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  • Lohan's Alcohol-Detection Bracelet: A Dud?

    It wasn’t supposed to be this way. When Lindsay Lohan left a voluntary 45-day stint in rehab earlier this month, she voluntarily donned an alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet (sure to become de rigueur among Hollywood’s bad-girl set). At the time, her publicist declared, “She is wearing the bracelet so there are no questions about her sobriety if she chooses to go dancing or dining in a place where alcohol is served."Alas, there are a lot of new questions about the troubled actress’s sobriety. Lohan was arrested this week in Santa Monica, Calif., for suspicion of driving under the influence (again), driving with a suspended license and felony cocaine possession. All this comes less than two weeks after Lohan left Promises, an exclusive rehabilitation center in Malibu.So what happened to Lohan’s Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM)? NEWSWEEK’s Alexandra Gekas spoke with Don White, vice president of field operations at the anklet’s manufacturer, Alcohol Monitoring Systems of...
  • The Seven Worst Ways To Eat

    It's not just what you eat that matters. How you dine can play a major role in your weight and digestive well-being.
  • Television: 'Better' Than a 'Mess'

    Black Entertainment Television’s controversial new show "We Got To Do Better" (formerly "Hot Ghetto Mess") attracted over 800,000 viewers when it debuted on Wednesday night, a healthier-than-expected audience presumably made up of car-crash gawkers who tuned in to see if the show was the racist, classist sideshow its critics have portrayed it as. The contretemps surrounding the show stemmed from a grass-roots Internet campaign concerned that a television show based on the "Hot Ghetto Mess" Web site, a collection of tawdry photos of blacks with gaudy hairstyles and outfits, would perpetuate negative stereotypes of blacks. The show is indeed a spectacle, but not quite in the way anyone was expecting. It wasn’t very controversial, funny or interesting.The show begins with its host, Charlie Murphy, welcoming viewers to "Hot Ghetto Mess." (BET apparently thought enough of the media blowback to officially change the name of the show, but not enough to reshoot Murphy’s prerecorded segments...
  • FitFlops: Do They Really Sex Up Your Legs?

    Forget the iPhone and Harry Potter. Turns out the slickest summer marketing hit may just be a pair of flip- flops.  They don’t look like much, but it’s what they promise—a tighter butt and trimmer legs—that’s hitting the buzz spot.The cushy-soled shoes, dubbed FitFlops, have been selling out faster than most stores can stock them. One mass e-mail blast from the developers was enough to move 4,000 pairs in three hours when the product launched in Britain in May. In a London shoe store—where the waiting list ran into the thousands—things got so heated one woman shoved another off a chair in a bid to get the last pair in stock. (“That was a bit extreme,” storeowner Anthony Stiefel told NEWSWEEK.) The FitFlop craze hit the U.S. a month later, with similar force. The first shipment sold out in weeks, the second in days. After a segment on “Good Morning America,” the shoe’s Web site promptly got 57,000 hits. America Online repeatedly listed the $45 FitFlops as one of its top search terms;...
  • Summer Pet Threats: Tips for Owners

    Most of us look forward to summer activities—rollerblading, biking, swimming, walking or just sitting in the shade. And for pet owners, it’s especially refreshing to get outdoors for some playtime with Fido. But there are some major health concerns to watch out for.Heat stroke is a common summer affliction for humans and can also hit pets, who, unlike humans, can’t cool down through perspiring. First and foremost, never leave your pet alone in a vehicle—even for a short period of time. Whether the windows are up or down or your car is in the shade or not, a car can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, according to the Humane Society, and in such high temperatures your pet will likely overheat, resulting in possible injury or death.Owners of outdoor cats should make sure they have access to clean, fresh water and plenty of shade. But veterinarian Greg Hammer, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, says that while cats can certainly overheat, hyperthermia tends...
  • Talk Transcript: Islam in America

    NEWSWEEK's Lisa Miller joined us for a Live Talk on Wednesday, July 25, about the American-Muslim experience in a post-9/11 world.
  • Humor: McCain Puts Campaign Bus on eBay

