Why I read the Economist

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Francis Muir

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Aug 29, 1992, 8:26:57 AM8/29/92
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Jon Corelis writes:

An article in the Science and Technology section of this week's
Economist begins, "On the face of it, Shakespeare's view of men
appears to fit the male pied flycatcher rather well."

As a person whose politics are somewhat leftish, I occasionally
have some qualms about my dedicated reading of this economically
conservative journal, but then they come up with things like this.
How do they do it? I mean, are there classes at public schools
or Oxbridge that teach you how to do this?

I am reminded of an American tourist who was visiting Arundel Castle and
was much taken by the exquisite nature of the lawns. Out of curiosity he
asked a gardener working in the Orangery how it came about. "Simple, really",
said the Duke of Norfolk (for it was he), "we planted dam' fine seed and
then rolled it for 1000 years". Your first lesson is never, ever use the
word "Oxbridge" again. Oxford and Cambridge are as chalk and cheese and
only come together for one brief moment every year to entertain the masses
on the Thames at Putney. The Boat Race. Oxford generally wins nowadays, but
sometimes the Thames does. There was a memorable occasion not too long ago
when both both boats sank and quite independently.

As for the Economist, it should be pointed out that while they are
conservative, they are not Conservative. Working a similar vein, the
Financial Times provides a simple way of picking up the news in England
without getting bogged down in rhetoric.

Fido

Crawford Kilian

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Aug 29, 1992, 12:54:42 PM8/29/92
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Jon Corelis expresses surprise at the wit and expressiveness of the writing in
The Economist. It's not just that...most print media have been going
down-market for 30 years or more, trying to dumb themselves down enough to win
the attention of a TV-drugged public. Perhaps the saddest American example is
the recent self-lobotomization of Time Magazine--which in its early days had a
brittle, witty style that lent itself to mockery but certainly didn't insult
its readers' intelligence.

The Economist, whatever its politics (and I find its confident tone sometimes
absurd), has aimed for a market of educated, literate readers who want
information rather than glitzy layouts and color photographs. While it's
expensive compared to the US and Canadian newsweeklies, on a per-fact basis
it's the best bargain around.

Mike Godwin

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Aug 30, 1992, 3:06:36 PM8/30/92
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In article <14...@mindlink.bc.ca> Crawfor...@mindlink.bc.ca (Crawford Kilian) writes:

>Perhaps the saddest American example is
>the recent self-lobotomization of Time Magazine--which in its early days had a
>brittle, witty style that lent itself to mockery but certainly didn't insult
>its readers' intelligence.

I don't know that TIME's decline has been that recent, Crawford. My own
opinion is that the quality of writing and reporting in NEWSWEEK surpassed
that of TIME in the early '70s (NEWSWEEK's Watergate reporting was
superior, of course, since it had the advantage of being a Washington Post
company). Nowadays, one sees very good stylists in NEWSWEEK, from Peter
Goldman to Jonathan Alter to Eleanor Clift. The regular columnists--George
Will, Meg Greenfield, Jane Bryant Quinn, Robert Samuelson--are all far
more memorable and have more to say than old fuddy-duddies like TIME's
Hugh Sidey and bland folks like Charles Krauthammer. The only weak point
on NEWSWEEK's writing time is Jerry Adler, whose features are reliably
shallow, sensationalistic, petty, and self-important. (He wrote the racist
piece on the threat of rap music, for example, and his piece on the
Allen/Farrow/Previn gossip was particularly silly.)


--Mike

--
Mike Godwin, |"The meeting of two personalities is like the contact
mnem...@eff.org| of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction,
(617) 864-0665 | both are transformed."
EFF, Cambridge | --Carl Jung

John Nall

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Aug 31, 1992, 10:28:27 AM8/31/92
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In article <1992Aug30.1...@eff.org> mnem...@eff.org (Mike Godwin) writes:
>In article <14...@mindlink.bc.ca> Crawfor...@mindlink.bc.ca (Crawford Kilian) writes:
>
>>Perhaps the saddest American example is
>>the recent self-lobotomization of Time Magazine--which in its early days had a
>>brittle, witty style that lent itself to mockery but certainly didn't insult
>>its readers' intelligence.
>
>I don't know that TIME's decline has been that recent, Crawford. My own
>opinion is that the quality of writing and reporting in NEWSWEEK surpassed
>that of TIME in the early '70s (NEWSWEEK's Watergate reporting was

[ ... further discussion deleted ... ]

Oh, come on, now. Both TIME and NEWSWEEK, as well as practically all of the
daily newspapers, have changed their format/substance to try and "appeal to
what the public wants". It nauseates the professional journalists (the term
"professional" is used in the sense of "real" :-) in this instance) but the
upper management mandates it. So although in one sense they can be blamed,
in another sense they're only giving people what they want. (Not *all* people,
of course. Neither I nor thou). They have to either make a profit or go into
bankruptcy.

Not sure how the Economist continues to thrive. Probably it is only a matter
of time :-(

John

--
John W. Nall | Supercomputer Computations Research Institute
na...@mailer.scri.fsu.edu | Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306
Actually, love means that you *do* have to say you're sorry, even
if you're really not in the least bit sorry. - (me)

Mark Taranto

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Aug 29, 1992, 6:59:37 PM8/29/92
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Francis Muir writes:

Jon Corelis writes:

. . . Oxbridge . . . .

Your first lesson is never, ever use the word "Oxbridge" again.

Yes, please refer to them as the Harvard and Princeton of England.
(or should that be the Yale and Stanford). Oh well, you get the
idea.

Mark

Emma Pease

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Aug 31, 1992, 12:14:29 PM8/31/92
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>Not sure how the Economist continues to thrive. Probably it is only a matter
>of time :-(

Well, they did just add a sports section and the cultural section is
fairly new.

another Economist reader,

Emma


Mike Godwin

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Aug 31, 1992, 12:25:04 PM8/31/92
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In article <10...@sun13.scri.fsu.edu> na...@sun8.scri.fsu.edu (John Nall)
writes:

>Oh, come on, now. Both TIME and NEWSWEEK, as well as practically all of the


>daily newspapers, have changed their format/substance to try and "appeal to
>what the public wants".

I'm not sure how this is meant to be a response to what I wrote, John.
No one is disputing that these publications have changed their formats.
My posting, which you quoted, addressed the difference in quality between
the writing and reporting of two American newsweeklies. Your introductory
"Oh, come on now" suggests that you are trying to take issue with me, yet
your posting doesn't seem to address what I said at all.

Frank Mulhern

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Aug 31, 1992, 1:16:29 PM8/31/92
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I started reading the Economist about 2 years ago after several different
people mentioned to me that it was the best magazine they ever read. I must
say that I now look forward to its arrival every Monday. When I look at
a TIME or NEWSWEEK today, I am reminded more of network TV newscasts that
print journalism. Those magazines have lots of flashy pictures, stories with
a sentimental twist, etc. In fact the topics written about in those
magazines closely parallel what on TV. I agree that these magazines
participate in the dumbing of America---a great phrase by the way, for more
on this read BAD--The Dumbing of America by Paul Fussell (1991).
The Economist is considered to have the world's best reporting on third
world countries. It is nice to read something that does not have a
politically oriented liberal or conservative ax to grind, although The
Economist is very conservative economically with a relentless attitude
that free markets will solve ALL the world's economic ills.
Do yourself a favor--read it.

