On Ideals

Book coverThe title of the post makes it sound like I’m about to write an important philosophical treatise; however, I’m really going to talk about the magazine.

The magazine was published in Milwaukee, so when I was a kid in the 1970s, the world was awash in Ideals. As a matter of fact, I got a free copy for some reason when I was in elementary school. I want to say that it had a sailboat on it, but the 1952 Adventure Issue might be stuck in my brain because I bought it in my eBay sales days and have used the image for software testing in the last couple of years. I was kind of excited about the free copy of the magazine I got because I didn’t have many books in those housing project days, and anything free, especially a book, was a gift. But when little boy me tried to read it, I found it to be a collection of photos and poems. So although I carried that magazine forward a while, I’m pretty sure I never read it completely.

So, as I mentioned, I grew up in a world where you’d see the magazine in schools, in homes, and in shops. But somewhere that world ended. As late as the early 21st century, I saw them from time to time in book sales and garage sales, but even that diminished.

As a matter of fact, I didn’t even see this issue at a garage sale. I saw a box of vintage home magazines that I bought for my beautiful wife because she likes going through them for old recipes and whatnot. When she came to the Autumn 1962 Ideals in the stack, she gave it to me because I have a penchant for reading chapbooks of poetry and whatnot. So I read it.

This issue focuses on Autumn, harvest, and Thanksgiving themes, although some of the poems seem to remember harvest and Thanksgiving as coming together, but in most of the country the date was fixed to the end of November by the late 1870s (I looked it up). So maybe some of the memories in the poems were smeared, or perhaps they were variant dates.

Most of the memories of school starting were from one-room schoolhouse days. This wasn’t a conscious throwback–in Missouri, at least, the rural areas did not consolidate their schools into sprawling school districts until the late 1940s, so the writers of these poems would remember those days instead of the warehouses of children those of us from cities and reorganized districts would remember.

At any rate, I read the book in the evenings, on my glider overlooking the sunset and the rolling hills of Greene County, Missouri. I’m getting old enough that it’s easy to push my nostalgia buttons, even for a time where I didn’t live. So I enjoyed the publication more than the poems within it.

You know, the poems in it aren’t such that they’ll be studied in 400 years, but poems written 400 years ago aren’t studied today (the cranky old English major spat). These poems were written by amateur poets, graduates (sometimes) of those one room schoolhouses (but probably not high school) who went on to have families and then spend some idle time writing poetry. That rhymed. Using words that many adults of the (then) Future wouldn’t even know. This is what our great grandparents and grandparents often did instead of playing games on their smartphones.

Creative hobbies versus consumptive hobbies. It seemed like in the past people did a lot more creative things with their free time. Music. Woodworking. Working on cars. Writing little poems. Now, it’s television and video games. Maybe I’m just thinking along these lines because I’ve spent too much time recently (and when you say “recently” at my age, sonny, that can mean the last decade) just reading books and playing Civilization IV (because the new-fangled Civilizations are Not As Good as the old ones). But I don’t think it’s just me.

The borrowed nostalgia and the nostalgia for my youth where Ideals was available gave me the brief urge to start collecting the magazine or at least to pick it up when I see it in Ozark or Clever, but I’m fighting the urge, believe it or not. I have a lot of things already to read. But time, and the availability of the magazine, will ultimately guide how many of these find their way into the shelves at Nogglestead. It will probably be more than none, although it might take me a while to read them.

As I was reading the Autumn 1962 issue here, I was pleased to see some incarnation of the periodical is still in print. Sometimes I like to see the threads of memory from my youth carried forward into my middle age.

Magazine Report: Image Magazine 1978

Image Magazine 1978 coverI bought a couple of these at a book fair in the St. Louis area; I reported on the first in March 2009, right after my mother died and before I moved to the Springfield area. Strange that it’s been so long, but not long at all. Sort of.

This one precedes the first one I read by 3 years. This one, from 1978, was published when I was 6 years old. It doesn’t have a volume or issue number in it, but given that the magazine from three years later was volume 9, one would assume that the magazine itself had been published since the year I was born. Weird.

At any rate, like the other one, this one includes work by Lyn Lifshin and a host of other poets of some caliber or another. Nothing that I’ll remember discretely, unfortunately, but I could say that about most poetry anthologies, too, including the greatest works of Shakespeare and probably most of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s books.

