ones are just 49 roubles,” he said. But the prime minister was not to be deterred. “Too expensive,” he muttered, before conjuring up a price list from his pocket. “I can show you your mark up. Look at this kind of sausage. You’ve marked it up by 52 per cent.” –“Vladimir Putin Humiliates Russian Supermarket Chiefs Over Expensive Sausages,” Adrian Blomfield, The Telegraph (via)
In my experience, “fatness” is not bemoaned much in the African countries I’ve visited… In fact, it’s applauded. I’ll never forget a church service I observed in which a preacher asked attendees to greet their neighbor joyously: “Today is your day of fatness!” Fatness, in this context, means more than just physique. It’s associated with wealth of all sorts. In a continent struck by poverty, being big in all things — wallet, house, and belt size — is a sign of success. I was often told to gain weight, and complimented on days when I apparently looked “bigger.” It’s an understandable mentality when poverty is all around; when one escapes such a fate, seeking all things non-poor is a prized goal. What is harder to justify is the way that the “big man” concept fits into corruption as well. Opportunities to get rich are often taken; and big men become exactly that in all senses of the word. –“Africa’s Newest Silent Killer: Obesity,” Elizabeth Dickinson, Foreign Policy
Just one drink can quickly go to your head. Researchers in Heidelberg tested this well-known adage. Only six minutes after consuming an amount of alcohol equivalent to three glasses of beer or two glasses of wine, leading to a blood alcohol level of 0.05 to 0.06 percent, changes have already taken place in the brain cells, as the scientists in Heidelberg proved using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). Previously the only available data was from animal trials. –“From The Glass To The Brain In Six Minutes,” ScienceDaily
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands they’d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members — because ocean life pays better than money! — who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Rank of Detroit among major U.S. cities whose residents give the largest portion of their income to charity:
A South Dakota researcher concluded that only scant blood spatter results when chain saws are used to dismember pigs.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature