What Happened at Slate This Week?

I read somber things and I read festive things.

Image by Slate. Portrait by Charlie Powell.

Greetings! I have rein of the newsletter this week, and I want to turn your attention—for once—to a few things that aren’t politics or history.

Well, that’s not entirely true, since the first story I want to highlight is from Mark Joseph Stern, on how police and prosecutors in Shreveport, Louisiana framed an innocent, developmentally disabled teenager for murder. It’s another in a growing genre of stories on police and prosecutorial misconduct, and how our system is set up to arrest and convict, but not to find the truth. On that score, as well, you should watch the new Netflix documentary Making a Murderer, which deals with the same issues vis-a-vis the case of Steven Avery.

If you want to watch or read something that’s seasonally appropriate, start with with this entrancing video of President Obama saying “Merry Christmas” over and over and over again. Play it on a loop at your family holiday gatherings. There’s also these bizarre and terrifying holiday cards from midcentury America, including one that shows a family riding its dog.

Like I said, they’re weird.

And I had almost forgotten that my colleague Aisha Harris was responsible for a minor Christmas controversy two years ago, on the racial identity of Santa Claus. You can listen to her narration of the story that sparked a thousand cable segments.

Elsewhere, over at our photo blog, Behold, I am fascinated by Satoki Nagata’s exposures of Chicago’s nightlife. Using an external flash, Nagata shows a nearly surreal side of the city in winter. Dana Stevens’ review of Quentin Tarantino’s latest—The Hateful Eight—has convinced me that I need to see it, and I have been delighted by Mallory Ortberg’s turn as the new Dear Prudence.

Finally, take a look at our Good Things calendar, our daily catalog of all the positive developments in human life that occurred over the past year. It’s inspiring!

Thanks for your time everyone, and see you next year!