An Anatomy of 10 Magazines

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0. Intro 🎬

The human body is the magazine of inventions, the patent office, where are the models from which every hint is taken. All the tools and engines on earth are only extensions of its limbs and senses.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (American writer of unsurpassed originality and genius)

Warmup

Hooked no doubt by the allure (lure, even) of that curious admixture furnished by the words “anatomy” and “magazines” in this essay’s title—”An Anatomy of 10 Magazines”—you realize, and I can see it deep in your eyes, the unmistakable glimmers of a swirling constellation of unanswered questions.

What is it? I can see it coming. Premonitions atingle.

Yes?

Here comes your question: “Why would anyone want to dissect even a single magazine, let alone 10 of them?,” you leerily ask.

A tad crestfallen by your jaded line of questioning, I mutter something under my breath, and, for the most part, I don’t have much to say—now fancy that!—other than, forlornly, “Sigh.

Oh my.

Quick to regain our composure, though, we make a comeback. I whisper, “Shh… I’m going to let you in on a secret. It goes like this.

The Fuller Story

It so happens that magazine are human society’s amphibians—cold-blooded vertebrates in the fine tradition of frogs, toads, and salamanders that occupy the part of the species spectrum sandwiched between fish and reptiles—which keep us company on land and on sea.

Given their stellar versatility, we owe them—”magazines” at this time, and perhaps their doppelgänger cousins the flesh-and-blood “amphibians” proper in a future essay—the respect they deserve. After all, magazines (sometimes disdainfully called mags) are not really rags. Hey relax, we’re sidestepping the screed on those prototypical rags-to-riches stories, Horatio Alger-inspired or otherwise, apocryphal or otherwise.

But the mere mention of amphibians is an invitation to an anatomy experiment, amirite?

Okay, so we’re not exactly going to do those kinds of experiment; we’d rather not be found within a mile of those gross anatomy lab halls that reek of formaldehyde and other noxious potions of their ilk—they’re called gross for a reason. We’d rather, don’t you think, head for the malls (As soon, that is, as we hail that neighborhood, jalopy cab)?

You Still Here? Sweet!

Ahem, if you’re still with me, doggedly hanging on to the most tenuous of premises that I’ve laid out on the table—darn, this gross anatomy metaphor is starting to get out of hand—let me be the first one to congratulate you for showing gumption. Your shrewdness is on full display, I say. And the way you separate the wheat from the chaff dazzles me (and my staff.)

Wait, wow! What’s up with that collage coming into view now?

POW!

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1. From Rags To Riches, Eh? 💰

Man is an amphibian who lives simultaneously in two worlds—the given and the home-made—the world of matter, life and consciousness and the world of symbols.
~ Aldous Huxley

Our Collage Got Rich Dimensions

Wait. Didn’t we dispense with that rags-to-riches spiel a minute ago? And right you are. It’s just that I needed an excuse to slip in a glimmer of the rich dimensionality—or so I think anyway—with which I’ve managed, or least sought, to imbue the collage above.

With that, behold the following collage “elements” in particular:

  • Woohoo! My very own Dell G7 Gaming Laptop—the best deal out there and one which I had purchased in particular for its GPU—an awesome laptop that I had configured not so long ago to do deep learning experiments (using Keras and TensorFlow). Yep, sure had a blast in the not-too-distant past.
  • A figurine of our intrepid sleuth Tintin, clasping a briefcase and overcoat in each hand, rapidly breaking into a stride atop that baseball diamond mound. So Who’s on First?,” you can’t help blurting out. (More on that soon. Promise.)
  • Ah yes, the center of attention, the various magazine specimens themselves that can be spied levitating in mid-air (with maybe a touch of support being lent by my sturdy subterfuge the slick iPad stand.)
  • Finally, a smattering of bright-green “Only connect” stickies—of “Live in fragments no longer” fame—gleefully plastered atop the addressee section of some of the magazines, chiefly to assist in maintaining the anonymity of you-know-who so as to stave off the specter of unsolicited marketing-mail.

