The Weekly Wrap


(Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Friday on the Dish, Andrew cut to the heart of Lance Armstrong’s maliciousness, which was not the athlete’s doping but his vicious campaign against those brave enough to speak the truth. He reflected on David Remnick’s latest dispatch from Israel and discussed with readers his reaction to Jon Stewart’s interview with Zero Dark Thirty’s lead-actress Jessica Chastain. Elsewhere, Andrew gaped at the latest conspiracy theory from the far right and picked apart Piers Morgan’s rather suspect claim to represent journalism before pre-empting the talk show host’s next insult in today’s Angry Bird Watch.

In political coverage, we assembled reax to the news of a freshly raised debt ceiling, debated the importance of Obama’s inaugural speech, and shook our head as the GOP picked a strange location for their upcoming meeting on minorities. Gopnik expressed optimism regarding America’s gun problems, Mike Riggsenriched Rolling Stone’s list of famous prohibitionists, Phil Plait refuted a persistent trope of global warming skeptics, and a reader clarified the government’s role in informing the makers of Zero Dark Thirty. We heard from other readers who didn’t sympathize with Aaron Swartz’s means to free up information, while the young man’s trial led us to scrutinize the rationale behind plea bargaining as Balko showed how overbearing laws enable overbearing prosecutors.

On the foreign beat, we rounded up reactions to French intervention in Mali, as Marc Lynch repeated his view that a similar operation by the US in Syria would be a quagmire, which Waldman demonstrated by tallying up the costs of 136 months in Afghanistan.

In miscellanea, we met gold medalist Nicole Cooke, a cyclist whose accomplishments served a noble cause rather than an ego trip, collected some reader thoughts on the curious case of Manti Te’o, as Mona Gable wrestled with the likelihood of inheriting a family illness. Helen Rittelmeyer saw flashes of Dostoyevsky in Arrested Development, readers fact-checked an old story about the origin of the piggy bank, and we zeroed in on the human body’s smelly allele.

After the Dish earned a hat tip from Roger McNamee, we wondered if Heaven is here online, before John Tooby gave us a stellar reason to lose sleep tonight. We also tracked further developments in online-education, observed the self-correcting tendency of science, as Nilofer Merchant thought up ways to avoid the health risks of prolonged sitting. An Indonesian businessman trudged through flood water in the Face of the Day, we sang the blues of a hound dog during the MHB, watched the clouds rush over Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and spent a moment with a brave reader in Chicago during today’s VFYW.

– B.J.

The rest of the week after the jump:

Dad's Flight Crew

Thursday on the Dish, Andrew tried to make sense of the Daily Show’s recent segment on Zero Dark Thirtyexpressed his disgust with the double standards of the DOJ, and called out the MSM for not quizzing McChrystal on his alleged involvement in torture. Andrew kept pushing Dreher on the normalization of pot and stood by Goldblog as he faced slander from left and right. He also answered more reader emails about Jodie Foster’s speech, assured heterosexual readers that they understand more about gay love than they know, and nodded in approval at a sexy gallery of beards.

In political coverage, we gathered a stack of reader emails about the NRA’s latest ad and rounded up reax on Obama’s ideas for sensible gun reform. We then charted the recent rightward drift of the GOP, traced the decline of cap-and-trade, and looked ahead at the future of the abortion debate. Douthat issued a word of wisdom to both Democrats and Republicans comfortable with the ongoing brinkmanship, offered a two-part reality check on both Obama’s favorables and party alignment since the election, assessed the current gains and losses for labor in a world of runaway technology, and cringed at a WSJ cartoon feeling sorry for wealthy people paying a little bit more in taxes.

We also surveyed a horrifying week’s worth of grinding violence in Syria, poked a hole in the logic behind persecuting Bradley Manning, and Jonnie Freedland expertly analyzed the disconnect between American and European understanding of anti-Semitism.

In assorted coverage, we wondered how the media botched the Manti Te’o story and tried to size up Te’o’s own role in the mess. James Wolcott suited up with digital trackers during exercise, Alex Klein chronicled Scientology’s latest shameful scheme, and readers voiced strong thoughts regarding Jon Brodkin’s piece on the future of broadband. We aired the dispute over Amazon’s trickle-down partnerships, discovered a non-boozy use for the breathalyzer, and spotted heavy fracking activity from space. Later we fleshed out a reader’s story about his war hero father, got lost in a purple trance during the MHB, and spent a crisp moment in Burlington, Vermont for today’s VFYW. Finally, we continued our direct discussion with readers about the future pay-meter of the new Dish, which you can still become a part of here.

