Plus Roundups

“You Can Call Me Laura”

Here are L.V. Anderson’s favorite reads from Slate this week, from #teamweasel to the discovery of thiamin. 

Illustration by Charlie Powell. Photo by Thinkstock.

Hello, and welcome to the Slate Plus newsletter! Pronounced Julia Turner’s way, “slot plooce,” bien sûr.

I am Slate’s designated food person, L.V. Anderson, but you can call me Laura. I’ve been a Slatester for more than three years: I started out as an editorial assistant in Slate’s culture department in 2011. I had a background in food, having worked for Mark Bittman for a few years, so I quickly fell into the food beat. Judging from the frequency with which Slate commenters refer to it, I am best-known for the faux-belligerent recipe column You’re Doing It Wrong. These days I write for Brow Beat, edit food and drink stories (and Troy Patterson’s Gentleman Scholar column), and appear in cooking videos

Thank you for being a Slate Plus member, and I hope you enjoy the behind-the-scenes looks at Slate that your membership affords you. I can assure you that what you see here is pretty close to what actually happens behind the scenes: serious conversations about inane topics; impassioned debates about minor style questions; a plethora of gadgets that Seth Stevenson brings into the office to let everyone else try. In fact, one of the most important things that happened at Slate this week is that Seth and Ali Griswold procured a treadmill desk for the New York office. I don’t want to spoil too much, because I know they’re working on a story about it, but I’ll tell you that the location of the treadmill desk—in the middle of the kitchen we share with the Washington Post’s sales department—was not particularly conducive to getting work done.

One of the things I like best about working at Slate is getting to read—and write!—things that have nothing to do with food. Things like an interview with the guy who took the picture of the weasel riding a woodpecker (#teamweasel). Here are a few other noteworthy stories that Slate published this week:

On Monday, Helaine Olen made the very sensible argument that baby boomers are, in fact, going to retire someday. I am pretty far from retirement age but nonetheless worry about running out of money before I die, and Olen is one of the best writers out there on the structural issues that make a lot of personal finance advice useless. Her book Pound Foolish is a must-read, and I’m so excited she’s re-entered the Slate orbit in recent weeks.

On Tuesday, Slate flooded the zone on Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, publishing a number of thoughtful pieces. I particularly enjoyed Matthew Duss’s straightforward, persuasive argument that the speech strengthened Obama’s position on Iran.

On Wednesday my colleagues Chris Wade and Chris Kirk published a surprisingly difficult quiz asking readers to distinguish between sped-up and normal-speed versions of their favorite sitcoms. I got seven out of nine, with a lot of lucky guesses.

On Thursday I read Dahlia Lithwick’s entertaining play-by-play of the Supreme Court oral arguments for King vs. Burwell, which included the sentence “And the government pees a little” and an unforgettable Cookie Monster allusion. I am assuming from Dahlia’s humor that she’s fairly certain the court won’t buy the plaintiffs’ insane argument, and this assumption soothes me. 

On Friday we published a short but fascinating excerpt from Catherine Price’s book Vitamania about the discovery of thiamin. There’s a lot more scientific history and horrifying description of vitamin deficiencies in the book, which is well worth your time, especially if you’re not 100 percent clear on what a vitamin actually is. (I wasn’t before I read the book!)

This has been but a taste of what happened at Slate this week, because even though I literally get paid to read Slate, even I can’t keep up with all the great stuff we publish. If you’re snowed-in this weekend, I’m sorry—as the Times editorial board indelibly put it, “This Winter Has Gotten Old”—but on the bright side, this is a golden opportunity to catch up on Slate

Well, I’d better get back to the debate on the origins of to fuck with as a synonym of to enjoy that’s currently raging on Slack. Hope you fuck with your weekend, everyone.