The dispatches, articles, and columns in The Atlantic’s January/February issue, available online today, include:
My Anxious, Twitchy, Phobic (Somehow Successful) Life
Debilitating anxiety is the most common form of mental illness, afflicting one in four people at some point in their lives. Scott Stossel, The Atlantic magazine’s editor, is one of them. Crippling fears of failure, public speaking, flying, heights, and more have beset him since childhood. He’s tried medication, booze, and decades’ worth of therapy. And yet nothing has fundamentally reduced the underlying anxiety that seems hardwired into his body. Drawn from Stossel’s forthcoming book, My Age of Anxiety, here is the story of how he came to find redempti0n is an otherwise miserable condition.
Plus, what do Hugh Grant, Gandhi, and Thomas Jefferson have in common? As Stossel reports, some people who suffer from anxiety spend their lives in the public eye.
The Dark Lord of the Internet
Jesse Willms may be the most financially successful 20‑something you’ve never heard of, a bizarro Mark Zuckerberg. He was behind such infamous online websites that proclaimed “World’s Most Extreme Women’s Weight Loss Solution” and “Lose Weight with Wu-Yi Tea and you will Earn $1,000 Doing It!” At just 26, he has already lost two fortunes to legal settlements. But he is now building a third. Thus Taylor Clark warns: if you have a credit card, and use the Internet, you would do well to learn more about who Willms is—and what he does.
How to Escape the Community-College Trap
Almost half of all U.S. undergraduates are enrolled in community college, yet most of them will never earn a degree—and hardly any will do so quickly. These institutions have made it their mission to be flexible and offer copious options for “nontraditional” students, but in doing so, writes Ann Hulbert, they have built a system that actually puts students at a major disadvantage. Here’s how to fix that.
The Little Town That Might
Shipping pregnant cows to Turkey, tapping tidal energy, harvesting the sea, and manufacturing military gear—tiny Eastport, Maine, the easternmost point in the United States, is trying to become one of the world’s bustling deepwater ports and an emblem of small-city renewal. James Fallows recently spent time in Eastport as part of his “American Futures” reporting project, and files this dispatch on an exemplar of American reinvention.
The Jewish Mark Twain
Everyone knows the Tevye of Fiddler on the Roof, but who can name his original creator? Behind the musical that concocted a “Tradition” for the multicultural era stands Sholem Aleichem. But as William Deresiewicz argues, the writer who shaped the future of Yiddish literature shouldn’t be mistaken for a mere spinner of artless folktales.
- The Daddy Track: Paternity leave around the world is becoming more common—and getting longer—enabling more men to spend time with their newborns. While this has obvious benefits for the father-child relationship, Liza Mundy reports that extended leave for dads is also helping to level the playing field between men and women—in the workforce and at home. Read more
- Finding the Next Edison: Outsiders are responsible for a striking number of inventions and innovations. Which makes Derek Thompson wonder: How can business enlist more of them? Read more
- The Eavesdropper: Megan Garber goes in the field with Sherry Turkle as the noted psychologist and tech critic fights to save the dying art of conversation. Read more
- In this month’s Study of Studies, Julie Beck examines who cheats—and why. Read more
- When Will Genomics Cure Cancer?: James Fallows talks with the biogeneticist Eric S. Lander about how genetic advances are transforming medical treatment. Read more
- The Accidental Spectator’s Guide to Improving Sports: Juliet Lapidos did not grow up watching sports. As an adult, however, she has been subjected to countless hours of throwing, catching, and flopping. Here, her suggestions for how to make baseball, basketball, football, and soccer superior spectating experiences. Read more
The Culture File:
- Pawnshop Nation: For James Parker, a wave of reality-TV shows about pawn stores, storage lockers, and hoarders perfectly captures our post-recession obsession with stuff. Read more
- The Elmore Leonard Paradox: Christopher Orr ponders why so many screen adaptations of the work of America’s most cinematic novelist are so bad—and what makes the exceptions, like TV’s Justified, so good. Read more
- The Archaeology of Beer: Ever wonder what libations tasted like thousands of years ago? According to Wayne Curtis, Dogfish Head’s ancient, hybrid brews embody a flavor from long ago. Read more
- A Brief History of the Mile-High Club: Only true aviation geeks are likely to celebrate, or even notice, the milestone being celebrated this year in the history of aviation: the debut, a century ago, of the autopilot. By eliminating the need for taxing “hand flying” on long journeys, the invention ultimately made flying much safer. But it had another, less obvious benefit: It freed up pilots to do other things with their hands—and bodies. Former FAA official Mark Gerchick reports on the origins of the Mile-High Club, which date back to 1916. Read more
Finally, the Big Question on our back page: What party would you most like to have attended? Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, Animal House director John Landis, novelist Danielle Steel, and others weigh in.