Daniel McGinn

Stories by Daniel McGinn

  • 'I'm A Church Man'

    In the back of St. Ann's Catholic Church in West Bridgewater, Mass., there's a bulletin board covered with yellow Post-Its. It's the parish Prayer Wall. Most of the supplicants seek God's help for relatives who are sick. But scattered among the postings are prayers for their priest, who's been facing a unique peril. "For Father's return and the clearing of his name," says one. "For Father McDonagh to come back soon," reads another in a child's penmanship. The missives are for Father Edward C. McDonagh, 65, the parish priest until last May 24, when he was placed on leave by the Boston Archdiocese for allegedly raping a teenage boy 39 years ago. Last month the parish's prayers were answered. Father McDonagh is back, giving homilies about lepers and possessing a newfound perspective on what it's like to be shunned by society.It's been 14 months since the scandal over the Roman Catholic Church's handling of priest sexual abuse broke in Boston and rippled across the country. Nationwide,...
  • Everybody's Next-Door Neighbor

    Though word of his death had hit the morning news shows a few hours earlier, Fred Rogers looked as chipper as ever last Thursday as he strolled in the familiar front door. Judging from the grayness of his hair, this was one of PBS's late-vintage episodes, circa 1999. On this day he chose the purple cardigan and welcomed a marine biologist into his televisual neighborhood. The two of them stood by an aquarium talking in quiet tones while a piano periodically trilled. In a video clip within the video, Rogers dons a wet suit and snorkels among tropical fish. "It seems so peaceful down there," he says.Peacefulness isn't the first attribute you think of when you consider what makes great television. But it's the essence of the ritualized world of make-believe that Rogers crafted for children over the course of four decades in the studio. Word of his death last week, from stomach cancer, briefly crowded out news of terror alerts and impending war. He would have liked that. Mister Rogers...
  • Jobs: Going Out In Style

    When Sharron Kahn Luttrell learned she was getting laid off last month, her boss insisted on throwing her one of those awkward, cake-in-a-conference-room fetes. Luttrell had another idea: an unemployment shower, fashioned after bridal or baby showers. Some people brought Rolodex cards with contacts for her job hunt. Some brought samples of standout resumes. Says Luttrell, who wrote about it in The Boston Globe: "I wanted [an event] that was really practical that would send me off with something to help me build my future." With the economy still idling, experts say layoffs will likely continue, creating more guests of honor if the shower concept catches on. It wouldn't work everywhere, says outplacement consultant Bob Gardella, since many companies send layoff victims out the door immediately. But Diane Zielinski, an unemployed Rochester, N.Y., marketing executive, says the idea needn't be confined to offices. She envisions showers thrown by friends, with music ("Take This Job and...
  • Lawsuits: Food Fight

    New York lawyer Samuel Hirsch weighs 155 pounds, eats tuna for lunch nearly every day and, because he keeps kosher, has never eaten at McDonald's. But when he decided last summer to sue the restaurant chain on behalf of obese teenagers who blamed fast food, he was ridiculed on talk radio and by late-night comics, who said fat people should blame themselves. Last month a federal judge dismissed Hirsch's lawsuit in a sprawling decision (one that invoked both Subway dieter Jared Fogle and Don Gorske, a Wisconsin man who's eaten a Big Mac a day for 30 years). Despite the setback, Hirsch remains resolute. "I'm not going to walk away from this now," he says. "I've become a believer in the cause." And now, Hirsch tells NEWSWEEK, he's targeting companies selling weight-loss products such as herbal supplements. Within weeks, he says, his law firm will begin placing ads in magazines to invite clients who bought the products but failed to lose weight to join a class-action lawsuit. He also...
  • Do-It-Yourself Isn't Dead Yet

