What Does Bud Do To Young Brains?

Apr 16 2014 @ 2:41pm

Jason Koebler highlights a study linking pot to brain abnormalities in young people:

High-resolution MRI scans of the brains of adults between the ages of 18-25 who reported smoking weed at least once a week were structurally different than a control group: They showed greater grey matter density in the left amygdala, an area of the brain associated with addiction and showed alterations in the hypothalamus and subcallosal cortex. The study also notes that marijuana use “may be associated with a disruption of neural organization.” The more weed a person reported smoking, the more altered their brain appeared, according to the Northwestern University and Harvard Medical School study, which was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The finding already has the study’s authors calling for states to reconsider legalizing the drug. Hans Breiter, the lead author, said he’s “developed a severe worry about whether we should be allowing anybody under age 30 to use pot unless they have a terminal illness and need it for pain.”

Saundra Young gets the response of another researcher:

Read On

Journalist Jo Becker has a new book out on the marriage equality movement. The revolution began, it appears, in 2008. And its Rosa Parks was a man you would be forgiven for knowing nothing about, Chad Griffin. Here’s how the book begins – and I swear I’m not making this up:

This is how a revolution begins. It begins when someone grows tired of standing idly by, waiting for history’s arc to bend toward justice, and instead decides to give it a swift shove. It begins when a black seamstress named Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in the segregated South. And in this story, it begins with a handsome, bespectacled thirty-five-year-old political consultant named Chad Griffin, in a spacious suite at the Westin St. Francis hotel in San Francisco on election night 2008.

After that surreal opening, the book descends into more jaw-dropping distortion. For Becker, until the still-obscure Griffin came on the scene, the movement for marriage equality was a cause “that for years had largely languished in obscurity.” I really don’t know how to address that statement, because it is so wrong, so myopic and so ignorant it beggars belief that a respectable journalist could actually put it in print. Obscurity? Is Becker even aware of the history of this struggle at all? Throughout the 1990s, marriage equality had roiled the political landscape, dominated the national debate at times, re-framed and re-branded the entire gay movement, achieved intellectual heft, and key GAY MARRIAGElegal breakthroughs, such as the landmark Hawaii case that vaulted the entire subject from an idea to a reality. The man who actually started that revolution was Dan Foley, a straight man from the ACLU, who filed the key lawsuit. Foley does not make Becker’s index. Why would he? If the revolution only began in 2008, he is irrelevant. The courage and clarity it took to strike that first blow is nothing for Becker compared with that of two straight men, David Boies and Ted Olson, and one gay man, Chad Griffin, who swooped into the movement at the last moment and who were, not accidentally, Becker’s key sources for the entire tall tale.

The intellectual foundation of the movement is also non-existent in Becker’s book – before, wait for it!, Ken Mehlman and Ted Olson brought Republican credibility to the movement. Yes, that’s her claim. My own work – penning the first cover-story on the conservative case for marriage equality in 1989, a subsequent landmark re-imagining of the gay rights movement in 1993, and a best-selling book, Virtually Normal in 1995 – is entirely omitted from the book, along with the critical contributions from other conservatives and libertarians, from Jon Rauch and Bruce Bawer to John Corvino and Dale Carpenter. I suspect even Olson and Mehlman will reject Becker’s ludicrous thesis, if challenged on this point. But for Becker, all of this work contributed nothing but further obscurity. The astonishing achievement of turning what was once deemed a joke into a serious national cause and issue happened in the 1990s and then more emphatically after George W. Bush’s endorsement of the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004. But for Becker, an obscure late-comer, Griffin, had a “unique ability” to leverage legal cases into a political rallying cry. This is so wrong and so contemptuous of the people who really did do that work I am at a loss for words.