Wednesday on the Dish, Andrew pursued the larger implications of “native ads” after The Atlantic’s apology for its Scientology spot. He digested Kathryn Bigelow’s remarks on Zero Dark Thirty’s veracity, and asked her whether she appreciates all the praise from torture-mongers like Hannity. Disgusted by Egyptian President Morsi’s unearthed remarks on Isrealis, Andrew lamented the effect of the Hagel smears on calling out real anti-Semitism. He also took on more readers for his criticism of Jodie Foster, and introduced us to his friend Norma Holt.

In political coverage, we assessed both the past and future of Obama’s debt-ceiling strategy and wondered whether the return of pork might satisfy Congress’s appetite for progress. Frum and Tomasky counted the ways the NRA blew their latest anti-Obama ad, but not without some pushback from readers. Meanwhile, Jamelle Bouie wasn’t ready to count the South out of politics, Drum took his lead-crime argument all the way to the question of race and Yglesias pondered the economic effects of a super-sleep drug.

On the foreign beat, we looked at why Malians are supporting French boots on their ground, Michael J. Totten weighed the benefits of monarchy against democracy, and Liam Hoare traced the latest spat over the Falkland Islands. Also, we studied Israel’s increasing drift to the right and remembered a time when American cities looked quite a bit like smoggy Beijing.

In assorted coverage, we reflected on the real crux of the Lance Armstrong scandal, figured out what to make of Coke’s fresh ad campaign, and promised that this video from NASA will keep you glued to the screen. Trevor Butterworth envisioned the death of punditry in the new era of automated content analysis, as Tom Vanderbilt explored the streaks of bigotry in Google search queries. Rebecca Greenfield waxed pessimistic about Amtrak’s WiFi overhaul while Aymar Jean Christian downplayed the potential for web series to innovate TV.

While Shalom Auslander struggled to reconcile his rabbis loving words with his awful deeds, Rebecca J. Rosen glanced at the new biggest object in the universe. We witnessed film critics and skateboarders overcome their blindness, and Freddie searched the English language for the singular “their.” We trekked up to Fairbanks, Alaska for today’s VFYW, watched an old game take on a new rhythm in the MHB, and had to tip our hat to The New York Post’s penchant for black comedy.


Tuesday on the Dish, Andrew recoiled at The Atlantic’s egregious Scientology advertorial, voiced his discomfort at the dark side of “native advertising” in general, and made note of one crucial Hagel endorsement. He agreed with Blake Hounshell about the perils of withdrawing from Afghanistan but urged a stoic departure in the face of danger. Andrew also responded to more reactions over his critique of Jodie Foster’s coming-out, turned up the pressure on Dreher’s agnosticism on pot legalization, and joined George Packer in bemoaning Dixie’s long-term effects on the GOP.

In political overage, Bill McKibben singled out climate change as an exponentially worsening policy problem, while we brought some of the nuances of climate change debate into focus and tried to measure the effects of NYT’s shaking up its environment desk. The US manufacturers’ lobby ended up buying Chinese while Llewellyn Hinkes-Jones shined a light on the seedy business of incarceration. We glanced at the scoreboard of the debt ceiling standoff and made use of a handy death-calculator to look at the Supreme Court’s future.

Later we read a first hand account of the human aspect to the drug war and walkedthrough the average day of an addict in the city. We were also pleased to help circulate the petition to unseat Aaron Swartz’s prosecutor, and we rubbed our eyes in disbelief at a sober, reasoned exchange on gun control. Looking abroad, Evan Osnos coped with some particularly bad air in Beijing, we took Tunisia’s post-authoritarian temperature, and watched U.S. guns spike the homicide rate in Mexico.

In miscellania, Tim De Chant reimagined local newspaper coverage while Martyn Daniels revealed that Ebooks hovers over our shoulders as we read. Alyssa Rosenberg praised FX for shows’ honesty about the modern male and Erika Christakis reviewed proper sneezing etiquette. We enjoyed The Onion’s red carpet realism, confirmed the toxicity of comment sections, and discovered that the metric system may rest on shaky ground. We peeked into a garden in Cardiff by the Sea, California, surveyed the south of France from Mirepoix in announcing this week’s VFYW winner, pulled quite a stunt during the MHB, and welcomed nightfall with a poem by Catherine Barnett.


