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What Happened at Slate This Week?

Rachel E. Gross rounds up a very direct, matter-of-fact week.

Rachel Gross.

Image by Slate

Hello, Slateniks!

This is Rachel E. Gross, your trusty squirrel sex and bacon cancer correspondent, reporting live from the Internet. It’s a pleasure to be guiding you here at Slate, a place that appreciates both cutting-edge scientific research and the occasional perfect pun. But let me not gush too much about my love for this nutty, frisky, and altogether untamed publication. Let’s get right to the meat of what happened this week, shall we?

Now, Slate can be nuanced, but this was not the week for that. Instead, we started off with an anvil: senior editor Forrest Wickman’s manifesto in defense of unsubtlety. “Most of us take for granted that subtlety, in the arts, is a virtue,” he begins; think T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Mad Men. Then Wickman bluntly reveals this obsession with subtlety for what it really is: an obstacle that can prevent artists from expressing themselves more passionately, and arts critics from making more thoughtful, less rote critiques. In other words, subtlety sucks.

Meanwhile, associate editor Bryan Lowder frankly expressed his views on one topic—and elicited some strong reactions from the Internet in return. In the inaugural post of Slate’s sleep blog, the Drift, Lowder takes to task what he calls “a jarring conflation of bedroom and kitchen”: spooning. Yes, the cuddling position. Read the piece, and you’ll understand why spooning is at once an ancient, primitive form of human contact, an acrobatic Bikram yoga pose, and “fundamentally a sexist arrangement.” As Lowder puts it: “It’s all very complicated.”

In all honesty, I still love spooning—“When you’re holding me/ We make a pair of parentheses”—but you do you, Slate. Troll with the flow!

What else, dear ones? Katy Waldman talks loneliness, television adaptations, and daemons with Philip Pullman of His Dark Materials fame. Christina Cauterucci trawls emails between Hillary Clinton and her colleagues to reveal a kind-of-sweet, kind-of-sad form of female bonding. Mark Joseph Stern forgoes hippy insomnia remedies like that “goddamn Sleepytime tea” for the good stuff—melatonin—and allows us a peek into his lusciously lysergic dreams. Finally, superstar astronomer Phil Plait explains why we shouldn’t get too cocky over the supposedly good news that Antarctica appears to be gaining ice (“note the word appears,” he rightly points out).

Whew. That’s all from me, Slate! Sleep hard, dream big, and by the way, you looked great on that 2011 cover of Newsweek.