Cocktail Chatter

Reform Fiends, Tomb Raiders, and Skull Chic

The week’s most interestingSlate stories.

1) “The Lieberman Option: Could one of the left’s least favorite senators kill health care reform?” by John Dickerson. Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman wants to be courted by Democratic leaders and will continue to oppose the public option until he is appeased.

2) “I Spend My Free Time With Dead People: The strange hobby of graving,” by Adrian Chen. Need a new weekend activity? Some folks photograph tombstones in their spare time and post the spooky shots to a Web site dubbed “Facebook of the dead.”

3) How GeoCities Invented the Internet: A garish collection of home pages paved the way for blogging, social networks, and the rest of Web 2.0,” by Farhad Manjoo. Though it made “MySpace look like a bastion of elegance and restraint,” GeoCities was a pioneer in letting Web users express themselves.

4) Friend or Foe: The worst thing about President Karzai’s brother’s CIA gig,” by Fred Kaplan. Making deals with the potentially corrupt brother of Afghan leader Hamid Karzai could severely undermine the Army’s counterinsurgency strategy.

5) “The Last Moonwalk: Michael Jackson’s incredibly moving This Is It,” by Dana Stevens. Largely avoiding Jackson’s controversial back story, the concert documentary showcases the raw emotion of the King of Pop’s last rehearsals before his untimely death.

6) “Paper Hangers: Newspapers aren’t doing as badly as you think,” by Daniel Gross. Stop the gloom and doom: Some major newspapers have actually seen their profits go up through increased subscription prices and new business models, despite circulation drops.

7) “Roll Over, Beethoven: How Yamaha’s new electronic piano improves upon a 300-year-old instrument,” by Chris Wilson. Cheaper, smaller, and always in tune, Yamaha’s AvantGrand is better than the Baby Grand in your living room.

8) “Death’s Head Becomes You: How did skulls go from scary to chic?” Skulls used to be the purview of Shakespeare and Santeria. Now they’re the go-to symbol for fashion houses like Ed Hardy.

9) “The Overmanager: Why the New York Yankees’ Joe Girardi is too smart for his own good,” by Tim Marchman. A fan of complicated statistical theories, Girardi may want to find a simpler approach—if the first game of the World Series is any indication.

10) “Snowe Dump: Why it’s smart to forget about bipartisan health reform,” by Timothy Noah. Instead of fretting about Republican swing Sen. Olympia Snowe, the White House should show more interest in helping Majority Leader Harry Reid promote a public option.

The Best From the “ Slatest

1) Its creators claim a mathematical algorithm can predict whether a song will be a hit.

2) One of Osama Bin Laden’s sons claims he often neglected his family, instead obsessing over the Quran and jihad.

3) Hoping to boost readership among young people, French newspapers will now be free to adults under the age of 24.

4) A USA Today article shows 40 percent of President Obama’s top political fundraisers were rewarded with jobs in his administration.

5) While U.S. work visas are usually snapped up immediately, 20,000 are still available almost six months after the government started accepting applications.