David Weigel knows something about paternalism on campus. When he was a sophomore at Northwestern University, a bad breakup and the stress of taking over a school newspaper had him down. So he called the university's depression hotline to blow off some steam—"basically," he says, "to talk myself out of a bad mood." Two hours later, university police were escorting him to Chicago Lakeshore Hospital for an involuntary three-day stay. "Then they sent me the bill," he recalls. "It was expensive!" Now an editorial intern at USA Today, Weigel examines the resurrection of in loco parentis in "Welcome to the Fun-Free University" (page 40).
As a member of the board of the Sunshine Project, which promotes transparency on bioweaponry issues, Michael Erard likes to keep track of what information governments let out or try to keep under wraps. In "Open Secret" (page 48), he watches the veil of secrecy lift from the feds' version of an underground drug zine, Microgram. While completing his English doctorate at the University of Texas at Austin, Michael realized he preferred penning articles for the academic magazine Lingua Franca to teaching classes. Erard's work has since appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, and other venues; his book on slips of the tongue, tentatively titled Um: Where Verbal Blunders Come From and What They Mean, will be published next year by Pantheon.
Managing Editor Jesse Walker loves that his home city of Baltimore is "comfortable being itself and not trying to be the sixth borough of New York." That localism, he feels, is part of what makes HBO's Baltimore-based The Wire "the best drama on TV." And he's not just saying that because he lives a few blocks from Wire creator David Simon, whom he interviews in this issue ("David Simon Says," page 56). Walker says he was thinking of writing in Alfred E. Neuman for president this year "until I realized he's already in office." His reasons for that assessment are illustrated by Terry Colon in "10 Reasons to Fire George W. Bush" (page 32).