SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
Kevin Baker appears on the The Colbert Report tonight to discuss his article “Barack Hoover Obama: The best and the brightest blow it again”–available now for subscribers only.
Three months into his presidency, Barack Obama has proven to be every bit as charismatic and intelligent as his most ardent supporters could have hoped. At home or abroad, he invariably appears to be the only adult in the room, the first American president in at least forty years to convey any gravitas. Even the most liberal of voters are finding it hard to believe they managed to elect this man to be their president.
It is impossible not to wish desperately for his success as he tries to grapple with all that confronts him: a worldwide depression, catastrophic climate change, an unjust and inadequate health-care system, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the ongoing disgrace of Guant·namo, a floundering education system.
From September 1968.
Jackie Rousseau-Anderson: Originally the internet was a great “unknown.” We saw marked increases in the time spent online as people began to try out this new medium and become acquainted with it. The amount of time people were dedicating to the internet grew significantly because it took people time to sit down and figure out how to use it and where they should be going. These were the days of “hard-core surfing”; people just floating through the internet, not really sure what they were looking for, but just spending time looking around. Now people’s use is more defined. People who have been online awhile understand how to use the internet sufficiently and can maximize the time they have to spend on it. They generally know which sites they are going to when they log in. For new people starting out, the proliferation of website advertising (i.e., websites listed in commercials, affiliated with brands, etc.) helps direct people to where they want to go. Similarly, Google and other search engines have become staples of internet use so instead of surfing around to find what you’re looking for you can simply go to Google, type in your search terms, and all the hard work is done. –“The Web Is Flat: Why time spent online is leveling off,” Abbey Klaassen, Advertising Age
The German Army, mocked and criticised by its NATO partners because of the many caveats limiting its operations, has been taking serious casualties in the north of the country, especially around the Kunduz region. German politicians, aware of an approaching general election that could give voice to pacificist sentiment, are still avoiding the K-word — Krieg (war) — and no modern German government can expect to be re-elected on a war platform. The reality looks a lot like war, and the new rules of engagement adapt to it. The seven-page booklet has been trimmed down to four pages and soldiers are not as hamstrung by regulations. Up until last week it was, for example, forbidden to shoot a fleeing assailant, even though every civilian policeman in Germany has the right to shoot an armed fugitive in the arm or leg after barking a short warning. –“New Rules Let Germans in Afghanistan Stop Shouting and Start Shooting,” Roger Boyes, Times Online
To be quite candid, I don’t see the point in poetry that reveals or revels in the poet’s unhealthy sexual preferences. I would find a poem about rape or sexual abuse to be repugnant, no matter how perfect its technique. Similarly, poetry about the mind of a psychopath, a vampire, or a serial killer would be highly offensive to my sensibilities. I think American contemporary poetry has lost its way in a dark wood, to paraphrase Dante. Like a mole, American poets are snuffling in the dirt of the psyche’s underground, sniffing out every dark crevice of their own subconscious. They have turned away from light and beauty in search of the ugliest layers of human nature. –“On Poetry: Contemporary American work has turned from beauty,” A.S. Maulucci, Norwich Bulletin
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”