Cocktail Chatter

The Washington Post, the Concorde’s Heir, and Coke Versus Pepsi

This week’s most interesting Slate stories.

The Washington Post announced Monday that founder and CEO Jeff Bezos agreed to purchase the paper for $250 million.

Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

If Anyone Can Save the Washington Post, It’s Jeff Bezos: The newspaper now has an owner who’s a master of finding new ways of selling old things,” by Farhad Manjoo. Although billionaire Bezos doesn’t have the journalistic clout of the Graham family, Manjoo argues that Bezos’ patience and willingness to create new business models is exactly what the industry needs. Also in Slate, David Auerbach hypothesizes about how the Kindle could allow for a new kind of personalized newspaper.

WikiLeaks’ Teenage Benedict Arnold: How the FBI used a baby-faced WikiLeaks volunteer to spy on Julian Assange,” by Ryan Gallagher. Sigurdur Thordarson, a 20-year-old from Iceland, was a member of Julian Assange’s inner circle until he betrayed Assange’s trust to pass “troves” of information on to the FBI. Gallagher takes us through the extraordinary story of how Thordarson went from WikiLeaks volunteer to full-blown FBI informant.

The Washington _________: Why Slate will no longer refer to Washington’s NFL team as the Redskins,” by David Plotz. Slate is officially scratching the anachronistic and offensive name of Washington’s football team from our style guide, and the New Republic and Mother Jones have decided to join us. Plotz presents the reasoning behind the decision here and explains why matters of diction are far from superficial.

Ken Cuccinelli’s Sodomy Obsession: The frightening legal implications of the Virginia politician’s crusade against oral and anal sex,” by Dahlia Lithwick. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is trying to reinstate an anti-sodomy law by promising that the law, which is written to outlaw all anal and oral sex, is constitutional if interpreted to apply only to 16- and 17-year-olds. Lithwick explains how Cuccinelli’s push has worrisome legal implications that have been largely overlooked by those too busy snickering at the attorney general’s apparent fixation with oral and anal sex.

No, You Shouldn’t Fear GMO Corn: How Elle botched a story about genetically modified food,” by Jon Entine. Elle published a story last week that reignited the debate on genetically modified foods. Entine argues that most of the article’s claims are unsubstantiated, and he explains why anecdotes like that one should not shape our attitude toward GMOs.

The Concorde’s Cousins: Why there hasn’t been a successor to the aviation world’s greatest engineering marvel and probably won’t be any time soon,” by Jeremy Stahl. Ten years after the Concorde’s retirement, there’s still no viable replacement. Stahl explains why with a look at contenders for aviation’s “new Concorde” and why none of them will work—at least, not for now.

Sweet Sorrow: Coke won the cola wars because great taste takes more than a single sip,” by Matthew Yglesias. As part of Slate’s series on rivalries, Yglesias takes us through the history of Coke versus Pepsi. Yglesias recounts Pepsi’s 1980s campaign, the Pepsi Challenge, which sought to solve the Coke-Pepsi conundrum though a famous double-blind experiment. Researchers found that despite Coke’s predominance in the marketplace, Pepsi consistently came out on top in the lab. Yglesias sets out to explain why Coke trumps Pepsi despite that curious phenomenon.

Your Flight’s Delayed!: Here are 11 ways—several of which are very sneaky—to get home faster,” by Amy Webb. Frequent travelers, rejoice! Here’s a list of ways to play the (airport) system in order to avoid flight delays and cancellations.

Cry of the Republican Male Senator: Nina Pillard is Obama’s choice for D.C. Circuit Court judge. Nina Pillard is a liberal woman. Ergo Nina Pillard is a radical feminist,” by Dahlia Lithwick. During Nina Pillard’s confirmation hearing this week for the D.C. Circuit Court, right-wing lawmakers and media lambasted her for her radical feminism. Not an altogether surprising reaction from Republicans, except that Pillard’s work toward gender equality can in no way be described as “radical.” Lithwick describes the way Senate Republicans have branded Pillard an “out of the mainstream” feminist and why her career has no evidence for these ridiculous charges.

Buying a Car Online: You should do it. Especially if you’re a woman,” by Libby Copeland. Why deal with a pushy car salesman when you just can buy your car online? Copeland, who just purchased her own car online, expounds on the many benefits of virtual auto purchases and explains why this option is particularly beneficial to women.