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Those Phony Directionators, Romney’s Silent Faith, and the Case for Longer Tweets

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

What a slab of steak can tell us about food patent law.
What a slab of steak can tell us about food patent law.

Photo by Paul Cowan/iStockphoto.

Ugh, You’re Probably a Directionator: One Direction’s teen fans love the British boy band—and hate the poseurs. A lesson in pop fandom in the age of Tumblr,” by Ehren Gresehover and Tammy Oler. Following the new British boy band One Direction’s sweeping success globally, Gresehover and Oler explore how not all of the quintet’s fans are created equal.

Your Tweets Are About To Get Longer: In praise of the death of the 140-character limit,” by Farhad Manjoo. A year ago, Manjoo argued that Twitter’s 140-character limit is archaic and should be increased. Now, Manjoo explains why Twitter may finally be making the shift toward longer character limits.

Where is Mitt Romney’s Faith? Romney doesn’t want to talk about his religion. But fellow Mormons say his faith is what would make him an especially effective president,” by John Dickerson. Despite recent coverage in the media, Romney remains tight-lipped about his Mormon faith. Dickerson explains why fellow Mormons think he should discuss his faith with the public and why Romney won’t be heeding their advice any time soon.

More Than One Way To Butcher a Cow: What a slab of steak can tell us about food patent law,” by Adam Conner-Simons. In the wake of a patent for a new cut of steak, Conner-Simons explores the history behind food patents and why Americans remain so skeptical about patenting food products.

The Five Misconceptions About Teaching Math and Science: American education has not declined and other surprising truths,” by David E. Drew. As part of Slate’s special issue on science education, Drew takes a look at five myths plaguing the American education system.

The Future of Cookbooks: They’ll go extinct. And that’s OK,” by L.V. Anderson. Continuing Slate’s month-long special on the future of food, Anderson takes a look at what’s in store for the cookbook. Her forecast isn’t a happy one, but Anderson contends that the blow will be softened by more technology-driven websites, blogs, and apps.

Why Did Jonah Lehrer Plagiarize Himself? Because he stopped being a writer and became an idea man,” by Josh Levin. Tuesday morning, media watcher Jim Romenesko reported that The New Yorker’s newest writer, Jonah Lehrer, had reused significant parts of his earlier writings in New Yorker blogs. Levin explains why the prolific writer self-plagiarized and what it reveals about Lehrer’s current ideas.

Critics Are Missing What’s Radical in Braveby Hanna Rosin. Responding to criticism that Pixar’s newest film Brave isn’t feminist enough, Rosin argues that critics are missing the film’s progressive stance on the question of women and power.

The Gay Parents Study,” a dialogue between William Saletan and Mark Regnerus. Following the publication of Regnerus’ gay parents study and the subsequent critique and defense by Saletan, the two continued the discussion in an open, five-part dialogue. In Part I, Regnerus defends the study’s findings by explaining the statistical background of the study. In Part 2, Saletan questions whether the study’s financers have manipulated the data to match their own political agenda. Regnerus responds in Part 3 by asserting that the study has little power over how their financial backers present the data on their website. Saletan summarizes the major questions the study and its data has brought to life in Part 4 and concludes by asking Regnerus whether he has changed his mind about the study and its findings. In Part 5, Regnerus concludes that gay and lesbian households in America are too diverse to be defined by a simple image.

You Can’t Handle the Truth About Aaron Sorkin: I watched everything ever written by America’s finest creator of middlebrow entertainment—a Gilbert and Sullivan for our era,” by David Haglund. In anticipation of the premiere of HBO’s newest show, The Newsroom, Haglund looks back through the highs and lows of creator Aaron Sorkin’s oeuvre and decides that TV is still Sorkin’s best medium to “be Sorkin.”

Obama Outfoxes Romney: The president’s agility on gay marriage and immigration is making his rival look stodgy and unprincipled,” by Jacob Weisberg. Recently, President Obama came forward with bold new positions on the topics of gay marriage and immigration, a move that Weisberg argues paints the president as perceptive while it simultaneously casts a shadow of doubt over Romney’s ability to adapt.