Category Archives: weekly reading

weekly reading: women’s health

When Women’s Health launched a few years ago, nearly every woman I know went crazy over it. Like its male counterpart, it’s heavy on the departments, with lots of quick tips, stats and factoids. Features tend to be shorter, especially the celeb cover stories, which is fine with me since celeb profiles are so controlled and rarely illuminating these days.

But one of the magazine’s October features really blew me away. “What’s Lurking in Your DNA?” details one reporter’s experience with a mail-order company that promises to reveal your particular health risks, based on a saliva sample you provide. I think this is one of the most interesting issues in health today: We now have the opportunity to peek into our future—but is that a good thing? Often technology evolves faster than we can create morals and guidelines for it. Writer Gretchen Voss does a great job capturing the complexities of the issue. I’m pretty convinced that I prefer blissful ignorance.

On a side note, I’d like to point out that this was actually my second-favorite women’s magazine feature this month. The first was a fantastic take on the typical breast cancer awareness story in Glamour. But since they don’t put all their print content online (the kind of shortsighted old-school thinking that many of the major magazines still cling to), I can’t really recommend it. Bummer.

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weekly reading: salon’s 2009 glenn beck exposé

As Glenn Beck presided over his “Restoring Honor” rally in D.C. this weekend, all I could think about was this tidbit: When he was a morning DJ in Phoenix, Beck called up his rival’s wife on air and ridiculed her for the miscarriage she’d suffered just days before.

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columbine and phoebe price

One of the best books I read last year was Columbine by journalist Dave Cullen. It eviscerates much of the conventional wisdom about the school shooting — that the killers were outcasts, that the massacre was a means of settling the score for a lifetime of bullying — and paints a much more nuanced picture of what motivated Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Most compelling is the argument that Harris was a psychopath, and the implication that as an adult he might have done worse.

I thought of this book a lot while reading a great piece posted on Slate yesterday: Emily Bazelon’s investigation into teenager Phoebe Price’s suicide, for which six of her classmates have been indicted. Bazelon, who has been reporting from the Massachusetts town for much of the year, raises a lot of questions about the rush to lay blame, and whether the bullying of Price was severe enough to warrant criminal prosecution.

It’s a delicate subject, and it’s disturbing that we seem to have less of a handle on bullying now than we did 11 years ago, thanks to technology. But we also haven’t seemed to learn that these meta-narratives we construct following a tragedy often obscure the real issues. ‘The untouchable Mean Girls’ sure makes a grabby headline, but does it really contribute to the dialogue — or just stand in its way?

weekly reading: taylor swift profile

As I’m writing this, I’m waiting for a well-known musician to call. At the appointed hour (hopefully), my phone will ring, the Caller ID will show “Blocked” and from the minute I pick up, I will keep one eye on the upper-righthand corner of my laptop so I don’t chat for any longer than the carefully negotiated 20 minutes. Glamourous, isn’t it?

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weekly reading: tragedy at U.Va.

The current issue of Sports Illustrated offers an extremely thoughtful piece on the alleged murder of U.Va. lacrosse player Yeardley Love by her ex-boyfriend, a member of the men’s team. I like its examination of the lacrosse culture and the stereotypes that characterize it, fairly and unfairly. But I especially loved the lead:

There are no seniors at the University of Virginia. The school’s founder, Thomas Jefferson, believed that a “senior” level of knowledge is unattainable, that learning is a lifelong process. So students in their final two semesters are referred to as “fourth years.” It’s a quaint UVA tradition, one of many, but it also hints at deeper truths: Even the oldest undergraduates are novice adults, full of promise yet not fully formed. And some events in life are beyond comprehension.

It’s true my alma mater has a lot of eccentricities — and I’m aware that they seem even more pretentious when explained as Jeffersonian. But they had a tremendous impact on my education, both academic and otherwise. U.Va. students are bound by an honor code that helps preserve what it calls a “community of trust.” On a day-to-day basis, that means many professors allow students to take exams home, or take their word when they offer an excuse for missing a class. In the big picture, it means students generally feel safe in the company of one another. This is not the first time one student has committed a crime against another, but its violence, its permanence, is an unforgivable betrayal of the entire community. Wahoos, you’re in my thoughts.

weekly reading part 2 — flood edition

There’s been so much good writing on the subject this week that I wanted to give this its own post. First, Newsweek‘s Gaggle blog tackled the topic of why the Nashville flood has received such minor coverage from the national media. I’ve heard a lot of speculation, but Anthony Romano comes at it from a practical media business/culture angle and really hits on some good points:

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weekly reading — the 9513 reviews

There are several reasons I try not to read reviews of albums I’m assigned to critique before I write mine. I don’t want to be influenced, but I also don’t want to be intimidated. I broke that rule this week and regretted it, because Blake Boldt’s review of the Court Yard Hounds (a Dixie Chicks side project) over at The 9513 is really excellent. So is his review of Chely Wright’s Lifted Off the Ground — though I kind of wish it hadn’t been published a week ago and therefore rather coy about the ‘private life’ we now know refers to her homosexuality. I’d be interested in his take knowing the full context — then again, Chris Willman did a bang-up job on that over at the Huffington Post.

But I digress. In general, I always enjoy the reviews at The 9513 — the first major country music blog — not least because they’re longer than most, and really allow the writers to stretch out and include some pretty turns-of-phrase that elsewhere might get cut for space. (The blog also does single reviews, which I love and hardly see anywhere else.) Now I’m faced with summing up the Hounds in less than 150 words and I’m jealous. Oh well.