Atlantic Ascendant

The Atlantic, January/February, 2014


Perhaps Editor-in-Chief James Bennet has developed the complex touch of a successful pro sports team coach. Or maybe the world is handing him better and better stories. Whatever the reason, this issue of The Atlantic is one of the best balanced, most newsworthy, and downright interesting issues yet. And that’s with a minimal emphasis on things literary.

What does it take to find the next grand inventor? Derek Thompson writes, correctly, that such new gizmos are the thing of basements and garages. But how to make use of them? Technology sharing, says, Thompson, that’s the way to co-opt these gadgets for biz benefit. Only partly correct, I say; businesses are hidebound for the most part and resistant to new ideas and gadgets that compel change.

James Fallows talks cancer with Eric S. Lander, as well as new developments in the field of genomics. Is this the breakthrough approach? Lander says there are usually no “AHA!” moments in such things. It’s a process.

Why do the eminently cinematic Elmore Leonard books end up as crappy movies? Christopher Orr gives us a glance at both media. Justified is a hit now on TV, but why? I think there’s been too much devotion to every detail of Leonard’s work in cinema. Movies aren’t books, and movie adaptations need to be willing to do that: adapt the book. A TV series may very well be the better device to morph books such as Leonard’s into a cinematic format.

These Unites States have always looked the other way as criminal enterprises seek the bread to generate legitimacy. Taylor Clark gives us a look at Jesse Willms, a 26 year-old techie scam artist and a purveyor of technology and the Internet in doing just that.

Scott Stossel reveals the aches and pains of his life-long struggles with anxiety. Is there a solution here? Perhaps, but Stossel seems to be saying that the solutions are as varied as the persons afflicted with such anguish.

Too, there’s a glance back at poet Marianne Moore and her life.

More good things within, of course. And this is an issue that is to me an oddity – one I could read over and over.



Visit my website here, and my FB Fan Page here for more on ideas and events that matter to me – and possibly to you.


Of Lists and Being Seduced by Technology

The Atlantic, November 2013


There are many ways to reconsider a year that’s nearly at its end, and The Atlantic makes a unique stab at it this month by using this the Technology Issue to consider the 50 greatest inventions since the wheel. It might be fun to make your own list and compare, but here are a couple of hints: the Internet isn’t #1 and neither is the personal computer. So scratch your head with this poser and have fun.

Bookending this listing is Nicole Allan’s “The Inventors.” The interesting thing here is not various simple widgets invented, or even the more complex ones, such as the airplane or the PC. Instead we find in this list corporate twists to invention, such as and Minecraft.

Since the Internet version of this mag is drifting toward Power Point type displays, Joe Pinsker’s “Die Another Day” chart only follows. In it we discover that over the past century and a half, U.S. life expectancy has almost doubled. How? Take a look at the diseases prominent in each decade.

There’s also an apocalyptic article by Nicholas Carr, “The Great Forgetting,” which reminds us of how dependent we’re becoming on our various technologies.

With the emphasis here on technology, the editors seemed to find it necessary to do some serious grounding and give us Robert Wright’s article, “Why We Fight – and Can We Stop?” In this article, easily the issue’s most provocative, we come to understand that human emotions are eclipsing reason to a greater degree than since the Enlightenment, with a consequent assemblage of neo-tribes based in their members’ emotional components to underscore the point.

This issue gives us yet one more reason to believe that The Atlantic will be around for quite a while yet.


Visit my website here, and my FB Fan Page here for more on ideas and events that matter to me – and possibly to you. I’ll soon be adding podcasts of selected book reviews to my website, as well as an opportunity to buy mp3 files of my reading of Sam’s Place – Stories, so look for those.