The Walrus

I’ve finally finished reading through the inaugrual issue of The Walrus, Canada’s newest magazine. It’s Harper’s-esque, and aims to be an issues magazine, with essays on relevent topics. It’s editorial policy states that it has no politics, but as we all know, there’s no such thing as apolitical, particularly in journalism. The first issue certainly reads left.

For a magazine whose preview literature was so witty, and indeed proclaimed coming wit in the magazine, there was a remarkable lack of wit within. No pithy Lewis Lapham-style editorial (despite an article by Hisself in the issue), and the selected ‘readings’ at the begining were suprisingly dry, really. Still, it’s finding it’s legs and while some of the potential humor or at least levity was missed, the information was definitely there, and was interesting.

The meat of the issue was a pair of articles. The first, which I had to take with a grain of salt lest I fall under the spell of a massive conspiracy theory, was about Paul Martin’s empire & business history. It was truly a fascinating read, and I learned all sort of interesting/scary things about Paul Martin. Combined with the new NDP-sponsored Fly Our Flag website, Paul Martin’s shipping history & practices are coming under some serious fire right now.

The other main story was a tale of how SARS spread in & from China to the world this year. The article suffered somewhat by trying to prove the triumph (or at least initial victory steps) of progressive politics in China against the old guard while telling on how and why SARS spread, but the snippets of politics intermixed with health was fascinated. I’m always intrigued at how national health, security & government intertwines at the upper echelons — look, as Leah suggested to me, how much the NIH toes the US Government’s drug-war line, even to the point of contradicting other current, accepted medical research.

Somewhat disapointing, but rather rewarding as well, was that I was able to solve the crossword in the back of the magazine in about 1 hour, yet I’m no crossword-expert. I don’t expect a Sunday New York Times-style impossibility, but something a bit more challening would be fun — it’s a monthly, so it seems reasonable to expect me to spend at least a few hours, over the month, figuring it out.