New Republic, Jan. 27 The cover story examines whether new Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist—with his image as a compassionate physician—can revive the country's trust in the Republican Party's stance on health care. The short answer: not if Americans are paying attention. Frist has proved committed to free-market medicine, and his experience as a transplant surgeon may not have exposed him to enough of the uninsured people who suffer from the system's shortcomings. … A piece notes that the top-notch Bush PR team may run into trouble this year; as they hype a few small feel-good expenditures in their proposed 2004 budget, they'll also be wresting billions in painful cuts from the 2003 budget that's still languishing in Congress. … An editorial notes that Charles Pickering's problem isn't that he's racist; it's that he's a bad judge. Fifteen of his decisions have been reversed "for violating 'well-settled principles of law.' "— J.T.
Economist, Jan. 18 The cover story tries to explain why the entertainment industry is suffering so much at a time when we're going to more movies and listening to more music than ever. The problem: Company bosses are over-managing their creative people.... An article suggests that Britain chill out on its child-pornography laws. It's a bit draconian to put curious creeps away for five years just for looking at one measly picture. And if the picture is computer-generated, who is really being hurt?... A piece reports that the folks who designed TiVo have figured out how to tame annoying cell phone users. Talk too loudly on the SoMo1 and you get an electric shock to the face. If that doesn't shut people up, the SoMo5 lets you zap an anonymous, interfering sound to a nearby cell phone that's being used obnoxiously. Too bad these are just conceptual prototypes.—J.F.
New York Times Magazine, Jan. 19
The New York Times Mag does makeovers! A profile of Muammar Qaddafi compares the Libyan leader's "before"—as the terrorist financier of the 1980s—with his "after." In recent years Qaddafi re-established diplomatic ties with Europe, argued that Israel has a place in the Middle East, and opposed Muslim fundamentalists in Libya and abroad. But the piece tentatively wonders if his changed policies really indicate a changed man. ... Meanwhile, conservative pundit Tucker Carlson wants to spruce up the Democratic Party. With the air of a worldly-wise baby sitter dispensing tips on mascara, Carlson advises Dems to develop some Bush-ian policy proposals, some fertile think tanks, a sense of humor, and to say exactly what they think. On that point, he skewers reputed straight-shooter Howard Dean, who first told Carlson the Republican Party was fraught with "institutional racism," and then called back to backpedal: "[I]t might have been better if I talked about 'intolerance.' " "Damn," Carlson concludes. "The consultants. They've gotten to him already."—J.T.
GQ, January 2003 Speaking of makeovers, GQ editor Art Cooper uses this month's issue to hype his own much-publicized weight-loss. In an interview with the personal trainer who helped him shed 60 pounds, Cooper lobs tough questions like, "You've been training me for eight months and the results are spectacular. I can leg press 500 pounds, and I'm more fit than I've been since I was in my twenties. How do you respond to critics who say you can't really be fit if you work out only a half hour a week and don't do serious aerobic exercise?"— J.T.
Oxford American, January-February 2003 The Oxford American is back, and while its cover bears a prominent photo of a typewriter's shift key (along with opaque cover lines—like "America, Look at Your Shame!" and "This Lonesome, Crowded Planet"—that defy the conventions of the newsstand), not much has changed. OA ceased publication for a year due to money woes. The relaunch brought with it new funders, a new design, and a new hometown base (Little Rock, Ark.) but it still proclaims itself "The Southern Magazine of Good Writing," and, thankfully, still contains quite a bit of it. … Of particular note: A previously unpublished essay by James Agee, in which he observes racist Southern soldiers on a New York bus and describes in brutal detail his impotent attempts to respond.— J.T.
Wired, February 2003 In a package on the fall of the music industry, a profile introduces Hillary Rosen, the straight-talking, music-loving lesbian who, as the chair of the Recording Industry Association of America, helped bring about the death of Napster. The piece's primary argument: She's just too hip for her job. … A story tackles "The Civil War Inside Sony," a company whose entertainment division wants to stave off the advances of digital music, and whose electronics division wants to sell you an MP3 player that will only bring it on. … Also there's a too-cool-for-school 39-frame flipbook of a two-second movie directed by Spike Jonze. We didn't lay hands on our scissors, but from what we can tell, it's a guy doing tricks with a skateboard and fire. Can't go wrong with that.— J.T.
Newsweek, Jan. 20
The cover story finds the perfect diet. Sort of. At the Harvard School of Public Health, Dr. Walter Willett and his colleagues created a Healthy Eating Pyramid—a departure from the USDA's Food Guide Pyramid—which looks something like a traditional Mediterranean diet (e.g., lots of fish and olive oil) and is designed for lifetime heath rather than short-term weight loss. … A story notes the trendiness of exercise programs that focus on the body's core, or torso, such as Pilates. Even though there is no scientific data on core strength training, proponents say it can help improve balance and circulation and prevent back problems. … A story argues that President Bush's recently released economic stimulus package is a huge political gamble, which explains the ever-growing number of Democrats who are lining up for a shot to topple Bush in 2004.— G.V.
Time, Jan. 20 Time's annual report on health claims that as doctors and scientists learn more about the mind, they are rejecting notion that the mind and body operate separately, long a foundation of Western medicine. … A story quotes a doctor who says Prozac can make people feel better even if they're not depressed. So, why aren't we all on Prozac? Despite the relatively minor side effects, psychiatrists still believe not everyone needs the drug—especially children, in whom it may stunt emotional development. … A story says last week's announcement that arms inspections in Iraq haven't found a "smoking gun" has led many, notably Britain, to believe that a war must be postponed. But Washington is unbowed. "Is war avoidable? Sure, if Saddam gets a personality transplant," a White House aide tells Time.— G.V.
