What Should I Read From Slate This Week? Lowen Liu Shares His Picks.

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Aug. 8 2014 11:42 AM
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What Happened at Slate This Week?

Copy chief Lowen Liu shares the stories that impressed and intrigued him.

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Illustration by Charlie Powell

Greetings, members! I’m honored to be your presenter this week of all things great and Slate. I’m Lowen Liu, Slate’s copy chief. At this writing, it’s late on a Thursday. Most of the magazine for the day is out the door, so to speak. It’s a good time for reflection.

That’s not totally true. In fact, I just expended way too much energy extending that lede paragraph simply to ensure the drop cap would look pretty, as one-line salutations cannot be properly drop capped (neither, sadly, can email newsletters, if that’s where you’re reading this). That effort is how you know I am who I say I am.

As copy chief I help manage daily production, copy-edit articles, and maintain the magazine’s stylebook. I’m also on the headlines team responsible for the “front page.” I write occasionally when inflamed. But one of the most rewarding duties I have—basically a perk—is editing our advice column, Dear Prudence. Reading about other people’s problems every day (and Emily Yoffe’s advice) is a balm for my own. If you have not tried it, I urge you to do so.

So what’s especially good from Slate this week? Any general-interest magazine worth its bits takes bites of the major issues of the day. Looking for a thoughtful, reasonable examination of Israel’s slippery slope in Gaza? We got it right here. A clear-eyed reminder of how deeply institutionalized (and camouflaged) racial inequity is in our country? Oh, yeah. Want to know why Putin periodically declares war on American chicken? Covered.

But what I also love about Slate is its joy in the little things. It is a magazine that takes great pleasure—and finds much funny—in its subjects. And Slate’s brand of funny is not sarcastic or derogatory or silly, but the product of an indulgent curiosity—what I hope reads as a serious and critical intelligence brought to bear on otherwise trivial pursuits. This in particular is what I would like to highlight for you:

— I have wondered before why John Hancock’s signature on the Declaration of Independence was so big. But I was remiss in not wondering if everyone else’s was just too small. This has been rectified at last. (Don’t miss the animated GIF!)

— Why do I desire a nice hot cup of tea, rather than a hot nice cup of tea? I’ve never asked, but I’m glad someone did.

— If there were a button I could push for pizza, would I push it? Probably.

— To ask about business in a friendly conversation is to prove Charles Dickens right. Here’s a model of what to do instead. (Assuming you are not the Trivago Guy.)

— The university appears from many angles to be an increasingly absurd place. And a funny one.

— Why do we disdain a hairy back but glorify a hairy chest? (Also answered: What does a chthonic catastrophe feel like?)

— And, at last: If a monkey takes a selfie, who owns the copyright?

Thank you for joining Slate Plus! Please brainstorm with us in the comments on what else we can do.

Lowen

TODAY IN SLATE

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Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

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