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I visited Durkee in November, hoping to see the new $20 million mercury control system, reportedly in the initial phases of construction. But my request for a tour was denied. Jacqueline Clark, Ash Grove’s head of public relations, e-mailed me that the Durkee plant was facing imminent layoffs and could not accommodate a tour. Indeed, a few months earlier, Ash Grove announced plans to halt production at its nine U.S. plants, including Durkee. (In early December, the company temporarily ceased production and laid off more than half of the plant’s 115 workers.) Company officials said they might close the facility altogether if proposed federal regulations on mercury are enacted next year.–“Mountains of Mercury,” Jeremy Miller, High Country News
Also by Harper’s contributor Jeremy Miller, please see: Tyranny of the Test: One year as a Kaplan coach in the public schools” (free)
Important questions about nothing: who owns the grammar?;
at what age should parents stop drinking in bars with their babies? (proposed answer: 21);
when is it okay to wear fatigues to work? (answer: not anymore)
Consider the incident a few years ago that involved Yulia Romanova, a 22-year-old model. On a winter evening, Romanova was returning with her beloved Staffordshire terrier from a visit to a designer who specialises in kitting out canine Muscovites in the latest fashions. The terrier was sporting a new green camouflage jacket as he walked with his owner through the crowded Mendeleyevskaya metro station. There they encountered Malchik, a black stray who had made the station his home, guarding it against drunks and other dogs. Malchik barked at the pair, defending his territory. But instead of walking away, Romanova reached into her pink rucksack, pulled out a kitchen knife and, in front of rush-hour commuters, stabbed Malchik to death. Romanova was arrested, tried and underwent a year of psychiatric treatment. Typically for Russia, this horror story was countered by a wellspring of sympathy for Moscow’s strays. A bronze statue of Malchik, paid for by donations, now stands at the entrance of Mendeleyevskaya station.–“Moscow’s Stray Dogs,” Susanne Sternthal, Financial Times
New York is so safe that we now must consider “how does a young gangbanger represent?;
well, he (or she) could try to kill the pope, get out of prison, and declare himself “Christ Eternal”;
or, he could be arrested for tweeting a joke-threat to blow up an airport
Has anyone ever offended you in the bedroom?
I don’t know if I was necessarily offended, but I’m really not a fan of dirty talk. It really throws me off and turns me off, a lot.
So a guy busted it out?
Oh, he busted it out. Which it shouldn’t have been offensive, because it was only compliments, they were just compliments.
They were dirty compliments?
I don’t know, like “Tiny Dancer.”
What? Tiny Dancer?
He called me names, as if I was some hot princess or something, like, “Tiny Dancer.” I was like, “No.” –“Talking to Strangers,” interview by Meghan Pleticha, Nerve
Refreshingly honest: Tobey Maguire on weight loss: “I couldn’t eat much food and I had to work out a lot”;
honest, perhaps, but not so refreshing: Lisa Taddeo on Jay-z: “Look up, left, and listen. Jay-Z’s vamping scowl is paraded everywhere, his presence vibrates from sound systems and is woven into the fabrics.”;
not honest, not refreshing: Rush Limbaugh on Haiti relief: “Nobody here ever said don’t donate. We just pointed out you already contribute to the government with your income taxes.”
Chances that a Soviet woman’s first pregnancy will end in abortion:
Peaceful fungus-farming ants are sometimes protected against nomadic raider ants by sedentary invader ants.
In San Antonio, a 150-pound pet tortoise knocked over a lamp, igniting a mattress fire that spread to a neighbor’s home.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."