Colbert’s War Against the Supreme Court, Killing Caps Lock, and the Coming Divorce Boom: The Week’s Most Interesting Slate

The week's most intriguing stories.
Feb. 4 2012 6:58 AM

Colbert  v. the Supreme Court, Redesigning the Keyboard, and the Coming Divorce Boom

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

Stephen Colbert hosts a rally.
Comedian Stephen Colbert hosts a rally with former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain last month

Richard Ellis/Getty Images.

Colbert v. the Court: Why, in the battle over Citizens United, the Supreme Court never had a chance,” by Dahlia Lithwick. Stephen Colbert’s super PAC is no joke. It’s raised over $1 million, and Colbert’s managed to become a leading critic of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision from his comedy platform. Will Colbert’s super PAC pack a long term punch for the campaign finance system?

How Newt Lost: It wasn’t just the bad debate performances and the moon base. His disorganized campaign got outflanked and outclassed,” by Sasha Issenberg. Sure, the Gingrich campaign has seen some jaw-dropping lows. But how exactly did he lose Florida? Sasha Issenberg contrasts Romney’s well-oiled political machine with Newt’s discombobulated “people’s campaign” and explains why Gingrich’s bid in that state was doomed from the start. 

Romney Is Kerry. Or Maybe Gore: He’s too handsome, too rich, and too pompous to win the hearts of ordinary Americans,” by Jacob Weisberg. Weisberg says that John Kerry, Al Gore, and Mitt Romney are all “statuesque, handsome, from privileged backgrounds and impeccably credentialed.” But American voters struggled to relate to Kerry and Gore, and Weisberg wonders if Romney will be able to overcome his own “authenticity gap.”

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Meat of the People: Boar’s Head is everywhere. But what do we really know about it?” by Bryan Curtis. Few meat brands are more ubiquitous than Boar’s Head. Even fewer are more guarded. The privately owned cold cuts giant rarely releases financial data, leaving its origins—and business affairs—shrouded in mystery. What’s its secret? Bryan Curtis looks beyond the basics to unveil what’s really behind this Brooklyn-based success story.

Mass Hysteria in Upstate New York : Why more than a dozen teenage girls are exhibiting Tourette’s-like symptoms,” by Ruth Graham. What do 15 mysteriously ill upstate New York students have in common with the Salem Witch Trials? One doctor says it’s nothing but a case of mass hysteria, clinically known as “mass psychogenic illness,” in which clumps of individuals share physical symptoms that are psychological in origin.  From an English textile factory in 1789 to a Tennessee high school in 1998, Ruth Graham traces the history of a perplexing—and surprisingly pervasive—ailment.  

 “Help America: Get Divorced! The coming boom in failed marriages and why it’s exactly what the economy needs,” by Matthew Yglesias. If there is a link between marriage and prosperity, why has 2011’s mild economic recovery led to a divorce rebound? Matt Yglesias says that, during a recession, fewer individuals can afford to get a divorce—even if they’re desperately in need of one. Thus, a sharp increase in divorce rates is actually an indication of economic improvement. 

KILL THE CAPS LOCK: And four other modest proposals for improving the contemporary computer keyboard,” by Matthew J.X. Malady. Do you wish you could personalize your keyboard? Join the club. From the dire need for an “em-dash” key to the relative uselessness of the caps lock, Matthew J.X. Malady questions whether it’s possible to “modernize” everyday typing technology without compromising functionality.

Are Women Better at Living Alone? Sociologist Eric Klinenberg’s new book, Going Solo, explores the question,” by Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow. A new book, Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, looks at the 31 million Americans who live alone, the majority of whom are women. Going Solo’s author argues that “modern conditions make it possible to combine an active social and romantic life with the option to retreat to a solitary haven,” and that women are better at creating social bonds that make up for being “singletons” at home.

The Patient Exhibits Extreme Curiosity: Do you have any say over what goes in your medical records?” by Brian Palmer. If you’ve ever wondered exactly what goes into your medical records, Brian Palmer explains what you can and can’t get your doctor to put in your file. Gunshot wound?  That’s going in there. But doctors may omit other information in some cases.

 “Introducing MySlate: A personalized version of Slate, just for you.” Can’t get enough of us? Sign up for MySlate—a new, interactive tool that lets you customize your own homepage with your favorite authors and stories. You can save articles, keep track of your comments, and even follow sections, or individual writers like Dahlia Lithwick—all with the click of a button.

Sonia Tsuruokai is a Slate intern.

Anna Weaver is a writer living in the Seattle area. She is originally from Kailua, Hawaii.

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