And that’s pretty much it for the “elements” I wish to highlight in the collage above.

Wait.

One more thing: My solicitous staff here at essaying central—galvanized no doubt by the zeal to promote in your mind the utter seriousness, solemnness almost, with which to approach this essay—had urged me to declare that anyone found so much as letting escape the faintest of smiles while reading this stuff would be summarily drawn and quartered.

Wait what?

So yeah, as you can imagine, I had balked (more like barfed, if you’ll pardon my French) at that suggestion, in the end deciding to ditch the whole idea as uncivilized, unduly unpleasant—in a word, untenable—especially after taking into account that nobody would be left to read my essays at the conclusion of the modestly-proposed business of drawing-and-quartering, were it to be meted out, amirite?

(Clearly, I need to get my staff to return to their local library all those hoary tomes about the medieval era; reading that Inquisition-laced stuff seems to be addling their brains.)

Those staffers

But hey, I’m back.

SMACK!

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2. Intermission, Or This Is How We Do It 💖

Explaining Metaphysics to the nation—
I wish he would explain his Explanation.
~ Lord Byron (from Don Juan: Dedication)

If Looks Could Kill

See my feline companion in the pic above? Behold the orange tabby who has beguilingly rolled over on the red carpet (rolled out just for him, ah yes), sporting an oh-so-endearing look—if only looks could kill—even as he soulfully wafts a crimson smackeroo our way.

SMACK!

The youthful chap wants to get his hands (paws, I mean) on the latest copy of Redbook or something.

Hey, before it’s too late, a word to the wise: Whatever else you do, don’t—I repeat, don’t—get on the wrong side of this lounging chump of a chap because he’s known to slice-and-dice offenders with the speed and skill matched only by that menacing raptor you saw in that Jurassic Park movie.

Escapism, Eh?

Now I’ll wait while you take some deep breaths and nudge your nervous system back into a state of calm. So yeah, call this escapism. Call it whatever you wish (just not balderdash.) You—dear Reader—are the boss around here, after all.

And if ever there was a moment to tap into the rejuvenating wonders of tender, loving care (aka TLC) such as those (hopefully) exuding from the picture above of my feline companion rolling around on his red carpet, that time is now, as we collectively find ourselves navigating this era of COVID-19.

But getting back to Car Talk, I mean magazine talk (pardon the Freudian slip), let me tell you that one of the hazards of doing yoga on a carpet—such as the plush, red one pictured above—is that you lower yourself to eye-level with your pet cat. And yes, that means all bets are off: your cat is inevitably going to take it upon himself (or herself, as your case may be) to commandeer the role of your yoga instructor with predictably unpredictable consequences, notably your cat’s undeniable fondness for massaging your scalp with its paws.

(Executive summary: You get leveled when you get down to the cat’s eye-level.)

So roll over. Neither you nor I can win this one. Might as well roll with the punches.

Swiss Pastry Rolls

Sweet, we may be able to do even better: Let’s you and I roll with the Swiss pastry rolls—or are those bales of hay now coming into view?—because they sure look like a sweet deal.

Goodness, at this very moment—we have blue skies, so it’s definitely not a dark and storm night—we hear what sure sounds like a thunderclap.

BOOM!

(Yes, yes, Boom, Like That.)

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3. The 10 📣

Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
~ Emily Dickinson

Whoah, That Was Deafening

So what befell us there? Was that apocalyptic “BOOM!” ringing a death knell?

Hmm… Does that ring a bell? Surely it doesn’t remind us of that quaint, philosophical conundrum about how, if a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

To tell it slant—and turning our gaze upward now to the ineffable verses of rhyme—is to fell a plant. Is it? Well, not exactly; not even remotely when you allow the realm of reason to intrude.

Remember, though, that little talk we had earlier about how magazines dwell in the magical space which was once—and for all that I know, maybe still is—inhabited by their doppelgänger cousins, the flesh-and-blood amphibians?

