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As troubling as any hunt for bodies is, the real issue for Japan is the living. Adults relying on their parents’ retirement income is just one of many painful social distortions Japan’s long economic stagnation has produced. Among the others: a declining marriage rate, an increase in adults living with their parents, and a birth rate so low that many demographers fear it may never recover. These shifts have created a negative, self-perpetuating spiral for the world’s third-largest economy. Other developed countries that are struggling to create jobs, like the United States, should take note. –“The Rise of the Parasite Singles,” Alexandra Harney, Slate
To dance—the yen that sometimes overwhelms. “Dance with me,” I used to beg my old dog Sheba when the glory and perfect time of the Basie band or Petrushka or Piazolla’s tangos washed over me, and Sheba would rise patiently from her rest to indulge me, putting her forepaws into my extended hands. We managed a few decent steps, but when we grew even older together, Sheba had other things in her mind’s eye. She came reluctantly to the dance, pretending to follow for a few moments, humoring me only briefly before pulling her paws away to return to her rest. I shambled on by myself until I wearied and lay down beside her on the couch to join her nap. I don’t know what Sheba dreamed, but I dreamed of dancing. Now she is gone. –“Dream Dancing,” Paul Zimmer, Georgia Review
For our ancestors, natural was something quite nasty. Natural often tasted bad. Fresh meat was rank and tough, fresh fruits inedibly sour, fresh vegetables bitter. Natural was unreliable. Fresh milk soured; eggs went rotten. Everywhere seasons of plenty were followed by seasons of hunger. Natural was also usually indigestible. Grains, which supplied 50 to 90 percent of the calories in most societies, have to be threshed, ground, and cooked to make them edible. So to make food tasty, safe, digestible, and healthy, our forebears bred, ground, soaked, leached, curdled, fermented, and cooked naturally occurring plants and animals until they were literally beaten into submission. They created sweet oranges and juicy apples and non-bitter legumes, happily abandoning their more natural but less tasty ancestors. They built granaries, dried their meat and their fruit, salted and smoked their fish, curdled and fermented their dairy products, and cheerfully used additives and preservatives—sugar, salt, oil, vinegar, lye—to make edible foodstuffs. –“In Praise of Fast Food,” Rachel Laudan, Utne Reader excerpted from The Gastronomica Reader
More from TedRoss:
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.
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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.”