Slate’s Managing Editor on the Best Reads of a Bad Week 

Comments
Slate Plus
Your all-access pass
Sept. 5 2014 8:57 AM
Comments

What Happened at Slate This Week?

Slate’s managing editor on the good news, bad news week.   

140904_PLUS_rachaelLarimore

Illustration by Charlie Powell

Hello! My name is Rachael Larimore, and I’ve been asked to share some of the best Slate stories from the past week. I’m afraid I have some bad news. Literally. It was a rough week in the world. But bear with me.

As Slate’s managing editor, part of my job is keeping track of what articles we have coming in, from whom, and when they are going to be published. One lesson I’ve learned is that some weeks are dominated by politics and world events. Some weeks we get to linger over thoughtful book reviews or gossip about an awards show. Slate rises to whatever challenge or opportunity we are confronted with. This week, it’s been a lot of serious business. But don’t worry—I’ll try to end on something uplifting.

Perhaps the biggest problem for global leaders right now is ISIS. The Islamist group released its second video in as many weeks depicting the beheading of a journalist; this time, it was of Steven Sotloff. There is no easy way to take on a group that has also killed thousands of Syrians and Iraqis, but William Saletan says the “best way to honor [James] Foley and Sotloff is to face those murders, and to stop ISIS from committing thousands more.” In related coverage, Joshua Keating analyzes both President Obama’s statement that we must “destroy” ISIS as well as ISIS’s motives in releasing another videotaped beheading.

Rachael Larimore Rachael Larimore

Rachael Larimore is Slate's managing editor.

One of the most undercovered global conflicts is the civil war in the Central African Republic. Until a Muslim insurgent group called Séléka took over the country last year, it had largely avoided the turmoil that plagued its neighbors Sudan, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But James Verini tells the heartbreaking story of how the war has pitted poverty-stricken family members against one another.

This week offered a few bleak glimpses into our nation’s legal system. Dahlia Lithwick wrote about the exonerations of Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, two mentally disabled half-brothers from North Carolina who had been on death row for decades.  And Josh Voorhees explores the troubling problem of sexual abuse at juvenile detention centers

In comparison, the travails of celebrities having nude photos stolen and published on the Web might seem trivial. But Emily Bazelon uses this week’s big story to make the case that if sites can be required to remove pirated videos, then publishing stolen photos should be illegal, too.

In less serious business, Willa Paskin used the airing of the disappointing Lifetime movie The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story to revisit the classic sitcom that inspired it. If, like me, you watched each Saturday morning with an unauthorized hangover, you might not have been the target demographic. But Paskin does a fantastic job of explaining how the show gave rise to the “tween”: “It was about a group of smart-aleck kids testing boundaries but never actually getting near the intimidating issues of sex and drugs.”

The news was even bad in the world of comedy, as Joan Rivers passed away on Thursday. Don’t miss this great scene she had on Louie, and read a moving obituary from Hanna Rosin.

And are you ready for some football? I am, and I’m grateful, as a Cleveland fan, that Kevin Craft gives me a reason to remember the 1994 season—the last time the original Cleveland Browns made the playoffs. Craft reminds readers how 20 years ago, Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and the rules committee introduced rules to protect the quarterback and open up wide receivers.

Before I sign off, I’d like to indulge in a moment of personal melancholy. We learned this week that two beloved colleagues are leaving Slate to tackle exciting new challenges. Senior editor Emily Bazelon, who has covered the courts, crime, bullying, family, women’s issues, and more, is going to the New York Times Magazine. To get an idea of the way Emily confronts conventional wisdom and gets to the bottom of whatever she covers, please revisit her 2010 series on Phoebe Prince and the six students who were arrested in the aftermath of her suicide. And also check out her project on the Nazi anatomists whose experiments still haunt modern medicine. Happily, you can still hear her on the weekly Political Gabfest with David Plotz and John Dickerson.

And political writer David Weigel is going to Bloomberg Politics. There is a rumor around the Slate offices that Weigel is secretly twins. It’s otherwise hard to believe that one person could write so much in the course of a day or a week. Weigel has a knack for cutting through the mountains of BS that spill out of Congress. But you should also catch his longform piece on prog rock—that way you’ll be in the know when his book comes out.

So, here’s the promised uplifting note to end on: As Phil Plait reminds us, the planet really is beautiful.  

Thanks for being a Slate Plus member!

P.S. Members receive 30 percent off tickets to the L.A. CultureFest on Oct. 8, and tickets are still available. Please join us! More information here.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

Politics

The GOP’s Focus on Fake Problems

Why candidates like Scott Walker are building campaigns on drug tests for the poor and voter ID laws.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 6:23 PM Bryan Cranston Reenacts Baseball’s Best Moments to Promote the Upcoming Postseason
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 16 2014 4:09 PM It’s All Connected What links creativity, conspiracy theories, and delusions? A phenomenon called apophenia.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.