Hello! Welcome back to the Newsletter Once Known as “Today in Slate.” In its new form, the Angle will share the most interesting ideas about the news each day, highlighting thought-provoking pieces from Slate as well as other fascinating stories from around the Web.
Thursday night’s Sanders vs. Clinton debate was a tie, but given the current relative positions of the two candidates, a tie goes to Bernie, Jim Newell writes. Gwen Ifill’s question for Clinton on campaign donations sealed the deal, Newell argues: “Millions of voters … watched as a candidate who is promising to reform our campaign finance system dodged a question that made an implied comparison of her donors to the Koch brothers.”
Meanwhile, Jamelle Bouie thought Hillary finally clearly articulated a plan to differentiate herself from Bernie. “Rather than contest Sanders on policy or fealty to the Democratic mainstream, she directly addressed his worldview—not with an attack, but with a critique,” he writes. Her new self-presentation as the holistically progressive candidate, Bouie argues, is just what the Clinton campaign needs.
Bernie doesn’t want to talk about foreign policy, writes Fred Kaplan, because he doesn’t have a good platform. That’s why he needled Hillary on her connection to Henry Kissinger. “There is no question, Clinton jumps hoops over Sanders when it comes to foreign policy. Where he is eloquent on most other subjects, he’s clearly sweating when the debates turn to the world outside our borders,” Kaplan argues. (Elsewhere on the site, Josh Keating takes a slightly more charitable view of the subject.)
In an interview with Leon Neyfakh, law professor John Pfaff makes the case that the connection between the Clinton era and mass incarceration is overstated. That argument, forcefully made by Michelle Alexander in the Nation earlier this week, fails to put prison growth in broader historical context, Pfaff says: “The U.S. prison population had been growing steadily for almost 20 years before Clinton came into office, and it didn’t seem to grow any faster during his presidency.”
On Thursday, scientists announced that they have figured out how to detect gravitational waves. If you’re still confused as to why that’s a big deal—and how we even managed to do this in the first place—read Phil Plait’s explanation, complete with diagrams and videos. “This is all very mind-bendy stuff,” Phil writes, “but I promise it’s worth it.”
PSA from David Ehrlich: Zoolander 2 is no good. In fact, writes Ehrlich, the sequel to Ben Stiller’s beloved 2001 film is “a desperate parade of one-note fashion gags, numbing set pieces, and random celebrity cameos.” Ehrlich, it appears, is not alone in his opinion.
Gird your loins for Valentine’s Day with this compilation of great contemporary love poetry from Jay Deshpande, or this history of pop-culture kisses from the silent era through today by Katrina Gulliver, or this meditation on the experience of shopping for greeting cards while LGBTQ by Allison Steinberg.
For fun: Our video team bid farewell to Downton Abbey’s dowager countess with this reel of her best snaps, zings, and burns. Mrs. Crawley: “How you hate to be wrong!” The D.C.: “I wouldn’t know. I’m not familiar with the sensation.”