Other Magazines

Blackwater Blues

Newsweek talks to Blackwater’s founder.

Today, Other Magazines reads Newsweek, The New Yorker, the New Republic, the Weekly Standard, Harper’s, New York, and the Atlantic to find out what’s worth reading—and what’s not.

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Must Read
In Newsweek’s “prickly” interview with billionaire Blackwater founder Erik Prince, the ex-Navy SEAL responds to allegations of secrecy, discusses his company’s future in high tech weapons development, and explains why mercenary is a “slanderous word.”—B.F.

Must Skip
New York’s portrait of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as law-school students is mostly gossip dressed up as political reporting. A stable of anonymous sources is trotted out, mostly to reminisce about the early days of the Clinton courtship, and we are once again reminded of the New York senator’s competitive streak.—E.G.

Best Political Piece
The Atlantic explains why real estate—not culture or religion—might be the greatest difference between red states and blue states. Due to land-use policies that vary from state to state, the article argues, “Americans are sorting themselves geographically by income and lifestyle.”—G.H.

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Best Business Piece
In Harper’s, Naomi Klein takes on the rise of “disaster capitalism,” arguing that areas like Baghdad’s Green Zone and post-Katrina New Orleans are “fast-forward versions of what ‘free market’ forces are doing to our societies even in the absence of war.” The government has outsourced itself to contractors, which in turn provide resources only to those who can pay.—E.G.

Worth a Look
The Newsweek cover takes readers to Baghdad yet again, but this time for a series of battlefield love stories as the magazine explores the few American-Iraqi marriages that have resulted from the occupation of Iraq.—B.F.

Best Line
From the Weekly Standard’s ho-hum analysis of Fred Thompson’s performance at last week’s Republican debate: “Fred Thompson did not drool on stage last Tuesday, and for that reason, among others, he is said to have survived his first Republican presidential debate.”—J.M.

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Best International Coverage
An excellent article in the New Republic rebuffs arguments that suggest there are too many ethnic groups for democracy to be viable in Burma. A worthwhile explanation of why we should care about those rioting monks.—D.S.

Best Culture Piece
TheNew Yorker examines how indie musicians’ squeamishness about race (“musical miscegenation”) has affected the evolution of popular music: “The uneasy, and sometimes inappropriate, borrowings and initiations that set rock and roll in motion gave popular music a heat and an intensity that can’t be duplicated today, and the loss isn’t just musical; it’s also about risk.”—M.S.

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Best Science Story
Harper’s reports on Europe’s increased efforts to regulate and reduce the use of toxic chemicals, as the EU has developed guidelines far more scrupulous than America’s current policies. Bush’s administration, the article suggests, has fought these efforts as Europe’s success will mean that the United States is no longer “the axis of influence around which the rest of the world revolves.”—E.G.

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Best Opening
In The New Yorker, Anthony Lane begins his review of Lust, Caution: “I consider it my responsibility to give prospective viewers the information they require. And here it is: ninety-five. That is the number of minutes that elapsed, by my watch, between the start of the film and the start of the sex, and from that you can calculate your own schedule.—M.S.

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Best Humor Piece
In an essay for the Atlantic’s 150th anniversary issue, P.J. O’Rourke delivers a hilarious statistical accounting of American history through marriage rates, lung cancer rates, and the price of codfish. With these figures, the author claims to “prove, disprove, re-prove, and improve more things about America than America has things.”—G.H.

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Worst Approval-Matrix Item
“I Love New York returns … with a midget” is ranked as brilliant as it is lowbrow by New York. One of the terms is possibly more applicable than the other.—E.G.

Best Advice
In the New Republic,Michael Kinsley provides an etiquette guide for “receiving psychotic dictators.” Rule No. 1: Don’t introduce them as psychotic dictators, since it will probably only make you look as petty as you’re saying they are.—D.S.

Best Cocktail-Party Fodder
According to Harper’s, “Argentine lake ducks have foot-long spiral-shaped penises.” Why? Duck vaginas, which often have “pockets and cul-de-sacs,” spiral in the opposite direction; “as vaginas become longer and more complex, males evolve longer penises.”—E.G.

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