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This Week in Magazines: The "Test Madness" of Our Medical Lives

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If President Obama truly wants to deal with our mess of a health care system, perhaps somebody should read June 8 Forbes and its concise dissection of our "test madness," namely endless and fear-ridden search for illness.

"Eight Tests That Could Save Your Life" underscores that "only a precious few-disease screening tests make a difference in health adults." And when we do screening tests, says one government expert, five things can happen and four are bad: they can show you have a disease you don't; indicate you don't have a disease when you do; discover a slow-growing disease you'd be better off not knowing about; and they can waste lots of money with bad information.

So this suggests sticking to tried-and-true tests: having your blood pressure checked; having your bad cholesterol monitored; make sure an internist calculates your overall heart risk level; get your body mass index since fatsos have a higher mortality rates, notably from cardiovascular disease; get your waist circumference (risky if above 40 inches for men, above 35 inches for women); check for osteoporosis through bone density screening if you're a woman 65 or older; test your blood sugar for diabetes; and test for cancer via pap smears for cervical cancer, a colonoscopy for colon cancer, and mammograms in women 40 or over.

---June 1 New Yorker's "Slim's Time--Who is Carlos Slim, and Does He Want the Paper of Record?" is a very solid Lawrence Wright profile of the Mexican who may be the world's richest man and has helped the New York Times Co. in a time of travail with a $250 million loan at a 14 percent rate. Those who are suspicious of the de facto telecommunications monopolist will find much to be anxious about but there's also a seeming mix of passivity and plain ignorance about the paper (he only reads it when he's in the U.S.) that may bode well. And, if folks at the Times wonder how to play Slim, who seems just insecure enough intellectually to be malleable, dispatch columnist Tom Friedman as emissary. Slim appeared to be very much in his thrall when they first met many years ago, according to this account. As for future battles over newsroom resources, it wouldn't be bad to have gazillionaire Slim on the side of the anxious, if admirable, editorial department.

---June Fast Company's "100 Most Creative People in Business" starts, no great surprise, with Jonathan Ive, senior vice president of industrial design at Apple. But there are many others whom you probably don't know on what seems a fascinating list straying from many usual suspects. Indeed, even the Pentagon is lauded via John Garing, the chief information officer at the Defense Information Systems Agency, who is ranked No. 12 (he just beats fashion designer Stella McCartney, No. 13). "His version of cloud computing, called RACE (rapid-access computing environment), acts as an open-source innovation lab for military developers, complete with peer-review certification." Two of the more curious picks are Sheila Bair, chairman of the FDIC, and Dietrich Mateschitz, boss of Austria-based Red Bull, which sold four billions cans of its energy drink last year. This asserts he's "blurring the lines between retailing, sports marketing, and entertainment."

---May-June Elite Traveler, "the private jet lifestyle magazine," offers a look at the new Learjet 85, which seats up to 10 and can be yours for "about $17.2 million," and gives us an itinerary for sailing the Mediterranean on yachts for two weeks (the preferred boat comes your way for $56,600 a week, "fully inclusive," with your stays potentially including the "1,620-square-foot Gwyneth Paltrow Suite at the Capri Palace" on Capri). And there are also tips for overall security for the magazine's readers since "violent reprisals on the affluent are the product of mounting financial distress."

---June Vogue offers a photographic homage and solicitous profile of Cameron Diaz; a stronger look at our United Nations ambassador, Susan Rice, who blows off steam about some of her UN counterparts when it comes to Darfur; and a slim look at a generally uncooperative, very protected, Rafael Nadal, the Spanish tennis prodigy.

---As for the reinvention of Newsweek, well, ah, let's wait a few issues before opining.

---June Harper's is very much worth the provocative "Let Them Eat Cash," Frederick Kaufman's look on the world's approach to famine and other food shortages, notably the role of the World Food Program and Bill Gates in trying to bring a more market-oriented, entrepreneurial set of responses. A tale of good intentions run amok tends to concur with the cautionary notes of Amartya Sen, the 1998 Nobel Prize winner in economics and a food shortage expert who tends to believe that agricultural subsidies do not work and that market forces will aggravate and distribute shortages elsewhere. One needs quick emergency income-creation and employment programs, democracy and a free press (as an early-warning system). And though some of Sen's work has been funded by the Gates Foundation, when asked about a much-publicized Gates partnership with the World Food Program, Sen doesn't shill as he responds, "It can do a lot of good. But it's not the way of solving the problem."

Sen might have similar qualms if he reads "Farm Futures" in May-June Foreign Affairs. Former World Food Program chief Catherine Bertini and former Agriculture Sec. Dan Glickman (now the movie industry's chief lobbyist in Washington) argue that the U.S. must put agriculture at the center of U.S. foreign policy. "The Obama administration should make agricultural development its number one priority for foreign aid and actively enlist support from other donors and the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank."

---June 1 ESPN will bring joy to that beleaguered, soccer-loving Americans, with "Yo Lo Que Hago Es Jugar Al Futbol (What I Do Is Play Soccer)," a profile of FC Barcelona's Argentinean wunderkind, Lionel Messi, born with a growth hormone deficiency (he's just 5'6") and now the world's best player, whose legendary team confronts equally-celebrated Manchester United in Wednesday's European Champions League final in Rome. He's not a marketing powerhouse like David Beckham but he's a far better player. "With a ball at his feet, the 21-year-old Messi is a genius of self-expression, stringing together tricks ad techniques like words in impromptu poetry: right cut, left cut, give-and-go, between-the-legs...all at top speed." Even the soccer aficionado Kobe Bryant called out in the Olympics village last summer, "Messi, you are the best!"

---"What's a Friend Worth?" asks June 1 Business Week, as corporate America tries to make money by discerning insights about our online relationships. Marketers are "leading the way," based on the premise that if our chums buy something, it's likely that we'll buy it, too. This heralds "an immense new laboratory of human relations" that's playing out, with tons of data produced. A Columbia University sociologist working for Yahoo! says the data "could be as transformative as Galileo's telescope was for the physical sciences." Oh, one vaguely surprising fact is how potent Facebook is not yet an effective home for advertisers since visitors focus on friends, not ads, and Facebook "brings in scarcely a dime a month per member."

---And this week's journey to the obscure brings us to, "Glorifying the Jamaican Girl:

The "'Ten Types - One People' Beauty Contest, Racialized Femininities, and Jamaican Nationalism" by Rochelle Rowe in Issue 103 of Radical History Review. It focuses on a 1955 beauty contest held in Jamaica to commemorate its 300 years as a British colony. The "Ten Types - One People" lured 3,000 entrants and constituted 10 different competitions, each based on specific skin tone. Thus, there were 10 winners, with titles including "Miss Apple Blossom," "Miss Allspice," and "Miss Ebony." They ultimately paraded alongside one another to symbolize a supposedly racially harmonious Jamaica.

The present article seeks to build on this work that situates and explores questions of gender in the role of nation building within the context of African diaspora studies. The mid-twentieth-century Jamaican movement for self-government produced a flurry of cultural nationalist programs. This heightened activity in efforts to define the nation provoked a continuum of Jamaican beauty contests where political and cultural elites attempted to deliver a paradigmatic, racially harmonious New World identity through a parade of feminine bodies. At the same time, African-Jamaican cultural elites shared in a trajectory of African diaspora thought concerned with black advancement that problematized the figure of the black woman. They sought to refine an iconic black femininity by placing it in the service of an idea of modern nationhood that would be both proudly black and consummately Western.

Send this to Donald Trump, the beauty pageant self-promoter.