Neanderthal DNA, Affirmative Action, and the Joe Biden Workout: The Week’s Most Interesting Slate Stories

The week's most intriguing stories.
Oct. 13 2012 6:30 AM

Neanderthal DNA, Biden vs. Ryan, and Why the Taliban Fears Teenage Girls

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

Joe Biden
Joe Biden went on the offensive at the vice presdiential debate.

Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/GettyImages.

The Joe Biden Workout: The vice president was everywhere at once. He probably won the debate. He definitely shed a few pounds,” by John Dickerson. Biden might have been over the top, Dickerson writes, but his exasperation might have helped him make people doubt Paul Ryan’s claims. For more debate coverage, read David Weigel on Biden as a “happy warrior,” Allison Benedikt on Paul Ryan’s bean moment, Rachael Larimore on Martha Raddatz’s brilliant moderating, and Fred Kaplan on the foreign policy dimension to the showdown.

The Neanderthal in My Family Tree: New genetic evidence shows our ancestors interbred with now-extinct species,” by Ann Gibbons. A genetic test revealed that Gibbons is 2.9 percent Neanderthal, and she’s not afraid to say it. And she explains why, if you’re European or Asian, you probably have Neanderthal DNA, too.  And get ready to learn about the Denisovans.

Why the Taliban Fears Teenage Girls,” by William J. Dobson. On Tuesday, the Taliban took responsibility for the attack on Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old Pakistani girl who advocated for female education. William Dobson explains that educated girls threaten the Taliban because “studies suggest that educating girls is about the closest thing we have to a silver-bullet solution for countries suffering from poverty, instability, and general inequity—or, in other words, the very conditions that allow a group like the Taliban to thrive. “

Advertisement

 “Mitt Romney’s Most Dishonest Speech: When it comes to lies and half-truths, Romney saves his best stuff for foreign policy,” by Fred Kaplan. Fred Kaplan fact-checks Mitt Romney’s foreign policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute. “Watch Romney spin a daydream of himself as some latter-day George Marshall, bringing peace, prosperity, and hope to a chaotic world,” Kaplan writes.

Pay Up or the Hard Drive Gets It: What you need to know about ransomware, hackers’ latest trick to take over your computer and blackmail you for cash,” by Will Oremus. If a page pops up on your computer that claims to be from the FBI, warning you that you face prosecution and that your every move is being recorded on your webcam—it’s not the FBI. But it is scary. Oremus advises on how to avoid such malware and what to do if you end up with it anyhow.

Is the Republican Party Racist? It depends on race-baiting tactics and the votes of former Confederate states,”by Ron Rosenbaum. On the heels of a video of President Obama from 2007 addressing racial issues that was promoted by the Daily Caller and the Drudge Report, Ron Rosenbaum makes the provocative case that the Republican Party has relied on covert and structural racism to win Southern states since the Civil Rights era—and it’s time that the media acknowledges it.

 “To Hell With You, Matt Groening: A tribute to Life in Hell, with comics by Alison Bechdel, Tom Tomorrow, and others,” by James Sturm. This June, Matt Groening ended his popular comic, Life in Hell. Sturm rounded up a series of panels by other cartoonists honoring the strip.  

 “Why Your 4-Year-Old Is As Smart as Nate Silver: And if kids are so smart, why are adults so stupid about statistics?” by Alison Gopnik. Studies have found children to be better at intuiting statistical solutions than adults. Alison Gopnik explains why a 4-year-could might make better use of statistical methods than you.

Rage or Justice: The complicated emotions behind the Supreme Court’s upcoming argument on affirmative action,” by Emily Bazelon. Before heading to the Supreme Court to hear oral arguments for Fisher v. University of Texas, the case on affirmative action in college admissions, Emily Bazelon shared readers’ stories about their own experiences with affirmative action, from the white male who was rejected from a college because it had “too many white males” enrolled in his major, to a woman who struggled with whether to mark “black” on her college application and worried that she’d never know whether she got accepted for her grades or her race.

 “It’s Your Turn To Edit Slate: Give us your best ideas for the Slate Reader Takeover.” Slate is giving readers the chance to assign stories to Slate writers. Ask John Dickerson to write about a particular race, or tell Laura Anderson what she did wrong. You be the editor.

Kara Brandeisky is a Slate intern and student at Georgetown University

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Even When They Go to College, the Poor Sometimes Stay Poor

Here’s Just How Far a Southern Woman May Have to Drive to Get an Abortion

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?

Behold

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 7:13 PM Deadly Advice When it comes to Ebola, ignore American public opinion: It’s ignorant and misinformed about the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 6:48 PM Apple: Still Enormously Profitable
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 6:32 PM Taylor Swift’s Pro-Gay “Welcome to New York” Takes Her Further Than Ever From Nashville 
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.