Frank Mulhern Department of Marketing
Penn State 814-865-0232 FJM1 @ PSUVM

John Nall

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Aug 31, 1992, 2:04:06 PM8/31/92
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In article <1992Aug31....@eff.org> mnem...@eff.org (Mike Godwin) writes:
>In article <10...@sun13.scri.fsu.edu> na...@sun8.scri.fsu.edu (John Nall)
>writes:
>
>>Oh, come on, now. Both TIME and NEWSWEEK, as well as practically all of the
>>daily newspapers, have changed their format/substance to try and "appeal to
...

>I'm not sure how this is meant to be a response to what I wrote, John.
...

>"Oh, come on now" suggests that you are trying to take issue with me, yet
>your posting doesn't seem to address what I said at all.
>
>--Mike

Sorry. Apologies. You are, of course correct. The "Oh, come on now"
really didn't refer to your post, but to the whole thread. But I agree
that it looked like I was referring to your post. So humble apologies :-)

Jack Campin

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Aug 31, 1992, 4:13:21 PM8/31/92
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FJ...@psuvm.psu.edu (Frank Mulhern) wrote:
[ comparing The Economist favourably with Time
and Newsweek, which is not saying very much ]

> The Economist is considered to have the world's best reporting on third
> world countries.

Considered by who exactly?

Better than Le Monde Diplomatique, Liberation, Middle East Report, South,
2000'e Dogru, Searchlight South Africa, New Internationalist, Race and
Class, the Journal of Palestine Studies, Z, Al-Fajr, Covert Action
Information Bulletin, Amnesty, NACLA and the Times of India? Geezabrek.


> It is nice to read something that does not have a politically oriented
> liberal or conservative ax to grind, although The Economist is very
> conservative economically with a relentless attitude that free markets
> will solve ALL the world's economic ills.

Which means that it *does* have a conservative axe to grind, doesn't it?

There are two classes of magazines out there: ones that state out front
that they've got a political agenda and those that lie about it. Time,
Newsweek and the Economist are in the latter category.

Followups to rec.mag.

--
-- Jack Campin room G092, Computing Science Department, Glasgow University,
17 Lilybank Gardens, Glasgow G12 8RZ, Scotland TEL: 041 339 8855 x6854 (work)
INTERNET: ja...@dcs.glasgow.ac.uk or via nsfnet-relay.ac.uk FAX: 041 330 4913
BANG!net: via mcsun and uknet BITNET: via UKACRL UUCP: ja...@glasgow.uucp

Jon Corelis

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Aug 31, 1992, 4:43:23 PM8/31/92
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I first decided to subscribe to the Economist when I opened a copy at
random and noticed a story on the U.S. budget deficit headlined, "Make
me fiscally responsible, Lord, but not yet." I decided that any journal
which headlined an article on the federal deficit with an allusion to
Saint Augustine -- and assumed that its readers would get it! -- simply
could not be passed up.

Another favorite Economist headline of mine was the one they used for
an article on Canandian natural resource management policy: "I'm a
Lumberjack and I'm OK."

As for Time, I haven't read it for years, but my memory is that its
writing "style" was almost entirely a matter of two particular prose
gimmicks. One was the rhyming name: "Vice President Dan Quayle (rhymes
with fail.)" The other was the habit of prefacing a proper name with a
pair of descriptive adjectives: "Folksy, affable Ronald Reagan," or
"Square-jawed, brutal Saddam Hussein." I term the latter trope the
schema joyceanum, for reasons which will immediately be obvious to any
educated reader.

Mike Godwin

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Aug 31, 1992, 7:35:04 PM8/31/92
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In article <jyc.715293803@Leland> j...@leo.Stanford.EDU (Jon Corelis) writes:

>The other was the habit of prefacing a proper name with a
>pair of descriptive adjectives: "Folksy, affable Ronald Reagan," or
>"Square-jawed, brutal Saddam Hussein." I term the latter trope the
>schema joyceanum, for reasons which will immediately be obvious to any
>educated reader.

Stately, plump Barbara Bush? The mind boggles.

But to me a distinguishing characteristic for both TIME and NEWSWEEK
has been, not the use of preceding adjectives, but the use of
preceding appositives, usually capitalized, as in "White House Chief of
Staff James Baker."

Katherine M. Catmull

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Aug 31, 1992, 8:13:27 PM8/31/92
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In article <1992Aug30.1...@eff.org> mnem...@eff.org (Mike Godwin) writes:

> Nowadays, one sees very good stylists in NEWSWEEK, from Peter
>Goldman to Jonathan Alter to Eleanor Clift.

Also--it must be told, Michael--a very close friend of Mr. Godwin's
(and mine) writes for NEWSWEEK.


> The regular columnists--George
>Will, Meg Greenfield, Jane Bryant Quinn, Robert Samuelson--are all far
>more memorable and have more to say than old fuddy-duddies like TIME's
>Hugh Sidey and bland folks like Charles Krauthammer. The only weak point
>on NEWSWEEK's writing time is Jerry Adler, whose features are reliably
>shallow, sensationalistic, petty, and self-important. (He wrote the racist
>piece on the threat of rap music, for example, and his piece on the
>Allen/Farrow/Previn gossip was particularly silly.)


Absolutely agree about all of the above, and triple-agree about Jerry
Adler.

But I'll tell you the truth, I still wouldn't read it if it weren't for our
friend slaving manfully away in the Business section. NEWSWEEK is so
much better than TIME; but it is still too brightly-colored in every
sense of the word to make me comfortable with it.

Kate


--
- - - - - - - -
ka...@cactus.org
Be the voice of night and Florida in my ear.

Clayton Cramer

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Aug 31, 1992, 3:16:57 PM8/31/92
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In article <1992Aug29....@morrow.stanford.edu>, fra...@oas.stanford.edu (Francis Muir) writes:
> As for the Economist, it should be pointed out that while they are
> conservative, they are not Conservative. Working a similar vein, the
> Financial Times provides a simple way of picking up the news in England
> without getting bogged down in rhetoric.
>
> Fido

And even by the current definition of "conservative" in America,
they aren't conservative. Note their oft-expressed feelings about
gun prohibitionism.

--
Clayton E. Cramer {uunet,pyramid}!optilink!cramer My opinions, all mine!
Alcohol prohibition didn't work; drug prohibition doesn't work; gun
prohibition won't work.

Clayton Cramer

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Aug 31, 1992, 3:19:04 PM8/31/92
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In article <14...@mindlink.bc.ca>, Crawfor...@mindlink.bc.ca (Crawford Kilian) writes:
> The Economist, whatever its politics (and I find its confident tone sometimes
> absurd), has aimed for a market of educated, literate readers who want
> information rather than glitzy layouts and color photographs. While it's
> expensive compared to the US and Canadian newsweeklies, on a per-fact basis
> it's the best bargain around.

I would be more impressed with the _The Economist_ if they got the
facts right. Their coverage of Florida's 1987 revisions to the
concealed weapon statute were severely in error (at least, if you
bother to read the statute). On the plus side, while they reported
it wrong, they at least reported the change. None of the U.S.
newsweeklies covered this rather dramatic change.

Francis Muir

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Sep 1, 1992, 1:04:01 AM9/1/92
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Clayton Cramer writes:

Francis Muir writes:

As for the Economist, it should be pointed out that
while they are conservative, they are not Conservative.

And even by the current definition of "conservative" in America,


they aren't conservative. Note their oft-expressed feelings about
gun prohibitionism.

The Economist does not operate under American definitions, it is a
British institution. In Great Britain there is nothing conservative about
a pro-gun position. There has never been a time in british history when
owning weapons has been anything but the prerogative of the Armed Forces.
The sole exception has always been hunting weapons.