The magazine also has an essay about the history of literary magazines in the St. Louis area. Plucky little guys. Sixteen years later, I ran my own little literary magazine in St. Louis, the St. Louis Artesian. It didn’t last as long as Image, and we never published Lyn Lifshin. So there you go.

At any rate, it’s interesting to me, so I felt the need to tell you all about it.

Wrap Your Mind Around That

From a ForbesLife profile of a wealthy dude:

ForbesLife caught up with him in his art-stuffed, highfloor pied-à-terre in Manhattan’s Time Warner Center, where the horizon-to-horizon views vie for attention not only with his collections but also with the 56-year-old’s own furniture designs, computer and light sculptures, and wildly pixilated, geometric floor painting, apparently of the cosmos disappearing down a black hole.

Pied-à-terre means, literally, foot on earth. So it would seem that a high-floor foot on earth is a bit of a paradox.

Interviewer Underestimates American Can-Do Spirit

In the December 2010 St. Louis Magazine, Robert Meyerowitz talks to author Eric Jay Dolin about his latest book Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America.

Meyerowitz underestimates what the American people can put their mind to when they want to do something when he “asks” (it’s not a question, it’s a viewpoint the journalist wants the author to agree with):

And somehow the beaver survives this slaughter, albeit in lesser numbers—by some conservative estimates, from a high of more than 60 million when Europeans came to North America to around 10 million today. Despite our best efforts, we didn’t eradicate it, or the buffalo or the sea otter.

Despite our best efforts? Well, here are the two common flaws with the question:

  • Talking about historical residents of the continent as “we.” The better to charge contemporary residents of the United States with the alleged sins committed by the forefathers of some small portion of the population.
  • Confusing the result with the intent. Mankind, and Americans, have hunted species into extinction and into near extinction, but in most cases that was not the intent. Trappers wanted beaver skins for hats so the Europeans would look cool. They could make money from the skins. They had nothing against the beavers themselves. When Americans want something eradicated, it gets eradicated. See smallpox. Well, Americans used to, before less intelligent Americans formed People for the Preservation of Pathogens that Kill People and whatnot.

The author of the book responds with:

We came pretty darn close. When you only have 1,091 buffalo left and you had 30 million, that’s a close shave. With beaver we did virtually exterminate them as we swept east to west. Now they’re making a comeback. The beavers, of all the animals, are the ones that are actually doing the best as far reestablishing themselves.

Sure, and now governments kill them as a nuisance when they block up creeks and streams. You know, when they act human and alter the environment to suit their needs. Naughty little beavers.

You know what saved the beavers and let them come back? It wasn’t enlightened consciousness. It was a change in fashion.

The beaver saver

What was my point?

Oh, yes, the interviewer in this case really took the opportunity to pose a flawed, leading statement to a publicity-hungry author. That question was designed to put Man, especially Americans, in a bad light and to elevate the poor beaver and bison.

If we, and by we, I mean people who died centuries before I was born and fewer centuries before most of my ancestors arrived had wanted to spend their best efforts to kill all the beavers, they would all be dead a long time.

Where Are The Vapors?

I received a sweepstakes packet from Readers Digest today:

A check from the treasurer's department!
Click for full size

What I want to know is where are the news outlets and lefty blogs on this one? The GOP sends out a fundraising mailer which really isn’t so much a survey as a fundraising vehicle with the word CENSUS on it, and everyone foams at the mouth about the mean Republicans trying to trick its previous contributors into contributing again or something, but here you have a stodgy old magazine trying to entice senior citizens to enter their contest by mimicking an IRS tax refund, and we get nothing.

So, gentle reader, I will leave it to you to gauge whether the people who shriek like a struck Porkins are entirely earnest in their concern for the gulls beneath them or if they simply don’t know anyone who subscribes to Readers Digest to see what the old people are reading (like they contribute or sign up for GOP communications to see what the ENEMIES are saying and doing).

You Don’t Have To Share My Religion To Be A Heretic

In this Forbes piece about the busiest actors in Hollywood, Dirk Smillie utters heresy based, no doubt, in ingnorance, but heresy just the same:

Likewise, Christian Bale’s top six movies over the past five years brought in $1 billion, with some 70% of that box-office gold coming from his roles in the Batman series–Dark Knight and Batman Begins. Not every actor who’s played a Marvel character is as lucky, of course. [Emphasis added.]

