New York Times Magazine, Nov. 28 Can money buy a sports career? IMG Academies is banking on it. For about $22,000 a year, kids hone their athletic skills in an individual or team sport, practicing at least four hours a day. Add to that $12,000 a year for academics, $500 an hour for private coaching, and other expenses like media training, and parents can spend $70,000 annually in an attempt to morph little Jimmy into the next Derek Jeter. “The coaching at IMG is … undeniably first rate. … But on many other levels, IMG can be viewed only as the epicenter of a sports culture gone mad.” In 10 years, only one of about 80 IMG baseball students has been plucked for the baseball draft.… In another piece, frequent Slate contributor Clive Thompson dissects the genius of Cranium founder Richard Tait. “[B]y zeroing in on America’s insatiable thirst for self-esteem, Cranium appears to have discovered the paradox that gets kids and families playing again: a game where no one loses.”—J.H.P.
Chow, Holiday 2004 This new, high-brow-meets-low-brow food magazine fills a niche others don’t by offering articles like one on the gourmet cheese black market. For Camembert aficionados looking to snag that fine, young cheese outlawed in the U.S. due to high bacteria levels, “Don’t act like you’re doing a drug deal” when inquiring at your local cheeserie. Instead, play it cool, asking, “Might you have anything a little more … special?”… Slate contributor Sara Dickerman offers tips on how to prepare your turkey, complete with crisis intervention. “If your bird is still totally frozen two hours before your guests arrive, well, you’re kind of screwed here. Run to the grocery store and hope you can find a few turkey breasts on the bone.”… The front of the book offers quirky holiday advice on things like “How to feign delight when opening a gift,” but in this premiere issue the magazine is still working out the kinks: To maximize your Thanksgiving Day gorging potential, it recommends, “Don’t each much that day.”—J.H.P.
Weekly Standard, Nov. 29 The magazine defends CIA Director Porter Goss in light of the recent flare-up that led to the resignation of two top CIA officials, as well as what was perceived by some news media as a controversial e-mail to staff. The article supports Goss’ impending transformation of the agency, saying, “These changes are long overdue. And though you wouldn’t know it from recent media coverage, many CIA officials support them.”… Another article assesses Condoleezza Rice’s new role as secretary of state, saying diplomacy is an “urgent task,” but her first order of business is to enforce her views—and the president’s—on policy in “Iraq, Israel and the Palestinians, the pursuit of democracy in the Middle East and Arab countries, Iran, North Korea, and who knows what else.” The challenge is for her to “impose these policies … without touching off a revolt or clandestine efforts to undermine the president, such as occurred at the CIA.”—J.H.P.
The New Yorker, Nov. 29 The magazine releases its annual cartoon issue, complete with the traditional caption contest and a spread especially for Thanksgiving. Jonathan Franzen presents an ode to Charles Schultz, calling him “the best comic-strip artist who ever lived,” and describing the important role Schultz played in his own youth. … Janet Malcolm offers a sensitive tribute to the humble radio personality, George Jellinek, known for hosting the opera radio program The Vocal Scene for the last 36 years. When she asks him about his legacy, he admits, “I have not done anything that passes the test of immortality. Great artists pass this test … I have done nothing like that. I’ve done a number of clever programs.”… Another writer shadows a U.S. Border Patrol officer as he tries to capture illegal immigrants, revealing the difficult task at hand. In this officer’s territory, “[n]o more than forty agents are ever in the field at once—one per ninety square miles.”—J.H.P.
Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report, Nov. 29 Condi’s new gig: The newsmagazines wonder: How well will Condoleezza Rice fill Colin Powell’s shoes? One critic speculates to Time: “She’s getting this job because she’s not a threat” to President Bush, a sentiment echoed by Newsweek. But Newsweek says “the changes also signal a second-term shift of emphasis from war to diplomacy.” Deciding how best to handle Vladimir Putin is one of the many challenges she faces. But more important, “Iran could become Rice’s first serious test.”Newsweek says she can handle the threat in one of two ways: “dangle economic and trade benefits” or “push for confrontation and regime change.”U.S. News provides background on Powell’s stint at State—“the catchphrase for Powell’s tenure has been damage control”—but draws only the broad conclusion that “For Rice, who will arrive amid doubts over her ability to run the unwieldy agency, Powell will be a tough act to follow.”
Goss’ gaffes: Everyone dissects the continued unraveling of the CIA under Porter Goss. Time provides the most extensive history of the agency’s downward spiral, which culminated last week with the resignation of two top officials, Stephen Kappes and Michael Sulick, and a controversial e-mail from Goss to his staff that “many CIA insiders saw … as a loyalty test, a warning by Goss to tailor the intelligence to fit the policies or risk decapitation.” Newsweek says that “so far the new team’s aggressive—some say clumsy—efforts at cleaning house may have only thrown the spy agency into deeper turmoil.” According to U.S. News, “CIA veterans are particularly puzzled by reports from their former colleagues that Goss, a savvy politician, has seemed so aloof from much of the CIA staff, leaving key decisions to aides. They also worry that Goss’ awkward opening weeks could endanger his reform agenda.” (Read Slate’s take on the CIA shakeup here.)
Into thin air: Time gives SpaceShipOne—”the first privately funded spacecraft”—its “Coolest Invention of 2004” award. Richard Branson has already procured five vehicles for Virgin Galactic, a spin-off of his airline company that will charge $190,000 for passengers to fulfill their dreams of “suborbital” travel. According to Time, Branson already has a 7,000-person wait list. …U.S. News offers a special report on the postwar travails of U.S. soldiers. According to one study, “1 in 6 combat troops surveyed after serving in Iraq very likely had depression, generalized anxiety, or PTSD; of this, only 23 to 40 percent sought mental-health care.” Although the number of injuries is great, “[s]oldiers today are far more likely to survive battle than in any other war in American history.” …Newsweek devotes its cover to the unflinching popularity of Desperate Housewives, attributing its popularity to tapping into “What Women Want,” and its attractive and scantily clad stars.—J.H.P.
New Republic, Nov. 29 and Dec. 6
Deficit reduction could lead Democrats out of the political wilderness, says the cover story. Democrats should “remake themselves as the party of fiscal sanity and paint the president’s agenda as a waste of the country’s future.” If Democrats can convince Republican deficit hawks to challenge their party, “an emerging bipartisan dialogue can give the impression of a ‘fiscal sanity consensus’ opposed to the White House and congressional leadership’s profligacy.”… Of the eight Supreme Court candidates profiled in the magazine, four are “conservative activists” and four are “principled conservatives.” The activists want to “enforce limits on federal power … that have been dormant since the New Deal.” The principled conservatives “believe in deference to legislatures.”…“TRB” blasts conservatives who call their opponents religious bigots. Most criticism of the Christian right is based on a disagreement with their agenda—not a hatred of faith. “[H]arsh criticism is not disrespect—and to claim it is undermines democratic debate.”—D.K.
Economist, Nov. 20 According to the cover story, the economic growth enjoyed by China’s urban coastal region is reaching its rural inland. As a result, “China’s domestic economy is starting to become a powerful engine of growth.” Inequality still exists between the rural and urban populations, but “incomes are still rising in rural China, even if they are rising much faster in the cities.” China “will need co-operation between bureaucracy and enterprise” to continue its rapid growth. … U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is set to hear the conclusions of a panel formulating “five basic ‘criteria of legitimacy’ … for the use of force.” Its recommendations could represent “the UN’s last chance of reforming itself for a very long time.”… Condoleezza Rice’s appointment to secretary of state “opens up some possibility of greater diplomatic engagement.” Bush has quietly suggested that America must patch up its frayed relationships with Europe, the magazine says.—D.K.