What Should I Read From Slate This Week? Senior Editor Allison Benedikt Shares Her Picks.

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June 20 2014 10:53 AM

What Happened at Slate This Week?

Senior Editor Allison Benedikt dishes on her favorite reads from Slate this week. 

Illustration by Charlie Powell.

Illustration by Charlie Powell

Hello, Slate Plus friends and family. (Hi, Mom.)

I come bearing news of my favorite Slate stories of the week! But first, since you paid good money, a bit about me: I’m Allison. I edit Slate’s women’s section Double X, our Family section, and also the only two Slate writers to get a shout-out from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Emily Bazelon and Dahlia Lithwick. I also co-host Slate’s parenting podcast Mom and Dad Are Fighting, where Dan Kois and I debate whether it’s better to raise kids in the suburbs or the city (city), if preschool graduation should be a thing (it should not), and whether it is better for your first concert to have been INXS and the Go-Gos or the Monkees at the Canfield Fair (the answer is so obvious I won’t insult you by typing it out). I reveal far too much about my marriage and children on the podcast, so all I’ll say about my personal life here is that I have managed to keep my vagina away from cocaine during my pregnancies, and, despite what you’ve heard, I am not really plotting to drown my dog in the bathtub.

This week on Slate, I had the pleasure of editing our weddings package, which included essays on why kissing in wedding and engagement photos is gross, how to ask your future wife’s parents for her hand in marriage without being a sexist jerk, and the necessity of including political statements in gay weddings by J. Bryan Lowder (or as we call him around the Slate NY office, “Bryan”). You Slate Plussers were also treated to a chat between Derreck Johnson and Jordan Weissmann, two Slate staffers who are currently planning their blessed days.

I love every piece I edit, of course, but three standouts this week were Amanda Hess’ smart, nuanced look at how New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s storytelling lens isn’t always wide enough for the truth; Amanda Ripley on the push to make teacher training harder in America; and Dahlia on a First Amendment case that the Supreme Court justices have just agreed to hear, which will answer one of the big legal questions of our time: Are online threats protected speech?

Another big question of our time: Why wasn’t Season 4 of Louie very good? Slate’s Television Court Justice Willa Paskin has some thoughts (and when you are done reading those, check out Andy Greenwald’s also excellent analysis over at Grantland). More great stories from Slate’s culture section this week: Forrest Wickman’s tour through Clint Eastwood’s crooning career (the best of the worst: Clint’s duet with Merle Haggard on “Bar Room Buddies”); Kevin B. Lee’s meditation on amateur moviemaking in our media-saturated world (the piece includes Lee’s own amateur movie, which I have not yet watched but definitely plan to); Carl Wilson’s defense of crying in movies (/defense of me watching Kramer vs. Kramer); and an excellent character study of Orange Is the New Black’s Morello, whose distinctive voice Eliza Berman describes as “A little bit Boston, a little bit New Jersey, a little bit mobster, and a little bit mouse.”

Speaking of OITNB, have you listened to the first episode of Willa Paskin’s new Slate Plus podcast on the show? A podcast JUST FOR YOU.

But back to Slate Regular. My favorite headline of the week is “Why So Many American Novels to Make Fun of Russian Accents? Is Odd.” (The post is great too.) And I love, love, love this excerpt from Paul Feig’s old series bible for Freaks and Geeks, in which he details how the characters should talk (“They will never be too clever or grown-up sounding. We don’t want a bunch of teenage Neil Simons spouting off wittily”), dress (Bill: “Orthopedic black dress shoes” that are “not jokey looking—just sensible-looking shoes”), and what music they should listen to (Judas Priest for the freaks, Meat Loaf for the geeks, Carly Simon for the teachers, and “J. Geils Band—freaks for early stuff, geeks for ‘Centerfold’ era”).

Former programmer David Auerbach’s piece about the high he used to get from coding made me both desperate to experience that trance and happy to have a job where I can get up and take a walk.  It also reminded me of Jennifer Senior’s book, in which she, like Auerbach, talks about the concept of “flow” (meaning total absorption in a project) and parents’ inability to achieve it.

Perhaps my lack of flow is why I’m not very (at all) focused on the World Cup this week. Or maybe it’s because I always thought I looked weird in Umbros. Either way, I still enjoyed these pictures of Clint Dempsey, who makes a lot of funny faces, and I could watch this video of a Kansas City crowd totally freaking out at the U.S.’s game-winning goal over and over again. It accurately reflects how I feel about Slate this and every week.  

Thanks so much for reading and supporting us. I’d love to hear about the stories you read and loved this week—in Slate and elsewhere—in comments. 



War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The NFL Has No Business Punishing Players for Off-Field Conduct. Leave That to the Teams.

Meet the Allies the U.S. Won’t Admit It Needs in Its Fight Against ISIS

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

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

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.

Medical Examiner

How to Stop Ebola

Survivors might be immune. Let’s recruit them to care for the infected.


America in Africa

The tragic, misunderstood history of Liberia—and why the United States has a special obligation to help it fight the Ebola epidemic.

New GOP Claim: Hillary Clinton’s Wealth and Celebrity Are Tricks to Disguise Her Socialism

Why the Byzantine Hiring Process at Universities Drives Academics Batty

Sept. 23 2014 3:29 PM The Fascinating Origins of Savannah, Georgia’s Distinctive Typeface
  News & Politics
Sept. 23 2014 11:45 PM America in Africa The tragic, misunderstood history of Liberia—and why the United States has a special obligation to help it fight the Ebola epidemic.
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
Sept. 23 2014 11:45 PM Why Your Cousin With a Ph.D. Is a Basket Case  Understanding the Byzantine hiring process that drives academics up the wall.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 8:38 PM “No One in This World” Is One of Kutiman’s Best, Most Impressive Songs
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 23 2014 11:37 PM How to Stop Ebola Could survivors safely care for the infected?
Sports Nut
Sept. 23 2014 7:27 PM You’re Fired, Roger Goodell If the commissioner gets the ax, the NFL would still need a better justice system. What would that look like?