Creepy Political Ads, Feeding the World, and Your 10-Terabyte Mind
The week’s most interesting Slate stories.
Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images.
“Marco Rubio Is This Election’s Sarah Palin: And shouldn’t be Mitt Romney’s choice for vice president,” by John Dickerson. Mitt Romney is facing a “presidential-level decision” as he considers his potential running mates. But Dickerson warns that if Romney succumbs to the buzz words swirling around Florida Sen.Marco Rubio, he’ll like be making a Sarah Palin-level mistake putting the young, Cuban-American, rising star in the VP slot. Want to know more about the possible veep candidates? David Weigel has word clouds for each of them.
“Where Did All the Accomplished People Go? We used to revere scientists. Now we worship Kim Kardashian. Why?” by Simon Doonan. “We have lost our fascination with accomplishment,” complains Doonan as he recounts how we have slipped from a culture that made celebrities out of physicists and gospel singers to one that clamors for every update on “audacious women with impressive racks.”
“Your Brain’s Technical Specs: How many megabytes of data can the human mind hold?” by Forrest Wickman. The “Explainer” breaks down just how much data your brain can store and explicates why a computer that’s more powerful than the human mind wouldn’t be marketable.
“How To Get Food on Every Table: We have enough food to feed everyone. But we need to produce even more. Here’s why,” by Bjørn Lomborg. The world produces enough food to feed everyone, yet 180 million preschool-age children are still undernourished. Lomborg outlines how Nobel laureates and researchers think world hunger could be solved through “bundling nutrition interventions, increasing global food production, and improving the economic conditions of the rural poor through better communications and increased competition in fertilizer markets.”
“Sneaking Into Pantone HQ: How color forecasters really decide which hue will be the new black,” by Tom Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt gets into a normally secret Pantone color meeting and watches as colorists from Europe and America decide what shades will be hot in your home in two years.
“The Supreme Court Would Like To See Your Papers: The justices say Arizona’s immigration law has nothing to do with race—except when it pleases them,” by Dahlia Lithwick. Lithwick says the Supreme Court has to look at a technical question when deciding the Arizona immigration law case: “Is the federal government the sole authority on immigration law, or may states pass more draconian laws than the federal regime, so long as those laws purport to be working in concert with the federal regime, and not superseding them?
“Saturday’s Warriors: How Mormons went from beard-wearing radicals to clean-cut conformists,” by Matthew Bowman. Bowman writes about the “correlation” reform movement that began in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 1960s and led Mormons from “beard-wearing polygamous radicals (think Brigham Young) to your well-scrubbed, wholesome, and somewhat dorky next-door neighbors (think Mitt Romney—albeit with not quite so much money).”
“Will Gattaca Come True? Noninvasive, early fetal tests for sex, paternity, and chromosomal conditions will change pregnancy dramatically—and raise tricky ethical questions,” by Mara Hvistendahl. Several companies are beginning to roll out noninvasive prenatal testing that uses stray fetal DNA in a pregnant woman’s blood to check the health and potentially the gender of an unborn child. Hvistendahl considers the morass of legal, ethical, and social issues that could result.
“The Creepiness Factor: This could have been the election when Web-based advertising changed everything. What happened?” by Sasha Issenberg. Targeted Web advertising from political candidates hasn’t emerged this election season because politicians are stuck on the idea that online privacy is more important than offline privacy.
“I’d Rather Eat at My Desk: Why lunch breaks are totally overrated,” by Rachael Larimore. Lunch breaks are a waste of time in Larimore’s mind and she argues that workplaces should allow employees to work through them and leave the office early. A rebuttal piece takes a counter position that we’d be a lot happier with long, leisurely lunches.
Anna Weaver is a writer living in the Seattle area. She is originally from Kailua, Hawaii.