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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
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.
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“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.”