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We are already seventy years away from the tragedy that occurred on one dark day in the history of civilization– 1 September 1939– the outbreak of the most disastrous and slaughterous war that Europe and the entire humanity have ever lived through…. The twentieth century inflicted deep, non-healing wounds– revolutions, coups, two World Wars, the Nazi occupation of the bulk of Europe and the Holocaust tragedy, as well as the ideological divide in the continent. However, the European memory retains also the victorious May of 1945, the Helsinki Act, the demolition of the Berlin Wall, the tremendous democratic changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe at the turn of the 1990s…. The canvas of history is not a third-rate copy which can be roughly retouched or, following customer’s orders, modified by the addition of bright of dark tints. Unfortunately, such attempts to rehash the past are quite common today. We witness the efforts to tailor history to the immediate political needs. Some countries went even further, making the Nazi accomplices heroes, placing victims on a par with executioners and liberators– with occupants. –“Pages of History – Reason for Mutual Complaints or Ground for Reconciliation and Partnership?” Vladimir Putin, Gazeta Wyborcza
StraighterLine is the brainchild of a man named Burck Smith, an Internet entrepreneur bent on altering the DNA of higher education as we have known it for the better part of 500 years. Rather than students being tethered to ivy-covered quads or an anonymous commuter campus, Smith envisions a world where they can seamlessly assemble credits and degrees from multiple online providers, each specializing in certain subjects and—most importantly—fiercely competing on price. Smith himself may be the person who revolutionizes the university, or he may not be. But someone with the means and vision to fundamentally reorder the way students experience and pay for higher education is bound to emerge. –“College for $99 a Month,” Kevin Carey, Washington Monthly
Can money buy happiness? Since the invention of money, or nearly enough, people have been telling one another that it can’t. Philosophers and gurus, holy books and self-help manuals have all warned of the futility of equating material gain with true well-being. Modern research generally backs them up. Psychologists and economists have found that while money does matter to your sense of happiness, it doesn’t matter that much. Beyond the point at which people have enough to comfortably feed, clothe, and house themselves, having more money – even a lot more money – makes them only a little bit happier. So there’s quantitative proof for the preachings of St. Francis and the wisdom of the Buddha. Bad news for hard-charging bankers; good news for struggling musicians. But starting to emerge now is a different answer to that age-old question. A few researchers are looking again at whether happiness can be bought, and they are discovering that quite possibly it can – it’s just that some strategies are a lot better than others.–“Happiness: A buyer’s guide,” Drake Barnett, The Boston Globe
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