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.
Aug. 7 2009 11:00 AM

Cool Cooks, Hot Java, and the End of America

The week's most interesting Slate stories.

1) In "The End of America," Josh Levin explores how our nation could cease to exist. He first looks at theories by leading futurologists before outlining three scenarios: the transformation of America by climate change, the shattering of the nation by secession, and its demise by totalitarianism. Lastly, he looks at who will remain after America has perished, namely, Mormons. Think you have a better prediction for the end days? Game them out with our "Choose Your Own Apocalypse" feature.

2) "What if Obama Really Were Born in Kenya? An Explainer thought experiment," by Brian Palmer. Even if Obama were illegally holding the office of president (he's not), birthers seeking to sue him out of office would face an insurmountable legal obstacle. Then again, there's always impeachment.

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3) "Why You've Stopped Watching CNBC: Explaining the ratings decline at the financial-news network," by Daniel Gross. They can't even get the boring stuff right. Declining credibility and lack of fiscal tragedies are the leading factors in CNBC's growing unpopularity.

4) "Julie & Julia: Meryl Streep is amazingly good as Julia Child," by Dana Stevens. Sure, this movie may not follow a traditional plotline for success, nor does it have any deep, emotionally draining conflict at its core. But Streep's acting prowess and Ephron's sharp direction combine to create an unconventional, creative film that's in a category of its own.

5) "Will Marcus Brauchli Please Grow a Spine? The Washington Post executive editor grovels before the paper's critics in the Mad Bitch controversy," by Jack Shafer. The Post needs to stop wimping out and take a look at its past of insulting, inappropriate content. Let's hope it mans up soon and realizes that journalism doesn't mean pleasing the public by playing it safe.

6) "Can Obama Make You Buy Health Insurance? An inquiry into health reform's constitutionality," by Timothy Noah. It may not seem constitutional for the government to force its citizens to buy health coverage. But looked at through a few different legal lenses, the individual mandate appears to be not only legal but also smart policy.

7) "The Great iPhone Lockdown: Should the FCC force Apple to sell Google's apps?" by Farhad Manjoo. Apple seems be recklessly rejecting Apps left and right, and the little reasoning it reveals runs contradictory to decisions on past bans. Thankfully, the FCC is stepping in and is about to give the company a firm lesson in market ethics.  

8) "Are Organic Veggies Better for You?  Maybe, or maybe not. Either way, it's a useless debate," by James E. McWilliams. When the terms organic and conventional don't really have specific nutritional meanings in the first place, it's easy to manipulate the research. Instead of choosing sides, just focus on your food groups.

9) "New President, Old Mistake: Is Obama trying too hard not to be like his predecessors?" by Jacob Weisberg. The opposite of a failed policy is not necessarily a successful one. In an attempt to create distance between his actions and the unpopular decisions of presidents past—particularly George W. Bush and Bill Clinton—Obama has been reversing old mistakes in order to determine his course of action. Sounds good in theory, but we're just headed toward another extreme.

10) "Coffee Talk: Which chain brews the best cup? Starbucks, McDonald's, or Dunkin'?" by Nathan Heller. In times of tight wallets and busy schedules, gourmet coffee isn't always an option—but a morning without caffeine is completely out of the question. Slate staffers gritted their teeth and taste-tested chain-store javas to find the cheapest, least-bilious way to wake up.

Inci Atrek is an English major at Wellesley College and a Slate intern.