Cocktail Chatter

All Day Pajamas, Boisterous Debates, and Fixing the Oscars

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

Newt Gingrich.
Newt Gingrich

Photograph by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

The Pajama Manifesto: Wear them to work. Wear them to the store. Wear them everywhere,” by Farhad Manjoo. We’ve come a long way since the days of getting arrested for wearing pajamas in public, and that’s a good thing, Manjoo argues. Today, the bedtime attire is seen everywhere from the grocery store to movie premieres. Now if only we looked good in them.

Inside In: Gingrich and Romney are both consummate insiders. So why is only Gingrich able to portray himself as an outsider?” by John Dickerson. Both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are political insiders. But Dickerson argues that Gingrich is gaining momentum in the Republican race because he’s better at playing the outsider card in the current anti-establishment political climate.

Insider Trading and Spilled Milk: The juiciest moments of the State of the Union,” by David Weigel. Weigel gives a play-by-play of President Obama’s last SOTU address of his first term or his presidency, depending on what side of the aisle you’re on. Gabbie Giffords defies partisanship, spilled milk regulations get a laugh, and “Republicans seethe.”

Fix the Oscars: Inept hosts. Dumb categories. Dance numbers. It is time to reform the Academy Awards,” by Dan Kois. On Slate’s Hive, readers are asked how they’d make the Oscars a leaner, meaner, movie awards machine. Slate staffers nominate ideas like limiting acceptance speeches to thanking three people and making nominees perform live at the ceremony.

Farmer Groupies and Chicken Coddlers: The Foxfire books and the paradox of the modern DIY movement,” by Britt Peterson. The DIY and locavore movements promise to teach you how to raise (and kill) chickens, mend clothing, and harvest honey from your own beehive. But are these “farmer groupies” just play acting and do they know anything about the problems facing real farmers today?

The High Price of Long Life: If anti-aging drugs are possible, they will require dangerous—and ethically troubling—clinical trials,” by Nicholas Agar. Anti-aging research both focuses on diseases like Alzheimer’s and treats age itself as a disease. It’s the latter that Agar says raises concerns about risky trials that may entice “the poor and disempowered” in the pursuit of an ageless life.

Unleash the Crowds: Newt Gingrich is right: We need more debates. And more yelling!” by David Weigel. Those that are tired of the Republican debates are missing the point. “The ideal campaign moment comes when a candidate answers questions with cameras pointed at him and no possibility of escape,” Weigel says. And complaints about crowd cheering and jeering? Well, that’s been going on since the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

Dirty Money: The astonishing new data showing that simply eliminating inefficient fossil fuel subsidies could achieve half the world’s carbon reduction goals,” by Matthew Yglesias. A new study says that slowly eliminating fossil fuel subsidies would cut greenhouse gas emissions almost in half.

Literature of the 0.1 Percent: At Last, the latest of Edward St. Aubyn’s masterful novels of privilege and the ways it warps its victims,” by Jessica Winter. An author who comes from privilege writes his fifth and perhaps final autobiographical novel about his advantaged yet anguished main character, Patrick Melrose. Winter praised the book saying, “At Last suggests, boredom—not therapeutic epiphany, not substance-aided euphoria” may finally cure the series’ now-middle-aged Melrose.

Obama Might Write for eighth Graders, but He Doesn’t Write Like Them,” by Forrest Wickman. Some are arguing that a readability test, which measured President Obama’s State of the Union address at the eighth grade level, shows the president lacks in writing skills. But Wickham argues, “The same analysis suggests that the first paragraph of The Sun Also Rises was written at the seventh grade level,” and that Obama’s speeches rank high on comprehension using a very similar test.