New York Times Magazine, Dec. 30
The annual “The Lives They Lived” issue … No articles on George Harrison, Katharine Graham, or Jack Lemmon. Instead, much of the issue focuses on the less famous faithfully departed. Among the heroes: the 3,225 (at last count) who died in the World Trade Center attack, almost 15 percent of whom were rescue workers; Arthur Worsley, the world’s greatest ventriloquist; animator William Hanna, who with his partner Joseph Barbera saved TV animation by slashing budgets and reducing motion and drawings to a bare minimum; Robert Lowery, New York’s first black fire commissioner; and Helge Ingstad, the scholar who demonstrated that Norsemen beat Columbus to America. Anti-heroes include: racist killers Byron De La Beckwith and Cecil Ray Price; Clifford Keith Hillegass, the inventor of Cliffs Notes; and talk show host and “pathological liar” Morton Downey Jr. Where Adolph Levis, the inventor of the Slim Jim, fits depends on your taste for mass-produced meat product. The issue contains a homemade version of the original Slim Jim recipe so you can decide for yourself.— C.S.
Time, Dec. 31 and Jan. 7
Rudy Giuliani is Person of the Year. Until Sept. 11, his legacy was set: pretty good mayor, very nasty man. Now he will go down as “the greatest mayor in the city’s history.” Giuliani says it was his struggle with prostate cancer, not the terrorist attack, that nurtured the touchy-feely instincts that helped New York cope with the Trade Center disaster. … An article previews the get-tough immigration laws that should pass next year: More border guards will ask more people more questions. The INS may also split into two sections, one to help legals with paperwork, and the other to track down illegals.— J.D.
Newsweek, Jan. 7 A piece predicts next year’s big shots. Iranian President Mohamed Khatami could introduce the Islamic world to modern democracy. Anthony Romero is only 36 years old, but as the new director of the ACLU, he finds himself at the vanguard of a growing anti-John Ashcroft movement. Southwest Airlines CEO Jim Parker is the industry’s only hope. He did not fire any workers after Sept. 11, and he even expects to turn a profit for 2001.— J.D.
U.S. News & World Report, Jan. 7 The “Outlook 2002” special issue. … A piece uses poll data to argue that ever-optimistic Americans are starting to move beyond Sept. 11. (Newsmagazines aren’t.) They now worry more about the economy than the next terrorist attack. … An article finds the silver lining in terrorism: It cured an ailing American foreign policy. Relations with Russia are on the mend, Pakistan is now an ally, and old friends such as Great Britain and Japan proved they’re still dependable. … A piece explains the pros and cons of post-Sept. 11 scienctific research. Pro: There’s more money out there for anti-bioterror work, and a renewed sense of a purpose. Con: A few new laws will restrict access to key lab materials deemed dangerous.— J.D.
Weekly Standard, Dec. 31 The cover story rails against the “professional police-bashers” who have compromised the war on terrorism by fighting tooth and nail against racial profiling. Thanks to the faulty accepted logic that all groups commit crimes at equal rates, airport security protocol calls for screening passengers for terroristlike behavior but not for looking like a terrorist. Had a “fully rational” ethnic profiling system been in place on Sept. 11, the terrorist plot might have been foiled. … A piece offers a new way to think about al-Qaida: as just another international nongovernmental organization—albeit a very violent one. One thing al-Qaida shares with most of the international NGOs is a distaste for the U.S.-dominated global status quo and a determination to challenge it—in the case of the NGOs, by working around it; in the case of al-Qaida, by directly fighting against it.— J.F.
The Nation, Jan. 7 The cover package goes after the “Big Ten” media conglomerates with a foldout chart depicting their vast holdings. … An article says the media cartel that delivers our news is lamentably indifferent to the public interest. It spits out shoddy, biased journalism and treats news as just another form of entertainment in our bland monoculture. Now the FCC seems poised to revise the last few rules preventing perfect media oligopoly, perhaps opening the way for informational “company towns,” where one behemoth controls all the local media outlets. … A piece issues a call to arms to reform Big Media. What’s needed is a broad progressive coalition that can push for more alternative news outlets and challenge legislators to address media monopolization.— J.F.
Economist, Dec. 22
The special Christmas issue features quirkier articles than the standard Economist fare. … One article weighs the various explanations given over the years for the Star of Bethlehem. Kepler thought it was a supernova. Other astronomers hypothesized that it was an eclipse of Jupiter. A recently published book says, no, it was a meteor shower. … A piece goes in search of the perfect espresso and finds it in Trieste, Italy. … An article mourns the pathetic state of manhood today. Men have been emasculated, displaced from their traditional domains, outperformed in school by girls, and turned into purely sexual objects. If it weren’t for the fact that they’re still earning more and holding more powerful position than women, you could almost feel bad for the poor fellas. … There are also some interesting histories of the seven-day week, tango, and alcoholic beverages.— J.F.
New Republic, Dec. 31 The cover story argues that the FBI needs to be more like the CIA. The FBI excels at small, “tactical” intelligence missions: collecting evidence to get a wiretap, matching a suspect to an address, etc. But the bureau needs big-picture, CIA-style thinkers that can look at huge amounts of data and try to predict future attacks. Before Sept. 11, for example, radical Muslims tried to hijack and crash airliners at least twice. But no one at the FBI paid much attention. … A piece punctures a bit of economic conventional wisdom. The CW: As innovation increases, a product’s replacement cycle—i.e., how long it takes it to become obsolete—shrinks. Thus, we buy things more frequently; spending increases; the recession ends. But lately, innovation has made cars, appliances, even lipstick longer lasting. Thus, we buy things less frequently; spending decreases; and, maybe, the recession continues.— B.C.