The feature stories, dispatches, columns, and original fiction in The Atlantic's June issue include:
The Perfected Self
B. F. Skinner's notorious theory of behavior modification was denounced by critics 50 years ago as a fascist, manipulative vehicle for government control. But characteristics of Skinner's formula have been employed successfully over the years in everything from weight-loss programs to drug rehabilitation. Now behavioral technology--powered by smartphone apps--allows users to gradually and permanently alter all kinds of behavior. As David H. Freedman reports, with the help of our iPhones and a few Facebook friends, Skinnerian tools have the potential to transform us into thinner, richer, all-around-better versions of ourselves.
Plus, on Tuesday, May 29 at 3 p.m., ET, Freedman will answers readers' questions on TheAtlantic.com.
The Vietnam Solution
A showdown is brewing in the South China Sea. Up for grabs is access to some of the world's busiest shipping lanes, rich fishing resources, and oil and gas reserves. With nearly 2,000 miles of its coastline making up the western rim of the South China Sea, Vietnam suddenly finds itself in the midst of fierce territorial disputes with China and other neighboring countries. Robert D. Kaplan examines the unfolding maritime drama, providing a window into Vietnam's evolution from one-time enemy of the United States to integral ally in balancing China's rise.
Fierce, cocky, and built for stardom, Marlen Esparza is the 22-year-old face of the nascent women's-boxing scene. Just last week, she became the first American female boxer to qualify for the London Olympics in July, when the sport will make its Olympic debut. This recognition is long overdue: women weren't allowed to fight in amateur competitions in this country until 1993. Irina Aleksander profiles this rising star--Esparza has signed with Nike, Coca-Cola, and CoverGirl--as she prepares to make Olympic history.
What happens when you take two politicians who agree on just about everything and make them face off in one of the most expensive congressional races of 2012? Thanks to decennial redistricting in California's San Fernando Valley, that's the question facing Democrats Howard Berman and Brad Sherman (yes, their last names even rhyme). Molly Ball talks to the longtime political allies turned opponents about the upcoming election.
The Fraud Detectives
Four years after the housing-market crash, most financial institutions still aren't equipped to find evidence of fraud in the toxic loans crippling their balance sheets. So they outsource the job to companies like Digital Risk, whose employees are trained in the art of fraud prevention and detection. The company tells Beth Raymer it's saving clients billions of dollars every month.
Dumb Kids' Class
Though not explicitly stated, Mark Bowden always knew there were two tiers at his Catholic school: the smart kids' class and the dumb kids' class. Relegated to the latter in those formative adolescent years, Bowden now sees the benefits of being underestimated.
Leave It to Beavers
Two centuries after beavers were nearly eradicated in this country, a growing community of "beaver believers" is reintroducing the animal throughout the American West. David Ferry asks: Can these conservation efforts help us battle climate change?
Cognac's Identity Crisis
Fighting two cartoonish stereotypes--beloved by rappers and snooty codgers alike--cognac is not getting much love in the craft-cocktail revival. But as Wayne Curtis finds, it's a subtle, sophisticated liquor--one that deserves another chance.
The End of Fate
"Social discovery" apps are the latest new new thing. They allow our mobile devices to alert us to the presence of people we know, and to introduce us to people we don't know--people the apps think we might like to meet. Andrew Keen wonders: When we try to engineer chance encounters, does it spoil true serendipity?
How We Got the Crash Wrong
One of the most seductive narratives about the financial crisis is that it was caused by dizzying amounts of leverage on the balance sheets of Wall Street firms. Too bad that explanation is wrong. William D. Cohan tracks the leverage myth from its inception and instead finds that incentives were, and still are, the real problem.
Glenn Beck in Exile
Since leaving Fox News last spring, Glenn Beck's gone from an average of 2.2 million viewers a day for his eponymous show to a hard core of 230,000 subscribers on his new Web TV network, GBTV. But, as James Parker finds, there's no need to worry about Beck--he's building a 24/7 media empire.
Plus, Parker narrates scenes from GBTV, from earnest diatribes to fun chemistry experiments.
AP classes. SAT prep. Ivy League applications. What lengths will a group of students go to meet the impossibly high expectations of high school? Molly Patterson plots their course in this painful coming-of-age short story.
These articles and more are featured in the June issue of The Atlantic, available today, May 24, 2012, on TheAtlantic.com and newsstands.