Cocktail Chatter

Bradley Manning, Clinton Fatigue, and the NSA

This week’s most interesting Slate stories.

U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning is escorted as he leaves a military court at the end of the first of a three-day motion hearing June 6, 2012 in Fort Meade, Maryland.
Bradley Manning was found not guilty of aiding the enemy in his trial.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

A Moderate Verdict: The Bradley Manning verdict and the failure of prosecutorial overreach,” by Fred Kaplan. On Tuesday, Bradley Manning was pronounced not guilty of “aiding the enemy,” a capital crime that would have earned him life imprisonment. Manning will still spend time behind bars for other crimes, but the military court’s decision to absolve him of this charge sets an important precedent for reporters and leakers. Kaplan examines the prosecution’s approach, arguing that prosecutorial overreach might have shaped Manning’s verdict.

The Danger of Clinton Fatigue: Hillary Clinton invites drama, even when she does nothing at all. Will voters tire of it before 2016 rolls around? Will she?” by John Dickerson. It’s hard to find an article on the Weiner scandal that doesn’t draw parallels between Huma Abedin and Hillary Clinton. Dickerson argues that the media’s eagerness to draw Hillary into the equation only feeds the media hype surrounding the former secretary of state. As this rate, will the public grow tired of Clinton before she even decides to run for president?

Laws Are Not Enough: Stop telling us what the NSA can’t do to us legally. Show us real barriers to abuse,” by William Saletan. When Eric Snowden leaked the details of the NSA’s surveillance program, the public was stunned by the government’s oversight capacity. Government officials have, however, emphasized the existence of legal limits to data access. Saletan calls on the NSA to release all existing barriers to abuse, as we have a right to know exactly what “checks and balances” are in place to protect us. Elsewhere in Slate, Jamel Jaffer and Brett Max Kaufman penned this handy guide on how to decipher the vague language of U.S. intelligence officials.

Rape Myths: I was raped at 55. Here is how I responded,” by Beverly Donofrio. Why don’t rape victims scream for help? In this harrowing account, Donofrio describes her reaction to her own rape and notes that while keeping quiet during a robbery is often seen as “coolheaded intelligence,” this is rarely the case with rape and suggests that women have internalized the idea that “if it happened to them they must have at some deep, subconscious level caused, invited, even wanted it to happen.”

I Wish I Was a Little Bit Shorter: The research is clear: Being tall is hazardous to your health,” by Brian Palmer. The advantages of height are well-documented: tall people tend to have higher IQs and earn more money than their shorter colleagues. Studies linking height and success reveal a correlation between these two variables, but they are far from definitive. In fact, Palmer argues, it’s probably safe to say that even if tall people are generally more successful, it is not their height that makes them so. But the “evidence linking height to life-threatening disorders should give us all pause,” as “the fact that tall people die younger appears to be an immutable physical reality.”

Post-Tragedy: I once knew a girl who lost her whole family before she finished high school. I decided to see what happened to her,” by Emily Yoffe. Sara Kushnick lost her brother to AIDS and her father, and mother to cancer, all before she turned 17. Yoffe first met Kushnick, who now goes by Sara Gorfinkel 20 years ago and decided to find her this year. She finds that Gorfinkel has overcome many challenges to have a career and family and who can say “life is good.”

Soap Springs Eternal: All My Children, One Life to Live, and the sweetly human act of caring about fictional characters,” by Willa Paskin. As the soap opera fixtures All My Children and One Life to Live attempt to rekindle their former glory as Web series, Paskin looks at the transition of soap opera through the history of television. She observes how the genre impacted the industry and how, although today’s soap audiences are a fraction of their former size, fans remain dedicated to these fictional characters because the genre “isn’t storytelling at its best, but it is storytelling at its purest.”

Welcome to the Dongle: Google’s Chromecast is fast, cheap, and ready to take over the world,” by Farhad Manjoo. Google’s newest product, Chromecast, doesn’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to streaming media to your TV But, according to Manjoo, it does this simple task so well, and it’s so cheap, that it’s an investment worth making.

Prepare to Be Shocked! What happens when you actually click on one of those “One Weird Trick” ads?,” by Alex Kaufman. Everyone’s encountered those unavoidable Internet proddings to reduce your belly fat and achieve perfect health via one miracle spice, and now they’re finally explained by Kaufman. Although the products these ads market may be of questionable efficacy, the lessons they reveal about why we click are fascinating.

The Most Beautiful Melody in the World: You know it when you hear it,” by Jan Swafford. Although Swafford’s not going to definitively declare the world’s most beautiful melody, he will give insights into music and how we understand. If you’ve ever wondered what makes tunes hummable and what differentiates genres, Swafford has the answers.