The Slatest

What Happened at Slate This Week?

Ben Mathis-Lilley’s advice on avoiding jet lag, high court hairstyles, and the merits of 1920s monetary policy.

Image by Slate. Illustration by Charlie Powell.

Hello, Earthlings!

I’m Ben Mathis-Lilley, Slate’s news blogger, and before I perform my duties as the guest editor of this newsletter, I’d like to encourage you to also sign up for my newsletter, the Slatest newsletter, here. It’s a daily news newsletter—a newsnewsletter, if you will. 2 News, 2 Letter.

ANYWAY, wow, what a week at Slate, am I right? For one, we’re running hot on our pop-up sleep blog, The Drift, from which I greatly enjoyed Gabriel Roth’s article about the pre–electric-light practice of sleeping in two blocks of time separated by a midnightish period of meditative awakeness (the last two sentences of the piece are particularly excellent and true), and Joshua Keating’s historical/etymological look at when humans started realizing that you would get time-zone–related “jet lag” if you flew far and fast enough. Synthesizing those two pieces, the best way to avoid jet lag on a transoceanic flight, it seems, is to sleep for a few hours after takeoff, wake up for a while, and then take another long rest pre-landing. But then again, despite what it says on my business cards and $19.99-a-month subscription website, I’m not actually a sleep doctor.

Meanwhile, in the Political Zone* (*not an actual name of a Slate section), the best piece of the week was my new colleague Jim Newell’s very funny breakdown of why governors are having such a hard time in this election vis-à-vis senators. (Sample passage: “In a political environment that demands more and more purity out of its candidates for president, opposition researchers can have field days with the compromises that governors have signed over the years. The Senate, meanwhile, only passes viable legislation one or two times per millennium; the rest of that time is devoted to speaking, fundraising, and greeting constituents at college football tailgates.”) Mark Joseph Stern, meanwhile, wrote a dispatch from the Supreme Court that illuminated some interesting points about asset seizure and noted the magnificent fact that a lawyer from Florida (of course) had appeared in front of the high court with his hair styled into a spectacular mullet. And I myself had fun writing a flabbergasted response to Ted Cruz’s debate-night suggestion that the U.S. should return to the economic policies of the 1920s. (Something very bad happened to our economy because of those policies, is the gist of my post.) 

Other great pieces, presented in lightning-round format:

—Isaac Butler on what Othello being “black” meant to Shakespeare.
—Jacob Brogan and Christina Cauterucci on the dubious man-politics of the “Movember” prostate cancer awareness campaign.
—New Slate books and culture critic Laura Miller on the difficulty of writing responsible nonfiction about the Salem witch trials. (Essentially, it’s hard to make evidence-based statements about something that was, in some sense, ultimately inexplicable—and took place in a time and place of very limited recordkeeping.) 

Have a nice weekend!

There was also good journalism in Slate this week about swastikas drawn with human feces,

—Ben Mathis-Lilley