What We’re Reading is a curated list of great pieces from around the Web from Slate editors and writers, just for Slate Plus members. Here are our favorite stories for the week of Oct. 12:
“What Would Jeb Do?” by Ryan Lizza, the New Yorker
Lizza dissects the foreign policy conundrum at the heart of the Republican race: How to sound “tougher” than Barack Obama without committing to repeat the unpopular and failed foreign policy of George W. Bush. In so doing, he gets wonderfully revelatory quotes from top GOP advisers, as well as the candidates themselves. —Jeremy Stahl, senior editor
“What John Belluso Taught Me About Disability, Generosity, and Life” by Christopher Shinn, American Theatre
This lovely essay by the playwright Christopher Shinn is about his friendship with the disabled playwright John Belluso, who died in 2006. Shinn writes about how Belluso made him think differently about disability in the theater and in the world—and how those lessons affected his response to his own recent health troubles. “He had often talked about how anyone can become disabled at any time,” Shinn writes. “I had always understood intellectually that he was right, but now I really understood.” —Dan Kois, culture editor
“Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’: A Song About Sprawl” by Brentin Mock, CityLab
You thought that Drake’s “Hotline Bling” is the pitiful lament of a man who can’t handle that his former flame is just not that into him anymore, but Brentin Mock knows the truth: The Canadian rapper is just really, really upset about the devastating effects of suburban sprawl. This is nerd-dom to the nth degree. —Aisha Harris, staff writer
“The Sadness(es) of Back to the Future” by Gerry Canavan
Though they’re superficially joyous, the Back to the Future films have a surprisingly bleak core. Studying the first installment's original script, Gerry Canavan suggests that the franchise calls attention to the sorrowful mediocrity of our own timeline. They leave us, he argues, “in that weird space of sadness after the future itself.” —Jacob Brogan, Future Tense and culture writer
“The Strange Case of Anna Stubblefield” by Daniel Engber, the New York Times Magazine
This feature by our sometime colleague Daniel Engber is an amazing story about love, disability, altruism, pseudoscience, race, and more. Read the first four paragraphs and see if you can stop. —Gabriel Roth, senior editor and editorial director of Slate Plus
And from Twitter:
- Seth Stevenson points us to this Wall Street Journal profile of his mom.
- If you want to understand the American Cancer Society’s new mammogram guidelines, science and health editor Laura Helmuth says “the best source” is FiveThirtyEight’s Christie Aschwanden.
- Laura also recommends this “fantastic feature on ‘the lost girls’ with autism.”
- Bills writer Helaine Olen tweets: “How did I not know I grew up in the same neighborhood as Terry Gross? A wonderful, must read profile.”
- “The best thing I’ve read on the current Israel unrest,” declared national correspondent Will Saletan after reading this analysis by an ex-IDF general in the Jerusalem Post.
- And chief political correspondent Jamelle Bouie put it simply: “This. This is a masterpiece.”