Cocktail Chatter

Fat Cats and Smooth Operators

The week’s most interestingSlate stories.

1) “Too Big To Win: Fat politics and the race for governor of New Jersey,” by Daniel Engber. Despite most of the country being overweight, fat politicians face a disadvantage against skinnier, fitter opponents.

2) “Get Windows 7: Microsoft’s latest release is the best operating system on the market,” by Farhad Manjoo. Rebounding from the vilified Vista, Microsoft’s new OS bests even Apple’s Snow Leopard.

3) “Creed Is Good: Scott Stapp’s nu-grunge foursome was seriously underrated,” by Jonah Weiner. Although panned during the height of its fame, a look back shows Creed was better than critics gave the band credit for.

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4) “Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money: Anti-Obama paranoia is good for at least one business,” by Daniel Gross. A conservative-owned firearms company has done scintillating business this past year, in no small part because of asinine Obama fears.

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5) “Is There ‘Hope’ For Shepard Fairey?: How does fair-use law work, anyway?” by Tim Wu. Developments in a suit against the artist of the iconic Obama poster raise the questions: What is fair-use and how is it applied?

6) “How To Fix the WNBA: Why the NBA’s plan for selling women’s basketball will never work—and what might,” by Josh Levin. Two suggestions: Stop trying so hard to reel in male fans and concentrate on ticket sales instead of merchandizing.

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7) “Errors in Judgment: Were hundreds of criminals given the wrong sentence because lawyers messed up a basic work sheet?” by Ray Fisman. A Maryland doctoral student found that a system designed to make punishment consistent actually gave some convicts sentences that were too long and others sentences that were too short.

8) “Saving Face: A chick-lit novel written in real time,” by Dahlia Lithwick. In Chapter 18, Erica finally demands a fatter paycheck from BarCzar. She also maintains her flirtatious e-mail correspondence with a CNN producer.

9) “The Plot Thins: FlashForward was a genius idea for a show. Too bad it’s flailing,” by Troy Patterson. Poor casting decisions and too many inside actor jokes threaten to sink ABC’s intriguing new sci-fi offering.

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10) “Good Deeds: Can Bill Clinton help a Democrat get elected as governor of Virginia?” by Christopher Beam. Recognizing Virginia as a bellwether for Obama and the party, Clinton and other politicians have descended on the state to try to keep it in Democratic control.

The Week’s Best From the “ Slatest

1) A Colorado newspaper is seeking applicants for the position of marijuana correspondent. The winner will pen a weekly column called “Mile Highs and Lows.”

2) Dozens of musicians have filed Freedom of Information requests to find out whether their music was used in Guantanamo Bay interrogations.

3) A recent poll shows Sarah Palin trailing both Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney in popularity, leading some to believe she won’t run for president in 2012.

4) An eyewitness claims a wellness guru ignored pleas for help from participants in the sweat-lodge ritual that killed three people in Arizona.

5) Colorado scientists found fossils of what is believed to be the smallest dinosaur ever discovered at 2 pounds.

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