    There are no lava lamps in the office, no mullet haircuts or acid-washed jeans. But look closely into this second-floor suite in a brick building outside Boston and it feels as if you've stepped into a long-ago, far-away place. Lalith Gnanasiri stares at computer monitors, watching second-by-second movements in stock prices. Until last year Gnanasiri worked as a real-estate broker, but for the last few months he's been learning a new vocation, one that was the height of chic during the 1990s bull market. Gnanasiri clicks his mouse, buying 200 shares of a brokerage company at $70.77 apiece. He watches the price tiptoe higher. Three minutes later he clicks to sell. His profit: $20. If it weren't for CNBC showing the Dow at 8300, you'd wonder if somebody forgot to tell Gnanasiri and his colleagues the stock market has been a money pit for three years now. But bear market be damned, the folks in this room still believe in day trading--even if the very term makes them sound like an...
  • Tending Tots With Tivo

    When adults buy digital video recorders like TiVo or ReplayTV, they hope to avoid missing favorite shows like "The West Wing" or "The Sopranos." But some families are discovering that the devices have another great use: to manage and limit their kids' viewing. "That's a huge part of the appeal," says Forrester Research analyst Josh Bernoff. TiVo data show that 19.7 percent of its users have a Season Pass (which automatically records every episode) on at least one kids' show. "Blue's Clues" is being recorded nearly as much as "The Drew Carey Show"; the most TiVoed kids' show, "Justice League," trumps prime-time newcomers "Fastlane" and "Presidio Med." Bernoff says DVRs may prevent his kids' generation (they're 4 and 7) from turning into channel surfers. "My children think TV means you sit down and see a list of stuff that's been recorded for you," Bernoff says. "You're making a conscious choice on what to watch, and when you're done with what you've chosen, the default is not to sit...
  • Periscope

    STRIKESA Wakened GiantStagnant pay and unease at the prospect of labor-market reforms are pushing Europe's largest unions toward confrontation. This summer's walkout by a million Spaniards was the country's first general strike in eight years. Recent weeks have seen union-led strikes in Italy, Belgium and Portugal. The British Army was recently called in to cover for the nation's striking firefighters. And last week, in France, tens of thousands--from air-traffic controllers to train drivers--quit work to protest. Worse could be on the way: Germany's biggest union is squaring up for a tussle with the government. The unions have acted in a "very responsible" manner up until recent months, says Wim Bergans of the Brussels-based European Trades Union Confederation--which represents 44 million workers. But restraint is now out of fashion.The upsurge in action is a blow to any optimists lulled into believing that union militancy was on the wane. One reason for the calm was rising...
  • Fewer Friends In Need

    Betsy Isroelit has much to be thankful for. The 59-year-old resident of Hollywood, Calif., runs her own marketing company and has a loving husband and four children. But as she sits down to Thanksgiving dinner this year, Isroelit has one big regret: she's less able to share her good fortune with charities as generously as she has in years past. Usually she writes checks to a host of local and national disease-fighting organizations and do-gooders. But this year, with the stagnant economy and the flaccid stock market, she's cut back, axing groups like the Sierra Club, a local AIDS organization and former president Bill Clinton's library from her list of recipients. "I absolutely hate the fact that I did this," says Isroelit. Even the checks she's still sending out--to groups like the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the local Boys Club--are for smaller amounts; overall, her donations have dropped by 25 percent. "I'll never stop giving," she says. "But I wish I didn't have to narrow that...
  • Playground Of The Rich

    For months New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has been investigating how brokerage houses hoodwinked investors during the great bull market. Last week Spitzer turned his spotlight onto an even more cutthroat arena: the internecine world of Upper East Side nursery schools. In e-mails leaked to newspapers, Salomon Smith Barney's former star telecom analyst Jack Grubman implored his boss, Citigroup chairman Sandy Weill, to help get the Grubmans' twins into the ultracompetitive 92nd Street Y preschool. Weill used his pull, and the tykes won coveted seats in Manhattan's prestige Play-Doh pen.Ordinarily there's no scandal in such influence wielding. But in an e-mail to a friend, Grubman bragged that in order to win Weill's help, he'd temporarily upgraded his rating of AT&T stock to help Weill influence AT&T CEO C. Michael Armstrong--a client and Citigroup director. Last week Grubman disavowed the message and Weill called it "pure nonsense."The scandal's latest turn is more a...
  • College: Nothing To Fear But The Toilet Itself