Fido

a...@vax.oxford.ac.uk

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Aug 30, 1992, 8:46:13 AM8/30/92
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In article <jyc.715056156@Leland>, j...@leo.Stanford.EDU (Jon Corelis) writes:
>
> An article in the Science and Technology section of this week's
> Economist begins, "On the face of it, Shakespeare's view of men appears
> to fit the male pied flycatcher rather well."
>
> As a person whose politics are somewhat leftish, I occasionally have
> some qualms about my dedicated reading of this economically conservative
> journal, but then they come up with things like this. How do they do
> it? I mean, are there classes at public schools or Oxbridge that teach
> you how to do this?

Ah, yes, the Economist. I have long been convinced that some of the articles in
that journal are written by idiots. Four years ago, we were treated to a few
paragraphs explaining why Oxford's Varsity match victory that year was a triumph
for free-market economics. One has to admire the single-mindedness (not to say
monomania) of the person who wrote it, but anybody who had attended Oxford or
the other place would have known that this is just the natural order of things,
and has no more to do with economic theory than the law of gravity.

Michael.

MICHAEL WISE

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Sep 1, 1992, 4:26:21 AM9/1/92
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In article <1992Aug30.1...@eff.org> mnem...@eff.org (Mike Godwin) writes:

>I don't know that TIME's decline has been that recent, Crawford. My own
>opinion is that the quality of writing and reporting in NEWSWEEK surpassed
>that of TIME in the early '70s (NEWSWEEK's Watergate reporting was
>superior, of course, since it had the advantage of being a Washington Post
>company). Nowadays, one sees very good stylists in NEWSWEEK, from Peter
>Goldman to Jonathan Alter to Eleanor Clift. The regular columnists--George
>Will, Meg Greenfield, Jane Bryant Quinn, Robert Samuelson--are all far
>more memorable and have more to say than old fuddy-duddies like TIME's
>Hugh Sidey and bland folks like Charles Krauthammer. The only weak point
>on NEWSWEEK's writing time is Jerry Adler, whose features are reliably
>shallow, sensationalistic, petty, and self-important. (He wrote the racist
>piece on the threat of rap music, for example, and his piece on the
>Allen/Farrow/Previn gossip was particularly silly.)
>

But you don't get it, Mike. Saying one American newmagazine is better
than another is like saying Coke is better than Pepsi, when your original
subject was Chardonnay. On one hand, you have nothing but sugar, coloring,
and water; Timeweek & World Report, with their fluff articles, glitzy
photos and complete disregard for what the reader knows (or would like to
know, even if he has to check an encyclopedia for it) sadly seem to be
regular fare for American readers, even though they are so unreliable
that high school debate teams are cautioned against using them as a source,
and undergraduates must search elsewhere for articles relevent to their
term papers. On the other hand, The Economist is well-written, well-reasoned,
and not reluctant to take a stand on issues. It lacks the American glitz:
most of its photos come out of the files, and all of them are in black and
white. But The Economist does not follow the credo that seeing is believing
rather that knowing comes from well informed thought, thought that is only
stimulated by reading. One only has to look at the number of pages (130 to
70), the amount of copy-space compared to picture and white space, to see
the difference.
I have to recommend good newsmagazines to my undergraduates for their
term papers. As it stands, there is no American newsmagazine on that
list. Quite a shame, I've always felt, that the best news about America
comes from London.
Michael Wise
alias O Captain! My Captain!
UNLV English Dept.

Matthew Huntbach

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Sep 1, 1992, 5:05:54 AM9/1/92
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> The Economist is considered to have the world's best reporting on third
> world countries. It is nice to read something that does not have a
> politically oriented liberal or conservative ax to grind, although The
> Economist is very conservative economically with a relentless attitude
> that free markets will solve ALL the world's economic ills.
> Do yourself a favor--read it.

I find the Economist's analyses to be very shallow, and its
presentations badly over-simplified - it reads like it's aimed
at the intelligent sixth-former. I suppose the only reason
it is so valued in the USA is the lack of anything better.

Matthew Huntbach

JHenderson

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Sep 1, 1992, 6:05:34 AM9/1/92
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I'm surprised to have seen no mention of the one US news magazine
that is intelligent, informative, well-written, and entertaining.
I refer, of course, to The Nation. The regular columns by, in
particular, Christopher Hitchens, Alexander Cockburn and Edward
Said are streets ahead of anything found in The Economist and its
ilk.

--
==================================================================
-Jeremy Henderson | Une souris verte
egp...@castle.ed.ac.uk | Qui courrait dans l'herbe
==================================================================

Francis Muir

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Sep 1, 1992, 6:50:44 AM9/1/92
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Jeremy Henderson writes:

I'm surprised to have seen no mention of the one US news magazine
that is intelligent, informative, well-written, and entertaining.
I refer, of course, to The Nation. The regular columns by, in
particular, Christopher Hitchens, Alexander Cockburn and Edward
Said are streets ahead of anything found in The Economist and its
ilk.

Yes, I have been surprised at the mindless and inordinate amount of attention
that TIMESWEEK has been getting -- as though they were the only sources of
news. I cannot wait to read the soon to appear thread on USA TODAY. I
thought that Matthew Huntbach had the Economist dead to rights -- aimed
at Six-Formers, although that description wil pass over most Merkun heads.
Personally, I miss TIME & TIDE. Lady Rhondda's rag was beautifully printed,
and had the most interesting competitions. Of the American pop weeklies,
PEOPLE magazine is the least pretentious and has rather good film reviews.
certainly their standard of writing is quite superior to TIMESWEEK. Of
course, their straightforward style might not appeal to the pseudo
intellectual RAB mindset.

Fido

Mike Godwin

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Sep 1, 1992, 10:14:52 AM9/1/92
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In article <12...@optilink.UUCP> cra...@optilink.UUCP (Clayton Cramer) writes:

>And even by the current definition of "conservative" in America,
>they aren't conservative. Note their oft-expressed feelings about
>gun prohibitionism.

I feel compelled to point out that Great Britain has no Second Amendment.
Few American conservatives would regard, say, Margaret Thatcher as a
liberal if she favored gun control measures (as I feel certain she does).

Mike Godwin

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Sep 1, 1992, 10:27:55 AM9/1/92
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In article <1992Sep1.0...@nevada.edu> wwhi...@nevada.edu (MICHAEL WISE) writes:

>But you don't get it, Mike. Saying one American newmagazine is better
>than another is like saying Coke is better than Pepsi, when your original
>subject was Chardonnay.

Your conclusion is unwarranted. I enjoy THE ECONOMIST and regard it as
superior in most respects to both TIME and NEWSWEEK. I was responding to
a particular comment of Crawford Kilian's about TIME.

You will forgive me, I hope, if I don't think the difference between the
American newsweeklies and THE ECONOMIST is quite so vast as you do.
As I said above, I do think the magazine is superior in most respects,
but I wasn't trying to talk about THE ECONOMIST in the posting to which
you respond here.

Coke *is* superior to Pepsi, by the way.

>On one hand, you have nothing but sugar, coloring,
>and water; Timeweek & World Report, with their fluff articles, glitzy
>photos and complete disregard for what the reader knows (or would like to
>know, even if he has to check an encyclopedia for it) sadly seem to be
>regular fare for American readers, even though they are so unreliable
>that high school debate teams are cautioned against using them as a source,
>and undergraduates must search elsewhere for articles relevent to their
>term papers.

