Space Squid

Space Squid

Space Squid

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
Nov. 25 1999 3:30 AM

Space Squid

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New York Times Magazine, Nov. 28

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The cover story wonders why leftists are still defending Communist spies and right-wingers are still Red-hunting. Right-wingers have rehabilitated Joe McCarthy and delight in the release of old Soviet papers exposing American leftists as spies, while lefties continue to view the anti-Communist movement as evil and oppressive. For both sides, the fixation with the dead ideology is as much personal as political. (The piece is by Slate's Jacob Weisberg.) A piece disses NASA's limited ambitions and surveys entrepreneurs' visionary ideas for outer space: bioengineered "space squid" that draw energy from the moons of Jupiter, a lunar mining camp, a "nanotube" elevator from Earth to a geostationary satellite, and an orbiting resort hotel with zero-g honeymoon suites.

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Time, Nov. 29

The cover story forecasts New Year's Eve fatigue. Years of millennial hype (including, may we suggest, Time's "Visions of the 21st Century" series and upcoming "Person of the Century" issue) dissipated the thirst for a momentous evening. High-priced events are underbooked, and a poll found that 72 percent of Americans plan a low-key New Year's Eve. (Richard Simmons will be at home listening to Broadway tunes with his beloved dogs.) A piece predicts that the anti-modified-food movement will grow. Though there is no proof that genetically altered food is harmful, protesters are gaining ground through political theater. When Greenpeace invaded a Kellogg's factory to demonstrate against altered grains, one activist dressed as a grotesquely modified Tony the Tiger.

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Newsweek, Nov. 29

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The cover story reinforces the theory that EgyptAir Flight 990 was felled by suicide. The co-pilot asked to take the controls and repeated, "I put my trust in God" 14 times. An article reveals that both lefties and righties may try to derail the agreement to admit China to the World Trade Organization. Liberals argue that normalizing trade will decrease China's incentives to democratize. House Majority Whip Tom DeLay may thwart the deal to humiliate the president . A piece on workplace "cyberslacking" says that 90 percent of office workers admit to recreational Web surfing. Companies are fighting back with increased electronic surveillance. Xerox fired more than 40 employees for porn surfing.

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U.S. News & World Report, Nov. 29

The cover story worries about the rise of the stepfamily. The number of stepfamilies will exceed the number of biological families by 2007. Studies indicate that stepchildren are more likely to repeat a grade, be abused, and drop out of school. A piece deplores the financing of judicial campaigns. Thirty-nine states elect judges, and the costs of judicial races are rising faster than the cost of congressional campaigns. Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy warn that donor-financed judicial campaigns could corrupt state courts.

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The New Yorker, Nov. 29

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A Richard Avedon photo portfolio about faith includes a shot of a smiling Naga holy man with rocks hanging off his penis. A profile questions whether entertainment CEOs really need the advice of management guru Michael J. Wolf. Behind Wolf's brand name (which he promotes by flattering the CEOs he serves and publishing a book of conventional wisdom) is an informational Ponzi scheme. He leverages the knowledge he gleans from his behind-the-scenes work for major media companies to attract new clients. The back page imagines George W. magazine. The "Exclusive 14-Continent World Survey" explores Arabia and Jewia. There is an in-depth one-minute interview "with that guy in the turban."

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Atlantic Monthly, December 1999

A piece dismisses the conventional wisdom that health-care costs are out of control. Spending is increasing because technology makes health-care services more attractive. Medical advances produce cost savings but widen demand for services. For example, the fee for gallbladder surgery is half what it once was, but insurance companies' gallbladder bills are rising because more doctors are recommending the procedure.

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Weekly Standard, Nov. 29

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The cover profile lances Ed Rendell, incoming chairman of the Democratic National Committee and mayor of Philadelphia. Even though Rendell retired Philadelphia's debt and privatized some city services, he didn't cut taxes enough, and he makes sexually loaded statements to female reporters. An article reveals that former Hillsdale College President George Roche III stands accused of having affairs with women other than his daughter-in-law--including students. The conservative college plans to hire a law firm to help investigate the sex scandal.

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The Nation, Dec. 6

A special we-hate-the-World-Trade-Organization issue. A cover story forecasts that the upcoming WTO conference will turn into the "Battle in Seattle" as protesters--from the Zapatistas to the French sheep farmer who destroyed a McDonald's--call for an end to corporate-dominated trading. An editorial endorses Donald Trump's call for a net-worth tax. To "level the playing field" we could amend the Constitution to allow a wealth tax on the top 1 percent of the population.

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Economist, Nov. 20

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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.

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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.

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Vanity Fair, December 1999

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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.

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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.

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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.