Democrats Fall Back in Love With Bill Clinton, Endangered Cranes Fall out of Line With Putin, and a Dominatrix…

The week's most intriguing stories.
Sept. 8 2012 6:00 AM

Victorious Clinton, Inglorious Putin, and the Plight of a Modern Dominatrix

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton addresses the audience at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C., on Sept. 5 on the second day of the Democratic National Convention.

Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/GettyImages)

In our dispatches from the DNC, John Dickerson gives Michelle Obama high marks, while Emily Bazelon wonders whether the FLOTUS will ever be seen as more than just mom-in-chief. Dave Weigel explains how Bill Clinton ad libbed his way to perfection, and Dickerson discusses Obama’s subdued acceptance speech.

Mark Joseph Stern Mark Joseph Stern

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers science, the law, and LGBTQ issues.

I Ate Every Variety of Pepperidge Farm Cookie: What I learned about baked goods—and the human condition—from the Milano, the Verona, the Geneva …” by Leon Neyfakh. One adventurous Slate reporter embarked on a culinary exploration of what some consider the most boring cookies in the world. He explains why you should take them seriously.  

 “How Do You Get a Migratory Bird To Follow a Russian Dictator? Vladimir Putin: horseman, treasure hunter, crane-wrangler,” by Brian Palmer. This week, Vladimir Putin attempted to guide a flock of migratory cranes in a hang glider. He didn’t exactly succeed. Brian Palmer explains the science behind human-led bird migrations and why Putin probably failed. (Maybe the cranes were Pussy Riot fans.)

What Does It Take To Be a Dominatrix? How an Upper East Side private school girl ends up with a dungeon for an office,” by Katie Roiphe. Do dominatrixes subvert patriarchal expectations of female submission, reinforce them, or do something else entirely? Roiphe profiles one dominatrix who “hits harder,” plunging us into a world of whips, blowtorches, and “the voluptuous yearning toward the extinction of one’s consciousness.”

Gay Is Good for America: At their convention, Democrats finally say it loud and clear,” by Nathaniel Frank. All those fluttering rainbow flags at the DNC didn’t lie: Democrats have finally come out for gay rights. Frank explores how LGBT equality is good for the whole country, fostering inclusiveness, openness, and love. It doesn’t hurt the Democrats’ poll numbers, either.

 “Will Gridlock Destroy Obama’s Second Term? Maybe not. The expiration of the Bush tax cuts may force a big legislative compromise,” by Matthew Yglesias. In exchange for extending the Bush tax cuts in late 2010, Obama forced Congressional Republicans’ hand and won a slew of compromises. Could he do it again?

When Do We Become Truly Conscious? The new science of consciousness should change how we think about thorny ethical dilemmas,” by Daniel Bor. Do worms get sad? Daniel Bor examines the newest scientific studies of consciousness, exploring how they may change the debate about everything from animal rights to abortion.

 “A Changing of the Guard: The Democratic Party is now the dominant foreign-policy party,” by Fred Kaplan. Ever since Republicans went silent on foreign policy, Kaplan argues, Democrats have been winning the debate merely by engaging in it. And that’s not necessarily good for America.

Vegan Feud: Animal rights activists would accomplish a lot more if they stopped attacking the Humane Society,” by James McWilliams. Last week we heard about cat film festivals; this week we learn of pregnant pigs in crates. McWilliams argues forcefully that liberationist animal rights activists lose the battle and the war when they lambaste the compromise-prone Humane Society. After all, Whole Foods wasn’t built in a day.

Plus, check out the September edition of the Slate Book Review. Within, Karina Longworth discusses two searching essay collections from Ellen Willis, Jessica Roake plunges the commode of kiddie humor with her assessment of the latest Captain Underpants, and Mark O’Connell wonders whether David Foster Wallace’s pettiness and misogyny should change the way we read his work.  

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