Counterparties: Is Newsweek real?
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Newsweek/Daily Beast has become something of a media whipping post in the last several months. Editor Tina Brown,Â Michael WolffÂ wrote lastÂ month, is “the most famous magazine editor of her generation”, “engaged in a desperate and operatic struggle.” This summer, the family of the late Sidney HarmanÂ stoppedÂ pouring money into the company, and Barry DillerÂ suggestedÂ that Newsweek could move into online-only mode.
If Newsweek has had trouble figuring out what it is, it’s also hadÂ difficulty determining whatÂ is. First, there was Niall Ferguson’sÂ essayÂ on Barack Obama, which featuredÂ elidedÂ quotesÂ from the CBO, and amounted to “counterfactual history” that Paul Krugman called Â ”deliberately misleading“. Then there was aÂ cover storyÂ on Muslim rage, which TwitterÂ mercilessly mocked.Â There was also aÂ recycledÂ cover on vegetables and a story on the 10 best presidents in history in which NewsweekÂ printedÂ ”an entirely different version of the list than the one historians submitted.”
So, if you’re confused about facts, have faith: This week’s cover story is unequivocallyÂ titled “Heaven is Real“. Former coma patient and Harvard doctor Eben Alexander has a book to sell called Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife.Â After Alexander fell into a seven-day coma, he had a unique experience: “as farÂ as I know, no one before me has ever traveled to this dimension (a) while their cortex was completely shut down, and (b) while their body was under minute medical observation, as mine was for the full seven days of my coma.”
It seemed that you could not look at or listen to anything in this world without becoming a part of it âÂ without joining with it in some mysterious way. Again, from my present perspective, I would suggest that you couldnât look at anything in that world at all, for the word âatâ itself implies a separation that did not exist there. Everything was distinct, yet everything was also a part of everything else, like the rich and intermingled designs on a Persian carpet … or a butterflyâs wing.
AsÂ Choire SichaÂ notes, “Heaven is Real” sounds a lot like the slightly less definitivelyÂ titled best-seller Heaven Is For RealÂ by Todd Burpo and Lynne Vincent. Vincent, who’sÂ profiledÂ in this week’s New Yorker, seems to be unsure, if wings actually exist in heaven. But, remember, facts are tough, even in heaven:Â As Alexander points out, “reality is too vast, too complex, and too irreducibly mysterious for a full picture of it ever to be absolutely complete.”
If you’re looking for a slightly different take on existence, Einstein’s letter questioning the existence of GodÂ goes on saleÂ on eBay today. TheÂ biddingÂ for Einstein’s skepticism starts at $3 million.Â – Ryan McCarthyÂ
On to today’s links: