In Slate’s Doctor Who TV Club, Mac Rogers discusses the Doctor’s travels via IM every week with the show’s bloggers and fans. This week he’s chatting about "Nightmare in Silver" with Frank Collins, who edits Cathode Ray Tube.
In the past couple weeks, in interviews with House and Senate staffers for the Republican leadership, there has been a depressing message: Nothing is going to get done for the next four years. Again and again, the same mantra could be heard. Partisanship and election jockeying for 2014 and 2016 is going to keep everything locked up.
Every weekend, Longform shares a collection of great stories from its archive with Slate. For daily picks of new and classic nonfiction, check out Longform or follow @longform on Twitter. Have an iPad? Download Longform’s app to read the latest picks, plus features from 70 of the world’s best magazines, including Slate.
“Being Amanda Berry: Our morbid fascination with the real-life tales of abducted girls,” by Emily Bazelon. Ordeals like Amanda Berry’s “are our gothic horror stories, our Bluebeards come to life,” and we often treat such events like sensational nightmares. Bazelon reminds us of the long journey Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight, Berry and her daughter all have ahead in recovering from such an experience.
In Dexter Filkins’ otherwise probing article in the May 13 New Yorker on the problem-from-hell that is Syria, Sen. John McCain fumes over the recent disclosure that all of President Obama’s top advisers—Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, and CIA director David Petraeus—had advised him to arm the Syrian rebels.
The idea that no story can be told except from one particular and limited point of view, that no two accounts of an event are ever the same, that our own memories can deceive and betray us has been at the center of many great documentaries. Nonfiction directors from Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line) to Andrew Jarecki (Capturing the Friedmans) have explored the ragged border between provable falsehoods and knowable truths, often ending their films on a note of epistemological ambiguity—how can we ultimately be sure that what we think we know is really what happened? Stories We Tell, the third feature film and first documentary from the 34-year-old Canadian actress-turned-director Sarah Polley, also pivots on the irreducible fact of narrative unreliability. But the “truth” Polley sets out to discover isn’t a legal or journalistic one—rather, she’s interested in the complex and conflicting truths about how her family members (specifically, her siblings and father) remember, understand, and live with a series of painful events from their shared past.
Earlier this week, Sir Alex Ferguson announced he’s retiring after 27 years as manager of the world’s most-famous club, Manchester United. In March 2012, Ferguson sat for a wide-ranging interview with Philippe Auclair for Issue Four of the Blizzard—the Football Quarterly. That interview is reprinted in full below. Slate recommends investing in a subscription to the Blizzard—a pay-what-you-like hard copy subscription also entitles you to free digital downloads of each issue. You can also pre-order Issue Nine, which will be released on June 3.
Update, May 10, 2013: On Friday afternoon, after this story had already been published, Jason Richwine resigned from the Heritage Foundation.
Should Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro get the death penalty? That option is now on the table, as the lead prosecutor in the case says he will bring aggravated murder charges for the miscarriages Castro allegedly forced on Michelle Knight, one of the three women rescued from Castro’s home this week after a decade of imprisonment. Castro is also being charged with rape and kidnapping for the abduction of Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus. One of the many sickening details of their captivity is the women’s report that Knight got pregnant five times, and that Castro starved her for weeks and beat her so she would miscarry.
This week the Pentagon released a survey estimating that the number of sexual assaults in the military jumped from 19,000 in 2010 to 26,000, just a few days after the Air Force officer in charge of sexual-assault-prevention programs was arrested for battery. The increase is especially distressing because rates of other violent crimes in the military are so much lower than in the civilian world.
Something remarkable happened on Thursday. Sony posted a profit. Not a particularly large one for a company its size, but a profit nonetheless: 43 billion yen in its just-ended fiscal year. It was the first profit for one of Japan’s iconic firms since 2008. The exact same day, the price of yen slipped below 100 to the dollar for the first time in years. And while the precise details of the timing are a coincidence, the trends are not. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to save his country’s economy seems to be working. His posture of bold, persistent experimentation—what Ben Bernanke once called “Rooseveltian Resolve” appears to be waking Japan’s long-stagnant economy from its slumber.
Sunday is Mother’s Day, when we celebrate the women who raised us, cradled us close, and supported us tenderly even when we failed spectacularly. That is, unless you were raised by a tiger mother, that demanding type of mom celebrated in Amy Chua’s 2011 best-seller. Are actual tigers as tough on their kids as Chua was?
A little while back, I was compiling a playlist of ’60s hits in Spotify. The song I started with was “This Diamond Ring,” a 1965 single by Gary Lewis and the Playboys. About 20 instances of the song showed up when I searched for it—some of them on Gary Lewis best-of collections, some on compilations like ’60s Jukebox Hits and 60 Hits of the 60s. Clicking on one at random, I soon noticed that something was off. The vocals sounded strange—was that even Gary Lewis singing? And the snare drum was a very upfront, ’80s-style THWACK, a sound created using “gated reverb,” a studio effect that didn’t exist in the ’60s.
Ariel Castro was charged Wednesday with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape in the Cleveland, abductions now dominating national news. Castro was a school bus driver from 1991 to 2012, during which time he was accused of domestic violence. Do they perform background checks on school bus drivers?
As a kid, I wanted desperately to be good at sports. This was not because I enjoyed playing them. I did not. It was because I’d learned that physical education classes were key to my social survival. I knew my failure to make a basketball hit the backboard would have ramifications throughout the school year. In anticipation, as each summer waned, I’d do drills in my backyard. I’d practice dribbling balls, swinging rackets, serving volleyballs over a tree branch.