More staggeringly, the critical, indispensable role of Evan Wolfson in pioneering this cause is actually treated with active contempt in the book. He is ludicrously portrayed by Becker as an obstacle to change, a remnant of a previous generation, a man who had led the marriage Senate Panel Holds Hearing on DOMAmovement nowhere. This is where the book becomes truly toxic and morally repellent. I’ve been a part of this movement for twenty-five years, either as an activist speaker/writer or as a close observer on this blog for the last decade and a half. What Becker writes about Evan and the movement is unconscionable, ignorant and profoundly wrong. Evan had the courage to create this movement, and empower it with legal rigor and strategy, when it was far, far less popular than it is now. Without him, quite simply, the movement would not exist for Griffin to now outrageously attempt to claim credit for. Yet this book sweeps Wolfson aside as an actual obstacle to progress because he was concerned that the Prop 8 case was a high-risk high-reward legal strategy that would not be the slam-dunk for national marriage equality that Boies and Olson believed it would be.

And here’s the thing: Evan was right about that. The Prop 8 case succeeded only in striking down California’s ban, and not changing the entire world, and it rested entirely on the legal and intellectual infrastructure Evan and I and others had been building for two decades. If Boies and Olson had been right, we would have federal marriage equality right now. But they weren’t and we don’t. Now I supported the case because I believed that it could add to the educational effort to expose the weakness of the arguments of those opposing equality – and – wh0 knows? – might even end marriage discrimination. But when I say “add”, I mean exactly that. Legal arguments take time to percolate up and about. And the Prop 8 case was deeply dependent on the cases that preceded it. It wasn’t a panacea, and was less potent than the Windsor case in changing America as a whole. So while I’m certainly no opponent of Boies and california-gay-marriage-supreme-court-map_580Olson, and was thrilled to have them on board,  it is simply bizarre to argue, as Becker does, that the marriage equality movement didn’t really exist until they and Griffin allegedly “re-branded” it.

Perhaps the most critical legal events in this long struggle took place in New England. Getting actual marriage equality in one state, Massachusetts – and then exporting it to an entire region – had always been our Holy Grail and was indispensable to our long-term success. There were many architects of that vision – but one stands out to anyone with any knowledge of the matter. That’s Mary Bonauto, the woman who won the right to marry in Vermont in 1997 (only to be foiled by the legislature), and who made marriage in Massachusetts happen. To quote Roberta Kaplan, who argued the Windsor case in front of the Supreme Court, “No gay person in this country would be married without Mary Bonauto.” Yet in Becker’s book, she too is shunted aside, and airbrushed out of history. In fact, any figure of any note apart from Boies and Olson and Griffin are excised in this book in Stalinist fashion as if they didn’t exist.

For me, then, the key question about this book is how on earth such a distorted and ahistorical and polemical attack on the architects of the marriage equality movement can have been written. Becker could have presented the material in this book merely as the experience of a few people who came very late to the movement – a small snapshot of the last few years through the eyes of a small group. But she doesn’t. She virtually-normalcredits them with the entire movement, and treats all those before as obstacles to it. That’s such a distortion you have to wonder how it came about.

The answer, I think, is access-journalism. It’s clear from the notes in the book that an overwhelming amount of the material comes from the sources she embedded herself with. Other figures with real knowledge of the movement barely get a phone call. (Wolfson got one peremptory one late in the day; I got none.) In other words, this is access-journalism at its most uncritical and naive worst. There is no indication that Becker has any clue about anything that happened before 2008, and every indication that thereafter, she simply parroted the spin of those she had access to. And so the book is best seen not as as act of journalism, but as a public relations campaign by Boies, Olson and Griffin to claim credit for and even co-opt a movement they had nothing to do with until very recently. It’s telling that the Human Rights Campaign – an organization that opposed aggressive efforts to pioneer marriage equality until the early 2000s – is now sending out emails touting Becker’s book for its preposterous hagiography of its executive director. Money quote about the NYT magazine excerpt:

Read On

Le Pen, Farage, Putin

Apr 16 2014 @ 1:39pm

Timothy Snyder, whose historic analysis of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is worth reading in full, situates Putin’s ideology within the rising tide of far-right nationalism in Europe:

More than anything else, what unites the Russian leadership with the European far Right is a certain basic dishonesty, a lie so fundamental and self-delusive that it has the potential to destroy an entire peaceful order. Even as Russian leaders pour scorn on a Europe they present as a gay fleshpot, Russia’s elite is dependent upon the European Union at every conceivable level. Without European predictability, law and culture, Russians would have nowhere to launder their money, establish their front companies, send their children to school, or spend their vacations. Europe is both the basis of the Russian system and its safety valve.