    In what some political observers are calling an ominous sign for his cash-starved White House bid, Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain today posted his campaign bus, the Straight Talk Express, on the Internet auction site eBay. McCain denied that the move stemmed from money problems, stressing instead that he had decided to sell the bus so that it would no longer provide fodder for sarcastic headlines such as WHEELS COME OFF STRAIGHT TALK EXPRESS or STRAIGHT TALK EXPRESS: OUT OF GAS?“The Straight Talk Express was giving headline writers too much to work with,” Sen. McCain told reporters. “They won’t be able to do that anymore, now that I’m getting around from town to town on a Segway.”Davis Logsdon, dean of the journalism school at the University of Minnesota, said that the number of sarcastic headlines riffing on the name of McCain’s campaign had swelled to as many as 7,000 in the last two weeks alone. “Every morning, newspapers were running headlines like STRAIGHT...
  • TV Review: 'Damages' and 'Saving Grace'

    There is something broken about an industry that can't find good work for actresses like Glenn Close and Holly Hunter. No one wants to hear another pious rant about the film business's allergy to women over the age of 40, because, for one thing, it's not entirely true, and for another, enough already. But even granting that such venality exists in Hollywood, Close and Hunter, who have one Oscar and eight nominations between them, are the kinds of talents who still should be getting by just fine. Close, now 60, is like a poor man's Meryl Streep, which may sound like an insult, but come on—we should all be so lucky. Like Streep, Close's career hasn't depended on sex appeal for decades, and she's blessed with a regal, imperious quality that never gets old. Hunter, meanwhile, is one of the most fearless actresses alive. The same woman who won an Oscar for a silent role in "The Piano" also starred in the Coen brothers' screwball classic "Raising Arizona" and David Cronenberg's freaky...
  • Quindlen: Hillary Should Make Barack Her Running Mate

    TO: HRCRE: VPWell, senator, with the "Sopranos"-influenced video gone viral, you managed to convince millions of Americans that you do have a sense of humor. With the continuing massaging of your position on Iraq, you've managed to convince a significant number of liberals that you have a sense of urgency about the war. And with the most recent poll results, you must have a sense of yourself as the front runner.Now it's time to show that you have a sense of history, a sense that this election is bigger than just one woman's ambitions. Make it your business to persuade Barack Obama to be your running mate.Conventional thinkers like to make this sound risky, pairing a woman and a black man on the ticket. But it's not as wild as it sounds. The calculus of choosing someone for the second spot is always, first and foremost, whether the choice hurts your chances. The answer here is no. Anyone who would be put off by Obama isn't going to vote for you in the first place.The second question...
  • BeliefWatch: Mormons & Politics

    As a rule, Mormons tend to be white, conservative and Republican—and as obedient to established authority as any group out there—but a close look reveals cracks in that glossy surface. There's Harry Reid, of course, the Mormon convert and vocal leader of the Senate Democrats. And there's Orrin Hatch, conservative, Republican and Mormon to the core—except that he supports embryonic-stem-cell research, an issue upon which the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has no official stance but which President George W. Bush opposes. Finally, there's Rocky Anderson, the Democratic mayor of Salt Lake City. A lapsed Mormon—he grew up in an LDS family—Anderson has had to walk a fine line. In Salt Lake, the headquarters of the Latter-day Saints, he has had to be moderate enough attract 20 percent of the LDS vote to win and keep his job. Now, it seems, he's had enough of the high-wire act. This spring, Anderson began calling for the impeachment of President Bush, and more recently he...
  • Dating Sites Match Lovers Who Share Disease

    Dating is awkward for Sandra Liz Aquino, 41. She's divorced and beautiful, but she's also HIV-positive. So last month, she signed up with Prescription4Love.com, a dating Web site for people with sexually transmitted diseases and other health conditions. The site, which launched last year, is becoming a go-to spot online where singletons who also happen to have diseases from hepatitis to herpes to irritable bowel syndrome can find love and companionship without having to worry about the big reveal.P4L, which has 1,200 members, is one of a rapidly growing set of niche dating Web sites for people with disabilities and disease. The explosive success of online dating was followed by a proliferation of sites catering to people with HIV and STDs. Those were followed by sites like IrritatedBeingSingle.com, for people with irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn's disease, and C Is for Cupid, catering to romance seekers affected by cancer. P4L is one of the few sites that cater to people with a...
  • Green: Kids Can Be Super Natural!