    As Harvard freshmen, Stephen Stromberg, Mike Donahue and Matt Ferrante lived in a typical cinder-block dorm. Now sophomores, they're bunking in a room with a notable history, its status denoted by a wall plaque: Franklin Delano Roosevelt lived in this room, 1900-1904. The Adams House suite, traditionally a professor's office, is housing students for the first time in decades. Above the original fireplace is a framed, handwritten letter from FDR to his parents; in the bathroom the sophomores use the original claw-foot tub and antique pull-chain toilet, which flushes with Niagara-like fury. "It's sort of a bizarre feeling to bathe where FDR bathed," says Stephen, a political junkie. Regarding the toilet, Matt says, "Knowing that we sit where he sat is, uh, interesting." They're growing accustomed to the apparently ghost-free room, for which they pay Harvard's standard rooming fee. They're also evaluating the efficacy of "Would you like to see FDR's room?" as a pickup line. The history...
  • Credit Cards: Dented A Rental?

    For years I've used my American Express Corporate Card whenever I've rented a car. After hearing all those AmEx ads ("Membership has its privileges"), I assumed it'd give me the best insurance coverage if I ever banged up a rental. I found out this summer when I dented a rented minivan.Oops. Turns out that while personal American Express cards offer rental-car coverage, my Corporate Card doesn't. (NEWSWEEK would have reimbursed me if I'd been on business.) No matter what card I'd used, my personal automobile insurance would have covered any damage over my $1,000 deductible. What I needed was "secondary" rental coverage to cover the deductible, which most cards offer for gold, platinum or titanium card-holders. The rental manager offered a tip. Though I'd put the deposit on my AmEx, I could still use any card in my wallet to settle the bill. So I called around and found that one of my cards had coverage, flipped the bill to that card and then submitted the insurance claim. A month...
  • Backwardly Mobile M.B.A.

    Imagine a high-tech device that allows you to observe people's daydreams. Now fancy wheeling that instrument into a classroom at the Harvard Business School. Adjust the dials and see where these high achievers hope to wind up. Some undoubtedly dream about being CEOs, putting their business acumen to the ultimate challenge. Others may long to start companies and cash in on IPOs. And a few may envision life as business celebrities, with appearances on CNBC and in NEWSWEEK. But then there's Todd Krizelman, a second-year student in Harvard's M.B.A. program, for whom that vision sounds so 1999. During the dot-com boom, he achieved the kind of success many M.B.A.s would envy--albeit briefly. Now, in a twist, he's one of a handful of former Net luminaries who've headed back to campus to find their next challenge.Top B-schools routinely attract people with diverse backgrounds: Harvard's current crop of M.B.A.s includes a Roman Catholic priest and several M.D.s. But even in this pool of...
  • Guilt Free TV

    In The Beginning, There Was Big Bird. Now, Thanks To Intense Competition From Disney And Nick, There Are More Quality Shows For Preschoolers Than Ever.
  • Reality Bites

    Talk-radio hosts often chat with callers about sports or politics. Now there's a place for fans of bicuspids. Florida dentist Dr. Mitchell Josephs hosts a call-in radio show, "This Old Mouth" (www.thisoldmouth.net), now airing in 35 cities. Tip Sheet's Daniel McGinn gave him some questions to chew on:Some dentists urge middle-aged folks to replace old silver fillings. Is that necessary?It's a myth that the mercury inside silver fillings is dangerous. The only reasons to replace a filling are because of leakage or fracture, if it's so worn down that it's no longer making good contact on the biting surface with the opposite tooth or recurrent decay under the old filling. Some patients get tired of having people see dark-colored fillings when they smile.What do you think of tongue brushes?They're a good way to scrape plaque off the back of the tongue, which is a cause of bad breath. I use one.What's the best way to whiten teeth?We use a process that just came out called Zoom whitening....
  • In The Boonies, An Oasis Of Success

