Cocktail Chatter

Fetuses, Brewskis, and Senate Haiku

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

1) “Culture of Death: The right-wing assault on abortion reduction,” by William Saletan. Pro-choice groups swallowed hard and got behind compromise legislation to reduce the number of abortions. Pro-lifers can be divided into two camps: The pragmatists, who met the pro-choicers halfway and accepted contraception, and the militants, who oppose it to the death.

2) “The Case Against the Case Against Google: The Department of Justice should take a hint from the Microsoft suit: no more antitrust actions against tech companies,” by Farhad Manjoo. In the ‘90s, regulators thought they needed to bust up Microsoft to preserve competition. Turns out, the competition did just fine, and so will Google’s adversaries, despite the innovator’s seeming monopoly.

3) “Do Shamans Have More Sex? New Age spirituality is no more pure than old-time religion,” by Robert Wright. We often think of shamanism as something transcendent or otherworldly. But being a holy man may  have other perks: money, sex, and power of a more earthly kind.

4) “A Man’s Home Is His Constitutional Castle: Henry Louis Gates Jr. should have taken his stand on the Bill of Rights, not on his epidermis or that of the arresting officer,” by Christopher Hitchens. The Harvard professor didn’t need to claim racial profiling to correctly—and loudly—protest his arrest by Sgt. James Crowley. The doctrine of probable cause would have been enough.

5) “Spinning in the Grave: The three biggest reasons music magazines are dying,” by Jonah Weiner. The autopsy report is in: Vibe and Blender died from a dearth of cover stars, less access to artists and advance records, and the social networking cloud that provides the same level of analysis as music rags do.

6) “Did Warren Burger Create the Health Care Mess? The 1975 antitrust decision that gave you physician-owned hospitals,” by Timothy Noah. When the Burger Court decided that “learned professions” could not engage in “anticompetitive conduct” to fix their fees, the medical industry took it as a green light to chase after profits. The resulting culture of entrepreneurship in doctor-owned hospitals compounds the health care crisis.

7) “Beverage Profiling: Why Obama is serving beer to the professor and the police officer,” by John Dickerson. Even after you’ve chosen beer over wine, the choice of brews is still fraught with class messages—Bud, Blue Moon, or Becks? Ultimately, beer is beer, and it turns every discussion into a backyard barbecue.

8) “The Best Birth Control: Why more young women should start using IUDs,” by Kate Klonick. The tiny, T-shaped intrauterine device got a bad rap after women died from using it in the 1970s. But the modern version is safe, 99 percent effective, and frequently used overseas. American women should take another look.

9) “Peruvian Peaks: The small, poor country that made the right economic moves,” by Daniel Gross. Peru, by Western Hemispheric standards, is growing like a weed. Thank President Alan Garcia and the country’s central bank, which adjusted interest rates to control inflation and send the stock market soaring just in the nick of time.

10) “306 Syllables on Sotomayor: The Senate judiciary committee explains its votes in haiku form,” by Dahlia Lithwick. Because the committee members’ speeches on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor probably didn’t merit more than 17 syllables each, anyway.