In the business world there used to be deals or, sometimes, partnerships. These days, there are strategic alliances. The term "strategic alliance" is intended to 1) sound glamorous and forward-thinking; and 2) obscure the actual nature of the relationship. It can cover anything from an actual merger to an occasional lunch. (It is an entertaining parlor game to read about some new strategic alliance, especially in the high-tech world, and try to guess who--if anyone--is paying whom. The answer is often far from obvious.)
Slate, of course, wishes to be glamorous and forward-thinking. So we are pleased to begin this week a strategic alliance with the Motley Fool. The Fool, as many readers are aware, is one of the most entertaining, illuminating, and successful online financial sites, with outlets on both America Online and the Web. The Slate/Fool strategic alliance will consist of lavish expressions of mutual admiration, cross-links between our sites at even the least plausible opportunity, and exchanges of T-shirts, baseball caps, and other logo paraphernalia. In addition, the Fool will be providing, exclusively for Slate, a weekly business column. The column is not about stock tips or breaking news, but rather is intended to be a discerning backgrounder on business issues, somewhat in the style of Slate's "The Gist." (And who's paying whom? Guess.) Slate's first "Fool" is about the corporate fashion for changing names.
Next week, by the way, we will continue to ramp up our business coverage with "Maximum Wage," a monthly column by Graef (Bud) Crystal, America's leading authority on CEO compensation. (His article on Mike Ovitz's notorious $90 million severance package from Disney appeared in Slate a few months back.) Each column will analyze the pay of one or more top executives who are of interest for being paid too much or (occasionally) too little. Graef's first column, to be posted next week, will focus on one from each category--both women.
A Doctor in the House
A common complaint about Slate--and, indeed, about Webzines in general--is that we don't write enough about castration. Like hang gliding and Albanian cuisine, this is a subject most people would rather read about than try for themselves. We are delighted, therefore, that our new "Medical Examiner" columnist has chosen castration as the subject of his first column. Medical Examiner will appear every other week in Slate. We cannot promise that every column will be about castration. In fact, we can pretty much promise that no more columns will be about castration. But they all will deal with the general subject of health, science, and society. The author is Atul Gawande, M.D., who wrote a fascinating Slate "Diary" a couple of weeks ago about his life as a surgical resident in Boston. Atul also worked on health-care reform as a White House aide during the first Clinton term--an experience about which he has mixed feelings.
Playing Post Office
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By the way, for those who have been enjoying our new daily feature, "Today's Papers"--which summarizes and analyzes the front pages of five major newspapers--you'll soon be able to get overnight e-mail delivery of that column. Or at least you'll be able to sign up for it.