The culture editors at Slate asked Maria Semple to recommend three funny books with living authors. Then, rather cleverly, they turned around and asked those authors to recommend three funny books. Result: 83 of the funniest books ever, accoding to some of the funniest authors ever. Check 'em out if you need something to help you get through November.
In 1993, American Girl set out to introduce its first black character. All she had to do was represent the entire history of black America. [more inside]
Nike Boasts of Empowering Women Around the World while the young women who make its products in Vietnam are intimidated, belittled, and underpaid.
The Game of Thrones Graveyard [Slate] [Spoilers] If you watch Game of Thrones, chances are you’ve watched the show kill off a character who mattered to you: a lord, a sellsword, a queen, a knight; someone you loved, or someone you loved to hate. It’s so hard to say goodbye, even when the deceased are fictional. That’s why we’re opening the Game of Thrones Graveyard, where the show’s most well-known characters rest for eternity. Buried in this sacred ground are brave souls who George R.R. Martin took from us too soon, likely by beheading them, filling them with crossbow bolts, slitting their throats, or all of the above. Others lasted far too long and died far too easily considering their depravity. But good or evil, they all touched our lives in some way. Leave a flower for a fallen character.
More Perfect is a seven-week long Radiolab spin-off series examining Supreme Court Cases.
- “Cruel and Unusual” examines the history of the death penalty, particularly lethal injection. A related MeFi Post
- “The Political Thicket” digs deep into the drama surrounding the Baker v. Carr redistricting case and the psychological toll it exacted on the justices.
- The next episode airs June 17. Kind of meh on the Radiolab style? Try Amicus for Dahlia Lithwick’s discussions of recent Supreme Court Decisions, the oh-so-dry debates on constitutional law at We The People, or just take your Supreme Court oral arguments straight up from Oyez.
A slow-moving bureaucracy. An antiquated business model. A horde of upstart competitors. Can National Public Radio survive?
Glen Weldon, writing in Slate: A Brief History of Dick: Unpacking the gay subtext of Robin, the Boy Wonder. [more inside]
This past weekend saw the latest eruption in a long-running campaign to shame the New York Times into no longer publishing trend pieces in its Styles section. It’s a tradition that goes back more than a decade—remember Jennifer 8. Lee’s canonical “man date” story or Warren St. John’s paradigm-shifting “Metrosexuals Come Out”?—and one that owes its longevity to the tantalizing sense of superiority many readers of trend pieces experience when scolding the often lovely and exuberant reportorial form as an affront to serious journalism.
The British Film Institute has compiled a list of 30 best LGBT films of all time in celebration of the 30th anniversary of their Flare festival. BFI has placed Todd Haynes's Carol at the top spot, forcing Slate to ask, is it really the best LGBT film of all time? [more inside]
Jody Rosen explores what it felt like growing up a boy with a "girl's" name, a Jody instead of a "Colin" when Jody is both the "country girl doll" star of 1970s toy commercials and "the wily sexual scavenger" woman-stealing man of traditional call-and-response, R & B classics, and military chants. [more inside]
Back in May, Slate published an article decrying the trend in craft beers to be overly hoppy (at least according to the tastes of the author). The next day, a rebuttal was crafted (pun intended) and posted the the Bear Flavored beer blog. The main point of contention in the counterpoint article is that more hops does not always mean more bitterness. Additionally, even if some beers were highly bitter, then why complain if some people enjoy them?
When workers first arrived on the lot that Monday morning, they got a message through a security guard or a colleague or a handwritten sign taped up to the wall: Don’t turn on your computer. Later, someone might pop in and deliver the latest directive fourth-hand: “Unplug your computer from the wall.“ Which plug? The network cable? The power cord? Who knows? Just unplug everything. Says one worker: “It was all the hysteria of not knowing.” --One year later, what it was like to work at Sony when all their internal systems got hacked.
Tonight at 9 EST Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley will come together for a debate in Iowa at Drake University. [more inside]
Slate: Meet Our New Dear Prudence Columnist: After a glorious decade, Emily Yoffe is passing the advice-giving pen to Mallory Ortberg. [more inside]
It was late 2011. Haley was a 32-year-old phone tech earning about $35,000 a year, and he was in a sour mood. Price had noticed it, and when he spotted Haley outside on a smoking break, he approached. "Seems like something's bothering you," he said. "What's on your mind?"Remember the Guy Who Gave His Employees a $70,000 Minimum Wage? Here’s What Happened Next., by Paul Keegan, Slate (originally for Inc.) [previously]
"You're ripping me off," Haley told him.
