Dr. W. C. Galinat of the University of Massachusetts has developed corn with square ears. The venerable doctor of philosophy "bred for this trait when he discovered that airlines don't serve corn on the cob because it would roll off the plate."
This and other horticultural nuggets are available from The Avant Gardener ($15 for 24 annual issues from Box 489, New York, N.Y.). Dial an Insider
The National Journal, that wounderful weekly compendium of political insight, has just published its quadrennial White House Phone List. It is all encompassing and very accurate. The National Journal is at 857-1491. Copies are $4. Paper Cutters
Today's first economics lesson. In the Republican age of budget-cutting, less is more.
Now consider the strange world of scientific journals. The length of scholarly papers has been decreasing. To compensate there are more papers. Which has created the category of Least Publishable Unit, the minimum amount of new data that qualifies for publication. "Sociologists," reports the March 13 issue of Science, "say paper inflation is growing to the point that it is possible to publish and perish."
Writing in The New England Journal of Medicine, one scientist has half seriously suggested that "the National Institutes of Health should limit the number of papers by each author to five per year, with a stepwise reduction in funding as an automatic penalty for each paper published above five."
Now, let's apply this to magazines and newspapers. . . The Root of All Evil
Attention please: "Liberationist theory suffered a blow to the solar plexus when, in remarking on the commercialism that . . . preceded Pope John Paul II's trip to the Philippines, Manila's Cardinal Jaime Sin advised that 'Money is the excrement of the devil, but it is also good fertilizer.'" This from the March American Spectator ($15 annually from Box 1969, Bloomington, Ind. 47402), which also reports that "In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Mr. Rex Speiler, a former American professor of political science, was rushed to a hospital after collapsing in the street. According to a placard worn around his neck, Mr. Speiler had walked through downtown Kuala Lumpur for weeks insisting that he was a Kleenex tissue and refusing solid foods until 'some good soul uses me.'" Good Fences Make . . .
Lead of the month, this from the 24th in a series of personal stories under the general heading, "It's Not Easy to Be a Woman Today" and the specific headline "My Son Had to Marry the Girl Next Door" in the April Ladies' Home Journal:
"My teen-age son, Mark, came into the kitchen one afternoon while I was putting meat loat in the oven, and began shuffling his feet nervously as he waited for me to set the temperature dial. . ." Face Lift
William Whitworth, formerly an editor at The New Yorker, seems to be working wonders at The Atlantic, which as recently as six months ago was easily confused with Harper's, The New Republic, The Saturday Review, etc. Walter Barnard, who was responsible for redesigning Time, has given it a fresh, clean, yet classic new look. The range of subjects is broader, and the April issue has stories from a half-dozen good writers, including Philip Roth's third installment of his new novel, "Zuckerman Unbound." (This is not Mort Zuckerman, the publisher of the Atlantic, but Nathan, the character from Roth's last novel "The Ghost Writer.")
Magazinaholics will want to note that the first installment of "Zuckerman" appeared in The New Yorker in February. The second is in April Playboy, and the final one will appear in the May Atlantic. Picture Perfect
Robert Frank, arguably one of the five most important photographers in history, quit making still images back in the '60s and began making movies. He's resumed still work, and the first published results, in the new Spring CoEvolution Quarterly ($14 a year from Box 428 Sausalito, Calif. 94966) are impressive. Soup du Jour
An important insight into the world of culture and art can be culled from this conversation between Andy Warhol and Mary Tyler Moore in the April issue of Warhol's Interview magazine:
AW: Can't you get Mary, Phyllis and Rhoda back together again?
Mary: Why would I want to do that? It wouldn't be good for the audience.
AW: I watch the "Brady Bunch" and it's good for the audience and it's so much fun.
Mary: I'd be playing the same character that I did for seven years. It would be like asking you to paint the same Campbell soup can again.
AW: But I do. It's great. Everybody does the same thing over and over again. I like to do the same thing every day. Well, I'm different.I like to paint the same painting. If I had my way I'd paint Campbell soup cans every day. It's just so easy and you don't have to think. It's just too hard to think. Tattle Tale
Philip Agee, the spy who can't come home, tells why he disclosed the names of fellow CIA agents: "Our main goal in naming names has always been to weaken the CIA and make it more difficult for the Agency to install and keep in power the Pinochets of the 1980s and 1990s," he writes. There are responses from Thomas Powers, Frances FitzGerald and five others, all in the March 14 Nation. New Blooms
Spring brings daffodils, new magazines and time for looking at a few unusual ones:
Public Illumination Magazine is smaller than a 3-by-5 card and devotes its monthly issues to special themes. This month's topic is tongues, and includes a biography of St. Bernardino Realino, tongue twisters, shoe tongues and glossalalia. Six dollars annually from 257 Lafayette Street, New York, N.Y. 10012.
