Greetings, members! I’m honored to be your presenter this week of all things great and Slate. I’m Lowen Liu, Slate’s copy chief. At this writing, it’s late on a Thursday. Most of the magazine for the day is out the door, so to speak. It’s a good time for reflection.
That’s not totally true. In fact, I just expended way too much energy extending that lede paragraph simply to ensure the drop cap would look pretty, as one-line salutations cannot be properly drop capped (neither, sadly, can email newsletters, if that’s where you’re reading this). That effort is how you know I am who I say I am.
As copy chief I help manage daily production, copy-edit articles, and maintain the magazine’s stylebook. I’m also on the headlines team responsible for the “front page.” I write occasionally when inflamed. But one of the most rewarding duties I have—basically a perk—is editing our advice column, Dear Prudence. Reading about other people’s problems every day (and Emily Yoffe’s advice) is a balm for my own. If you have not tried it, I urge you to do so.
So what’s especially good from Slate this week? Any general-interest magazine worth its bits takes bites of the major issues of the day. Looking for a thoughtful, reasonable examination of Israel’s slippery slope in Gaza? We got it right here. A clear-eyed reminder of how deeply institutionalized (and camouflaged) racial inequity is in our country? Oh, yeah. Want to know why Putin periodically declares war on American chicken? Covered.
But what I also love about Slate is its joy in the little things. It is a magazine that takes great pleasure—and finds much funny—in its subjects. And Slate’s brand of funny is not sarcastic or derogatory or silly, but the product of an indulgent curiosity—what I hope reads as a serious and critical intelligence brought to bear on otherwise trivial pursuits. This in particular is what I would like to highlight for you:
— I have wondered before why John Hancock’s signature on the Declaration of Independence was so big. But I was remiss in not wondering if everyone else’s was just too small. This has been rectified at last. (Don’t miss the animated GIF!)
— Why do I desire a nice hot cup of tea, rather than a hot nice cup of tea? I’ve never asked, but I’m glad someone did.
— If there were a button I could push for pizza, would I push it? Probably.
— To ask about business in a friendly conversation is to prove Charles Dickens right. Here’s a model of what to do instead. (Assuming you are not the Trivago Guy.)
— The university appears from many angles to be an increasingly absurd place. And a funny one.
— Why do we disdain a hairy back but glorify a hairy chest? (Also answered: What does a chthonic catastrophe feel like?)
— And, at last: If a monkey takes a selfie, who owns the copyright?
Thank you for joining Slate Plus! Please brainstorm with us in the comments on what else we can do.