Stories From Current Magazines

The New Yorker, April 18
For this "Journeys" issue, Tad Friend travels to Oman alongside Lonely Planet mogul Tony Wheeler and his wife Maureen; along the way, Friend evaluates the guidebooks’ cultural impact (U.S. forces used LP to figure out which sites they shouldn’t bomb in Iraq) and notes, "like Apple and Starbucks and Ben & Jerry’s, all of which began as plucky alternatives, Lonely Planet has become a mainstream brand." The author of a "Letter from New Guinea" describes going on a guided tour into the rainforest and meeting members of a tribe that hadn’t encountered white tourists before. (Predictably, a naked tribesman asks the tourists, "Shall we wrap your penises?") A profile of Brazilian economist-turned-photographer Sebastião Salgado examines his quest to photograph Antarctica.  And Jonathan Franzen, Jane Smiley, and others recall memorable family vacations. —B.B.

Weekly StandardWeekly Standard, April 18
In an editorial, William Kristol strongly supports his friend John Bolton’s nomination as United Nations ambassador: "[Bolton] has, after all, been confirmed for high government positions four times before. He has served in those posts with distinction during three administrations, untainted by a hint of scandal or a murmur of corner-cutting."Stephen Schwartz celebrates the mystical poetry of Bosnian Nikola Sop. Almost unknown outside of Eastern Europe, Sop wrote, among other things, poems about space "none of them bearing the flavor of science fiction or astronautical adventures." … And the cover story objects to descriptions of John Paul II as "postmodern:" "[T]o imagine these elements are simple contradictions, absurdly juxtaposed in a characteristically postmodern way—is to believe something about John Paul II that he himself never did. It is to imagine that helicopters are ridiculous beside devotion to the Blessed Virgin, or that prayer gainsays philosophy, or that faith ought not to go with modern times." —B.B.

New RepublicNew Republic, April 18
Calling John Paul II’s papacy "brittle" and "showboating," Andrew Sullivan excoriates the pope for "allowing the rape and molestation of vast numbers of children and teenagers, and of systematically covering the crimes up." He also writes, "If you judge a successful leader by the caliber of men he inspires to follow him, then the judgment on John Paul II is damning." Martin Peretz visits a new building on the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial site in Israel and says, "[I]t may be the most moral statement made by architecture in our time." He makes sure to berate Kofi Annan, who attended the opening ceremony: "If the history of our time is written honestly, it will record that Annan stood passively by as the new exterminators went to work. Shame will be his memorial, his everlasting name." … In a review of Ian McEwan’s Saturday, James Woods holds forth on the novelist’s role as "historian of inwardness."—B.B.

EconomistEconomist, April 9
"Is it possible for those who regard the popes’ claim to be the representatives of God on earth as wrong, or simply nonsensical, to view with some respect the papacy of John Paul, and the church he remoulded?" asks the cover package, which focuses on the future of the church. The magazine suggests that the next pope should reconsider the church’s position on using condoms to prevent HIV.  … A piece about Zimbabwe’s fraudulent election lambastes South African leader Thabo Mbeki: "No one is surprised when North Korea or Libya endorse other people’s stolen elections, but one expects better of a serious democracy such as South Africa." … Also,the U.N. Security Council has told the International Criminal Court (which the United States opposes) to investigate ethnic cleansing in Darfur, Sudan. "It is the first time the Security Council has referred a case to the fledgling court."—B.B.

AtlanticAtlantic, May 2005
Two hundred years after Alexis de Tocqueville’s birth, Frenchman Bernard-Henri Levy journeys through America. He notes the horrors of Rikers Island and slams the false mythology of baseball in Cooperstown, where he reposes at a bed-and-breakfast "run by two commanding women, mother and daughter, who wear identical blood-red canvas aprons and look the spitting image of Margaret Thatcher at two stages of her life." Levy marvels at the decline of Buffalo, N.Y., and Cleveland, and compares Detroit to Dresden and Sarajevo, but notices that its Arab-Americans are significantly more loyal to America than French Arabs are to France. He is seduced by Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention and berated by Native American leader Russell Means. …"What does it take for an immigrant to shift from ‘you’ to ‘we,’ " asks Christopher Hitchens, who is awaiting naturalization, in an essay about becoming an American. "[I]n America your internationalism can and should be your patriotism."—B.B.

N + 1, Spring 2005
A Turkish-American woman in California grapples with Isaac Babel, the grimly comic author who was persecuted by the Soviets.  After narrating a series of stories about discussing Babel with scholars, she lauds Babel’s "omnivorous vision" and "relentless vigilance." … An impassioned article starts with the author’s account of selling his critical theory books, and notes Terry Eagleton’s observation that "French theorists preserved the modernist tradition in literature when fiction writers did not."  It rebukes novelists who try to compete against films, television, nonfiction, "the stand-up routine, and, in novel-memoir, the daytime talk show."  Praising Michel Houellebecq and Jonathan Franzen for their engagement with both theory and contemporary culture, the author insists that the "novel is unexcelled at one thing only: the creation of interiority, or inwardness. … Beside the novel at its best, even Wallace Stevens is a bumbling simile-monger and Tarkovsky a crude footage-purveyor." —B.B. 

New York Times MagazineNew York Times Magazine, April 10
The cover story looks at several challenges to Nielsen’s "electronic meter" monopoly on measuring television audiences. A technique developed by ErinMedia can mine cable boxes for magnified information about viewership—when people change channels, which commercials hold on to an audience, even which actors or newscasters viewers prefer. Maryland-based Arbitron has developed a device, to be worn like a pager, that would register any broadcast encountered by the carrier throughout the day. The gadget, called a "portable people meter," could someday yield a "closed-loop system that will measure the media people absorb—and then what they buy." … An article examines the bioethics and science of chimeras—animals implanted with human cells and bred to develop some human characteristics. "[E]veryone has a squirm threshold," writes the author. "What would you make of a sheep with a human face?"—D.W.