Look, something like that anyway. Call this escapism. Call it whatever you wish. You—dear Reader—are the boss around here, after all.

Evolve 10 Magazines (And You Get… 10 Amphibians?)

The main thing is that you and I, through a twist of fate long forgotten to history, find ourselves at this moment on the very threshold of a gaggle of 10 amphibians—excuse me, magazines—whose “anatomy” (more properly, and if you will allow me to spill the beans, “guts”) we’ll regale in for the next sliver in our mortal lives.

With that rather unusual lead-in, why don’t you join me as I welcome the following 10 luminaries from the faux literary world:

  1. Scientific American
  2. MIT Technology Review
  3. National Geographic
  4. Dr. Dobb’s Journal
  5. Software Development
  6. Fortune
  7. Embedded Systems Programming
  8. OBJECT
  9. Communication of the ACM
  10. IEEE Spectrum

Darn. Did I get that ragtag gaggle of illuminati off right?

Only time will tell.

Who can say where the road goes?
Where the day flows?
Only time.
And who can say if your love grows
As your heart chose?
Only time.
~ Enya (lyrics from Only Time)

Yes, only time—and your kind attention, of course—will decide which restless roads (or canals and rivers, for that matter) we’ll be plying our big play loads as they hammer down on the floor, every one a war.

So yeah, remember that… Wait, what? …that barge.

AARGH!

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4. The Anatomy, Or The (Taxing) Taxonomy 💀

Patterns Everywhere, Oh Everywhere

Inspired by our recent excursion into the realm of patterns, we are on a roll. We have cobbled together a pattern taxonomy of our own—the one that follows—which comes complete with a legend so we know what’s what and who’s who:

  • COMMON NAME: Magazine goes by this name.
  • DOMAIN: Comes from this (poetically licensed) firmament.
  • CLASS: Associated with this genre.
  • FAMILY: Belongs here.
  • ARRIVAL: Magazine began its life in this year.
  • INDUCTED INTO: Made it into this hall of fame (for this reason).
  • NUMBER OF SPECIES: A gauge of whether it flourishes (or not).
  • FIELD MARKS: This is how you’ll recognize this (magazine) critter.
  • ANATOMY: Something of the magazine’s guts, but of course.
  • RELATIVES & ANCESTORS: Related to these, and hails from those.
  • DIET: If only they could eat, these (poetically licensed) edibles are what they would.
  • HABITAT: Bound to be found here, naturally (Oops. Entries here got mixed up.)

Everything that follows from here on out—all 10 anatomical sections, one per the guts of each magazine—is cast in the format with the legend above. Should you find anything reek of formaldehyde, please be a sport and alert your nearest CDC office, will you? Can’t be too careful in these days of COVID-19.

And there you have it, a gut-level taxonomy—kind of like a what’s what—of the magazine critters we get to vivisect in the vignettes coming right up. Grey’s Anatomy this is not. But these magazines are hot, red hot, and read by a lot, amirite?

Relax.

We Got Ourselves A Sure-footed Sherpa

Allow the pattern legend (above) to  guide your trek through the amphibian world of magazines—some are household names, while others you may not recognize—so we march forward with a sure foot, confident in the knowledge of being led by a nimble and swift sherpa.

“But Who’s on First?,” you ask in your beguiling innocence.

Dude, that’s why we got that legend above—with the individual element in bold and all caps, too, for crying out loud—so we know who’s who and what’s what.

Look, from here on out, it’s just you and those 10 magazine critters that beckon oh-so inconsolably from the table on which they find themselves, propped up like T-Rex skeletons. So don’t let them languish in chloroform vapors.

You take care of that. Yes?

Woohoo, I’m outta here.

