Greener Pastures

Baseball Dads, Miranda Rights, and the Tyranny of the Smile

Slate.com's Green Room - Sat, 06/22/2013 - 06:00

“Screen Capture: Traditional TV is unstoppable. Can YouTube ever beat it?” by Farhad Manjoo. Will YouTube rise to challenge TV’s long-held primacy? It just might. Manjoo claims that YouTube’s recent upgrades, which include personalized channels and a new “serving technology” that diminishes buffering, aim to vastly improve user experience. Like television, YouTube here to stay—and, as Manjoo claims, “none of us will ever get anything done.”

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Netroots Nation Is Not Surprised

Slate.com's Green Room - Fri, 06/21/2013 - 18:24

SAN JOSE, Calif.—Six summers ago, when the online left was weaker but more optimistic than it is today, a congressional candidate from the Seattle suburbs named Darcy Burner recorded a short video on a burning topic. The Democratic-run House of Representatives had just passed the Protect America Act of 2007. According to House Democrats, the law would bind down the National Security Agency and put an end to “wireless wiretapping.” According to the law’s detractors, it did nothing of the sort; on the contrary, it redefined electronic surveillance to liberate the agency from the FISA courts. Netroots Nation—then called “Yearly Kos,” after the blog that inspired the conference—was fairly brimming with anger over what the Democrats had done.

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Monsters University

Slate.com's Green Room - Fri, 06/21/2013 - 16:30

Pixar Studios has painted itself into a corner (though because it’s Pixar, it’s an adorable corner, surrounded by top-quality enamel paint). They’ve established a reputation for themselves as the animation studio of record, the place for state-of-the-art children’s entertainment that also reliably hits the sweet spot for adults. At their best, Pixar movies can realistically aspire to the status of lasting cinematic art. (We won’t quibble here about which of these movies should enter the pantheon—I’m a partisan of Ratatouille and the Toy Story trilogy myself.)

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Why Do Americans Have the Worst DVRs?

Slate.com's Green Room - Fri, 06/21/2013 - 16:23

It took a few minutes shy of forever to get to the end of Game 1 of hockey’s Stanley Cup Final, but at least for non-Bostonians, it was worth the wait. Four hours and 38 minutes after the game began, Andrew Shaw finally scored the winning goal to push the Chicago Blackhawks past the Boston Bruins in the third overtime. The game’s not-so-sudden death didn’t come quite quickly enough for one unlucky hockey watcher. As that anonymous fan explained on Reddit, adding an extra two hours to the end of his DVR recording seemed like a smart move. But in the end, those buffer hours left him just six seconds shy of seeing the winning goal. Ain’t that a puck in the teeth.

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Supreme Court 2013: The Year in Review

Slate.com's Green Room - Fri, 06/21/2013 - 14:55

Walter notes how far to the right the court has moved in recent years, and plenty of evidence backs him up. If you look at a standard ranking of justices by how conservative their votes are (and I am looking at the third column on Page 111 of The Behavior of Federal Judges, a recent book by by Lee Epstein, Bill Landes, and our Breakfast Table interlocutor Richard Posner), you will see that Thomas, Alito, Scalia, and Roberts are the second-, fourth-, fifth-, and 11th-most conservative justices since 1937. With Walter, I suspect that Alito will rise to the top when the data set is extended beyond 2009. O’Connor is No. 14, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Walter were right that her replacement with Alito moved the court further to the right.

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Supreme Court 2013: The Year in Review

Slate.com's Green Room - Fri, 06/21/2013 - 14:20

I agree that the Supreme Court’s opinions tend to be too long. The padding often muffles the meaning, and I also think it’s one reason journalists sometimes screw up in the instant of first reporting a major decision (as some infamously did when the Obamacare ruling came down last year, and after Bush v. Gore). Another reason the opinions lend themselves to error on a quick read: They don’t have clear headlines. Would it really kill the court to say at the top of the very first page: Hey, there are two parts to this ruling. The first part was decided 5–4. Here’s the breakdown of justices, and here’s what the majority said. The second part was 7–2, and ditto. On the other hand, maybe I’m arguing against my own interest here, since the current, more confusing, setup helps me justify my three years of law school. (Watch me blow it next week!)

