Japan in crisis, lionfish, and student athletes: the week's most interesting Slate stories.

Japan in crisis, lionfish, and student athletes: the week's most interesting Slate stories.

Japan in crisis, lionfish, and student athletes: the week's most interesting Slate stories.

The week's most intriguing stories.
March 19 2011 6:46 AM

Japan in Crisis, Mouthwatering Invasive Species, and the Best Majors for Student Athletes

The week's most interesting Slate stories.

"Stop, Thief! Thank You: Why so little looting in Japan? It's not just about honesty," by Christopher Beam. In the wake of two natural disasters and one nuclear emergency, Japanese are still lining up calmly at the supermarket to buy food. What lies behind the country's storied discipline? A visible police force, laws that reward good behavior, and … a surprisingly civic-minded mafia, says Beam.

"Man vs. Meltdown: Will Japan's nuclear crisis end in catastrophe?" by William Saletan. Conversations about nuclear power too often devolve into panic. Saletan wants us to take a deep breath, recognize that human protective measures are fallible, and work on improving a system that will repay our efforts if we keep planning ahead.

Katy Waldman Katy Waldman

Katy Waldman is Slate’s words correspondent.

"Japan Has Shifted 13 Feet!: Does that mean GPS doesn't work anymore?" by Brian Palmer. Parts of Japan just moved 13 feet closer to the United States. Will this displacement confuse the disembodied voice that tells you where to drive?

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"Are You Sports Management or Communications? An interactive guide to the preferred majors of college basketball stars," by Justin Peters. From criminal justice to drama to dentistry, chances are your chosen field is represented somewhere on the NCAA roster. (And if your chosen field is business, chances are your office is full of former student athletes.)

"The Future of Mobile Gadgets: How many will we carry? What will they look like? What will they do?" by Farhad Manjoo. "The future of mobile tech won't be just a story of shrinking computers," Farhad predicts. Until Apple releases its iProphesy, dream along with him about collapsible phones, e-mail dictation, and the increasing digitization of the search for a parking space.

"Breaking Up with Iraq," by Whitney Terrell. Last spring, Obama urged the Army to begin withdrawing soldiers from Iraq on an unprecedented scale. The Responsible Drawdown of Forces, or RDoF, left behind heaps of equipment and refuse, as well as the resentments of many Iraqis (and American liberals). But Terrell finds Iraq safer and more stable than it's been in years. What if the war actually worked?

"The Lionfish is Delicious: And it needs to die," by Nathan Thornburgh. Since first infiltrating Florida waters 20 years ago, the red lionfish has devastated that region's ecosystem. Sharks and grouper won't touch it, but gourmet chefs? Facing the menace firsthand, Thornburgh discovers that revenge is a dish best served with cayenne pepper and lemon.

"Don't Let Qaddafi Win: Ignore the "realists." If we do nothing, the situation in Libya can only get worse," by Christopher Hitchens. With or without a no-fly zone, Qaddafi's grip on Libya is weakening. The United States needs to do a better job of orchestrating what could otherwise be a messy collapse.

 "Why Preschool Shouldn't Be Like School: New research shows that teaching kids more and more, at ever younger ages, may backfire," by Alison Gopnik. Room to explore and play makes 4-year-olds more creative, curious, and resourceful, say studies at MIT and UC Berkeley. So why are today's preschools so enamored of "directed learning?"

"Still Separated at Birth? Do Spy magazine's lookalikes still look alike?" by Matthew J.X. Malady. In honor of Google's decision to make old issues of Spy available online, Slate presents a modern update of the magazine's most famous feature. Click through our slideshow to find out whether Fidel Castro and Richard Gere still pass for long-lost twins, 25 years later.