Breaking Bad, free will, and embracing your inner hipster: The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

Breaking Bad, Free Will, and Embracing Your Inner Hipster: The Week’s Most Interesting Slate Stories.

Breaking Bad, Free Will, and Embracing Your Inner Hipster: The Week’s Most Interesting Slate Stories.

Military analysis.
Sept. 28 2013 6:45 AM

Breaking Bad, Free Will, and Embracing Your Inner Hipster

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

Bryan Cranston as Walter White in Breaking Bad.
Bryan Cranston as Walter White in Breaking Bad.

Photo by Ursula Coyote/AMC

The One Who Knocked First: From start to finish, Breaking Bad has echoed the uncannily similar—and equally good—cop show The Shield,” by Mark Peters. Main character trying to help his family? Check. Decisions that destroy everyone around him? Check. Consistent quality of episode throughout the shows run? Check. Bald protagonist? Check. Breaking Bad? Nope. What then? The Shield

 “Sympathy for the Devil: In Defense of Gordon Ramsay,” by Jessica Winter. Everyone hates Gordon Ramsey, and largely for good reason. As a reality TV star he’s burned enough bridges and screamed enough expletives to give him Simon Cowell level notoriety. While this persona has defined him, he is still at his core an incredible chef, albeit one that focused on building his empire and not growing his brand slowly.

Do You Really Have Free Will? Of course. Here’s how it evolved,” by Roy F. Baumeister. With modern science breaking down our consciousness into its components of chemical signals and electrical pulses, the concept of free will has taken a beating. While our decisions can be explained in terms of these physiological impulses, doing so leaves out whole other levels of explanation. We always make decisions, and while the process of those decisions may be out of our control, the ability to make them gives us free will.


Here’s Danny: With Doctor Sleep, Stephen King has written a worthy sequel to The Shining,” by J. Bryan Lowder. It’s always tough to top a classic. Indeed, after 36 years, many readers probably thought they had seen the last of Danny Torrence and his psychic premonitions. Yet in Doctor Sleep the venerable Stephen King catches up with how life has gone for Danny since 1977’s The Shining.  A follow-up that is a perfect complement to the original, Doctor Sleep details the troubles that Danny’s “shining” have given him over the years, and how he can use them to help and protect others with his same condition.

 “Why Do We Tolerate Revenge Porn? A new bill in California tries to address the problem, but doesn’t go far enough,” by Emily Bazelon. Revenge porn, where sexually explicit pictures and video of your partner obtained during a private relationship are made public on the Internet (usually after the relationship is over), can ruin a person’s life. In the age of sexting, this is a real problem, and a proposed law in California attempts to make the act illegal. The problem is, the bill doesn’t go far enough.

 “A Sick Stigma: Why are cancer patients blamed for their illness?” by Charlotte Huff. Patients suffering from cancer have a lot to go through: appointments, chemotherapy, and uncertainty about their future. One thing they shouldn’t have to worry about is blame. Asking lung cancer patients if they smoke is just one example of how cancer patients are facing blame instead of sympathy for a terrible disease.

 “The Miracle on San Francisco Bay:  Oracle Team USA’s billionaire-funded, cheat-tastic America’s Cup comeback reveals the awesome power of the inspirational sports narrative,” by Josh Levin. Who doesn’t love a comeback? Even in a sport where only billionaires can participate, the winner gets to set the rules, and teams can be docked to negative points, for the “American” team to come from behind to win the America’s Cup 9-8 was still a thrilling victory.

It’s Hip to Be Hip, Too: Owning my identity as a hipster, our generation’s most reviled cultural stereotype,” by Luke O’Neil. Of all the identities that people can assume for themselves, none is more reviled than the hipster. Yet with a fuzzy, ever changing definition, a huge variety of things qualify one as a hipster. The one constant? No hipster ever wants to call themselves a hipster. It’s time for that to change.