Economist, Sept. 20 An article summarizes the most dire week for the global economy in recent memory, cringing at U.S. government bailouts but admitting that outright failures would be an even grimmer fate. Rescue, however, has a steep price; each one "discourages investors from worrying about the creditworthiness of those they trade with—and thus encourages the next excess." Even after a "black week," there is no evidence that another Great Depression is looming. "A longer-term worry is the inevitable urge to regulate modern finance into submission."… An article expresses dismay at the nasty turn of the presidential election, especially since the candidates "both represent much that is best about their respective parties." The McCain campaign is mostly to blame for bringing back a tone that "shows that America is back in the territory of the 'culture wars,' where the battle will be less about policy than about values and moral character."
Time, Sept. 29 The cover story rolls up its sleeves for a jargon-free dig into the financial crisis, the likes of which "even people like us, with a combined 65 years of writing about business, have never seen." The presidential candidates haven't offered more than obvious solutions so far, but it's clear that "the next President will have to cast away partisan predispositions and add the just-right measure of regulation and oversight to the mix."… A handy illustrated guide outlines the presidential candidates' "facts and fibs," plotting them on a grid a la New York's approval matrix. McCain and Obama nearly have an equal number of ads at the "mostly false" end of the spectrum, but McCain has quite a few more that are both "silly"and "mostly false."… In an amusing Q&A, Alec Baldwin divulges his thoughts on Tina Fey's Sarah Palin impression and explains why he and Fey will never hook up on 30 Rock.
GQ, October 2008 An article examines John McCain's eight trips to Iraq and finds that "a portrait emerges of an intellectually curious, incisive, energetic, and courageous politician." McCain almost always had the right intuitions about the war's direction, but, because of his respect of rank and personal valor, didn't always press for his position. His Iraq visits "reveal an independent-thinking critic who nonetheless held his tongue in moments where a dissenting voice would have been of greater service to his commander in chief."… An article visits an oil rig near Alaska's uninhabitable North Slope, detailing the dangerous lives of the "roughnecks" who spend two weeks at a time working in unimaginable conditions, where "time bends, blurs, all but disappears." But the writer's sympathy is rebuffed: "You don't get it," the men tell her. "We want to be here. We haven't been sentenced here. We are happy here."
New York Times Magazine, Sept. 21 In the magazine's annual college issue, an article profiles the long-shot schemer behind a student-generated college-review Web site called Unigo. Jordan Goldman graduated from Wesleyan, sent 500 e-mails to businessmen he found online, and sold one on his idea: a site that would "siphon away a few million dollars from the slow-adapting publishers of those elephantine college guidebooks that have been a staple of the high-school experience for decades."… Another article profiles Dan Shapiro, an eccentric psychologist-turned-Harvard law professor who teaches an unorthodox course at the Dubai School of Government: "Capturing the Power of Negotiation." Shapiro sees even the global business world as governed by feelings and shows students "how emotions and pride can take over our rational decision making."
Reason, October 2008 A column calls Barack Obama the "return of liberal interventionism," noting that he is against "the logic of the Iraq war but not of wars like Iraq." Obama began his political career at an anti-war rally by saying he was "not an anti-war candidate," and has since "called for, or retroactively endorsed, interventions in Zimbabwe, Pakistan, and Sudan." Like many liberals, Obama believes Iraq was "an aberration … botched by a Republican president."… An article profiles the "unlikely coalition" responsible for gutting the Real ID Act of 2005, which mandated that all states switch to a standardized driver's license. Rep. Karen Johnson, a self-described "right-wing nut" who peddles Sept. 11 conspiracy theories, penned Arizona's opt-out legislation. Now, the growing number of rebel states have been joined by the ACLU. "Deride them all you want, but the nuts … [have] managed to beat back one of the most egregious recent assaults on individual privacy."
An intrepid GQ reporter, after a year of trying to gain access, sends back a compelling image of what it's like to work in Alaska's oil industry.
Newsweek's Sept. 22 cover story on "what women want" in presidential politics is a wordy rehash of the past few weeks' campaign chatter.
Best Politics Piece
The Economist's Sept. 20 piece on the tone of the presidential campaign is a refreshingly fair-minded analysis of how things got ugly.
Best Culture Piece
A column in the Oct. 6 issue of Reason reviews recent films and TV shows that have attempted to re-romanticize the sexual revolution, and concludes that '70s luster has been lost to the "Housewives and the City" era when "the line between naughtiness and practically Islamic notions of sexual purity is erased."
Funniest Piece on a Not-So-Funny Topic
Time's Sept. 29 cover story takes a jokey approach to the financial crisis, calling it "financial horror show, as if Stephen King were channeling Alan Greenspan to produce scary stories full of negative numbers."