That’s it, I’m looking for some kindling.

I would have expected the comments on an Internet post of such a mistake to erupt with righteous outrage. However, I might be the only comic book fan who reads Forbes. Certainly, I hold many “only … who reads Forbes” distinctions.

Thanks, Wall Street Journal Magazine, For That Uncomfortable Conversation With My Preschooler

I was eating breakfast with a magazine spread before me. This time, it was the new slick that the Wall Street Journal bundles with its paper. I’m looking at this story, somehow involving a woman and an exercise bike. I forget anything beyond that.

Woman on bike

“What is she doing?” my three-year-old asks.

“She’s riding an exercise bike,” I reply.

“I think she’s in bed,” he says.

“Uh huh,” I respond in that recognition that he’s being imaginative and contrarian as three-year-olds are when they’re not sleeping and sometimes when they’re eating.

Then I glanced at the left hand page.

(UPDATE: John wants a NSFW label on this post. I initially didn’t put one on it because it was SFWSJ. However, in hope of getting more traffic, here it is: Potentially NSFW. That made you click the Read More link even faster, didn’t it?)

Continue reading “Thanks, Wall Street Journal Magazine, For That Uncomfortable Conversation With My Preschooler”

Talk About Instant Savings

I received two Forbes subscription renewals in the mail the other day. The same day. With a $40 difference in a six month subscription rate.

First, a congratulations on my recent move and an offer to renew at $59.95 for 26 issues:

$60 for 26 issues.
Click for full size

In another envelope, an offer to renew at $19.95 for 26 issues:

$20 for 26 issues.
Click for full size

As you know, I take a larger number of magazines than I can read in a contemporary fashion. And you know one of the factors that makes me decide which ones to let expire?

How stupidly the circulation department treats you.

Forbes doesn’t rival Fortune and other Time-Warner magazines in trying to trick you. Yet.

The Value Proposition of Magazines

Lileks finds a value proposition in printed magazines versus online versions:

Some of the happiest moments of my life consisted simply of sitting in an airplane reading the Economist, lost in the big thick glossy parade of news and stories from everywhere, assembled with skill, and presented without a slime trail of ignorant comments at the end.

Another, of course, is that they lack PointRoll-intruding, Trojan-sharing, and memory-leaking advertisements.

One wonders if printed magazines will enjoy a resurgence based on a backlash against those detriments. Probably not.

The Emphasis Is On Magazines

You know what won’t sell me on a “business” magazine subscription?

These are magazines.  They are not pro-business.

Gushing about the man atop the administration that’s going to punish any free business that isn’t government business.

Some lean left, some lean right, we lean forward? You mean progressive aka “left,” don’t you, Businessweek?

The important thing to remember about these rags is that they’re magazines that cover business. That is, they have the normal media biases and the normal collection of journalists writing and editing them. And if something is good for The People, business be damned.

Book Report: The Best of National Lampoon #3 (1973)

I bought this book at a garage sale or such, probably for a quarter. I’d hoped to turn it into a vast eBay profit back in the day when a small timer could hobbyhorse a bit of profit out of eBay, but those days are gone and the book made up a small part of the 16 boxes of unsold speculative books I had in my closet. I culled through them one final time to find books I might like to read before I get rid of the lot, and this one filtered out.

You know, I’ve always found National Lampoon more amusing than funny. I even had a subscription to it, briefly, in middle school or high school because my mother, funder of all magazine subscriptions at that time, didn’t realize it had the occasional boobies (please don’t tell her now, for it would break her heart to know that she enabled her hormonal teenage boys in any way). I didn’t get a lot of yuks out of it even then, and the boobies were marginal at best.

This book collects pieces from 1971 and 1972. Unfortunately, that means that 50% of the topical humor applies to topics before I was born. A lot of Vietnam humor, which I don’t find particularly amusing, much less funny. I could appreciate some of the non-political humor, such as Chris Miller’s parody of a Mike Hammer story, but I’ve read my share of late sixties pulp to access it.

