The Weekly Wrap

Dec 14 2012 @ 10:30pm

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Friday on the Dish, we sadly followed the horrifying school shooting in Connecticut, covering the initial reports, then hearing from a reader who noted the difference between the shooting here and another school-attack in China, while other readers later elaborated on how the Chinese try to counter such violence. We also watched Obama's emotional press conference, rounded up commentary from across the blogosphere, published many readers' responses to the tragedy, and thought it would be a good night to feature a beautiful poem about children by Rainer Maria Rilke. Also, our Faces Of The Day are in the above photo, taken from one of the last tweets sent by Dawn Hochsprung, the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School who was among those killed.

In other coverage, Andrew finally saw Zero Dark Thirty and reported that not only was the film not an apology for torture, it was in fact a compelling indictment of the Bush adminstration's war crimes as well, crimes that include the torture Khaled El-Masri received at the hands of the CIA. Andrew was also relieved to hear Obama did not seem interested in messing with Washington and Colorado's newly-legal weed.

In political coverage, Julia Preston checked in on the continuing pressure Obama faces over DOMA now that SCOTUS has taken the case, Erica Grieder told us why Texas doesn't yet have civil unions for same-sex couples, Stan Collender expected us to fall off the fiscal cliff, and Ezra believed that the White House was honestly seeking a deficit deal, while TPM reiterated that yes, Obama has a mandate in negotiations — though Douthat doubted the fiscal cliff would lead to any grand bargain.

In assorted coverage, Shafer dreaded the oncoming end-of-the-year listgasm, Michael C. Moynihan reflected on his expose of Jonah Lehrer, Chana Joffe-Walt examined Lego's dominance through quality control, Tim Heffernan introduced us the increasingly high-tech deer-hunting industry, and a reader contributed another story to our thread about sudden heroism, while other readers added their thoughts on the ways we can micro-pay for online content. We also explored why a new climate change report was leaked by one of its deniers, learned that paper towels were the most hygienic option for drying our hands, and admired a foggy morning in the Pacific Northwest through the VFYW.

The rest of the week is after the jump:

The headbutting king

Thursday on the Dish, Andrew differentiated his opposition to affirmative action from his support for marriage equality, ripped apart the bizarre reasoning of Justice Scalia's anti-gay statements, responded to the European Court of Human Rights' decision in favor of a former CIA-detainee, and raged against the GOP's filibuster abuse and "legislative terrorism".

In political coverage, readers rejected Andrew's federalist idealism on marriage equality, Mike Kinsley made a counter-intuitive argument for right-to-work laws, Larison expected 2014 to magnify the GOP's denial, Jacob Sullum looked at the DUI ramifications of legal weed, and Gary Gates gave us his analysis of how gays delivered the election for Obama, an assertion readers later disputed. Speaking of the election, Phllip Klein reminded Republicans that they lost (earning himself an Yglesias nod), while Robert Kuttner noted the judge deficit on the federal bench, Balko had trouble finding out how many people get killed by the police, John B. Judis believed taxing the rich might prevent them from damaging the economy, Razib Kahn suggested more fertility-freezing as a way to reduce health care costs, and Michael C. Moynihan explained how his only regret about Draw Mohommad Day was that not enough people participated. We also tried to figure out what the GOP would want to cut, discovered how much illegality adds to the cost of drugs, and our popular letters from millennials thread expanded to include the views of Generation X.

In international coverage, we came to better understand Cambodia's car-racing problem, and Steve Coll thought through the complicated situation facing Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. In assorted coverage, Hunter Oatman-Stanford told us the nautical history of tattoos, Hamish McKenzie explored the micropayment options available to content providers, Paul Campos tracked the decline of law-school applications, Alyssa wished female fantasy-authors could keep their names, and Creative Review highlighted an ingenious ad campaign using faux self-shots. Readers chimed caroled in with their thoughts on how best to express our season's greetings, while we finally located the news that Google had put an end to the Apple Mapocalypse, learned not to eat at our desks for a reason other than crumbs, examined new research into the gene "instructions" which may cause the trait of homosexuality, and watched the "head-butting king of the world" take on some honeydew. DMX knew the most famous reindeer of all in our MHB, Copts prayed for Egypt in our FOTD, and it was a sunny afternoon in Arizona through the VFYW.

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Wednesday on the Dish, Andrew laid out his ideal fiscal cliff solution, noting that he now believes an additional stimulus should be included. He also continued to take on the torture in Zero Dark Thirty's plot, pointed out that Obama definitely has a mandate to wield against the GOP on tax rates, spoke with Carl Swanson about adjusting to NYC, and stood by his Federalist ideals — even when it came to marriage equality.

