What's new in the Atlantic, Time, the New York Times Magazine, and more.

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
June 13 2008 3:52 PM

Peace at Last?

The Economist suggests that the violence and chaos in Iraq may be calming down.

Economist

Economist, June 14 The cover story argues that "many things in Iraq have at long last started to go right." The country's government has "gained in stature and confidence," has plenty of revenue from high oil prices, and "is standing up to Iraq's assorted militias and asserting its independence from both America and Iran." But in order to preserve the relative calm currently in place, "George Bush … has a further part to play, which consists mainly of not doing things that might tempt him"—chiefly, attacking Iran. A piece looks at the popularity of "Grandpa Wen," Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. His Facebook page (it's not known whom it actually belongs to) shows him as "sixth-most-popular politician listed." He's also become a media darling for his activities in the aftermath of the recent earthquake, for calling "an impromptu news conference amid swirling helicopters and inviting foreign reporters, who normally have just one chance a year to quiz him, to shout out questions." But "the Sichuan earthquake has created millions of potential malcontents" who will require "sustained efforts and huge spending over many years"—not just a charming politician—"to keep them satisfied."

Atlantic

Atlantic, July/August 2008
The cover story examines societal dependency on the Internet as an information source, which "may be weakening our capacity for the kind of deep reading that emerged when … the printing press made long and complex works of prose commonplace." We are reading more now than before, but it's a "different kind of reading" that makes us into "mere decoders of information" and doesn't engage "our ability to interpret text, to make the rich mental connections that form when we read deeply and without distraction." An article by Hanna Rosin, who contributes to Slate's "XX Factor," explores the rising crime rate in America's midsize cities. In Memphis, which tops national violent crime lists, criminologists have connected the uptick in violence to Section 8 housing, which relocates inner-city project residents to mixed-class neighborhoods. Rosin writes, "If replacing housing projects with vouchers had achieved its main goal—infusing the poor with middle-class habits—then higher crime rates might be a price worth paying. But today, social scientists looking back on the whole grand experiment are apt to use words like baffling and disappointing."

Time
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Time, June 23 An article in the cover package on childhood obesity reveals parents' difficulties discussing their kids' weight problems. Some parents may not believe that any children "especially very young kids, swaddled in no-longer-quite-so-delicious layers of baby fat--can actually be obese." Others may worry about "using such pejorative terms about our children, especially if they were once hurled at us by playground bullies." And when addressing their patients' weight, pediatricians often worry about hurting self-esteem "during the emotional storms and ego swings of adolescence." But, with the country's obesity problems, "sparing a family's feelings may be a luxury we can no longer afford." A writer confesses in a piece to stealing wireless Internet from his neighbors, which "is an actual, bona fide crime." Now that he's gone straight, though, "in an attempt to achieve some kind of karmic balance," he didn't password-protect his own wireless, leaving it free for "any neighbors who want to mooch off it."

Paste

Paste, June 2008 The cover story on Scarlett Johansson reflects on how the "gorgeous young starlet" has "gravitated toward middle-aged men who know firsthand what it takes to build a sturdy legacy." The ingénue with an "old soul" seeks out established men like Woody Allen, Bob Dylan, and Barack Obama as "creative allie[s] and friend[s]." So, what words of wisdom does a luminary like America's Poet offer? According to the piece, Johansson has "learned from Dylan that being a genuine artist has everything to do with the quality of the stories you write with your life, and nothing to do with the stories written about you." In a piece on Jakob Dylan's first solo acoustic album, the singer-songwriter gives his thoughts on living in his father's shadow: "That stuff is the high water mark for anyone doing what I do, so there's no way for me to avoid it, not just for me, but for any songwriter. If your goal is not to be referenced to his career, there aren't a lot of options."

New York Times Magazine

New York Times Magazine, June 15 The cover story reports on heterosexual couples' attempts at "equal care" parenting, in which mom and dad spend the same amount of time working and with the kids. The idea that gender shouldn't define domestic roles has been "a message consistent with nearly every major social trend of the past three decades." But labor division around the house still remains unbalanced: Even in couples where both parents have full-time jobs, "the wife does 28 hours of housework and the husband, 16"—and that ratio "holds true however you construct and deconstruct a family" along class lines. Deborah Solomon interviews the irascible Gore Vidal, who questions John McCain's war record: "Who started this rumor that he was a war hero? Where does that come from, aside from himself?" Vidal also offers his thoughts on William F. Buckley's demise: "[H]ell is bound to be a livelier place, as he joins forever those whom he served in life, applauding their prejudices and fanning their hatred."

Must Read
Hanna Rosin's piece in the Atlantic considers the possibility that the much-touted Section 8 anti-poverty measure has had the unintended effect of spreading crime to middle-class neighborhoods.

Must Skip
Paste's cover story on Scarlett Johansson is fawning, self-conscious, and creepy. A sample: "So this is a story about an old soul residing in a young body, the incalculable value of life experience, intergenerational artistic bonds, actors imparting wisdom by simply doing good work, mentoring disguised as bullshitting, the humility to reach outside of yourself for answers, the uselessness of sex as an explanation for everything, the quest for substance, the joy of bringing new stories into being, and the exquisite prize of simple friendship." (Yes, that was one sentence.)

Best Politics Piece
A Weekly Standard article visits Barack Obama's Chicago neighborhood for insight into the candidate's mystique.                                           

Best Culture Piece
In an essay in New York,writer Kevin Baker reflects on his discovery that, like his already-ill mother, he has the gene that will cause him to develop, and eventually die from, Huntington's disease.

Contrarian Argument of the Week
In the Atlantic, a piece contends that America's penchant for traffic signs creates a "tragedy of the commons" that actually makes drivers less safe. Too many signs teach "drivers to be less observant of cross traffic and to exercise less judgment when driving—instead, they look for signs and drive according to what the signs tell them to do."

Morgan Smith, a former Slate intern, is a law student in Austin, Texas.