Reason, May 2005
When Mattel opened up a Barbie factory in Taiwan, the residentsof tiny Taishan made the American icon their own, says a piece on how the factory is still affecting the town nearly 20 years after the assembly line stopped. "For two decades, the famous doll with the golden tresses and the torpedo breasts was the symbol of financial opportunity in a country where no one looked like her," writes Holiday Dmitri. "As word of mouth about Taishan spread, people traveled from all over the island to get their piece of the plastic."Tax-funded stadiums could become a thing of the past, according to a piece on two high-profile court cases. The cases, which challenge the NFL’s monopoly status and the use of eminent domain, could put an end to "the team owners’ favorite and most effective threat—to move to a new city," writes Daniel McGraw.—J.S.

Will libertarians influence the next Supreme Court appointment?
By Bidisha Banerjee, Jesse Stanchak, and David Wallace-Wells
Updated Wednesday, April 13, 2005, at 2:18 PM PT

New York Times MagazineNew York Times Magazine, April 17
Jeffrey Rosen recounts the history of the "Constitution in Exile" movement, whose adherents oppose "the entire modern welfare state" and, by extension, most laws regulating the environment, minimum wage, occupational health and safety, and Social Security. "Unlike many originalists [such as Antonin Scalia], most adherents of the Constitution in Exile movement are not especially concerned about states’ rights or judicial deference to legislatures; instead, they encourage judges to strike down laws on behalf of rights that don’t appear explicitly in the Constitution." Although the cover suggests that the movement—which is spearheaded by libertarians and conservatives with deep pockets—could help determine President Bush’s next Supreme Court appointee, the movement’s intellectual leader, Richard A. Epstein, tells Rosen that he has "little hope, for now, in the Supreme Court." And Colm Toibin has a recommendation for the papal conclave: "Find a cardinal who was brought up with many, many sisters, who has a lesbian in the family," and who will "enter into real dialogue with women in the church."—B.B.

Boston ReviewBoston Review, April/May 2005
The GOP’s success with evangelical Christians isn’t just about matters of faith, a piece argues. Evangelicalism itself ties into a growing emphasis on individualism and independence, and it may be too late for the Democrats to adjust to it. Mike Gecan writes, "The Republicans have understood that communicating respect is more important than offering programs or incentives. The Democrats have failed to realize that multiplying programs or policies designed to meet people’s needs is doomed to fail unless and until those people sense a fundamental level of recognition of who they are, not just what they need." Is that apple really red? Delving into the anatomy of the eye, the physics of light, and the zenlike paradox of a chameleon that turns red whenever anyone looks at it, Alex Byrne gives a thorough history of color philosophy, explaining why we may ultimately never know.—J.S.

Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World ReportTime, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, April 18
The Time 100: Time disses John Kerry and Carly Fiorina and asks celebrities as well as staff writers to evaluate this year’s "100 most influential people." Henry Kissinger on Condoleezza Rice and Donald Trump on Martha Stewart? Blandly congratulatory, as is Bono’s endorsement of economist Jeffrey Sachs’ "punk-rock instinct to question the status quo." Tom Brokaw claims that during last year’s election, Jon Stewart "was our Athenian, a voice for democratic ideals and the noble place of citizenship, helped along by the sound of laughter." James Carville admits to his admiration for Karl Rove: "If Rove wanted to switch parties, I’d take him up on it in a second." Barack Obama is hailed as a man for whom "nothing seems out of reach." Among the less obvious choices: Alterna-doctor Andrew Weil is celebrated for his "grounding in hard science and his intellectual flexibility," Stan Lee salutes Japanese animation director Hayao Miyazaki, and Jay-Z is classified under "builders and titans" alongside the inventors of the BlackBerry.

After the pope: All three newsweeklies feature lavish coverage of the pope’s funeral and its aftermath. Newsweek explores the Vatican’s relationship with China—the Vatican recognizes Taiwan and doesn’t have diplomatic relations with the mainland, but there’s intense speculation that the Vatican might reverse this position in the near future. "The Catholic Church has exhausted its reach just about everywhere on earth, so China is the last virgin soil," claims a Taiwanese legislator. U.S. News declares that John Paul II’s "greatest weakness was inattention to administrative details." While he was a great "prophet" and "pastor," "the times might call for more of a king to address such issues as guiding the sometimes undisciplined clergy." Time concurs: There are "a surprisingly wide cross section of clerics who think that the former Pope’s flair for the symbolic gesture sometimes came at the expense of administrative housecleaning."

Odds and ends: Newsweek reports that House Majority leader Tom DeLay, who has increasingly come under fire for allegedly accepting money from lobbyists, may get in even more trouble if his former friend and "superlobbyist" Jack Abramoff, himself the subject of a Justice Department investigation, rats him out: " ‘Those S.O.B.s,’ Abramoff said last week about DeLay and his staffers, according to his luncheon companion. ‘DeLay knew everything. He knew all the details.’ " (Read Slate‘s "Assessment" of Abramoff.) U.S. News devotes its cover package to the royal wedding: "A country that could live with the persistent (though apparently incorrect) rumor that one of Queen Victoria’s grandsons, the genial if slow-witted Prince Albert Victor (known in the family as ‘Eddy’), was in fact Jack the Ripper without the slightest diminution of its affection for the royal family can surely learn to live with an irritable, balding, blood-sports-loving Prince Charming and his frumpy, gray-haired consort."—B.B

Bidisha Banerjee is a Slate editorial assistant. Jesse Stanchak is a Slate intern. David Wallace-Wells is a Slate intern


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