Parenting, which has been brought into the magazine world by Time Inc. to tap into the baby boom, aims to provide parents with "information and resources--but not strict prescriptions." Its premier issue pretty well fulfills that promise, with plenty of departments offering gentle advice on just about everything that revolves around bringing up children, from trying to stay out of debtors' prison to bike-riding lessons.
Health Watch, for instance, discusses recent findings that getting sick is often an important part of growing up well. Most healthy children get six to nine viral infections a year and a child's immune system is made stronger with each one, the article says, and author Rasa Gustaitis suggests that often "the safest healing course may be the least-aggressive one."
The issue's major quest is to discover what makes children laugh, and Christopher Cerf essays on how humor binds families together. There's also an interview with Theodor Seuss Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, the 81-year-old known to most parents of 3-year-olds as the author of "Cat in the Hat." More seriously, there's a long look at the liability insurance crisis that's causing day-care centers to close and doctors to get out of the baby-delivery business, and a report on how wooden blocks teach children lifelong lessons about everything from gravity to math and even encourage social/emotional growth.
As the Feb. 9 Business Week reports in its cover story on the national frenzy in home equity second-mortgage loans, many consumers have already been only too happy to jump on this 9%, longer-term money (often fully tax deductible) to pay off more expensive loans, make some home improvements or buy that second yacht.
The boom in HELs is really just getting started, says Business Week, and economists can't predict the long-term effects of more American indebtedness. Most debt experts urge potential borrowers to seek loans with no prepayment penalties and with fixed interest rates--or with a cap on an adjustable rate. Business Week, somewhat worriedly, suggests caution: The easy-to-come-by blessings of HELs today can become horrors tomorrow. If your life or the economy turns sour, or if interest rates soar and you default on your second mortgage, you might lose your home.
Sure, there are pieces on the America's Cup, last week's race at Daytona and how tough Big Ten basketball is this year.
But real sports guys know what season it really is at Sports Illustrated: swimsuit spectacular time. It's the usual splash, with a cover and 34 colorful inside pages full of seven models leaping, posing and cavorting in T-back tops and bikinis and backless lace-up suits.
The sports angle? As dubious as always. Cover girl Elle Macpherson, a former Aussie back-stroker, looks like she might be standing on a boat. And Kathy Ireland is lying draped in the rough of Teeth of the Dog golf course in Casa de Campa, Dominican Republic, where SI went to shoot its mid-winter tradition. Everything looks pretty tasteful and tame this year, with no borderline outrageousness that Hef might envy.
Making fun of Fun City is what Spy magazine is all about. And New York City looks like an inexhaustible resource for Spy's rich mix of sassy, designer-label satire and out-there journalism.
It's very hip-defying, trendified and name-droppy, and delivered in a U.N. General Assembly of type fonts and goofy graphics. But New York jokes travel far and Spy works for Beautiful Persons and yuppies of the humblest origins.
Regular Spy features include a column on the New York Times, letters to the editor of the New Yorker (which doesn't print any itself) and assorted local governmentia industriously lifted from court cases, police blotters and health department restaurant inspections.
Among February's highlights are a report on the seventh annual conference of the Phobia Society of America, a Reagan quiz on presidential misbehavior and Nouvelle-O-Matic, a do-it-yourself food guide that allows everyone to "create odd and colorful restaurant meals in your own home." Spy's cover article, "Scary New York," is a regular socio-psycho-cultural extravaganza of paranoia: New York runs on fear, says Guy Martin, whose list of N.Y.C.'s Top Five of Fear is currently topped by "fear of owning inferior children."
Bits & Pieces