Today, Other Magazines reads through Newsweek, The New Yorker, New York, the Virginia Quarterly Review, The Nation, and the Weekly Standard to find out what’s worth your time—and what’s not.
In the Virginia Quarterly Review, Toño Angulo Daneri reports on Aicuña, a small town in Argentina where “albinism is almost two hundred times more likely to occur” than anywhere else in the world. In Aicuña, “the word albino is rarely spoken aloud.” Isolation and inbreeding—but not incest, the townspeople insist, despite persistent rumors—are the likely causes of Aicuña’s mysterious ailment.—E.G.
New York interviews the city’s top female chefs to find out why so few women work in the kitchens of the best restaurants. After one chef mentions a male friend’s theory that women do a better job cooking nurturing food, another chef adds, “Or maybe he just liked the idea of a woman cooking for him.”—M.S.
Best Gitmo Piece
The New Yorker smirks at the fallout of “Speedogate”—civil rights attorney Clive Stafford Smith was accused of smuggling a pair of UnderArmor underwear and a Speedo to a detainee at Guantanamo Bay. A cheeky anonymous donor has offered 2,000 pairs of silk boxers for his next attempt.—J.M.
Most Unlikely Foreign-Affairs Analysis
Christopher Dickey, Newsweek’s Paris bureau chief and son of Deliverance writer James Dickey, looks at his father’s story of a disastrous jaunt into the backwoods of Georgia and finds parallels to the current quagmire in Iraq.—B.F.
The New Yorker profiles Scott Boras, lawyer/agent to baseball’s biggest stars and architect of Alex Rodriguez’s record $252 million contract. The article examines Boras’ reputation as “baseball’s preëminent power broker” while airing the complaints of those like Commissioner Bud Selig, who resent his self-imposed influence.—J.M.
The Nation appears to think that Al Franken is running not for Senate, but for sainthood, with lines like, “Al Franken is smooth without being slick; he’s smart and steadily senatorial.”—G.H.
Best Book Review
New York amusingly critiquesHow To Talk About Books You Haven’t Read, whose author “wants to cure us of the deep cultural neuroses that govern our reading.” The reviewer isn’t cured—she complains that the book’s “conception of reading is entirely social—a way to rack up points at cocktail parties.”—M.S.
Best Photo Spread
The Virginia Quarterly Review presents a series by Colombian photographer Juan Manuel Echavarría, who has captured the mausoleums of river town Puerto Berrio in bright, luminous detail. In the accompanying essay, Echavarría describes the ritual bringing of water to these mausoleums: “They say the soul, rescued from the river’s current, remains thirsty until the Day of Final Judgment.”—E.G.
Best Education Piece
The Weekly Standard examines possible motives behind elite universities posting their (surprisingly boring) lectures on sites like YouTube and iTunes and questions whether the practice marks yet another step toward depersonalized higher education.—B.F.
Best Science Piece
The New Yorker highlights how one clinical-psychology student is using “television’s purest example of social dysfunction,” Curb Your Enthusiasm,to teach otherwise unresponsive schizophrenic patients social skills.—J.M.
The Nation hosts Alexander Cockburn’s unexpected evaluation of “The Real Al Gore.” Cockburn says Gore’s “hysteria about anthropogenic global warming … has done enormous damage to vital environmental cleanup.”—G.H.
A Newsweek feature looks at the changing scientific consensus on bacteria: Rather than fight an enemy that never surrenders and grows only more resistant, we should embrace them as “crucial components of our health.”—B.F.