Likewise, the average Heinz-Christian Strache (FPÖ in Austria) or Marine Le Pen (Front National in France) voter takes for granted countless elements of peace and prosperity that were achieved as a result of European integration. The archetypical example is the possibility, on 25 May, to use free and fair democratic elections to the European parliament to vote for people who claim to oppose the existence of the European parliament.

In an equally weighty essay, Pádraig Murphy explores the intellectual heritage of Eurasianism:

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Iraq Is Still FUBAR

Apr 16 2014 @ 1:20pm

IRAQ-UNREST-RAMADI

Ned Parker previews the April 30th elections:

For months, suicide bombers have been dynamiting themselves in crowded Shiite markets, coffee shops, and funeral tents, while Shiite militias and government security forces have terrorized Sunni communities. The Iraqi state is breaking apart again: from the west in Anbar province, where after weeks of anarchic violence more than 380,000 people have fled their homes; to the east in Diyala province, where tit-for-tat sectarian killings are rampant; to the north in Mosul, where al-Qaeda-linked militants control large swathes of territory; to the south in Basra, home to Iraq’s oil riches, where Shiite militias are once more ascendant; to Iraq’s Kurds, who warn that the country is disintegrating and contemplate full independence from Baghdad.

More than 2,500 Iraqis have been killed since the start of the year, including nearly three hundred in the first ten days of April; in the capital itself, which has become a showcase for the country’s multiplying conflicts and uncontrolled violence, there have been several brazen attacks on government buildings, and a terrifying string of car bombings, including eight on April 9 alone.

It looks like Maliki, who is running for a third term, will remain in power:

With elections now two weeks away the prime minister appears confident.

Read On

Your Merch, Your Ideas, Ctd

Apr 16 2014 @ 1:05pm

question-mark-T_

Our updated poll is embedded below (if you are using a mobile phone or tablet, please click here). Based on your votes, we have removed some of the least popular ideas and added in some more. In addition to many of your submitted slogans, we have added a multiple-choice section where you can indicate your preference for various types of merch (totes, dog bowls, hats, etc). The most popular picks will be mulled over by the Dish staff and mix-and-matched with other ideas, and we will have an professional graphic designer whip up the final versions.

If you could take a minute and give us your final input on this poll, even if you’re already filled it out before, we would be most grateful. Just mark “Sweet” if you could see yourself purchasing an item with that slogan or “Lame” if you definitely would not. For the second section, check off as many items as you like – as many items as you could see yourself purchasing at some point. Thanks to everyone for your help; we really appreciate it.


A straight female reader chimes in:

As I was listening to Dave Cullen discuss Truvada I could only think … well, welcome to my world!  The birth control pill was “unleashed” on women in 1960.  I graduated from college in 1967 and moved to Chicago to work.  When I went to my doctor to get a prescription for them, boy did I get a lecture. “Now, you aren’t going to have an affair with a married man are you?” At that point I was dating a divorced man, so maybe that was the same?  But the feelings about the pill and women were almost exactly the same as Cullen was talking about and which Limbaugh expressed when Sandra Fluke testified about the contraceptive requirement in the ACA.  We were going to be irresponsible; we were sluts – all because we wanted to protect ourselves from getting pregnant when we had sex, just like Cullen wants to protect himself and others from HIV when he has sex.

We haven’t gotten very far, have we?

The comparison to the birth control pill brings to mind this great quote from Jim Pickett, the director of advocacy for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago:

You’re here because people barebacked. Your grandmother was a barebacker. That secretary in your truvadaoffice, when you’re invited to her baby shower, she’s a barebacker. You’re bringing gifts for someone who engaged in risky fucking behavior. What the fuck are you doing? She’s a bad person. We would never [say] that. We’re like, ‘Yay! You’re pregnant! What is it? Woohoo!’ With a gay man, it’s like, ‘Oh my God. You’re reckless, you’re careless, you’re insane, you’re self-destructive, you want to hurt yourself and others.’ And we ignore the fact that gay men have the same needs to feel close and intimate and pleasure. 

