Hey-diddly-ho, Slate Plus-orinos,
I’m a little nervous to be serving as your guide for this week’s Slate Plus roundup—I want to impress you guys, our most knowledgeable readers. So bear with me while I clear my throat a little.
I’m Torie Bosch, and I’ve been at Slate off and on since 2005, when I was an (unpaid!) intern, which mostly involved writing for now-defunct departments like In Other Magazines and trying not to look flustered whenever Plotz swore at his computer. (Back then, Plotz sat across from the junior staffers. These days he is way at the other end from where I sit, in the “Quiet Car” or “Nerdery” zone of Slate D.C.)
After I graduated, I spent some years on the copy desk—yes, Slate has copy editors, and they are an amazing bunch. Back in 2010, I left to work at a nonprofit. When I said “Just kidding! I miss journalism and wearing jeans!” Slate let me come back as editor of Future Tense, which is a terribly cool and innovative partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University.
OK, now that I’m relaxed (talking about myself helps), here’s what happened in Slate this week.
I’m hugely excited about our ongoing History of Innovation series, which I’m editing. It looks at some of America’s most interesting patents and inventors. This series has examined the inventor of the banana slicer, a Mormon judge who once sued the pope over St. Bernard puppy—and won; the steampunk presidency of Abraham Lincoln, who was not in fact a failure; that time when patent examiners were celebrities; and how player pianos inspired today’s copyright laws. More great pieces will be added in the next three weeks—I’m particularly excited for you to read an article by (blind item!) a certain Slate editorial director, a Civil War buff who just got back from his month-long “Fresca leave.”
(Note: Speaking of Fresca leave! Members, next week we’ll be publishing a very exciting Slate longform project from David Haglund. He spent a month reporting and writing a story about … well, you’ll see. In fact, you’ll see before anyone else, because Slate Plus members will get to read this piece a day before the rest of the world. We’ll send you an email when it’s live.)
Slate’s coverage of the shooting in California has, once again, made me proud to work here. Amanda Hess’ look at the pick-up artist community’s response to the tragedy was smart and disheartening. Amanda and Phil Plait both offered strong takes on #YesAllWomen, #NotAllMen, and misogyny. Also, Mark Joseph Stern explained why sometimes it isn’t even worth it to criticize Fox News’ homophobia, and Brian Palmer talked to a psychiatrist about why Elliot Rodger’s therapists didn’t stop the shooting.
I loved Dahlia Lithwick’s piece on a University of Virginia professor who is being attacked by LGBTQ activists. I particularly enjoyed the line about “the sort of overzealous and thoughtless student activism to which most of us have fallen prey at some juncture.”
We should all toast to Reihan Salam’s proposal to increase taxes on alcohol—which is so much more dangerous than marijuana. (However, setting up a marijuana-friendly classical concert may be a little more difficult than it would be with wine.)
Ben Blatt broke down the National Spelling Bee’s trickiest sounds and letters.
Josephine Wolff, a grad student in cybersecurity who has one of my favorite Slate bylines, wrote a persuasive Future Tense piece about why the government so desperately needs hackers like Sabu to become informants.
I commend Ben Mathis-Lilley for posting the most useful piece on Slate this week. The runner-up to that coveted spot is this Future Tense post from Lily Hay Newman on the secrets to successful begging on Reddit’s Random Acts of Pizza.
Speaking of Lily, I dare you to spot the difference between Google’s new logo and the old one.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to disagree with a previous Slate Plus Editor of the Week. No, Dan Kois, the takedown of grapefruit was not the wrongest Slate piece in history. That distinction belongs to (the usually right) Dana Stevens’ misguided excoriation of flip-flops. From my cold, dead, unsightly feet, Dana.
Okilly-dokilly, I think that’s all they’ll let me say this week. Thanks so much for being a Slate Plus member—you have no idea how thrilled we all are to have you!
TODAY IN SLATE
The Ebola Story
How our minds build narratives out of disaster.
The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola
PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer
The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics
A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers
Welcome to 13th Grade!
Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.
The Actual World
“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.