The week's most interesting Slate stories.

The week's most interesting Slate stories.

The week's most interesting Slate stories.

The week's most intriguing stories.
June 5 2009 11:02 AM

Insane Tennis Parents, Terrifying Economic Data, and the Return of Lard

The week's most interesting Slatestories.

1) "Where's Pepper?: In the summer of 1965, a female Dalmatian was stolen from a farm in Pennsylvania. Her story changed America," by Daniel Engber.
This five-part series tracks how the theft of one dog—she would later die under the scalpel—changed laboratory science, galvanized the animal rights movement, and led to the most important animal-welfare law in history.

2) "Tiller's Killer: Is it wrong to murder an abortionist?" by William Saletan.
George Tiller performed abortions that shook ardent pro-choicers and outraged even the mildest pro-lifers. Saletan explores why more pro-life groups don't support such assassinations as a lesser evil.

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3) "Lard: After decades of trying, its moment is finally here," by Regina Schrambling.
Rendered pork fat has been maligned for decades, even though it's more flavorful and perhaps even healthier than most alternatives. Now the locavore environmental movement is helping lard shake its stigma. (Check out more culinary coverage in this week's Food Issue.)

4) "About a Bing: Beware Google: Microsoft's new search engine isn't half-bad," by Farhad Manjoo.
Unlike the search engines previously touted as "Google-killers," Microsoft's Bing hews close to the reigning champion's formula. This conservative approach, backed by an avalanche of advertising, may allow Microsoft to steal a decent share of Google users.

5) "Wanted: Insane Tennis Parents: The only way to end America's Grand Slam drought," by Huan Hsu.
Through idiosyncratic brutishness, sociopath parents groom champion players in a way the bureaucratic United States Tennis Association can't. America needs more of them.

6) "Sotomayor's Manly Man Ruling: Her bold ruling in favor of a man who claimed sex discrimination," by Emily Bazelon.
Why do her opinions so often avoid the toughest issues? Because the 2nd Circuit strongly encourages unanimity and issues narrow, less controversial decisions.

7) "How Many Balloons Would It Take To Lift a House?: The physics of Pixar's Up," by Nina Shen Rastogi.
About 23 million, if you're using party balloons.

8) "Is China Pulling Strings in North Korea?: There's a reason Beijing hasn't ended Pyongyang's provocations," by Anne Applebaum.
China, the only country with real influence over the regime, is likely using North Korea's missile launches to test Obama's reaction to an Asian military threat. 

9) "Green Shoots, Red Ink, Black Hole: Truly terrifying data about the real state of the U.S. economy," by Eliot Spitzer.
Ignore the few signs of economic rebound. Long-term data show America's industrial sector in terminal decline and our trade deficit is crippling. Huge investments in high-speed rail and electric cars would help spark a true resurgence.

10) "Do Carwashes Hose the Planet?: The environmental impacts of cleaning your wheels," by Nina Shen Rastogi.
If you take the right steps—using water sparingly, choose an eco-friendly detergent, and pouring the runoff down the toilet—car washing at home is greener. Otherwise, pick a self-serve carwash that reuses its wastewater.