    At the height of the inter-net boom, Tom Mancuso kept hearing from investors who wanted to pick his brain. If Mancuso were a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, that might've been unremarkable. But Mancuso manages a huge industrial complex outside Buffalo, N.Y., with hardly an Internet e-commerce business in sight. The Netheads kept seeking him out because Mancuso's low-tech facility years ago pioneered a concept that became a hot start-up tool in the '90s: business incubation. Developed by Mancuso's family in the '60s, the process had long been a favored tool of economic developers to lure new jobs to old cities. Then, VCs latched onto the concept as a way to hatch e-commerce start-ups like eToys and Priceline.com. Mancuso did his best to help, but he was usually shaking his head by the time he hung up the phone. "I remember thinking, 'There's nothing I can do to help these guys'," says Mancuso, who favors a slow-but-steady method of company-building. "We're not even on the same...
  • Fields Of Dreams

    Geoffrey Hunt does a lousy impression of Mr. McGuire, the character in "The Graduate" who doles out cinema's most famous piece of career counsel ("Just one word... 'Plastics' "). But after 22 years at Osram Sylvania, the lighting company where Hunt is human-resources vice president, he's seen enough career faddism to know that good advice can't be reduced to a single buzzword. He remembers the oil crisis of the late '70s, when petroleum engineering took a turn as the hot specialty. And he recalls the '80s and '90s, when companies lusted after an ever-changing lineup of high-tech specialties from Java to SAP. He's glad to see that notions of a ballyhooed "free agent'' work force that hopped between jobs like itinerant tradesmen have faded as quickly as the Pets.com sock puppet. Hunt is hoping his future hires stick around. "We're looking for people who want to make a career with us for 20 or 25 years, who are prepared to reinvent themselves many times over that career,'' he says...
  • Brave New Job Hunt

    There was a time when Andy Sipowicz, hero of "NYPD Blue," made the perfect cop. He's tough, street-smart and knows how to squeeze a perp till he squeals. But old-school Andy lacks a skill that may soon be a prerequisite for 21st-century detective work: knowing how to glean secrets from a suspect's hard drive. In an age when computers hold the key to everything from terrorist plots to accounting scandals, nearly every crime can potentially leave "digital evidence," says Burlington, Vt., Police Lt. Michael Schirling. And that's why 26 students at Champlain College have signed up for Computer Forensics, a new course taught by Schirling and Champlain professor Gary Kessler. They'll learn which kinds of search warrants gumshoes need to look inside a PC as well as how to find out what a suspect typed in a chat room or tried to delete. "Law-enforcement agencies are backed up months, if not years, in forensic examinations of computers," Schirling says. That means good job prospects for...
  • Periscope

    Asleep With the Enemy ...
  • Gadgets: Don't Breathe Easy

    Would you decide to drink and drive based on the results of a $1.49 test? If you would, the makers of the Guardian Angel Personal Alcohol Test are ready to help. Available in drug and grocery stores nationally, the product lets you test your blood alcohol content by licking a chemically treated paper strip (guardianangel.com). Police in several states even gave the strips to motorists over Labor Day weekend.To assess the Guardian Angel, as well as a $50 purse-size breathalyzer (the PSI BT5500) from Sharper Image, NEWSWEEK enlisted the help of a government official. He brought along the Alcotest 7410 Plus, a $2,000 machine used by police. Three NEWSWEEK volunteers drank for two hours, comparing readings on all three test systems. Hardly scientific, but here's our general advice:It's an Estimate: You probably shouldn't base a decision to drive solely on the results. (The manufacturers say it's never smart to drink and drive; Tip Sheet agrees.) However, after moderate consumption, the...
  • Jack Is Paying For This

