The Weekly Wrap


Friday on the Dish, we were up in the early hours following the shooting at Cambridge, MA that quickly moved into nearby Watertown and turned into a showdown between the perpetrators and the police. We stood by as information trickled in, until the suspects were eventually revealed to be the Boston bombers, the Tsarnaev brothers. After one of them was killed and the dust settled temporarily, we hoped the policed could catch the other alive for full questioning.

As more became known about the brothers’ religious fascination, Andrew tried to figure out their homegrown brand of stoner jihadism (with reader pushback) and we started to look into what their Chechen connection might mean. We heard from a reader who knew the younger bother at large, Dzhokhar, and pointed toward his Twitter account.

By the afternoon we were asking whether Boston and Cambridge should be put through total lockdowns to catch the remaining bomber, and continued processing the religious factor. Christopher Dickey, Eli Lake and Daniel Klaidman researched where the pair could have gotten the materials to pull off these attacks while Philip Bump explained how they became citizens.

News broke in the evening of a final standoff between Dzhokhar and the police after authorities found him in hiding in a boat parked in a Watertown resident’s backyard. Before long he was taken alive.

In commentary and analysis, Toobin doubted that we can effectively guard against this kind of lone-wolfism, Lt. Col. Robert Bateman advised against vigilante videotaping of shootouts, and Julianne Hung warned about indiscriminate blacklash against Muslims in light of a beating in Massachusetts this week. Ben Smith explained the basis of paranoia from the brothers’ parents and vocal aunt as we continued to learn details from the remarkable hero of Monday’s bombing, Jeff Bauman, who helped identify the bombers from his hospital bed.

Throughout, we factored the events into politics going forward, and of course there was a good deal of partisan mudslinging on immigration and some more on guns. We gave credit where it was due to the MSM and new media, and kept shaming the New York Post for its nonstop atrocious coverage.

In the bigger picture, Andrew considered what this all might mean for the national psychology and terrorism (to dissent from readers), homed in on two quotes worth pondering, and reflected on the president’s remarks and the other fatal explosion that took place this week in West, Texas. Finally, we glanced at the exhaustion of a Cambridge resident in the Face of the Day and melted during a much needed Mental Health Break, as The Onion summed up America’s collective exhale from this week.


The rest of the week after the jump:

this high res pic is good news. super clear. someone could actually recognize this bro from this pic:…

— Rosie Gray (@RosieGray) April 19, 2013

Thursday on the Dish, Andrew reflected on the meaning of the word ‘terrorism’ after Boston, shamed the New York Post for its unhinged, libelous coverage of the bombing, and chided both Obama and the right for unanimous silence on the most recent report of America’s torture regime. Elsewhere, he defended masturbation, answered readers on the perks of living in New York, and awarded both Glen Reynolds and Kevin Williamson Malkin Award nominations for their ill-advised swipes at Gabby Giffords.

We gathered coverage of the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas and Dreher focused on the sacrifices of volunteer firefighters at the scene. On the Boston bombing beat, security cameras caught the actual suspects in the Faces of the Day while Tim Murphy connected skills learned Iraq to those used by EMS in the aftermath of the explosion.

In political coverage, Douthat speculated why the US experiences so few bombings, we probed the connections between location, gun ownership and suicide, and we rounded up reax to the death of the gun-control bill and the President’s remarks. Rubio took heat from right-wingers for his much-hailed immigration bill, Laura Murphy highlighted the lack of due process in deportation, and we tried to parse the legal significance of keeping one’s mouth shut under interrogation lights. Reinhart and Rogoff struck back, we took a subway ride through New York’s inequality gap, and George Packer gave voice to friends of the US trapped in Afghanistan after we leave. Finally, Noam Scheibler followed former Obama aides into the lobbying business and Dreher clarified why he doesn’t belong to the GOP as readers flooded the inbox in response to yesterday’s email from a would-be gay Republican.