    Today's parents understand by now the benefits of choosing organic or all-natural products when it comes to feeding their kids. But what about dressing them? Fibers like organic cotton, hemp and soybean are an ecofriendly answer to conventionally produced cotton, which, says Chip Giller, founder of the environmental-news Web sitegrist.org, is responsible for 25 percent of the world's insecticide use. Here are some companies that focus on Earth-friendly products for kids.Positively Organic sells stylish, colorful togs like T shirts and onesies that are made from cotton grown by an organic-farming community in India. Its infant and toddler varsity tees feature a variety of earthy prints like rabbits and butterflies ($24 to $26;  positively-organic.com). Happy Green Bee, started by one of the founders of Burt's Bees personal-care products, offers "gender free" organic-cotton clothing in bright, bold stripes (cardigan, $32; leggings, $18; happygreenbee.com). Hemp fiber is another...
  • China Races to Avoid Olympic-Size Food Scare

    It was a harsh penalty even by the standards of China, which executes more criminals every year than any place else in the world. The former head of the State Food and Drug Administration was put to death last week. His crime: approving untested medicines in exchange for $850,000 in bribes. At least 10 deaths have been blamed on bogus antibiotics that were OK'd during his tenure. But his offense went far beyond that—an SFDA spokeswoman said Zheng Xiaoyu had brought "shame" on the agency.Shame has always been a dreaded force in China—and now it has Beijing's leaders scrambling to save face amid the country's multiplying food-, drug- and product-safety scandals. In centuries past, the Chinese emperor's No. 1 responsibility was to guarantee that his subjects were adequately fed. Only then did he earn the "mandate of heaven" that justified his reign. And this in essence has been the Communist Party's bargain with China since the days of Deng Xiaoping: in return for accepting a sometimes...
  • Review: Don Cheadle Is 'Sensational' in New Film

    Don Cheadle has proved time and again that he's an actor of many faces. The only common denominator between his work in "Devil in a Blue Dress," "Boogie Nights," "Ocean's Eleven" and "Hotel Rwanda" is his quicksilver talent. The beauty of his performance in "Talk to Me," playing the streetwise, flamboyantly cocky yet deeply insecure radio DJ Petey Greene, is how many faces he can locate in this one man—often in the same moment. It's a sensational turn, unlike anything he's done.Greene was an ex-con who became a radio icon in Washington, D.C., in the late '60s with his profane, tell-it-like-it-is braggadocio. When the city exploded in the aftermath of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, it was Greene's wise on-air improvisations that helped keep the rage in check. Brilliant, alcoholic and self-destructive, Greene is the fascinating subject of Kasi Lemmons's funky, R&B-driven biopic—a vital entertainment that struts confidently between comedy and drama.The equally versatile...
  • Earth: What Would Happen If Humans Vanished?

    The Second Coming may be the most widely anticipated apocalypse ever, but it's far from the only version of the end times. Environmentalists have their own eschatology—a vision of a world not consumed by holy fire but returned to ecological balance by the removal of the most disruptive species in history. That, of course, would be us, the 6 billion furiously metabolizing and reproducing human beings polluting its surface. There's even a group trying to bring it about, the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, whose Web site calls on people to stop having children altogether. And now the journalist Alan Weisman has produced, if not a bible, at least a Book of Revelation, "The World Without Us," which conjures up a future something like ... well, like the area around Chernobyl, the Russian nuclear reactor that blew off a cloud of radioactive steam in 1986. In a radius of 30 kilometers, there are no human settlements—just forests that have begun reclaiming fields and towns, home to...
  • My Turn: Stop Setting Alarms on My Biological Clock

    I am at a party chatting with a woman I know slightly. As her young son squirms out of her embrace, she slips her hand under my shirt. She's not getting fresh with me. She's touching my tummy with her cold hand and asking me, in a concerned voice, "Why aren't you pregnant yet?" I smile, break free from her touch, and head to the food table to fill said empty belly with her brat's birthday cake.I love children and definitely plan on having them. Maternal instinct is oozing out of my pores: I've infantilized my dogs; I've gotten down on my hands and knees at the park with babies I barely know. My marriage is wonderful and solid, and we are both blessed with good health. I've been a nanny, a teacher, a youth-group leader. I've taken childhood-development courses solely for the purpose of someday raising happy, balanced children. I have always looked forward to becoming a mother.So why don't I have kids or even the inkling right now? It's because of you. Yes, you: the fanatical mothers...
  • ESPN: Worldwide Cheerleader?

