Remember when Slate's counter-intuitive takes on news and culture were as intricate and considered as they were infrequent? Now it seems like every day there are at least two or three pieces like "Cancer Is Actually Pretty Great," "Cory Booker: Too Liberal For New Jersey," or "Blowjobs Are Just As Demeaning For The Recipient As They Are For The Giver." I guess you can blame the Internet and its insatiable thirst for content.
It's a perfectly reasonable Monday morning, people are going about their business, and blammo, Slate comes and makes a huge filthy mess of it with their bizarre ramblings about grapefruit. It's just not right.
"'Rewilding'—bringing elephants, cheetahs, and lions out of captivity to run free in parts of North America—could help save these megafauna from global extinction. More important, it would restore to the continent biological functions lost millenniums ago. The big guys would help stop the march of the pests and weeds—rats and dandelions—that will otherwise take over the landscape. And they would promote the natural processes that generate biodiversity." —Today is a good day to revisit the interesting idea that Josh Donlan wrote about six years ago: to populate the North American plains with African megafauna. Here's hoping the Siberian tiger is not one of the animals that [...]
Well, it is a little rankling to read about how Slate's Jacob Weisberg INVENTED THE INTERNET. Or, as he puts it, in a "we got new offices" profile of Slate, "We basically invented blogging." Which, okay, no, not really. But you know what? While investigating the historical record, we stumbled across this little bit of history from May 10, 2002, in an article headlined "APOCALYPSE IS UPON THE BLOGGERS OF THE WEB—OR IS IT?," by one Seth Mnookin, then a reporter at the New York Sun.
What were you doing over the Thanksgiving break, friend? Drinking? Eating? Pitying your one cousin who could have been totally cool if your aunt wasn't such a Christian whackjob? Of course you were-and good for you! That's what people do.
Me on the other hand, I'm not a person, I'm a vegan, from even before that neon green book came out. So I was doing what all vegans do when you sickos annually sacrifice poultry to long-dead Puritans: straight up fuming, about absolutely everything. Here's a fume about how hard it is to find grocery store stuffing that doesn't use chicken broth. There's a fume about how Lil Wayne [...]
Oh, by the way, we were being critical of one of the pieces in this Slate series about dentists, and while we disagree with some of it, also it is only fair to mention that the other recent pieces in the series-such as this, on the lives of dentists, and this, on the cost of dentistry, are fascinating. Apparently tomorrow brings the piece about the insane disparity in rich/poor dental care, which, yes please.
It does indeed, it has been brought to our attention, happen every year. In late July of 2001, just before irony died, David Plotz published a screed against August. (Let's do away with it, he suggested in Slate!) Plotz, a Slater since day one, is currently the editor. His piece against August is nearly as long-lived as he is! The next year it was recycled, and the next, and the next (with an NPR link added!), and then IT DISAPPEARED in 2005 for reasons unknown. It then was recycled in 2006, with a wee excerpt, and THEN, in 2007, it was reprinted in full, [...]
What's possibly in these "full syndication" deals for publications taking their material to other publications? We find most of them don't do us much good, with a few exceptions. (One good exception being partial syndication with some Huffington Post sections, particularly Business.) More and more, publications are throwing up their hands and just going with it. Syndication, once a brave act of sucking it all in for free, is now just the machines at work, folding the layer cake that is the Internet into itself over and over again. For example?
Today Slate publishes "A Death in Yellowstone: On the trail of a killer grizzly bear," an 8000-word investigation by Awl pal Jessica Grose about the search for “the Wapiti sow," a 250-pound grizzly bear implicated in the killing of two separate visitors to Yellowstone National Park in 2011. The story is both about the hunt for the bear and the larger implications of man's sometimes fatal interactions with nature. It's a remarkably compelling report that you absolutely need to read. Here's a brief conversation about the piece.
Jess Grose, I loved this report. But I am a confirmed bear aficionado. What drew you to the story?
Profound congratulations to Slate for finally stabbing to death its creaky, ancient, and very angry CMS. Called "Gutenberg," it was nearly as old as its namesake. The first rule of Media Club is: never build your own CMS. Someone will build it for you. Speaking of! Now someone is going to build me a Chrome extension to do for New Slate what "Ochs" does for the Times' site.
