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Magazine Contributors

Meet some of the people behind the January/February 2014 issue of Pacific Standard.
Amanda Hess. (Photo: Courtesy of Amanda Hess)

Amanda Hess. (Photo: Courtesy of Amanda Hess)

When Amanda Hess started writing about sex a few years ago, she braced herself for a certain degree of lewd comments from readers. “But stuff like ‘I’m gonna come to your house and rape you and cut your head off’—that, I didn’t expect,” she says. “Maybe I was naïve.” Not anymore. As she details in our cover story, “Women Aren’t Welcome Here,” Hess, a Los Angeles–based writer whose work has appeared in Slate, Wired, and Details, has been repeatedly threatened with violence by anonymous trolls. “It’s unlikely that any of them would murder me,” she says. “But they also seem kinda crazy. So it’s hard to know what to do.”

“The divergence of economic forecasting from traditional soothsaying is relatively recent,” writes Michael Lind in his review of Walter Friedman’s Fortune Tellers: The Story of America’s First Economic Forecasters, “Never Saw It Coming.” Lind is co-founder of the New America Foundation and author of several books, including Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States (HarperCollins, 2012), and is currently a columnist for Salon and frequent contributor to The New York Times and the Financial Times. Though few forecasters saw the Great Recession coming, Lind predicts their industry isn’t going away.

"It’s unlikely that any of them would murder me. But they also seem kinda crazy. So it’s hard to know what to do."

Once Atossa Araxia Abrahamian started noticing those “what’s in my bag” features so beloved by fashion magazines, she realized that versions of them show up in all kinds of publications. “What struck me was how boring these features were, and that got me wondering why they’re so popular,” says Abrahamian, an editor at The New Inquiry, a Brooklyn-based magazine of cultural criticism. With the help of not one but two French sociologists who study bags, she answers that question (“Baggage Claims”). So what’s in her bag? Amid her magazines, books, iPad, pens, Chanel No. 19, red lipstick, and yoga clothes, she often finds her boyfriend’s scarves or sunglasses. “The sociologists told me that’s very common,” says Abrahamian. “Apparently, it reflects how women disproportionately bear the burdens of the world. I totally buy that theory. That’s why I make him carry it half the time.”

London-based photographer Darran Rees first visited the Canton, Mississippi, barbershop he photographed for In the Picture, on a trip he took when launching his career 18 years ago. Ten years later he was surprised to find himself in Canton again, shooting the opening of a new Nissan car factory. Eight years after that, he road-tripped back to visit the barbershop’s owners, Bob Chandler and Danny O’Cain, one more time. “I was relieved to find the shop still open and that the ‘boys’ had weathered the recent recession, and, amazingly, also remembered me,” says Rees. Though the barbers are now in their 70s, they still show up at work at seven every morning except Sundays. “Nothing has really changed,” says Rees, “fortunately.”

In the aftermath of President Obama’s re-election, political scientists John Sides of George Washington University and Lynn Vavreck of the University of California-Los Angeles were struck by all the worshipful accounts of Obama’s campaign tactics produced by reporters and pundits. The media types were agog at the campaign’s use of moneyball–style data analytics and other “aspects of his campaign that, as social scientists, we’re actually very familiar with—particularly statistical models and randomized controlled experiments,” says Sides. “We believe in both techniques as a means of learning what works in campaigns. And we believe that the Obama campaign innovated in important ways. But we also believed it was time for a more clear-eyed and cautious account of what those techniques can accomplish.” Sides and Vavreck give that account in “Inconclusive Results.”

This post originally appeared in the January/February 2014 issueofPacific Standard as "Contributors." For more, consider subscribing to our bimonthly print magazine.