    Throughout July, ESPN's award-winning flagship news hour "SportsCenter" is devoting a chunk of every broadcast to a segment called "Who's Now." It's an elimination tournament, purely theoretical, to determine which current athlete is the most "now"—although two weeks into the competition, it's still anyone's guess what exactly "now" means. A panel of experts, including ex-NFL diva Keyshawn Johnson, debate whether, say, the NBA's Dwyane Wade or snowboarder Shaun White is more "now." Viewers vote online, and the winner moves on to face Tiger Woods in the next round. And so on. Everything about the segment is so artificial, from concept to execution, that watching it is like chewing Styrofoam.Lots of people in the sports world took shots at "Who's Now" last week, including ESPN's own star columnist Bill Simmons. It was just another wound in what turned out be an unexpectedly untriumphant stretch for "the worldwide leader in sports." Monday's Home Run Derby on ESPN, minus slugger Barry...
  • Drag: Is It Misogynistic for Men to Play Women?

    Edna Turnblad has a weakness for pink-sequined dresses, a passion for her husband and a triple-E bra. Edna also has a secret. Edna is a man. To be precise, her character in "Hairspray" has always been played by a man: drag queen Divine in the original John Waters film, gruff-voiced Harvey Fierstein in the Broadway musical and, starting this week, John Travolta in the movie musical. Just as Peter Pan is almost always played by a woman, it's impossible to imagine a "Hairspray" in which Edna isn't hiding a stubble under her pancake makeup. The obvious reason is that more-is-more is part of the "Hairspray" ethos, from the hairstyles to the musical numbers. Having a man play the plus-size Edna makes her funnier, and adds a wink-wink knowingness to the depiction of an archetype of maternity.But what is that wink all about? Edna is hardly the only iconic female character who's really a he. Tyler Perry has made a career of playing the overweight, overbearing grandmother Madea, while both...
  • Transcript: Near-Death Experiences

    The good news: millions of Americans know how to perform CPR. The bad news: when confronted with an apparent victim of cardiac arrest, most bystanders won't do it because it includes mouth-to-mouth breathing.Now Dr. Gordon Ewy, director of the University of Arizona's Sarver Heart Center, is championing a new form of CPR called cardio-cerebral resuscitation, or CCR, which focuses on rapid, forceful chest compressions, about 100 per minute, minus the mouth to mouth. "Mouth to mouth inflates the lungs, but it's not the lungs that need oxygen, it's the heart and the brain," says Ewy. "Chest compressions alone will help save those organs."The Sarver researchers have developed two separate CCR protocols. Bystanders who witness a cardiac arrest are urged to perform chest compressions until help arrives. Paramedics are to attempt CCR for two minutes, before they use a defibrillator. Several Arizona fire departments have adopted the new approach. An analysis of that data shows survival rates...
  • Girls Gone Mild? A New Modesty Movement

    Consider the following style tips for girls: skirts and dresses should fall no more than four fingers above the knee. No tank tops without a sweater or jacket over them. Choose a bra that has a little padding to help disguise when you are cold. These fashion hints may sound like the prim mandates of a 1950s "health" film. But they are from the Web site of Pure Fashion, a modeling and etiquette program for teen girls whose goal is "to show the public it is possible to be cute, stylish and modest." Pure Fashion has put on 13 shows in 2007 featuring 600 models. National director Brenda Sharman estimates there will be 25 shows in 2008. It is not the only newfangled outlet for old-school ideas about how girls should dress: ModestApparelUSA.com, ModestByDesign.com and DressModestly.com all advocate a return to styles that leave almost everything to the imagination. They cater to what writer Wendy Shalit claims is a growing movement of "girls gone mild"—teens and young women who are...
  • Book Excerpt: Banville's 'The Sea'

    They departed, the gods, on the day of the strange tide. All morning under a milky sky the waters in the bay had swelled and swelled, rising to unheard-of heights, the small waves creeping over parched sand that for years had known no wetting save for rain and lapping the very bases of the dunes. The rusted hulk of the freighter that had run aground at the far end of the bay longer ago than any of us could remember must have thought it was being granted a relaunch. I would not swim again, after that day. The seabirds mewled and swooped, unnerved, it seemed, by the spectacle of that vast bowl of water bulging like a blister, lead-blue and malignantly agleam. They looked unnaturally white, that day, those birds. The waves were depositing a fringe of soiled yellow foam along the waterline. No sail marred the high horizon. I would not swim, no, not ever again.Someone has just walked over my grave. Someone.The name of the house is the Cedars, as of old. A bristling clump of those trees,...
  • Talk Transcript: Islam in America

