Entries in harper's (36)


This month's Findings

Three things I underlined in the latest edition of one of my favorite regular features in magazines:

1. American drivers at crosswalks are less likely to yield for black pedestrians.

2. Mystical experiences are not ineffable.

3. The tweets of the rich express more anger and fear than the tweets of the poor, which express more disgust, sadness, and surprise; joy does not vary.


I worry about this too

Claire Messud in the August Harper's:

When I recall my formative years, of course there was loads of reading, and travel, and biking, and TV. But there was also a whole lot of boredom. I guess that’s what concerns me, as a parent: that my kids, who lack for nothing even more than I did, are not only unversed in material deprivation and insufficiently familiar with self-restraint but, most terribly, they know nothing of nothingness. Having no truly empty time, they’re unfamiliar too with the unexpected and exhilarating flowers that can grow there.

I want my children to embrace doing nothing, to embrace the slowing of an afternoon to a near standstill, when all you can hear is the laborious ticking of the clock and the dog snoring on the sofa, the rain’s patter at the window, the occasional swoosh of a slowly passing car. Remember those days? The exasperation, the excruciating itchiness of them? My kids would have to dive in, live through the agony, and come out the other side. They’d have to learn to lie on the lawn watching ants scale the grass blades; they’d have to linger, digits pruning, in the bathtub; they’d have to stop, to be still, and then to wait, and wait, and wait, allowing time to fatten around them, like a dewdrop on the tip of a leaf. And then, only then, who knows what they might imagine or invent?


This month's Findings

Three things I underlined in the new Harper's:

1. Parakeets are the only non-mammals to yawn contagiously.

2. The first fraction of human ejaculate contains the best sperm, while the remainder exists mostly to foil competition.

3. Men who smell a T-shirt recently worn by a fertile woman drink more nonalcoholic beer.


More Findings

Eight things I underlined in the July Harper's:

1. Black Americans die younger in areas with more Google searches for "nigger."

2. Happiness creates a signature smell in human sweat that can induce happiness in those who smell it.

3. There is no such thing as pure autism.

4. There is no such thing as pure dominance.

5. Prominent composers in the nineteenth century died 2.2 years earlier if another major composer lived in the same city.

6. Middle initials are overrepresented among lead authors of psychology articles.

7. Chins, which are unique to modern humans, are not useful.

8. A Chernobyl fox made itself a sandwich.


The new Findings

Four things I underlined in the June Harper's in one of my favorite regular features in any magazine:

1. Approximately 3.6 million Americans are impulsively angry and carry guns in public.

2. Use of "I" and "me" goes down 69 percent in the tweets of the recently engaged.

3. Some prepsychotic adolescents are not truly cold and callous but just upset and sad.

4. An environmental sociologist who divided dog owners' defecation-management strategies into "traditional," "responsible," and "furtive" types suggested that "the poop lying on the pavement nicely wrapped up in a plastic bag can be understood as a form of collective communication to the dog-less outside world: 'Look, I tried, but ...'"


Harper's Findings for May

Six things I underlined in the new issue:

1. Naps in children older than two are pointless.

2. One third of adults who hear voices also think voices.

3. People look more attractive when they’ve had one drink.

4. Polite flirts are the hardest to read.

5. A six-and-a-half-foot python was found in a box of cornflakes.

6. Ants prefer to defecate in the corner.


This month's Findings

Three things I underlined in the new Harper's:

1. A person's belief in free will is negatively correlated with how urgently he or she needs to urinate.

2. The hearts of penguins beat faster in the presence of a human than in the presence of a plush penguin toy on wheels.

3. Each extra euro in public benefits received by an elderly East German after reunification correlated with three hours' more life.


This month's Findings

Three things I underlined in the new Harper's:

1. A male flamingo in Mississippi died of injuries sustained while defending its mate from members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.

2. Concerned American consumers will pay an additional 16 cents for eco-friendly ornamental plants.

3. Momentary human happiness is determined not by actual outcomes but by whether outcomes exceed expectations.