The Taser's Edge


The Return of Harper’s (to Me)

Yes, this magazine. No, not this February.

I well remember reading my Mom’s copies of Harper’s Magazine in high school, and what I most remember was the stuff which came before the meat of the magazine – Harper’s Index and Readings.  It was in Readings that I first came across Pat Metheny’s world-class-obscene and hilarious take on Kenny G.  It was in Readings that I first learned of the occupation of Crime Scene Cleaner, from a first-hand account.  (Making Sunshine Cleaning all the more of a boring let-down.)

Fast-forward to today, and H got a free subscription to Harper’s for joining the teacher’s “union” (in NC, a ‘right to work’ state).  The Harper’s Index is still there, still (apparently) a copyrighted entity, and still a totally brilliant collection of nearly-free-associative, not-so-randomly-selected statistics.  An excerpt from the February 2011 issue:

Chance that an unmarried American under thirty says marriage is “becoming obsolete”: 1 in 2
Chance that he or she wants to get married: 19 in 20
[…]
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 household net worth of members of Congress: 22
[…]
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
[…]
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
[…]
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 Control can legally perform warrantless searches: 100
Portion of all Americans who live within that area: 2/3

And yes, you will have to take my word that it’s there, because Harper’s website seems to have nothing from the February 2011 issue or from Harper’s Indices in general.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Wow, those are awesome facts. Makes me want to read Harper’s. Good job.

Comment by H

Ha ha, some really cool and entertaining percentages there

Comment by Artswebshow




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