Joe Queenan on the Darker Side of Cupcakes. "Like the Macarena, Tofutti, the pedestrian scooter, the urban cowboy look of the early 1980s and America's brief, misguided obsession with Paris Hilton, the era when the cupcake was in the ascendant deserves to be consigned to the dustbin of history," writes Joe Queenan. "What a nightmare it has been." So how did it begin? Queenan blames the television show "Sex and the City," a "television program I have never seen for the obvious reason that it launches stupid Barbie doll-ish trends like cupcake mania." But cupcakes' cutesyness only masks their far darker elements, says Queenan. "With their fawning subservience to the cupcake, Americans had once again been led by the nose into mortifying behavior by the marketers who invent odious social trends and then trick everybody into thinking they result from a real paradigm shift bubbling up from the heartland." But there is "a subversive element at work here, too. The cupcake, to me, symbolizes compromise and acquiescence, a retreat from American greatness." Good riddance, but be aware: "A society that would roll over and play dead for Machiavellian cupcake merchants is a society capable of anything."
Raffi Khatchadourian on the Case Against WikiLeaks, One Year Later. Over the next week will the one-year anniversary of the naming of Bradley Manning as WikiLeaks' major source of U.S. classified documents. The case against Julian Assange under the Espionage Act remains hinged on whether Assange or close associates ever communicated with Manning. Khatchadourian points to logs where Manning indicates to Adrian Lamo that he had spoken with Assange, but many doubt the veracity of these logs. But Khatchadourian adds a piece of corroborative evidence for why they should be believed: "In May of last year, my piece about WikiLeaks was making its way through the last stages of production at The New Yorker ... I did not interview Manning for the article; nonetheless, while we were working on the piece, he wrote to Lamo on May 25th and said, “new yorker is running 10k word article on wl.org on 30 may, btw.” This turned out to be a dead-on prediction. But how could he have known specifics about our piece before we had published it? The answer is pretty clear: someone involved in WikiLeaks, or an intermediary, told him." Why did Khatchadourian then hold off on this evidence? "I thought about relaying this little observation in a blog post and have refrained, somewhat out of fear of being subpoenaed or otherwise assisting the Justice Department in a case that I profoundly don’t believe in."