Five Best Tuesday Columns

Jeffrey Toobin on the legal fight for gay marriage, Patrick McGuire on Dogecoin, Paul Krugman on virtual currencies, Eugene Robinson on Edward Snowden, and Kara Newman on gendered liquor. 

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Jeffrey Toobin at The New Yorker on the legal fight for gay marriage. "When a federal judge ordered Utah to allow same-sex marriage on Friday, did you hear the outraged response? Neither did I," Toobin writes. "Dominoes are falling all over. The day before Utah became the 18th state (in addition to D.C.) to allow same-sex marriage, New Mexico became number 17. The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled unanimously that its state constitution required marriage equality." And then on Monday in Ohio, a judge ruled to recognize gay marriage upon a spouse's death. Toobin argues this is the biggest decision of all — "The Ohio decision is crucial because people in the U.S. tend to move from state to state." What "all these judges are seeing is that it is impossible to offer gay people some rights and not others. They are either full citizens, and they are not." 

Patrick McGuire at Vice on Dogecoin. "By now, you’ve probably heard of Dogecoin, the confusingly popular cryptocurrency that uses a regal looking Shiba Inu as its mascot and has a strict style guide of Comic Sans MS for absolutely everything. In a few short weeks, Dogecoin has gone from being an incredibly silly attempt at a cryptocurrency, to one of the most unlikely contenders in the burgeoning digital money realm — simply by being attached to an addictively cute meme," McGuire explains. "Dogecoin already boasts a vibrant community of users who are bullish on the currency even if each dogecoin is still worth fractions of a cent." What makes Dogecoin different from Bitcoin and other alt currencies? A cute mascot. "The quick growth of Dogecoin speaks to the power of memes more than anything else," McGuire argues. The New Yorker's Sasha-Frere Jones tweets, "Complex dystopias too cute to prevent: first up, dogecoin."

Paul Krugman at The New York Times on virtual currencies. Bitcoin "is, by design, a kind of virtual gold. And like gold, it can be mined: you can create new bitcoins, but only by solving very complex mathematical problems that require both a lot of computing power and a lot of electricity to run the computers," Krugman writes. At least gold "has at least some real uses, e.g., to fill cavities; but now we’re burning up resources to create 'virtual gold' that consists of nothing but strings of digits," he argues. "Don’t let the fancy trappings fool you: What’s really happening is a determined march to the days when money meant stuff you could jingle in your purse. In tropics and tundra alike, we are for some reason digging our way back to the 17th century." University of Maryland philosophy professor Allen Stairs tweets, "Goldbuggery then and now ..."

Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post on Edward Snowden. "There are really just two possible choices for person of the year. I want to say Pope Francis, but I’ve got to go with Edward Snowden," Robinson writes. "Snowden, unlike Francis, is rarely accused of humility. It is fair to describe him as smug and self-righteous — an imperfect messenger, to say the least. But what a message." "Snowden’s decision to leak massive amounts of information concerning some of the NSA’s most secret and intrusive spying programs has done more than embarrass officials in Washington. It has galvanized efforts throughout the world to protect what little privacy we have left." Glenn Greenwald tweets, "In the WashPost, Eugene Robinson argues that Edward Snowden is the person of the year."

Kara Newman at Slate on gendered liquor. "What bottle will spirits aficionados find in their Christmas stockings this year? If producers have their way, the answer depends on gender. For the ladies, keep an eye out for confected vodka and whiskey treats, softened with maple sugar, honey, or ersatz fruit flavorings. Meanwhile, for gentlemen, rugged cognac awaits, manned up with oak and fiery spice," Newman explains. But "there’s no conclusive evidence that men and women perceive flavors differently, so it stands to reason that spirits choices have more to do with individual preference ..." Liquor producers are marketing their products the way you would market toys. "Gender-specific spirits, like gender-specific toys, come at a potentially high cost. They reinforce narrow and negative stereotypes, which play a significant role in creating inequality," Newman argues.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.