The Slate Plus Digest on Apple vs. the FBI, Bernie Sanders fans on Facebook, and more.

Social Media, Smartphone Encryption, and Surrogate Motherhood: The Slate Plus Digest

Social Media, Smartphone Encryption, and Surrogate Motherhood: The Slate Plus Digest

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Feb. 19 2016 5:49 PM

Social Media, Smartphone Encryption, and Surrogate Motherhood

The Slate Plus Digest for the weekend of Feb. 19.


Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Jason Merritt/Getty Images, Reuters/Jim Young, and Thinkstock.

Happy Friday, Slate Plus members! Here at Slate’s New York offices, a block from the Hudson River, it’s freezing cold again—cold enough to make you miss January, the hottest January since records began in 1880. Ah, balmy January, with your warm breezes from the ever warmer Arctic—how we miss your tropical comforts!

Inside Slate

Will the presidential campaign come down to social media? Bernie Sanders may owe his success to the Internet’s tendency to cluster together like-minded co-partisans:

This might be the crux of Sanders’ strength among the young: The more time you spend online, the more time you’re spending with people who think just like you do.

But Sanders will have to contend with Donald Trump’s astonishing mastery of the tweet form:

Trump can fit two, three, or even four distinct statements into a single tweet. Each little rhetorical package hits the feeds of his 6.23 million followers with tremendous force.

The best explanation of why Apple is fighting the FBI over a terror suspect’s iPhone:

Giant, multinational corporations are usually loath to take such a stand. They tend to see little to gain and much to lose from championing political causes—and still more to lose when those causes are likely to prove unpopular. So why is Apple doing it? I see two good reasons.

And don’t miss this amazing and very sad story, about a surrogate-motherhood arrangement gone wrong:

As relations between Cook and C.M. worsened, she came to doubt his ability to care for the children she was going to have. Her lawsuit quotes a note that Walmsley wrote to Slaughter: “Triplets for a married couple is hard enough. Triplets for a single parent would be excruciating; triplets for a single parent who is deaf is—well beyond contemplation.”

Outside Slate

A Bikini, a Toothbrush, and 44 Issues of the New Yorker“ by Summer Brennan, Literary Hub
Brennan’s funny and neurotic and sensuous essay about absconding to the tropics with a year’s worth of unread New Yorkers is so smart about how the pressure to consume ALL THE THINGS can disperse every particle of concentration you possess. Just go swimming! —Katy Waldman, words correspondent

The George Wallace of 2016“ by Walter Shapiro, Roll Call
Is Donald Trump the new Mussolini? Silvio Berlusconi? Juan Perón? Walter Shapiro plays out his parallels with George Wallace, who upended presidential politics in 1968. —Jacob Weisberg, chairman of The Slate Group

Reviewing Yeezus in 2016 to Better Understand Kanye West and The Life of Pablo“ by Lindsay Zoldaz, New York
When everyone else was rushing to come up with a review of Kanye West’s still-not-quite-finished new album, New York’s great pop critic Lindsay Zoladz instead revisited Kanye’s previous hastily reviewed album. The result is a smart meditation on how we relate to great albums—over the course of years, not just hours or days. I can attest that, as Lindsay suggests, Yeezus is one of the GOAT running albums. —Forrest Wickman, senior editor

Justin Bieber Would Like to Reintroduce Himself“ by Caity Weaver, GQ
This surprisingly interesting interview with Justin Bieber paints a sad portrait of the suite life and its corrosive effect. —Charlotte Lindeman, intern

Also: Jamelle Bouie calls The Political Legacy of American Slavery,” a forthcoming study in Journal of Politics, “a great, eye-opening paper.” Amanda Hess enjoyed this interview with Robert Caro. And a lot of us loved Elspeth Reeve’s beautifully reported New Republic cover essay “The Secret Lives of Tumblr Teens.”

Overheard on Slate Slack

Slack is a chat program we use to share links.

miriam.krule: CAPTURED: People in Prison Drawing People Who Should Be in Prison
“CEOs of the companies destroying our environment, economy, and society, as drawn by incarcerated artists”
i feel like that has greeting card potential.
“just a note to say ... someone thinks you belong in prison.”
an AUTHORITY on prison

Very Short Q-and-A

This week’s personal question is addressed to staff writer Jim Newell.

Slate Plus: What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned on the campaign trail over the past few weeks?

Jim Newell: I’m surprised by how similar the dynamic is between New Hampshire and South Carolina, in terms of the split between Trump voters and everyone else. If you go to Rubio, Cruz, or Bush events, you’ll meet a lot of undecided voters who are choosing between candidates, but you won’t hear many of them considering Trump at all.

It shows that there’s pretty much the same bifurcation no matter where in the country you go: about a third of Republican voters who are set on Trump and aren’t even bothering to see anyone else, and then the rest of the voters who don’t understand the Trump thing. Trump has an attitudinal appeal that’s separate from geography.

Thanks, Jim! And thanks to you for your Slate Plus membership, which supports Slate’s journalism. See you next week!

Gabriel Roth
Slate Plus
editorial director