In political coverage, we published more letters from millennial voters, this time weighing in on their generation's economic and employment concerns, while other readers responded to Mitch Daniels' Federalism, R.M. reminded us how little an effect tax rates or the Medicare eligibility age will actually have on the debt, Michael "pre-chalkboard" Moynihan reviewed Glenn Beck's business prowess, and Bouie and Bernstein wondered if the GOP could get by with only a superficial makeover. Also, David Frum pwned Marc Thiessen, Dylan Matthews suggested more sensible "scheduling" of illegal drugs, Aaron Carroll did a life-expectancy reality check regarding the Medicare eligibility age discussion, and we again considered the economics of having children, as well as tried to guess which SCOTUS judges were itching to take on Prop 8. Looking overseas, Millman dismissed any possible one-state solution for Israel and Palestine, Melanie Kirkpatrick reported on the setup of North Korea's underground railroad, and the (translated) Prime Minster of Cambodia supported gay and lesbian speed-limit adherence.

In assorted coverage, Mark Hertsgaard sounded the alarm over climate change's impact on wheat, Bill Nye proved climate change was real, a reader pushed back on the idea of micropayments for journalism, Roben Farzad broke down the success of the fund manager Vanguard, Penn Jillette defended the use of "Happy Holidays", and Judith Shulevitz worried about the fewer years parents who delay having kids will be able to give those kids once they become adults. Vaclav Smil debunked the dream of the electric car, Laura Beck called out Weight Watchers for being ineffective, Louis Menand offered his take on the prevalence and importance of homework, Kirsten Hively explained the magic of classic neon signs (and hoped we would help her preserve them), and more readers wrote in to join our Roid Age discussion about the modern bodies of men and women. We also aired more debate about the prospects of tablet-only journalism, discovered that algorithms have biases, and loved to hate how well a toilet handled not only hot dogs, but a surprisingly-specific number of chicken nuggets. Buzzfeed rounded up the year in perfectly-timed photographs in our MHB, Dick Butkus went to Washington in our FOTD, and it was pleasant in Pleasanton through the VFYW.

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By Win McNamee/Getty Images

Tuesday on the Dish, Andrew anticipated the first papal tweet, responded to Dan Savage's debunking of the idea of "normal" sex, went another round rejecting the possible use of torture as a plot device in Zero Dark Thirty (which he'll be seeing later this week), and asked readers to help us decide what we should ask the wonderful David Kuo.

In political coverage, Mitch Daniels defended Washington and Colorado's federalism, Bruce Bartlett summed up the latest GAO debt report, Michael C. Moynihan highlighted some libertarian insights regarding climate change, Masket and Drum offered a rosier assessment of Democrats' 2014 chances, and Glenn Beck earned an Yglesias nod for wanting to keep government out of marriage. We also aired some pushback from Larison and Greg Scoblete on Beinart's assertion that Obama is deliberately "standing back" on the mess in Israel, examined voters' anxieties over the secrecy of their ballots, again explored Obama's drug policy dilemma(s), and posted some reader rejections to Andrew's connection of gay marriage to legal weed. Our thread of letters from millennial readers continued as well, this time weighing in on the costs of higher education. In international coverage, Nathan Brown and Ellis Goldberg debated the importance of Egypt's constitution, Dan Trombly doubted the efficacy of Assad's chemical weapons in preserving his rule, and Kevin Hartnett celebrated the addition of deaf camera-watchers to a Mexican police force.

In assorted coverage, we marveled at a new gravity-powered light, a kind of innovation Andrew found very promising, though readers later wrote in to let us know it wasn't exactly gravity that made the light run. Also, readers suggested micropayments as an alternative to journalism paywalls/meters, Alastair Bland worried about our over-reliance on GPS devices, Pareene appreciated the parent-friendly boozing of cruise-ship vacations, Louis C.K. was a magazine-interview anti-hero, Ian Crouch considered how difficult it was to adapt a novel into a film, and Clay Risen explained the history of the anti-Santa Claus (an "evil, goat-horned spirit" named Krampus).We had a lot of fun going through readers' answers to this week's VFYW contest, heard about the development of high-tech, practically invisible condoms, listened to some landscape architects' complaints about 9/11's effect on the National Mall, and we continued our Roid Age thread with some feminist perspectives from readers. Nicola Twilley reported on what it's like to work in refrigerated warehouses, Emma Komlos-Hrobsky tried to avoid worshipping the myth of Sylvia Plath, biographer Jonathan Bate was intimidated by the letters of John Keats, Rachel Sagner Buurma shared the history of epigraphs, William Hudson helped us get more meat in our burrito bowls at Chipotle, and David Thomson reviewed a new film that documents a woman's death that somehow no one noticed for three whole years. Lastly, Snoop Dogg Lion battled Santa Claus in our MHB, we checked in on Michigan's Right-To-Work fight in our FOTD, and we visited Scotland in the VFYW.