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5. Magazine #1 🔭

  • COMMON NAME: Scientific American
  • DOMAIN: Anima mirabilis pearly wisdomia
  • CLASS: Litterae scientificae
  • FAMILY: Lyrica
  • ARRIVAL: 1845
  • INDUCTED INTO: Phi Slamma Jamma (for its slam-dunking science contributions)
  • NUMBER OF SPECIES: Billions and billions, as Cosmos hot Carl Sagan would say.
  • FIELD MARKS: As a rule, Scientific American used to be one staid magazine. Lately, though, it has come to be known for its splashy covers. Marking an abrupt break with its staid past—this no doubt having to do with the desire to keep rolling with the times—this fine magazine now unabashedly reeks of modernity. And then some; advertising, for one.
  • ANATOMY: It’s heft typically hovers at 100 pages, and it can be relied on for providing solid science; otherwise, it wouldn’t have assumed as portentous a name—allow the gravitas of the words Scientific American sink in—as it has managed to wield for well over a hundred years. Boring dinosaur articles, at times, jockey for place right next to sleepers on paleontology (Forgive me if these subject delight your tender heart, and they should if they so do; me, I don’t care much where the bodies are buried). Science, in all its glory—the cosmos, quantum mechanics, AI, epidemiology, climate, matters mathematical, you name it—never had a better showcase than this splendid magazine.
  • RELATIVES & ANCESTORS: Mathematica Principia.
  • DIET: Jalapeños. Quarks. Wrigley’s Doublemint Chewing Gum.
  • HABITAT: Nail salon.

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6. Magazine #2 ⛏

  • COMMON NAME: MIT Technology Review
  • DOMAIN: Multiflora those-in-the-know
  • CLASS: Beaver-knows-best and Mens-et-manus (dual inheritance)
  • FAMILY: Empirica (doggedly at it, still trying things out in a way that would have made Hume proud)
  • ARRIVAL: 1899
  • INDUCTED INTO: Beavers Builda Damma (for showcasing the work of nature’s engineers: beavers)
  • NUMBER OF SPECIES: Mysteriously numerous
  • FIELD MARKS: The venerable magazine that is the MIT Technology Review has converged to thematic presentations of late. It used to be a veritable smorgasbord of ideas—the majority of them cool, to be sure—one piled atop another, higgledy-piggledy. Lately, though, and in an Emersonian break with its haloed (albeit kaleidoscopic) past, this magazine now exudes the spirit of coherence, completeness, and self-unity. It unabashedly reeks of modernity. And then some; advertising, for one.
  • ANATOMY: Typically under 100 pages, it is predominantly frills-free, sans ads. Lavishly illustrated in general, its articles, which vary in length from a single page to 10 at times, have attention-grabbing titles. High Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR). At one time, the publishers boldly announced on its covers that is was “From the authority on technology” (or something like that). Definitely not from shrinking violets, plus they’re not that far off from the truth.
  • RELATIVES & ANCESTORS: The Whole Earth Catalog. Wired.
  • DIET: Caffeine (and lots of it). Jello-O Pudding Pops. Au Bon Pain edible goodies.
  • HABITAT: Amish furniture shop lobby.

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7. Magazine #3 🐳

  • COMMON NAME: National Geographic
  • DOMAIN: Viscosa sunflower-yellow soothing balm
  • CLASS: Luminosa yellow-jacket
  • FAMILY: Loyola (and a fiercely loyal readership to show for it).
  • ARRIVAL: 1888
  • INDUCTED INTO: Knowledge Grabba Cramma (for enriching the world’s cranium)
  • NUMBER OF SPECIES: More numbered and storied than termites
  • FIELD MARKS: Dead simple—the bright-yellow border and spine give this magazine away in a heartbeat. With a geography-slanted moniker in its name, this magazine sure has diversified beyond recognition as it continues to tackle many (in fact, any and all) subjects.
  • ANATOMY: This magazine usually weight in under a 150 pages. Mostly ads-free, that is, once you’ve sailed past the first dozen pages or so. Nobody outdoes them in the department of lavish illustrations. One eminently sensible approach, in fact, to reading this venerable magazine is to linger over its gorgeous photographs, glance at the accompanying captions, and you’re done. Tastefully packaged. Solid and substantial, worthy of stashing away in the bookshelf.
  • RELATIVES & ANCESTORS: SpongeBob SquarePants. Curious George.
  • DIET: Yellow pepper. Chiquita Bananas. Egg yolk (That’s one healthy magazine.)
  • HABITAT: Yer Wee Yellow Submarine

