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False Convictions, Sharp-Shooting Doctors, and Dinosaur Sex

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

The Do-Nothing Plan: How Congress can balance the budget in eight years by literally doing nothing. This is not a joke,” by Annie Lowrey. Call it patriotic inertia: Though lawmakers seem to think heroic measures will be required to balance the budget, all they really need are some lawn chairs. Lowrey submits a surprising proposal for shifting the economy back into the black.

Mark Zuckerberg Invented Facebook: Get over it,” by Farhad Manjoo. Like it or not, a geeky, brilliant college kid created today’s top social networking site. Farhad explains why, where technology is concerned, execution often trumps inspiration. 

How Eyewitnesses Can Send Innocents to Jail,” by Brandon L. Garrett. In three subtle ways, current questioning practices work to seed false memories in witnesses. How can we make sure their testimonies reflect the facts?

Game On, Sort Of: President Obama both enters the fray and tries to stay above it in the great budget debate,” by John Dickerson. The President’s speech was a hash of compromises. Or  a passionate defense of the welfare state. Wait, what was it, exactly? On Wednesday, Obama walked a now-familiar tightrope between principles and pragmatism.

Why Won’t This New Mom Wash Her Hair? The fascinating post-partum customs of women around the world,” by Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow. In the Dominican Republic, new mothers lie in bed for 40 days. In China, they eschew cold water and turnips for ginger and rice wine. Discover how women (and their families) across the globe “do the month” after childbirth.  

Trick-Shot Doc: Dr. Denton is more than your family’s friendly practitioner,” by SlateV. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. But if you can sling X-ray results onto a board, tongue depressors onto a tongue, and sphygmomanometers onto an arm from six feet away like Dr. Denton, you probably should.

Bulli for You: Food writers can’t stop bragging about their meals at the famous Spanish restaurant El Bulli,” by Noreen Malone. So I plunged my fork into the cod foam: The proliferating “I Ate at El Bulli” piece shows journalists at their most smug, awestruck, and plain confused.

Infinite Attention: David Foster Wallace and being bored out of your mind,” by Matt Feeney. For modern day Romantics, boredom is more than the restlessness you feel while your iPhone charges—it’s a state of latent creativity, a precondition for art. Is that why Wallace’s critique of the blahs in The Pale King touches so many nerves?

How Did Dinosaurs Have Sex? Dino-style,” by Brian Palmer. Naturally, “paleontologists have spent a lot of time musing about dinosaur sex positions.” If you, too, like to speculate about how dinos did it, then you’ll enjoy this article on getting it on in the Mesozoic Era. 

Living in the Midwest: Does it make you complacent and more likely to wear clogs?” by Susanna Daniel. Well, maybe (at least with the clogs). But coasters’ stereotypes about Midwesterners say little about what it actually means to call Madison, Wis., home.