GQ, August 2002 A sympathetic, almost fawning, profile of Omri Sharon, son of Israel's prime minister and a former secret envoy in back-room negotiations between Israel and Yasser Arafat. Intelligent, capable, and devoted to Dad, Omri nevertheless appears more moderate. He tried to persuade the elder Sharon not to walk to the Temple Mount in September 2000. But he deferred, saying of his pater, "[H]e's the one who decides."… Joe Queenen bemoans the decline of the public jerk. Nowadays there's no jackass figure, the "obvious spittoon to serve as a target for the national loogie." He dubs this lack in our society "Fermat's last Fonzie."… A piece describes the sublime shave. Keep your skin hot; use natural oils and brushes; avoid straight-razors; and shave with the grain first, then quickly go against. Finally, do your pores a favor: Rinse cold!— S.G.
New Republic, Aug. 5 and 12 The cover piece says we are witnessing the emergence of a Democratic majority, made up of a new coalition of women, minorities, and professionals. The shift to the left of white-collar professionals has been the most dramatic—a result of changing economic attitudes and the cultural legacy of the 1960s. … A piece condemns the four-year moratorium on research cloning handed down by the President's Council on Bioethics. Religious opposition to cloning won't change in four years, and there's no nontheological insight that can transform the debate. Why did the council pretend that the next four years would bring us answers? … The editorial argues that time is up for Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill: "O'Neill's chronic inability to speak reassuringly on economic matters has made his resignation less a matter of if than when. ... [H]e must go now, while there's still an economy to reassure people about."—K.T.
Economist, July 27 The cover story chronicles President Bush's nosedive from his post-Sept.-11 political peak to his present PR pitfall. The piece runs through his "travails"—corporate scandals, budget deficits, and wary allies—and says that Bush now finds himself in the same defensive position he held before the terrorist attacks. It encourages Senate Democrats to keep his worst inclinations in check. … An article laments that Boeing's next-generation commercial aircraft, which would fly across the Pacific Ocean three hours faster than current models, may be dead on arrival as "gloomy" airlines want new technology to cut costs, not increase speed. Other possible design advances: a stealth-bomber-shaped plane where passengers would sit in an amphitheater-shaped room, and a cross between a helicopter and a fixed-wing aircraft.— D.R.
New York Times Magazine, July 28
The cover piece explains why the Bush administration's approach in Afghanistan—what the author calls "nation-building lite"—isn't going to work. Nation-building is imperialist but necessary, and it requires the presence of a strong imperial force. Without enough American troops and negotiators on the ground, we'll end up being manipulated by the leaders we're trying to help. … A piece attempts to take down Dave Pelzer, author of A Child Called "It." Pelzer is famous for his best-selling true stories of abuse—but what if they're neither true nor best sellers? … A piece profiles 19-year-old, 300-pound Cheryl Haworth, who may well be the strongest woman in the world. She wants to win a gold medal in the 2004 Olympic weightlifting competition, but her manager is pushing her to do more with her fame and her, um, unusual body type: motivational speaking tours and a plus-sized clothes line.—K.T. Details, August 2002 Kurt Andersen ruminates on "rumor queens," aka guys who gossip. Men, it turns out, hiss and giggle around the water cooler as much as women do. (When they dish dirt on the cell phone, they call it "keeping in touch.") Andersen says it's time for men to admit it: "You cloak your observations in swaggering faux-disgust. But, dude, it's gossip." [ Editor's note, Aug. 29, 2002: Details has admitted that this article was a hoax written by someone other than Kurt Andersen. The magazine plans to run a retraction in its October issue.] … An article asks "Who is becoming a priest nowadays?" Numbers have plummeted: The archdiocese of New York is ordaining a mere six men of the cloth this year. Four impressive young clerics are profiled; of the scandals and their fallen brethren, one admits sadly, "[P]riests forgot how to be priests."— S.G.