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8. Magazine #4 📺

  • COMMON NAME: Dr. Dobb’s Journal
  • DOMAIN: Decipiens pencil me in
  • CLASS: Jack-of-all-trades
  • FAMILY: Hola Crayola (oh yeah, always welcoming newcomers into the fold).
  • ARRIVAL: 1976
  • INDUCTED INTO: Coders Whamma Jamma (for jamming with the world’s coders)
  • NUMBER OF SPECIES: Zip, in the wild (online, maybe)
  • FIELD MARKS: While it was to be found on news-stands, this magazine always has a boutique feel to it. Perfume-like, its avant-garde philosophy (in addressing all things software developers-related) would reek and the beholder would know that they were surely in the presence of this once-treasured, faux medicinally-named magazine.
  • ANATOMY: Usually under 100 pages in length, this magazine is sure to be bedecked with ads. Then again, those ads are not gratuitous, and instead serve a useful purpose in alerting you to useful stuff—software packages, books, etc.—to explore. In its earlier days, reams of code listing could be found in its pages. Not much more anymore. The announcement and rollout of the annual JOLT Product Excellence Award winners always a pleasure to check out.
  • RELATIVES & ANCESTORS: The Lancet.
  • DIET: Doc’s Best Beef Jerky. JOLT Cola.
  • HABITAT: Orthodontist’s office.

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9. Magazine #5 💻

  • COMMON NAME: Software Development
  • DOMAIN: Macfarlanei play possum
  • CLASS: Aficionado attempticus
  • FAMILY: Cupola (whichever way the wind blows, rejuvenating furnaces)
  • ARRIVAL: 1985
  • INDUCTED INTO: I Thinka, Ergo I Amma (for instilling self-respect in coders)
  • NUMBER OF SPECIES: Zero remain in the wild (online remnants, maybe)
  • FIELD MARKS: Cheesy covers are—were, given that this magazine has gone the way of the dodo—the giveaway that’ll make you want to explore its content. With the times while it was around. Chock full of useful (software) industry happenings.
  • ANATOMY: A bit on the petite side, this magazine typically weighed in around 60 pages in length. Short, pithy articles were the rule while this magazine flourished. Special guides—thematically arranged by product categories—were presented especially artfully, distilled into easy-to-glance-at, matrix-form format. Interviews with thought leaders were candid and illuminating. The feedback from readers (aka “Letters from Readers” or something—yes, there used to be such a thing!) were candid and minced no words.
  • RELATIVES & ANCESTORS: Little Orphan Annie. Aso, Oliver Twist.
  • DIET: Shelob Tootsie Pop. Fruit smoothies (all types).
  • HABITAT: Starbucks.

