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.
Donald Trump’s for-profit Trump University allegedly defrauded a group of former students who are now suing him for damages. Helaine Olen takes a look at the complainants bringing the suit, and finds “people who might otherwise have been inclined to be Trump voters … who feel somehow left behind by the country’s economy of the last decade.”
Ruth Graham writes a spirited defense of small talk, an art which, she finds, has been far too much maligned of late. “I think small talk can be edifying in its silliness, and a pleasure too,” Graham argues. “Small talk … requires playing within the lines. Using sports, weather, family, and other unremarkable raw material, the skilled conversationalist spins it into gold—or at least cotton candy.” Don’t like chitchat? Look to your skills: “Perhaps the reason so many people find it tedious is simply that they’re bad at it.”
“Are some women sexually attracted to Trump?” Nora Caplan-Bricker isn’t afraid to ask the hard questions. (Note: This topic may or may not make for good small talk. It depends on your audience.)
The Revenant will probably win Best Picture, and the prospect makes Jack Hamilton more miserable than Hugh Glass. The movie has a bad script, it doesn’t know what story it’s trying to tell, and it’s utterly humorless. The Revenant is beautiful, sure—even Hamilton will admit that—but that beauty is deployed “in service of obscuring a lazy screenplay and aggressively dimensionless characters.”
If you heard the super-sad NPR interview with the engineer who failed to stop the Challenger launch and has suffered with a burden of guilt ever since, don’t miss this follow-up post. After the story aired, Bob Ebeling got hundreds of letters that eased his mind.
For fun: What do Donald Trump and climate change have in common? They’re both future disasters the GOP would prefer to ignore.
How’s the weather where you are?