Supplies Are Unlimited, But Order Now Anyway

Michael Kinsley on limited supplies and new contests.

Supplies Are Unlimited, but Order Now Anyway

You have just a few more days–until March 9–to sign up for your Charter Subscription to Slate. After that date, only paying subscribers will have full access to the site, e-mail-delivery services, “The Compost,” “The Fray,” and so on. To be perfectly honest, subscriptions will continue to be available after March 9 (on the Internet, you don’t run out). So why subscribe now? Well, we’re giving away a Slate umbrella or a Microsoft Encarta Virtual Globe with each paid sub–and those really might run out. Or suppose it’s 3 a.m. and you can’t sleep, so you decide to turn on the old machine and check if there’s a new Slate “Chatterbox” item–but you’ve left your wallet and credit cards in the bedroom and don’t want to wake your wife. You’d be stuck playing Solitaire. Keep in mind that your sub begins March 9 even if you sign up early. And only charter subscribers are guaranteed the $19.95 annual rate for as long as they renew. So click here to subscribe, and do it now. Our computers are standing by to take your order. You may also subscribe by phone at (800) 706-3330. Or by fax, camel, blood transfusion, or any other way we can figure out. Go to our subscription page (, or send e-mail to for details. Many thanks.

You May Already Be a Loser

Slate has launched two new interactive puzzles in the past week: a weekly Web maze game called “Six Degrees of Francis Bacon” and a Monday-Thursday SlateNews Quiz.” They offer fun, intellectual stimulation, and insight on the Web and the news. What they don’t offer is a prize. It’s not that we’re cheap (or not just that we’re cheap). It’s that under the laws of various states, a prize turns these innocent amusements into a form of gambling, which creates more legal folderol than we are prepared to handle. But it just might happen–we’re not promising, you understand–that some winners of these contests get a token of trivial value as a purely symbolic gesture of thanks for their participation in a contest with no prize.

Another Contest You Didn’t Win

Posted on our site at the moment are the results of another contest with no official prize: the final 1997 tally of the “Slate 60,” our annual rating of America’s most generous givers. Several members of that list are known to be Slate readers, but the law of averages suggests it’s a safe bet that you’re not one of them. The prize for giving to charity is, of course, the knowledge that you’re fulfilling a moral obligation and helping to make the world just a little bit, etc., etc. But the premise of the Slate 60, actually, is less noble: It is that the spirit of self-aggrandizement, one-upmanship, and trump-thy-neighbor can be channeled into charity by making it a race. This notion was first advanced by Ted Turner, who has personally vindicated it by racing to No. 1 on the list in its second year. The prize, in other words, is being on the list itself. And it may even be working. Last year you had to give away $5 million to make the list. This year it took $10 million. Congratulations to this year’s winners.

– Michael Kinsley