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10. Magazine #6 💼

  • COMMON NAME: Fortune
  • DOMAIN: Expansa turn of the tide
  • CLASS: Fiscal year moolah
  • FAMILY: Payola (steeped in the hoary tradition of its dollars-and-cents lineage)
  • ARRIVAL: 1955
  • INDUCTED INTO: No Scamma Llama (for exposing those scumbag scammers)
  • NUMBER OF SPECIES: Less than the US national debt (at the time of this writing)
  • FIELD MARKS: Interestingly, the giveaway here comes by way of the olfactory senses in that the moment you start smelling—or hallucinating—newly-minted dollar bills is when you know you’ve been ushered into the presence of this magazine. Replete with helpful articles, this one’s a keeper (before you recycle it, that is).
  • ANATOMY: The buck stops here. Before I started reading this fine magazine—many years ago now—I would not have been caught dead with a copy of this magazine in my hand. Its in-depth coverage of pressing industry concerns, though, sure made a convert out of me. Here I am, singing the praises of its anatomy. And while Grey’s Anatomy this is not, it’ll take you into the guts of weighty issues with deftness that is virtually unmatched by its peers. While a handful of its special, annual issues have the heft of a book—The FORTUNE 500 and The Investors’ Guide, for example—the monthly magazine averages around 70 pages in length (Look, this isn’t some scientific study where I took averages or measured standard deviations to get variances and stuff like that; just ballpark numbers). So yeah.
  • RELATIVES & ANCESTORS: Ebenezer Scrooge.
  • DIET: Greek fries dusted with oregano, sea salt, and crumbled feta. That’s it.
  • HABITAT: Unemployment office.

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11. Magazine #7 📻

  • COMMON NAME: Embedded Systems Programming
  • DOMAIN: Oxybaphoides still waters run deep
  • CLASS: Bits & bytes
  • FAMILY: Mandola (fractals afoot in dreams of coding at the blazingly low-level)
  • ARRIVAL: 1987
  • INDUCTED INTO: Bitbucket Gamma Slamma (for staving off gamma-ray bit-rot)
  • NUMBER OF SPECIES: Zilch, in the wild (Online, quite possibly)
  • FIELD MARKS: Hard-core programmers feel—felt, given that this magazine, too, has gone the way of the dodo—the presence of this tantalizing magazine, eager to check out the leading-edge on all things embedded software. Hefty packaging rather noticeable.
  • ANATOMY: A couple of decades ago—which would make it many, many moons before yours truly found the ways of distributed systems design and programming well nigh irresistible—I used to think that this (magazine) was the next best thing since sliced bread. That sentiment has long gone stale. But this magazine, averaging right around 120 pages in length, was, I clearly recall, freshly packed to the gills with utterly useful tidbits of information, making it an indispensable ally for programmers in this niche area. Code listings (in the C programming language, and later on also in C++) were nearly guaranteed to be served up in any given issue. Leavening it all was a theme of uniformly graceful reading experience. And if memory serves me right, Jack Ganssle—I recall him as an original thinker, and an articulate one at that—was the patron saint of all the goodness that graced this fine magazine. Amen.
  • RELATIVES & ANCESTORS: Hulk, especially after his exposure to gamma rays.
  • DIET: Blackberry Praline Crumble. Sushi. Chiclets (candy-coated chewing gum).
  • HABITAT: Pawn shop.

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12. Magazine #8 🔍

  • COMMON NAME: OBJECT
  • DOMAIN: Pumila so yesterday
  • CLASS: Bloweth away with the wind
  • FAMILY: Boffola (wistfully reminiscent of Paul Bunyan the gigantic lumberjack).
  • ARRIVAL: 1989
  • INDUCTED INTO: Wherefore Diorama Amma (for planting a stake in the ground).
  • NUMBER OF SPECIES: Zilch (long gone, extinct)
  • FIELD MARKS: Little is known about this magazine. I just happen to have lugged along my one-and-only copy—the one pictured above with Paul Bunyan supposedly stomping out one of the 10,000 lakes into existence in the wintry land of Minnesota. Should you come across a copy of this relic, you will know it by its fruits (in this case, likely stale).
  • ANATOMY: Based on the one copy of this magazine in existence—thumbing it even as we chat now—I would have to say that this magazine weighed in at (let’s see) exactly 96 pages, excluding the cover pages of course. Therefore, and much more applicable than was my remark in the case of FORTUNE magazine regarding the absence of any scientific study regarding its length, I’ve pulled the relevant metric (for OBJECT magazine) out of thin air. Kind of. But 96 pages it is. OMG! There’s talk of CORBA… Wait, there’s something on “Choosing between CORBA and DCOM”. Good grief. What do you say about my placing the issue in my hands—dated October 1996—in a time capsule?
  • RELATIVES & ANCESTORS: Paul Bunyan Lumberjack. Also, Thumbelina.
  • DIET: Stegosaurus Sandwiches. Prehistoric Punch. Brontosaurus Bones.
  • HABITAT: The Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Outhouse. Also, mortician’s office.

