Magazines: the Cs.

Continuing this year’s magazine reading adventure, my next two reads:

Coastal Living — at its best, this is a nice walkthru of design ideas for waterfront homes. If I was building such a home, I’d buy this mag and peruse it for ideas. At its worst, the magazine seems typical of a magazine created by an industry trying to flog its wares — the magazine is all about encouraging you to buy more stuff, to feel bad about the stuff you have. There were some beautiful places featured in the mag — Casa Morada in the Keys, Shorepine Village in Oregon. Oh and I never knew Hobie Cats were named after a guy named Hobie.

Conservation in Practice — A very pragmatic magazine about conservation. No extremism here — just practical articles on small realistic steps in conservation. An interesting article on Virtual Ecosystems — I guess I’d call this computational ecology. Another article on distributing risk — creating multiple independent habitats for endangered species. Good guide to wise seafood eating at Blue Ocean Institute.[PDF]

The Believer

My 4th magazine of the year is The Believer.  Literary and arts criticism, waaaaay outside of my comfort zone — I’ve never read a magazine from this genre before so take anything I say with a grain of salt.

I have to admit I enjoyed it thoroughly.  I expected that it would take  itself way too seriously, but I was pleasantly surprised.  One significant theme in the December/January issue was a focus on pop culture, pop literature, pop art.  Somewhat lightweight works, but the articles in the mag brought the full weight of literary analysis to bear.  Very interesting to read deconstruction and criticism of the Sweet Valley High and Nancy Drew series of novels (“the training bras of literature”), a thorough review of the domain of “how to become a novelist” self-help books, an interview discussing the films and music of Ice Cube, an analysis of Howard Cosell.  The mixing of serious analysis with lighter material was entertaining. 

There were weightier pieces too  — on genetic engineering of humans, the relative merits of The Pianist vs Schindler’s List.  I found these less compelling. 

No ads.  I’d buy again.

Boating Magazine

My 3rd magazine of 52 this year. Boating is the largest circulation boating mag in the US — nearly 250,000 paid copies a month, predominantly male, median age 46, middle class. While I don’t normally read this mag, I have at times been a boating nut — I had my first motorboat when I was 7 years old, I had my first boating accident when I was 7 years and 2 days old.

Stream of consciousness: 369 boaters killed in 2001, usually people in the middle of the experience curve with 3-5 years boating 50 hrs a year (hey this is way more dangerous than mad cow, why aren’t we destroying boats?)…advertisement for the boston whaler — my teen years boat, what a great boat…some dude spent 12 days in a diving suit walking the bottom of loch ness, impressive…Schaefer is rated the best cheap beer for a long day in the sun…no surprise here, you can get great deals on marine electronics on ebay…Anchor effectiveness is a function of fluke area, not weight..tilefish is the hot new dish, tastes like lobster…the Multi-Agency Craft Conference sounds way cool, the military boat show: Outboards that run on any fuel (even whiskey) — completely submersible outboard engines for SEAL missions — electrical supply from outboards for boat electronics — bulletproof inflatable RIB boats — shock absorbing decking and seating for human cargo — roostertail-free designs for reduced radar signatures…

Overall a good read. A large variety of boating info, product reviews, color articles, etc.

The American Spectator

My 2nd of 52 magazines this year (see here for setup).



I am fairly apolitical, usually voting for “none of the above”, and I never read political rags. I knew The American Spectator was a political rag when I picked it up, wasn’t sure of the orientation tho — the lead article on the cover was about the “CIA’s Baghdad blunders” which made me think this mag might be critical of the current administration. Boy was I wrong.



Anyway, the stream of consciousness…Page 5, big ad for Ann Coulter’s latest, OK I must be in a right wing magazine…ok some funny stuff in here at times — “the Ba’athist wing of the Democratic Party”, a lot of shots at Rush, some sense of humour…very critical of the CIA in Iraq over the last several administrations (can’t find the article on the website, the website sucks)…long seemingly well-written article about tensions in Iraq between US military and civilian administrations…two-page ad for the Conservative Book Club — don’t inflict new ideas on your brain…a very ugly article by Tom Bethell suggesting that democracies would be better off if we restricted the voting franchise to the people who really understand the issues, well-educated and successful men…some nice travel points by Ben Stein — Hill’s Resort and the Edgewater in Idaho…Circulation: 46,300…some truly whacky quotes from other media — Bush similarities to Bundy, an “I Hate Bush” screech by Jonathan Chait.



Net/net — this is a weird magazine to get your head around. Some truly hateful ideas, some articles that seem more well-written, a sign of a sense of humour at times — it seems like there must be 3-4 editors that each get to push their content into the mag — kind of like the latest Outkast CD. Overall it left me feeling a little dirty though, I definitely could not read this magazine regularly. As someone outside the normal target reader market, the magazine left me feeling less sympathetic toward’s its viewpoint, not more, because at times it is so strident — which will probably be my reaction to most political rags.

52 Magazines or Bust

52 magazines or bust (kottke.org) — a great idea, read 52 new and diverse magazines this year, one a week, things that I wouldn’t normally read.


I was overwhelmed at the magazine rack and decided the only way to implement this was to work my way through the alphabet. Magazines starting with the letter “A” the first two weeks, and so on thru the year. So my first pick is Archaeology. Circulation 215,000; fairly well educated. My stream of consciousness on the contents…published by a 125 year old organization, not a johnny-come-lately…they also offer “Dig” magazine for kids with an archaeological bent (seems like a tough sell)…amazing copper-alloy bowl from 2nd-century Roman occupation of Britain…maybe even more amazing 1000BC conical hat from Germany, what were they thinking?…book review of a brief history of the human race, sounds good…an Erich von Daniken themepark???, holy cow…they run some cool trips…a metal detector owner is called a “detectorist”.

OK net/net, this is pop archaelogy for the college educated. A fun read, not too deep. Not sure I could read this every 2 months, there is not a ton of news in this field, but fun to pick up and look at. Completely apolitical, very little opinion content that I could find.