Posthumous Baptism, Project Narwhal, and Moderate Rick Santorum
The week’s most interesting Slate stories.
President Obama's re-election headquarters in Chicago
Frank Polich/Getty Images.
“Obama’s White Whale: How the campaign’s top-secret project Narwhal could change this race, and many to come,” by Sasha Issenberg. President Obama’s campaign is working to “link once completely separate repositories of information so that every fact gathered about a voter is available to every arm of the campaign.” This means the campaign can target its messages on different issues to different voters, sending emails to young women about the contraception compromise and sparing canvassers from knocking on the doors of already-committed voters.
“Eugene Hoskins Is His Name: The long-forgotten story of a black autistic man in Oxford, Miss., who crossed paths with William Faulkner,” by Jesse Bering. Could a character in The Sound and the Fury have been partially inspired by an autistic black man who lived in the same Mississippi town as William Faulkner? Bering digs into archival records to track down Eugene Hoskins, a savant who memorized calendars and spent his spare time tracking trains at the Oxford, Miss., depot.
“Can I Get on the Mormon ‘Do Not Baptize’ List? How to avoid being baptized after you’re dead,” by Forrest Wickman. After it came to light that the parents of the late Jewish rights advocate Simon Wiesenthal had been posthumously baptized by the Mormon Church, the Explainer investigated whether you can prevent an unwanted baptism from happening to you.
“Facts Are Stupid: An essayist and his fact-checker go to battle over the line between true and false, “ by Dan Kois. How far can you stretch the truth? Or pretend that fiction is fact? Kois reviews John D’Agata’s new book The Lifespan of a Fact that deals with the testy relationship between a writer and his fact-checker. And, in the spirit of the essay, Kois’ “Facts Are Stupid” piece is fact-checked.
“Radical Solutions to Economic Inequality: If only Americans today were as open-minded about leveling the playing field as we were 100 years ago,” by Beverly Gage. Gage says that those looking for solutions to income inequality today might look back a century to the suggestions that came out of a study commissioned by William Howard Taft.
“Lin-Glorious Bastard: The thrilling, frustrating rise of Jeremy Lin,” by Chuck Leung. While Leung wants to cheer on likeable basketball phenom Jeremy Lin’s shoot to stardom, he worries “that beneath this Linsanity is an invitation for others to preserve these safe archetypes, confirmed as they are in such a novel and visible and accommodating source” about “Asian-ness.”
“A Kinder, Gentler Rick Santorum: Now that the man in the vest is surging in the polls, he’s toning down his talk on homosexuality, gay marriage, and abortion. Meet Santorum 2.0,” by David Weigel. While Santorum has toned down his talk on controversial issues, Weigel writes that the Republican candidate hasn’t changed much at all.
“The Rise of the Enormo-Phone: A disturbing trend toward gargantuan devices like the new Samsung Galaxy Note,” by Farhad Manjoo. It used to be that phones were progressively downsizing to Zoolander proportions. Manjoo is puzzled at why some companies now think bigger is still better and hypothesizes that they have iPhone envy.
“Whitney Houston, 1963-2012,” by Jody Rosen. In his obituary of Whitney Houston, Rosen remembers the singer not “as a tragic diva” but “instead as an athlete.” And in a related piece, Daniel Engber says that for the public to argue “we killed Whitney” is self-indulgent.
“Love in Three Photos: the 20 Winning Stories: Sweet and heartbreaking photo haikus from Slate readers,” by Heather Murphy. For Valentine’s Day Slate picked 20 reader-submitted photo stories that capture the depth and breadth of love. The poignant picture essays range from a Russian orphan playing Cupid to love lost along the road.
Anna Weaver is a writer living in the Seattle area. She is originally from Kailua, Hawaii.