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13. Magazine #9 🍄

  • COMMON NAME: Communication of the ACM
  • DOMAIN: Longiflora pillar of society
  • CLASS: Robustus mirabilis
  • FAMILY: Granola (granola-munchers extraordinaire who relish in prognosticating).
  • ARRIVAL: 1958
  • INDUCTED INTO: Same-old Samma Samma (for demonstrating constancy).
  • NUMBER OF SPECIES: Dunno. Check with your local ACM chapter
  • FIELD MARKS: Be on the alert as soon as you find a yawn (or two) escape unbidden. Some magazines have a way of lulling you into sleep, and this magazine does it par excellence. In all fairness, the content—should you have the wherewithal to stay awake—is solid, though a tad academic, understandably so.
  • ANATOMY: The particular issue adorning the picture above, ivory and all, is hoary with age, but we haven’t so much as opened it to realize the sleep-inducing effect, at times, which the lengthy, well-intended articles by well-meaning (and doubtless accomplished) computer scientists can have. The quality of the in-depth articles can at times be the luck of the draw. While the quality of the contents may vary from issue to issue, you’ll find (every now and then) that a spectacularly dazzling set of articles land will in an issue—thematic as they are—to renew your faith in keeping coming right back to this magazine from the vaunted pillar of society that is the ACM.
  • RELATIVES & ANCESTORS: National Enquirer.
  • DIET: Cinnamon Raisin Granola. Turing Machines. Sea Salt Pan-Baked Granola.
  • HABITAT: Chick-fil-A drive-through.

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14. Magazine #10 🔦

  • COMMON NAME: IEEE Spectrum
  • DOMAIN: Rotundifolia piece of the action
  • CLASS: Slide-rule-shufflers
  • FAMILY: Idola (as in, occasionally getting carried away a bit in idolizing the past)
  • ARRIVAL: 1964
  • INDUCTED INTO: Techie Cat’s Pajamas (for rocking techies the world over)
  • NUMBER OF SPECIES: Dunno. Check with your local IEEE chapter
  • FIELD MARKS: The IEEE logo (in all caps, of course). Magazine is known for its alluring covers which make you want to explore its innards. Slide rules are not the rule any more—especially after calculators had been invented—but you might spy a slide rule-toting die hard techie or two grace its covers.
  • ANATOMY: Something magical about the 100 pages length or something, this magazine, too, is right there, toeing the line. In-depth articles, at once substantial and engagingly presented, have long continued to be a staple of this fine magazine. No fluff, all stuff, as they say.
  • RELATIVES & ANCESTORS: Fonzie (aka “The Fonz“). Hairstyles Galore.
  • DIET: Diodes. Hobbit Door Cookies. Transistors (NPN or PNP, it’s a tossup).
  • HABITAT: Graceland.

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15. Not Amphibians, But Superheroes 🎉

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men’s minds without their being aware of the fact.
~ Claude Lévi-Strauss (in The Raw and the Cooked)

We Hardly Knew Ye

I don’t know about you, but me, having seen these magazine critters up close and personal—their gross anatomy and all—I sure am revising my view of these commonly-but-unfairly-deemed-lowly critters.

See that serene school of carp in the exquisite setting below? (I want my next vacation right there.) Would you rather have (1) amphibians crawling around those digs, or (2) have fish giddily swimming in the pond (where they belong) and us humans lounging on its banks (where we belong, at least when we don’t have our swimming gear on)?

Given the stark choice, plus all the fun magazine facts that have regaled and edified us—causing our esteem for them to grow immeasurably—I vote for keeping magazines dry.

