Hello Slate Plus members! I’m your Editor of the Week, tasked with curating the best and most interesting Slate output for your delectation, enjoyment, and opprobrium, or perhaps all three. As you are Slate mega-fans (we’re grateful for your support!), there probably isn’t much I can tell you about this past week in the magazine that you don’t already know. But I’ll give it my best shot.
First, a bit about me: I’ve been Slate’s business and technology editor for one year this week, which means I’ve spent most of the last 12 months reading and editing pieces about things like burrito bonds and eating steak with Warren Buffett and the secret link between Facebook and the waffle taco. That random list may make me sound like the food editor, which I am not, but Slate business and economics staff writer Alison Griswold is so all over the fast-food industry beat that sometimes I feel that way.
In the last year I’ve also written for virtually every Slate department, on subjects including Woody Allen’s creepiest fanboy, Instagram as an engine of self-loathing, the nightmare of Ikea delivery, and the mythological creature known as the Kindly Brontosaurus. Plus I’m something of a podcast utility player, guesting on the odd Spoiler Special or Audio Book Club or Culture Gabfest or, just yesterday, the Double X Gabfest, where I chatted with Outward editor June Thomas and New York editor Noreen Malone about Orange Is the New Black and Slender Man and dating tech guys and lots of other stuff. (Speaking of OITNB, if you’ve already binged all of Season 2, make sure to check out the Spoiler Special.) I work out of our ultra-collegial New York City bureau, which recently got a snazzy, kill-your-cubicle redesign and where actual verified food editor L.V. Anderson provides a steady supply of delicious snacks (this week: salty-chocolate-y granola!).
I would be remiss as a proud editor if a bunch of my favorites this week weren’t articles I edited myself. Anyone who has ever drank a beer in the USA will find lots to ponder in Jim Saska’s fantastic deep dive counting up all the ways America’s booze laws are terrible—onerous, extortionate, corrupt, puritanical, nonsensical, take your pick. After California’s teacher tenure laws were declared unconstitutional, senior business correspondent Jordan Weissmann plucked a telling passage out of the decision to reveal that this milestone ruling may have been largely based on a totally made-up statistic. And after a zillion other publications had claimed that the computer program “Eugene Groostman” had finally passed the fabled Turing test, Bitwise columnist David Auerbach patiently and lucidly explained why Eugene didn’t come anywhere close to clearing Turing’s bar—and why it matters.
Slate is not afraid to be service-y, and it was at readers’ service with great gusto this week. As a champion movie-weepier, I was heartened by the passel of brave volunteers who tested which eye makeup stands the best chance of surviving a lachrymose viewing of The Fault in Our Stars. (Congratulations, Mac Pearlglide Intense Eye Liner!) As someone who gets super-into soccer every four years and then promptly forgets that the sport exists until the next World Cup, I felt grateful to the Slate sports braintrust for providing a guide to how to fake your way through the Brazilian edition. And as a non-millennial non-Kardashian who is nonetheless prone to “vocal fry,” I was relieved to find out via Lexicon Valley that my creaking, cracking audio qualities won’t hold me back in the workplace. (At least, not as far as I know. Ask David Plotz to be sure.)
What else was awesome on Slate this week? In our ongoing and unfailingly fascinating History of Innovation series, shepherded by Future Tense editor Torie Bosch, Katy Waldman looked at how the first dog-leash patent changed American dogdom forever. On Double X, Amanda Hess asked why it took so long for the WNBA to start recognizing its lesbian fan base and whether or not the female condom can ever catch on. Mark Joseph Stern made a compelling and important case that forensic science isn’t really science at all—and may be responsible for imprisoning innocent people. Slate had excellent and fast-acting coverage of Eric Cantor’s primary rout on Tuesday night, including John Dickerson’s smart analysis of the signals sent to the GOP establishment by this shocking defeat. And Scott Huler implored us all to stop and take a breath before we unthinkingly post “mind-alteringly unmoored conspiracy videos” on Facebook—and in a gratifying twist, his eminently sensible post proved to be a huge hit on Facebook.
There’s a chance that all of the above feels like too much for one weekend’s reading agenda. If so, you could always just gaze meditatively at this photo of Nicolas Cage wearing a T-shirt of his own face.
Either way, thanks so much for joining Slate Plus—and let me know what I missed or got wrong in the comments.