Me, I love fluff articles and glitzy photos, but I feel compelled to point out
that NEWSWEEK, and to a lesser extent, TIME, are generally more perceptive
in their reporting of domestic American politics than THE ECONOMIST is.
The latter magazine never "got" the appeal of Ross Perot, for example,
and its reporters have a poor grasp of the dynamics of an American
presidential campaign. (At this point, let me reiterate for the r.a.b.id
that Richard Ben Cramer's WHAT IT TAKES, which deals with the '88
presidential campaign, is a remarkably perceptive, brilliantly written
book that's well worth buying in hardback.)

As for high-school debate teams, well, I can't say that the needs of this
benighted class of American high-school students ought to say anything
about what normal, sane, and nonvicious people ought to read.

>I have to recommend good newsmagazines to my undergraduates for their
>term papers. As it stands, there is no American newsmagazine on that
>list. Quite a shame, I've always felt, that the best news about America
>comes from London.

Given what you write here, I suspect your opinion of NEWSWEEK comes
from your reading of TIME.

Mike Godwin

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Sep 1, 1992, 10:30:27 AM9/1/92
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In article <25...@castle.ed.ac.uk> egp...@castle.ed.ac.uk (JHenderson) writes:
>I'm surprised to have seen no mention of the one US news magazine
>that is intelligent, informative, well-written, and entertaining.
>I refer, of course, to The Nation. The regular columns by, in
>particular, Christopher Hitchens, Alexander Cockburn and Edward
>Said are streets ahead of anything found in The Economist and its
>ilk.

I agree entirely in Jeremy's recommendation of THE NATION, save that
I don't regard as a "news magazine" so much as an opinion magazine.
Although THE NATION also publishes some excellent original reporting,
its mission is different from that of the newsweeklies.

Tim Szeliga

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Sep 1, 1992, 12:01:51 PM9/1/92
to
In article <1992Sep1.1...@eff.org> mnem...@eff.org (Mike Godwin) writes:
>In article <12...@optilink.UUCP> cra...@optilink.UUCP (Clayton Cramer) writes:
>
>>And even by the current definition of "conservative" in America,
>>they aren't conservative. Note their oft-expressed feelings about
>>gun prohibitionism.
>

It is a sign of the intellectual corruption of the age that the honorable term
"conservatism" can be appropriated to disguise the advocacy of a powerful,
lawless, aggressive and violent, a welfare state for the rich dedicated to
a lunatic form of Keynesian economic intervention that enhances state and
private power while mortgaging the country's future.
Noam Chomsky, 1988

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Tim Szeliga Org: National Weather Service / Hydrologic Remote Sensing
UUCP: apple!netcomsv!frost!tim Internet: t...@snow.nohrsc.nws.gov

Nick Haines

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Sep 1, 1992, 12:50:07 PM9/1/92
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In article <1992Sep1.0...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk> m...@cs.qmw.ac.uk (Matthew Huntbach) writes:

I find the Economist's analyses to be very shallow, and its
presentations badly over-simplified - it reads like it's aimed
at the intelligent sixth-former. I suppose the only reason
it is so valued in the USA is the lack of anything better.

Exactly. It competes over here with Time and Newsweek, both solid
examples of drool-proof journalism. American news media are all
enormously dumbed-down.

Nick

Mark Taranto

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Sep 1, 1992, 11:43:33 AM9/1/92
to

Francis Muir writes:

I thought that Matthew Huntbach had the Economist dead to
rights -- aimed at Six-Formers, although that description
wil pass over most Merkun heads.

. . .


Of course, their straightforward style might not appeal
to the pseudo intellectual RAB mindset.

I think that the average pseudo-intellectual r.a.b.ble is able to
comprehend the concept of a magazine being written at the six-
form level -- even if we don't know the exact age of a six-former.

To think that I've been accused of being pompous, when the very definition
of the word is living out in Palo Alto.

Mark

Mark Taranto

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Sep 1, 1992, 11:26:17 AM9/1/92
to

wwhi...@nevada.edu (MICHAEL WISE), from the English Department at UNLV writes:

> I have to recommend good newsmagazines to my undergraduates for their
> term papers. As it stands, there is no American newsmagazine on that
> list. Quite a shame, I've always felt, that the best news about America
> comes from London.

I was thinking about making a snide comment like:

As a graduate of Villanova, I wonder about Rollie
Massamino leaving a school where students in the
English Department read books to go to one where
they read magazines. (For those who don't know,
Rollie is a basketball coach who has a reputation
for choosing players who actually graduate from college).

But I'm sure there is some perfectly good reason why Michael's students
are writing term papers using "newsmagazines" instead of books.

Michael?

Mark

Chris Brewster

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 12:12:32 PM9/1/92
to
Francis Muir writes:

Yes, I have been surprised at the mindless and inordinate amount of
attention that TIMESWEEK has been getting -- as though they were the

only sources of news. ... Of the American pop weeklies, PEOPLE


magazine is the least pretentious and has rather good film reviews.
certainly their standard of writing is quite superior to TIMESWEEK.
Of course, their straightforward style might not appeal to the pseudo
intellectual RAB mindset.

Proposing People or The Nation as alternatives to the newsmagazines
somewhat misses the point, a bit like Sports Illustrated's old slogan
(aimed at potential advertisers) "the third newsmagazine". Although I
agree with the criticisms aimed at Time and Newsweek, other magazines,
good or bad, aren't intended to serve the same purpose (and they don't).
There is value in a good weekly synthesis of news, but no magazine
really delivers this anymore. Time's 3- or 4-page wrapup is pathetic;
compare it with pre-lobotomy Time to get a sense of what has happened to
the country's educational level. (And I had plenty of criticisms of
Time even back then.) The Economist doesn't fill the bill, nor does the
New York Times's "Week in Review", which concentrates on analysis and
essays rather than summarizing the actual news. The function of the
original Time mag is simply no longer being served.

Chris Brewster
c...@cray.com

Chuck Smythe

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 1:24:38 PM9/1/92
to
I concur that Timeweek&World are dumbed down. Opinion on the Economist is
split. I tried World Monitor and found it pretty fluffy too. The Nation and
Foreign Affairs are mostly opinion journals. So can anyone suggest an American
news medium suitable for adults? I've been shopping for one for years, and
am getting discouraged.

Chuck Smythe

mike.siemon

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 1:04:56 PM9/1/92
to
In article <25...@castle.ed.ac.uk>, egp...@castle.ed.ac.uk (JHenderson) writes:

> I'm surprised to have seen no mention of the one US news magazine
> that is intelligent, informative, well-written, and entertaining.
> I refer, of course, to The Nation.

Sigh. I *should* like _The Nation_; it far more closely matches my
own political viewpoint than most of the rest; certainly I am always
surprised when _The Economist_ takes a stance I agree with.

However, like the other American rags, _The Nation_ has the utterly
infuriating tendency to regard all positions but their own as too
vile and worthless to even consider -- the mere mouthings of idiots.
As a result, its articles are little more than smug self-congratulation
on how very good and smart *we* are as opposed to those awful others.
It is like _Forbes_ dressed in a different ideology.

_The Economist_ is often supercilious, sometimes even to the level of
_Time_, but it *will* on occasion *argue* for its positions granting
opposing views the respect of extended and competent statement (one
must put up with smug and condescending editorializing in places, but
it is not universal as it is in American newsmagazines, which seem
to have but one goal among them, defining for the readership what a
correct political attitude should be. Since I have plenty of attitude
of my own, I don't find myself in need of what they are selling.)

And the writers for _The Economist_ *do* write exceptionally well
-- the cute word plays of the headlines seem to suffice, letting
the body text be clear and careful prose making its point without
posturing. (BTW: there is a good parody by Wolcott Gibbs of the
original incarnation of Timespeak; _Time_ has toned down a lot,
but has maintained its pristine disregard for reality.)
--
Michael L. Siemon The Son of Man has come eating and drinking;
and you say "Behold, a glutton and a drunkard,
m...@usl.com a friend of tax collectors and sinners." And
standard disclaimer yet, Wisdom is justified by all her children.

