The Slatest for Aug. 22: Who Will Try to Fill the Trump-Sized Hole at Wednesday’s Debate?

Vivek Ramaswamy speaks, holding a microphone in one hand and gesturing with his other hand.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Tomorrow’s first GOP debate promises to be a strange one. The top contender for the nomination, four-times-indicted former president Donald Trump, will not be participating. Instead, his sit-down with Tucker Carlson will air at the same time, which you can watch on the platform formerly known as Twitter.

So who should we be keeping an eye on? Nitish Pahwa makes the case for closely tracking Vivek Ramswamy, the 38-year-old running with no political experience, but plenty of desire to emulate Trump. We’ll see how it plays out on the big stage, starting at 9 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday.

A photo illustration of Donald Trump and lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell looking at a computer; in the image, the letter Q shows up on the computer, in dialogue bubbles, and on a notepad.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images, Mario Tama/Getty Images, Alex Wong/Getty Images, and Getty Images Plus.

What do Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell have in common? Both were once well-respected lawyers. Both have now been indicted alongside Donald Trump in Georgia. And, as Ben Mathis-Lilley puts it, “they are both members of the baby boom generation who exemplify its disproportionate willingness to read and share completely made-up things on the internet.” Let’s look back at how we got here.

Space lasers cutting through a copse of trees and starting fires.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Getty Images Plus.

In the aftermath of the devastating Maui fires that destroyed so much of the island, an old conspiracy theory is back. “The space laser conspiracy theory holds, in various iterations, that some of the deadliest fires in recent history were ignited by a villainous shadow entity—sometimes it’s the government; sometimes it’s elites,” writes Molly Olmstead. She unpacks why so many people feel compelled by such a theory.

Earlier this month, something weird happened in Marion, Kansas: the cops raided the newspaper offices of the Marion Record, and the home of the owner—and the very next day, the owner herself dropped dead. Dan Kois talked to her son to get the story behind the story.

People used to die in random plane crashes due to strange mechanical failures all the time back in the day (in the 1990s). Now, no one has died in a weird plane failing since 2009. Dan Kois (he’s a man of many talents) takes a look at what used to be, and what we have coming for us.

And it sure takes a lot of energy to make a brick. That’s the wisdom coming from a builder reporter Henry Grabar spoke with about why stone housing is coming back.

Thanks so much for reading, and we’ll see you tomorrow!