Online opinion outpost


This week Issues and Ideas brings you a new feature called “Online Opinion Outpost.” As much as you love hearing from everyone at The Universe, we thought you might like some thoughts from other journalists.

Occasionally we’ll feature opinions on the latest hot topics from the nation’s biggest news sources. To read the op-eds in full, visit the links below.

Rolling Stone cover choice

New York Times

But singling out one magazine issue for shunning is over the top, especially since the photo has already appeared in a lot of prominent places, including the front page of this newspaper, without an outcry. As any seasoned reader should know, magazine covers are not endorsements.


To counter our natural desire to think that those who attack us so vilely must be totally unlike us, we need not only the words denouncing them, but images that reminds us that they weren’t born as what they became. This juxtaposition makes the mystery manifest: Someone like us became someone who hates us.

Stand your ground

The New Yorker

In plain English, it’s part of the cultural foundation of the country. Stand Your Ground, as it’s now called, or “no duty to retreat,” as it was called back in the day, is irrational, because it’s meant to be. Attorney General Eric Holder’s blasting of Stand Your Ground strikes something deep-seated, no matter how twisted. Those of us who are haunted by the sight of violence struggle to understand why, in the face of so much evidence, irrationality is allowed to rule. Lincoln’s answer was that it’s because the symbolic identity that guns provide matters more than the rational calculation of the harm that they do. When, Lincoln wondered, would Americans outgrow this feeling? In 1838, he thought it would happen soon. And here we are, still wondering.

Anthony Weiner roasts

LA Times

Weiner’s political fortunes depend in large part (OK, probably mostly) on how forgiving voters are. Before this latest humiliation, polls suggested they had indeed moved on from his first scandal and were willing to give him another chance at a political career.

New York Times

Still, there is a point in political scandals when bad behavior stops being a joke and just becomes sad and depressing. We have reached that point with Anthony Weiner. Who decided to run for mayor while knowing this was the almost inevitable outcome: new humiliation, public uproar, tragic wife. All because he cannot imagine life outside of the limelight.

USA Today

Weiner is by all accounts exceptionally bright, talented and ambitious, but the devils that haunt his psyche drive more that just his disturbing sexual deviancy. Someone with impulse control as weak as Weiner’s should not be in a position of responsibility. Nor should someone so indifferent to the consequences of his actions. Nor a compulsive liar. Nor a digital flasher prone to behavior that’s unacceptable even for teenagers – at least not until he’s really managed to reform himself.

Royal baby rattle

USA Today

It turns out that having a baby in the posh and presumably high-priced hospital where the duchess of Cambridge gave birth costs about $15,000, about half as much as the typical $30,000 for an American delivery (though insurers typically pay an average of about $18,000 after discounts). … Parents of new babies in America don’t necessarily expect to be treated like royalty. But they’d like to be able to give birth for less than a princely sum.

LA Times

OK, people, simmer down. Whether or not the Brits understand the business of X and Y chromosomes, one area in which they reliably outshine Americans is irony. Middleton’s delivery of George Alexander Louis is “perfect” not because Britain hates women (QE II has done just fine for 61 years, not to mention the many Commonwealth nations that have had female prime ministers) but because, like it or not, it makes the narrative perfect.

Magic intellectual property 


Current copyright law for magic is like saying you need a gun to rob a bank effectively, so, actually, let’s just make the whole robbery legal.

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