Culture

  • Humor: Bush Creates Dept. of Faulty Intel

    In response to what he called a "significant increase in the amount of misinformation about our enemies," President George W. Bush today announced that he was establishing a new Cabinet-level agency devoted solely to faulty intelligence. By creating the Department of Faulty Intelligence, Bush said, "The United States will be able to respond swiftly and preemptively to false threats before they don’t develop." ...
  • BeliefWatch: Reporting on America's Muslims

    In the aftermath of 9/11, when the offices of The Wall Street Journal were temporarily moved from Ground Zero to SoHo, a young journalist sat at his desk and edited one story after another about the Muslim world abroad. Jihad this, fatwah that, Sunni, Shia, how do you spell hijab? "It occurred to me that I was almost entirely ignorant about Muslims in this country," he says, and like any good reporter, he was moved to find out more. So Paul Barrett picked up his laptop and hit the road, hoping to bring his investigative chops to a subject that few had ever approached with care: American Muslims.Happily for us, the result is the book "American Islam: The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion," out this month from Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Through seven profiles, including an inner-city imam, a philosopher and a feminist—Barrett (formerly a Wall Street Journal colleague of mine) paints a picture of Muslims that is, as he put it last week at a talk in Los Angeles, "no less diverse...
  • Adult Drugs for Children: A Growing Problem?

    A new study finds that close to 80 percent of children in U.S. hospitals are receiving drugs that have been approved only for grownups. The growing problem of 'off label' prescriptions.
  • The Editor's Desk

    On Thanksgiving Day, 2005, the soldier on our cover this week—Specialist Marissa Strock—was the gunner on a patrol in Iraq. Suddenly, four 1.55 artillery rounds from an improvised explosive device ripped through her Humvee, killing two of her fellow soldiers, Steven Reynolds and Marc Delgado, and leaving her in a coma. "We were headed out to a body report, to recover a body that had been sighted, and we drove over the IED," she recalled to NEWSWEEK's Jamie Reno. "Two insurgents were apparently in the brush, just waiting. They had buried an IED in the middle of the road weeks before, and when we drove over it, they blew it. No one saw anything; it just happened so fast."For Strock and many other veterans, the furious pace of combat is giving way to the slow anguish of recovery within a broken system of care at home. On the morning she came out of amputation surgery, Strock was suffering, but was denied her pain medications because of what Strock says was an inattentive nurse. "They...
  • Health: I Screen, You Screen

    Hank Furman prides himself on wringing the last cent out of a dollar. But when it comes to good health, "no amount of money is too much," says Furman, a 73-year-old retired machinist from Euclid, Ohio. That's why he recently took advantage of a vascular ultrasound screening program advertised in his local newspaper. Furman paid $129 for a battery of tests, none of which was covered by his insurance. The final report: "Everything was perfect," he says. "It gave me peace of mind; that's worth every cent."But not all doctors agree. The package of screens, offered by several U.S. companies ($129; see lifelinescreening.com), include carotid-artery, abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and osteoporosis screens. The good news is these imaging tests can detect abnormalities that could lead to stroke, heart disease and ruptured aneurysms. "We provide a much needed service," says Eric Greenberg, Life Line Screening's vice president of marketing, adding that ...
  • 'The Secret': Does Self-Help Book Really Help?

    If you're a woman trying to lose weight, you had your choice of two pieces of advice last week. One, from the American Heart Association, was to eat more vegetables and exercise an hour a day. The other was from a woman named Rhonda Byrne, a former television producer who has written what could be the fastest-selling book of its kind in the history of publishing with 1.75 million copies projected to be in print by March 2, just over three months since it came out, plus 1.5 million DVDs sold. Byrne's recommendation was to avoid looking at fat people. Based on what she calls the "law of attraction"—that thoughts, good or bad, "attract" more of whatever they're about—she writes: "If you see people who are overweight, do not observe them, but immediately switch your mind to the picture of you in your perfect body and feel it." So if you're having trouble giving up ice cream, maybe you could just cut back on "The Sopranos" instead.You'd think the last thing Americans need is more excuses...
  • My Turn: And on This Farm She Found a Future

    The farmer had a tanned face, weathered from working in the hot sun and dry air. He took in my clean appearance and small, unmuscular body. "So," he said, "you like to get dirty?"It was 1998. After working as a cashier for three summers at a local farm during high school, I was moving from behind the register to the seat of a tractor, which I would be maneuvering through the farm's 100-acre vegetable fields. I would be working long hours in the heat of New Jersey's humid summers. I knew I would get dirty—and I couldn't wait.I wasn't disappointed. When the ground was dry, the field dust caked my skin with a brown film, streaked by the sweat that trickled down my neck. The stickiest job on the farm was grading tomatoes, but I couldn't care less if juice from rotten tomatoes was running down my legs and into my shoes as long as I was in the shade of the barn. During my lunch breaks I lined up at the local deli, where crews of workers seemed to gather like fruit flies on Jersey tomatoes...
  • Quindlen: Gossip in the Age of Anna Nicole

