The Atlantic Opens Its Doors

A few weeks ago, The Atlantic Monthly opened up 125 years worth of archives on the web for free! That means you can read all past and present Atlantic for free whenever you want!

So, for those new to the Atlantic: Plan on spending a long, Saturday night by yourself, sifting through reams of high quality content on politics, culture, books, international relations, and more. You won’t be disappointed.

In the most recent issue, two articles of note.

James Fallows offers an excellent layman’s explanation of how, exactly, China is “subsidizing America’s way of life.” If you’ve ever scratched your head after reading articles that talk about China sitting on American dollars, read this article.

And Caitlin Flanagan, one of the funniest and wittiest writers alive, looks at the Today show and Katie Couric. It’s a stellar analysis from Couric’s start at Today to her disasterous run so far on the evening news. Here are two grafs:

The Today show creates a bond with its overwhelmingly female viewers because so many of them watch it, as I did, during one of the most psychologically complex and lonely—and most emotionally fulfilling—times of their lives: their tenure as mothers to small children. Indeed, one reason the show is so successful and profitable is that long ago its producers realized that American households follow a rhythm: early in the morning, there is a great bustling of activity as the working members of families propel themselves out of the cocoon and into the cold world of commerce and adult preoccupation, and then there is a quiet settling down, once the cars have backed out of the driveways and the neighborhoods have been drained of their breadwinners. This is a delicate moment for any mother who spends her days home with children: on the one hand, the number of household residents who feel they own a piece of her has just diminished; on the other hand, she’s been left behind with the babies and the pets.

It is into this emotional void that the Today show’s second hour comes to the rescue, trumpets blaring: out go the first hour’s reports on war and politics and economic trends, and in come pieces on family and shopping and decorating. “The men are gone,” the show seems to tell us. “Now we can talk about the things we love”: the exact way to sneak vegetables into the diet of a finicky toddler, the trick to putting aside a little money for a family treat, the essential components of a first-aid kit for the car—all the minutiae of running a household, presented without irony or scorn by hugely compensated media celebrities. It is the loneliness of at-home motherhood—the loneliness for other adults, for the adult way of life, for the work clothes and schedules and employment itself—that makes the hosts of the Today show crucial.

2 Responses to The Atlantic Opens Its Doors

  1. Jason Godley says:

    Ben – Marvelous article on China / US interplay by James Fallows. Reminds of the piece titled “Chimerical? Think Again” in the WSJ in Feb 2007 by Niall Ferguson. Interestingly, I took an extraordinary course at grad school called Doing Business in China taught by Professor Kenneth Lieberthal (Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for Asia, National Security Council, all under President Clinton) who as it happens, personally investigated the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade (James Fallows makes reference to this in his article) on behalf of the President. Lieberthal’s first hand account is fascinating, among the many other stories he shared…will have to give you download at some point…

    Also, one interesting point made by Prof Lieberthal is that although the U.S. trade deficit with China was a staggering $202B (in 2005), it is important to look at the trade deficit vis a vis the entire Asian region. Shockingly, Asia’s portion of our total trade deficit is smaller than it was 20 years ago. China merely encompasses a higher proportion of the total Asian deficit than in prior years. Today, China is the merely a center for final assembly of products that are shipped there from other Asian countries. I find interesting – his thoughts on page 26/27 of the Dividend.

    Link:
    link to bus.umich.edu
    DividendAlumniMagazine/Fall_2006/Dividend_Fall_06.pdf

    Meantime, one thing James does not point out is a big reason the Chinese don’t save is the gaping lack of a social safety net in China (little to no retirement regime, horrendous healthcare, etc.) so the Chinese find themselves saving for health issues and retirement. A paper we researched for the class on the healthcare / insurance system was extremely eye-opening into Chinese society. Even the simple notion of basic insurance was sometimes incomprehensible. One property and casualty insurance executive working in Shanghai that we interviewed said that small business owners don’t see the need for basic fire insurance citing the fact that ‘they’ve never had a fire, so no need to insure?!’

    Below is link to my impressions from trip we took to China in 2006 – phenomenal opportunity to extend our learning from classroom / reading into the field…

    Link to China impressions: //jgodley.blogspot.com/2006/07/china-trip-impressions.html

  2. Jude says:

    Back when I had more money, I subscribed to the Economist, The New Republic, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic. When I became poor, it turned out that the only one of those magazines that I couldn’t live without was The New Yorker. I still miss the others sometimes, but not often. This is the direct link to the Koran article I mentioned before: link to theatlantic.com

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