Recently in Features Category

Sleeping Gag


            Rob Walker has a feature in the latest issue of The New York Times Magazine.  The story is about an April Fools' Day joke product on the website ThinkGeek that generated such high customer demand, ThinkGeek actually started selling it.

            Every April Fools' Day ThinkGeek, an online merchant, puts ridiculous products that do not exist on its homepage.  When the customer clicks on the product, ThinkGeek wishes them a happy April Fools' Day. 

            The story is a consumer report, focusing on ThinkGeek's innovative products. 

Walker focuses on the latest product in demand, the Tauntaun Sleeping Bag.  A Tauntaun is the mythical creature Luke Skywalker climbs inside to stay warm in the film, "The Empire Strikes Back."

            The sleeping bag first appeared as a joke last April and is currently in full production.

            I like how Walker relates the demand for ThinkGeek's unconventional items to their innovative product development techniques, yet I want to hear more about their products' actual sales numbers.

Did Christianity Cause the Crash?

            Hanna Rosin has a feature in the latest issue of The Atlantic.  The story is about the prosperity gospel and its connections to the current economic crisis.

            The prosperity gospel is a relatively recent Christian theology, which states that God rewards true believers with earthly wealth and prosperity.

            Rosin focuses mainly on a pastor named Fernando Garay from Charlottesville, Va.  Garay preaches to his congregation of Latino immigrants saying, "The blessings are looking for you!  God will take care of you.  God will not let you be without a home."

            This story is a trend piece, focusing on the rise of the prosperity gospel and its ties to the current economic crisis. 

            Rosin explains that 43 percent of Christians in a Pew Poll believed in the prosperity gospel, and that this 43 percent consisted of the demographics most likely to make the risky investments that caused the economic crisis.

            The strongest part of the story is the author's selection of quotes from Garay.  Garay's statements display that his outlook on the connection between faith and wealth is far from realistic and has caused apparent financial harm to the people of his congregation.

            My only criticism is that Rosin provides no counter argument.  She places most of the blame on the individuals that made bad investments, rather than the policy makers that allowed these investments to occur. 

Why Women Can't Let Sarah Palin Go

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            A feature in the latest issue of The New York Times Magazine examines American women's ongoing fascination with Sarah Palin. 

            The feature, written by Lisa Belkin, tracks women's opinions of Palin from her first political appearance to her current book tour.

            I consider this feature to be a trend piece.  Even though it discusses women's reactions to Palin, its true focus is how these reactions have developed over time.

            Belkin concludes that many American women love to hate Palin.  Her outlandish statements and persona fascinate them, yet they hate that her unintelligible statements and far right policies are the current representation of women in American politics.

            I think the feature flows well and makes good comparisons between Palin's rise to stardom and a high school popularity contest.

            My criticism is that Belkin's quotes are sparse and do not contribute much to the story. 

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