Another reader asks:

How is Gardasil – an intervention to prevent a potentially incurable disease – somehow morally correct and non-contributory to increased sexual activity, and yet Truvada is not? In the name of prevention and facing the realities of sexual behavior, we have railed against Christianists’ opposition to sex education, condoms for teens and now a vaccine. It’s time we are consistent about ourselves.

Another responds to this video from Dave Cullen:

As a straight female, I have real issues with the whole “it feels better bare so why not do it that way.”

Read On

Growing Up In Syria’s Civil War

Apr 16 2014 @ 12:21pm

Syria Deeply is publishing the diary of a teenage girl living in Syria. A moving passage from the first entry:

I remember well the day cattle food, or fodder, was smuggled into the city. We milled the animal feed to make dough.

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Obama’s Meep Meep On Healthcare

Apr 16 2014 @ 11:40am

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There are plenty of imponderables left on the fate of the ACA, Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement. Premiums could still spike later this year; the full data on the numbers with actual, paid-for health insurance via the exchanges is not yet known; the resistance on the right to it is still mighty; in many states, the lack of Medicaid expansion guts a key part of the law’s intent. If you want to read an attempt to argue that Obamacare is as big a liability for Obama this fall as the Iraq War was for Bush in 2006, well go read JPod. My reaction after reading his screed was: seriously?

There’s simply no denying that the law has been rescued by an impressive post-fiasco operation that did to ACA-opponents what the Obama campaign did to the Clintons in 2008 and to Romney in 2012. Obama out-muscled the nay-sayers on the ground. I have a feeling that this has yet to fully sink in with the public, and when it does, the politics of this might change. (Since the law was pummeled at the get-go as something beyond the skills of the federal government to implement, its subsequent successful implementation would seem to me to do a lot to reverse the damage.) There are some signs that this is happening. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds the following:

Nearly one-third of respondents in the online survey released on Tuesday said they prefer Democrats’ plan, policy or approach to healthcare, compared to just 18 percent for Republicans. This marks both an uptick in support for Democrats and a slide for Republicans since a similar poll in February.

That’s mainly because of renewed confidence and support from previously demoralized Democrats. But it’s also a reflection, it seems to me, of the political vulnerability of Republicans who have failed to present a viable alternative to the law, and indeed seem set, in the eyes of most voters, merely to repeal ACA provisions that are individually popular. And this bad position is very likely to endure because of the intensity of the loathing for Obama/Obamacare among the Medicare recipients in the GOP base. It seems to me that right now, the GOP cannot offer an alternative that keeps the more popular parts of Obamacare without the air fast leaking out of their mid-term election balloon. And so by the fall, the political dynamics of this may shift some more in Obama’s direction. By 2016, that could be even more dramatic. One party – the GOP – will be offering unnerving change back to the status quo ante, and the other will be proposing incremental reform of the ACA. The only thing more likely to propel Hillary Clinton’s candidacy would be a Republican House and Senate next January.

It’s that long game thing again, isn’t it? Like the civil rights revolution of the Obama years, it seemed a close-to-impossible effort to start with, and then was gradually, skillfully ground out. It also seems true to me that the non-event of the ACA for many, many people will likely undermine some of the hysteria on the right. The ACA-opponents may be in danger of seeming to cry wolf over something that isn’t that big a deal. Yes, they may have premium hikes to tout as evidence of the alleged disaster. And every single piece of bad news on the healthcare front will be attributed to the ACA, fairly or not. But the public will still want to know how premiums can go down without people with pre-existing conditions being kicked out of the system, or without kids being kicked off their parents’ plan, and so on. I think, in other words, that the GOP’s position made a lot of short-term political sense in 2010 and even 2012. But it’s a much tougher sell in 2014, let alone 2016. Once again, they have substituted tactics for strategy. Every time they have done that with Obama, they have failed.

Or maybe I’m biased because my own insurance situation has gotten better. Here’s what’s happened in my individual case.

Read On

Viruses On The Loose

Apr 16 2014 @ 11:22am

Martin Furmansky chronicles the history of dangerous viruses escaping from labs. The bottom line:

Looking at the problem pragmatically, the question is not if such escapes will result in a major civilian outbreak, but rather what the pathogen will be and how such an escape may be contained, if indeed it can be contained at all.

