Cocktail Chatter

Miraculous Mauritius, Hesitation in Libya, and the rise of Sophie the Giraffe

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

Muslim McCarthyism: Peter King’s broad-brush indictment of the ‘Muslim community,’ ” by William Saletan. As the House Committee on Homeland Security gears up for hearings on the alleged radicalization of Muslim America, the committee chairman finds fault with a shadowy group of “Muslim leaders.” But who are these anonymous imams responsible for fomenting terrorism in the United States? Plus: David Weigel on the committee’s reluctance to question its biggest targets.

No-Rush Zone: Why Obama is taking his time deciding what to do about Libya,” by Fred Kaplan. President Obama has yet to intervene in the Libyan unrest, but his hesitance isn’t just queasiness at the prospect of another Middle-Eastern war. It may also be good political strategy. 

The Greatest Country on Earth: What the United States can learn from the tiny island nation of Mauritius,” by Joseph E. Stiglitz. Free college education for all? Free health care? Free transportation? And a growing economy? What exactly do the people of Mauritius know that we don’t?

Chew On Me: Sophie the Giraffe, the European teething toy that’s sweeping America,” by Josh Levin. A chic rubber giraffe from France has parents all over America singing its praises. With “attention-grabbing spots” and just a whiff of continental snobbery, Sophie is the new gold standard in status teethers for tots. Does she live up to the hype?

Troll, Reveal Thyself: Why we need to get rid of anonymous comments,” by Farhad Manjoo. Whether you’re a writer or an incensed reader, broadcasting your opinions on the Internet is a public act. So why not hold people accountable by requiring that they post comments under their real names?

Ward Shelley’s ‘History of Science Fiction,’  ” by Nina Shen Rastogi. Places and Spaces: Mapping Science is a judged exhibit of diagrams, visualizations, and other proof that art and data can be strange—and beautiful—bedfellows. Chances are, your favorite science-fiction writers are represented on Ward Shelley’s massive Mylar brain.

Clean Out Your Things: My parents are selling my childhood home. What to keep?” by Jessica Grose. Sifting through old letters, yearbooks, and report cards, the writer unearths this gem from her 10-year-old past:

Dear Parents, I disown you. I’ve tried for ten years but you’ve Wrecked it. I’ll never speak to you again.Your X child,Jessica 

Torrid Life, Transcendent Art: It’s awfully hard to revise the romantic myth of Modigliani,” by Christopher Benfey. A new biography of the iconic Italian painter heroicizes him as a consumptive hiding his illness behind a bad-boy mystique. What it doesn’t show is much of an interest in his work.

Consumer Product Database: Why the Hysteria?” by Timothy Noah. Over-react much? The Consumer Product Safety Commission prepares a database of customer complaints and House Republicans foretell the fall of free enterprise. Do they believe their own doomsday chant, or is this politics as usual?

I Don’t Need a Hug: Honestly, get your hands off me,” by Juliet Lapidos. The author will happily hug you under the following conditions: “before or after a lengthy separation, as a form of congratulation (you’re getting married!), as a means of consolation (you’re getting divorced?), or to ward off hypothermia.” Otherwise, well, how about a handshake?