Ed Suranyi

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 1:26:55 PM9/1/92
to
What about those of us who read Time, Newsweek, AND the Economist,
and enjoy all three of them, for different reasons?

The Economist has more of a hard news slant, and, as others have
said, it often covers international news better than the others.
But I find its articles often much too short. When I'm particularly
interested in a topic, the Economist's typical couple of columns
isn't enough for me.

When their cover stories happen to be something I'm interested in,
I love Time and Newsweek's many page long articles. For instance,
not long ago Time had a cover story on an expose of Scientology that
had me saying, "It's about time someone wrote about this in a major
magazine." Another cover story that had me in tears was Newsweek's
on the rise of anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe.

Their maps, diagrams, and charts are much better than the
ones in the Economist, usually. I'm also not ashamed to admit
that I like the color photography. For years I had only
a black and white TV set, so these newsmagazines were the
only way for me to get color pictures of the major news events.

I even like the "fluff" articles that so many of you object to.
For instance, I'm a fan of Jody Foster, so I was glad when Time
put her on the cover not long ago. A lot of the magazines are
just plain more fun than The Economist.

The Economist does tend to have better writing than Time or
Newsweek, though.

Ed
e...@wente.llnl.gov

Mark Taranto

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 1:02:12 PM9/1/92
to

I stopped reading Time and Newsweek in the mid-80s.

My problems with these magazines do not come from their glitz, style
or political bent, but rather because they are not national news magazines.
There was a prevailing provincial attitude expressed in their articles
which indicated that they believed that if something wasn't happening
in New York, Washington or L.A, it wasn't happening.

Two incidents come to mind. In 1980, both Time and Newsweek had cover
articles on the Picasso exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
The exhibit was considered an important one, and I did not mind it
getting the coverage. It only came to two museums. I saw the exhibit
when it opened four months earlier in Minneapolis. I wondered why it
only became newsworthy a few months later when it arrived in New York.

A few years later, two or three Catholic cardinals were installed.
Newsweek had a two or three page article on the new Cardinal from New
York. There was one paragraph on the Cardinal from Boston. There
are two reasons why this struck me as strange. While it is true that
the Cardinal from New York is considered one of the leaders in American
Catholicism, the Cardinal from Boston is also. During the 1950s & 1960s,
Cardinal Spellman (NY) and Cardinal Cushing (Boston) were both in the news
frequently. But the second reason was that the Cardinal from Boston was
a black man. I believe that he is the first black to be an American
cardinal -- and I wanted to find out more about him.

This sort of regionalism swore me off of those magazines. When I moved to
New York, I thought about resubscribing. But, then, I figured that if
I wanted New York news, I'd get the Times.

Mark

William R. Smith

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 1:59:11 PM9/1/92
to
MICHAEL WISE, from the English Department at UNLV writes:

I have to recommend good newsmagazines to my undergraduates for their
term papers. As it stands, there is no American newsmagazine on that
list.


Mark Taranto writes:

But I'm sure there is some perfectly good reason why Michael's students
are writing term papers using "newsmagazines" instead of books.


I don't think the English language has been confined to books just yet.

William Sburgfort Smith
Intel, SSD

Francis Muir

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 3:32:02 PM9/1/92
to
Chris Brewster writes:

Francis Muir writes:

Yes, I have been surprised at the mindless and inordinate
amount of attention that TIMESWEEK has been getting -- as
though they were the only sources of news. ...

There is value in a good weekly synthesis of news, but no magazine
really delivers this anymore. The function of the original Time mag

is simply no longer being served.

Correction. The function of the original TIME magazine has been long usurped
by TV. We have no need of newsmagazines. For a decade or two LIFE was the
pinnacle of photojournalism, and when they saw the impact of TV, they wisely
folded their tent and went away -- returning, what, once a year? once a
quarter? once a month? to remind us of their once glory. So, what we need
now are journals about the news. Commentary. Analysis. The ECONOMIST at least
has recognized this rreality and is doing rather well commercially if not
much to write home about journalistically. The Brits have alwats had more
than their share of pol weeklies. Are they still around? The NEW STATESMAN?
Perhaps Jack Campin or Matthew Huntbach can fill us in. Sometimes some very
specialized technical journals like the LANCET are useful reading for their
more popular stuff.

Fido

Joel J. Hanes

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 3:15:17 PM9/1/92
to

c...@tamarack13.timbuk (Chris Brewster) writes:
>
> Although I
> agree with the criticisms aimed at Time and Newsweek, other magazines,
> good or bad, aren't intended to serve the same purpose (and they don't).
> There is value in a good weekly synthesis of news, but no magazine
> really delivers this anymore. ...

> The Economist doesn't fill the bill, nor does the
> New York Times's "Week in Review", which concentrates on analysis and
> essays rather than summarizing the actual news. The function of the
> original Time mag is simply no longer being served.

Agreed.

(Interesting that no one has even mentioned "Insight".)


I try to read newspapers keep up, since an intelligent
news summary magazine doesn't seem to exist -- at various times,
I've tried the Christian Science Monitor, the New York Times,
the Sacramento Bee ... I grew up with the Des Moines Register,
which used to be a pretty good small-town paper.


Anyway, here in the Bay Area, I read the San Francisco Chronicle
every day, supplemented with the San Jose Mercury News on the
weekends (mostly for their Perspectives opinion section and
for the Classifieds), and I still feel hungry, particularly
for longer articles with detail and understanding.
Neither paper runs much US news, and world news coverage
is even more cursory.

What newspapers are read by members of the r.a.b.ble, and
what are their strong and weak points?

---
Joel Hanes

Francis Muir

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 4:56:41 PM9/1/92
to
Joel J. Hanes writes:

Here in the Bay Area, I read the San Francisco Chronicle


every day, supplemented with the San Jose Mercury News on the
weekends (mostly for their Perspectives opinion section and
for the Classifieds), and I still feel hungry, particularly
for longer articles with detail and understanding.
Neither paper runs much US news, and world news coverage
is even more cursory.

I read the Chron only for my daily ration of Herb Caen; nothing else.
If I wanted to buy or sell something, I guess I'd use the Merc.

What newspapers are read by members of the r.a.b.ble, and
what are their strong and weak points?

Many years Down South endeared me to the Los Angeles Times, and I still read it.
A well-balanced, general-purpose newspaper with some great writers. Personally,
I find their Foreign Correspondents better informed than the NYT. Still in the
same family after many, many years, and it shews. No upstart Oztralian owner
here.

Fido

Chris Brewster

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 4:47:15 PM9/1/92
to
Francis Muir writes:

... The function of the original TIME magazine has been long usurped
by TV. We have no need of newsmagazines. ...

I think this overestimates TV and underestimates the quality of the
newsmagazines in their original incarnations. Sure, they could be slick
or slanted, but they could also provide a good wrap-up of major
developments, from a (slightly!) longer perspective than that of a daily
paper. For example, an ongoing story such as a peace conference or
international blow-up can be difficult to follow from daily accounts,
especially if you're busy that week, on vacation, or whatever. I've
often caught up with such stories by reading a magazine account later.
But there's no really good source of such summaries now. Take a look at
old Times from the 50s or 60s; you'll find you can get a sense of what
was happening at a given time. Whatever misconceptions or biases they
show were undoubtedly true of other media of the time. Time is now
trying to recast itself as some kind of feature magazine, which is much
less useful.

