Pokémon: The Foreign Menace

Pokémon: The Foreign Menace

Pokémon: The Foreign Menace

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
Nov. 19 1999 9:30 PM

Pokémon: The Foreign Menace


Economist, Nov. 20


The cover editorial heralds the China-U.S. trade deal as "a momentous agreement that will vastly improve [China's] economic landscape." The cover story explains the deal: China will open its economy to foreign banks, telecommunications firms, carmakers, and other manufacturers. Ensuing competitive pressures will reshape China's domestic economy. A column argues that Pokémania proves globalization is not a euphemism for Americanization. The United States' embrace of foreigners such as Pikachu, Harry Potter, and the Teletubbies demonstrates that globalization is a two-way street.


New Republic, Dec. 6

The cover story explains the race controversy in Decatur, Ill.: The expulsion of six black students (for fighting at a football game) that has outraged Jesse Jackson is viewed as an attempt to halt the white flight that has undercut the city's tax base. An editorial favors zero-tolerance school rules such as Decatur's: The rules "effectively combat the greatest crisis in public education today … the crisis of violence." An article explains the "constitutional etiquette" of the vice presidency. Veeps should never malign or crudely distance themselves from their presidents. In case of assassination or impeachment, the republic needs a smooth transition of power to the second-in-line.


Vanity Fair, December 1999


An article tells the strange story of Miranda Grosvenor. The homely Louisiana woman ensnared numerous Hollywood men into obsessive telephone affairs during the '80s. Stars such as Richard Gere and Billy Joel fell for her out-of-the-blue phone calls, gossip, and flattery. When men asked to meet her she stood them up or sent photos of a blonde model. Some of the relationships lasted years. Quincy Jones invited her to Hollywood, and Joel considered writing a musical about her.


Talk, December 1999

An article exposes the National Enquirer's mob origins. The newspaper was bankrolled by Mafia loans in the '50s, and gangsters leaned on newsstand dealers who refused to sell it. When the publisher realized real news wasn't profitable, he turned it into a scandal sheet. An item pokes fun at Hollywood's newest excess: "pity brokers." Talent agencies now offer "conscience management," helping their celebrity clients pick philanthropic causes that boost their image and ego.


Forbes, Nov. 29


A great cover story stunt exposes the impossibility of electronic privacy. Given a reporter's name, a Web-based "information broker" tracked down his "base identifiers"--Social Security number, birth date, and address--in five minutes. Within a week the snoop had discovered his unlisted phone numbers, bank balances, stock holdings, and salary, as well as the phone numbers of everyone he calls. To protect your privacy, ask your bank to restrict access to your records and beg your member of Congress for legislative protections.


New York, Nov. 22


An item skewers Donald Trump's Scrooge-like philanthropic record. From 1994 to 1998, the multi-billionaire gave away only $475,642. Even the Gambino crime family gives more to local charities. New York Times Magazine, Nov. 21

The cover story profiles a day trader who learns his financial fundamentals from the Web and trusts his "feel" for stocks. If his luck holds (as it doesn't for most day traders), he could net $85,000 this year. He feels liberated but "looks like a man hugging a slot machine." An article surveys the exploding--er, growing--private plane industry. NASA is advocating an "Interstate Sky Way" to ease traffic jams. A pair of inventing brothers is building a Model-T for the air--a $179,400 plane with simplified controls and a giant parachute for safer crash landings. An essay explains why journalists always view politicians "through a dehumanizing prism." "Visceral loathing" is the only attitude acceptable to the Washington press corps. Sympathetic reporters--see Sidney Blumenthal--are ostracized. The author says he has stopped writing about Sen. John McCain because he has become McCain's friend.


Wired, December 1999

An article marvels at Japan's multibillion-dollar "character-goods" industry. To boost business, All Nippon Airways painted Pokémons on its 747s and hands out Pikachus to its passengers. Icons such as Hello Kitty adorn ATM cards, cell phones, and even condoms. The omnipresence of cute is a symptom of Japan's fetish for childhood. An article explains why Al Gore lost the allegiance of Silicon Valley. Gore promoted the growth of the Internet more than any other figure in public life, but Bill Bradley spent his sabbatical courting venture capitalists, and George W. Bush is mobilizing libertarian-leaning e-CEOs. (Read the Veep's thoughts on visiting the Microsoft campus.