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How Do You Say Shaolin in Sign Language?

Slate.com's Green Room - Fri, 06/21/2013 - 14:10

When Killer Mike took the stage last week at the Bonnaroo music festival, he spotted amid the crowd a white woman rapping along to his lyrics, shaking her body and contorting her face to the beat. The Atlanta rapper has his share of white, female fans, but he quickly realized this woman was different: Holly Maniatty wasn’t, in fact, a fan, but a sign language interpreter. Intrigued by her work, the rapper jumped down from the stage to the raised platform Maniatty shared with a colleague and started dancing with them. Curious just how far he could push his interpreter, he rapped every dirty word he could think of on the spot, picking up the speed of his flow to see if Maniatty could keep pace.

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The "Can Anyone Stop This Darn Immigration Bill?" Gabfest

Slate.com's Green Room - Fri, 06/21/2013 - 13:38

Become a fan of the Political Gabfest on Facebook. We post to the Facebook page throughout the week, so keep the conversation going by joining us there. Or follow us on Twitter: @SlateGabfest!

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Sculpting a Career in Fashion

Slate.com's Green Room - Fri, 06/21/2013 - 12:23

When I first contacted Alice Wu, she had just returned from a week of meetings with store buyers and fabric suppliers in Los Angeles, but she promised to get in touch with me soon. The following week, she was on the road for sales appointments in the Pacific Northwest. Ten days later, she wrote a warm, apologetic note from a cab en route to the airport; she was about to fly to Taipei, Taiwan, to visit family before returning for another week of promoting her Feral Childe brand. In fact, Wu is almost always going about the business of making and touting her surprising creations, but she still endeavors to do even more.

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Life Is Sweet

Slate.com's Green Room - Fri, 06/21/2013 - 12:19

In Virginia hunt country, 47 miles from Washington, D.C., you’ll find the town of Warrenton, population 9,735. On Main Street, across from the town library and next to the courthouse, there’s a small, refurbished filling station with a cherry-red pickup truck parked out front. This Norman Rockwell painting come to life is the work of Brian Noyes, 56, who, after more than 25 years in magazine publishing, decided to chuck it all in to start Red Truck Bakery.

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The Calling

Slate.com's Green Room - Fri, 06/21/2013 - 12:17

Saul of Tarsus’ path to sainthood began when a celestial light enveloped him on the road to Damascus. He heard Jesus’ voice, inaudible to his companions, saying: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” The conversion experience of Father James Martin was less dramatic. Once a corporate finance grunt, he came home one night after a particularly frustrating day at the office and flipped on the television. PBS was airing a documentary called Merton: A Film Biography, about Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk who had chucked his dissolute New York life to serve God in rural Kentucky. Onscreen, Merton’s face glowed with an otherworldly peace; Martin was so stressed and miserable at work that he regularly suffered stomach aches and migraines. “I still remember his expression, so much happier than the one I saw in the mirror every morning,” the priest [or Jesuit] recalls. “His life—the monastic life—seemed exotic, mysterious, romantic.”

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Nothing but Net

Slate.com's Green Room - Fri, 06/21/2013 - 12:11

Andy Enfield is one of those people who seems to succeed at everything he does. In high school, Enfield was his class valedictorian. In college, he set the NCAA career free-throw record at Johns Hopkins University by shooting an unheard-of 92.5 percent from the charity stripe. After earning his MBA, he started a business to teach his shooting technique, which led directly to his being hired as a shooting coach and then an assistant coach in the NBA. He then stepped away from coaching to work as a vice president at a fledgling health care technology firm, which is now reported to be worthwell over $100 million. Then he married a supermodel.