Chris Brewster
c...@cray.com

Mike Godwin

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 5:41:48 PM9/1/92
to
In article <920901154...@cfdev1.shearson.com> mtar...@shearson.com (Mark Taranto) writes:

>To think that I've been accused of being pompous, when the very definition
>of the word is living out in Palo Alto.

I disagree. "The very definition of the word" lives here in r.a.b.
True, Francis Muir lives in Palo Alto (or thereabouts), but I'd be
cautious about assuming that the Palo Alto Francis Muir is
identical to "Fido," "Philomath," "Francis Muir," and other personae
who visit rec.arts.books.

Mike Godwin

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 5:48:31 PM9/1/92
to

>However, like the other American rags, _The Nation_ has the utterly
>infuriating tendency to regard all positions but their own as too
>vile and worthless to even consider -- the mere mouthings of idiots.

One exception to this generally correct generalization: THE NEW REPUBLIC.
Ostensibly a politically liberal journal (except on Israel), it often
publishes articles by conservative writers. TNR articles critical of
conservative opinion generally do not begin by assuming that conservatives
are "idiots"--they instead try to refute the conservatives' arguments
on their merits. Such as they are.

Chris Brewster

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 5:26:33 PM9/1/92
to
Joel J. Hanes writes:

What newspapers are read by members of the r.a.b.ble, and
what are their strong and weak points?

For better or worse, there's really no substitute for the New York
Times. Its foibles and failings are all too obvious (as described in
amusing detail in SPY magazine), but no other publication is even
competing in the same league. A few years back the LA Times provided an
excellent and quite different alternative, but I've heard it has gone
Lite along with everyone else (even Scientific American!). The NY Times
is available in many parts of the country--I get same-day home delivery
in a Minneapolis suburb--and it's well worth the price if you want to be
in touch. (I can't believe I'm sounding like such a promoter, because I
can get quite impatient with The House that Puck Built :-).

Chris Brewster
c...@cray.com

Francis Muir

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 6:21:59 PM9/1/92
to
Mike Godwin writes:

Mark Taranto writes:

To think that I've been accused of being pompous, when the
very definition of the word is living out in Palo Alto.

I disagree. "The very definition of the word" lives here in r.a.b.
True, Francis Muir lives in Palo Alto (or thereabouts), but I'd be
cautious about assuming that the Palo Alto Francis Muir is
identical to "Fido," "Philomath," "Francis Muir," and other personae
who visit rec.arts.books.

In fact I am more like Deus X Machina, if you get my drift. Perhaps a little
deconstruction is in order. "Living out in Palo Alto"? Did Markie once cox
the Princeton Eight? Out in, out in,.... Now. More seriously. I can see how a
person can define something. "Muir defines pomposity" I could understand if
not appreciate. But "Muir is the definition of pomposity"? Does this make sense
even in NY? Oh yes. Its Redwood City, not palo Alto. I left PA when I heard
natives pronounce Cowper street as COWper street. Perleeeeese.

Arf arf

Fido

Steven M Casburn

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 6:34:56 PM9/1/92
to
Mike Siemon writes:
However, like the other American rags, _The Nation_ has the utterly
infuriating tendency to regard all positions but their own as too
vile and worthless to even consider -- the mere mouthings of idiots.

Mike Godwin replies:


One exception to this generally correct generalization: THE NEW REPUBLIC.

Oh, wow. I've got to disagree strongly on this one. I've subscribed to TNR for
two years and, though it is true that the editors do bring a slight variety of
opinion, it isn't nearly as diverse as they try to make it seem.

The biggest case in point is TNR's Middle Eastern coverage. Correct me if I'm
wrong, but has TNR ever run an article even *mildly* critical of Israel's
policy in the West Bank? I have a hard time stomaching the endless pro-Israel
bias. It truly is annoying.

On the other hand, Mike Kinsley usually does a great job in bringing logic to
bear on arguments he disagrees with. So, no, TNR isn't all bad. But I wouldn't
extol it as a model for others to follow, either. I'll be letting my
subscription run out in October so I can afford to re-subscribe to The
Economist.

Steve (scas...@magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu)
--
Steve Casburn (scas...@magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu)
*The* Ohio State University

Crawford Kilian

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 6:52:47 PM9/1/92
to
I would be more impressed with Clayton Cramer's comments if he got his grammar
right. When he says "Their coverage of Florida's 1987 revisions...were severely
in error..." he commits a pretty obvious subject-verb disagreement. I realize
that online composition makes it easy to slip up, but when one is assuming the
Mantle of Superiority one had better make sure it covers one's bare
backside...not to mention one's holster and capgun.

Mark Taranto

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 7:01:45 PM9/1/92
to

mnem...@eff.org (Mike Godwin) writes:

> mtar...@shearson.com (Mark Taranto) writes:

>> To think that I've been accused of being pompous, when the very definition
>> of the word is living out in Palo Alto.

> I disagree. "The very definition of the word" lives here in r.a.b.
> True, Francis Muir lives in Palo Alto (or thereabouts), but I'd be
> cautious about assuming that the Palo Alto Francis Muir is
> identical to "Fido," "Philomath," "Francis Muir," and other personae
> who visit rec.arts.books.

Mike, of course is right -- however this pompous persona does seem to post
from the Palo Alto area.

Of course, I often enjoy it -- even at its most pompous.

Mark


Mike Godwin

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 7:51:15 PM9/1/92
to

>The biggest case in point is TNR's Middle Eastern coverage. Correct me if I'm
>wrong, but has TNR ever run an article even *mildly* critical of Israel's
>policy in the West Bank? I have a hard time stomaching the endless pro-Israel
>bias. It truly is annoying.

I alluded in my earlier post to TNR's Israel stance. I wasn't clear on this,
but one should take my generalizations about THE NEW REPUBLIC to apply
to the magazine's coverage of areas other than Israel and the Middle East.
Even so, TNR does occasionally criticize Israel--it's just that Martin
Peretz is guaranteed to overcompensate in his own editorializing for any
such criticism. And Peretz publishes TNR.

>On the other hand, Mike Kinsley usually does a great job in bringing logic to
>bear on arguments he disagrees with. So, no, TNR isn't all bad. But I wouldn't
>extol it as a model for others to follow, either.

With the exception of its Israel coverage (with which I often agree, by
the way, but which is nonetheless heavily biased pro-Israel), TNR is,
IMHO, a very good model for opinion journals.

Emma Pease

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 8:23:56 PM9/1/92
to

>Mike, of course is right -- however this pompous persona does seem to post
>from the Palo Alto area.

This is true only in a general sense. Stanford, where Francis works
and posts, is not in Palo Alto despite the errors stating it is in
many newsmagazines and newspapers. Nor does Palo Alto claim Stanford;
Palo Alto does not allow mere Stanford residents to step on the
hallowed grounds of Foothill Park, that is restricted to Palo Alto
residents.

I am surprised that Fido did not castigate Palo Alto for closing its
harbor after all I suspect that Redwood residents are just as likely
to mispronounce Cowper (or Berkeley) as Palo Alto residents, but, at
least they haven't closed their harbor.

Emma

ps. I am not sure whether the Economist is guilty of writing "Stanford
University in Palo Alto", but, I suspect it is.


Francis Muir

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 9:41:50 PM9/1/92
to
Emma Pease writes:

Mark Taranto writes:

Mike, of course is right -- however this pompous
persona does seem to post from the Palo Alto area.

Markie does it again. there is no "Palo Alto area". There is a Bay Area,
but that is it by way of areas.