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Want To Brush Up On Your Potions?

Apr 16 2014 @ 10:58am

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Alex Heimbach points Harry Potter superfans to Hogwarts is Here:

The website works as a sort of cross between a MOOC (massive open online course) and an RPG (a role-playing game, like Dungeons & Dragons). You start by creating an account and choosing a house. (No sorting hat here, unfortunately.) I went with Ravenclaw, which seemed fitting for an optional intellectual endeavor. I wasn’t alone in that decision: Ravenclaw is the second most popular house (after Gryffindor, of course) and has the most house points (which you gain by completing assignments).

Once you enroll at the virtual Hogwarts, you can join a dorm, buy books from Flourish and Blotts, and even write for The Daily Owl. Though you might be drawn in by these social trappings, the curriculum itself is surprisingly rigorous. As a first year student, you are expected to complete seven courses: Charms, Potions, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Astronomy, Herbology, History of Magic, and Transfiguration. Every course consists of nine lessons, each of which involves a written introduction, some supplemental reading, and a number of assignments.

Ted Trautman explores America’s public toilet regulations, which still mandate gender-segregated restrooms in most states and cities:

Many states follow the guidelines laid out in the Uniform Plumbing Code, which stipulates that “separate toilet facilities shall be provided for each sex,” with exceptions for very small businesses as measured in square footage and/or customer traffic. In the eyes of the law in these places, a business with two unisex toilets can be considered to have no toilets at all, since neither facility explicitly serves men or women.

Such laws date back to 1887, according to Terry S. Kogan, a University of Utah law professor and a contributor to the book Toilet: Public Restrooms and the Politics of Sharing. One hundred and twenty-seven years ago, Massachusetts passed the first law mandating gender-segregated toilets, and many states quickly followed suit. Many of those laws have never been substantially modified, with obvious exceptions in progressive enclaves like D.C. and San Francisco, meaning that much of the United States’ toilet-related building codes reflect a literally Victorian prudishness that we might mock in other contexts.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown delves deeper into this regulatory morass:

These days, America’s public restrooms are regulated by two separate federal agencies.

Read On

Exporting Captain America

Apr 16 2014 @ 10:02am

Zachary M. Seward finds that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is scoring big in movie theaters worldwide:

America’s greatest export is entertainment, and its improbable brand ambassador is now Captain America. The second installment of Marvel’s movie franchise is drawing huge audiences outside the United States, even in areas of the world that might ordinarily reject a jingoistic superhero clad in red, white, and blue. Captain America: Winter Soldier pulled in $107 million overseas [the weekend before last], even more than its record-breaking $96 million draw in the US. It was the number one film in China ($39 million), South Korea ($20 million), the United Kingdom ($18 million), Mexico ($16 million), France ($12 million), Russia ($7 million), and Australia ($6 million).

Warner Brown explains the appeal in China:

Why has an avowedly all-American hero proved so popular here? Launching the film on a three-day holiday weekend shortly after its stars toured Beijing certainly didn’t hurt. But Winter Soldier also resonates because it keeps the hero’s fundamental patriotism intact while modernizing his conflict for a complicated new era, pitting him against enemies burrowed deep within the government he serves. ”[The new villain] is the very country he loves and protects,” writes one Douban reviewer. “To love one’s country isn’t the same as loving one’s government: This is the main draw of Captain America.”

The Kids Are All Righteous

Apr 16 2014 @ 9:36am

Adam Grant (NYT) discusses how parents can successfully impart moral values to their children:

In a classic experiment, the psychologist J. Philippe Rushton gave 140 elementary- and middle-school-age children tokens for winning a game, which they could keep entirely or donate some to a child in poverty. They first watched a teacher figure play the game either selfishly or generously, and then preach to them the value of taking, giving or neither. The adult’s influence was significant: Actions spoke louder than words. When the adult behaved selfishly, children followed suit. The words didn’t make much difference — children gave fewer tokens after observing the adult’s selfish actions, regardless of whether the adult verbally advocated selfishness or generosity. When the adult acted generously, students gave the same amount whether generosity was preached or not — they donated 85 percent more than the norm in both cases. When the adult preached selfishness, even after the adult acted generously, the students still gave 49 percent more than the norm. Children learn generosity not by listening to what their role models say, but by observing what they do.