Time, Nov. 22

The cover story on Pokémania calls Pokémon a "pestilential Ponzi scheme" that stokes acquisitiveness and encourages kids to fight. Pokémon's inventor is a Japanese introvert and ex-Space Invaders addict who obsessively collected beetles as a kid. (For Slate's more kindly Pokémon assessment click here.) An article says Americans are increasingly angry about the soaring price of prescription drugs. Seniors are mobilizing, Al Gore is advertising his opposition to "price gouging," and drug companies are filling the airways with attacks on Democratic plans to extend Medicare coverage to prescriptions. In an interview, Bill Gates vows he will attempt to settle the antitrust case against Microsoft but insists that he will not give up the right to bundle programs with Windows.


Newsweek, Nov. 22

The cover story puzzles over dyslexia. Dyslexics have difficulty reading because they are unable to break words into their constituent parts. Research indicates that dyslexia is an inherited neurological problem. Early intervention and phonics can help dyslexics catch up. In an interview, George W. Bush begins to lay out his foreign policy vision: "[The United States] should not retreat" but should "be humble in its leadership." The illustration for an essay on George W. Bush's intelligence (or lack of it)? A picture of him reading his own recently published book.


U.S. News & World Report, Nov. 22

The cover story claims there is a "cheating epidemic." Three-quarters of college students and 80 percent of high-school "high achievers" admit cheating. Online term-paper mills and other high-tech scams (sending answers by pager) make cheating easier than ever. Character education could help. An article follows the Wild Yak Brigade, a vigilante group that patrols the Tibetan plateau to protect the rare chiru antelope from poachers. The chiru is hunted for its hair, which is woven into high-priced shawls and sold to very rich women--often New Yorkers. A piece describes cost-effective office perks designed to retain employees. At Gymboree, employees get a recess for hopscotch and a cookies-and-milk break. Other innovative benefits include: nap tents, corporate concierges, and summer camps for office offspring.


The New Yorker, Nov. 22

The cartoon issue. A piece explains that the primary purpose of New Yorker cartoons is to caricature the human condition. Proof: The magazine's archives contain 381 cartoons of people on psychoanalysts' couches. An article argues that Al Gore is his own worst enemy. Gore's best argument for his candidacy is his formidable experience, yet Gore refuses to run on Clinton's record. A profile of Center for Biological Diversity leader Kierán Suckling details his successful environmental extremism, founded oddly on abstruse lit-crit theory. As an adherent of deconstruction's "absolute relativism," Suckling believes in undoing man's dominion over the Earth. Using the Endangered Species Act, Suckling has sued to halt logging, ranching, cattle grazing, and construction throughout wide swaths of the Southwest.


The Nation, Nov. 29

The cover story decries the concentration in media ownership. Deregulation, privatization, and new technologies allow nine transnational companies--AT&T/Liberty Media, Bertelsmann, Disney, General Electric, Seagram, Sony, Time Warner, News Corp., and Viacom--to dominate the media. Conglomeration encourages cultural homogenization and consumerism. An article examines how Time Warner's HBO is behaving abroad. The company used American-style lobbying to bully Hungary into reversing Hungarian TV's content quotas. A piece explains how to sustain independent journalism. Media pluralism is vital to democracy. Using the Web, alternative outlets can exchange content with international partners.


Weekly Standard, Nov. 22

The cover story describes the implosion at Hillsdale, the nation's premier conservative college. Headed by George Roche, Hillsdale positioned itself as a bastion of traditional values. Roche resigned last week when the college learned that he had been having an affair with his daughter-in-law--a fact that came to light after she committed suicide on campus. Roche's resignation statement read: "We have proven that integrity, values, and courage can still triumph in a corrupt world." The college refuses to repudiate its ex-president. An article calls for an overhaul of antitrust law. The Microsoft case demonstrates that antitrust statutes punish dominant market players and should be more laissez-fare. (Read Slate's " Frame Game" on the Microsoft case.)