Today, Other Magazines reads through the New York Times Magazine, Time, the Economist, Texas Monthly, and the Atlantic to find out what’s worth reading—and what’s not.
The New York Times Magazines revisits the first episodes of Sesame Street, the packaging of which warns that the shows “may not suit the needs of today’s preschoolers.” The writer discovers an abundance of “disturbing” content in early Sesame Street, such as one scene where “two brothers risk concussion while whaling on each other with allergenic feather pillows.”—D.S.
Most Pessimistic Editorial
The cover story of the Economist predicts an economic recession for the United States and wonders if a slowing American economy will “drag the rest of the world down with it.”—M.S.
In pursuit of the average American, Time’s cover story looks at “America by the Numbers.” The article is full of statistical jewels, including this peculiarity: “[M]ore than 90% own a Bible, but only half can name a single Gospel, and 10% think Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife.”—E.G.
From the Atlantic’s cover, Andrew Sullivan launches an endorsement of Barack Obama. The reasoning? “First and foremost: his face. Think of it as the most effective potential re-branding of the United States since Reagan.”—G.H.
Best Political Piece
In Texas Monthly, Kinky Friedman offers his suggestions for reforming the Texan political system based on his experience running for governor. Many of his solutions, such as reforming lobbyists and redistricting rules, would be well heeded on the national level as well.—J.M.
Best International Story
The Atlantic hosts the story of a reporter who fell in love with Afghanistan, stayed there permanently, and exchanged her microphone for a small soap business that, in spite of an unimaginative American aid establishment, is doing well.—G.H.
Best Diplomacy Piece
The Economist offers its take on the exchange between Spanish King Juan Carlos and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez (where the king told Chávez to “just shut up”), noting the YouTube video of the scene has “brought delight to countless thousands who have suffered Mr Chávez’s chronic verbal diarrhoea.”—M.S.
Texas Monthly profiles of Samir Patel, the “Dan Marino” of spelling bees. The article follows the five-time Scripps competitor as he prepares for his final spelling bee and discusses the pressure and disappointment of coming oh-so-close to winning time and again.—J.M.
Best Food Article
A piece in the Economist notes rising commodities prices are melting Hershey’s profits, forecasting that Mars, the company’s closest competitor “will continue to eat away at its market share—as it has done all this year.”—M.S.
Best Architectural Piece
Texas Monthly chronicles the rebirth of architectural modernism by highlighting its resurgence in Dallas and Beijing. The article ascribes the rise to a desire “to renew the optimism and progressive imagination of the mid-twentieth century” in the face of new global fears and threats.—J.M.
Best Science Piece
An article in the New York Times Magazine investigates the mattress industry’s insistence that sleep must be a prolonged period of “nothingness” and that our lack of sleep is a growing problem. History says otherwise: Uncomfortable conditions and erratic traditions have interrupted sleep for centuries. Those who tell you otherwise are trying to sell you a new mattress.—D.S.
Best Health Piece
The Economist examines new studies that suggest a mother’s stress level during conception affects a baby’s sex. If conceived during times of distress, like after the loss of a loved one, during wartime, or following a natural disaster, a baby is more likely to be a girl. Studies revealed the ratio of boys to girls dropped among babies conceived in New York the week after 9/11.—M.S.
Texas Monthly chats with first daughter Jenna Bush about Secret Service agents, her new book, teaching, and ghosts in the White House. The article paints an intimate picture of the struggle to maintain independence when the president is your father. Best moment: Bush recounts one college professor’s reaction when she bought an Australian author beer on a class field trip: “‘Oh, God, here comes another international incident.” Jenna had already turned 21.—J.M.
Best Cocktail-Party Factoid
According to Time, Picasso was so superstitious that he refused to donate his old clothes to his gardener, “lest some of his genius rub off.”—E.G.