Writing 1100 words on the purported "GIF renaissance"-"the present-day GIF love goes beyond aesthetics and nostalgia. Animated GIFs aren't just throwbacks-they're uniquely suited to some very contemporary modes of cultural consumption, and they perform distinct functions that other formats can't"-seems like an awful lot of work in order to justify showing this GIF of Christina Hendricks' ass, but I've got to give it to the folks at Slate on this one: it's a pretty amazing ass. I mean, I'd much rather this than a contrarian piece on why Christina Hendricks' astounding ass really isn't one of the world's most phenomenal asses. Which was probably their [...]
Oh, look! Ha ha ha. Slate's been at it hard this last week with the counterintuitiveness. That's Slate's "thing," you know, much like there's always one guy at the dinner party whose "thing" is to go on and on about how Mein Kampf is "actually very lucid." Last week, the band Creed was good, instead of being unlistenable Jesus-growling for hockey moms. Then? Newspapers were fine! That's right, newspapers-those shuttering, bankrupt, decreasingly-staffed things everyone throws in the garbage as soon as they get to the top of the subway steps-"aren't doing as badly as you think." Hmmmmmmm.
Slate claims that no one wants to be a dentist anymore, and that everyone hates them because of the movies. (There may be some truth in that! But I think people hated them first. Mostly people hate them because people hate dental work and are suspect of anyone who would do it all day!) Says Slate: "during the 20th century's final decades, a dwindling number of Americans chose to become dentists. In the early 1980s, U.S. dental schools produced about 5,750 new graduates per year. In 2007, with a population that's nearly one-third larger, there were about 4,700." And that: "In 1980, the United States had 60 dental schools; [...]
My poor friend Dan Kois. Apparently he lost a big bet, and had to write a bizarre and maniacal Slate piece to prove that literally anything could be denounced in a counterintuitive Andy Rooney freakout. And here it is: "Tilting your seat back on an airplane is pure evil." His solution: don't bother replacing the seats, just outlaw people from reclining in them. AM I STILL ASLEEP UP HERE IN MY FULLY FLAT BUSINESS CLASS SEAT, IS THIS A SURREAL DREAM???
Exciting news for bibliophiles: Slate is launching the Slate Book Review, a monthly supplement "delivering reviews of the newest fiction and nonfiction; essays on reading, writing, and the great (and terrible) books of years gone by; author interviews; videos and podcasts; and much more." The first edition hits tomorrow, but if the pieces they've previewed so far ("Is Jonathan Franzen Too Sympathetic To His Female Characters?", "Huckleberry Finn: Two Schmucks on a Boat" and "Danielle Steel, American Proust") are any indication, this thing is going to be a rousing success.
We have such terrible metrics for judging websites! There's income, and there's traffic, and that's about it. But neither of those take into account burn rate, overall expenditure or organization size, just for starters. One way to look at things might be: unique visitors per month, divided by employees. Size of staff is something of a predictor of size of traffic, it turns out! If you have no staff, you cannot make the traffic, for one thing. Obviously there's a slight variable in this metric—which has to do with number of part-time contributors, freelance and marketing budgets and, of course, certainly at the big behemoth, unpaid contributors. Speaking of, [...]
Hand sanitizers don't do jack to protect you from the flu, says Slate. Bonus fun fact: "In 1847, Hungarian doctor Ignaz Semmelweis discovered that washing one's hands with chlorine between deliveries practically eliminated fatal infections among laboring women. (His colleagues ignored him and later committed him to a mental hospital, where he was beaten to death by guards.)"
So what purposefully counter-intuitive music article raised a lot of question marks for you yesterday?
Slate's Jonah Weiner writes a good piece about why music magazines are dying. Part of the problem is what they like to call "access": "When I profiled BeyoncÃƒÂ© for a 2006 Blender cover story, I was granted one hour to interview her and one hour to observe her at a video shoot. I stayed on the set for three hours, hoping to wring some lively detail from the mundane proceedings, until a bodyguard showed me the door. BeyoncÃƒÂ©'s mother, Tina, gave me a warm goodbye, then called a publicist to chew her out for letting me hang around so long and accused me of 'going through BeyoncÃƒÂ©'s underwear.' (I'd [...]