Cocktail Chatter

Fake Meat, Early Voting, and Accidentally Marrying a Rock Star

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

Jamaica's Usain Bolt celebrates winning the men's 200m final during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 20, 2008.
Usain Bolt during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

Photo by VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images.

How Badly Would Usain Bolt Destroy the Best Sprinter of 1896? The champs of bygone Olympics take on today’s best sprinters, jumpers, throwers, and swimmers—a Slate interactive,” by Chris Kirk. It seems today’s Olympians can run faster, swim stronger, and jump and throw farther than ever before. But would modern gold medalists always whip the medalists of the past? This visualization pits contemporary athletes against their past counterparts.  

The GOP’s Self-Inflicted Wounds? Could Republican-sponsored voter ID laws actually disenfranchise Republicans?” by Emily Bazelon. Examining Pennsylvania’s weak defense of its voter I.D. law, which headed to trial this week, Bazelon explains how the law could backfire for its conservative supporters by disenfranchising suburban Republicans.

Others’ Milk: Why don’t we consume dairy products from mammals that aren’t cows?” by Benjamin Phelan. There are 6,000 different kinds of mammal-species milk. So why do most Americans drink only one?

Not Here: If we’re truly serious about stopping massacres like Aurora, we need to cure our addiction to evil,” by Stephen Metcalf. Metcalf traces the history of our obsession with awesome violence and concludes that we must divest evil of its grandiosity if we ever really want to stop mass murders.

Could the Election Be Over Before It Starts? Because of early voting, both candidates will be banking votes long before Election Day,” by John Dickerson. With both campaigns aware that early voting in several battleground states will affect the election’s outcome, the Romney and Obama camps are testing out techniques to boost their early numbers.

I’m With the Band: How I fell in love with a computer nerd and ended up marrying a rock star,” by Katherine Goldstein. Goldstein never planned on marrying a musician, but life had other plans. Read how her relationship with the lead singer of the Dismemberment Plan threw her into the unexpected role of a rock star’s fiancé.

Fake Meat So Good It Will Freak You Out: Beyond Meat’s faux chicken will change how you feel about eating ersatz animal products,” by Farhad Manjoo. The drawbacks of real meat have led many to try imitation products. But unlike meat substitutes of yore, Beyond Meat is so close to the real thing, it even faked out food writer Mark Bittman. Approaching their product with a real science, the new company plans to be a competitor in the multibillion dollar meat industry.

 “Going Postal, Pre-Pistol: How did mass murderers operate before the advent of modern weapons?” by Brian Palmer. The Aurora tragedy has sparked a public debate about the availability of automatic firearms. But guns are not the only weapons available to criminals, and Palmer looks at other methods of mass murder.

Obama Was Right: The Government Invented the Internet: Don’t believe the outrageous conservative claim that every tech innovation came from private enterprise,” by Farhad Manjoo. Though some have sought to discredit President Obama’s claim that government investment helped launch the Internet, Manjoo chronicles the government-supported rise of the world-changing medium.

Athletes, Stop Taking Supplements: They’re expensive, they don’t improve performance, and they might make you test positive for dope,” by Christie Aschwanden. Supplements present a huge danger to athletes of testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, yet athletes and their coaches continue to be fooled by the too-good-to-be-true industry.