New York Times Magazine, May 10 Adam Nagourney pens a piece on Terry McAuliffe’s “presidential-size battleship of a campaign” for Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Recently, the former DNC chairman “outtalked, out-handshook, outspent, outhustled, outshouted and just plain outcampaigned” his two rivals in Richmond. Still, he faces obstacles—Obama supporters were not big fans of his unwavering devotion to Hillary in the presidential primaries—and others say his high profile on the national political stage does not make up for his lack of experience in Virginia politics. … In the cover story, Daphne Merkin describes a particularly bad bout of depression that landed her in a psychiatric facility for three weeks last summer. Merkin, who has struggled with the “thick black paste” of depression since childhood, finds that the affliction forces her to concentrate on “the sadness that runs under the skin of things, like blood, beginning as a trickle and ending up as a hemorrhage, staining everything.”
Wired, May 2009
Lost creator J.J. Abrams pens an essay on how mystery is faring in the “Age of Immediacy,” when so many things seem a mere Google away. Abrams carps that people always ask him how Lost is going to end, because they seem to be forgetting that watching the story unfold is the point. “There’s discovery to be made and wonder to be had on the journey that not only enrich the ending but in many ways define it.”… A piece unpacks the neuroscience of magic and how magicians take advantage of “the everyday fraud of perception.” At any given moment, the mind cannot process all the stimuli around it. “So the brain takes shortcuts, constructing a picture of reality with relatively simple algorithms for what things are supposed to look like.” Magicians tap into this, reverse-engineering tricks based on how people typically look at the world. “Magicians were taking advantage of these cognitive illusions long before any scientist identified them,” one neuroscientist says.
Time, May 18 The cover story wonders whether the Republican Party, rudderless and adrift, can ever recover its prior influence. “They’re starting to look like the Federalists of the early 19th century: an embittered, over-the-top, out-of-touch regional party en route to extinction, doubling down on dogma the electorate has already rejected.” To have a chance of staying afloat, Republicans need to decide how to sell the party’s bedrock values—“strong defense, traditional values and economic conservatism”—in 2009. … In an excerpt from her new book, Elizabeth Edwards shares how she handled her husband’s infidelity, which he confessed in 2006 before announcing his bid for president. “I felt that the ground underneath me had been pulled away. I wanted him to drop out of the race, protect our family from this woman, from his act.” While he initially claimed to have cheated on only one occasion, she later discovered his indiscretion was ongoing.
Economist, May 9 France, where government spending accounts for 52 percent of GDP, is weathering the financial crisis better than most countries, a piece finds. The French economy is doing well in part because of the state’s “role as provider, cushioning citizens, redistributing wealth and propping up demand in hard times.” While the broad social safety net has buffered France against the effects of the recession, the flip side of this stability is “a less dynamic, less innovative economy in good times.”… A story urges the world to keep a wary eye on swine flu next flu season. While the virus in its current mutation seems mild, it could come back with a vengeance this fall. Even if a vaccine for H1N1 can be developed quickly, the capacity does not exist to make enough for the world’s population. This conundrum may be solved by switching from egg-based vaccine production to a cell-based method, but the switch is not quite ready for prime time.
Out, May An article ranks North America’s queer elite based on their political clout, cultural resonance, and wealth, with Rep. Barney Frank topping the list. New additions include MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow (No. 4), Matt Drudge of the eponymous Drudge Report (No. 6) and Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (No. 25). … Actor Jon Foster, star of summer’s The Informers and The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, shed his clothes for both films and complains that the gay sex scenes were toned down. For this he faults “old-school” Hollywood execs, who are “working to please a generation that doesn’t even exist anymore,” he said. … The cover story profiles the Gossip frontwoman Beth Ditto, an indie rocker who is turning to plus-size fashion design. Ditto, who came out as a teenager in small-town Arkansas, is a kind of “anti-Britney Spears” who “celebrates her every crevice and fold in stretch outfits normally reserved for biker mamas and hot dance-hall hoochies.”
Phillip Gourevitch’s comment in The New Yorker on the rank-and-file military men who took the fall for the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib should be required reading for administrations past and present
New York’s profile of Maximilian Sinsteden, a consummate preppie and budding designer who repurposes ascots as furniture ties, is cringe-worthy.
Best Politics Piece
Adam Nagourney’s New York Times Magazine article on Terry McAuliffe’s campaign to become the next Democratic governor of Virginia leaves one rooting for him to succeed.
Best Culture Piece
A piece in TheNew Yorker is a fascinating glimpse inside the world of contemporary art that highlights the difficulties that arise with artists’ increasingly eccentric choice of materials.
The Week of the Excerpt
Both Time and New York fill space with book excerpts, one from Elizabeth Edwards, who is coping with her husband’s infidelity, and one on the disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz 30 years ago.