Slate has a regular piece called Explainer, subtitled “Answers to your questions about the news.”

A while back, they apparently lost their Explainer and asked for applications for a replacement. As part of the application, they requested that you submit a list of 10 sample questions to be explained.

Now, I have no real general journalism experience - most of what I’ve done is technical writing of one form or another. So I’m not a particularly good candidate for this position. But I thought I’d give it a shot. Here is the list of 10 sample questions I submitted on March 17, all based on topical news items:

  • Do banks report transactions under $10,000 to the feds?
  • Is Tibet an occupied country or an Autonomous Region of China?
  • Why do cranes collapse?
  • How do you get this free money from the Fed?
  • What’s so bad about a weak dollar?
  • Who are the superdelegates and what are their superpowers?
  • Am I required to put my hand over my heart when the National Anthem is playing?
  • Is Scientology a religion?
  • What’s so bad about melting glaciers?
  • Is pancreatic cancer deadly or not?

Well, I didn’t get the job, and of course, I didn’t get a response, but today I see this article in Slate Explainer: Why Do Cranes Fall Down?.

I guess the reason I didn’t get the job was that I only had one article worth ripping off. If there had been five or six, I’d be explaining away at Slate as we speak!