    The examination of conscience began when a hardworking and pious woman who had never watched "Access Hollywood" asked a question to which there was no good answer: "Who is Anna Nicole Smith?"It was the day of the death heard round the world, and for the life of me I didn't know what to say. Actress? Model? Celebrity? Sign of the looming apocalypse? Famous for being famous. The mantra of a new millennium.Don't get me wrong; there's nothing new about gawking, gossip, getting into the business of other people and being gleeful about it. Surely it was happening in caves, huts, the Pyramids, the Parthenon. What's new about it is scope and responsibility, the first vast, the second nonexistent.A hundred years ago a girl like Vickie Lynn Hogan, which was Anna Nicole Smith's real name, would have lived in a small town, and everyone would have talked about her behind her back until she moved on to someplace bigger. Britney Spears would have left her babies at home to bounce around the bars,...
  • Cose on Black-Asian Tensions

    That an Asian-American writer is confident enough of his place in American society to publicly advocate racism against blacks may represent progress of a sort.  It’s hard, however, to find anything else good to say about Kenneth Eng or his column, entitled “Why I Hate Blacks,” published in the February 23 edition of AsianWeek. In that essay, Eng argued that blacks are “weak-willed,” anti-Asian bigots—and, therefore, suitable objects of discrimination.The column, predictably, set off a tempest that culminated last week with calls for the heads of the author and his editor. The first loud objections came from a coalition of Asian-American notables, who were quickly joined by a multiracial group of activists and public officials—who complained most vociferously in California, the San Francisco-based weekly’s home. By week’s end, Eng, a 22-year-old self-styled “Asian Supremacist” and “God of the Universe,” had been dismissed; the newspaper had apologized; and thoughtful people across...
  • Book Excerpt: 'The American Religion' by Harold Bloom

    This book, The American Religion, has lived mostly underground since its original publication fourteen years ago. Out of print, it still circulated steadily among readers increasingly aware of the intensifying strategic alliance between the Republican Party and millions of those I term explicit American Religionists. I bring the book back into print now unrevised, except for this coda to a coda. But then, how much has changed? The second President Bush’s triumphalism is a faith-based initiative in itself. His born-again Iraqi war lingers on, a fleeting and possibly illusory victory. Gasoline soon could cost three dollars a gallon, and the United States economy exists only by borrowing more than two billion dollars a day, from China, Taiwan, Japan, and assorted European creditors. Our currency is debased, our deficit is immense, and much of our public appears to expect an imminent Rapture. Freud and Marx must fret, in Elysium, that they are forgotten while Darwin abides as a Satan...
  • Arcade Fire: The Biggest Little Band?

    Arcade Fire may be the biggest little band in the world. Big because they're a sprawling octet whose operatic 2004 debut, "Funeral"—a collection of rumbling, ramshackle anthems about death and redemption—scored pristine reviews, sold half a million copies and earned them spots on stage with David Bowie, David Byrne and U2. Yet little, too—the Canadian ensemble is, at heart, a close-knit family act (married couple Win Butler and Régine Chassagne write and sing the songs; Butler's brother Will serves as sideman) who've stuck with an indie label, busked after concerts and unveiled anticipated new tracks in one bandmember's high-school cafeteria. Sure, their recent five-night stands in New York, London and Montreal sold out in seconds. Which sounds pretty impressive—except that they booked the shows at a church, a Victorian music hall and a Ukrainian community center. Somewhere, Bono is baffled.Their sophomore effort, "Neon Bible," out this week, won't entirely clear up the confusion....
  • Books: When Murder Ruled Chicago

    Michael Lesy’s “Murder City” is a creepy book. Fascinating, but creepy. Lesy (“Wisconsin Death Trip”) focuses on Windy City murders in the ’20s, a time and place we all think we know: Capone, Leopold and Loeb, “Chicago”—merely drop the city’s name and people start thinking Tommy guns and bathtub gin. Lesy takes his time getting to the notorious gangsters. Most of the perps and victims are people you’ve never heard of: a man who killed his wife because he wanted to go back into the Army, a man who killed two men for a Packard, lots of spurned lovers. They add up—but to what? Something strangely depressing: by 1924, Chicago had a homicide rate 24 percent higher than the national average, and it was choked by a culture compounded by gangsterism, corruption and rat-a-tat-tat headlines. Lesy dissipates the romance of the roaring ’20s before his book is half over, certainly well before we encounter the women who inspired the winking cynicism of “Chicago.” What sticks with you about that...
  • Music: Amy Winehouse Tears Off the Roof

