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Affirmative Action, Arrested Development, and Tesla

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

The Tesla Model X. Scott Woolley argues that the U.S. government should have gotten more out of its investment in Tesla.

Photo by Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images.

The Real Mismatch: The Supreme Court should not force universities to trade affirmative action for socioeconomic diversity. Schools can have both,” by Lee C. Bollinger. In light of the  Supreme Court’s pending decision in Fisher v. University of Texas, Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger weighs in on the contentious issue of affirmative action in college admissions. Bollinger touts the educational benefits of increasing on-campus diversity and claims that ending affirmative action would hurt all students “by robbing them of the skills learned through exposure to diverse people and perspectives, the very skills needed to succeed in today’s global marketplace.”

Tesla Is Worse Than Solyndra: How the U.S. government’s bungled investment in the car company cost taxpayers at least $1 billion,” by Scott Woolley. President Obama’s critics have seized on the U.S. Department of Energy’s multimillion-dollar loan to now-bankrupt tech company Solyndra, but Wooley writes that the government’s loan to now-successful Tesla Motors was an even worse move. He argues that the government should have insisted on stock options, a technique which other lenders took advantage of, and which could have resulted in huge returns on the government’s otherwise unlucrative investment

A Legacy Litigated: President Obama better get his judges appointed. Because his legacy will be decided in the courts,” by Emily Bazelon. Last week marked the Senate’s confirmation of President Obama’s most recent nominee to the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of appeals, and three additional nominations are expected soon. Bazelon writes that the president’s renewed interest in the nation’s second most powerful court is welcome news after years of inaction on the court’s vacancies and that it signals to Republicans that the president is finally serious about judicial threats to his legislative achievements.

The Two Faces of Michele Bachmann: The Minnesota Republican and Tea Party favorite was a master of the direct appeal—and the misdirection,” by John Dickerson. Tea Party favorite Michele Bachman announced Wednesday that she would not seek re-election next year. Dickerson reflects on Bachman’s uncanny ability to tap aggressively into the emotions of her supporters as well as her predilection for fact-free claims and fuzzy, empty rhetoric.

My Map or Yours?: Google’s plan to personalize maps could end public space as we know it,” by Evgeny Morozov. Google has recently announced an upcoming overhaul of its popular map service in which users’ maps will be personalized with preferential treatment given to places mentioned in emails or frequented by social networking friends. While acknowledging the innovation is an ingenious move from an advertising perspective, Morozov argues that Google’s vision prizes selfish utilitarianism at the expense of shared experience and spontaneity.

Close, Single, and Infectious: A deadly meningitis outbreak is targeting the gay community. Are hookup apps to blame?” by Mark Joseph Stern. A recent meningitis outbreak in New York City’s gay community has been tied to the use of cell phone hookup apps like Grindr and Scruff. While the health department’s targeting of these apps has raised allegations of homophobia, Stern defends the city’s approach, citing cooperation from many of the hookup apps themselves and some apparent success in stemming a larger public health crisis.

The Best and Simplest Way to Fight Global Poverty: Proof that giving cash to poor people, no strings attached, is an amazingly powerful tool for boosting incomes and promoting development,” by Matthew Yglesias. Complex development schemes have been the order of the day in the fight against global poverty, but Yglesias argues that the best solution may simply be a one-time injection of cash. Citing recent research results from a Ugandan project where recipients of cash grants experienced substantial long-term benefits, he argues that alleviating poverty may be a lot easier than people realize.

Arrested Development Was the Ultimate DVR Show: Too bad almost no one had a DVR when it aired,” by Farhad Manjoo. Last weekend marked the release on Netflix of the long-awaited fourth season of Arrested Development. Manjoo explains how the show’s comic density and wealth of subtle spoken and visual jokes was made for DVR viewing at a time when less than 3 percent of American homes had the technology in their homes. Also, make sure to check out Slate’s Arrested Development TV Club and Arrested Development Spoiler Special.

Heel: I’m a stay at home dad. I’m a feminist. I have erotic thoughts about random women I pass on the street. How can I stop that?” by Andy Hinds. Hinds may be a self-proclaimed feminist but he is also a prisoner to graphic fantasies that he considers perverted and degrading to women. He writes about his efforts to cleanse his mind utilizing such techniques as “The Three Second Rule,” not overanalyzing sexual thoughts, and imagining female relatives in place of women he finds himself reflexively objectifying 

Spam’s Shame: Foodies—and everyone else—should shun Hormel’s famous canned meat,” by

Ted Genoways. In a forceful rebuttal to Anna Weaver’s pro-Spam piece in Slate last week, Genoways draws attention to the tinned foodstuff’s more unsavory characteristics. Citing Hormel’s questionable treatment of animals and unscrupulous labor practices along with Spam’s enormous levels of fat and sodium nitrite, he asserts that the unappetizing product at best little more than an unhealthy novelty meat.