Filibusters, Women in Combat, and the Case Against Cats: The Week’s Most Interesting Slate Stories

The week's most intriguing stories.
Jan. 26 2013 7:15 AM

Filibusters, Women in Combat, and the Feline Menace

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

 “Fili-busted: Democrats pull back from the nuclear option on filibuster reform. Did they get a bum deal?” by David Weigel. The Senate finally reached a compromise deal on filibuster reform. Weigel assesses whether the rule change is a win for the Democratic majority or an inconsequential tweak.

Our Boots Have Been on the Ground: Ten years ago my fellow soldiers would have balked at having women serve in combat. After Iraq and Afghanistan, the policy is finally catching up to reality,” by Kayla Williams. Former U.S. Army sergeant Williams reflects on the Pentagon’s decision to lift the ban on servicewomen in combat. For those women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, she argues, the change is an acknowledgment of sacrifices already made.

Did Chernobyl Cause the Soviet Union To Explode?: The nuclear theory of the fall of the USSR,” by Mark Joseph Stern. The 1986 Chernobyl disaster wasn’t only an unmatched environmental catastrophe, but also a critical moment in the unraveling of the Soviet Union. In the midst of Gorbachev’s glasnost, Stern explains, Chernobyl went a long way toward shaking many Soviets’ confidence in their leaders and political system.  

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 “Cats Are Evil: Why New Zealand is right to consider banning them in order to save its wildlife,” by Laura Helmuth. In response to a New Zealand economist’s call for the elimination of cats from his country, Helmuth offers her own thoughts on this “globally invasive species.” She asserts that despite their cuteness, cats are essentially murderous, species-eradicating parasites whose numbers ought to be reduced. 

Girl Drinks: A history of sweet cocktails for ladies, on the occasion of the Cosmopolitan’s 25th anniversary,” by Troy Patterson. Patterson makes sense of today’s complicated array of female-friendly cocktails and recounts the milestones in their birth and evolution. From the elaborate Pink Lady to the humble vodka tonic, there’s more to the girl drink than you previously thought.

Apple Is Stronger Than Ever: Don’t let the company’s stock slump fool you,” by Farhad Manjoo. Apple’s stock has taken a beating despite a strong quarter. Still, Manjoo argues that pessimism about the company’s future is misplaced and that the tech firm remains at the top of its game.

The Blind Hiker: How one man used technology to conquer the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail,” by Sarah Trankle. As part of the “Doers” series, Trankle profiles Mike Hanson, the blind man who hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2010 with only a GPS device to guide him. Hanson wants other visually impaired people to pursue their dreams and thinks that high-tech devises may be the key.

 “Waiting for Bardot: Have the French lost their je ne sais quois?” by Simon Doonan. In the absence of exciting and sexy cultural exports, the French have relinquished their onetime artistic superiority, laments Doonan. Is this nation of supercilious snail-eaters poised for a revival or destined for obscurity?

Schizophrenic Is the New Retarded: The word doesn’t mean what you think it means, and that matters,” by Patrick House. So you think someone or something is behaving schizophrenically? You’re probably wrong, argues House, or at the very least politically incorrect. He sets the record straight regarding the term’s proper usage, explaining that the popular understanding of the disease has little to do with its actual symptoms.

Porn Fans Aren’t What They Used To Be: Reporting from the Adult Entertainment Expo, where the gun-owning, flip-phone-carrying demo reigns and James Deen just wants to talk about pandas,” by Amanda Hess. Hess relates the current state of the porn industry in the age of the Internet and the iPhone, examining such trends as the “hipster” consumer and the humanization of porn stars. Hess writes, “Now that porn is a normal, everyday thing, typical viewers are less likely to see porn performers as objects to either venerate or degrade.”


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