Updated Friday, Dec. 20, 2002, at 12:10 PM
Economist, Dec. 21 The editors loosen their ties for the special Christmas issue. … The cover story says the year 2002 beat expectations: India and Pakistan took their fingers off their nuclear triggers, the global economy didn't tank, and Bush proved himself a multilateralist. … A piece deconstructs the cult of the gym. Working out has all the trappings of religion: ritual, a quest for immortality, motivation by guilt, atonement for sins of the body, fanatical regularity. The fact that 13 percent of Americans belong to gyms suggests that hedonism is out and masochistic Puritanism is in. … An article begins, "Of all the forces against which resistance is futile, Barbie ranks right up near the top." Critics perpetually trot out the same old denunciations, calling her a tool of imperialism and a bad influence on girls. But the buxom blonde gets her comeuppance: Barbie mutilation is a bizarrely common phenomenon and anti-Barbie art is widespread.— J.F.
New Republic, Dec. 30 and Jan. 6
The cover story looks at the political return of Gary Hart and the unlikely duo who engineered it: a pair of Harvard grad students who began laying the groundwork for Hart's likely 2004 presidential run in their dorm room. The three met while studying at Oxford—after which, the self-confessed political neophytes decided Hart was the man to save the Democrats and America. … A piece applauds Al Gore's "graceful goodbye" and predicts that many will regret that he chose not to seek the White House in 2004: "His vision of what a strong democracy needs to be and how it needs to act in the world make him a rare, incandescent light among his party's politicians."—H.B.
New York Times Magazine, Dec. 22 The cover story is a devastating look at what football does to colleges: Like many other schools, the University of South Florida is throwing millions of dollars at its football program, hoping to see that money come back in game attendance, donations, and better applicants. But football is a sucker's game, in which all but a handful of schools are losers. Despite the mythology of college athletics as a way up for underprivileged young men, the players may be the biggest losers of all. … An article describes two possible routes for Ethiopian AIDS orphans. Lucky ones who are HIV-negative go to an American-sponsored orphanage, from which they may be adopted by American families. Those who are HIV-positive may end up in an orphanage as humane as Enat House (Enat means "mother" in Amharic), but without lifesaving AIDS cocktails, almost all of them will die before they're 11.—K.T.
Wine Spectator, Dec. 31 and Jan. 15 The wine of the year issue. A piece says the E. Guigal 1999 Châteauneuf-du-Pape—a $30 French wine from Rhône Valley—tops the list of 100 best wines for 2002. It is a complex wine that reflects a "distinctive combination of fruit, wet earth, game, leather and mineral flavors" that also happens to have a fair price and wide availability. … The runner-up is the Chateau St. Jean 1999 Sonoma County Cinq Cépages of California. The 1996 version of the wine was the top pick in 1999, when it was $28 a bottle. The 1999 sells for $70. … An article says there were 11,616 new releases in 2002, more than in any year previous. Yet prices were up overall, despite the lagging economy.—H.B.
Entertainment Weekly, Dec. 20 and 27
The best of 2002 issue. A piece says the two best movies of the year are Far From Heaven and About Schmidt. The first stars Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid and "re-creates the synthetic glories of movie past, only to transform them into a universal canvas of hidden longing." The latter features Jack Nicholson in his "most inspired performance" in years. The worst films: XXX and The Adventures of Pluto Nash. … An article ranks Original Pirate Material, an obscure hip-hop debut by a Brit rapper known as "The Streets," as the year's best record. (Gerald Marzorati discusses the album in Slate's Music Club). … The year's best fiction book is Ian McEwan's Atonement, a piece says. Nonfiction lauds go to Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, a memoir by Alexandra Fuller. … An article says the year's best commercials included Spike Jonze's ads for IKEA and Levi's. The lamest: Old Navy's ads starring one-time sexpot Morgan Fairchild.—H.B.
