Hello Slate Plus people!
Thanks so much for joining up and checking out our new whatever-this-is. It’s been really fun to see which Slate Plus perks you all like best. One of my favorites has been these weekly roundups from people like Dan Kois and Emily Bazelon reflecting on our coverage—I don’t always have time to ask my colleagues for a post-mortem of the week on Slate, and it’s always fascinating to see what they respond to as readers.
Who am I? I’m Slate’s deputy editor, which means I’m David Plotz’s No. 2: I help him think through Slate strategy generally and I oversee our editorial operation in New York. I’m also a regular on Slate’s Culture Gabfest podcast, where I play the technophilic pop philistine, offsetting Steve’s nostalgic philosophizing and Dana’s gemlike critical observations. I’ve also written more words about Mad Men than anything else in my career, and I’ll defend Betty Draper to my grave. (Well, the inclusion of her character on the show and the acting of January Jones in the role. And her wardrobe. Not her life choices or mothering skills.) The piece I’ve written that I still hear about most often is the one explaining why New York’s Penn Station is such a confusing mess. I am now very good at navigating Penn Station.
There were a lot of great stories on Slate this week! The flashpoint news was Jill Abramson’s ouster at the New York Times. Amanda Hess did some great reporting on what her tenure there meant to younger women in the newsroom. I don’t think we’ll ever know the full story of why she was dumped so abruptly, but I remember being surprised how moved I was, as a woman, when she got the gig in 2011. Anyone who wants to learn more about the troubled history of women at the Times should read Nan Robertson’s fascinating book, The Girls in the Balcony.
I think the most overlooked story of the week was probably the FCC’s decision on net neutrality, a hugely important but abstract topic that is tough to cover well. David Auerbach had a great piece for us comparing the current situation to California’s catastrophic deregulation of its utilities in the late ‘90s. Because service providers refuse to improve infrastructure and increase bandwidth, we’re living in a permanent Internet brownout, is his basic argument.
I was persuaded by Laura Anderson’s thesis that a new kale-Brussels sprout hybrid will only combine the worst of both vegetables (she is right that texture is key to the Brussels sprout’s charm). I was less persuaded by her argument that a spoon is the right utensil for peeling ginger, but I will give it a try. (She confided in the ladies’ room that it’s important to pick the right spoon.) Her parsley chopping advice has radically improved my life in the kitchen, so I’ll test out any tip she recommends.
The grimacing New Englander Troy Patterson referred to when talking about the nation’s best tote bags in his latest Gentleman Scholar column may have been me.
Apparently, an early edit of mine almost made Dan Kois puke, per this great Slate Plus conversation between him and Laura Helmuth. That surprised me, since I think of myself as being more in the Helmuth camp.
A few more recommendations: You should be listening to The Gist, Mike Pesca’s new daily show. I liked the interview where he had a guest explain the purpose of the terrorism watch list, and why Boko Haram wasn’t on it until recently. My current first-listen, though, is Mom and Dad Are Fighting, the parenting podcast with Allison Benedikt and Dan Kois. The most recent episode—on campus sexual assault and Mother’s Day, and featuring a very hilarious “parenting fail”—will get you hooked and, if you are a parent, make you feel better about your own travails.
Thank you for being a member of Slate Plus! I look forward to seeing you in the comments, and don’t forget to email Jeff and Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any ideas or feedback for us.