So this book doesn’t hold up well. Also, no O’Rourke and only a little Beard. Worth a glance or browse if you’ve got nothing else, maybe even worth a quarter if you’re not over sticking it to that lying bastard Nixon. If it’s too funny, you’re too old.

In Touch with Middle America

In this month’s Playboy, in between alternate Bush-bashing and baring, a round table entitled “Rip. Burn. Die.” gathers music industry insiders to discuss the problems and challenges within the industry. While discussing exhorbitant concert prices, two known figures offer nuggets of insight into the little man’s mind set:

  • John Mayer:
    We charge around $40 for a ticket, which isn’t a lot of money. Twenty-three year old kids have $40 to spend on a concert. They may say they don’t, but they do.

    (John Mayer doesn’t point out that $40 represents almost seven hours’ of labor at minimum wage. Factor in the convenience fee applied to a ticket, and you’re looking at a full day’s work. Now, imagine you’re taking a date; that’s Monday and Tuesday of your work week, which isn’t a big deal to John Mayer. Now, say you’ve got a family, and you need parking for the minivan, and suddenly you’re not buying any souvenirs or food, and the concert’s not that much of a good entertainment value, but who am I to complain? I’ve already been to one whole concert this year.)

  • Sharon Osbourne:
    We could charge more, but with what’s going on with unemployment in this country, we want to keep ticket prices down.

    (Ms. Osbourne doesn’t mention that unemployment is still at a relative historical low, which means that if she had her druthers, the marked increase in ticket prices would be even more if she weren’t afraid to lose more concertgoers, so she’ll get in a little dig at the current president if she doesn’t have anything else to say.)

Thanks for your insight, celebrities and those whose work provides them with a better-than-middle-class living which apparently has divorced them from fiscal realities here outside the stratosphere.

The Most Censored Blogger in America?

Cartoonist Art Spiegelman drew some comic strips that the New Yorker magazine did not accept for publication, and now that he’s gotten his time in the bright lights of the television cameras, he’s rightfully claiming that he’s been censored.

I know how that heavy burden of oppression feels, my friends, because on many occasions, I, too have been censored by the New Yorker, as this revealing photo proves:

New Yorker rejections
Click for full size

Many times, the boot of Big Publication has stood upon my neck as I have written to express my own precious personal feelings and thoughts, and I have been censored! As a matter of fact, it’s not just been the jackboot of Big Publication, but the centipede parade of Big Publication, Medium Publication, Literary and Little Publication, Regional Theatre, Literary Agents, and on occasion, Web zines.

For example, here we see the truncheon marks upon my psyche left by Bostonian brownshirts at the Atlantic Monthly:

Atlantic Monthly rejections
Click for full size

You see, they have so many people to censor that they cannot afford to use a full sheet of paper! Also, the people at 666 Broadway, whose magazine I have sincerely and somewhat bitterly mocked on this very Web log, Harper’s, have crushed my first amendment rights, but at least they used a full sheet of paper:

Harper's rejection
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But it’s not just the coastal barons who’ve silenced my voice. Speer Morgan’s thugs at the Missouri Review have deprived me of my government-given right to expression at someone else’s expense:

Missouri Review rejection
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And here’s one from Gardner Dozois at Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. Extensive documentat analysis indicates that not only has The Manditor brought me down, but he didn’t even sign the letter himself!:

Isaac Asimov Science Fiction Magazine rejection
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And the list goes on and on. Here, a gang-censorship display from Playboy, Pleiades, and Poetry:

Group rejection
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Does that make me the most censored blogger in America? The thickness of the stack might say yes

The complete book
Click for full size

However, I think Art Spiegelman might answer, “No! I’m the martyr! Look at me, look AT ME!”

In Case You’re Wondering

Fark has a Photoshop contest for Playboy covers, and as an inspiration, they link to this story. Fark inadvertently calls the March 1980 the “best ever” Playboy cover.

Au naturel contraire. The very best Playboy covers are:

  1. November 1971
  2. November 1970
  3. May 1973
  4. December 1988
  5. July 1970

Trust me. I have seen a lot of Playboy covers in my day. Ask me sometime, and I will tell you about the Great Playboy Score.