    Lackawanna, N.Y., exudes the tranquility of old Americana. In its tidy rows of modest homes, neatly mowed lawns and mom & pop stores, there’s a feeling that everybody is a neighbor. Residents of the Buffalo suburb, perched on the shores of Lake Erie, are quick to boast of a long history of diversity and quiet, small-town living. Elders recall the days when everyone, regardless of ethnicity, earned the same wage at the local steel mill.But ever since the September 2002 arrest of six Yemeni-American men, who later pleaded guilty and were jailed for training in Al Qaeda terrorist camps, Lackawanna wants nothing more than to forget what happened on the rustier side of town, across the railroad tracks, in the heart of the Old Ward’s Muslim enclaves. The city’s residents—especially those in the tight-knit Yemenite community—take to the words “Lackawanna Six” like fingernails to a chalkboard. “Anytime anything happens, the Lackawanna Six story gets revived and repeated, even if an...
  • 'Hairspray' Problem: Segregation Wasn't Fun

    If you plan on reading any reviews of "Hairspray," the new movie musical that opens today, prepare to be soaked by the word "fun." And it’s a perfectly apt description: "Hairspray" is an energetic, crowd-pleasing musical set in the swinging ‘60s, so it’s replete with bouffants, sherbet-colored culottes and the dangerous, auspicious "race music" of the era. A game John Travolta dons a massive fat suit to play repressed Baltimore laundress Edna Turnblad, who’s overprotective of her dance-feverish daughter, Tracy (effervescent newcomer Nikki Blonsky.) Yeah, there’s fun all over the place. In fact, the only thing threatening to ruin all the fun is the pesky civil-rights movement, which, inconveniently, happens to be taking place around the same time.In the 1988 John Waters film (not a musical, but the basis for the 2002 Broadway musical from which the new film is adapted), the zaftig Tracy longs to be featured on "The Corny Collins Show," Baltimore’s No. 1 afternoon teen-dance show, but...
  • Ansen on 'Chuck and Larry'

    Adam Sandler knows his audience, wants to please his audience … and wants, in his just-one-of-the-guys way, to make them a little bit better than he suspects they are. Thus you have "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry," directed by Dennis Dugan, a broad, sometimes wince-inducing comedy built on what is usually called homosexual panic (shouldn't it be heterosexual panic?). Sandler, who plays Chuck, a Brooklyn fireman and ladies man who has to pretend to be gay (for reasons we'll get to), encourages his audience to laugh at all the usual fag stereotypes while offering up an explicit and heartfelt plea for tolerance and diversity.Anyone who's followed Sandler's career knows that he's always slid gay-friendly subplots into his comedies, so no one should be surprised that "Chuck and Larry" comes out on the side of the angels. You could also predict, given his penchant for adolescent humor, that the comedy will pander to the lowest common denominator, if that means getting easy laughs...
  • Saying Goodbye to Harry Potter

    What a lot of commotion over a book. Not since 19th century New Yorkers anxiously crowded the Manhattan docks to be the first to discover the serialized fate of Dickens's Little Nell have people gotten so excited about fiction. And the scope of this frenzy might make even Dickens blush with envy.The camping out and queuing up to be the first in line as book stores started selling the last installment of the saga of Harry Potter at midnight Friday—the parties, the contests, the costumes—all this has happened before with the unveiling of each installment since the midnight sales started with the fourth volume. This time, though, the hoopla soared to unprecedented levels that not even the well-oiled publicity machinery of publishers could have ignited. For weeks now, the rumors have flown over the Internet: Harry lives! Harry dies! This week things reached a new pitch of excitement as books fell into the hands of eager fans despite the closely monitored embargo of the 12 million copies...
  • The Saudi 'Sex & and the City'?

    When Rajaa Alsanea’s “The Girls of Riyadh” hit bookstores in the Middle East in 2005, it caused a furor. Referred to by some as a “Sex and the City” for Saudi Arabia, the book delved into the social, romantic—and sometimes sex—lives of its four female characters. Published first in Lebanon—and published in the United States this month—the book almost immediately made its way to Saudi Arabia, where it was denounced by religious conservatives as immoral and hailed by reformists as a much-needed condemnation of Saudi Arabia’s restrictive society. Alsanea, 24 years old at the time, was propelled to stardom, making appearances on TV, receiving supportive phone calls from the royal family and an endorsement from no less a figure than the king’s labor minister and close adviser, Ghazi al-Gosaibi.“The Girls of Riyadh” explores the lives of four young women—Lamees, Sadeem, Gamrah and Michelle. Their stories are told by a narrator in a series of postings on an Internet chat room. The women,...
  • Evangelicals and the Vitter Effect