In miscellanea, Adam Kirsch dove into the journal of Holocaust survivor Helga Weiss, we found out what’s keeping US soldiers awake at night, and Dishheads weighed in on one reader’s story of hydrocephalus. Melissa Holbrook Pierson described the hobby of ‘found photography,’ and we considered the message of Jackie Robinson’s new Hollywood treatment while George Soros received the Tom Sawyer treatment in the Headline of the Day. Patton Oswalt delivered a tour de force in fan-fic filibustering while six literary titans workshopped Moby Dick. We took in a strong commercial for gun legislation in the Cool Ad Watch, joined Iron and Wine for a light show in the wilderness in the MHB, and enjoyed a floral view in Washington, DC for the VFYW.

Wednesday on the Dish, Andrew tore into Bill Keller’s latest excuses for refusing to print the word ‘torture,’ reluctantly voiced potential support for Hillary in 2016, and sighed at the ongoing clout of the gun lobby. He speculated on the political intrigue behind the immigration bill, paused to listen to New Zealand’s parliament erupt into song over marriage equality, gave credit to the military men who helped fellow runners in Boston. He also talked blogging on a GigaOM panel with Andrew Ross Sorkin and Maria Popova.

We tried to keep track of today’s media derp over Boston, Alexis set vigilante investigators on Reddit straight, and we awed at the strength of those injured in the bombing and the hospitals that took them in. Later, we gathered reflections on the proper reaction to this kind of terrorism while Greenwald pleaded for more global empathy.

In other political coverage, a gay reader seriously considered throwing in with the GOP, Yglesias made a second pass over the flawed Reinhart-Rogoff report and Susan Porter doubted the effectiveness of anti-bully laws. Washington residents said yes to pot legalization as we took a trip to the marijuana farmer’s market. We tipped our hats to the news crew that won this year’s Pulitzer for national reporting, took note of Lady Thatcher’s funeral proceedings, and Jerry Coyne disapproved of patenting genomes. Daniel Pipes actually recommended we fund mass murderer Bashar al-Assad while Ford Vox encouraged a hi-tech check on health care acquired infections.

In assorted coverage, a reader and eyewitness to the Boston bombing shared a flash of levity from that day, while another shared sorrow. Readers asked Rod Dreher about the toll of cancer treatment, Thane Rosenbaum said a good word for revenge, and Tara Clancy tore it up at the Moth. Cowen ran a thought experiment if our lights went out in middle age, we scanned the Louvre for secrets and leafed through Woody Guthrie’s sole attempt at fiction.

Elsewhere, we got up close and personal in a sketchy Cool Ad Watch and remembered an old folk remedy for bed bugs. Finally, we visited Lothersdale, England in the VFYW, witnessed the power of lighting in the MHB, and stared down the barrel of a gun at the Face of the Day.

Explosions At 117th Boston Marathon Aftermath

Tuesday on the Dish, Andrew zeroed in on the damning report on the Bush administration’s use of torture and took aim at Obama’s ongoing hypocrisy on Gitmo. He also urged stoicism in the face of tragedy in light of the events in Boston, remembered the skill and bravery in the work of Tim Hetherington, and allowed readers to ask Steve Brill anything.

In further Boston coverage, we heard from longtime residents in the aftermath of the bombing, Madrigal spotted a resource for synthesizing all the home videos of the explosion for evidence, and we found the most affecting images from yesterday and tracked down the status of one victim in particular.

In political news, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz challenged Nate Cohn’s dismissal of racism affecting Obama’s electoral fortunes, we said goodbye to Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad, and checked in with Venezuela after fresh, post-Chávez elections. Ross Pomeroy looked through studies on the psychological effects of terrorism as we pondered why these kinds of attacks are so rare in the US and considered options other than gun control to address violence. As Felix greeted the news of gold’s price drop, we surveyed the unemployment cliff and explored the consequences of an unfortunate Excel error in the Reinhart-Rogoff report. Later, Stephanie Mencimer reported on the LDS Church backing off on LGBT rights, Jonathan Cohn diagnosed the ills of daycare and we shined a light on nonprofit fraud.

In assorted coverage, a reader shared a deep personal narrative on hydrocephalus, we took a second look at the life of Zelda Fitzgerald, and reminisced on Thatcher’s faith. Readers asked Rod Dreher about misconceptions of Dixie, we exalted the many faces of David Bowie, and C. G. P. Grey filmed an explainer of Vatican City. We located a town where WiFi and radio are banned for the sake of the residents, readers shared some expertise on nature’s odder floral fragrances and we revealed last week’s VFYW contest in Karachi, Pakistan. Finally, we gazed into the eyes of a hologram in the Face of the Day, spent a moment in Apex, Nunavut for the VFYW, and received a timely rendition of the Star Spangled Banner in the MHB.