"Maybe you didn’t hear me. I really, really, really want it." Or, "The four conversations you can have with a small child."
Ruth Graham, in a Slate piece entitled, Banned Books Week is a Crock, argued that censorship is no longer a problem in the United States. Censorship laws are nearly extinct, and if your local library doesn't have the book...well, you can always find it online. "This Banned Books Week," writes Graham, "instead of hand-wringing about a nonexistent wave of censorship, let’s celebrate the obvious: The books won." But have they? [more inside]
The First-Person Industrial Complex: The Internet prizes the harrowing personal essay. But sometimes telling your story comes with a price. (Slate)
In 1988, he was convicted of killing his stepsons—based on arson science we now know is bunk. A quarter of a century later, Texas granted him a new trial. While the state has not budged in its use of the death penalty—just last year topping 500 executions since the state brought back capital punishment in 1982—it has reinvented itself as a leader in arson science and investigation. A new fire marshal, Chris Connealy, revamped the state’s training and investigative standards. He also set up a panel comprised of some of the top fire scientists in the country to reconsider old cases that had been improperly handled by the original investigators. Graf’s case was one of the first up for review, and it was determined that the original investigators had made critical mistakes.
"Gentrifiers are people with medium or high incomes moving into low-income neighborhoods, attracting new business but raising rents, and often contributing to tensions between new and long-term residents. Sociologists coined the term, which alludes to the European gentry—and which has only become more loaded at a time of skyrocketing rents and profound demographic changes in American cities. But are you a gentrifier?" [SLSlate]
Double Genocide: Lithuania wants to erase its ugly history of Nazi collaboration - by accusing Jewish partisans who fought the Germans of war crimes.
"After Lithuanians got independence,” he told me, “we hoped that Lithuania would give us help.” But it was not to be. In one of its very first independent actions, before even fully breaking free of Moscow, Lithuania’s parliament formally exonerated several Lithuanian nationalists who had collaborated in the Holocaust and had been convicted by Soviet military courts after the war. The right-wing paramilitaries who had carried out the mass murder of Lithuania’s Jews were now hailed as national heroes on account of their anti-Soviet bona fides.
DoubleX Gabfest: The Beazel Better Have My Money Edition - "On this week’s Gabfest, Slate’s Hanna Rosin and June Thomas join New York editor Noreen Malone to talk about what it means to be asexual, Rihanna’s music video for 'Bitch Better Have My Money' and other prefatory uses of bitch, and the 1939 film The Women." [more inside]
Coining brr-geoisie, Daniel Engber suggests in Slate that "the case against AC has always been more a moral judgment than a scientific one", responding to the idea that America is "over air-conditioned" as argued in this article by Kate Murphy in the NY Times.
Interactive animation of the Atlantic slave trade. Pause and click on individuals ships for detailed data (not available for all ships).
"Why so Poky? The scourge of terrible canonical children’s books." by Gabriel Roth, Slate
Reading to one’s children is, as everyone knows, one of the great pleasures of parenthood. I love the creaturely warmth of my daughter snuggled up close and the feeling of giving her something intrinsically human and necessary. And Eliza loves being read to. She enjoys the stories and the pictures, but more than that, I think, she responds to the mental intimacy: the knowledge that she and I are looking at the same pages and interpreting the same sentences. It’s a balm for the terrible isolation that arrives around age 2, along with language and self-consciousness—the knowledge that one’s experience is inescapably private. And so the time I spend reading to her can feel, for both of us, like communion.[more inside]
The Straight Parents’ Guide to How Not to Raise a Homophobe — and How to Be a Better Ally by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie for "Outward" at Slate.
Tell us how many people you’ve slept with. Our calculator will tell you if that’s a lot. Slate features a sex history calculator. Input your age, gender (male or female) and number of sex partners since 18 and compare results with other participants.
"We know that Conrad was an admirer of Stevenson’s work, and in fact that he thought more highly of Stevenson’s South Seas nonfiction writings than of his novels, at least according to Colvin, who knew both men. To my knowledge, however, no one has connected the next set of dots, not just from Stevenson’s writing to Conrad’s, but from Stevenson’s Samoan persona to Kurtz. Why not consider whether Stevenson’s grandiose island life influenced Conrad’s masterpiece?" Where Did Kurtz Come From? [single page], Matthew Pearl for Slate. Related: Conrad’s 'Heart of Darkness' gets operatic treatment (SF Examiner) | reviews (with stage photos).
Slate's Reincarnation Machine identifies your previous lives. Actually it finds a consistent chain of people through history, each born when the preceding one died, and ending up with you.
