How and why I read the New Yorker

I’m always a few issues behind in my New Yorker reading, primarily because there’s so much in there.

Theoretically, everything in the New Yorker could hook me. Brilliant long journalism can cause a reader to loose track of anything but the story, so that a deep read could consume hours of one’s life and cause one to emerge from the story, blinking and shaking one’s head, like waking up from a full night’s dream.

The other day, while involved with a recent edition, I came upon a story categorized as Brave New World Dept., about “The biotech startups that want to revolutionize human reproduction.” And I queried the magazine, “Do I need to know about revolutionizing human reproduction? Whatever that is?”

My answer to my question was, “Not I.”

So I turned the pages, after clipping an excellent cartoon to send to my brother-in-law, “Baseball Has New Rules For 2023 But Why Stop There?” And arrived at an article about Taco Bell, and how a woman who worked for the chain as a product developer became, uh, sort of obsessed with folding tortillas into hexagon shapes so you could eat one with one hand while driving a car with the other hand and the fillings wouldn’t fall out and land on your lap.

Curious. I read enough to grasp the purport summarized above and said, “No, no Taco Bell.” So that was it for the Taco Bell story.

And again I turned the pages, whereupon I saw, “Security Breach: Criminals presumed that a new kind of phone network couldn’t be infiltrated by cops. Big mistake.” Oh yeah! I’m reading every single word written by Ed Caesar and recalling how I once thought I’d love to work for an intelligence service that could listen in on criminals’ encrypted calls and texts. This is the next best thing.

So that’s why I read the New Yorker. Just when I begin to wonder whether a particular issue will supply me with a good read, here comes learning how Montenegro is possibly the most corrupt country in the world, and why.

By the way, it seems to me that while the hide-and-seek technology involving criminal communications has progressed from early wiretapping, the communications themselves — and the crimes and corruption they facilitate — are pretty much the same.

(If you’re not attracted to an international thriller in the form of a New Yorker story, the Taco Bell story can be found in the April 24 and May 1 double issue, starting on page 26.)

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