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Why did Chuck Norris destroy the periodic table? ... because he only believes in the element of Suprise!

Blogging the Periodic Table: Wild, weird, wonderful stories about the elements that make up our universe. All month at slate, Sam Kean has been blogging about the periodic table, in conjunction with his new book, The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World From the Periodic Table of the Elements. Elements covered so far include: Antimony: It might have killed mozart. Hydrogen: Where it all started. Selenium: Is It To Blame for Custer's Defeat at Little Bighorn? Vanadium: Sperm, beware. Copernicium: How elements get their names. Nitrogen and Phosphorus: The Future of Toilet Design Hangs in the Balance. Lithium: Why It Makes Such Great Batteries. Rare Earths: They're Neither Rare nor Earths. But They Could Save the Planet. Ytterby: The Tiny Swedish Island That Gave the Periodic Table Four Different Elements. Strontium: Element Tourists, Sodium Partiers, and Other Periodic Table Eccentrics. Gallium: It Proved That Dmitri Mendeleev, Father of the Periodic Table, Wasn't a Crackpot. The Noble Gases: What a Bunch of Snobs. Promethium: Uranium Stole Its Fire. Thorium: The Nuclear Fuel of the Future? Palladium: The Cold Fusion Fanatics Can't Get Enough of the Stuff. Cobalt: It Makes the Dirtiest of Dirty Bombs. Hafnium: Building the Doomsday Device of Tomorrow. Radium: Cures Gout! (Warning: Also Causes Cancer.). Aluminum: It Used To Be More Precious Than Gold.
posted by Fizz on Aug 1, 2010 - 33 comments

We were promised jetpacks. (Not the band.)

What are the things that will help create more Nimble Cities? (This post is heavy with slate-related links.) Slate asks readers to help make transportation in and between cities more efficient, safe, and pleasant. "While we're certainly not opposed to your most forward-looking proposals: Let's fire up Chicago's once sprawling pneumatic tube network; let's not let those zeppelin masts go to waste!--what we're most interested in are things in the here and now, things that are already making (or will soon be making) a difference in your city." Should cities install moving sidewalks? How about eliminating parking spaces or bicycle highways? [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Jul 8, 2010 - 81 comments

"Be there bears i' the town?"

Rosecrans Baldwin considers the literary place of the distant barking dog.
posted by Iridic on Jun 17, 2010 - 32 comments

Why Are Indian Kids So Good at Spelling?

Because they have their own minor-league spelling bee circuit. Having a qualifying spelling bee league that is, at times, tougher than the actual competition is what results in the extreme over-representation of Indian kids (1% in population, 11% in the spelling bee) at the national-level Scripps spelling bee. Where else have you seen such a phenomenon?
posted by vidur on Jun 2, 2010 - 15 comments

If the past is a palimpsest, what are we?

Ten days ago, Slate Magazine conducted an experiment modeled on the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell's 1984: they asked readers to look at eight photographs of notable political moments from the past decade and share their memories about each. Over 5,000 people participated in the first three days, but what they didn’t know was that four of the pictures were significantly doctored, and one was totally fabricated. [more inside]
posted by mondaygreens on May 28, 2010 - 67 comments

The Tea Party's Brew

The Tea Party's Toxic Take on History (single link Slate) The piece has interesting internal links. The points about history distortions are at the end. Here's a little more about the author. The Tea Party is a significant preoccupation for him. Previously (briefly!) on Metafilter, but taken down at poster's request.
posted by bearwife on Apr 26, 2010 - 119 comments

First Person Shooter

In Sizing Up Sperm, people dressed in all white literally act out the role of sperm in the race to become one with the egg, running through valleys, squeezing through spirals, battling Leukocytes and much more. The results are stunning and the program airs this Sunday, March 14 on National Geographic. It just so happens that Slate also got in on the ejaculation meme, and delivered an article on a story of sperm donors and DNA tracing in Are Sperm Donors Really Anonymous Anymore? [via] [more inside]
posted by netbros on Mar 13, 2010 - 26 comments

Signs: The most useful thing you pay no attention to

Slate takes on signs and wayfinding. Part 1: The secret language of signs. Part II: Lost in Penn Station. Part III: Legible London. Part IV: Do you draw good maps? Part V: The war over exit signs. Part VI: Will GPS kill the sign?
posted by parudox on Mar 11, 2010 - 41 comments

Your List of Movie Lists

The Aught-O-Matic. Slate's interactive guide to the critically recognized best movies of the decade, aggregating the results from several "best of the decade" lists. It's still in the process of being updated.
posted by Sticherbeast on Dec 17, 2009 - 26 comments

Secrets of The Great British Sex Clubs by Tony Perrottet

(NSFW) So Much For the Stiff Upper Lip. Slate writer gets jiggy wit the history of Georgian Britain's aristocratic sex clubs.
posted by jason's_planet on Dec 14, 2009 - 38 comments

"She screamed: 'You have rejected me? You have dared to reject me? Me, your highest value?'"