Monday on the Dish, Andrew denounced the undue viciousness of Aaron Swartz’s prosecutor at DOJ, and wondered whether academic literature could be made a public good. He applauded Matt Stone and Trey Parker breaking free of Hollywood studios and called out Jodie Foster on her narcissistic coming-out speech at the Golden Globes. He chided Dreher and Frum on their arguments to shield the poor from pot, continued to ruminate on the legacy of Richard Nixon and sang the praises of DC bear culture. Elsewhere he urged popular opposition to the GOP’s ongoing economic terrorism, which will likely earn them the scorn­ of the public.

In political coverage, we questioned whether or not guns are a safeguard against Big Brother and circled back to Drum’s original evidence connecting lead and crime. We juxtaposed two quotes in which a former member of the Knesset sighedat Israel’s swing to the right while an American senator called Israel our hands-down greatest ally. Seth Masket joked about Obama’s vulnerability on intergalactic defense, readers sounded off on Anne Lowrey’s unkind portrait of the nation’s capital, and we revisited the data about movies and violence in light of Tarantino’s recent outburst on the subject.

In assorted coverage, we compared the hazards of driving drunk to driving stoned, got a taste of the power of tea in Pakistan, and revealed the one word that will burn Brits’ grits. We remained diligent about flu vaccination, and kept up with the debate over the benefits of bare feet while running. Jane Shilling argued that power of the Internet would make Socrates glow, while Geoffrey Nunberg saw Amazon users’ book annotations as a window into their collective consciousness.

Meanwhile, we rounded up some more insightful reader reax to impending Dish independence, followed a famed photographer duo as they scouted locations via Twitter, all as the great showdown between mutant ducks and tiny horses raged on. An old MHB received an update from a talented music class, while we gazed over the red rooftops of Malacca, Malaysia in the VFYW and watched the doors of a health clinic close on the Face of the Day.


Last weekend on the Dish, Andrew castigated Piers Morgan’s “dumb, disgusting desperation” and defended Washington, DC, from its condescending critics. We also provided our customary coverage of religion, books, and culture, high, low, and in-between.

In matters of faith, doubt, and philosophy, David Bryant elaborated on faith in an unknowable God, Mark Galli meditated on grace and parenting, and Casey Cep remembered the idiosyncratic Christianity of Reynolds Price. John Jeremiah Sullivan considered his secular appreciation of gospel music, Lorin Stein praised the understanding God of Psalm 139, and Justin Erik Haldór Smith ruminated on the unlikely places he finds God. Jim Shepard thought about Flannery O’Connor and epiphanies, Richard Feynman riffed on the beauty of a flower, and Daniel Baird wondered just what justice requires.

In literary and arts coverage, David Mikics uncovered how Emerson and Freud compete for Harold Bloom’s soul, Greg Olear argued that Nick Carraway of The Great Gatsby was gay, and Anthony Paletta detailed Oscar Wilde’s trip to America. Rebecca Lemon showed how Shakespeare deployed alcohol in his plays, James Hall traced the difficulties the artist Raphael poses for biographers, Emily Elert highlighted the experiences for which English has no word, and Marcy Campbell plumbed her book club for insight into today’s literary market. Megan Garber found a novel in your outbox, Michael Thomsen was disappointed by drug writing’s inability to capture the psychadelic experience, readers continued our thread on fonts, and Stephen Marche believed the art bubble might be ready to pop. Read Saturday’s poem here and Sunday’s here.

In assorted news and views, a Dish reader honored the activist and polymath Aaron Swartz, Joshua Coen appreciated the public beauty of Central Park, and Dave Bry earned an Yglesias nomination for his thoughts on Chief Keef’s latest album. The White House dashed the hopes of Star Wars fans, Daven Hiskey let down drinkers who think booze can keep them warm, and Devendra Banhart narrated the story of a great and crazy soul singer. Julian Baggini theorized why Nespresso won a taste-test, Gregory Ferenstein offered a cautionary tale about Wikipedia, Jon Brodkin reported on satellite companies providing broadband Internet access, and Derek Workman mused on the vagaries of foosball in a flat world.

We asked the Leveretts anything here and here. MHBs here and here, FOTDs here and here, VFYWs here and here, and the latest windown contest here.

– B.J. & M.S.