17 Things I Learned From Reading Every Last Word of The Economist’s “The World in 2013” Issue

Mark Leibovich in the New York Times:

ScreenHunter_77 Dec. 14 14.38Like many people who sometimes travel in high-powered circles, I am a complete fraud. I have no idea how I got here. This is an especially familiar condition in Washington, where I live, and where the impostor syndrome is like our psychological common cold. So a lot of people lie about reading The Economist here. We probably have the highest number of lied-about subscribers. Because it’s important to come off smart and worldly and cognizant that Lagos will overtake Cairo to become Africa’s biggest city in 2013. Also, that 2013 will be the first year since 1987 that will have all digits different from one another. And it could be a really big year for neutrinos.

Reading The Economist also makes you feel smart. Recall the Simpsons episode when Homer is handed a copy of the magazine on an airplane. “Look at me, I’m reading The Economist,” he boasts to Marge. “Did you know that Indonesia at is a crossroads?”

I especially love The Economist at this time of year. Holiday parties abound, which creates a constant need for the kind of fancy-pants knowledge the journal confers. I love the wry, punchy leads and the adorable British spellings (“globalisation”) and the concern the magazine engenders in me over whether the president of Colombia can regain his momentum (that would be Juan Manuel Santos, obviously); or whether we will learn of sufficient progress in the development of a “virtual liver” at much-awaited conferences next year in Luxembourg, Denmark and the Netherlands. Damn, gotta book those plane tickets.

December also marks the arrival of The Economist’s annual look-ahead issue: a confident and sophisticated accumulation of factoids and predictions for 2013 that can make you seem not only smart but also visionary.

More here.