Razib Khan thinks these studies overlook the question of social environment:

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Pushing The Envelope

Apr 16 2014 @ 9:04am

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Itella, the Finnish postal service, has approved stamp designs based on the homoerotic art of Touko Laaksonen, aka Tom of Finland:

Laaksonen remains a towering and iconic figure in the gay art scene. His sketches, often explicit, were unapologetic depictions of gay sex and relationships. Laaksonen’s subjects were almost always muscle-bound, handsome figures, often bursting out of their clothes. His work, a meditation on masculinity, was also heavy on leather fetish imagery. It’s a pretty risque sheet of stamps. … “The sheet (of stamps) portrays a sensual life force and being proud of oneself,” said graphic designer Timo Berry, who selected the work that will be printed on stamps released this fall. “There is never too much of that in this northern country.”

Martin Schneider elaborates:

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Going For Baroque

Apr 16 2014 @ 8:31am

Stephen Burt identifies a new current in poetry:

[Nearly Baroque] poetry seeks the opposite of simplicity, preferring the elaborate, the contrived, taking toward sound play and simile the attitude of King Lear: “O, reason not the need!” But it can seem just simple enough in its goals. The 21st-century poets of the nearly Baroque want art that puts excess, invention, and ornament first. It is art that cannot be reduced to its own explanation, that shows off its material textures, its artificiality, its descent from prior art, its location in history. These poets want an art that can always give, or could always show, more.

Burt names the movement after Angie Estes, who wrote in a poem titled Sans Serif, “It’s the opposite of / Baroque, so I want / none of it.” He elaborates:

Again Estes summons the Baroque by name, in a poem entitled Ars Poetica:

Read On

The View From Your Window

Apr 16 2014 @ 7:59am

Oxford, OH, 8-42 am Sunday afternoon was 82 degree

Oxford, Ohio, 8.42 am. “Sunday afternoon was 82 degrees.”

In Philosophical Fetters

Apr 16 2014 @ 7:34am

In a review of François Laruelle’s Principles of Non-Philosophy, Keith Whitmoyer considers the virtues of stepping outside of the philosophical domain:

It seems that most philosophers have taken their turn defining (and defending) the meaning and principles of the philosophical enterprise. What virtually all proposals have in common is that they presuppose that this question can be answered within the domain of the philosophical itself itself. In other words, we mostly have a history of philosophers philosophizing about philosophizing – in a word, meta-philosophy.

Meta-philosophy is, in a sense, founded on the assumption that only philosophy thinks, and therefore thinking about the meaning of the philosophical can only take place within the domain of the philosophical itself. There is something strange about this assumption. It seems as if meta-philosophy catches us in a circle. … Is it really the case that we can answer the question, “What is philosophy?” simply by philosophizing faster, stronger, or better and thus end only by duplicating what we were asking about? The problem with meta-philosophy is that, because we end up only philosophizing about philosophizing, we are never able to take a stand on what this is from the outside. The philosophical itself, because it remains the standpoint of inquiry, never truly succeeds in becoming an object of inquiry.

The Best Of The Dish Today

Apr 15 2014 @ 9:30pm

VFYWC#200 Collage

To mark today’s 200th window contest, we put together a new – and improved! – gallery archive to view all of the old contests. As an added bonus, when you click on any of the images in the gallery, you’ll be taken to a slideshow, which could be a fun way to play old contests, especially for our newer readers. Check them both out here.

The entire window view phenomenon on the Dish – and I know it’s the favorite feature for many of you – began a long time ago now, when I was thinking late one night about how to convey some of what I was absorbing from the in-tray. So many readers from so many parts of the globe – and yet they cannot really see each other!  The vfyw-bookhighdea was just to get a view from the window from readers across the country and the planet. Digital photos were easy to take and easy to email. Too easy, it turned out, as within a few days – I was doing the blog solo at that point and was awash in jpegs – I was begging for readers to stop. But you didn’t. Here’s how the feature played out over those first few weeks. We eventually made a coffee table book of the best views from all 50 states and 80 countries, which Chris Bodenner edited.

