Other Magazines

Supreme Dis

A Time cover story calls the high court a fossil.

Today, Other Magazines flips through Time, the Economist, the New York Times Magazine, Texas Monthly, and the American Conservative to find out what’s worth reading—and what’s not.

Must Skip
Time’s cover story, which asks, “Does the Supreme Court Still Matter?,” asserts that the court only decides “highly specific cases affecting few, if any, real people.” The article portrays a number of the justices as rhetoricians gone berserk, but the piece’s hyperbole is all the more egregious.—E.G.

Best International Coverage
The Economist’s cover story predicts a growing discontentment among China’s rural peasants as they struggle under a disproportionately burdensome tax system, while the country plunges ahead with plans for unimpeded economic growth.—M.S.

Unlikeliest Editorial
In the American Conservative, Pat Buchanan warns of the possible breakup of Belgium along ethnic lines. In an extraordinary effort to tie the ethnic strife to radical Islam, he argues that a government crackdown on a protest on “the Islamization of Europe” has contributed to the tension.—J.M.

Best Retrospective
Texas Monthly prints an excerpt from Robert Draper’s Dead Certain that looks at Bush during his campaign for governor and early years as Texas Rangers owner. Draper reports that Bush told a beleaguered consultant that he didn’t “much care for belts” or cuffed pants because “they always get caught on something.”—M.S.

Best Culture Piece
The New York Review of Books examines a new crop of Billy the Kid bios, all of which lament the impossibility of extracting “a pebble of fact from this swollen legend.”—B.F.

Best Statistic
In a New York Times Magazine piece on New York’s uncertain future as the world’s financial capital, Slate’s Dan Gross notes: “In 2001, New York’s stock exchanges accounted for half of the world’s stock-market capitalization. Today, the total is more like 37 percent.”—J.L.

Best Business Piece
Time reports that thanks to the rise of lifestyle farms—hobby farms, measuring 30 acres or less, which now account for roughly half of all farms—rural areas have seen a population increase of 12 percent since 1990, the first since the Great Depression.—E.G.

Best Green Piece
An article in the Economist examines the emerging alternative energy market in Alaska, a onetime bastion of the oil and gas economy. Alaskans are investigating possible renewable fuel sources in fish oil and geothermal energy from underwater volcanoes.—M.S.

Best Political Analysis
The American Conservative examines the presidential candidates’ foreign-policy advisers and notes that they appear eerily similar to Clinton’s and Bush’s. With so many advisers drawn from the ranks of the Beltway’s hawkish elites, the writer contends with some dismay that any future White House will “smell a lot like the status quo.”—J.M.

Best Photo Spread
Texas Monthly presents photographer Bill Wittliff’s photos from the filming of Lonesome Dove. The accompanying text notes that though the photos were taken on the set of a movie, they represent the frontier with authenticity: “There is a frank and vibrant paradox in all these photographs: The artifice is what makes them so credible.”—M.S.

Worst Photo Spread
As part of its annual New York issue, the New York Times Magazine has a photo essay on “superspecialized workers who serve the superrich.” But there’s nothing special or super here. The lead photograph depicts a “contemporary art conservator,” the next a “postnup lawyer.”—J.L.

Best Opening Line
From a Time piece on urban and suburban poachers: “For years the floor show—rather, the parking-lot show—at the High Elevations Bar & Restaurant in the busy northeastern Pennsylvania village of White Haven starred Teddy, a bigger-than-average black bear that Dumpster-dived, chased his butt in circles and all but rode a tiny bicycle.”—E.G.

Article Most Likely To Inspire Late-Night Comedy
The Economist reports on the United States’ “managed maritime disputes” over territory with Canada. The most recent flare-up comes from differing laws about lobster trapping around Machias Seal Island between Maine and New Brunswick, which both of the countries claim—U.S. trappers are allowed to set more traps than their Canadian counterparts, and there are complaints of overcrowding and sabotage all around.—M.S.