    By now, Washington has grown accustomed to its sex scandals. In the capital, obsessed with Iraq and the coming presidential election, the news that Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter’s phone number had turned up in possession of a D.C. escort service created a relatively modest stir. The press dutifully pointed out Vitter’s hypocrisy; a devout Catholic who has been an outspoken moralist, he was a vocal crusader for President Clinton’s impeachment during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, accusing Clinton of draining “any sense of values left in our political culture.” Vitter swiftly copped to the transgression via an e-mail to the AP. After rumors of other dalliances began cropping up in the New Orleans papers (he denied them), Vitter grimly took to the microphone, his embattled wife by his side, and, in an all-too-familiar D.C. ritual, apologies for letting his wife, friends and supporters down, then told the world he was pressing on with the people’s business.In political circles,...
  • Study: Zocor May Help Prevent Alzheimer's

    Who wouldn't love to find a drug to help prevent or at least delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease? It turns out that one may already exist. Dr. Benjamin Wolozin, professor of pharmacology at Boston University School of Medicine, posted a study this week in the online journal BioMed Central Medicine showing that the cholesterol-lowering drug Zocor (simvastatin) reduced the incidence of both Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's by about 50 percent in a population of 4.5 million veterans over a three-year period. By comparison, two other statin drugs—Lipitor (atorvastatin) and Mevacor (lovastatin)—showed little or no effect.Before you rush to your doctor, be aware that it's too early to draw clinical recommendations from the new findings. This was a broad observational study rather than a gold-standard randomized clinical trial, in which all the variables are carefully controlled. "At least one, sometimes two, randomized clinical trials would be required before the FDA would approve...
  • Emmy Noms: Why 'Lost' Got Overlooked

    The two most talked-about television events of the past year were the final season of "The Sopranos," during which Tony Soprano either did or didn't die in the final seconds of the last episode, and the season finale of "Lost," which blew its audience's collective mind with (spoiler coming, sorry) a pre-crash, pre-island flashback that was actually—gotcha!—a post-crash, post-rescue flash-forward. When the 2007 Emmy nominations were announced at 5:30 a.m. in Los Angeles on Thursday morning, one of these shows was rewarded lavishly by the television academy, earning more nominations—15—than any other series, and the other show got snubbed, big time. The reasons why this happened reveal a lot about how the Emmys work, and a lot more about how they don't.The Emmys have always had a soft spot for nominating programs in their swan-song season, so no one was surprised when "The Sopranos" came up the big winner this year, earning nods for best drama series, best lead actor (James Gandolfini...
  • Activists: Dogfighting Nothing New

    Michael Vick's indictment on dogfighting charges has brought the cruel activity into the headlines this week. But animal-rights activists say the practice is nothing new, and is, in fact, growing in popularity.
  • The Real Story of the Lunch-Hour Boob Job

    Can you really get your breasts enlarged in your lunch hour? Here's the real story behind those reports--and a look at the research that could make fat your friend.
  • Books: How-To Help for Atheist Parents

    Parenting books are the most useless and irresistible kind of literature. Designed to prey on parents' insecurities, they draw you in with expert claims and then disappoint with their know-it-all tone and their failure to solve even a single one of the profound struggles of family life. Same with atheism books: the authors are supersmart and their arguments engaging, but they don't ultimately resolve doubt and you are left with the feeling of having failed to get with the program. The kids are wide awake at 10 p.m. and you're still not so sure you can rule God out completely.Here, then, is the last word in the useless and irresistible: a parenting book for atheists. "Parenting Beyond Belief," published in April by Amacom, a wing of the American Management Association, aims to help folks who are raising their kids without religion deal with the sticky questions that come up about Santa Claus and heaven, and it raises more serious concerns about how to bring up ethical, confident,...
  • Aging Country Stars Still Going Strong