The first-ever contest is here. The idea was sparked – like most best things on the Dish – by a reader, who liked to “guess where the photo was taken from (at the country level at least) before scrolling down to see the caption.” See how the contest first evolved here. You can discover a few amazing contest-related coincidences here and here (even today’s view had a happy accident). In due course, VFYWC imitators started popping up all over the web, including the NYT and CNN. Llewellyn Hinkes-Jones built a zoomable VFYW game, which likely inspired the Google Maps version, GeoGuessr. Pete Warden created an interactive map and rotatable globe of window views. Data-cruncher Jay Pinho analyzed the feature in the depth. We marked our 100th contest by recognizing two grand champions, Mike Palmer and his teammate Yoko. But the undisputed all-time myplacewashdc206pmchamp is, of course, Doug Chini. His tips for winning the contest are here.

But the genius of the VFYWC lies with Bodenner. He created the contest, curates it, loves it, and has made it the mini-artform it is. Chris is also in charge of all the reader threads, so the contest came naturally to him. He makes it look easy, despite the hours of absorbing and editing down hundreds of emails each week. He doesn’t seem to sleep much, which is a mercy since the contests can take up to six hours to compose. Recently, Chas is shouldering more of the work.

Now the plug. This amazing little thing comes out of this blog and its community, and that blog has only one source of income, its readers. So if you’ve gotten something out of the Window Views or sleuthing through the contest each week, or just enjoy watching others figure it out, and haven’t yet subscribed, do Chris and Chas a favor and do it here. It’s our only way of paying for such work – and for the delight and intrigue and bafflement it produces – along with the scenes of surpassing normality that punctuate our coverage of a troubled world each day. So subscribe! Or buy a gift subscription for someone you want to play the contest with.

Elsewhere on the Dish today, our NSFW Saturday post, “Bottoms Up“, continued to draw the most traffic by far. (Yet only 11 of you publicly liked the post on Facebook. Own up to it, pervs!) Other popular posts included Fox actually taking the lead on calling torture torture, Rand Paul getting under the skin of neocons, and cannabis becoming more and more of a sacrament. Our big Truvada thread continued here. And you can read unfiltered comments at our Facebook page and @sullydish.

See you in the morning.

(Top image: All 200 VFYW contests, composed by Special Teams. Bottom image: A beagle in Adams Morgan.)

Looking Back At The Boston Bombing

Apr 15 2014 @ 8:39pm

Boston Prepares To Commemorate Year Anniversary Of Marathon Bombing

Ian Crouch visited a memorial to the Boston marathon bombing, which occurred a year ago today:

Last week, to mark the anniversary of the attacks, the Boston Public Library opened an exhibition called “Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial” at its main branch, in Copley Square. The centerpiece is a collection of more than a hundred pairs of running shoes that had been left at the makeshift memorial. One pair has the word “Boston” on the left toe and “Strong” on the right. Another has a baseball set in each heel. Another features a tag with the number 26.2, the standard distance, in miles, of a marathon. The rest are just plain running shoes—an array of brands in a rainbow of colors, the kinds you see shuffling along the ground on a normal race day. Once shiny and gleaming, they are now dulled and frayed by use, and by the days they spent out in the weather last year.

Other items are a reminder of the simple, handcrafted objects that distinguished the memorial’s impromptu inspiration. The four white crosses are set in a row. Behind glass, scraps of paper communicate outrage and despair. There are signs with quotations from figures ranging from Martin Luther King, Jr., to Jerry Garcia (“Don’t tell me this town ain’t got no heart”). Notes and cards and posters from far-flung places: Istanbul, Morocco, the Philippines. Certain phrases recur, in pencil or pen or marker: “No more hurting people.” “Peace.” “Hope.” “We will finish the race.”

Eric Larson profiles Rebekah Gregory, whose leg was severely injured in the blast. She has undergone 16 surgeries and is now considering amputating the leg:

Read On

Regenerative Medicine Is On A Roll

Apr 15 2014 @ 7:59pm

First lab-grown vaginas, now lab-grown noses:

Read On