I am surprised that Fido did not castigate Palo Alto for closing
its harbor after all I suspect that Redwood residents are just as
likely to mispronounce Cowper (or Berkeley) as Palo Alto residents,
but, at least they haven't closed their harbor.

No Cowpers in RC, luv. No namby-pamby fawning after the literati. RC has
strong names. 5th Ave. Madison Ave. Jefferson. Roosevelt. My own, Cleveland,
is one block away from a bit of prescience; Clinton. We sport our Perot
bumper stickers with pride. We have four harbors! Dockland, Pete's,
Peninsula, and the Port of Redwood City whereat is stacked a mammoth pile
of salt and an even larger pile of powdered Chevvies.

Fido

Jeff Meyer

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 9:46:16 PM9/1/92
to
Hmmm... glad to see so many other people reading THE ECONOMIST. I
discovered it several years ago, after several failed attempts at finding an
American weekly news magazine that provided more information than opinion
(e.g., THE NEW REPUBLIC, US WORLD AND NEWS REPORT, etc.) While THE
ECONOMIST isn't pure as snow in the objectivity department, they come pretty
close in human terms; more importantly, they *are* awfully good at showing
arguments on either side of an issue, and they really do seem to put more
emphasis on giving you the facts first and their views second.

Plus, the writing is nothing less than a delight to read. (My hearty
congratulations to whoever captions their photos. I've gotten more laughs
from that than any other source over the last few years, I think.)

Other good reasons to read it:

The best international coverage I've seen in an English-language
magazine. Bar-freaking-none.

A good sense of humor. (No, make that a *great* sense of humor. Heavy
on the wry.)

The only news magazine with a science section that manages to explain
the issues and details to an intelligent layman without descending
to TIME or NEWSWEEK's "here's Mr. Neutrino" gurglings.

Yeah, it's as expensive as a magazine gets, but I've gotten it for four
years now, and I intend to keep on subscribing for another four years.
Thank God journalism still flourishes *somewhere*.

"Watching Mrs. Thatcher's performance from my
living room in America brought home (literally)
how impossible it is to imagine President George
Bush, or any leading American politician, uttering
such an obvious but unpleasant truth so
forthrightly. Whatever happens to Mr. Bush, he
will never have the problems Mrs. Thatcher is now
going through, which stem from ideological hubris.
She knows what she believes and is willing to
pursue it past the point of either good sense or
political prudence. Mr. Bush believes in very
little."
-- Michael Kinsley, THE ECONOMIST

Moriarty, aka Jeff Meyer
INTERNET: mori...@tc.fluke.COM
Manual UUCP: {uunet, uw-beaver, sun, microsoft}!fluke!moriarty
CREDO: You gotta be Cruel to be Kind...
**>> Keep circulating the tapes <<**

Message has been deleted

Clayton Cramer

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 4:54:37 PM9/1/92
to
In article <12...@optilink.UUCP>, cra...@optilink.UUCP (Clayton Cramer) writes:
> In article <1992Sep1.0...@morrow.stanford.edu>, fra...@oas.stanford.edu (Francis Muir) writes:
> > The Economist does not operate under American definitions, it is a
> > British institution. In Great Britain there is nothing conservative about
>
> Completely agreed.
>
> > a pro-gun position. There has never been a time in british history when
>
> It was always a Whig position. Read some Sydney Harrington.

Whoops! James Harrington, not Sydney Harrington. Somehow, James
Harrington, Algernon Sidney, and John Trenchard all merged together
into SuperWhig! for a brief moment in my brain.
--
Clayton E. Cramer {uunet,pyramid}!optilink!cramer My opinions, all mine!
Alcohol prohibition didn't work; drug prohibition doesn't work; gun
prohibition won't work.

Clayton Cramer

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 2:52:36 PM9/1/92
to
In article <1992Sep1.0...@morrow.stanford.edu>, fra...@oas.stanford.edu (Francis Muir) writes:
> Clayton Cramer writes:
>
> Francis Muir writes:
>
> As for the Economist, it should be pointed out that
> while they are conservative, they are not Conservative.
>
> And even by the current definition of "conservative" in America,
> they aren't conservative. Note their oft-expressed feelings about
> gun prohibitionism.

>
> The Economist does not operate under American definitions, it is a
> British institution. In Great Britain there is nothing conservative about

Completely agreed.

> a pro-gun position. There has never been a time in british history when

It was always a Whig position. Read some Sydney Harrington.

> owning weapons has been anything but the prerogative of the Armed Forces.
> The sole exception has always been hunting weapons.
>
> Fido

Utterly false. Until the Pistols Act of 1920, gun ownership was
nearly unregulated in Britain. Until the 1870s, there was not
even a licensing requirement for carrying concealed handguns in
Britain.

Oh yes, the Bill of Rights of 1689 (statutory in nature, and
therefore overriden by later laws):

7. That the subjects which are protestants, may have
arms for their defence suitable to their conditions,
and as allowed by law.

John McCarthy

unread,
Sep 1, 1992, 5:23:47 PM9/1/92
to
I was surprised to read about Britain:

> owning weapons has been anything but the prerogative of the Armed Forces.
> The sole exception has always been hunting weapons.
>
> Fido

As usual Cramer has the detailed facts. I was, and still am, willing
to bet Francis $50 that he was mistaken purely on the basis of my
reading of British detective stories. No gentleman was ever
bothered about owning a weapon in such a story.
--
John McCarthy, Computer Science Department, Stanford, CA 94305
*
He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense.

Larry Hammer

unread,
Aug 30, 1992, 2:52:16 PM8/30/92
to
Crawfor...@mindlink.bc.ca (Crawford Kilian) writes:
>The Economist, whatever its politics (and I find its confident tone sometimes
>absurd), has aimed for a market of educated, literate readers who want
>information rather than glitzy layouts and color photographs. While it's
>expensive compared to the US and Canadian newsweeklies, on a per-fact basis
>it's the best bargain around.

What He Said.

Larry "Echo of the Net" Hammer

(yeah, but to whose Narcisis?)
--

L...@albert.physics.arizona.edu \ "One like a wombat prowled obtuse
The insane don't need disclaimers \ and furry" --Christina Rossetti

Mark Brader

unread,
Sep 2, 1992, 2:01:38 AM9/2/92
to
> [The Economist] competes over here with Time and Newsweek, both solid
> examples of drool-proof journalism.

In my opinion, as a regular reader of Newsweek and an occasional reader
of Time, this complaint is grossly exaggerated.
--
Mark Brader "Bad news disturbs his game; so does good;
SoftQuad Inc., Toronto so also does the absence of news."
utzoo!sq!msb, m...@sq.com -- Stephen Leacock

This article is in the public domain.

Francis Muir

unread,
Sep 2, 1992, 9:17:43 AM9/2/92
to
John McCarthy writes:

I was surprised to read about Britain:

owning weapons has been anything but the prerogative
of the Armed Forces. The sole exception has always
been hunting weapons.

Fido

As usual Cramer has the detailed facts. I was, and still am,
willing to bet Francis $50 that he was mistaken purely on the
basis of my reading of British detective stories. No gentleman
was ever bothered about owning a weapon in such a story.

I'm not quite sure I understand the terms of John's wager, so I'll decline
-- although the $50 would come in handy. Unlike Clayton Cramer and, say,
Mike Godwin, for the purposes of rec.arts.books I do not live in a factual
world. My world is perceived. Opinionated. I have made the point before,
and Mike has come to understood this. There is nothing unique in my position.
It is a trick I may have picked up from the Oxford Union, where sides to a
debate are more or less decided by the President, not the persons who are
to be involved in the debate. It does seem to be a uniquely British modus,
and can also be seen in the way the Criminal Justice system works in the
UK. Rumpole rarely has a passionate belief in the innocence of his clients.
What he has is something more important: a belief in the right of the
accused, however lowly, to a good defence.