    Graef Crystal has spent years digging through chief executives' pay packages, drawing attention to excess and vulgarity. The former compensation consult-ant turned pay critic thought he'd seen it all--until former General Electric chairman Jack Welch's soon-to-be ex-wife filed court documents in their pending divorce case last week. The papers reveal that much of the Welches' lifestyle is being paid for by GE shareholders. Among the company-provided perks: a $15 million Manhattan apartment, cell phones, satellite televisions, computers and security service at each of their six homes, a Mercedes and limousine service. "What does he do, tow the Mercedes behind the limo?" Crystal asks. "I'm surprised they didn't expense his toilet paper." In fact, they did: GE, the filing says, covers "toiletries" at the New York pad.Welch and GE's board moved quickly to quell damage from the revelations. Both issued statements saying Welch's retirement contract has been publicly available since 1996;...
  • Betting Against A Housing Bust

    Robert Toll and four colleagues are sitting around his office, trading jokes and gentle barbs. The atmosphere resembles a poker game--only instead of cards, the men huddle over a map of southern California. One of Toll's aides points toward a 52-acre parcel of land he's just visited, and now it's up to Toll, America's largest developer of high-end homes, to decide whether he should try to buy it for $7 million and cover it with $600,000 mini-mansions. "It's a piece of desert," Toll scoffs."It's a piece of gold," counters the deputy."You've got to be kidding me--you're expecting to sell homes there for this kind of money?" says Toll, 61, who started out selling new houses for $17,990 in 1967. He cross-examines his team: What are competitors selling nearby? Is the mountain view really worth a premium? Finally he decides to pursue the deal. "Next..." he says.Over the next three hours Toll nixes a land purchase in Arizona, greenlights one in Michigan and mulls a half-dozen others. "I'm...
  • Technology: Space--The Next Front

    Anyone who brings work home at night knows the feeling: dinner is over, the kids are in bed, but you just can't face the messy pit you call your home office. Trevor Hughes knew that phenomenon all too well. His work space was a cluttered, poorly lit corner of a guest room at his home in Maine. "The room was basically dysfunctional," says Hughes, an attorney and privacy expert. So he entered--and won--a contest by Logitech, a computer-peripherals maker. The prize: a $7,000 home-office makeover, including a host of new computer gizmos and some nice design flourishes.A spiffed-up home office is a luxury that's fast becoming a necessity. The rise of the "free agent" lifestyle in the '90s created a home-office boom, and now cool gadgets are getting cheaper. Consultant Terri Lonier of Working Solo says too many home offices are thrown together without a plan. "You set up a table, put the computer on it and find a chair, but you never step back and say, 'Is this the best way it could be...
  • Technology: Home Work: Fix Your Office

    Anyone who brings work home at night knows the feeling: dinner is over, the kids are in bed, but you just can't face the messy pit you call your home office. Trevor Hughes knew that phenomenon all too well. His work space was a cluttered, poorly lit corner of a guest room at his home in York, Maine. "The room was basically dysfunctional," says Hughes, an attorney and privacy expert. So he entered--and won--a contest by Logitech, a computer-peripherals maker. The prize: a $7,000 home-office makeover, including a host of new computer gizmos and some nice design flourishes.A spiffed-up home office is a luxury that's fast becoming a necessity. The rise of the "free agent" lifestyle in the '90s created a home-office boom, and now cool gadgets are getting cheaper. Consultant Terri Lonier of Working Solo says too many home offices are thrown together without a plan. "You set up a table, put the computer on it and find a chair, but you never step back and say, 'Is this the best way it could...
  • 'Those Guys Saved His Life'

