Newsweek on Campus, the monthly collegiate version of the weekly grown-ups' magazine, has a mission no one would envy.
First, the intended readership is bound to have its highly sensitive antennae up for signs of condescension, myopia, irrelevance, bogus hipness, hypocrisy and general geekhood.
Second, even the shortest antennae can detect (in the pages of ads for typewriters, the Army National Guard, acne preventatives and Maranatha Campus Ministries) the commercial inspiration of the magazine.
Third, of course, students with normal horizons would rather read, or be seen to be reading, Newsweek itself -- if Newsweek is lucky -- than something with training wheels.
An offcampus appraisal (in a sibling publication, yet) may be suspect, but the September issue is far from loathsome or simple-minded. For better or worse, the editorial judgment and presentation in Newsweek on Campus would be at home in the parent magazine.
For instance, it is hard to imagine campus (or other) readers not absorbed by the cover story about celebrity professors -- the paradox of many universities "needing recognition to attract better professors and needing better professors to obtain greater fame."
The current outrageous example is that of Jehan Sadat, widow of the Egyptian president, who cost the University of South Carolina $325,000 for three semesters of reportedly light lifting. The cost is not just financial. "When you hire these stars, in effect you're saying to the rest of the department, 'You're doing the dishes,' " in the pungent words of one Berkeley professor.
Sadat may be an exception, though. The more visible problem seems to lie not with academic amateurs but with bona fide scholars who achieve independent celebrity and thenceforth can never be cured of swelled heads. When Newsweek on Campus reports that Cornell University's Carl Sagan is besieged by callers who want to share news of their extraterrestrial contacts, it is hard to think of two more mutually deserving types.
Another story in this issue may be more familiar to today's students than to outsiders looking in: the underground campus trade in fake IDs, keeping pace with lower-drinking-age laws. In some places, $65 will buy you a genuine state-issued driver's license. One entrepreneur, the magazine notes, must have been listening to Oliver North: "It's capitalistic to note a demand and create a supply to fill that demand." The only effective deterrent -- fittingly -- seems to be the warning that felony perjury raps don't look good on re'sume's.
Labor Unions According to humor columnist Dave Barry, "The office is a highly romantic environment, where everybody wears nice clothes and discusses important issues such as the Three-Month Sales Forecast, in stark contrast to the home environment, where people tend to wear bathrobes with jelly stains on them and get into vicious day-long arguments over who put the ice tray with a dead roach in it back in the refrigerator."
So Men's Health magazine decided to conduct a serious, though unscientific, survey (among its overwhelmingly male readership) about hanky-panky in the workplace. One startling finding: 17.8 percent of respondents would "consider it a come-on if a single coworker of the opposite sex offered to take you to lunch." Competitiveness experts should note that more than 6 percent of respondents admitted to spending an hour or more every working day engaged in sexual fantasies.
According to this otherwise plausible survey, 18 percent said they'd had sex with a coworker during office hours, and 26.1 percent said they had had sex in their place of work. So it's not surprising that when respondents were asked, "If you could completely eliminate all the sexual undercurrents in your place of work ... would you do it?" 30 percent said yes and 70 percent said no way.
Men's Health, a new bimonthly magazine from Rodale Press (publishers also of Prevention), is not just about sex. There's a good piece in the October issue about snoring; another on shaving and skin care; another on how to use your kid as an exercise machine; and a helpful essay by Roger Yepsen summarized by its title, "Help, I'm Becoming My Father!" And, back on everyone's favorite subject again, a jolly excerpt from "Dave Barry's Guide to Marriage and/or Sex," quoted above.
Table of Contents Virginia Sen. Paul Trible's performance as a member of the Iran-contra congressional panel left an impression of "a man bent on wallowing in the picayune, the irrelevant, and the peripheral, probably out of fear that toying with bigger things might bring political harm." So says Fred Barnes, in the October American Spectator, in a piece ("Senator Jello") presciently written before Trible's withdrawal from the 1988 Senate race.
We need more foreign correspondents like Rolling Stone's P.J. O'Rourke. His report from Panama in the Oct. 8 issue reflects his sensitive understanding of the issues at stake in that troubled land: "Crazy greasers -- they've always got bees in their panty hose about something. We gave them their silly canal back. Now what's the matter?