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The Barefoot Contessa’s Kissinger Connection

Slate.com's Green Room - Fri, 06/21/2013 - 11:49

If you’ve never seen an episode of The Barefoot Contessa, watch one as soon as possible. You don’t like cooking shows? Don’t let that stop you. The dishes featured on The Barefoot Contessa certainly look delectable—fun, flavor-packed, and achievable at home—but the show is as much about Ina Garten, the contessa herself, as it is about the food. The shows are filmed in Garten’s own kitchen in a converted barn on her spacious estate in East Hampton, N.Y., and she treats the viewer like a competent but underskilled apprentice, bantering light-heartedly as she walks us through each dish. It’s alluring, even entrancing: instruction disguised as entertainment, all presented with Garten’s sophisticated yet down-to-earth charm.

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Supreme Court 2013: The Year in Review

Slate.com's Green Room - Fri, 06/21/2013 - 11:17

Eric’s piece about the relative coherence of the liberal and conservative coalitions on the Supreme Court is very interesting, but I am inclined to question his statement that one “decidedly unfashionable” explanation for this “is that the conservatives (or some of them) genuinely care about, and disagree over, important matters of law.” I’m not sure that such an explanation is “unfashionable”; I imagine that most judges, lawyers, and law professors would say (though some with tongue in cheek) that Supreme Court justices “genuinely care about, and disagree over, matters of law,” though this may depend on what a matter of law is. My own view is that any statement in a judicial opinion is a matter of law. (That is the legal realist in me.)

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We Are All Someone Else’s Fleas

Slate.com's Green Room - Fri, 06/21/2013 - 11:13

It would have annoyed Jonathan Swift to know that posterity would think of him as an Irish writer, since he considered himself thoroughly English. Born in Ireland to English parents, brought up in Ireland and educated in England, it was his bad luck to be an outsider in both countries: an Irishman in England and an Englishman in Ireland. Forced to settle for a clerical post in Dublin, which he saw as a provincial backwater, Swift had plenty of time to brood on perspective. In 1726, he published the perspective-shifting masterpiece by which he is remembered, Gulliver’s Travels

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Good Guard, Bad Guard

Slate.com's Green Room - Fri, 06/21/2013 - 10:29

It’s June and hot outside and you head to the neighborhood pool for the day. The kids want to swim and you just want to be doing nothing for a while. Everyone files through the gate as you scan for an open lounge chair and your friends. The kids have sunscreen on, you have your book, and yes—Mike is the lifeguard on duty. You like Mike. He’s a good kid and always nice to yours and he doesn’t tolerate too much funny business. He’s been a lifeguard here for three seasons now, he’s Red Cross certified, and you have seen him in action. With cat-like reflexes and keen eyes, Mike has yanked more than his share of nonswimming kids out of the deep end. “Why don’t their parents watch them more closely?” you think. Then you crack open your book as your strong-swimming kids head into the pool under the watchful eye of good old Mike.

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Supreme Court 2013: The Year in Review

Slate.com's Green Room - Fri, 06/21/2013 - 09:24

Emily, thank you for having me back again. It has now been more than a decade since I hit the “send” button on my first piece in this Slate Supreme Court dialogue. I guess I have written more than 100 posts in that time and I shudder to think how many ill-considered snap judgments of mine still lurk in cyberspace. I’m nonetheless looking forward to being in a discussion this coming week with you and the esteemed Posners père and fils. 

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Mandating Scientific Discovery Never Works

Slate.com's Green Room - Fri, 06/21/2013 - 06:30

I’m often asked what the “next big breakthrough” in physics will be. My answer is always the same: “If I knew, I would be working on it right now!” By the same token, politicians cannot determine in advance what discoveries will be important any more than the scientists themselves can.

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Skyjacker of the Day

Slate.com's Green Room - Fri, 06/21/2013 - 06:15

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the United States suffered through a skyjacking epidemic that has now been largely forgotten. In his new book, The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking, Brendan I. Koerner tells the story of the chaotic age when jets were routinely commandeered by the desperate and disillusioned. In the run-up to his book’s publication on June 18, Koerner has been writing a daily series of skyjacker profiles. Slate is running the final dozen of these “Skyjacker of the Day” entries.

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Play the Slate News Quiz

Slate.com's Green Room - Fri, 06/21/2013 - 04:45

Welcome back to Slate’s weekly news quiz. I’m your host, 74-time Jeopardy! winner Ken Jennings.

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