Hi Slate Plus-ians,
I’m Jacob Brogan, and I write about technology and culture for Slate. I made my way here from academia, after wrapping up a Ph.D. in English literature. I’d tell you why I left, but there are plenty of those stories in circulation already. My first post for Slate argued that Facebook’s “like” button is changing the way we share our sorrows. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to write about everything from Ray Bradbury’s FBI file to the aerial photography on competing HBO shows. This isn’t hyperbole: I’ve never been happier.
The first thing I read this week was Laura Bennett’s incisive and thoroughly reported exploration of the first-person Internet. It wasn’t until Thursday, however, that I got to read a story I’ve been anticipating for weeks, Jon C. Blue’s account of a 17th-century bestiality trial in New Haven. Equal parts comical and tragic, it’s a narrative that reveals a great deal about the underpinnings of modern legal theater.
Some of the smartest articles I read on Slate this week were about very dumb television shows. In the case of Katy Waldman’s review of Moonbeam City, stupidity is literally the issue of the hour. “Moonbeam City,” Waldman writes, “is an exercise in the sort of dumb [that] takes MENSA-levels of intellect to achieve.” And then there was Willa Paskin’s hilarious evisceration of The Bastard Executioner, a “monstrously fetid” program that approximates “a mound of gorgonzola stuffed into a dead catfish’s gullet, smoked in sulfur, doused with heavy cream and left to rot for weeks inside a port-o-potty in full sun.”
This week Slate also published some genuinely important tech and business news. At the top of my list is this story about a newly developed neural interface that lets quadriplegic patients feel through a robotic limb that they control with their minds alone. On a different front, I learned a lot from this article about the way scammers take advantage of Venmo users. Time to delete that app from my phone …
Finally, I’m still reeling from our wall-to-wall coverage of the second GOP primary debate. Having sat through all three exhausting hours (and the kids table debate before), nothing—not even Trump’s facial contortions—amused me as much as the candidates’ telling inability to name notable American women. If you missed the debate yourself (count yourself lucky if you did), this 90-second recap should fill you in on the essentials.
Thanks for your membership!