Slate Picks

What Happened at Slate This Week?

See if you can keep pace with the copy desk, Slate’s most comprehensive reading team.

Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Greetings, Slate Plus-sters!

Welcome to the roundup of Slate happenings, hosted this week by Slate’s copy desk. Though often the punching bag of Slate’s cadre of philosopher-commenters, the copy desk reads almost everything that goes up on Slate, juggling articles, blogs, podcasts, video, and Frescas with the countless other production tasks that keep Slate humming along. And since our job is to keep tabs on everything on Slate, we’ll point you to the best of the best from this week’s offerings.

Megan Wiegand, copy chief: In addition to copy editing the Slatest, XX Factor, and Quora blogs, I edit The Eye design blog. This week, Eye writer Kristin Hohenadel made me want to move to Norway so I could nab one of its sleek new passports, which boast a very cool security feature inside. She also examined what a redesigned U.S. dollar might look like. (Spoiler alert: pretty cool, but probably never going to happen.)

My favorite opening line this week goes to Mark Joseph Stern, who wrote in Future Tense about Google’s success in using First Amendment free speech arguments to protect its algorithms in court. In the third part of Slate’s series on the modern wonders of the world, I found myself mesmerized by the map of all the cables that crisscross our ocean floors and keep us up-to-date on the latest viral cat videos (and Slate). I was also fascinated—and freaked out—by this spot in Gibraltar where a major road intersects the airport’s runway. (I’ll probably take the train if I ever find myself visiting there.) I also think I’ll be bypassing Uber after reading Alison Griswold’s post on the allegations that an Uber exec wanted to dig up dirt on the private lives of journalists who wrote negatively about his company. Seth Stevenson rounded out the week with the best life pro tip: Ditch ironing and use this wrinkle releaser instead.

Abby McIntyre, copy editor: I copy edit the Moneybox blog, Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy, Lexicon Valley, and The Eye, in addition to whatever fun stuff falls in my lap. I live and work in Washington, D.C., but I’m originally from West Michigan, so I know well enough to be terrified by Eric Holthaus’ report this week on how global warming is intensifying lake-effect snow (and my sympathies go out to Buffalonians).

In drier climes, our politics writer (and office baked-goods hero) Jamelle Bouie excellently sets up the imminent grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case, explaining why those in Ferguson are justified to be upset about the “state of emergency” declaration. Meanwhile, Betsy Woodruff scoured the Hill, cleverly asking conservative congressmen what they really mean by amnesty. (Turns out: They don’t know!) In sexier news, I just could not stop reading Amanda Hess’ incredibly detailed take on People’s Sexiest Man Alive, in which she dissects the logic of winners past and present with her characteristic wit. And if you’re looking for a new earworm, the Brow Beat bloggers have you covered with two catchy releases by some of my favorite acts currently out there—Charli XCX and Sleigh Bells (featuring Chicago rapper Tink)—that have been in high rotation in my headphones all week.

Ryan Vogt, copy editor: Howdy, folks. I’m Ryan, a copy editor by day, and a copy editor by night. (Though I do write occasionally at dusk and dawn.) My favorite piece on Slate this week was Joshua Keating’s chat with London Mayor Boris Johnson, the world’s most charismatic conservative despite a hairdo that would make Donald Trump cringe (and One Direction envious). The piece I disagreed with the most, to ride the coattails of Dan Kois’ inaugural Slate Plus roundup, was Aisha Harris’ takedown of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” Just because a song is neocolonial doesn’t mean it doesn’t sound great. The most heartening piece was Will Saletan’s close look at ISIS’ latest propaganda video, whose mysterious ending suggests victim Abdul Rahman-Kassig may have been more than a martyr. The funniest piece was Katy Waldman’s close look at Solange Knowles’ seemingly Queen Amidala-inspired wedding photos, reaffirming that she’s Slate’s most consistently entertaining writer. Last but not least, check out Brian Palmer’s diagnosis of Glenn Beck’s fake illness “adrenal fatigue,” for the photo caption if nothing else. Somebody give a raise to whoever wrote that!