Two new biographies examine the life and legacy of Ayn Rand. Johann Hari of Slate reads them both responds with a crystaline and scathing evisceration of Rand's philosophy based on the context of the events of her life. [more inside]
posted by Lacking Subtlety on Nov 2, 2009 - 124 comments

Whoops

How my factual error found its way into Obama's health care speech.
posted by shakespeherian on Sep 18, 2009 - 43 comments

Saving Face

Dahlia Lithwick (previously) is trying to write a chick-lit novel in nineteen days.
posted by Iridic on Sep 11, 2009 - 63 comments

Loosening up locked-down corporate IT

Over on Slate, Farhad Manjoo writes that corporate IT ought to allow users more freedom in web browser selection and installation rights on their work computers. John C. Welch responds.
posted by porn in the woods on Sep 1, 2009 - 172 comments

Slate takes on the bullies. It also takes on the trolls.

Slate gives you effective strategies for taking on bullies. It's a good article. More interesting, though, is the sidebar, aimed at an altogether different kind of bully. [more inside]
posted by Cool Papa Bell on Aug 11, 2009 - 124 comments

It's the end of the world as we ... think it might happen

Choose your own apocalypse! Futurists discuss: How is America going to end?
posted by desjardins on Aug 3, 2009 - 71 comments

contraception riles up pro life NRLC

William Saletan has been writing about abortion for a while. In Slate he recently discussed the Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion, and Supporting Parents Act, and some hard line pro-life groups resistance to this bill. Doug Johnson, the National Right to Life Commitee's legislative director responds stating that the bill is a "prop in a political charade" to "provide camouflage for pro-abortion politicians". Saletan tears holes in Johnson's stated objections, calling out the NRLF's unstated objection to contraception.
posted by garlic on Aug 3, 2009 - 260 comments

fuck yeah too much time on your hands

There is a subgenre of single-themed tumblelogs that aim for hagiography—they want to celebrate rather than tear down the subject at hand. These often go by the prefix "Fuck Yeah"—as in, among others, Fuck Yeah Rachel Maddow,Fuck Yeah Skinny Bitch, Fuck Yeah Puppies.

Slate article on single-theme blogs. Some of the better ones: look at this fucking hipster, it's lovely i'll take it, Owl Tattoos, fuck you penguin, happiest people ever, stfu marrieds.
posted by Lutoslawski on Jul 2, 2009 - 46 comments

Could you please explain why it is

The bottom of Slate's Explainer mailbag. [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Dec 19, 2008 - 76 comments

Daily Routines of Notable Persons

Daily Routines features how writers, artists, statesmen, and others go about their day. [more inside]
posted by Korou on Dec 9, 2008 - 12 comments

Steamroll this!

Eliot Spitzer is back in the public spotlight as a biweekly columnist for Slate. His first column argues against bailouts. More background info.
posted by jourman2 on Dec 3, 2008 - 28 comments

Aboot time those hoosers let us in EH!

Are you a Democrat who drinks lattes? eats arugula? Does the thought of another Republican president fill you with dread? Canada's E.L.I.T.E. immigration plan is right for you! [more inside]
posted by afu on Oct 25, 2008 - 102 comments

Forgetting Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea is more than your average headline-making, human rights-eschewing African nation. Likening the country’s uneasy street-silence to that of Pyongyang, deported journalist Peter Maass reveals an unparalleled culture of fear blanketed by an international media blackout. But for the Whitehouse, ExxonMobil and Teodoro Obiang—Equatorial Guinea’s torturous leader—the poverty, abuse and dead-quiet are business as usual.
posted by dead_ on Jun 24, 2008 - 13 comments

Phil Spector's Wall Of Sound Was Mostly Bears

The short films (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) of Scott Blaszak.
posted by rooftop secrets on Jun 11, 2008 - 8 comments

The Nutcracker Suite

Michael Lewis gets a vasectomy.
posted by jonson on Jan 22, 2008 - 119 comments

Free online games, courtesy of Slate

Just in time for Flash Friday, Slate lists the best free online games. The first one they mention, The Tall Stump, has been on MeFi previously, but there's more—even an Infocom-style text-based game.
posted by cerebus19 on Dec 21, 2007 - 9 comments

Made to be Broken: laws you can ignore

American Lawbreaking. "This series explores the black spots in American law: areas in which our laws are routinely and regularly broken and where the law enforcement response is … nothing. These are the areas where, for one reason or another, we've decided to tolerate lawbreaking and let a law—duly enacted and still on the books—lay fallow or near dead." The first two entries are prescription drug abuse and internet pornography.
posted by ND¢ on Oct 15, 2007 - 84 comments

Can't we just go Dutch?