Newsweek, Time,and U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 16
Both Newsweek and Time front the continuing firestorm over Sen. Trent Lott's comments at Strom Thurmond's birthday party. (The cover of U.S. News profiles Rev. Billy Graham and his family.) … Newsweek's cover story examines "the rise and fall" of Lott, R-Miss., and looks at the uncomfortable legacy that fueled his apparent nostalgia for segregation. A sidebar says Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warned fellow Republicans last week that Lott would leave office if he were to lose his leadership position and that a Democrat would likely replace him—thus throwing control of the Senate up for grabs, again. … Time's cover story sums up the damage to GOP efforts to recruit minorities and includes more on-the-record apologies from Lott. "I have changed," Lott insists. … A U.S. News piece says Lott's fate ultimately will rest with President Bush, who must secure a hefty percentage of the black vote to win re-election in 2004.
The U.S. News cover story calls Graham "the most revered figure in American Protestantism." But, with the 84-year-old's health failing, the future of Graham's ministry and that of evangelism in general are at a crossroads. The legacy of both may rest with Graham's kids. … Part 2 of a Time piece by Donald Bartlett and James Steele says Indian gaming interests have dumped millions of dollars into campaigns and lobbying around the nation to successfully secure political favors from Congress and state legislatures. The tribes' political power is greatest in California, where Indian gaming revenue is set to surpass that of all the casinos in Las Vegas. … A Newsweek piece says that unlike other presidential appointees, the White House never "vetted" Henry Kissinger, who resigned last week as chairman of the independent commission investigating 9/11 because of possible conflicts of interest.—H.B.
The New Yorker, Dec. 23 and 30
The winter fiction issue. An article by Seymour Hersh takes a closer look at the Bush administration's directive to find leaders of terrorist groups and kill them, not simply arrest them. The plan has elicited the most criticism from members of the special forces, who worry less about its legality than its wisdom, ethics, and effectiveness. … A piece profiles Joe Nickell, the nation's "most accomplished investigator" of the paranormal. A self-described skeptic, Nickell has called the Shroud of Turin a fraud and caught TV psychic John Edwards cheating. Yet cynics say he's a spoilsport. … A "Talk of the Town"piece notices a steady escalation in "niceness" at the White House. President Bush sent out 1 million Christmas cards this year—more than any of his predecessors—and West Wing thank-you cards are on the rise, too. But is there such thing as "too nice"?—H.B.
Weekly Standard, Dec. 23
David Brooks' cover article says today's college students are more concerned with "making it" in life than "making it" with the opposite sex. Who has time for dating when the new American meritocracy demands incessant ladder-climbing? … A piece profiles Prince Nayef, the Saudi monarchy's top man behind the scenes. He's an opportunist who's co-opted jihadist rhetoric to help prop up the House of Saud. Nayef represents the growing influence of Islamism behind the monarchy's more moderate façade. … An article calls Trent Lott "a burden for his party" and suggests he step down. … A piece surveys the worst Christmas music ever. Surely Bing Crosby and David Bowie's creepy 1977 collaboration on "The Little Drummer Boy" takes the fruitcake.—J.F.
The Nation, Dec. 30
The cover editorial demands Trent Lott's resignation: "The Senator did not 'misspeak.' He has not changed his views in forty years." … A number-crunching piece suggests that the Democrats are losing women voters to the GOP but gaining with the under-30 crowd. In 1998, the Dems won college-educated women by 10 points. In 2002, that margin dropped to 3 percent. The reason: Republicans have managed to lay claim to the social welfare issues that women care about. … An article by John Nichols describes the "Three Mile Island of biotech." This fall, a Nebraska farmer harvested soybeans from the same field where last year he planted seeds that had been genetically engineered to treat diarrhea in pigs. There's a chance the pharmaceutical crop may have mingled with the human food. More proof that biotechnology needs to better regulated in America.—J.F.
Holly Bailey is a writer in Washington, D.C.
In addition to being the co-founder of the Atlas Obscura, Joshua Foer is the author of Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, which grew out of a story he wrote for Slate.
Kate Taylor is the arts reporter at the New York Sun and the editor of an anthology of essays about anorexia, Going Hungry, which will be published next spring.