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!
One day after North Carolina approved a state-constitution amendment banning same-sex marriages, and three days after Vice President Joe Biden claimed he was “absolutely comfortable” with gay marriage, Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to announce that he believes gay couples should be able to wed. During an interview on ABC News, the president, who has long described his views on same-sex marriage as “evolving,” said he had “concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” He added that a progressive stance on marriage equity was important for reaching younger voters. “They are much more comfortable with it,” he said. Newsweek declared Obama the first gay president, Betty White endorsed Obama’s reelection bid, and George Clooney hosted a $40,000-a-seat celebrity fundraiser for the campaign on his personal basketball court. “We raised a lot of money because everybody loves George,” said the president. “They like me; they love him. And rightfully so.” A crowd of 34,000 at evangelical Liberty University cheered presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney when he reiterated his definition of marriage as “a relationship between one man and one woman.” “There is no greater force for good in the nation,” Romney told the audience, “than Christian conscience in action.” High school friends of Romney’s recalled a 1965 incident in which they attacked a boy they presumed to be gay and held him down while Romney cut his hair. “It was a hack job,” said one witness. Vidal Sassoon, inventor of the five-point cut and the Kwan bob, died at 84; children’s-book author and illustrator Maurice Sendak died at 83; an autopsy revealed that “Painter of Light” Thomas Kinkade died of an alcohol and Valium overdose; and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said he was “dead wrong” last month when he dismissed concerns about trading by his bank, which disclosed a loss of $2 billion in botched trades over the past six weeks, as a “tempest in a teapot.” “We made a terrible, egregious mistake,” Dimon said. ‘‘There’s almost no excuse for it.”
Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson stepped down in response to allegations that his official biography included a degree in computer science that he never earned. Details emerged about a recently canceled course at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia, called “Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism,” in which the instructor, Army Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Dooley, advocated “a direct ideological and philosophical confrontation with Islam” and outlined a plan in which the Geneva Conventions were “no longer relevant” and the United States took war to “a civilian population wherever necessary.” “They hate everything you stand for,” said Dooley during one presentation, “and will never coexist with you, unless you submit.” An 18-month-old and her parents were pulled off a JetBlue flight when the child was mistakenly identified as being on the U.S. government’s no-fly list, and it was reported that an agent working for Saudi Arabian intelligence and the CIA had thwarted a planned Al Qaeda bomb attack on a U.S. airliner by infiltrating a Yemeni Al Qaeda cell, volunteering for the suicide mission, and giving U.S. officials the bomb, which had been sewn into “custom fit” underwear that would make it difficult to detect during a pat-down. A court-security officer at the arraignment of the five Guantánamo prisoners accused of planning the 9/11 attacks censored the phrase “big-boy pants” from the audio feed heard by spectators, and authorities in Martin County, Florida, were searching for a man who walked out of a grocery store with $56 worth of flounder and rock shrimp in his shorts. Iraqi festival-goers complained after officials revived an annual cultural festival in Babylon but replaced the lavish music and dance performances of the Saddam Hussein era with poetry readings and educational activities. “Ordinary people like me tried to seek joy and happiness in the festival activities, but we found only artists and intellectuals,” said one attendee. “It’s a total failure.”
The U.S. Government Accountability Office found that a study it had conducted on the efficacy of a study evaluating the cost to the Pentagon of producing studies was “not fully consistent” with “best practices.” A Chicago man named Michael Younger broke into a Family Dollar store with a Bobcat front loader stolen from the construction site of a community center for young mothers, and the rate of international adoption in the United States was reported to have plummeted due to a global crackdown on the sale of babies. The English town of Sandwich celebrated the 250th anniversary of the Fourth Earl of Sandwich’s request that his meat be wrapped in bread so he could eat it while playing cards. “He’s First Lord of the Admiralty three times,” said a Sandwich Celebration Festival organizer, “but he was a bit of a lad.” The British Cheese Board asked songwriters to compose a national cheddar anthem, and parents complained after chocolates shaped like penises, breasts, and copulating couples were distributed at a Mother’s Day event at a primary school in Woodberry, Australia. “My nine-year-old grandson gave this ziplock bag to me,” reported one attendee, “and said to me, ‘You’ve got a willy in there Nanny.’”
More from Sara Breselor:
Weekly Review — April 14, 2015, 8:00 am
Michael Slager is charged with murder, Hillary Clinton declares her candidacy for president, and a Utah television personality gets probation for kicking a barn owl
Weekly Review — January 20, 2015, 8:00 am
The Pope says climate change is mostly man made, Al Qaeda claims responsibility for the attack on Charlie Hebdo, and residents of a town in Denmark agree to have sex more often
Weekly Review — December 23, 2014, 8:00 am
North Korea attacks the U.S. film industry, Pakistan reinstates the death penalty, and a Pennsylvania electrician stabs a Virgin Mary lawn ornament in the head
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.”