Weekly Review — October 13, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: The Wire Master and his puppets, 1875]

The wire master and his puppets, 1875.

As the United States marked the eighth anniversary of its war in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal asked President Barack Obama to send 40,000 more troops there. Senator John McCain was in favor of the surge, while Vice President Joe Biden argued for unmanned drones. Within days of Pakistan’s announcing a new anti-Taliban offensive in Waziristan, the tribal area that borders Afghanistan, a suicide bomber dressed as a paramilitary officer blew himself up inside a U.N. aid agency in Islamabad, two car bombs killed dozens in markets in Peshawar, and ten gunmen disguised in army fatigues attacked the country’s military headquarters, holding 45 hostages until a commando raid freed 42 of them; the remaining hostages and nine of the militants were killed.AP via Yahoo Newsfoxnews.comAP via Yahoo NewsAP via Yahoo NewsIt was revealed that a young Afghan girl was killed last summer when a box designed to break open in mid-air and scatter public information leaflets fell intact from a British plane and landed on her.The AustralianA British study found that children who are given too many sweets risk becoming violent adults, possibly because they never learn patience,time.comand President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy,” even though the deadline for nominations was February 1st, ten days after he took office.ABC NewsSearching for water, the United States bombed the moon.LA Times

Government ministers in the Maldives, which rising sea levels will make uninhabitable by 2100, were taking scuba lessons and practicing hand signals so that they can hold cabinet meetings underwater.New Zealand HeraldThe government of Ecuador was expelling migrants in the Galapagos because environmentalists fear that the human population, which doubled to 30,000 in the past decade, and which has introduced rats, cattle, and fire ants to the island, threatens native species, among them giant tortoises and brightly colored boobies.NY TimesA Saudi man was sentenced to five years in prison and 1,000 lashes for bragging about his sex life in an interview on Lebanese television.cnn.comItalian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi vowed not to step down after the country’s highest court overturned a law granting him immunity from prosecution. “I am the best prime minister ever,” said Berlusconi, who is embroiled in corruption and bribery scandals. “I am absolutely the politician most persecuted by prosecutors in the entire history of the world throughout the ages.” He added that he had spent “200 million euros on judges… excuse me, on lawyers.”NY TimesThe Supreme Court convened its new term, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked 36 questions in her first hour; Justice Clarence Thomas had not asked a question for more than three years.LA TimesBritish entrepreneurs launched Internet Eyes, a program that allows registered users to monitor live feeds from some of the United Kingdom’s 4.2 million surveillance cameras in order to search for a crime in progress, with cash prizes for viewers who spot the most criminals.The GuardianInsurgents in Somalia forced thousands of people to watch as they amputated a foot and a hand from each of two men accused of robbery.Reuters via NYTHouse Democrats pledged to write into health-care-reform legislation a ban on the practice whereby some insurers deny coverage to battered women because domestic violence is designated a “pre-existing condition.”CNNA Sioux City, Iowa, family found a dead deer dressed in a clown suit and wig on their front porch.AP via msnbc.comBritish scientists reported that learning to juggle can permanently increase brain function, and Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte returned to Earth, after a visit to the international space station, wearing a foam clown nose.New ScientistCNN

Astronomers discovered the largest ring in the solar system, a colossal circle of debris around Saturn caused by the planet’s moon Phoebe having been hit by wayward space rocks.New ScientistArchaeologists announced a new stone circle a mile from Stonehenge that suggests the prehistoric monument was part of a larger burial complex.CNNU.S. coroners were reporting a sharp increase in the number of unclaimed bodies due to the recession.NY TimesFlorida hospital officials advised more than 1,800 people to get screened for HIV and hepatitis after a nurse was found to have re-used IV bags on multiple patients.NBC MiamiNY TimesScientists announced that they had developed a vaccine that prevents cocaine users from getting high.NY TimesFrance’s new culture minister, Frederic Mitterand, was called on to resign after acknowledging that he “got into the habit” of paying young boys for sex in Southeast Asia.NY TimesEgyptian lawmakers called for a ban on the Artificial Virginity Hymen kit, which leaks fake blood,AP via NY Timesand on National Coming Out Day, thousands of gay-rights activists marched on the U.S. Capitol.CNNMary Cheney was pregnant again.Washington PostA teddy bear made of placenta was touring England as part of an exhibit of sustainable toys.Discover magazineThe Mediterranean Sea was plagued by an outbreak of giant, mucuslike sea blobs.National Geographic