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Minneapolis, Minnesota, 5 pm

Monday on the Dish, Andrew criticized the possible use of a torture-lie plot-device in Zero Dark Thirty, responded to British conservatives' backing of marriage equality, and joined readers to discuss the maddeningly-high tolerance for Republican quitters. Andrew and others also wondered if the GOP could improve its image by opposing weed prosecutions, and he additionally took on Kleiman over federal drug enforcement and pot dependancy.

In political coverage, Charlie Cook previewed Democrats' poor prospects for 2014, Michael C. Moynihan tried to debunk the anarchist-straw-man argument against libertarianism, a reader identified DADT and DOMA as historical growing pains, and we featured more letters from millennial voters, this time defending the generation from naysayers, as well as making us aware of the slightly-older voters whose childhoods lacked an "overarching boogeyman" to oppose. Suderman and Ezra debated a return to Clinton-era spending limits, Beinart explained Obama's "standing back" policy with regards to Israel, McKibben took on Hillary for her possibly unethical support of the Keystone XL Pipeline, and if Obama goes after legal weed, Pareene advised drug reformers to wield a new litmus test for political candidates. We also rounded up more reactions to Friday's SCOTUS decision to take up marriage equality and DOMA, tried to figure out if Obama would raise the Medicare eligibility age, and discovered that not only is Dick Morris always wrong, he's likely a con artist too. Looking overseas, we tracked the developments in Egypt's political crisis, as well as reviewed the country's democratic chances, while Eyal Weizman detailed Israel's use of "teaser bombs" to clear targets of civilians before larger airstrikes, and Kay Hymowitz examined how Sweden may be suppressing women's careers with the very policies they designed to enable them.

In assorted coverage, we collected the best new commentary on journalism meters and paywalls, Josh MacPhee and Nick Carr considered Kickstarter's fee structure, Paul Gabrielsen explored the use medical maggots, Wesley Law photographed bales of donated clothing, and another reader shared their experience being a sudden hero, this time at the beach. Readers also responded to toy companies' gender neutral marketing, while Scott Adams dreamt of a better to-do app and Devin Leonard looked at the rise of luxury home-healthcare. Slavoj Žižek hated Gangnam Style to earn himself a poseur alert, video game characters died dumbly in our MHB, there was ample snowfall through our Minnesota VFYW, and we met a few of India's hidden drug users in our FOTD. The weekend wrap is here.

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By David Ryder/Getty Images

Last weekend on the Dish, Andrew riffed on SCOTUS and gay marriage while nominating George Will for an Yglesias Award, meditated on Christianity and death, told the GOP to read John Stuart Mill, and noted a charming anecdote about jazz legend Dave Brubeck.

In matters of faith, doubt, and philosophy, Nick Olson deciphered the religious meaning of The Life of Pi, Morgan Meis learned from St. Francis of Assisi, Patrick Jarenwattananon covered the religious side of Dave Brubeck, Mary Karr told us how she prays, the LDS launched a new website about being gay and Mormon, and Nick Cave turned to the Bible for great love songs. Costica Bradatan argued that philosophy is a way of life, Susan Jacoby profiled the 19th century secularist Robert Green Ingersoll, Thomas Beller considered photography and memory, Edward Shorter highlighted the difficulty in diagnosing personality disorders, and Robin Hemley asked about the persistence of curses.

In literary coverage, Zoë Heller eviscerated Salmon Rushdie's new memoir, Lydia Kiesling reviewed Kurk Vonnegut's letters, Ben Zimmer detailed how the Oxford English Dictionary helped Tony Kushnerwrite Lincoln, and Tina Rosenberg recounted the true story of British spy novelist Dennis Wheatley. Helen Vendler worried that Ive League admissions systematically exclude artists and writers, Henri Cole pondered the relationship between selfishness and writing, Silas House revealed his writing habits, and Faith Barrett described poetry's role in the Civil War. Read Saturday's poem here and Sunday's here.

In assorted news and views, Ricardo Cortés discussed the secret history off coffee and coca, Rachel White reported on the rise of red state surrogate mothers who carry children for gay couples, Emma Marris explained the uptick in liberal urban hunters, Debbie Nathan explored the nudist origins of the ACLU's defense of sex acts, and John Davis taught pot entrepreneur's about banking. Alyssa Rosenberg found the truth in a viral video about gender roles, Maria Popova praised John Homans' new book about dogs, G. Murphy Donovan held that proper meals hold civilization together, and James Flynn dissected how retirement might impact IQ. Check out another Bill McKibben "Ask Anything" video here, MHBs here and here, FOTDs here and here, VFYWs here and here, and the latest window contest here.

- C.D. & M.S.