Yes, I vote for keeping the flag of magazines flying high. Fie, let’s not give the lie to the sky (“Get out of here, Akram!“, you interject.)

—”Why, oh why? But yes, bye. However,…

—Groan, what now, Akram? What now?”

Of Errata, Or Fixing The “HABITAT” (Entry) Debacle

How about a good old fashioned Errata section? Remember the mixup I had alluded to, much earlier (while revealing the legend to the anatomy pattern), in divulging how my solicitous staff (here at essaying central, of course) had somehow managed to get our “HABITAT” entries all mixed up (for just about every magazine’s anatomy)?

Man, gotta tell ya, my staff either gets carried away unbidden at times, or has unpredictable cravings to overdose on medieval books. Or maybe both! But wires had got crossed. That’s for sure.

Plus they had this goofy idea about drawing and quartering any soul found reading this barnacled debacle—I mean, this essay—while displaying anything less than the utmost of graveness and solemnity that this essay warrants?

Sheesh, with friends like these…

Just What We Needed

Anyhow, with you all getting restless—maybe you want to run and grab your very own copies of some of the magazines we’ve analyzed to death—I say we ditch the idea of that fabled Errata section. Let’s call it a wrap.

Meanwhile, and until we meet next time, should you spot any of my granola-munching staff trying to get their hands on library books dating back to the medieval era (or, heaven forbid, the Dark Ages), do please quash such surreptitious acts, won’t you? I can’t keep an eye on those adorable ragamuffins all the time, you know.

Thank you.

carp b b

4 comments

  1. Dear Akram Duck: what fun this is! A detailed, analytic study like this could take years, and since there are so many fine magazines out there, please don’t forget the following: Cosmopolitan, for keeping up with the Kardashians; People Magazine, for keeping tabs on Charles and Camilla; and last but not least: Weekly World News, which tells you everything you need to know about aliens, cryptids, and Merfolk. The most recent issue has a picture of Elon Musk’s TDSU: Tesla Social Distancing Unit, which you wear on your head like an automobile and which blasts a horn if you breach the 6-foot perimeter. All of it important stuff that you need to know.

    • Dear Ami Kitty: You have, with these marvelous observations, artfully identified some truly important magazines that I somehow missed representing in this essay. I should really say, “crucial” magazines, judging by the vital knowledge they dispense, know-how we all can use! 

      And yes, you guessed it, this is a lead-in to inviting you to share (in the near future) yet another one of your amazing guest essays, several of which have graced this blog over the years.

      Regular readers will recognize your name. For newcomers, allow me to introduce (yet again) one of the finest thinkers (and writers, and poets, too) you’ll get to know: Ms Kitty Fassett. Her contributions to our blog include the following delightful essays:

      Pop’s War: My Father, the CIA, and the Green Death
      A Gift of Three Poems from a Reader
      A Day In Botswana
      Balloons Over The Serengeti

      Ah, you were saying something about how “…a detailed, analytic study like this could take years.” So, let’s do this… 

  2. Some additional factoids: Worthy of mention is The Onion, which once posted the following headline: “Rotation of Earth Throws Entire North American Continent into darkness.” The Onion was founded in 1988, and is available online. Mad Magazine, whose mascot, the snaggle-toothed Alfred E. Neuman, was known for his motto “What, me worry?” is no longer available on newstands, but you can find it in comic book stores. Neuman would be 66 years old this year.

    • – Based on that singularly astounding factoid alone, as reported by The Onion magazine, I must confess that it ought to be more widely known as the understudy of Scientific American magazine. (Wouldn’t you agree?)
      – I grew up reading the maddeningly MAD magazine, occasionally worrying about its propriety, only later to learn that I was indeed in good (in fact, great!) company, with such illustrious computer scientists as Donald Knuth—him of The Art of Computer Programming fame—having not only been readers but contributors to MAD magazine: What, me worry? (I shouldn’t have in the first place.)

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