    At lunchtime on Thursday, Jason Priestley took his first bites of solid food since crashing his race car at Kentucky Speedway last weekend. After eight hours of surgery on Wednesday at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, the actor-driver's condition is improving. His father, Lorne Priestley, talked to NEWSWEEK's Daniel McGinn about his son's injuries, the long recovery ahead--and whether Jason should return to the racetrack.NEWSWEEK: How's Jason doing?Lorne Priestley: It's all good news--things seem to be moving in the right direction. If you'd heard me yesterday, you'd recognize that there's a huge change in my voice.He's out of surgery, but what lies ahead?He's still in trauma, intensive care, but the way things are looking right now, within 36 hours we'll get him out of intensive care. He'll stay in acute care--which is like a traditional hospital room--for 36 to 48 hours after that. Then he'll go to the rehab hospital. He'll be here at Methodist Hospital and the rehab hospital...
  • Newsmakers

    For fans of "Trading Spaces," the home-decorating show that's become a runaway cable hit, it's the Great Debate: Alex or Paige? The show launched two years ago with Alex McLeod, a thirtyish Texan, as its host. But she mysteriously disappeared in season 2, replaced by Paige Davis. As with the public's reaction to New Coke, lots of fans prefer the original. Some even speculate McLeod was fired. But in her first interview since leaving the show, McLeod told NEWSWEEK she laid down her own paintbrush. "I don't want to sound like the poster girl for disgruntled cable divas, but the grueling travel schedule was driving me into the ground and the network wouldn't give me a proper vacation," she says, adding she spent three weeks a month in Holiday Inns during taping. "Things got out of control. Not only was I shooting footage, writing voice-overs and intros, but at one point they wanted to send me to sewing school so I could help sew on the show."So what's she think of her replacement? "I...
  • Credit: The Real Score

    To measure intellect, Americans use IQ and SAT scores. For health, we use cholesterol tests and the body-mass index. And when it comes to finances, we're judged by our credit scores. For years consumers have been able to request copies of their credit reports, which list their accounts, balances and payment histories. But the actual scores--a single number crunched by the firm Fair, Isaac & Co.--were available only to lenders. Now consumers can access scores themselves at myfico.com. For $12.95, the site provides your score, some simple analysis--and, for many people, a sudden sense of disappointment.Believe me, I know. If there were a Mensa club for folks with high credit scores, I figured I'd have a shot at joining. I pay my bills on time. I pull my credit report each year to check for errors (check yours at equifax.com, experian.com and www.transunion.com). My wife and I have a mortgage and student loans, but otherwise we avoid debt, usually paying our credit card in full...
  • Was Blind But Now I See

    Dr. Robert Hillman places a small electrical device to his neck, holds his breath and starts silently mouthing words: "One, two, three, four, five." His words, amplified by the gizmo that purrs near his throat, are pitchless and robotic, like the voices computers had in 1960s sci-fi movies. This is how 4,000 people each year are left to communicate after the surgical removal of a cancerous larynx. The technology they use to substitute for their missing vocal cords hasn't changed much since World War II. But in a small laboratory at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Hillman is trying to change that. One of his colleagues, outfitted with a small sensor on his neck, is wearing what could soon become the next-generation system for voice replacement. The goal, says Hillman: "To make it sound more like a human voice."For centuries doctors have created prosthetic limbs for people who've lost body parts to disease, accidents or in battle. Now an elite group of researchers at Mass Eye...
  • Father Fixit

    After weeks of revelations about priest abuse and church cover-ups, Father James Flavin didn't expect good news when he opened The Boston Globe one February morning. But he was unprepared for a story that brought the scandal disturbingly close to his own rectory. Four men were alleging years of abuse by Father Joseph Welsh, the priest at St. Nicholas, just down the road from Flavin's own parish in Brockton, Mass. Within hours the Boston archdiocese removed Welsh, and the local bishop called on Flavin to take command of St. Nicholas and help the devastated parish heal. The following Sunday Flavin stood at the altar beside the bishop, and they engaged in a ritual not found in any missal: imploring parents to ask their children whether their old priest might have abused them, too. "There is no rulebook for this," Flavin says. "We're going on our instincts."Last week authorities arrested Paul Shanley, an alleged sex predator who may soon rival priest turned felon John Geoghan in infamy,...
  • I'll Help Myself

