Cocktail Chatter

Concussions, Cross-Promotions, and the Clinton Tapes

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

1) “Why Ken Lewis Gave Up: The real reason the Bank of America CEO suddenly quit,” by Daniel Gross. Southern gentleman Lewis was eager to be a big-time New York City banker but couldn’t keep up with the Joneses.

 2) “A Primer on Racism: The many uses of the word and how legit they are,” by Richard Thompson Ford. Pundits have enjoyed tossing around the word racist lately; when is it appropriate to deploy this loaded term?

3) “Two Questions Obama Must Ask Before Sending More Troops to Afghanistan: And how to judge their responses,” by Fred Kaplan. Benchmarks might be the only way to regain the Afghan people’s trust and restore legitimacy in the war.


4) “Get Your Head Out of The Game: How should Florida respond to Tim Tebow’s concussive brain injury,” by Josh Levin. Football culture encourages players to return immediately from concussions, but the ramifications can be disastrous.


5) “The American Way of Dentistry: Why poor people are short of teeth,” by June Thomas. In the fifth installment of Slate’s special feature on the state of American dentistry, Thomas details why cheap, widely available dental coverage doesn’t exist.

6) “Can a Woman ‘Prong’ a Man?: Why it’s so hard to put sex in the dictionary,” by Jesse Sheidlower. The editor-at-large of the Oxford English Dictionary explains why reference tomes are sheepish about delving into sexual topics.


7) “What Ever Happened to the Ozone Layer?: Is there still a hole in it?” by Nina Shen Rastogi. The ozone layer panic of the 1980s may no longer be on the minds of Americans, but the ozone layer is actually even worse now.

8) “Can You Tell Me How To Get: … how to get diapers without Sesame Street characters on them?” by Tom Scocca. TV characters such as Elmo are cross-promoted on everything from diapers to toothpaste now. Where does it end?

9) “Infinite Loop: What Bill Clinton’s talkathon can teach us,” by Jacob Weisberg. Stories of a drunken Boris Yeltsin ordering pizza and fights between Clinton and Al Gore over the 2000 election fill a new book about the former president.


10) “The Eyes Have It: Is visual training the sports world’s next big thing?” by Seth Stevenson. Athletes are taking new approaches to bettering their game, but can visualization exercises work for a squash-playing magazine writer?

The Week’s Best From the “ Slatest

1) In a historic concession, Iran has agreed to transfer as much as  75 percent of its declared stockpile of enriched uraniumto France and Russia to create fuel rods for a medical-research reactor.

2) During his opening monologue Thursday, David Letterman made light of an alleged extortion plot in which someone threatened to reveal his sexual affairs with staff members if he didn’t pony up $2 million.

3) Sarah Palin’s memoirs are already the top seller on Amazon’s and Barnes & Noble’s online lists, although the book is two months away from release.

4) Sometimes things aren’t as hard as they look. Just ask the man who escaped his holding cell by simply walking out the door.

5) Pilot hero Chesley Sullenberger completed his first commercial flight since memorably landing a plane in New York’s Hudson Bay.