Reader Survey Response for Speakeasy Magazine

As some of you know, I fancy myself a “Writer” who dabbles in fiction but also keeps his or her, sorry, Proper Writer Ettiquette sneaking in, MY eyes on more literary fiction, just in case I write a short story in which no crimes occur, no swords are swung, and nobody disappears into a quantum universe. Market research, don’t cha know?

So anyways, I picked up a copy of Speakeasy, a writers’ musing kind of magazine which contains a bunch of personal essays typically grouped around a theme by professorial writers. I liked it well enough to subscribe, so now I get this magazine delivered every week. Of course, since I was once voted by the Marquette University English Deparment staff as the Most Likely Not To Return To the University (I think I was the only one in the program, and certainly I seem to hold that distinction), I’m not a typical subscriber.

In fact, I work for a living. Well, I write software documentation, and it’s true you can put an analogy on the SAT that says Work:Technical Writing::Play: and make the correct answer b.) Napping. I spend 40 hours a week, 49 weeks a year, turning the great Corporate Millstone. Oh, and I vote Republican. So I’m not exactly a typical Speakeasy subscriber.

So I was ever so pleased to read my May/June 2003 “Speak Out! Voicing Dissent: A Special Section On Writing and Politics” issue. Not only does it amuse me to read the prognostications and pre-emptive outrage for the coming war with Iraq that these sorts of magazines provide (read any Harper’s from the winter and spring for fun), but it included the Speakeasy Reader Survey.

I have such a blast shattering stereotypes of typical readership that I had to respond:

How do you get Speakeasy?

 X I subscribe
 _ At the newstand or bookstore
 _ Borrow from a friend
 _ At the dentist’s or doctor’s office
 _ I’m a Loft member
How do you read Speakeasy?

 _ From cover to cover
 _ I’ll finish reasing most of the issue before the next arrives
 X I might read a few articles that catch my eye
What do you do with your copy of Speakeasy?

 _ So far, I have been saving them
 _ I pass it on to ____ (this # of) friends
 X It goes out with the recycling
Are you…..

 _ A writer
 _ A reader
 X A writer who reads
 _ A reader who writes
If you consider yourself a writer, what do you like to write?

Genre fiction, essays, user’s guides
Where do you write (in a café, at home, in the garage…)?

In a home office
Has your work been published?

 X Yes

 _ No
As a reader or writer, what do you value most in Speakeasy? Why do you read Speakeasy?

I enjoy the brief, lightweight musings.
Which of the following actions has Speakeasy inspired?
[I assumed they meant in me]

 _ I bought a book reviewed or advertised in the magazine
 _ I developed a colossal case of writer’s block
 _ I read more by a consulting author
 _ I brought a Speakeasy theme into my writing or discussion
What types of books do you like to read (poetry, mysteries, fiction, cookbooks…)?

Mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, nonfiction
Where do you typically get your books?

 _ Library
 _ Borrow from friends
 X Purchase
Where do you purchase most of your books?

 _ Chain Bookstores

 _ Independent, local bookstores
 _ The Internet
 _ Catalogs
 X Garage Sales
How many books (of all types) did you buy last year?

 _ Less than 5 [sic]
 _ 5 to 9
 _ 10 to 14
 _ 15 to 19
 X 20 or more
What else do you like to shop for?

 _ Clothes – I’m a fashion maven

 _ Music – I love (circle):
          Rock and roll
          Other: _______________
 _ Furniture, housewares – my home is my castle
 _ Anything, but only on the Internet
 _ The parking lots? The crowds? I’d rather read
 _ Other __________________
Where do you buy most of your food?

 X Supermarket

 _ Farmer’s market
 _ Co-op
 _ Health food or specialty store
 _ Other ____________________
What is the ideal beverage to accompany your reading or writing?

 _ Hot cocoa
 _ Orange juice
 X Beer
 _ Wine
 _ A good martini or two
 _ Coffee
 _ Other _____________
While writing or reading, do you like listening to music?

 X Yes

 _ No
What kind of music?

What other magazines do you read regularly?

 _ Poets & Writers
 _ Utne

 _ The Sun

 _ Outside

 _ The New Yorker

 _ Bon Appetit

 _ Rolling Stone

 X Other

    The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Family Handyman, Handy, St. Louis Homes, Intercom, Technical
    Communicator, America’s 1st Freedom, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Spin, Esquire, FHM,
    Writer’s Digest, The Writer

    [I had to include an attachment to list these, which represent only my current active
In the last year, how many times did you attend the following cultural events?

