Future Tense

What Happened at Slate This Week?

A nerd-friendly guide to the magazine for the week of Nov. 16.

Image by Slate. Illustration by Charlie Powell.

Hey Slatesters,

I’m the perpetually undercaffeinated Jacob Brogan, and I write for Slate about technology and culture.

If you’ve read some of my past writing, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’m an unapologetic nerd. As I mentioned in an article a few weeks ago, I played Dungeons and Dragons as a kid (and I still do), so I loved Michael Witwer’s article on the influence of Gary Gygax, the game’s creator. Adapted from Witwer’s well-researched biography of Gygax, it proposes that D&D shaped more than the ways we play, informing the very structure of modern life. And Slate produced plenty of other great nerd-friendly content this week, including this review that has me pumped for Netflix’s forthcoming Jessica Jones and this gorgeous comic about Star Trek fan films.

For what it’s worth, though, my own writing this week wasn’t that nerdy: Still recovering from Future Tense’s terrific event on libraries last week (disclosure: that link has the second best disclosure I’ve ever written), I explored why companies that built their brands online are opening brick and mortar stores at a frantic pace. I also examined an app that lets you track elderly relatives through their Fitbits and helped share Slate’s solution for those times when you really don’t want to answer the phone. Would you like to know more? I write a newsletter once a week for Future Tense that’s full of stories by Lily Hay Newman, Will Oremus, and many others. Sign up, won’t you?

Elsewhere in Slate, read this searing and deeply reported investigation of the facilitated communication movement by David Auerbach. Political junkies should follow the money in Chris Kirk’s graphical audit of how super PACs are spending to influence the presidential primaries. (Make sure to watch it with the sound on.) And if you’re a fan of really gross stuff don’t miss Rachel Gross’ story about using saliva to heal wounds. Let me use this space to tell you that Rachel is an immaculate person in real life and would probably never spit on you.

Down in Lexicon Valley, Katy Waldman (author of the rightest thing ever published in Slate’s history) discussed antimeria, “a rhetorical device that repurposes a word as a different part of speech than usual.” In the dreamland that is The Drift, Mark Joseph Stern skeptically studied nocturnal emissions while Claire Landsbaum assured us that when our limbs fall asleep our body is actually trying to protect us. And though you’ve probably read it already, be sure to make time for Laura Moser’s thoughtful and funny essay on the time her toddler threw a tantrum in front of the president.

On a more somber note, I was so proud of the way my Slate colleagues covered the attacks in Paris last Friday. While it’s easy to be cynical about Internet journalism, they approached a very difficult story with deep compassion, appropriate caution, and dogged persistence. I’m grateful to them all.