U.S. News & World Report, Jan. 20 The cover story details the medical "revolution" of personalized drugs, which can be individualized for specific patients with a specific disease. But the new drugs aren't a panacea yet: Scientists haven't perfected the technique to target specific diseases, and insurance companies won't pay for the diagnostic tests required for the personalized treatment. … An article recounts the ineptness of Saddam's attempts at terrorism during the Gulf War—one pair of would-be terrorists planted dynamite outside the U.S. ambassador to Indonesia's home, but left it in sight and a gardener found the explosives. U.S. officials warn that there will be more terror attempts if there is a war, but this time, after studying groups such as al-Qaida, Saddam's folks might be better prepared. … A column says that, although the abortion rate in the United States is at its lowest since 1974, both pro-choicers and pro-lifers believe that Roe v. Wade is in jeopardy if President Bush gets the chance to appoint someone to the Supreme Court.— G.V.
The New Yorker, Jan. 20 The cover story details the work of neuroscientist Niels Birbaumer, who has been working with "locked-in" patients—people who are completely paralyzed and can't communicate yet are believed to retain their intellect and senses. In his attempts to communicate with them, Birbaumer uses a device—electrodes are put on the patient's scalp to read brain activity—that, in theory, can translate thought into language. … A profile tells the story of Afsana, an Afghan refugee currently living in London, who says she was a "famous singer" in Kabul. The story calls Afsana—who has burns on her legs and a substantial scar on her stomach—a victim of "the rule of warlords, mujahideen, and the Taliban."… An essay compares the takeout food options in San Francisco and New York. Despite the myriad options in both cities, New York takes the cake—especially for the lazy, since nearly all restaurants now deliver.— G.V.
Washington Monthly, January-February 2003 The cover story maintains that, for all his conservatism, Ronald Reagan also left an oft-ignored "liberal legacy." He actually raised taxes, expanded government, and enlarged Social Security. But the Gipper's biographers would just as soon overlook these facts since they destroy the myth of Reagan as conservative patriarch. … A piece all but calls Dick Cheney the vice-bungler-in-chief. Just about every strategic gaffe made by the Bush White House, from its energy policy missteps to its softness on corporate reform, can be traced back to the vice president. When will the rest of Washington take note? … An article notes the growing tension between Joe Lieberman the mensch and Joe Lieberman the aggressive, self-advancing politician. Case in point: He pledged not to pursue the 2004 Democratic nomination if Gore wanted it but ran an unavowed campaign anyway. Lieberman always tries to be "the guy who never throws an elbow," but sometimes politics requires entering the fray.— J.F
Weekly Standard, Jan. 20 The cover story says the only thing holding the Democratic Party together is a "cartoonish view of Republicans." Without any coherent message to rally around, Democrats resort to race baiting. They honestly believe the GOP is a bunch of closet bigots, as though nothing has changed in the last 40 years. … Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., editorializes on the need for a hard-line stance against North Korea. If "aggressive, multilateral isolation" can't force Pyongyang back into line, America should be prepared for unilateral war. … A review of NBC's new Beltway drama Mister Sterling ponders why popular art about politics can't get past the gooey idealism of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. "Wouldn't it be something if the hero of a Washington movie or TV show were to drive by the Washington Monument or the Lincoln Memorial without giving it a second glance, the way actual Washingtonians do?"— J.F.
The Nation, Jan. 20 Walter Mosley's cover article says we need to define our foes more broadly. "Our enemies are all persons involved in causing the death of others," whether they be al-Qaida operatives or our own troops. "Black America, with its fine-honed attention to the etiquette of liberation" can be at the vanguard of this expanding sense of compassion. … An article comes down hard on the WTC design proposals, calling them "bread and circus for the chattering classes." The Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and Port Authority are just buying time while they put the finishing touches on their own developer's dream site that will maximize leasasble square footage. … An article stakes out a progressive position on the North Korea crisis. America should seek a joint declaration of nonaggression with the North in return for a dismantling of its nuclear program. Eventually troops should pull back from the DMZ as preparation for Korean unification.— J.F.
Saveur, January-February 2003
The cover story lists a few—OK, well, 100—of Saveur's favorite things in the world of food. Some are ho-hum (like the very 1992 advice to tote groceries home in a canvas sack) and some are unattainable (Saveur's editors can get cookbook guru Marion Cunningham to make them waffles, but most of us can't). Most, though, will make your mouth water. Next time we're in Sydney, we plan to try the Moreton Bay Bug, which sounds like as charming a shellfish as ever we've met. … A recipe for menudo reveals that it's more than the band where Ricky Martin got his start—it's actually tripe soup. … And if the thought of tripe has you wrinkling your nose, don't miss Page 91, where a second story on tripe is paired with a stunning piece of food photography that renders these linings of cow stomachs as lovely as lace doilies. — J.T.
Outside, February 2003 The cover story describes the most unforgiving battleground on the planet: the Saichen Glacier, in Kashmir, where Indian and Pakistani troops battle each other, avalanches, and altitude sickness at 21,000 feet. The superbly reported piece describes both how the soldiers are devastating the environment (one base camp is perched on a pile of frozen garbage, including helicopter wheels and discarded boxes of mango juice) and how the environment is devastating the soldiers. To reach one mountaintop base, Pakistani fighters must climb fixed ropes up an ice face, exposed to fire from Indian snipers hundreds of feet above. … A cover line pegs the Australian cassowary as "The bird that wants to kill you—and can!" The piece inside says losing its habitat has turned the flightless avian into a bully. … A writer chronicles his days paddling the Suriname River, exploring Saramaka settlements with two descendents of Saramaka maroons, slaves who successfully escaped Dutch colonizers by setting up camps in the remote jungle.— J.T.