Fido

William R. Smith

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Sep 2, 1992, 12:04:11 PM9/2/92
to
Emma Pease writes:

This is true only in a general sense. Stanford, where Francis works
and posts, is not in Palo Alto despite the errors stating it is in
many newsmagazines and newspapers.


What, is Stanford an entity unto itself, like the Vatican? I always
thought it was in Palo Alto. Get you get sanctuary on the Stanford
campus?

Mark Taranto

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Sep 2, 1992, 12:49:13 PM9/2/92
to

<wis...@amelia.nas.nasa.gov (William R. Smith)> AKA


> Mark Taranto writes:


Not yet -- but many English departments only teach courses in Literature,
Language (e.g., Grammar & Linguistics) and writing. When I was at
Villanova, even the writing classes were also literature classes.
I know that there are composition classes at some universities
which are JUST writing classes, and I imagine that there are others
where Journalism or Communications are folded into the English
Department.

I wrote e-mail to Michael, when I posted it, explaining that the snide
comment was just a joke, but that I was curious as to why he was using
magazines.

Mark

Dan O'Connell [CONTRACTOR]

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Sep 2, 1992, 1:20:22 PM9/2/92
to
(Joel J. Hanes) writes:

Anyway, here in the Bay Area, I read the San Francisco Chronicle
every day, supplemented with the San Jose Mercury News on the
weekends (mostly for their Perspectives opinion section and
for the Classifieds), and I still feel hungry, particularly
for longer articles with detail and understanding.
Neither paper runs much US news, and world news coverage
is even more cursory.

I too have had to make do with the Merc who seem to get
more than half their stuff from other papers.

IMO, there is really only one worthwhile newspaper:
the Washington Post. The NY Times is okay, but hey!
no comics. Once you get on a diet of the Post, everything
else leaves you hungry.

I get the WP Book World mailed to me out here in Santa
Cruz and it arrives about 3 weeks after the published
date. Invariably, a week or two later one or more of
the book reviews will show up in the Merc, sometimes
without the attribution that it was first published
in the WP.

The other paper I like is the Int'l Herald Tribune,
which is mainly the WP and the NY Times recycled
as an english-language paper distributed overseas.

Dano

Francis Muir

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Sep 2, 1992, 1:51:05 PM9/2/92
to
William R. Smith writes:

Emma Pease writes:

This is true only in a general sense. Stanford, where

Francis works and posts, ...

Correction. Francis works at Stanford but Fido posts from Redwood City.

... is not in Palo Alto despite the errors stating it is

in many newsmagazines and newspapers.

What, is Stanford an entity unto itself, like the Vatican? I always
thought it was in Palo Alto. Get you get sanctuary on the Stanford
campus?

Indeed. An entity unto itself. Erehwon. Sanctuary at Snodfart? Good heavens
no. You must be thinking of the enclave known as the Hoover Institute. Here
several persons have been holed up for several years, resisting all attempts
to get them to recant their Political Incorrectitude. For taxation purposes
we are a Farm, and Law & Order are provided by the Sheriff of the County of
Santa Clara. Think of us as Robin Hood and his Merrie Men.

Fido

John McCarthy

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Sep 2, 1992, 7:31:26 AM9/2/92
to

John McCarthy writes:

Fido

Fido

Ah, I am beginning to understand why Clayton Cramer ought not to be
allowed to post to rec.arts.books. The gall of the man, bringing
into a recreational group concerned with books what actual laws
were passed about guns in Britain in 1870 and 1921.

Joann Zimmerman

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Sep 2, 1992, 5:40:01 PM9/2/92
to

>I read the Chron only for my daily ration of Herb Caen; nothing else.
>If I wanted to buy or sell something, I guess I'd use the Merc.

When I was resident in those parts, I read both the Chron and the
Smerc; when I was looking for financial and technical stuff, or
progress reports on the latest reworking of 101 between Palo Alto and
San Jose, the Smerc was invaluable, but if I wanted cultural news
(opera reviews, art openings, obscure film screenings) I had to look
to the Chron. Neither of them seemed to be truly amazing on foreign
and national news, to my mind.

> What newspapers are read by members of the r.a.b.ble, and
> what are their strong and weak points?

I now read the New York Times, the local fishwrap and the daily campus
paper. I can count on the Times to be considerably more completist
than anything else available near campus; unfortunately this also
applies to their typo level, which appears to have increased
exponentially over the last 3 years. I find their editorial and OpEd
balance to be, well, *interesting*; I agree with about half and
disagree violently with the other half, which suggests either that I
have extreme views or they are being well-balanced, or maybe both.

The local paper (_Austin American-Statesman_, generally known as the
_RealEstatesman_ or the _SpaceCase_) is notable chiefly for its
consistency in underestimating the intelligence of its readers; given
a university community of 60,000 students, faculty and staff, as well
as a large state governmental presence, I would, in the best of all
possible worlds (and perhaps even in some less blessed) expect a
higher level of analysis and reporting. (Actually it shows recent
signs of occasional improvement, but I argue from long experience.)
NYT articles are reprinted therein, but almost always in an abridged
fashion - sometimes so much so as to render the result nonsensical.

The campus paper is *highly* variable on a yearly basis, depending on
what political cabal has taken control of the editorship. The most
recent bunch makes me wonder if they passed any of the required
journalism courses.


--
"[Fiction's] function is not to detail the actual world, but to create
a parallel one. Image by image, phrase by phrase, through artifice and
evocation it must then make that world at once credible and meaningful."
-- Robert Stone ...!cs.utexas.edu!ccwf.cc.utexas.edu!jzimm

Joann Zimmerman

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Sep 2, 1992, 6:13:46 PM9/2/92
to
In article <920901154...@cfdev1.shearson.com> mtar...@shearson.com (Mark Taranto) writes:

>Francis Muir writes:
[stuff, to which Mark takes exception]

>To think that I've been accused of being pompous, when the very definition
>of the word is living out in Palo Alto.

I'm having trouble parsing this; does it refer to Francis in
particular, or to residents of Palo Alto in general? I'm rather
worried because I must confess to having lived there for over seven
years, before I seen the light. My own take on residents of P.A. is
"self-satisfied," not "pompous" - and I can plead guilty as charged to
that one on occasion. But also civically-satisfied - and to see why,
just look at the PaloAlto/MenloPark section of the San Francisco
Bookstore list!

Gerard Fryer

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Sep 2, 1992, 7:12:56 PM9/2/92
to
In article <1992Sep2.0...@sq.sq.com>, m...@sq.sq.com (Mark Brader) writes:
|> > [The Economist] competes over here with Time and Newsweek, both solid
|> > examples of drool-proof journalism.
|>
|> In my opinion, as a regular reader of Newsweek and an occasional reader
|> of Time, this complaint is grossly exaggerated.

Someone writing on this thread observed that the Economist is aimed at
a mere sixth form reading and comprehension ability. Well that's
better than the competition. By their own admission Time and Newsweek
are aimed at about ninth grade (i.e., third form). I have to buy Time
for general news mainly because Hawaii has no newspapers worthy of the
name, but it often makes me seeth: shallow writing, fuzzy ideas, TV in
print. Fortunately both the Economist and the Guardian Weekly are in
the library.

--
Gerard Fryer (g.f...@soest.hawaii.edu)
School of Ocean & Earth Science & Technology
University of Hawaii at Manoa

Don McGregor

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Sep 2, 1992, 8:46:43 PM9/2/92