Other Magazines

Grave Matter

National Geographic reports on the quirks, pitfalls, and future of memory.

Today, Other Magazines sorts through Time, the New York Times Magazine, the Economist, Wired, National Geographic, Portfolio, and National Review to find out what’s worth your time—and what’s not.

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Must Read
Joshua Foer reports on the science of memory in the National Geographic’s cover story. Foer profiles a woman who remembers every day of her life and a man who cannot remember simple things like his own age from second to second, along the way revealing how our ability to remember has changed. In the future, pharmaceuticals could help us remember—or forget—anything we want.—M.S.

Must Skip
Time profiles White House press secretary Dana Perino and finds that defending an unpopular president and selling an unpopular war in front of an “angry press corps” is tough going.—J.M.

Worth a Look
The New York Times Magazine launches a new column from critic Virginia Heffernan: “The Medium: where all those screens—handheld, laptop, desktop, plasma—are taking us.” Heffernan’s first foray is a brief ode to total absorption, being so enthralled by a book, Web site, or film that one’s mind seems to vanish.—B.F.

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Best Statistic
The Economist reports that only 37 percent of “professionals and managers” identify themselves as Republicans, perhaps because of the party’s focus on “God, gays, and guns.” The article notes, “As long as the business of the Republican Party seems not to be business, it can hardly complain if businesspeople look elsewhere.”—D.S.

Best Political Analysis
In Time, Michael Kinsley argues that libertarianism is becoming an “increasingly powerful force in politics.” He concludes that the party that harnesses those voters who are dissatisfied with a political system that debates only where to expand government control will “dominate the future of American politics.”—J.M.

Best International Coverage
The Economist weighs in on a congressional resolution to declare the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 a genocide. Turkey is a critical U.S. ally, and the politicized resolution is “the worst possible way to encourage more steps in the right direction.”—D.S.

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Best Technology Piece
The November issue of Portfolio visits the top 10 living patent-holders for a look into the psyche of a modern-day Edison. Some of the findings are surprising, such as the fact that many inventors get ideas in their sleep. Others are more obvious, like the reality that inventing isn’t necessarily a wealth-generating career.—D.S.

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Best Business Story
Time notes that crumbling infrastructure and low coffers have led many states to consider selling or leasing public highways, tunnels, and bridges to private investors in return for toll rights. It’s a win-win situation for everyone except drivers, who often face higher toll charges.—J.M.

Best Entertainment Piece
An article in the November issue of Portfolio reveals the undoing of the pornography industry, primarily at the hands of a free-porn site called YouPorn. The decline of DVD sales makes the porn world’s struggle “directly analogous to what’s happening to the music industry, but worse.”—D.S.

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Best Profile
National Review delivers a profile of Drew Carey—actor, comic, and passionate libertarian.—G.H.

Best Health Piece
Wired’s hypnotically designed and surprisingly informative graph charts the history of psychiatric drugs in America. Along the way, we learn that Bayer produced the first drug in 1912—a barbiturate called Luminal—and that Adderall, the most popular treatment for ADHD, was approved in 1960, before the advent of “mother’s little helper” Valium.—E.G.

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Best Online Feature
The online photo gallery that accompanies the National Geographic’s piece on the Hubble Space Telescope contains photos of the universe awe-inspiring enough to have come from the pages of a sci-fi novel.—M.S.

Best Environment Article
The New York Times Magazine looks at research from Amherst College economist Jessica Wolpaw Reyes * arguing that the precipitous drop in violent crime during the 1990s resulted from … the Clean Air Act-mandated removal of lead from gasoline throughout the 1970s and 80s.—B.F.

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Best Anti-Trend Piece
An article in November’s Portfolio calls the environmentally-concerned war on bottled water a “fad.” Objecting to bottled water is a position that, even while having some serious merit, is more about boosting profits and assuaging guilt than it is about the facts.—D.S.

Best Cocktail-Party Factoid
The Economist reveals that marijuana is California’s largest agricultural crop—even more abundant than grapes. Due to increased border security (keeps smugglers out) and diversifying demographics (it’s normal to have strange people in the neighborhood), it’s become more practical to grow weed at home.—D.S.

Correction, Oct. 22, 2007: This article originally misstated the name of Jessica Wolpaw Reyes. (Return  to the corrected sentence.)

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