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The  Fox and the Farmer, Junior Seau’s Death, and the Snake Eaters

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

Junior Seau committed suicide on Wednesday at age 43

Jamie Squire/Getty Images.

Junior Seau, Dead at 43: Will the latest football suicide finally change how we think about the NFL?” by Josh Levin. The suicide of former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau should be a wake-up call to the NFL, says Levin, who thinks the league needs to take a serious look at head injuries in its players.

Can the United States Build a Foreign Army?by Owen West. In a series of excerpts from his book The Snake Eaters: An Unlikely Band of Brothers and the Battle for the Soul of Iraq, West looks at the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and how U.S. military advisers can build up foreign armies to replace American forces.

When Mom and Pop Own a Mom-and-Pop: I grew up in a family that owned a small business. It was a blessing and a burden,” by Rachael Larimore. Larimore describes growing up at “the store,” the Ohio grocery store her parents owned and operated, and the life lessons it taught her. Plus contribute to our latest Hive on “10 Rules for Starting a Small Business.”

Layers of Deceit: Why do recipe writers lie and lie and lie about how long it takes to caramelize onions?” by Tom Scocca. Caramelized onions in 10 minutes? More like 45 to 50, according to Scocca, who simmers about the biggest recipe deception he’s ever encountered. 

Barack Obama Killed Osama Bin Laden. Period: It was a bold, even risky decision, but he made it,” by Fred Kaplan. Mitt Romney is wrong to brush off Barack Obama’s accomplishment in finding Osama Bin Laden. Kaplan says, “Far from the no-brainer that Romney depicts, the secret, high-level discussions leading up to the raid were fraught with intense debate and uncertainty—and Obama’s final decisions, on both whether and how to attack, went against some of his top advisers’ recommendations.”

The Fox on Bedlam Farm: The fox attacked the chickens. The donkeys attacked the fox. I grabbed my gun. …” by Jon Katz. Katz, who lives on a small farm in upstate New York, tells the story of what happened when he found a fox coming after the chickens on his property. It entails a hen named Fran, a Donkey Secret Service detail, and an unexpected discovery.

Solar Disarray: China is stealing America’s solar manufacturing industry. Should we fight back—or rejoice?” by Will Oremus. American solar panel manufacturers are trying to survive after facing the “triple whammy” of inexpensive Chinese products, a drop in the cost of natural gas and the slow economy in the United States and Europe, Oremus says.

The Super Bowl of the Mind: Is quiz bowl the ultimate test of smarts or an overblown game of Trivial Pursuit?” by Alan Siegel. Siegel heads to College Park, Md., for a national quiz bowl championship, which eschews trivia for deeper knowledge. Siegel says, “To its devotees, quiz bowl is less a trivia contest than an arms race.”

Newt Until the End: Gingrich says goodbye, for now,” by David Weigel. Newt Gingrich bowed out of the Republican presidential nomination race this week, delivering what may be his first valedictory address. Weigel describes the scene.

The Slate Book Review returns with reviews of Gideon Lewis-Kraus’ A Sense of Direction, Florence Williams’ Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History, and Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother?, and many more.