Weekly Review — February 23, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

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

The wire master and his puppets, 1875.

The top military commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, apologized for a NATO airstrike that killed 27 civilians and wounded 14 near Kandahar; the victims’ convoy was mistaken for Taliban vehicles. “I have made it clear to our forces,” said McChrystal, “that… inadvertently killing or injuring civilians undermines their trust and confidence in our mission.”CNNMullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was second in command to the Taliban’s spiritual leader, Mullar Muhammad Omar, was captured in a joint U.S.-Pakistani raid in Karachi.BBCAfter posting to the web a 3,000-word manifesto about the federal tax code, Catholicism, and government bailouts, a 53-year-old software engineer and honky-tonk bassist, Joe Stack, set fire to his house in Austin, Texas, then crashed his plane into a nearby building containing nearly 200 IRS employees, killing himself and one other person. “Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man,” he wrote, “take my pound of flesh and sleep well.”Los Angeles TimesNew York TimesRapper Sky Blu, of LMFAO, was escorted off a plane after an altercation with Mitt Romney, who was seated behind him; according to Blu, Romney inflicted a “condor grip” on his shoulder when he refused to return his seat to an upright position.Wall Street Journal

Told that she would be denied tenure, a University of Alabama biology professor shot and killed three colleagues and wounded three others. “She’s wacko,” said her defense attorney, who hypothesized that “high IQ… is sometimes not good for people.”CNNAfter complaints by Sarah Palin, Andrea Fay Friedman, the voice actress with Down syndrome who played the daughter of a former governor of Alaska on “Family Guy,” said that “My parents raised me to live a normal life. My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former governor Palin carries her son Trig around looking for sympathy and votes.”Huffington PostRepublicans rallied in Washington at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which some likened to a right-wing Woodstock. Dick Cheney paid a surprise visit to the gathering, and his daughter Liz analyzed President Obama’s plan to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay: “Man, use your brain, dude, that’s totally stupid.”New York TimesABC NewsA British anti-bullying helpline revealed that it has received multiple calls for help from the staff of Prime Minister Gordon Brown.The GuardianScientists were working on a morphine alternative made from scorpion venom.Science DailyEvan Bayh of Indiana became the latest Democratic senator to announce that he would not seek reelection. “I love helping our citizens make the most of their lives,” said Bayh, “but I do not love Congress.”Washington PostCNNBritish church leaders were encouraging people to go on a carbon fast for Lent, by giving up their iPods, eating by candlelight, cutting meat thinner so it cooks faster, and flushing the toilet less often.Reuters

The FBI was investigating a Pennsylvania school district for remotely activating webcams on some of the 2,300 laptops it issued to high school students; according to a lawsuit brought against the district, a vice principal scolded one student for being “engaged in improper behavior in his home.” The student’s lawyer claims that officials suspected the boy was selling drugs because they saw him handling Mike & Ike candy, which they mistook for pills.Daily TechThe inventor of the Easy-Bake Oven died, as did Alexander Haig and the crusader behind New York City’s “pooper-scooper” law.Cincinnati.comAP via NY Daily NewsAP via ABCDNA testing determined that King Tut was a sickly boy whose parents were likely siblings; he had a cleft palate and club foot, and died at age 19 of complications resulting from a broken leg and malaria.AP via Yahoo NewsScientists decoded the genomes of !Gubi, G/aq’o, D#kgao and !Ai, four Bushmen in Namibia, as well as that of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Bantu, and identified more than 1.3 million new genetic variants thereby providing a framework for understanding why so many drugs do not work as well for Africans as they do for Caucasians, who have historically been the main test subjects for medications.Science NewsA Ugandan preacher showed his congregation same-sex pornography in order to disgust them into supporting a bill that would mandate life imprisonment for anyone engaged in gay sex.The GuardianThe Knack’s Doug Fieger, who was responsible for “My Sharona,” died.VarietyPresident Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia released his third pop album, “I Believe I’ll Get There,” and a hiker fell 1,500 feet to his death after posing for a photo on the rim of Mount St. Helens’ crater.Washington PostMSNBCTiger Woods apologized for his infidelity and promised to recommit himself to Buddhism, the Dalai Lama tossed some snow at White House reporters, and an escaped circus zebra galloped along an Atlanta highway during rush hour. “It was an inconvenient time for this to happen,” said spokeswoman Monica Luck, “because the downtown connector southbound usually gets backed up on its own, that time of day.”CNNNew York TimesNew York TimesIn advance of a visit from 5’4″ President Dmitry Medvedev, a Russian town, Omsk, took down posters for a children’s theater show that read, “We await you, merry gnome.”Reuters

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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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