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2015 / November | View All Issues |

November 2015

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Easy Chair

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A Ring-Formed World·

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Harper’s Index

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Harper’s Index·

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There’s the Rub·

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Release the Darkness to New Lichen·

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Born to Be Late·

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[Diagnosis]

Object Lesson·

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PETA Peeve·

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A Mountain of Salt, 2005·

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Perversion Therapy·

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Jaded Lady·

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The Hanged Man·

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Joshua Tree National Park #2·

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Selfie Styx·

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[Eschatology]

Silent Majority·

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When the Desert Had Become like a City·

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Essay

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Bombast Bursting in Air·

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The story, so far, of the 2016 election

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The New China Syndrome·

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American business meets its new master

Letter from Morocco

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Lost Girls·

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Women, sex, and the Arab Spring

From the Archive

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Story

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Williamsburg Bridge·

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Criticism

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Rethinking Extinction·

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Toward a less gloomy environmentalism

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Two ways of looking at Percival Everett

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Three centuries of American witch hunts

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Five years ago, Jean-Sebastien Hertsens Zune went looking for his parents. He already had one set, a Belgian church organist and his wife, who adopted him as a baby from Guatemala and later moved the family to France. But he wanted to find his birth mother and father. When Zune was a teenager, his Belgian parents gave him his adoption file, holding back only receipts showing how much the process had cost. Most people pay little attention to their birth certificates, but for adoptees, these documents, along with notes about their relinquishment, tell an often patchy origin story.

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Alex and Wendy love culture. It’s how they spend their free time. It’s what they talk about at dinner parties. When they go jogging or to the gym, they listen to podcasts on their phones. On Sunday nights they watch their favorite new shows. They go to the movies sometimes, but they were bummed out when ­MoviePass went south, so now they mostly stream things. They belong to book clubs that meet every couple of weeks. Alex and Wendy work hard at their jobs, but they always have a bit of time to check their feeds at work. What’s in their feeds? Their feeds tell them about culture. Their feeds are a form of comfort. Their feeds explain things to them that they already understand. Their feeds tell them that everyone else is watching, reading, listening to the same things. Their feeds tell them about the people who make their culture, people who aren’t so different from them, just maybe a bit more glistening. Alex and Wendy’s feeds assure them that they aren’t lonely. Their feeds give them permission to like what they already like. Their feeds let them know that their culture is winning.

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Once, in an exuberant state, feeling filled with the muse, I told another writer: When I write, I know everything. Everything about the characters? she asked. No, I said, everything about the world, the universe. Every. Fucking. Thing. I was being preposterous, of course, but I was also trying to explain the feeling I got, deep inside writing a first draft, that I was listening and receiving, listening some more and receiving, from a place that was far enough away from my daily life, from all of my reading, from everything.

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“I can’t take chances with my life.”

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All his life he lived on hatred.

He was a solitary man who hoarded gloom. At night a thick smell filled his bachelor’s room on the edge of the kibbutz. His sunken, severe eyes saw shapes in the dark. The hater and his hatred fed on each other. So it has ever been. A solitary, huddled man, if he does not shed tears or play the violin, if he does not fasten his claws in other people, experiences over the years a constantly mounting pressure, until he faces a choice between lunacy and suicide. And those who live around him breathe a sigh of relief.

Cost of renting a giant panda from the Chinese government, per day:

$1,500

A recent earthquake in Chile was found to have shifted the city of Concepción ten feet to the west, shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 microseconds, and shifted the planet’s axis by nearly three inches.

“I think we need to make it a lot less fun to be here, unfortunately,” offered John Elizabeth Alemán, Miami Beach Commissioner, while discussing spring-break-related crimes.

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