Opinion Outlook is a well-researched weekly edited by political analyst Alan Baron and published by the National Journal. It is a concise exegesis of surveys that have been taken around the country by different organizations, as diverse as the Gallup Poll and Redbook magazine. Who's drinking what? How does the nation perceive nuclear power and sexual harassment? Do the media create fear? Two-hundred ninety-five dollars a year from 1730 M St., Washington, D.C. 20036.
New Roots is a pleasant amalgamation of energy, health and back-to-land information in the style of a rustic, even more down-home Mother Earth News. Nine dollars and 95 cents from Box 548, Greenfield, Mass. 01302.
Chips, as in lay a few on the blackjack table, is an unbelievably slick monthly that blends Penthouse with the Daily Racing Form and covers every type of gambling. Fifteen dollars annually from Box 488, Pleasantville, N.Y. 10570.
RAW is the best vehicle we've seen yet for the bizzaro cartoons that have come into their own after a jarring birth in the '60s acid culture. It's the size of Life magazine, and the current issue includes bubble gum, bubble-gum cards and a small comic book inside the big book. Five dollars per copy from 27 Greene St., New York, N.Y. 10013.
Destinations is subtitled "A Traveler's Guide to Special Places Around the World." It has been underwritten by BMW, which is to say that all the ads are for BMWs. It is published by the 13-30 Corp., best known for the college giveaway Nutshell and for making money enough that its owners were able to by Esquire. Its design director is the art director of Life and its editor-in-chief is the editor of Esquire. The first issue includes a Tim Cahill report on fishing off the southernmost tip of the Baja peninsula and Patricia Wells on Fredy Girardet and his amazing nouvelle cuisine restaurant in Switzerland. You cannot subscribe to this magazine. (Who said capitalism isn't strange?) Single copies are available by sending $3 to 505 Market St., Knoxville, Tenn. 37902.
R&D Mexico is a slick now entry into the field of science magazines, and seems to be living proof that a magazine can be about as esoteric as it wants if it defines its audience well enough. Specifically here, that audience is the subset of human beings who read English and want to know once a month in capsulized form what's going on in the fields of science and technology in Mexico. Twelve dollars annually from Box 992, Farmingdale, N.Y. 11737.
Alternative Sources of Energy is the best how-to magazine for the layman interested in reducing fuel consumption in home use and transportation. Wind, solar, biomass -- it's all here. With enough technical background to explain but not confuse. And a heavy emphasis on practicality. Six bimonthly issues are $15 from Micaca, Minn. 56353. Short Takes
The Ladies' Home Journal has paid $99,000 to serialize Kitty Kelly's unauthorized biography of Liz Taylor . . . Don Moser has become editor and Joe Bonsignore publisher of Smithsonian . . . Geo has bought Realites, whose March/April issue will be the twice-lived magazine's last. Subscribers will begin receiving Geo instead . . . Porter Briggs has assumed controlling ownership of American Preservation, a handsome but financially troubled bimonthly on classic architectural style . . . Bernard Goldhirsh, the successful creator of Inc., will launch two new magazines this fall: High Technology for the technically sophisticated; and Technology Illustrated for the layman. Meanwhile in Boulder, John Klingle hopes to start Technology in November, a bimonthly aimed at exploring the ramifications of technological advances. Bob Shnayerson, who recently left Quest after he refused to print a piece written by his publisher, will edit the magazine . . . Subscribers to National Geographic received a bonus issue on the topic energy. Copies are available for $1.45 from Dept. 5000, Washington, D.C. 20036 . . . Newsweek has decided not to begin regular publication of Focus, a magazine it test-marketed last year . . . Panorama, a monthly TV-Guide stepchild, will fold with its June issue for lack of circulation . . . magazine advertising revenues increased 8 percent last year to $2.846 billion.
And finally, a grocer in Coloma Township, Mich., was robbed last month by a masked adolescent wielding a .45 pistol. Police said the boy told the grocer "Don't do anything." He then walked over to the store's magazine rack, grabbed a copy of Penthouse an dfled. His age was estimated to be 14, weight 90 pounds.