Some magophiles point to such bygone magazines like Vector, Fluxus art magazine Avalanche and T+L Golf as the world's best magazines. Happily, they're wrong. The best magazine is still extant. It's called The Economist.

Here's why.

  • Reading The Economist makes you look smart: Anecdotal evidence points to a high incidence of on subway interactions amongst Economist readers in which fellow commuters either nod approvingly upon eye contact or initiate conversation. Sometimes aforementioned conversation includes, "I heard people only read The Economist to look smart," but also sometimes concludes, "You look smart."
  • Reading The Economist makes you smart: The Economist is a weekly news magazine that avoids the insecure magazine trend found in Time, Newsweek et al of presenting information in graphically driven gotcha tidbits. Instead of simply a lede and a joke and cutting out—a formula borrowed from blogs where it works well and belongs—The Economist gives a sobering if visually unexciting take on the world's events.
  • No Bylines If you're like me, you hate Joel Stein. There's no Joel Stein at The Economist. In fact, it's written entirely without bylines. The voice is consistent and there are no egos vying for recognition. Or at least none that bubble through to the readers.
  • No Bullshit: An average issue of The Economist has more instances of "should" than any other magazine of comparable length and breadth. It's not afraid to prescribe action, not simply to describe the problem.
  • Reading The Economist Makes You Stop Smoking: This week's Obituary of the Winston man, Alan Lander, who died recently of cancer has shaken me off cigarettes for good. (I read it this morning.)
  • The Covers: Unremittingly bleak and brilliant. It's never felt so good to be so depressed.
  • The Articles: In this week's edition, there's a piece about the death of the Viewmaster (sad, myopic), how Brazilians who watch soap operas are sluttier and less fertile than those who don't, and a review of a book about life in the Warsaw ghetto. So soap operas, extinct toys and the Holocaust all in one magazine. Where else can you get that?