Explosions At 117th Boston Marathon

Monday on the Dish, we rounded up coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing, from reax on Twitter to commentary and context in the blogosphere, while holding out further analysis until more information emerges. Patton Oswalt had the last word on the tragedy for today.

In other coverage, Andrew took apart Paul Wolfowitz’s retrospective of the Iraq War and pondered whether Pope Francis will drag the Church into the light of modern day. He also questioned our modern fixation on life-extending medicine despite the pain it can bring and wondered how soon news orgs will face the music of a new era. Elsewhere, Andrew responded to TNC’s thoughts on Rand Paul trip to Howard University, and shook his head at the ongoing merger of Christianity and Ayn Rand’s Objectivism in certain quarters of the GOP.

In more political news and views, Andrew Solomon expressed mixed feelings on North Dakota’s new law restricting abortion as we studied the frequency of cross-confessional marriage and cut subsidies for electric cars down to size. Readers filled in the media’s gaps on the horrific story of Kermit Gosnell as we gathered increasing commentary on the case. We met the rare souls who enjoy filling out tax forms while Heritage illustrated where your tax dollars ended up this past year. Finally, Marc Lynch rationalized the Muslim Brotherhood’s irrational track record while a reader took on Susan Jacoby’s reasons to leave religion.

In miscellanea, readers asked Rod Dreher about hometown blues, Willie Nelson spoke for the moment, in the moment, we found a reason for our ‘ums’ and ‘uhs,’ and remembered the first VFYW, in Los Angeles.  Michael Wolf awed with his photographs of Hong Kong high rises as we ate breakfast overlooking the Earth and listened closely to the sound of the universe being born. Later we put away our dreams for an invisibility cloak, shopped for germs and browsed some risqué botany. Lastly, we spent a moment in Rome for the VFYW and witnessed the shock following the Boston bombing in the Face of the Day.


Last weekend on the Dish, we provided our usual eclectic mix of religious, books, and cultural coverage. In matters of faith, doubt, and philosophy, Marilynne Robinson remembered Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Francis Spufford thought about Jesus and self-righteousness, and Rachel Held Evans pondered the perils of sharing your faith. Eve Tushnet reflected on the religious imagery of pre-Raphaelite paintings, Karen Armstrong offered a meditation on science and religion, and Susan Jacoby explained how and why people convert to atheism. Ashley Makar reflected on what her cancer diagnosis taught her about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Erich Fromm taught us how to love, and Barry Lenser found life’s mysteries at the heart of Rod Dreher’s new book. Costica Bradatan reminded us of why failure matters, Jonathan Haidt examined the morals of business students, Priscella Long recoiled at a neuropsychologist’s experiment on human decision-making, and Leanne Ogasawara answered a timeless cocktail party question.

In literary and arts coverage, Robert Silvers divulged the muddled phrases that drive him crazy, David Yezzi provided a searing critique of contemporary poetry, and Ian Crouch wondered if the writer can truly retire. Jeff Sharlet considered the phrase “reads like a novel,” Tom Jokinen recalled Graham Greene’s dream diary, and a transgender woman appeared in the pages of DC Comics’ Batgirl. Stephen Akey praised the French poet Baudelaire for confronting our failures, Lydia Kiesling searched for the great tech novel in San Francisco, and Ann Napolitano toured Flannery O’Connor’s childhood home in Georgia. Maureen O’Connor proclaimed the death of the celebrity sex tape and a new documentary explored Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Read Saturday’s poem here and Sunday’s here.

In assorted news and views, DVD technology held promise for cheaper HIV testing, Evan Hughes looked back at the first stirrings of discomfort about New York’s gentrification, Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops dismissed the need for college athletes to get paid, Jessica Freeman-Slade reviewed Rosie Schaap’s memoir, Drinking with Men, and the conversation continued about Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s trip to Cuba. MHBs here and here, FOTDs here and here, VFYWs here and here, and the latest window contest here.

–B.J. & M.S.