Time, July 29 The cover story explains how the bear market is changing the retirement picture for baby boomers and their parents. When stocks were bringing 18 percent annually, everybody thought they'd be writing a novel or playing golf by 60, and nobody complained that most companies were switching from pension plans to 401ks. But with decimated savings and no plans to live frugally, older Americans now have to put off retirement. … A piece previews some of the comic-booky non-lethal weapons being developed by the United States military: a weapon that essentially microwaves targets from a distance; really, really smelly stink bombs; and Spidermanesque webs that can stop moving trucks and wrap them up. … An article reports that thousands of al-Qaida operatives have regrouped in Pakistan and are gradually making connections with indigenous terrorist groups there. Despite a growing list of FBI informants, suspects are still able to move around the country faster than agents can track them.—J.D. Newsweek, July 29 Elaborating on a piece from last week, the cover story wonders if President Bush will join his father as a heroic war president hopelessly out of touch with real people's financial plights. Bush's poll numbers aren't bad yet, but Democrats are gaining, and things could get worse: Bush will cling to his enormous tax cut even though it's plunging the country into deficit. … A piece on the recent wave of kidnappings says it isn't really a wave at all. The number of abductions has held steady for at least a decade, but cases are receiving more attention for two reasons: First, investigators think rapid media saturation can save victims and catch criminals. Second, kidnappings boost ratings. … An article reports that networks are freaking out about Digital Video Recorders (such as TiVo) that allow viewers to skip commercials, watch shows whenever they want, and even trade programs over the Internet. One lawsuit seeks to outlaw such devices, and industry lobbyists are pushing for restrictive legislation.—J.D. U.S. News & World Report, July 29
The cover story claims that evolution is turning into an applied science. Researchers have filled in many of the theoretical gaps Darwin left, and a medical community that understands how evolution works will cure diseases, such as malaria and HIV, that resist treatments by mutating. … An article says the six plans for rebuilding Ground Zero unveiled last week are so uninspiring because nobody can figure out how to accommodate both mourners who want a memorial and developers who demand office space. Plus, who's going to pay for a lavish new site? … A retrospective celebrates the 100th birthday of the air conditioner. For decades, the machine failed to catch on because the rich people who could afford it thought it was their duty to suffer quietly (Franklin Roosevelt was an outspoken critic). But as the technology caught on, it rescued the Southern economy and helped create the Sun Belt.—J.D.
The New Yorker, July 29
Following close on the heels of the hormone-replacement-therapy revelations, a piece reports that aging men may be heading down the same dangerous road. A few doctors and a pharmaceutical company are generating buzz about testosterone deficiency, or male menopause, which apparently saps men of their strength and sexual vitality. The treatment? A testosterone gel rubbed on the shoulders once a day. But HRT for men carries many of the same risks as estrogen pills, including cancer and strokes. ... A piece explains stove chic. People are spending a fortune on refurbished antique stoves and the wildly popular Viking Range, a shiny commercial-style stove with six kabillion burners and umpteen ovens, because they long for the modern incarnation of the good old days when Mom cooked up a storm in the kitchen. Problem is, the bearers of the new stove vogue don't cook. As one Viking investor says, "It didn't matter what it was, as long as it was stainless steel."—J.D.
The Nation, Aug. 5 The cover profiles plaintiffs' lawyer William Lerach and argues that his "legal crusade against Enron and infectious greed"—suing big corporations on behalf of shareholders and demanding reforms in settlement—makes him America's "top corporate crime fighter." Lerach, who attributes CEOs' corruption to "penis envy," has won organizational concessions such as independent corporate boards and insider payments as well as hundreds of millions in cases of corporate fraud or regulatory violations. … University of Chicago scholar Martha Nussbaum writes a column from the University of Haifa, where she says Arab and Israeli students study together in a tolerant environment. While she remains wary of Zionism, Nussbaum (who converted to Judaism at 21) says the plight of Israeli scholars ostracized from the European intellectual community has made her more comfortable about the religion's political implications.— D.R.
Weekly Standard, July 29
The cover story pooh-poohs reports that the Bush administration no longer favors military action against Iraq, warning instead that a war to oust Saddam Hussein may begin sooner than anyone has predicted. The article minimizes accounts of dissension between civilian and military leadership over the best Iraq policy and asserts that intelligence officials believe Saddam has provided material support to al-Qaida. … An article by David Brooks cautions GOP faithful that Democrats have attained a nearly insurmountable edge on domestic political issues for this fall's midterm elections. Brooks says the corporate scandals won't hurt Republicans, but the declining economy and loss of faith in major American institutions (such as the Catholic church) will, and that the right has fewer compelling domestic policy ideas than it has in 25 years.— D.R.
TODAY IN SLATE
More Than Scottish Pride
Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself.
What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture
Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You
Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows
The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything
It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.
Happy Constitution Day!
Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.