Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Harper's Magazine

Do you read Harper's Magazine? I love it. A beautiful monthly collection of articles, stories, photographs and interesting information. I have been subscribing for years. Used to read it cover to cover. I am ashamed to say that I let my membership lapse for a year or so, but I rejoined a few months ago. Also these days I don't get as much time to devour them like I used to. Harper's is not, of course, for everyone, but I still recommend that you check it out if you never have. Wikipedia (oh how I love you) describes Harper's as:

a monthly, left-leaning,[1] general-interest magazine of literature, politics, culture, finance, and the arts. It is the second-oldest continuously published monthly magazine in the U.S. (Scientific American is the oldest); current circulation is more than 220,000 issues.

I guess that is a pretty accurate description. I knew it was old, but I did not realize it was the second-oldest (June 1850!) continuously published magazine in the US. And the circulation is only 220,000? That makes me sad. I wish more people would read this magazine. Heck, I wish more people would just read.

If you are familiar with Harper's magazine, then you will know the infamous Harper's Index. Love it so much. It is many people's favorite part of the magazine - a brilliant, intriguing, sometimes funny, sometimes depressing collection of facts. It was introduced into each monthly magazine in 1984 and I think that anyone can go to the Harper's website and search all of the old Indexes. Here is an example from the February 2011 issue of the magazine.

Median income of U.S. men who are single, childless, in their twenties, and live in a city : $26,000 
Of women : $28,000 
Chance that an unmarried American under thirty says marriage is “becoming obsolete” : 1 in 2 
Chances that he or she wants to get married : 19 in 20 
Percentage of married men and women, respectively, who believe they control the television : 24, 26 
Percentage change in the average value of an American home since 2006 : –25 
Change between 1929 and 1933 : –25.9 
Percentage increase since 2004 in the estimated median household net worth of members of Congress : 22 
Percentage of U.S. GDP last year that went to federal job-training and job-search programs : 0.05 
Percentage that went to unemployment insurance : 1 
Portion of voters in the midterm elections who ranked “spending to create jobs” as their highest priority for Congress : 2/5 
Percentage who said they had an unfavorable view of Democrats : 52 
Of Republicans : 53 
Estimated number of pigs that could be bought with the money diverted last year to congressional earmarks : 108,200,000 
Percentage of the fuel used to power Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer that comes from rendered beef fat : 20 
Portion of all calories consumed by U.S. children that are nutritionally empty : 2/5 
Maximum number of calories permitted under San Francisco law for restaurant meals that come with a free toy : 600 
Portion of the U.S. population that will have diabetes by 2050, if current trends continue : 1/3 
Percentage change since 2008 in the number of confirmed gonorrhea cases in Alaska : +71 
Chance that a mammal species declared extinct since 1500 was later rediscovered : 1 in 3 
Odds in New York City in 1900 of dying in a horse accident : 1 in 19,000 
Odds today of dying there in an automobile accident : 1 in 26,000 
Factor by which Joe DiMaggio’s 1950 salary exceeded the mean U.S. family income : 26 
Factor by which Derek Jeter’s 2010 salary did : 288 
Median income in NY-14, the country’s wealthiest congressional district : $60,099 
In NY-16, the country’s poorest : $17,995 
Distance between the two, in miles : 0.75 
Percentage of the pedestrians stopped in 2009 for random searches in Philadelphia who were black : 71 
Percentage of the city’s population that is black : 44 
Portion of the stops that didn’t lead to an arrest : 11/12 
Miles from land and maritime borders that the U.S. Border Patrol can legally perform warrantless searches : 100 
Portion of all Americans who live within that area : 2/3 
Percentage of all Internet networks rerouted to a Chinese telecommunications company last spring : 15 
Minutes that U.S. government and military traffic passed through Chinese servers : 18 
Fine in California for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and for jaywalking, respectively : $100, $108 
Amount spent last year by the U.S. government to simulate an attack by pot growers on the nation’s second-largest dam : $500,000 
Number of licensed peyote dealers in Texas : 3 
Estimated value of the bulletproof-car market in Mexico : $90,000,000 
Average number of times a Canadian apologizes each week : 4 
Number of times George W. Bush’s memoir refers to his loss of the 2000 popular vote : 0

Figures cited are the latest available as of December 2010. Sources are listed on page 68. “Harper’s Index” is a registered trademark.

You get the picture.

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