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Fake Prada Bags, Vegan Macaroni and Cheese, and Twitter Hacking 101

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

Tricky Dick: Was Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account hacked? The evidence for and against,” by Christopher Beam. Without any, ahem, hard evidence that the crotch photo posted to Rep. Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account was his,Beam asks:Just how hard is it to hack into someone’s social networking account? There’s circumstantial evidence that the now-famous wiener photo belongs to Weiner, but breaking into a Twitter or Facebook account is easier than you think.

I Hereby Agree to Every Future iTunes Update: All software should work like Chrome and install fixes silently,” by Farhad Manjoo. Software updates breathe new life into old technology and gadgets, but they’re also a pain in the neck, the author writes. Manjoo envisions a utopian future in which all software updates are like Google Chrome’s: silent, painless, and in the background.

Where Food Is God: How fringe religious groups helped launch the healthy eating movement,” by Daniel Fromson. Fact: African-American polygamists who consider themselves the true Jews make some damn good vegan macaroni-and-cheese.Fromson finds that the fringereligious groups that helped launch the health food craze still rely on restaurants and cafes to generate revenue and snag new members.This sentence alone makes the story worth reading: “The group ended the Santa turf wars soon after and invested in vegetarian cookery.”

America the Not-So-Beautiful: Gil Scott-Heron’s sad, sharp vision of race and consumerism,” by Jody Rosen. Gil Scott-Heron has been called both a poet and the godfather of hip-hop, but he was also a singer and songwriter: The Godfather reminded listeners that while Whitey was walking on the moon, the world was going to hell, Jody Rosen writes.

 ”The highest form of flattery: Do knockoff Prada bags hurt Prada – or help the company sell more of the real thing?” by Ray Fisman. Imitation may be the highest form of flattery, but it’s also good for business, Fisman says. A Northwestern economist has found that sales of designer products climbed when restrictions on counterfeits were lax. But if counterfeiters ever learn to make cheap vinyl look like genuine alligator skin, Prada is in trouble.

 ”The Rent Isn’t Too Damn High: Why it’s good news that more Americans are renting rather than buying homes,” by Annie Lowrey. Unemployment is high, meaning many people can’t afford to buy houses. That’s the bad news, says Lowrey. The good news, she explains, is that renting leaves you with more cash for stocks, which typically have a higher rate of return than houses. And unlike home owners, renters usually aren’t responsible if, say, the roof caves in. Can you really put a price on that?

Fighting  the Taliban One Irrigation Project at a Time,” by Maura O’Connor. The Central Asian Development Group guides Afghan people through ambitious building projectslike repairing irrigation systems.  Is this really an effective way to fight back against the Taliban? Considering the group can help repair irrigation systems in dozens of villages for the cost of one armored vehicle, maybe it’s worth a shot.

The Persistence of Hate: German communities that murdered Jews in the Middle Ages were more likely to support the Nazis 600 years later,” by Ray Fisman. Positive cultural attitudes like trust and tolerance are often sustained across generations, says Fisman. But a new study shows that the same is true of anti-Semitism and hate.

Save the Condé Nast Maidens!: Don’t Lock Them Up in the WTC Tower of Terror,” by Ron Rosenbaum. Even with the site’s tragic history and infamously poor security record, Condé Nast has decided to lease 1  million square feet in the yet-to-be complete One World Trade Center building. Rosenbaum depletes his lifetime quota of exclamation points slamming the decision to put an entire business in “the most endangered sky scraper in the world.”

 ”Romney Means Business: With a slow economy, can Mitt Romney’s pitch work?” by John Dickerson. Mitt Romney wants voters to know that he has 25 years of business experience, an asset for strengthening a weak economy. But his opponents want voters to know about the job losses caused by Romney’s business decisions. To fight back, Romney needs to appear empathetic and idealistic—even if that means making promises no one could keep.

Never be Without Slate Again: Download Slate articles as e-books from Amazon,” by Rachael Larimore. To those of you who’ve suffered the frustration of being without Slate while stuck at the dentist’s office, on a plane, or in a tunnel –and who hasn’t?—your prayers have been answered. Slate now offers some of its long-form journalism as e-books for your Kindle, smartphone, or iPad. Two titles are currently available: Chris Wilson’s “The Rosslyn Code: A 500-Year-Old Message In Stone” and Jessica Grose’s “Home Economics: How Couples Manage Their Money.” More are on the way.