Tourists admire the beauty and size of the Washington Monument, April 1935.
Photograph by Jacob J. Gayer, National Geographic
1935: Photographer Jacob J. Gayer captures fountains gushing their contents over a rainbow while the colossal phallic symbol which dominates the nation’s capital looks on
2013: Government still can’t decide how it feels about legal rights for same-sex couples
"The ongoing psychopathic hatred of same-sexuality has made the United States the laughingstock of the civilised world. In most of the First World, monotheism is weak. Where it is weak or nonexistent, private sexual behaviour has nothing to do at all with those not involved, much less the law. At least when the Emperor Justinian, a sky-god man, decided to outlaw sodomy, he had to come up with a good practical reason, which he did. It is well known, Justinian declared, that buggery is a principal cause of earthquakes, and so must be prohibited. But our sky-godders, always eager to hate, still quote Leviticus, as if that looney text had anything useful to say about anything except, perhaps, the inadvisability of eating shellfish in the Jerusalem area."
British mathematician and pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing was born 99 years ago today, on 23 June 1912. Turing created the method which allowed British codebreakers to crack Nazi Germany’s Enigma cipher, and is widely considered the father of modern computer science; in 1948, for one example, he wrote a chess program which required a computer more powerful than any which yet existed—so he simulated the computer himself in some early trials, taking about 30 minutes per move. His Turing Test, a measure of the ability of an artificial intelligence system to act in a way indistinguishable from a human, remains a crucial concept in AI engineering.
In 1952, Turing reported a break-in at his home by a man named Arthur Murray, with whom he admitted having sexual relations. Both men were charged with “gross indecency,” and Turing was forced to undergo chemical castration in lieu of imprisonment. He died two years later of cyanide poisoning in an apparent suicide, though his family has insisted his death was accidental. In 2009, Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued a formal apology for the government’s handling of the Turing case.