Other Magazines

Dying To Be Famous

New Republic, Aug. 13

The cover story examines the murder of Bonny Lee Bakley, the wife of actor Robert Blake. Bakley and Blake took parallel paths to stardom. Born in relative poverty, they kicked around Hollywood looking for fame—Blake in television and movies, Bakley by marrying, or at least seducing, a celebrity. Only after Bakley’s death, the author suggests, when her picture saturated the media, did she achieve it. “This is what Bonny always wanted,” her sister says. “This is what she died for.” An article shines light on the marriage of the Bush administration and the Cato Institute, the “most radical think tank in Washington.” Libertarian to its core, Cato advocates the abolition of most of the Cabinet, the IRS, etc. But on the issue of Social Security privatization, the White House has become a kind of Cato annex, hiring its staffers and adopting almost verbatim the language of its policy papers.—B.C.

Economist, Aug. 4 The cover story assesses Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s ascent to power. By taking on the leaders of his own Liberal Democratic Party, Koizumi was able to harness voter discontent with the LDP, and at the same time build a mandate for reform. The question is, can this master politician actually turn around his country’s flagging economy? A piece refutes environmentalists’ claims that ecologically the world is headed down the tube. According to the author, natural resources are far less scarce than claimed, population growth is not outpacing food production, biodiversity loss is exaggerated, and pollution problems are overstated.— J.F.

New York Times Magazine, Aug. 5

The cover story investigates the Pentagon’s plan to militarize space. Critics of the idea fear that a space-based U.S. arsenal may spark a new arms race. They think America should keep its guns on the ground and limit the military’s presence on the final frontier to globally shared surveillance technology. An article divulges the viral marketing tactics Hasbro is using to generate buzz about its latest handheld videogame, Pox. The company sought out Chicago’s 1,600 most popular pre-adolescent boys by asking 8- to 13-year-olds to name the coolest kid they knew. These “alpha pups” were each given 10 free game units to hand out to friends. Pox hasn’t even hit stores yet, but already word has spread, and the kids are infected.— J.F.

GQ, August 2001 An article introduces Siobhan Browne, convicted member of an IRA gun-running cell based in the United States. The trial of Browne and her cohorts sparked a furious debate: If her gun smuggling was in fact sanctioned by the IRA, as she claimed, it meant the IRA was violating the rules of the Good Friday Agreement. A piece enters the world of the irascible Joe Vedepo, one of Iowa’s toughest high-school wrestlers. Following the angry and violence-prone senior on his quest to win the state championship, the author documents how this troubled teen came to see winning the big match as his personal redemption.— J.F.

Scientific American, August 2001 The cover story tracks the progress being made toward a supercomputer model of a living cell. Simple models of certain biochemical processes have already been created, but scientists are still a long way from a virtual cell reliable enough to test new drugs on. An article reports that new computer simulations are shedding light on the possibility of self-replicating machines. Though current studies take place only on the computer screen, the principles being uncovered may one day inspire the creation of physical automata. An article summarizes evidence suggesting that cannibalism is deeply rooted in human history. Previously the source of much scientific disagreement, widespread prehistoric cannibalism has, in recent years, been confirmed by sophisticated analysis of unearthed bones.— J.F.

Time, Aug. 6

The cover package on baby boomers’ spoiled kids says that the majority “ask for things by brand names by age 5.” One day-care teacher claims her 4-year-old charges return sartorial compliments with, “It’s Calvin Klein.” Even low-income parents feel compelled to keep their kids in designer duds and shower them with high-tech gifts. One psychologist reminds parents to be parents first, chums second. An article explains the findings of President Bush’s Social Security commission. Social Security will be in a “cash deficit” by 2016, which will spawn “either painful tax increases, significant benefit cuts or astronomical levels of borrowing.” An article asks if two Oprah wannabes can “De-Springerize Talk”: Self-help author Iyanla Vanzant’s syndicated talk show debuts on Aug. 13, and MTV VJ Ananda Lewis’ on Sept. 10.— A.F.

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Newsweek, Aug. 6 The cover package says that while most Americans approve of the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing the Boy Scouts to exclude gay kids and troop leaders, “[A] growing number of Americans … are taking a stand on this issue of gay rights simply because they love scouting and want it to do the right thing.” The Girl Scouts, on the other hand, let each local council decide about whether gays can participate; councils that haven’t adopted sexual orientation discrimination protections usually defer to “don’t ask, don’t tell.” An article about a new study, published in Science, that found marine-life populations have declined basically for one reason: “[c]enturies of overharvesting.” This has left fish, sea animals, and vegetation “vulnerable to disease, pollution, and climate change.” Moreover, “people made a dent in marine-animal populations long before modern times.”— A.F.

U.S. News & World Report, Aug. 6 The cover story compares the life of New York City’s East Village residents circa 1900 with the occupants of their building today, as a way of illustrating some major milestones in the U.S. census along the way. One social force that hasn’t changed is immigration. In 1900, one in seven Americans had been born abroad. Today, it’s one in 10. An article on the surge in hallucinogenic “magic” mushroom consumption in Japan: “[T]ell the police that you ate a mushroom to get high and they can arrest you. But tell them you consumed a $100 mushroom because you felt hungry, and there is nothing they can do.”— A.F.

Weekly Standard, Aug. 6 The cover story ridicules Surgeon General David Satcher’s latest report on sexuality in America. Where the report alleges a “conspiracy of silence” on the subject, the author hears a deafening garrulousness. Satcher’s purported challenge of the status quo may have bought him TV face-time, but the report itself is a dud. A piece laments the fact that Republicans seem to be permanently on the defensive and wonders why conservatives find it so hard to build policy momentum. The reason: “if you took away guns, abortion, and God, the Republicans would be in … [a] political mess.” The author urges conservatives to reframe their arguments away from negative railings against big government and toward some more positive form, such as compassionate conservatism. But so far, Bush’s compassionate conservatism has turned out to be “pretty thin gruel.”— J.F.

The New Yorker, Aug. 6 David Remnick talks with Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn about Putin, Yeltsin, and the new Russia. Remnick writes that the aging author has “managed to alienate almost everyone” since his triumphant return to his homeland in 1994. Communists hate him, hard-line nationalists think he’s too far left, and liberals are put off by his derisory views of the West. Though his new book, Two Hundred Years Together, attempts to chronicle the long history of Russian-Jewish relations, Solzhenitsyn denies it is a response to charges against him of anti-Semitism. Writer Eric Konigsberg tells the story of the great-uncle he had never met, who called one day to offer a chance at “a very, very interesting conversation.” Turns out, the great-uncle was a notorious Mafia loan shark and contract killer who is currently serving a life-sentence for murder.— J.F.

The Nation, Aug. 6 and 13 The cover article is a glowing profile of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. With David Bonior soon expected to step aside as minority whip, Pelosi is poised to fill his post and become the most powerful woman in Congress. If, that is, she can beat out Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who also wants the job. A piece looks at the growing global movement in opposition to America’s death penalty. The author reports that sheltering U.S. defendants from possible execution in America is routine in a number of countries. Actor Tim Robbins defends his vote for Ralph Nader. He calls the anti-globalization movement “as morally compelling as the early abolitionists fighting to end slavery.”— J.F.