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June 3 2008 2:23 PM

The Tyranny of the Toddler

Weekly Standard on the repercussions of overindulgent parenting.

New York

New York, June 9
In the cover package on breakfast, a piece by Slate contributor Amanda Fortini investigates why "women's magazines, and pop health magazines, and legions of mothers" (and don't forget researchers) are so obsessed with the morning meal. Eating breakfast "tends to coincide with a healthier weight," but it doesn't "miraculously speed up one's metabolism." Breakfasting is "a habit that tends to occur along with a constellation of other healthy behaviors"—so it's not necessarily the only behavior that causes benefits. A feature profiles "YouTube divorcee" Tricia Walsh-Smith, whose "unblinking zombie eyes seemed to mirror some madness in the soul." Walsh-Smith aired lurid details about her crumbling marriage on YouTube to leverage her 76-year-old millionaire husband when he threatened divorce. Her clips earned her 4 million hits, a Good Morning America appearance, and reportedly a reality show in the works—but no word on how they'll help her divorce settlement.

Radar

Radar, May/June 2008 The cover story on "Power Brats"—celebrity offspring who are attempting to make it on their famous last names—considers the epidemic of second- and even third-generation stars: "Forget America's long-standing image as a great meritocracy; these days, an aristocratic chill is gripping the nation as never before. Fame, the chief commodity of our era, is now being passed from generation to generation." A short article reveals the man behind the "hooker-stabbing, car-jacking" video game Grand Theft Auto. Dan Houser, co-founder of GTA's creator, Rockstar Games, revels in the downfall of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who publicly decried the series: "Spitzer used the game for more inspiration than he's willing to let on. … That kind of hypocrisy is beyond satire; I couldn't even write it."

Oxford American
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Oxford American, Issue 60
The cover story in the "Home Sweet Home" issue examines Americans' lust for large homes and why "Domus has become one of the most potent gods in the pantheon of Mammon, and his temples far outstrip anything we build for church or state." Southerners have always engaged in "house worship." But the credit crisis and foreclosures have created "a new class" that is "still working and paying taxes but no longer viable players in the world of real estate, no longer eligible to dream the American dream." In a personal essay, a woman reflects on her New Orleans childhood, which was destroyed by Katrina: "Our house was what New Orleanians call camelback shotgun: narrow and running horizontal with no hallway, and with a second floor of only one room added onto the back, the kind of house old folks say spirits love because they can move through easily."

The New Yorker

The New Yorker, June 9-16 The Fiction issue contains a series of brief essays by writers on the topic of "Faith and Doubt" and a posthumous short story by Vladimir Nabokov. A piece uncovers the inventions of Buckminster Fuller, who imagined creations that "often had the hallucinatory quality associated with science fiction (or mental hospitals)." The turn-of-the-century New England inventor experienced an epiphany while contemplating death and believed it his mission to "[determine] 'what, if anything,' an individual could do 'on behalf of all humanity.' " Fuller's brainchild was a series of "Dymaxion" (a word he "adopted … as a sort of brand name") inventions. They all failed, but after his epiphany, "[h]e spent the next fifty years in a headlong, ceaseless act of self-assertion, one that took so many forms that, twenty-five years after his death, we are still trying to sort it all out." On the Financial Page, James Surowiecki pooh-poohs CBS's acquisition of CNET: "[D]eals like [this] are a bit like an aging outfielder taking steroids in order to stave off the boobirds. The difference is that steroids usually work."

Weekly Standard

Weekly Standard, June 9 The cover story argues that the "vast expense and anxiety" Americans lavish on their children has brought about a tyrannous "dreary, boring, sadly misguided Kindergarchy." During the 1960s, "culture put a new premium on youthfulness; adulthood … was on the way out, beginning with clothes and ending with personal conduct." Parents became reluctant to be "authority figures," instead opting to be "if not exactly contemporaries," then "friends, pals, fun people" to their children. Since then, "every child suddenly became his or her own dauphin or dauphine." A piece explains why future presidents may follow George Bush's lead and choose not to use e-mail to avoid having correspondence subject to the Presidential Records Act: "Scrutinizing just about anyone's minute-to-minute correspondence can be used to make that person look like an idiot."

Newsweek

Newsweek, June 9 The cover story explores the "politics of endangered species," focusing on environmentalists' fight to declare the polar bear endangered. Global-warming activists would like to see the animal listed as endangered (the Interior Department currently calls it "threatened"). That classification could pave the way for stricter emissions laws under the Endangered Species Act, which requires the government to "designate and preserve [listed animals'] 'critical habitat'—the area necessary for their survival—and develop a 'recovery plan' to keep them alive." A piece surveys a new study that indicates "teen sexual behavior in general hasn't changed much since 1991," despite "salacious stories" popping up in the media about the prevalence of oral sex. It's possible that "[t]he hysteria around oral sex, then, may be as much about attitude as behavior, suggesting that teens have become ever more exoticized in the eyes of the older generation, a seemingly strange and impenetrable tribe with bizarre rituals and alien belief systems."

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

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