A How-To for the Busy You

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
April 5 2001 11:30 PM

A How-To for the Busy You

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New York Times Magazine, April 8
Subtitled "A User's Manual for Modern Living," this issue is a how-to handbook for life in the 21st century. Our service economy has left us yearning to learn to do for ourselves. Why? Because we're clueless when it comes to so many necessary things (taxes and car maintenance) and because we long for self-definition—if you go to an office daily and answer e-mail like everyone else, you feel better about it if you "know how to do the merengue and smoke your own meat." Among the tips highlighted that will make you feel special: how to back-flip a motorcycle, hop a freight train, cook the basics like Daniel Boulud, and harvest a live organ. And the more practical directives: how to e-mail like a CEO, raise a genius, dump a friend, cut off telemarketers, get in to see the president (favorites: "Buy your way in" or "Be a tenacious tourist"), and, of course, multitask. How else would you get all this done?—M.C.

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Cook's Illustrated, May-June 2001 The Consumer Reports for cooks tackles a pressing summer problem—how to make decent fried chicken. The steps to surpassing Colonel Sanders': soak the chix in buttermilk brine, air dry in the fridge for a few hours, then fry it up in a Dutch oven (forget Mom's old cast-iron skillet) holding the oil temp steady at 375 degrees. The best breading? Flour. Skippy won out under rigorous testing as the top all-around peanut butter for baking, saucing, and snacking (Jif regular came in a close second). Peter Pan was panned for its "artificial" flavor. CI ruled a $15 Joyce Chen plastic cutting-board cushioned the knife as well as a $38 fancy wood one. Another top performer, an inexpensive composite wood board, didn't warp after 50 dishwasher runs but does require oiling every blue moon. For the maintenance averse, go with a CI-approved plastic.— L.S.

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Newsweek, April 9
Newsweek's painkillers cover reports that in 1999, an estimated 4 million Americans over age 12 used prescription pain relievers, sedatives, and stimulants for "nonmedical" reasons in the past month. Among arrests in Cincinnati, Ohio, a city that carefully tracks prescription-drug abuse, 30 percent of cases involved medical employees. An article reveals that when Slobodan Milosevic was arrested, his companions included his wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, and 2-year-old grandson. Pre-arrest, Milosevic threatened to shoot his arresters, himself, and his family. Milosevic's parents and an uncle committed suicide in his youth. In an exclusive interview, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak calls the U.S. media "irresponsible" and slams New York Times columnist Tom Friedman's "very bad articles." Mubarak on Saddam Hussein: "The more you bomb him, the stronger he gets."— A.F.

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Time, April 9 Time's global warming cover package is flush with staggering stats (e.g., all glaciers in Glacier National Park could be gone by 2070). China, France, and Germany are outraged the United States didn't adopt the Kyoto Protocol. A letter—signed by Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, Stephen Hawking, and others—urges President Bush to implement a greenhouse gas control plan. An article describes a new trend in vocational courses that train high-school students in computers, animal sciences, culinary arts, and medicine. An article on ecstasy explains that police are reluctant to arrest dealers because they usually result in trivial convictions, so feds may begin using a 1980s anti-crack law against rave promoters and nightclub owners.— A.F.

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U.S. News & World Report, April 9 The U.S. News cover package on the nation's best graduate schools lauds Stanford as the best for business, MIT for engineering, and Yale for law. (Click here and here to read Slate's takedown of the rankings.) An article warns that the U.S. postal service, saddled with $3 billion in debt, could give up its federal monopoly status to stay afloat. A House committee will hear damage-control ideas at a hearing this week. A piece on the fallout from the Supreme Court's Boy Scout ruling ventures that troops across the country could be risking their membership to take a stand on gay rights. In Illinois, seven troops were sent packing for adding nondiscrimination clauses to their charters.— A.F.

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The New Yorker, April 9 A long, outstanding profile of a welfare-to-work family in Washington, D.C., delineates the ironies of post-welfare life: A single mother must work two jobs and spend virtually no time with her kids. Because the day-care centers are run by abusive women and criminals, the children spend their non-school hours locked up at home. Public-school choice provides no solution to inferior education because all the public schools suck, and the charter schools are no better. The only glimmer of hope is a high-school football team coached by a humane, responsible local mailman.— M.B.

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New Republic, April 9 and 16 The cover story says Hillary Clinton is a bust as a senator. She was supposed to take the upper chamber by storm, but in the aftermath of the furniture and pardon scandals, she has stifled her ambition. Instead of offering a bold new vision on the issues of the moment, she earnestly keeps up with policy minutiae and proposes pointless, slam-dunk legislation. A piece argues that campaign-finance reform is good for Democrats, contrary to the emerging consensus. Pundits claim that Democrats need soft money because it's the only kind of contribution they raise as well as Republicans. But if Dems force Bush to veto McCain-Feingold, they can reclaim their populist appeal and replace Bush's image as a Texas outsider with one as a shill for big business. An article accounts for political rookie John Edwards' remarkable ascendancy in the Democratic Party. He's viewed as a comer not because he has the right ideology—all Dems are centrists these days—but because he has the right personality. Edwards connects with audiences like Bill Clinton did, and as a true North Carolinian, he can pick up the Southern states Gore lost for seeming like a Northeastern stuffed shirt.— J.D.

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Economist, March 31 An article tells you everything you ever wanted to know about foot-and-mouth disease. It's extremely difficult to control because it flies (a 1981 outbreak wafted its way across the English Channel), and though it's not deadly in adult livestock, it is permanently disabling. Countries with large agricultural sectors (Ireland) don't want to vaccinate because it hurts their ability to export meat. Countries with smaller farm populations but lots of tourism (England) want to vaccinate because it will encourage visitors. The cover editorial urges wealthy nations to accept more refugees from poor countries. First, there are compelling moral arguments for allowing freer movement of people. Second, poor immigrants actually fuel economic growth in rich countries because they do work others won't do and create their own markets.— J.D.

Michael Brus, a former Slate assistant editor, is a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City. He is on the clinical faculty of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Jeremy Derfner is a former Slate editorial assistant.

Amanda Fazzone is an assistant editor at the New Republic.

Laurie Snyder is Slate's copy chief.

Maureen Sullivan is a Slatecopy editor.