Cocktail Chatter

Prison Breaks, Conspiracy Theories, and Electronic Waiters

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

The New Slatest.” The magazinelaunched a brand new Slatest this week, and you won’t want to miss its sharp coverage of the day’s most important stories. Captained by Josh Voorhees, formerly of Politico, the revamped blog will deliver a daily stream of real-time news. Plus, we’ve added videos, handpicked must-read articles from across the web, and spotlighted the hottest stories Slate has to offer. We love it, and we hope you will too! 

 ”Turning Words into Touchdowns: Does a player’s speech predict how he’ll perform in the NFL?” by Michael Agger. Forget the highlight reel. What do this QB’s interview transcripts reveal about his star potential? (Plus, what’s a “positive power score?”) A surprising metric could change the way the NFL recruits top players.

Herzog Comin’ at Ya: Cave of Forgotten Dreamsmay be the best 3-D movie ever made,” by Daniel Engber. In Werner Herzog’s new film on prehistoric cave art, stereographic cameras seem to bridge the gap between present and past. The dreamlike images are more than lines on a surface– uneven layers of rock give them heft, and they zoom toward you like bodies.

The Great Escapes: It’s harder than ever to escape from prison. How do inmates still do it?” by Christopher Beam. Beam’s primer on the getaway covers such methods as fakery, brute force, and Shawshank-style tunnel-digging. (He doesn’t mention whether these tactics work at the office, however).

Born Identity: The controversy over the president’s birth certificate is not the media’s finest moment, or Trump’s, or Obama’s,” by John Dickerson. As the demented circus otherwise known as the debate over Barack Obama’s birthplace rolls on, Dickerson laments a chapter in American politics that probably belongs on the set of SNL. When will Donald Trump retire his clown shoes?

Bernanke’s Do-Nothing Plan: The Fed chairman’s grand scheme not to do anything about unemployment, GDP growth, and gas prices,” by Annie Lowrey. Ben Bernanke seemed troubled by America’s economic hardship when he spoke to the press, but he also made it clear that woes like unemployment and soaring gas prices are out of his hands. Is the Fed really so powerless?

My Editor, My Wife: I save her marked-up manuscripts as an unluckier husband might save love letters,” by Will Allison. For one man, the marriage of writing and, well, marriage proves both an ordeal and a blessing. “Until she says no, ” Allison says of his wife, “I’ll keep asking for her brutal, beautiful help.”

Are You Really Attracted to Scorpios? Use our Facebook app to see whether the Zodiac actually predicts who your friends are,” by Angela Tchou. If you’ve ever suspected some friendships were written in the stars, Slate Labs’ astrology app will tell you which ones. The app checks the birthdays of your Facebook friends in order to calculate how many of your buddies are compatible with your sign. (Hint: if it’s more than 58 percent, the cosmos is meddling in your social life).

You’re All Nuts! How America became the land of Truthers, Triggers, Birthers, and Dan Brown fans,” by David Weigel.  The allure of conspiracy theories is that they account for moments of odd, free-floating fear, Weigel says. That anxiety is unlikely to go away, so you might as well gird yourself for tomorrow’s big story: Trig was born in Kenya to Barack Obama and the Mona Lisa.

This Waiter Doesn’t Need a Tip: How restaurants will use tablet computers to replace servers,” by Annie Lowrey. The new Presto tablet lets you order dishes, look up nutritional information, play games, and pay the check without interacting with a human being. Will waiter-free dining catch on?