Dick Cheney's new book, the future of al-Qaida, and erotic capital: The week's most interesting Slate stories.

The week's most intriguing stories.
Sept. 3 2011 7:21 AM

Dick Cheney's New Book, the Future of Al-Qaida, and Erotic Capital

The week's most interesting Slate stories.

"Angler, Dog-Lover, Veep: The purpose of Dick Cheney's memoir isn't to prove he was right so much as to prove he is human," by David Weigel. If you're looking for rich emotional insight in the former vice president's new memoir, you're out of luck. Cheney colors the account of his political life with score-settling and shameful equivocation, failing to offer any explanations for his misjudgments in Iraq and his advocacy of controversial interrogation techniques on terror suspects. Most political memoirs are self-serving, but Cheney's latest book sets the new standard, Weigel writes.

"The Future of Al-Qaida: A look at where al-Qaida is headed over the next 10 years," by Daniel Byman. Al-Qaida has a new leader, Ayman Zawahiri, and he has his work cut out for him if he wants to keep the terrorist organization relevant, Byman writes. What's Zawahiri's most significant challenge? A lack of charisma. His predecessor, Osama Bin Laden, was a more seductive radical. But there's a deeper issue, too. The Arab spring prompted many Islamic extremists to question  al-Qaida's central assumption—that anti-American violence is the only way to change the Middle East.

"Remembering September: Ten years later, people in New York share how their lives have changed because of 9/11," by Katherine Goldstein and Isabel Slepoy. The 9/11 terrorist attacks altered the lives of many New Yorkers permanently; Goldstein and Slepoy interview and photograph a handful of them. Their answers, portraits of how the threat of terrorism has shaped the city's psyche over the last 10 years, reveal a toughened citizenry that refuses to succumb to fear.


"Questions for Catherine Hakim: The author of Erotic Capital: The Power of Attraction in the Boardroom and the Bedroom on why women should be using their sex appeal to get ahead," by Jessica Grose. In an interview with Hakim,  Grose finds out why the author thinks women are falling behind men in the race for "erotic capital." This kind of attractiveness, Hakim says, doesn't depend solely on physical beauty. You can also ramp up your sex appeal—and thus leverage it for career advancement—by dressing smartly and having social grace.

"Mad at MADD: Alcohol merchants say you shouldn't donate to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Really?" by William Saletan. The American Beverage Institute, which represents "places where you might go to drink alcohol before getting in your car to drive home,"  issued a press release last month advising Americans to withhold donations to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. ABI says that MADD wastes money, spending only 61 percent of its donations on programs. Do the alcohol merchants have a point? Not a strong one, Saletan writes. While MADD has held back on program spending during the recession, more donations to the group would help curb that trend. And if MADD scares ABI enough to convince the lobbying group to issue outraged press releases, it's a safe bet the charity is doing something right.

"Meet the Glamorous Celebrity Tutors of Hong Kong: Brutal exams go down easier when your teacher looks like a pop star," by Hillary Brenhouse. Could you perform better on a test if your teacher was a celebrity? Many students in Hong Kong, who are striving to pass the city's traumatic public exams, think the answer is yes. They've signed up for tutorials with teachers who double as shameless public-promoters, appearing on the sides of buses and billboards, in the newspaper and on television.

"Hurriquake! Mudslami! Volnado! How often do natural disasters coincide?" by Brian Palmer. Just a few days after an earthquake rattled desks on the East Coast, Hurricane Irene soaked its residents, forcing some evacuate, and others to buy mass quantities of peanut butter. But were the two disasters related? Probably not, Palmer explains, especially since the earthquake happened first. But there's some evidence to suggest that hurricanes can lead to earthquakes. At least one scientist believes the change in atmospheric pressure that the storms produce may cause an uptick in tectonic plate activity.

"Ten Mistresses Who Changed History: A gallery of 'other women' who became their own women," by Elizabeth Weingarten. The history of mistresses is largely a case study in fleeting, unlikely influence. Here's the basic premise: When women marginalized by society help satisfy the appetites of powerful men, some of them carve out their own positions of influence in the process. In this slide show, Weingarten selects mistresses profiled in Elizabeth Abbott's new book, Mistresses: A History of the Other Woman, and explores how these women beat the odds to make their mark on history.

"A Year of Biblical Womanhood: An evangelical blogger is spending 12 months following the Bible's instructions for women—and she's doing it for egalitarian reasons," by Ruth Graham. Thou shalt read Rachel Held Evans' blog. The evangelical writer is blogging about her attempt to live by the Bible's commandments for women for one year. It's a pledge that has forced her to make some uncomfortable choices, like living in a tent in the yard to avoid contact with her husband during her period, and refusing to cut her hair.

"That's Amari: A lonely woman falls in love with Campari, Aperol, and other bitters," by Troy Patterson. It's a classic story of girl meets liquor: A solitary woman on summer vacation gets inspired by a James Bond novel, and decides to try cocktails made with bitters liquor. She's smitten with the delicious drinks, and discovers why these spirits make for the perfect companion on a muggy summer day. Who needs men when you've got Campari?


Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

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