    It's fun to gee-whiz over new technology, to "Wow!" at the latest gizmos and to dream of devices that never were and ask, "Why not?" Our affection for futurist gear fuels our love of science fiction (think we'll ever have a transporter room like Kirk and Spock?) and can shower wealth on inventors and investors. But in a world where that $400 Palm you bought last fall is so five minutes ago, let's take a breath and celebrate something that feels terribly unsexy: older technology. It's not as cool as Wi-Fi or Java, but spend time in stores and on factory floors, and it's clear that many of the machines that are transforming the way companies do business owe much to technology that debuted during the Reagan era, not the Internet Age.Just step into the Big Kmart in Braintree, Mass. During peak times, cashiers used to work all the store's 18 checkout aisles. But since September, customers have been able to check themselves out in four lanes that use scan-it-yourself machines. Manager...
  • Keeping Different Kinds Of Vows

    Father John Gremmels, a Roman Catholic priest, was new to his parish when he went grocery shopping near his church in Ft. Worth, Texas, a few years ago. As he pushed his cart, he held hands with an attractive woman, setting local gossips atwitter. But as priestly scandals go, this one was blessedly short-lived. People quickly learned that Gremmels, 49, is one of a rare breed: a married Catholic priest whose exemption from the vow of celibacy came directly from Pope John Paul II. Gremmels's marriage to Tracy, 41, is totally in accordance with church law. But for Catholics unaccustomed to a priest with a wife and three kids, some experiences take getting used to, like the time his young daughter jumped into his lap during mass. The Gremmelses have adapted, too. "We try not to do too much snuggling in public," he says.It's too bad every scandal in the Catholic Church can't be solved that easily. Since January the church has been rocked by revelations that officials covered up decades...
  • Are You A Tax Chump Or A Tax Cheat?

    Freelance writer Lucy McCauley relies on her creativity to make a living. And as April 15 approaches, she's applying it to her taxes, too, figuring that every life experience that might become essay fodder can count as a tax deduction. She's writing off her husband's birthday trip from their Dallas home to San Francisco (she had breakfast with a publisher, and she may write about wine country), and she's deducting the groceries and liquor for a party she threw for other writers after a book reading. "I think it works--who knows?" she says. Cynthia Smith Freed, an interior designer, has started obsessing over receipts, mileage and every $1.50 phone call--"all the small things that I previously thought weren't worth the hassle," she says. Freed's war on taxes is fueled by stories about how companies like Enron have dodged taxes. "We're paying taxes and they're not?" she says. "It makes me feel like I'm getting screwed."As tax season enters the homestretch, more Americans appear to be...
  • The Son Also Races

    Inside Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s $880,000 custom motor home is a shelf whose contents hint at his complicated role as the race-car-driving son of a martyred NASCAR legend. The cabinet used to be filled with Junior's playthings, and some remain: CDs of obscure rock bands, computer games and copies of Playboy. "That blonde there is hotter-'an-dammit," says the 27-year-old bachelor, ogling a centerfold. "Don't get much better lookin' than that." But since Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s fatal crash at last year's Daytona 500, the Playmates have been joined by keepsakes pushed on Junior by his father's following. He flips through homemade photo collages showing his dad surrounded by fans' cheesy poetry. "A little flea-marketish, you know what I'm saying?" he says. Then he fingers a particularly blurry snapshot. "People do this all the time," he says. "They'll be like 'You gotta have this' "--like it's a long-lost family heirloom, he jokes--"and it's a picture of my dad's backside." Before the crash,...