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Chávez Is Dead, Oz Is Not So Powerful, and Drone Paranoia Works

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi  (L)  welcomes Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (R) upon his arrival in Tripoli on October 22, 2010. Chavez arrived in Libya for talks with the country's leader Moamer Kadhafi, on a regional tour that has also taken him to Iran and Syria. The firebrand president's programme has not been made public, but he arrived from Damascus and was to begin his visit by meeting Kadhafi, with whom he has had close ties for several years. AFP PHOTO MAHMUD TURKIA
Chavez and Muammar Qaddafi.

Photo by Mahmug Turkia/AFP/Getty Images

The Ghost of Hugo Chávez: How his economically disastrous, politically effective ideology will haunt the country he ruined,” by William J. Dobson. In light of Hugo Chávez’s death, Dobson reviews his political track record, pointing out that the Venezuelan dictator was more sophisticated than his Latin American counterparts, but that that had the effect of bringing him “centralized power for his own use.” Without his charisma, it will be difficult for the next president—likely either Vice President Nicolás Maduro or opposition leader Henrique Capriles, to deal with the mess they will inherit.

Please Do Not Chillax: Adjoinages and the death of the American pun,” by Simon Akam. In addition to murdering one’s prospects for marital happiness, bridezilla has slain the American pun. Simon Akam defines bridezilla, mansplain, and stagflation not as puns but “neolexic portmanteaus”: root words brutally slammed together with a cavalier lack of wit. They are, in a word, adjoinages. And they need to stop.

Come Together Now: Why President Obama and the Republican Party might finally be ready to work together,” by John Dickerson. Democrats and Republicans are afforded renewed opportunity for functional debate. Can they deliver what a majority of the American public desires—a budget agreement that includes revenue from tax increases as well as spending cuts? Dickerson spells out a few reasons to be optimistic.

Why Drone Paranoia Works: If you want to stop something, scream ‘Tyranny!’,” by David Weigel. It’s easy to forget that anti-drone activism started on the left. A vigorous left-right coalition has whipped up public fears about drones, and may goad the government into further regulations or bans.

Oz the Great and Powerful: No brain, no heart, no courage,” by Dana Stevens. Stevens derides Disney’s Wizard of Oz prequel as “visually over-crammed” and “emotionally empty,” a technicolor attack on the Warner Brothers-owned original. While the film may be suitable for undiscriminating youngsters, general audiences are advised to steer clear.

The Laptop of the Future: Nobody should buy Google’s Chromebook Pixel today. But in five years, we all might have one,” by Farhad Manjoo. Google’s new Chromebook Pixel is expensive and does nothing but surf the web. Majoo urges you to hold off on purchase unless you are an overzealous Google employee or looking for a good deal on cloud storage.

The Age of Enhancement: Technology is starting to give us superpowers once reserved for comic-book heroes,” by Will Oremus. As Slate Editor David Plotz did a decade ago, Oremus explores technologies that push at our natural limits in his “Superman” series. He looks at cognitive enhancement drugs, Spider-man suits, and other tools with the potential to alter what it means to be human.

How the Supreme Court Should Rule on Gay Marriage: The justices don’t need to make gay marriage legal everywhere. In fact, a more modest ruling could be much more powerful,” by Emily Bazelon. The Supreme Court in March will hear arguments challenging California’s gay marriage ban and could strike down gay marriage bans across the country. But Bazelon questions why we must turn to the courts—the least democratic government branch—for social change.

Apple Versus Its Shareholders: Why its $135 billion cash hoard is hurting its stock price,” by Matthew Yglesias. For the past few months, Apple has borne modestly bad news and more competition. They’ve also hoarded 135 billion dollars worth of accumulated cash, to the dismay of shareholders who are suddenly realizing that Apple executives can do what they please with the money.

Why Do Russians Love Ballet So Much?: The country has conquered the ballet world,” by Brian Palmer. With the attention given to ballet since Pavel Dmitrichenko confessed to hiring men to throw acid in the face of director Sergei Filin in January, Palmer explains that Russia’s obsession with ballet is equal parts history, national pride, and hero worship. Russia’s leaders decided to make ballet a distinctively Russian art form, and through centralized planning and the shrewd use of resources, bent the country’s culture to their will.