- The Washington Times - Friday, January 26, 2007

Bright red valentines should be decorating the covers of February magazines on newsstands this month, but despite a number of features on subjects such as “The Mysteries of Love” (Pages 5 to 90 in this month’s Real Life), we don’t have many this year.

Mind you, Real Life is all for promoting the benefits of love or, as the cover line puts it: “The Mysteries of Love: Why It Lasts, Why It Doesn’t.” The bottom line of Sara Reistad-Long’s article comes down heavily for “why we fall so hard, commit reluctantly, cheat (or are cheated on), but are inclined to stay bonded forever.”

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Should you be interested in the real operations of the organ that beats steadily for us — you’ll want to turn to National Geographic’s February issue , where a vivid photograph of a human heart is overlaid with large white lettering that says, “Healing the Heart.” The lead piece tells nearly everything you should know about why death rates are so low in Minnesota and so high in the Deep South.

The article concludes with a bracing statement: “The good news is that genetic research continues to thrive. … We will soon be able to know the state of our hearts — and our genes — in ever growing detail. That knowledge, and what we do with it, could make the difference between dying at 65 and living until 80. The choice. Increasingly, will be ours.”

A follow-up article with admirably clear illustrations shows the various steps in an operation in Germany keeping a patient alive with a polyurethane heart while he waits for a donated human heart. Though the cost is high — $106,000 — the demand also is high. The article ends with a photograph of a healthy looking Siegfried Streiter sipping a glass of foam-topped beer. The equipment keeps a steady peep going. “The good news is, I’m alive,” Mr. Streiter says.

The last article in the February issue is a stunner both visually and practically: “Forests of the Tide,” about the mangrove forests that edge the tropics from Baja California to the Great Barrier Reef. Throughout the tropical world, these forests literally are the supermarkets, fuel depots, lumberyards and pharmacies of the poor. Yet they are being destroyed daily. It makes for quite a story.

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This month marks the fifth year for a unique online bilingual publication for and by Latinas. Its name: Latinitas Magazine (www.latinitasmagazine.org). Actually, it is two publications, one for girls ages 9 to 14 and a sister publication for Latinas 14 and older called Teen Latinitas.

A print version is coming in a few months. Judging by its online site, it promises much. The articles and artwork are first-rate, reflecting opinions, values and interests of young Latinas. It welcomes participation from elementary, middle and high school students from Austin, Texas. The material, according to its mission statement, is focused on informing, entertaining and inspiring them to grow into healthy, confident and successful adults with the hope of empowerment through media and technology.

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More started out nearly a decade ago aiming to reach the 40-and-older audience; its February issue features sprightly Diane Keaton, 61, on its cover with a headline that reads: “Everything is in sharper focus. I feel much more alive.” The magazine’s overall cover line calls for: “Beautiful. Bold and Breaking All the Rules. A New Look at Life After 40.” The photographs show a woman in fine fettle. Given Miss Keaton at 60, 40 looks positively like 30.

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While More is going for the ever more youthful, Vogue, that stalwart of fashion magazines, is standing up for an exceedingly courageous Muslim woman, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Dutch parliamentarian whose autobiography “Infidel” is available in bookstores. She is living in the District, where she is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Two bodyguards are part of her daily life.

An excerpt from her book appearing in the February issue is very much to the credit not only of her but also of Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour and the publisher, Conde Nast. Many years of froth and frolic are herein redeemed.

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A woman who has known her share of fun and frolic in her life, Elizabeth Taylor, in her more recent years also has earned much credit from her many humanitarian activities. The February issue of Interview is devoted almost entirely to her life and times and leads off with a lengthy interview with editor Ingrid Sischy. Glam, glam, glam all the way.

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Last but certainly not least, you will want to pick up the Winter 2007 issue of Consumer Reports with, as it says below the title: “ShopSmart: No Hype + No Ads + Just Great Buys!” You can find it on display in your local supermarket until May 14. Believe me, it will be the best $5.99 you’ll spend until then.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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