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.
July 10 2009 7:54 AM

Quitting Time, Gay Panic, and Pill-Popping Pop Stars

The week's most interesting Slate stories.

1) "Lost in Translation: Why Sarah Palin really quit us," by Dahlia Lithwick. The paradox of the resigning Alaska governor was that she couldn't speak coherently yet loathed the media outlets that "filtered" her tattered sentences into something resembling logic.

2) "That Was Awesome: What stuntmen think are the best stunt films of all time," by Kevin Conley. Flirtation with death, or death itself, is the easiest way to make the list, but technological innovation and big budgets also work. Read more  from Slate's Summer Movies special issue.

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3) "Paging Dr. Feelgood: The joys and perils of giving celebrities what they want," by Kent Sepkowitz. The Michael Jacksons and Elvis Presleys of the world know there's a line of doctors eager to trade integrity for a brush with fame.

4) "Death of the Whiz Kid: Robert Strange McNamara, 1916-2009," by Fred Kaplan. McNamara used statistics to modernize the U.S. military, but his bluntly rationalist approach to the Vietnam War failed miserably. His follies, while a source of later shame and disavowal, encapsulated America's contradictions in the 20th century.

5) "Going Public, Quietly: Why Obama wants to be as vague as possible about health care reform," by John Dickerson. The White House is trying to leave room for concessions on the public option but doesn't want to lose support from the left. Meanwhile, we're left with "moments of explosive confusion."

6) "JerkStrong: How Lance Armstrong is like Sarah Palin," by Bill Gifford. His self-importance, rabid fans, and acute defensiveness suggest that Armstrong is ready to run for office. Too bad Armstrong's good works are overshadowed by an outsize ego and the specter of doping.

7) "On the Offensive: After Brüno, Hollywood depictions of gays may never be the same. That's a good thing," by Dennis Lim. Sacha Baron Cohen's latest film pushes viewers to recognize how ridiculous the gay joke, the sissy stereotype, and homosexual panic have become.

8) "Smooth, Segway: How the much-ridiculed personal transportation device finally found a niche," by Tom Vanderbilt. Eight years after its overhyped launch, the Segway still hasn't beckoned the transportation revolution its creator promised. It has, however, become popular among disabled people, who find it less stigmatizing and more versatile than a wheelchair.

9) "Scandinavian Crime Wave: Why the most peaceful people on earth write the greatest homicide thrillers," by Nathaniel Rich. The lucrative crime-lit market has drawn the North's poets, playwrights, and more "serious" novelists to the genre. The gritty books' popularity stems from their incongruously placid settings.

10) "The Penis Mightier: How does porn screenwriting work?" by Christopher Beam. After all the sex scenes, most feature-length scripts have room for just 30 minutes of dialogue—and the pay is lousy. Who pens these skin flicks?