    Slouching slightly in an easy chair as he watches ESPN, Porter Wagoner suggests a kindly grandfather. His voice has thickened with age, his pace slowed by an abdominal aneurysm that nearly killed him last year. But those lady-killer pale blue eyes sparkle as he leans forward, conspiratorially. "I used to run around a lot with women; I enjoyed that," he says. "I'm not really serious with anyone right now. I got some grandkids, and I'm kinda into them." At the moment he's watching NASCAR, relaxing a little before commanding the Grand Ole Opry stage to celebrate his 50th anniversary as a member of country music's most elite hall of fame. "You can always tell if a guy knows where his roots are," he says. "I like the real thing."At 79, Wagoner knows a little something about keeping it real. With 60-odd albums under his belt, he's just released another, "Wagonmaster," and later this month he'll open for the hottest act in rock: the White Stripes—at Madison Square Garden, no less. Wagoner...
  • Words and Terms in the News

    indelible (lasting; something that cannot be erased or washed away) “Indelible Love: My Son’s Tattoos and Me” astute (sharp and insightful) confounded (frustrated)“While I pride myself on being a rocker, baby-boomer mom (open-minded and astute like no other mom before me), I’m confounded by the rash, youth-driven choice that Alec has made—not just once, but repeatedly—and the permanency of it all.” aplomb (poise, confidence)“Was I wrong to have drilled into him the importance of being true to himself, relentlessly nudging him to be who he is, to rise about his inhibitions and face the world with aplomb?” hindsight (perception of an event after it has happened) “But, oh, the agony of hindsight: the woe of the ‘if I only knew then what I know now.’”
  • Teens and Antidepressants: Did Warnings Go Too Far?

    Seventeen-year-old Michael didn't want to end up crazed and suicidal like the Columbine killers. The Massachusetts teen had read that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were taking antidepressants when they rampaged murderously through their Colorado high school in 1999, and he didn't want to snap as they had. "He'd say it was like there was an evil guy on his left shoulder and a good guy on his right, but the evil guy just kept winning," Michael's mother, Lorraine, recalls. Despite his pain, Michael feared that antidepressants would "put him over the edge." Lorraine wasn't so sure. After consulting a specialist, she persuaded Michael in January to try Prozac, one of a family of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. By spring, the "good guy" was winning: Michael made the honor roll for the first time.Lorraine can't know for certain whether Prozac saved Michael's life, although she's convinced it did. These days, however, fewer parents or doctors are following...
  • The Men of Summer

    Is it weird that television's best new drama of the summer is on a channel called American Movie Classics? No more peculiar than MTV's thriving for years without playing much music, right? Besides, in the era of "The Sopranos," TV has revolutionized itself by often feeling more movie-ish than the movies. AMC, which reaches into more than 91 million homes, has never created its own scripted TV series. That'll change with the July 19 debut of "Mad Men," a stinging drama set in 1960 about Madison Avenue advertising executives that is so sumptuously filmed, you could turn down the volume and just watch the suits. But then you'd miss series creator Matthew Weiner's crackling dialogue, soaked with casual bigotry and sexism, evoking, he says, "this textured world where Kerouac and Ginsberg are writing while Eisenhower is in the White House." Weiner wrote the "Mad Men" pilot seven years ago, and it helped land him a gig on—whaddya know?—"The Sopranos." "It was my writing sample," he says....
  • Q&A: Lawyer for Abused Explains Church Payout

    The record $660 million settlement approved today by a Los Angeles judge ends a five-year legal battle between victims of abuse by Catholic priests and the nation’s largest Roman Catholic Archdiocese. The agreement came on the eve of civil trials that could have led to embarrassing public revelations—and put Cardinal Roger Mahony in the witness stand to explain personnel decisions in which pedophile priests were promoted, moved and protected for decades.  Together with earlier settlements, the L.A. Archdiocese has now agreed to pay $764 million, far in excess of the $157 million paid in Boston in 2003.Under the terms of the agreement, the settlement is divided among the 508 victims according to the severity of their cases. The church will pay $250 million, its insurance carriers $227 million, and religious orders who employed some of the priests will pay out $60 million. The source of the $123  million remains to be determined. It may come from the religious orders—who continue to...
  • Ansen Review: Latest 'Harry Potter' Never Takes Off

    Decidedly older, definitely angrier, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) goes through his darkest days in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." He has good reason to be both paranoid and rebellious. Dementors attack him on his school break, he's threatened with expulsion from Hogwarts, and The Daily Prophet, the official organ of the Ministry of Magic, calls him a liar for claiming that the evil Lord Voldemort has reappeared on the scene. Even Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) seems to distance himself from Harry. Making matters far, far worse, the smiling, pink-clad fascist, Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), Hogwarts's new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, is transforming the school into a joyless, repressive prison for Harry and his friends.This description will be redundant to the millions of readers of the fifth installment of Harry's adventures—an 870-page epic that had to shed many pounds to squeeze into a two-and-a-quarter-hour movie. Those who have not read the book,...
  • Will: Sisyphus in the Senate

