Other Magazines

The Next Michael Jordan?

New Republic, Feb. 5 The cover story develops a sociological theory for the new Bush administration. The old Bushes were WASP elitists, the Clintons were meritocratic elitists, and the new Bushes are smart but anti-intellectual organization men. They rose through the ranks of institutions—government, industry, the military—and value loyalty above all other traits. Their backgrounds have made the transition run smoothly, but at the first sign of crisis, they might lack the creative flexibility to wiggle their way out.

Economist, Jan. 27 The cover editorial compares the American economy to the pre-crash Japanese economy of the late-1980s. American companies and consumers, like their Japanese counterparts, accrued too much debt during the boom, but America is better equipped politically to handle an economic crisis. A piece uses management-speak to lament the Roman Catholic Church’s inability to modernize. Because the church rests on highly centralized authority in Rome, it resists change even though most lay Catholics support it. An article describes the science of complexity, a new interdisciplinary field that seeks to explain abstract systems that make most people’s heads hurt. One Harvard researcher is trying to answer the vexing “what is life?” question by creating artificial creatures out of metal discs and beads. We don’t understand either.

Sports Illustrated, Jan. 29 The Super Bowl preview profiles the defensive stoppers on each team. The Ravens’ Tony Siragusa is a hulking loudmouth who likes to publicly criticize his coaches and has spent his career convincing critics that a successful defensive lineman doesn’t need to rush the passer. The Giants’ Michael Strahan considered retiring after an abysmal 1999, but now he sees a psychiatrist and has shaken his obsession with sacks, which has improved the entire defense. A piece wonders if Toronto Raptors phenom Vince Carter has the intensity to be the next Michael Jordan. He and Kobe Bryant are the only young NBA stars who can take over a game, but so far he has been unable to motivate himself. He needs somebody else on the court to make him mad. His teammates question his defensive prowess and his tendency to fraternize with players on rival teams.

New York Times Magazine, Jan. 28 The cover story blasts the pharmaceutical industry for keeping AIDS drug prices high, and thus encouraging the spread of the disease. Brazil has shown that by ignoring patents and manufacturing its own cheap AIDS cocktails, even developing countries can rein in the epidemic. But with the help of the U.S. government and the WTO, drug companies have mostly pressured poor countries into honoring patents. An article profiles Mark Burnett, a producer of Survivor and a reality-TV pioneer. He has single-handedly changed the economics of television, paving the way for product placement on network TV and arranging unprecedented revenue-sharing contracts. In some cases, he splits ad revenue 50-50 with the network carrying the show.

Newsweek, Jan. 29 The cover story discovers parent fatigue. Parents are driving kids so hard that playtime of riding bikes on the block has been pushed out by organized after-school programs, athletic practices, dance classes, Boy Scouts, and piles of homework. Both parents and kids are more stressed, and their relationships are suffering. An article previews The Lord of the Rings, the three-movie adaptation of the famous J.R.R. Tolkien fantasy trilogy. The cultish fans of the books will likely pan the movies for not matching the originals, but the official Web site had 62 million hits in less than a week. One fan slept overnight in a movie theater just to get a good seat for the trailer.

Time, Jan. 29 A piece untangles the international legal battle between two families that each adopted the same set of twins through a sketchy Internet adoption service. A British family who offered more money got a quickie adoption in Arkansas, but their blabbing about the saga to a British tabloid has unleashed a nasty backlash, and now even Tony Blair is talking about changing adoption laws. The children could end up back with their birth mother, herself no angel. The cover story explains the California energy crisis. The now-familiar list of culprits: increased demand, environmental regulations, partial deregulation, a consumer rate freeze.

U.S. News & World Report, Jan. 29 The cover story describes the emerging field of genetic anthropology. By examining DNA, scientists can trace demographic shifts over time. Experiments with mitochondrial DNA have led to the widely accepted “out of Africa” theory, which holds that the ancestors of living humans developed in Africa and later spread throughout the world. Researchers have also shown that the Lemba of southern Africa, who claim to be Jewish, do in fact have Semitic ancestry. A piece claims that the new craze in microchips is to make them smaller not more powerful. As PCs lose popularity in favor of teeny gadgets such as cell phones and game machines, chips need to take less space and draw less power. Intel and IBM have increased their investments in microchips, and Intel just announced that it will soon come out with a chip that is 0.03 microns thick (demolishing the current standard of 0.18 microns).

The New Yorker, Jan. 29 An article describes how the once-marginalized Ariel Sharon has come to dominate Israeli politics. Though the Ashkenazi liberal establishment still hates him for his brutal legacy as a military commander (particularly during the Lebanon war), many have come to accept his notion that there can be no peace with the Palestinians and that radical separation is the best policy. The polls indicate that Sharon, who is on record as calling Yasser Arafat “a murderer and a liar,” will win the presidency in February. A piece profiles the cockfighters of Oklahoma. Though two out of three voters in the state favor outlawing the practice, the legislature has prevented action on the question for years, and last year the state Supreme Court invalidated a referendum petition for technical reasons. The pro-cockfighting lobby argues that those who would ban cockfighting would also outlaw hunting and fishing.

Weekly Standard, Jan. 29 One editorial laments that Bill Clinton got away with it again by cutting a deal with the independent counsel in which he admits no real wrongdoing related to the offenses he was impeached for. The other editorial says that George W. Bush’s lofty speech shows that he has a real shot at restoring honor and dignity to the White House, his perceived lack of intelligence notwithstanding. An article claims that the John Ashcroft confirmation hearings prove that without their centrist president, the Democrats have wandered back to the left. Their insistence on charging Ashcroft with racism in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary indicates that liberals are again becoming preoccupied with African-Americans and race, as they were in the Reagan era.

Harper’s, February 2001

The first of a two-part series by Christopher Hitchens argues that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger should be tried for war crimes in Indochina. The article says that because Kissinger prolonged the Vietnam War for re-election purposes and because he was aware of the civilian casualties that occurred in Cambodia and Laos, the blood is on his hands for hundreds of thousands of needless deaths between 1968 and 1973, and he should be judged accordingly. Also examined as grounds for prosecution is Kissinger’s role in the 1970 kidnapping and murder of a Chilean army general designed to incite a coup against incoming leftist president Salvador Allende.