Seth Maxon, home page editor: I copy edit Wild Things, the Vault, and the Slatest after 6 p.m. In nocturnal hours and on weekends, I’m also Slate’s home page editor.

Two of my favorite Slate pieces this week were Jack Hamilton’s hilarious meditation on the Philadelphia 76ers’ avant-garde awfulness and Jamelle Bouie’s typically incisive look at why Democrats can’t win over white working-class voters. Nicholas Lund wrote a delightful yet dismaying tutorial on all the invasive species that were introduced in New York City, thereby giving the world yet another reason to hate this place. Will Oremus wrote smart pieces that debunked claims that “the Web is dying” and analyzed the shocking news that Firefox is dumping Google for Yahoo. The Slatest and XX Factor teams had great takes on the Bill Cosby sexual assault allegations, and Joshua Keating provided some important perspective on the 60 percent rise in terrorist attacks over the last year. Finally, the video team put out a fantastic short that taught us all how to enjoy a Thanksgiving touch football game without being a jerk about it. While you’re watching it, keep an eye on the background for a black-shirted, bearded prospect with incredible hands and superhuman agility.

Miriam Krule, assistant editor: I edit our religion content as well as our photography blog, Behold, and write about religion and culture: This includes everything from trying to convince you that the secret to understanding Game of Thrones is in the religion to being Slate’s official How I Met Your Mother correspondent. This week I woke up early to see Daniel Handler and Neil Gaiman compete to see who could give away the most free books and tried (for the third time!) to explain where those crazy names in The Hunger Games come from. I’m also on Slate’s copy desk, where I serve as corrections czar. My favorite part of being on the copy desk is that it’s my job to read Slate, so here are some of my favorite pieces that ran in Slate this week that I also had the pleasure of copy editing.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that we’ve been running more and more long-form pieces, and this week we have a terrific one from Tracie McMillan that is a deep dive into Whole Foods’ efforts to change the way poor people eat in Detroit. There are a bunch of things that stayed with me from the piece, including that when Whole Foods executives realized that she might not be taking the story in the direction they wanted her to, they threatened to stop cooperating. But this description, from someone who had never been to Whole Foods, is spot-on:

Ruff was impressed, but baffled, too. She was looking for affordable, healthy food, and when she saw the salad and juice bars, the café area, the parade of samples, they seemed excessive. That first visit to Whole Foods “was like if you would go to a football game, and you’ve never been, and you have no clue as to what you’re watching,” said Ruff, who coached her sons’ pee wee football teams. “And you’re just sitting there like, ‘What the hell is going on?’ ”

The piece is wonderful, and you should check it out. You should also check out Chris Kirk’s interactive to decide for yourself if Whole Foods products are worth Whole Foods prices.

This week also saw the release of another ISIS video. I can’t bring myself to watch any of them, as per William Saletan’s logic, which is why I appreciated the nuance in his piece on how Abdul-Rahman Kassig’s murder video was different.

And just to even things out, I offer you this: “The U.S. Potato Board Asked How Potatoes Fit Into Millennials’ Lives. Now We Know the Answer.”

I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t plug a few Behold pieces as well. It’s too tough to pick a favorite from the week, so I’ll tell you about two of them! On Thursday we published these striking portraits of, yes, goats and sheep. Believe me, you want to see these photos by Kevin Horan. We also published a wonderful series by Bryan David Griffith of independent bookstores in America, and I’m already planning my cross-country independent bookstore road trip.

Like a good Slate-ster, I’m addicted to podcasts, so I’ll leave you with one for the road! You may have heard about this little show called Serial? I listen to it, but what I really look forward to on Thursdays is Katy Waldman and David Haglund explaining it to me on our Serial Spoiler Special.

—The Slate copy team