    Sen. Ron Wyden, the Oregon Democrat, has not received the memo explaining that Congress can accomplish nothing in an election year or the year before one. He calls himself the Senate's designated driver, the one not running for president, so he has time to try legislating. He also is the Senate's Sisyphus, determined to roll the boulder of tax reform up Capitol Hill yet again.The fact that Wyden's proposal, the Fair Flat Tax Act, seems radical is a measure of how foolishness has become conventional. Today, as when tax reform was accomplished in 1986, the objectives are threefold—although Wyden stresses only two.One is simplification for its own sake. Americans spend an estimated 6.4 billion hours (more than the 6.3 million industrious people of Indiana work in a year) and more than $265 billion on compliance with a tax code that is six times longer than "War and Peace" (not counting 8 million words—20,000 pages—of regulations). And even with professional help, Americans cannot be...
  • Why Bush Gave Scooter Libby a Pass

    As is often the case in the Bush White House, it was a decision made swiftly, and with stealth. For weeks, allies of I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby had aggressively lobbied the president to pardon Dick Cheney's former chief of staff. Libby's powerful supporters—including major GOP fund-raisers like Florida developer Melvin Sembler, the chairman of his legal-defense trust—argued that Libby's conviction in March in the CIA leak case was a miscarriage of justice. Libby's allies pressed their argument with White House aides but got nowhere. George W. Bush's senior staff was under strict instructions: listen politely, but give away nothing about what the president might ultimately do.Behind the scenes, Bush was intensely focused on the matter, say two White House advisers who were briefed on the deliberations, but who asked not to be identified talking about sensitive matters. Bush asked Fred Fielding, his discreet White House counsel, to collect information on the case. Fielding, anticipating...
  • My Turn: My Son's Tattoos and Me

    My 21-year-old son, Alec, has beautiful blue eyes, but the first thing people notice about him is his right arm. That's because waterfalls, big cats, Buddha and a host of Zen symbols cover the entire limb. No unmarked skin shows from his wrist to his shoulder.It started with the left wrist when he was 19—a tattoo of Tibetan Sanskrit wrapped around his lower, inner arm and finally peeking out just below his pinkie. By Christmas, three months later, his right shoulder was encircled with a large golden sun that hovers over a symphony of blues, reds and greens. Now Alec is known in our small New Jersey town as the guy with the tats.And I'm unhinged. While I pride myself on being a rocker, baby-boomer mom (open-minded and astute like no other mom before me), I'm confounded by the rash, youth-driven choice that Alec has made—not just once, but repeatedly—and the permanency of it all.At first, I cried. I yelled at him. I alternated between threats ("If you get one more tattoo, Dad and I...
  • Q&A With Rapper T.I.

    On the low, while the mainstream wasn't watching, 26-year-old Atlanta native “T.I.” (a.k.a. Clifford Harris) quietly and confidently stole the show from the more notable names in the rap game. His last album, “King,'' bowed only second to Jay Z's offering of “Kingdom Come” in sales and because of his steely good looks and no nonsense stance, Denzel Washington handpicked him to play a pivotal role in “American Gangster,'' the actor's next big film. But don't let Harris's innocent schoolboy profile fool you. In his latest album, “T.I. vs T.I.P.,'' the rapper boldly addresses what he considers to be the dual personalities that reside within him—and boy do they conflict. T.I. is the savvy businessman with major endorsements with car dealerships, a 2006 Grammy and two-picture deal with the film company New Line. On the other hand, “T.I.P.,” a nickname he acquired from his paternal great grandfather, is something of a hothead. At the ESPY awards pre-party in Los Angeles on Wednesday night...
  • Potter: OK to Spoil Ending?

    Todd Gitlin remembers a 1975 issue of The New Yorker as if it came out this week. Pauline Kael, the movie critic, reviewed Woody Allen's "Love and Death." But when Gitlin read the review he unexpectedly heard every funny joke. Now Gitlin avoids reviews, except the first paragraph, which he skims to see if the movie is good or not. "That experience actually changed my life," recalls Gitlin, who teaches ethics at the Columbia University School of Journalism.A lot has happened in the three decades since Gitlin had his epiphany, especially in the ways we get our news—the multiplicity of television stations and networks, the Internet and online news sites and bloggers. But the question hasn't changed: in an age where cultural happenings migrate from the arts section to the front page all the time, do journalists break the "news" about endings and plots if they know ahead of time? Put more bluntly, if we found out ahead of time how the final installment of "Harry Potter" turns out, should...