Cocktail Chatter

Obama Again, Bond Is Back, and Pot Is Legal (In Two States)

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

Barack Obama and family celebrate his victory.
Barack Obama and family celebrate his victory.

Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

Election Day has finally come and gone, after two years of campaigningCheck out our  analysis of pundit predictions. Jacob Weisberg explains why Mitt lost, while William Saletan reassures conservatives—we’ve just elected a moderate Republican. Meanwhile, David Weigel sends a dispatch from Ohio, where he spent the evening with crestfallen Republicans. Hanna Rosin argues that women did not make up Obama’s winning margin, and that’s OK. Nathaniel Frank explores LGBT advocates’ winning strategy in Maryland and Maine. Laura Helmuth says Tuesday’s real winner was science. Turning to the polls, Daniel Engber argues that Nate Silver isn’t all he’s cracked up to be. Allison Benedikt tells Republicans why Fox fooled them. Still, Farhad Manjoo argues that television outperformed the Internet in election news.

Don’t Touch Their Stash! Why Eric Holder should let Colorado and Washington experiment with drugs,” by Emily Bazelon. Colorado and Washington state may have voted to legalize marijuana, but the matter is far from settled. Bazelon previews the coming showdown with the Department of Justice and sees some signs that Eric Holder might be willing to ease the war on drugs.

In “The Civilizing Power of Disaster: Where was all the chaos, looting, and mass-panic during Hurricane Sandy?” Katy Waldman explains that contrary to popular belief, people become more altruistic during catastrophe, not less. In “Will Sandy Bring a Baby Boom or Baby Bust? How disasters change marriage, divorce, and birth rates,” Karla Starr discusses why disasters send birth rates up and divorce rates down.

Why Is the Surface So Bad? Microsoft has been working on its tablet for years. It should be a whole lot better,” by Farhad Manjoo. Microsoft’s Surface tablet was supposed to be more functional than the iPad. Farhad Manjoo explains why it made him absolutely crazy.

Stirred, but Not Shaken: I read the books and watched the movies. Here’s what makes Bond great,” by Isaac Chotiner. Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film, opened in the United States on Friday. Isaac Chotiner reviews the entire series and also offers an authoritative ranking of 007s, movies, books, villains, theme songs, and, last but not least, Bond girls.

 “When Is It Right To Let Your Unborn Baby Die? I faced a choice: Deliver early or risk a stillbirth,” by Eugenie Samuel Reich. Deciding to risk stillbirth rather than induce labor too early is a heartbreaking choice, but it’s rarely discussed. Eugenie Samuel Reich tells her own story and explains the medical options for at-risk babies.

The Secret History of the Aeron Chair: It wasn’t originally designed for office warriors. It was intended for the elderly,” by Cliff Kuang. The expensive, ergonomic Aeron chair quickly became a staple for Silicon Valley firms with money to burn. But it was designed for elderly people, with a reclining function and mesh that would prevent bedsores. Cliff Kuang explains the Aeron chair’s evolution.

 “Want To Understand Sexual Politics? Read This Novel: Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth reveals the deepest ways in which men misunderstand women,” by Katie Roiphe. In Sweet Tooth, Ian McEwan gets inside the mind of a male novelist who tries to get inside the mind of his female character. In her review, Katie Roiphe argues that books like McEwan’s are the best way to understand sexual politics.

The Puffin Charmer: By thinking like a social bird, Stephen Kress brought puffins back to the United States,” by Michelle Nijhuis. Other scientists said it was impossible, but one biologist was devoted to re-establishing puffin colonies in Maine. Michelle Nijhuis explains how he did it: with recordings of bird calls, puffin decoys and mirrors.

 “Marriage is Broken. Here’s How to Fix It,” by Amanda Hess. This week, Maine, Maryland and Washington state extended marriage rights to same-sex couples. Amanda Hess has some other ideas about how to reform the institution. Mandating vow renewal, allowing for “point people” instead of spouses, repealing tax benefits—Hess brings in 10 thinkers to offer their suggestions.