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In February 1947, Harper’s Magazine published Henry L. Stimson’s “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb.” As secretary of war, Stimson had served as the chief military adviser to President Truman, and recommended the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The terms of his unrepentant apologia, an excerpt of which appears on page 35, are now familiar to us: the risk of a dud made a demonstration too risky; the human cost of a land invasion would be too high; nothing short of the bomb’s awesome lethality would compel Japan to surrender. The bomb was the only option. Seventy years later, we find his reasoning unconvincing. Entirely aside from the destruction of the blasts themselves, the decision thrust the world irrevocably into a high-stakes arms race — in which, as Stimson took care to warn, the technology would proliferate, evolve, and quite possibly lead to the end of modern civilization. The first half of that forecast has long since come to pass, and the second feels as plausible as ever. Increasingly, the atmosphere seems to reflect the anxious days of the Cold War, albeit with more juvenile insults and more colorful threats. Terms once consigned to the history books — “madman theory,” “brinkmanship” — have returned to the news cycle with frightening regularity. In the pages that follow, seven writers and experts survey the current nuclear landscape. Our hope is to call attention to the bomb’s ever-present menace and point our way toward a world in which it finally ceases to exist.

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The Ambassador Bridge arcs over the Detroit River, connecting Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, the southernmost city in Canada. Driving in from the Canadian side, where I grew up, is like viewing a panorama of the Motor City’s rise and fall, visible on either side of the bridge’s turquoise steel stanchions. On the right are the tubular glass towers of the Renaissance Center, headquarters of General Motors, and Michigan Central Station, the rail terminal that closed in 1988. On the left is a rusted industrial corridor — fuel tanks, docks, abandoned warehouses. I have taken this route all my life, but one morning this spring, I crossed for the first time in a truck.

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But the exercise of labor is the worker’s own life-activity, the manifestation of his own life. . . . He works in order to live. He does not even reckon labor as part of his life, it is rather a sacrifice of his life.

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To look at him, Sweet Macho was a beautiful horse, lean and strong with muscles that twitched beneath his shining black coat. A former racehorse, he carried himself with ceremony, prancing the field behind our house as though it were the winner’s circle. When he approached us that day at the edge of the yard, his eyes shone with what might’ve looked like intelligence but was actually a form of insanity. Not that there was any telling our mother’s boyfriend this — he fancied himself a cowboy.

“Horse 1,” by Nine Francois. Courtesy the artist and AgavePrint, Austin, Texas
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What We Think About When We Think About Soccer, by Simon Critchley. Penguin Books. 224 pages. $20.

Begin, as Wallace Stevens didn’t quite say, with the idea of it. I so like the idea of Simon Critchley, whose books offer philosophical takes on a variety of subjects: Stevens, David Bowie, suicide, humor, and now football — or soccer, as the US edition has it. (As a matter of principle I shall refer to this sport throughout as football.) “All of us are mysteriously affected by our names,” decides one of Milan Kundera’s characters in Immortality, and I like Critchley because his name would seem to have put him at a vocational disadvantage compared with Martin Heidegger, Søren Kierkegaard, or even, in the Anglophone world, A. J. Ayer or Richard Rorty. (How different philosophy might look today if someone called Nobby Stiles had been appointed as the Wykeham Professor of Logic.)

Tostão, No. 9, and Pelé, No. 10, celebrate Carlos Alberto’s final goal for Brazil in the World Cup final against Italy on June 21, 1970, Mexico City © Heidtmann/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Factor by which single Americans who use emoji are more likely than other single Americans to be sexually active:

1.85

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Moore said he did not “generally” date teenage girls, and it was reported that in the 1970s Moore had been banned from his local mall and YMCA for bothering teenage girls.

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