I’m occasionally told my life would be easier if I backed off from my relentless efforts to advance evolution education. Maybe so. But to shy away from emphasizing evolutionary biology is to fail as a biology teacher. I continue to teach biology as I do, because biology makes sense only in the light of evolution.
A Historic List of Historical Lists. Particularly amusing (or distressing, depending on how you feel about the marital travails of long dead, anonymous people) is list #12, 100 types of marriage, which Slate wrote about.
We want plates is a Twitter account which shares people's pictures of food being served on things which aren't plates. What kind of things? Shopping trolleys, washing lines, and picnic tables as well as the more normal boards and slates. As seen on Huffington Post, Buzzfeed and many fine news sites.
a lost possibility: women on miscarriage (an open discussion on a topic that nobody talks about) [more inside]
"In an essay in the New York Times, psychiatrist Richard Friedman writes that the relationship of adults to their abusive parents 'gets little, if any, attention in standard textbooks or in the psychiatric literature.' But Rochelle is not alone. I have been hearing from people in her position for years, adult children weighing whether to reconnect with parents who nearly ruined their lives. Sometimes it's a letter writer such as 'Comfortably Numb' who has cut off contact with a parent but is now being pressured by family members, and even a spouse, to reconcile and forgive. Sometimes a correspondent, like 'Her Son,' has hung on to a thread of a relationship, but is now fearful of being further yoked emotionally or financially to a declining parent." [SLSlate] (Trigger warning for descriptions of abuse.)
De-cluttering your house with love: "Marie Kondo has built a huge following in her native Japan with her “KonMari” method of organizing and de-cluttering. Clients perform a sort of tidying-up festival: time set aside specifically to go through belongings. Each object is picked up and held, and the client needs to decide if it inspires joy. If it doesn’t, it needs to go." [more inside]
How can we get a less hyperbolic assessment of the state of the world? Certainly not from daily journalism. News is about things that happen, not things that don’t happen. We never see a reporter saying to the camera, “Here we are, live from a country where a war has not broken out”—or a city that has not been bombed, or a school that has not been shot up. As long as violence has not vanished from the world, there will always be enough incidents to fill the evening news. And since the human mind estimates probability by the ease with which it can recall examples, newsreaders will always perceive that they live in dangerous times.
"From righteous fury to faux indignation, everything we got mad about in 2014—and how outrage has taken over our lives." The Year of Outrage (SLSlate)
Slate's "25 Best Podcast Episodes Ever" Podcasts are nothing new to the Blue, and roundup lists are a dime a dozen towards the end of the year, but it's always interesting to listen to a curated list of favorites. Most of the episodes they chose are from the last 5 years, featuring an eclectic mix of stories about love, popular culture, personal success, and public failure; there are deconstructions of the what seems mundane at first glance, and tragedy that is difficult to process.
" When the stories we tell about cooking say that it is only ever fun and rewarding—instead of copping to the fact that it can also be annoying, time consuming, and risky—we alienate the people who don’t have the luxury of choice, and we unwittingly reinforce the impression that cooking is a specialty hobby instead of a basic life skill." [more inside]
"Sometimes, society gets it wrong... When that happens, strong privacy protections—including collection controls that let people pick who gets their data, and when—allow the persecuted and unpopular to survive."
What happens when we let industry and government collect all the data they want.
What happens when we let industry and government collect all the data they want.
In its inaugural episode, Slate's Working podcast spends ~35m talking to Stephen Colbert (not the character Stephen Colbert) about exactly what a work day is like for him. [more inside]
"When critics and journalists discuss John Darnielle’s new, first full-length novel, Wolf in White Van, which was just nominated for a National Book Award, they often point out the storytelling aspect of his songwriting. But Mountain Goats songs are as much incantation as narrative—they imply the advent of the trauma with declarations and appeals to dead gods, which deny it or try (futilely) to ward it off." Carl Wilson reviews the novel--about the inventor of a role-playing by mail game with a cult following--in depth on Slate. Listen to the first chapter read by Darnielle here. Autoplay
"One day I was hanging out with some SNL writers and cast members in the 17th-floor conference room. It was shortly after the writers had won an Emmy Award for the 1988-89 season. Phil Hartman, who had been a writer as well as a cast member for the winning season, marched in with an 8-by-10 photo of himself. It showed him cradling his Emmy Award in one arm and his newborn child in the other. He tossed the photo down in front of his good friend Jon Lovitz and said, "Check it out, Lovitz—two things you’ll never have." (SLSlate)