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!
Until now, passenger convenience has largely been ignored. After 9/11, a litany of sharp objects was banned from carry-ons. After Richard Reid tried to ignite explosives hidden in his sneaker on a flight from Paris to Miami in Dec. 2001, travelers were told to remove their shoes for screening. And after British officials foiled a plot to blow up planes with liquid explosives in August 2006, liquids, gels and aerosols were banned, though later allowed as long as they were packed in tiny bottles and in plastic bags. And just when passengers think they know the routine, the Transportation Safety Administration adds a twist. Earlier this month, for example, it began screening certain powders in carry-on luggage. And screeners recently started asking passengers to place shoes directly on conveyor belts rather than in bins, giving officers a better view of shoes as they come through. It’s hard not to ask: Is all this necessary? Is it making us any safer? And will it ever get better? Based on interviews with a range of security experts, the answers increasingly seem to be no; not really; and not for a while. –“No Rest for the Airport Security Weary,” Michelle Higgins, The New York Times
Torture makes alleged terrorist forget possible crimes;
real estate that floats: panacea to bereft property speculators or just modern design?;
beware of falling coconuts; Head injuries: best while drunk
Schimmelpenninck: Made in Holland. A dented little tin taken down from the cluttered top shelf of the bookcase behind my attic desk, a bookcase that has become one of my default reliquaries, kind of like the mesh sieve in the kitchen drain that catches everything left from the wash-up of a family meal, except that the sieve then gets emptied into the kitchen trash while the sentimental refuse of living just accumulates. I picked it up in the spirit of ‘you have to start somewhere,’ but also with a certain confidence. I am, after all, the writing teacher who quotes to his students the line from Flaubert: “Anything becomes interesting if you look at it long enough.” And I do believe it, interest being the discovery of connections that feel as if they are leading somewhere, marking a path. It is the product of attention. Look! Look closer! What do you see? Start with the eye and see what happens. Pray, as Lowell did, for the grace of accuracy. Schimmelpenninck. Well, the little tin is there to be looked at, but it would be nothing to me—sentimentally, associatively—if it weren’t for the sound and look of that word. A word that means absolutely nothing to me. –“Bits,” Sven Birkerts, Agni
Ego-surfing and its linguistic variants;
tourist excursion to polygamous communities–clothing still required;
note to Middle East: cupcakes are done!;
bailout bucks: irony for Republicans;
conformists kill society
On the eve of the 60th anniversary Oct. 1 of Communist rule that was supposed to create a classless utopia, China is instead gripped with a renewed sense of anger toward a new elite. The Mandarin phrase, “fen fu,” or to hate the rich, has been coined in recent months to capture the public’s bitter resentment. Three decades ago, then-leader Deng Xiaoping launched China’s economic miracle under the slogan, “to get rich is glorious.” He added a caveat, however: “Let some people get rich first.” They did — but not everyone else followed. China hasn’t recreated its old class system, and even in Mao Zedong’s day people resented abusers of power. Mr. Deng’s reforms enabled hundreds of millions of people to lift themselves out of poverty. Yet today’s richer China is also a more divided China. It is split between poor rural areas and richer cities; between developed coastal regions and poorer inland areas; between the educated and the uneducated. And these growing gaps, widely believed to be at the root of social unrest, are only part of the problem. –“China’s Rich Youth Spark Bitter Divide,” Shai Oster, The Wall Street Journal
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
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 naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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.”