Live music? _1_
Live theater? _0_
Art gallery or museum? _1_
Movies? _10_
Publication reading? _0_
Spoken word event? _0_
Book group? _0_
Writers’ group? _0_
Environmental group? _0_
Political forum? _0_
Political demonstration? _0_
Other _0_
[Heck, I didn’t even go to that many hockey games this year.]
Have you ever written a letter to the editor of your favorite newspaper or magazine?

 _ Yes

 X No
[Of course, my current favorite magazine is The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
You don’t write too many responsive letters of outrage to genre digest magazines. It has, however,
rejected my short fiction submissions.]

What kind of television do you watch?

 _ Only the news

 _ Cooking shows – as many as possible
 _ I indulge in the occasional sitcom or dram–a good story is a good story
 _ Sports
 X TV? I never touch the stuff, give me books!
[Apparently, this question refers to what type of television content you watch, not
what kind of television upon which you watch it. We use a 25″ Sharp.]

What is your favorite literary moment involving a car?

[Who can name any literary moment involving a car?]
What kind of car do you imagine yourself driving?

 _ Honda sedan

 _ BMW convertible
 _ SUV
 _ Hybrid vehicle
 X Vintage muscle car
 _ Why drive? I own a bicycle
[I doubt by “hybrid vehicle” they mean like a
DUKW, but that would be a cool vehicle to
have. Of course, by “Vintage Muscle Car, I mean a 1984 Ford Mustang GT with a 5.0 liter

What kind of car do you actually drive?

GMC Sonoma pick-up
What’s your favorite travel activity?

 _ Theme parks

 _ Cruises
 _ Hiking/biking
 _ Ecotourism
 _ Gambling
 X Activity? I prefer to lie on the beach [or sit in a coffeeshop] with a book
Where have you traveled in the past year?

 X The continental United States
 _ Canada
 _ Alaska, Hawaii, or the Caribbean
 _ Central or Latin America
 _ Europe
 _ Asia
 _ Africa
 _ Other ____
[Nobody tell Tim Blair that
Australia doesn’t get its own check box, the same as Antarctica.]

How do you make travel plans?

 _ I’ve had the same travel agent for years

 X Internet, Internet, Internet
 _ Plans? I point wes (east, south, north) and drive
[Better answer for me: Say “Okay” to
beautiful wife.]



 X M

 _ F

 X High school
 _ Technical school
 X Some college
 X Undergraduate degree
 _ Advanced degree
[An undergraduate degree in philosophy leads one to recognize that an undergraduate degree
or an advanced degree would require some college as a prerequisite.]


 _ Professional

 X Technical

 _ Business owner

 _ Educator or academic

 X Writer, artist, or other creative field

 _ Self-employed

[I wanted to check “academic,” too, since no one really reads the friendly manuals so my
job is largely academic, but I doubt that’s what they meant.]

Household Size

 _ 1 adult

 X 2+ adults _0_ Number of children

Annual household income

 _ Up to $30K

 _ $30K to $40K

 _ $40K to $50K
 _ $50K to $75K
 _ $75K to $100K
 _ $100K to $250K
 _ More than $250K
[It says check one, but what do you do if you make $30K a year? There are two check boxes!
Note that I have not filled this out for you, dear readers, because as my maternal grandfather, Grampa
Naperschevski, used to say, “Do not reveal sensitive financial information on the Internet.”]

City of residence

Maryland Heights
State of residence


All right, it’s not the Political Compass quiz, but it’s something, and I don’t doubt I fit into the minority of subscribers who voted for Bush for president and will do so again.

I’ve subscribed to slicks every since I was a lonely conservative voice in Writing Intensive English program at college, when I spent twenty bucks on Harper’s instead of, well, textbooks. I hope that my answers to surveys like these remind the editors that a variety of viewpoints consume their material, and to remember that pick-up driving people in the reddest part of the red states can be thoughtful, inquisitive, and appreciative of good prose.

But it’s too easy for me to think that if the magazines do notice the low numbers who responded atypically don’t matter, or were merely shining them on.