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Paul Clement’s Bad Week, the Meaning of Higgs Boson, and Why America Is No. 1

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

Paul Clement.
Paul Clement had a bad week.

Photograph by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Reversal of Fortune: Paul Clement lost big last week. Are Supreme Court super lawyers overrated?” by Emily Bazelon. On the heels of two major defeats for lawyer Paul Clements (the multistate challenge to Obamacare and Arizona’s defense of its immigration law), Bazelon argues that even the best lawyers cannot sway Supreme Court justices from their predilections. 

Can You Be Fired for What You Post on Facebook? It may become easier for overbearing employers to control what their workers say online,” by Josh Eidelson. Four people were fired from their jobs for posting disparaging comments about their jobs on Facebook.  The National Labor Relations Board is expected to clarify whether that’s OK, and both business groups and employees are watching closely.

The World’s Ugliest Photograph of Michael Phelps: How a batch of terrible photographs went viral—and why that’s good news for photographers everywhere,” by Heather Murphy. The Internet is not happy with this awkward collection of portraits of the U.S. Olympic team. Though she agrees the images are sloppy, Slate’s Photo Editor Heather Murphy debunks some rampant Internet myths about the photos.

The USA Is Number One (in Cheese Production)! America is still the best in the world in these 24 weird, surprising, and inspiring categories,” by Will Oremus. After celebrating the 236th anniversary of America’s independence, let’s reflect on 24 odd and interesting reasons why America is still tops. Hint: the answer involves Olympic medals, billionaires, and roller coasters

The Penalty Box: The Romney campaign is struggling to get on-message on health care—a week after the decision,” by John Dickerson. The Romney campaign’s muddled response to the Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act ruling marks the presidential hopeful’s latest struggle to broadcast a clear-cut message. Also see Dickerson’s piece on why arguing over the semantics of the health care “tax” helps neither Obama nor Romney, as well as Will Saletan’s chronicle of Romney’s flip-flops over whether a health insurance mandate is a tax.

A Quantum Leap: The discovery of the Higgs boson particle puts our understanding of nature on a new firm footing,” by Lawrence Krauss. Empty space is much richer and weirder than you thought. After Wednesday’s announcement that two separate experiments conducted at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva reported convincing evidence for the elusive “Higgs” particle, Krauss explains the gravity of the discovery.

Why Do Hotels Turn Us Into Monsters? You wouldn’t believe the appalling things people will do in a Marriott suite,” by Simon Doonan. Hotel guests can be downright squalid. Doonan relays the squirmiest details from a “hospitality insider” and traces the most bizarre hotel room behavior in recent history.

Permanent Record: The saddest story in the report cards I found—and how it came to have a happy ending,” by Paul Lukas. In this latest entry of Lukas’ “Permanent Record” series on the report cards of Manhattan Trade School students in the early 20th century, readers learn about the troubled upbringing of Doris Abravaya, as well as the background of the mysterious Miss Kotter, a major character in the Permanent Record saga.

Somebody Has To Bring Home the Bacon: A history of Andy Warhol’s relationship with food—including that weird Schrafft’s commercial,” by Bob Nickas. Andy Warhol admirers know food prominently figures into his work, from his depictions of Campbell’s Soup to Coca-Cola to the bright yellow banana featured on the first Velvet Underground album cover. Nickas takes a closer look at the Pop Art icon’s fascination with food. Also check out Part 2 of this article, “The Andy Warhol New York City Diet: Warhol’s obsession with the Automat and his dream to start a restaurant chain of his own.”