If European and North American societies are morally responsible (print-friendly) for safeguarding free speech, should we also take financial responsibility for its proponents' safety (pf)? Hitchens seems to think so.

Today's moral dilemma is brought to you, of course, by the West's favourite Voltairian nightmare: prominent Islam critic, former Dutch MP, and scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Oct 9, 2007 - 17 comments

Team Mitt to America: Create Our “New Official” Campaign Ad!

Taking a cue from Doritos (Frito Lay) which sponsored a contest for a user-submitted video ad to be aired during Super Bowl XKL, Mitt Romney’s campaign decided to follow suit, challenging “…you to make his campaign’s new official TV advertisement...using images and materials supplied on the campaign website.” “An online vote will help determine the winner.” Folks create ads. Folks vote for their favorite ad. “Way! He'll Set America Straight[video] (produced by Bruce Reed) garners more votes than the other top nine finalists combined. “[T]he campaign promised 10 finalists, but today it posted only nine...” Guess which one is missing? [more inside]
posted by ericb on Sep 26, 2007 - 16 comments

Ronald Reagan: A Graphic Biography

Ronald Reagan: A Graphic Biography From the writers of Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography. [via]
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth on Sep 8, 2007 - 23 comments

Ingmar Bergman's Soap Commercials

The 9 soap commercials Ingmar Bergman made are a little known part of his oeuvre. Slate's Dana Stevens explains how they came about.
posted by Kattullus on Aug 7, 2007 - 5 comments

Im in ur congress, monitoring changes to ur legislation

Slashdot poster has brilliant legislative reform idea: "Source Control for Bills in Congress." What if sneaky changes to pending legislation showed up as soon as they were made instead of in ominously worded media reports months later?
posted by grobstein on Mar 7, 2007 - 62 comments

I want to buy my own food critic, mommy

Restaurant crybaby lashes out at NYT's Frank Bruni (pdf). Jeffrey Chodorow's new restaurant (where each diner is constantly threatened with impalement by samurai sword, apparently) got a (funny and) decidedly lukewarm review in the Times. So he took out a full-page ad to complain about it (pdf linked above), price tag: at least $30k. He also whines about it on his new blog. The word "critic" is deployed in scare quotes.
[via this Slate piece by a former NYT food critic; interesting in itself]
posted by grobstein on Feb 23, 2007 - 53 comments

AskMe vs Slate's Explainer?

Slate's Explainer is generally a pretty entertaining and interesting read. Now, they've posted a list of the questions they couldn't answer this year. I was wondering whether some of the AskMe crowd might just be able to knock a few off the list.
posted by nevercalm on Dec 21, 2006 - 52 comments

Paranoiac Party Time!

Slate's ongoing "Survivalist" series lays out the steps that you can take to prepare for the disasters threatening to snuff out civilization in general (and, apparently, New York City in particular). Find out how to survive nuclear terrorism, an earthquake, a skyscraper collapse, an electronic apocalypse, and global warming.
posted by Iridic on Sep 10, 2006 - 21 comments

Tabula Disastera?

". . . after 3 minutes of reading your new site my eyes started hurting and my stomach tied up in knots." "I am in misery." Slate redesigns its website once again (previous designs here and here), loyal readership freaks out. The interweb responds here and here (note the presence of at least two positive reviews; not all is lost dear Slate!)
posted by _sirmissalot_ on Jun 29, 2006 - 70 comments

What it's like to lose a son in the Iraq war.

Never Coming Home is about the families of five young men killed in Iraq. Slate presents a short documentary that focuses on the bereavement of the parents, or in one case, a brother. This portrait of grief and sacrifice is brought to life through the use of still photography and the recorded voices of family members.
posted by ND¢ on Jun 12, 2006 - 24 comments

Gross? Yes. Dan Gross.

Daniel Gross, economics columnist for Slate, wrote on April 7 : "...if (Bush appoints) an A-list Wall Street CEO (for Treasury Secretary), I'll buy a copy of Dow 36,000 and eat the first chapter." Bush appointed Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson on May 30. Today, Gross makes good on the promise.
posted by suckerpunch on Jun 9, 2006 - 14 comments

Octopus Pulp Art

Poulpe Pulps: A gallery of pulp and comic cover art featuring octopi. Via Slate, who just commissioned a few new pulp covers for classic books.
posted by staggernation on May 25, 2006 - 6 comments

2005: The Year in Culture

The Year in Culture: a different kind of 2005 roundup—influentials are asked to mention significant cultural points of the year. Hitchens on intelligent design ruling: "Just for once…one can hear the lucid tones of reason, detachment, culture, and irony"; Gladwell on the Streets: "the British take an African-American musical form and wonderfully reinvent it" (again); others muse about rare high points in South Park, or of Brokeback Mountain and the future of movies, or the Rove-esqueness of Cindy Sheehan, et cetera.
posted by Firas on Jan 7, 2006 - 17 comments

