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Egypt, Instagram Sunsets, and the Kindly Brontosaurus

This week’s most interesting Slate stories.

Egyptian security forces attack encampment of pro-Morsi protesters

 An injured supporter of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is carried into the al-Sednawi hospital near Ramses Square on Friday in Cairo, Egypt.

Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images

Lost in Egypt: President Obama has no influence with Egypt’s generals. It’s time the administration admits it—and speaks a language the generals understand,” by William J. Dobson. As the violence in Egypt escalates to levels not seen since 2011, Dobson rebukes the Obama administration for the way in which it has tiptoed around the issue. Although suspending aid or condemning the responsible parties might not induce Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to quell the violence, Dobson argues that the administration needs to take a firmer stance on the violence and the politics surrounding it

The Kindly Brontosaurus: The amazing, prehistoric posture that will get you whatever you want, whenever you want it,” by Jessica Winter. Next time you need to bend the will of authority figures to benefit yourself, use Winter’s foolproof method. The “Kindly Brontosaurus” is both a posture and an art form, and if you do it right, it can get you onto packed flights, past bothersome security guards, and just generally into places where you shouldn’t be.

Superhero Smackdown: Who would win in a fight: Marvel or DC?” by Douglas Wolk. As Slate’s series on rivalries continues, Wolk pits the two iconic comic book companies against each other. In a battle of superhero-level action, Wolk ultimately concludes that Marvel’s repulsor rays are unbeatable.

The Great Leveling: Why soccer teams score fewer goals than they did 100 years ago,” by Chris Anderson and David Sally. In 1890, soccer games had an average of 4.5 goals per game. Just 100 years later, that number dropped to 2.6 goals. In this excerpt from The Numbers Game: Why Everything You Know About Soccer Is Wrong, Anderson and Sully explain the remarkable and dramatic changes the game has seen throughout its history, including the reason goals have become such a (relative) rarity.

David Morgan Is Wrong, Terribly Wrong: Two Florida cops shot an innocent, unarmed man in his own driveway. And then their sheriff started talking,” by Dahlia Lithwick. In a jaw-dropping instance of police brutality, two white Florida cops shot 15 rounds at a 60-year-old unarmed black man in his own driveway, shattering the man’s leg. What’s even more unbelievable is that a local sheriff, David Morgan, is defending these. Lithwick parses the insane things he says about race while trying to justify the incident.

The Tragedy of the Sunset Photo: Why they’re all over your Instagram feed—and why they’re so hard to get right,” by Katy Waldman. If you’ve ever wondered why sunsets are ubiquitous in an age where everyone is an amateur photographer, Waldman has the answers. The sunset, it appears, occupies a particular role in our virtual and actual worlds: “If Facebook is where we plaster wedding and baby pictures, and Twitter is where share links and quips, think of Instagram as the last refuge of that much-maligned photographic cliché: the sunset shot.” Waldman examines why it is that our smartphone lenses are so drawn to the sinking sun, and what to do to get the sunset photo right.

A Whole Lot of Bells, Way Too Many Whistles: Multimedia-laden features like “Snow Fall” and “The Jockey” are bad for the Web and bad for readers,” by Farhad Manjoo. The latest experiments in Web journalism are the multimedia-heavy, longform pieces like “Snow Fall” and “The Jockey.” Although the style is innovative, Manjoo says the amalgamation of text, video, and photo is simply “an example of excess, a moment when designers indulged their creativity because they now have the technical means to do so, and not because it improved the story or readers’ understanding of it.

What Happens When You Abolish Tipping: I got rid of gratuities at my restaurant, and our service only got better,” by Jay Porter. In the debate over our tip-powered service culture, restaurant owner Porter presents powerful evidence for ditching the practice. Porter added a dining-in charge in place of tipping at his San Diego eatery, and got better food, business, and service. Abolishing tipping also made for more equitable pay among the servers and cooks, making for a happier staff.

Is Diet Soda Girly?: Marketing companies take on gender contamination, the idea that when women flock to a product, men flee,” by Libby Copeland. Copeland investigates the gender politics of how companies sell “feminine” products—like diet soda and body wash. Men, it appears, don’t like buying products strongly associated with women. Thus, Copeland’s examination of today’s advertising shows how companies appeal to more consumers when they find a way to market these products to men.

Why Are Swimsuits So Expensive?: There’s a reason some women pay hundreds of dollars for inches of cloth,” by Megan Wiegand. Why is the pricetag on women’s swimsuits often larger than the suit itself? Wiegand explains that the variables involved in constructing an itsy-bitsy bikini—including the stretchable fabric, the importance of design, and the brief selling season—combine to make women’s swimwear very pricey.