What Should I Read From Slate This Week? Amanda Hess Shares Her Picks.

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Aug. 1 2014 12:18 PM

What Happened at Slate This Week?

Staff writer Amanda Hess shares the stories that impressed and intrigued her.

Amanda Hess.

Photo illustration by Slate. Illustration by Charlie Powell. Photo by Shutterstock.

Greetings, readers of Slate Plus!

Thank you for joining us on our incredible bonus-content-packed journey. This week, I’ve been selected to serve as your humble shepherd through the gun-toting, hallucination-inducing, Tofu McNugget­–fed landscape of Slates midsummer programming.  

Amanda Hess Amanda Hess

Amanda Hess is a Slate staff writer. 

But first, a bit about me. I am Amanda Hess, Slate staff writer. I usually write about women’s stuff at Double X, where my greatest triumph was convincing Slate to publish my careful analysis of why boy band members don’t look so constipated anymore, the culmination of years of study of Backstreet Boys and One Direction videos. But I also have free rein to roam to other areas of the site, where I’ve written about my dad marching me to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, the poor grizzly who became the first test subject for bear spray, and the untold stories of professional wrestlers.

This week, I had the distinct honor of editing the XX Factor blog while my editor, Allison Benedikt, was off on vacation. Well, well, well, Allison. It appears the student has become the master! Just kidding—the biggest thing I learned by taking on a fraction of Allison’s duties is just how much care Slate’s editors put into supporting the work of people like me day after day. Luckily, Double X’s fabulous writers made it easy for me this week: Check out Jessica Grose’s searing retort to the assumption that women drop out of the workforce because we’re obsessed with babies; Jane Hu’s incisive science report revealing that women fare worse in negotiations because people lie to us; and Willa Paskin’s delicious dive into the complicated sexual politics of The Bachelorette. (For the record, Andi, I’ll always be #TeamNick. Beware the Bachelorette contestant who lists his career as “former” anything.)

My favorite aspect of working for Slate is how my editors encourage me to indulge my weirdness—I still can’t believe that I was allowed to interview The Bachelor’s lead composer about how he writes dopey circus music to undermine the show’s most clownish contestants—and I’m always pleased to see how other writers showcase their quirks on the Slate stage. This week, I bopped my head along to Ben Blatt’s data analysis of why pop songs are so obsessed with names that start with the letter J. I cringed with recognition while reading Phillip Maciak’s argument that the 1983 film the The Big Chill invented the concept of the quarter-life crisis. As Maciak unpacks this “dramedy about the very serious #problems of white people in their early-30s,” he forces millennials like me to confront the fact that even our particular brand of generational navel-gazing was invented by the Boomers. And I was mesmerized by the Slate Book Review’s interactive treatment of an excerpt from Haruki Murakami’s new novel, which paired Murakami’s haunting folktale with its own piano-plucking puzzle.

But my standout Slate read this week came in the form of a cutting take-down of Dan Snyder’s latest craven, pandering attempt to defend his use of a racial slur as the Washington football team’s nickname: A website crafted by a crisis management firm that purports to present the “facts” about why insulting Native Americans for NFL profits isn’t really so bad. Within a day of the site’s launch, Slate had published a full-fledged parody site countering Snyder’s promotional bid with more objective facts about the team’s nickname and its impact on Native Americans. It’s both a sobering, informative read as well as a totally sick burn—and I don’t know of any other group of writers and editors who could have made it happen. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

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