    She's only 23, but Britain's Amy Winehouse sings with all the pain—and power—of Judy Garland and Billie Holiday. Talent this big can't be rehabbed.Amy Winehouse is an odd musical spectacle. She's a skinny, 23-year-old British girl who looks like she should be cooing ephemeral pop tunes, but instead, belts out deep, resonant numbers as though she's possessed by Etta James, Lauryn Hill and Judy Garland. It reminds me of those creepy moments on "Star Search" when a preschooler would practically bleed Whitney Houston, even though the only pain she'd felt came from diaper rash.Winehouse has become known in England for her ability to riff about modern-day life atop 1950s-style soul and doo wop. She's a true blues and jazz crooner, but unlike Norah Jones, Winehouse possesses a punk-rock attitude. "Rehab," the quirky first single off her second album, "Back to Black," recounts the time when her management staged an intervention to get her off the booze: "They tried to make me go to rehab...
  • Mean Greeks: DePauw's Sorority Scandal

    With membership declining, and the sorority acquiring a campus rep for being more brainy than beautiful, the national officers of Delta Zeta embarked on a fall recruiting effort for their DePauw University chapter in Greencastle, Ind. But instead of adding members, they wound up effectively asking 23 of the existing 35 members to leave. Outraged sorority sisters at the liberal arts school said those dumped were the women considered overweight or unattractive. DZ officials say that isn’t so. Cindy Menges, national executive director of Delta Zeta, says that the only factor in determining who would stay was a commitment to recruit for the chapter. "Any allegations otherwise are false," she said in a statement.The incident has sparked an uproar both on and off the campus. Six sorority members who were not ousted quit anyway to show solidarity with the sisters who received the letters telling them to vacate their sorority house rooms by Jan. 29. The university administration also...
  • Eat, Drink, Man, Woman (And Child)

    When my husband, Ken, and I were planning our wedding two years ago, we toiled over the menu even more than most anxious couples. As a Jewish vegan who doesn't eat meat, poultry, fish or dairy products, I wanted to share vegan delicacies without feeling I was pushing an agenda. My Chinese-Japanese-Hawaiian husband wanted to be sure his relatives would have enough to eat, and to incorporate Chinese banquet foods.In the end, our caterer served a gorgeous organic vegan meal, complete with Chinese long noodles (representing long life). We added line-caught wild fish, served whole to symbolize abundance and good fortune (in Chinese and Hawaiian tradition). After a Jewish blessing over wine and challah, Ken worked the room, teaching people to extract and eat the fish delicacies: the eyes and cheeks.I became a vegetarian as a teenager, with the mixed motivation of loving animals and wishing to confound (and inconvenience) my meat-eating parents. Then, five years ago, I became a vegan....
  • Newsmakers Quiz: How Well Do You Know ... 'The O. C.'?

    Has a hit show ever fizzled as fast as "The O.C."? The series ends this week, so let's reminisce. More questions at Xtra.NEWSWEEK.com. What didn't happen to Marissa during the series? a. She had sex with Ryan.b. She entered rehab.c. She became a lesbian.d. She died in a car crash.ANSWER: B.
  • India, In A New Light

    Suddenly, India is on everyone's mind. Hardly a day passes without some public discussion about jobs being outsourced there, the growing shortage of hotel rooms in Bangalore, Indian firms seeking to buy European competitors or an Indian novelist who has snapped up a hefty advance from an American publisher. Yet less than 20 years ago, the few stories about India published in major Western outlets were bemoaning its economic woes, diplomatic isolation and political turmoil. Indeed, some latter-day Cassandras were predicting its imminent dissolution, conjuring for India the same fate that had engulfed the other large-scale multiethnic experiments in the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Not only has India defied these dire predictions, it is poised on the brink of major power status.Edward Luce goes a long way toward explaining India's almost inexhaustible resilience in his knowledgeable, witty and sympathetic account, "In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India" ( 383 pages....
  • Newsmakers: Howard Stern Vs. Howard Stern

    As if one annoying Howard Stern wasn't bad enough, now there's two. Even the Sterns can't stand it. Howard Stern (the radio one) wants to change his name to "The Howard" so he's not confused with Howard K. Stern (the Anna Nicole one). That's one way to tell them apart. But we found other differences, too. ...
  • The Cat (and Hat) That Came to Stay

    If you were to approach 100 people on the street and ask each one to recite from any narrative poem, the odds are that maybe one of them could get off a few lines of "Hiawatha" or "The Raven." But if you were to suggest that they could include the works of Theodore Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, the chances are that most born after 1950--or everyone with children--could get off not just a few lines but perhaps whole book-length poems. He is, without doubt, the best-known American narrative poet of the last half of the 20th century. And not just best-known: he's one of the best.In "The Annotated Cat: Under the Hats of Seuss and His Cats," Philip Nel helps us understand just why Dr. Seuss has captured the imaginations of several generations of readers--and their parents. Nel's line-by-line analyses and explanations illuminate precisely how Seuss created his masterwork. We are treated to rough sketches and first drafts. We see the Cat's antecedents, especially the Katzenjammer Kids, Krazy...

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