The one-sided "debate" about judges

Dahlia Lithwick in Slate urges Democrats to grow a spine, and use the Alito hearings to provide the American public with some liberal talking points for a change. "If the Scalias, Thomases, Alitos, and Borks of the world had their way ... there would be no meaningful gun control. States could have official churches. Hard-fought federal worker, environmental, and civil rights protections would disintegrate. What you currently think of as the right to privacy would disappear. These are the questions Senate Democrats need to ask of Sam Alito: Should property rights trump individual rights? Should the right to privacy be interpreted as narrowly as the framers might have intended? Do you believe that a return to the morals and mores of two centuries ago is in the best interest of this nation?"
posted by snoktruix on Nov 7, 2005 - 76 comments

Co-winner of the Nobel prize in economics

Co-winner of the Nobel prize in economics Robert Aumann of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem gave a very interesting interview about how he became interested in economics, math, and the "topology of bagels." How he applied logic from the Talmud to bankruptcy and other economic events was described nicely at Slate here.
posted by Adamchik on Oct 21, 2005 - 4 comments

Chicago Heat Wave 1995

In the summer of 1995 there was a week-long heat wave in Chicago. Over 700 people died. Most of them were the elderly, poor, and African-Americans. Link above is a Slate article by Eric Klinberg who wrote the definitive Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago (2003) in which he concludes that "a city, in its decision to operate like a corporation, experienced the breakdown of massive social services" and the resulting "widening cracks in the social foundations of America's cities".
posted by stbalbach on Sep 9, 2005 - 20 comments

The Consciometer

The Consciometer - What if scientists could precisely measure when life begins and ends?
Common sense, law, medicine, and philosophy have long considered consciousness a central aspect of our moral existence as human beings. Sometime in the next decade or so, neuroscientists will likely identify the specific neural networks and activity that generate the vague but vital thing we call consciousness. An interesting read from Slate
posted by cbjg on Jun 14, 2005 - 39 comments

The man who thinks about thinking without thinking.

Blinked is Malcom Gladwell's latest short, concept driven book about how instant judgements are often correct, but equally often dangerous. Two reviews on S****.com and S****.com [ad thingie to watch] make for great reading themselves. Gladwell's long been a favorite of mine, and I don't think I'm alone here. Previously cited works include one of the best essays I've ever read, about the ultimate pitchman.
posted by allan on Jan 13, 2005 - 33 comments

Favorite Words of 2004

Linguists Gone Wild Linguists from The American Dialect Society and the Linguistic Society of America recently met to vote for the Words of the Year, in various categories—Most Useful, Creative, Unnecessary, Outrageous, and Euphemistic; Most and Least Likely To Succeed; and an overall Word of the Year... no one really cares unless we pretend that These Are Important Words That Define Us as Americans. Still, that's marginally better than the alternate interpretation: This Is How Scholars Waste Their Time When They Could Be Doing Real Work.
posted by weepingsore on Jan 12, 2005 - 23 comments

Bad cards...bad!

Gift cards are evil. Or so says Dan Gross at Slate. I love Slate, but too many things in this article are just ridiculous. (more inside)
posted by braun_richard on Jan 5, 2005 - 83 comments

Wasn't this concluded?

Tom Wolfe resurrects his feud with Irving et al What are the chances that a literary bun toss would reignite, the match lit by the author with a new book due for publication. Maybe Martin Amis will swing buy and bitchslap them all.
posted by Keith Talent on Oct 28, 2004 - 9 comments

The Road To Abu Ghraib

The Road To Abu Ghraib A generation from now, historians may look back to April 28, 2004, as the day the United States lost the war in Iraq... It was a direct—and predictable—consequence of a policy, hatched at the highest levels of the administration, by senior White House officials and lawyers, in the weeks and months after 9/11. Yet the administration has largely managed to escape responsibility for those decisions; a month from election day, almost no one in the press or the political class is talking about what is, without question, the worst scandal to emerge from President Bush's nearly four years in office... Given the particular conditions faced by the president and his deputies after 9/11—a war against terrorists, in which the need to extract intelligence via interrogations was intensely pressing, but the limits placed by international law on interrogation techniques were very constricting—did those leaders have better alternatives than the one they chose? The answer is that they did. And we will be living with the consequences of the choices they made for years to come.
posted by y2karl on Oct 27, 2004 - 33 comments

For those of you in the 'Anyone but Bush' camp.

Slate translates Kerry to English. A lot of the argument lately is that Kerry doesn't really offer up a concete stand on his viewpoint. This article from William Saletan sums up what he believes Kerry is trying to say based on the speech he gave in New York earlier, and how he really stands in opposition to President Bush. Thoughts?
posted by daHIFI on Sep 21, 2004 - 32 comments

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