Cocktail Chatter

Feathered Dinosaurs, Saving American Manufacturing, and the 47 Percent

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

Sinocalliopteryx as a stealth hunter feeding on the dromaeosaur Sinornithosaurus, left, and the primitive bird Confuciusornis, right.
Turns out that dinosaurs had feathers. That doesn’t jibe with Genesis.

Illustration by Cheung Chungtat.

In a special series launched this week, Slate asks readers for ideas on how to reinvent American manufacturing. Matthew Yglesias kicked things off with his idea to treat fast-food chains as manufacturing enterprises. Later, Farhad Manjoo asked whether we’ll soon see a new wave of “homebrew manufacturing,” or small manufacturers using technology to sell artisan-quality products.

Feathered Dinosaurs Drive Creationists Crazy: Biblical literalists are on a campaign to ‘take dinosaurs back,’” by Brian Switek. Bummed that scientists have concluded that dinosaurs probably had fluffy feathers instead of cold scaly skin? You’re not alone. Creationists also reject feathered dinosaurs, and they’re using that dinosaur nostalgia to market their fundamentalism.

The Horror of Antietam: America’s deadliest day, as witnessed by Oliver Wendell Holmes, William McKinley, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Clara Barton,” by Robert M. Poole. For the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, Robert M. Poole recreates the scene of the battle. Also at Slate, check out Brian Palmer’s explainer of what went wrong in the bloodiest battle in American history and Alexander Gardner’s Antietam battlefield pictures, the world’s first war photography.

 “Half-Hearted Mitt: Romney says he’s ignoring 47 percent of America. Obama said rural voters cling to guns and religion. Which is worse?” by William Saletan. Obama may have called struggling small-town Americans  “bitter,” but he wasn’t writing them off—he was encouraging his audience to persuade them on Democratic economic policy. William Saletan compares Obama’s 2008 gaffe with Romney’s  controversial comments that were secretly recorded at a fundraiser.

Exactly How Many Americans Are Dependent on the Government?: Fact-checking Mitt Romney’s 47 percent claim,” by Brian Palmer. Mitt Romney said 47 percent of Americans “believe they are entitled” to government assistance. Palmer evaluates a few different metrics—and concludes it’s more like 35 percent.

The Tempted Husband, the Crazy Bitch, and the Rabbit: On the 25th anniversary of Fatal Attraction and the stalker movies it inspired,” by Lisa Zeidner. First drafts of Fatal Attraction flopped with studios and screen test audiences. Zeidner explains how Adrian Lyne tweaked the blockbuster that inspired the archetypes for the next 25 years of stalker thrillers.

 “L.A.’s Transit Revolution: How a ballot initiative, a visionary mayor, and a quest for growth are turning Los Angeles into America’s next great mass-transit city,” by Matthew Yglesias. Yglesias examines how the “city that’s defined in the public imagination as the great auto-centric counterpoint to the traditional cities of the Northeast has quietly emerged as a serious mass transit contender.”

 “Paul Ryan, Ubermensch. Why does the vice presidential candidate keep hyping his physical prowess?” by Bill Gifford. Paul Ryan ticked off runners with his lie about his sub-three hour marathon. So does he really only have 6 percent body fat? Considering that he’s not an Olympic medalist, or starving—yeah, probably not.

Does Daniel Day-Lewis Sound Like Lincoln?” by Forrest Wickman. Daniel Day-Lewis has confused audiences with his “weird” impression of Abraham Lincoln’s voice in Steven Spielberg’s new film. But is it accurate? Lincoln expert Harold Holzer calls Day-Lewis’ impression “uncanny, convincing, and historically right.”