Weekly Review — March 9, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Amid hundreds of rocket and mortar explosions that killed dozens of people throughout the country, Iraq held parliamentary elections. Large numbers of Sunnis, who had boycotted previous elections, voted. “We have experienced three wars before,” quipped one voter, “so it was just the play of children that we heard.” Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s coalition failed to secure a majority of seats, leaving his political future uncertain; the U.S. military said its plans for withdrawal remained “on track.”New York TimesA memoir by Karl Rove said that the Bush Administration would not have started the Iraq war without the threat of weapons of mass destruction.New York TimesRampaging Nigerian Muslims slaughtered 500 Christians with machetes,New York Timesand a Nigerian member of the Vatican choir admitted to having procured male prostitutes for an Italian government official working as a papal usher. CNNDefense Secretary Robert Gates traveled to Afghanistan to meet with President Hamid Karzai as U.S.-led forces prepared for an offensive in Kandahar. “There won’t be a D-Day that is climactic,” Gates said. “It will be a rising tide of security as it comes.”New York TimesHamas banned male hairdressers from styling women’s hair in Gaza.BBC News

Representative Charlie Rangel (D., N.Y.) stepped down as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee amid multiple ethics investigations,Roll CallNew York Governor David Paterson insisted that he would stay in office despite charges that he intervened in an aide’s domestic-abuse case,Buffalo Newsand House Democrat Eric Massa resigned over his treatment of a staffer at a recent wedding, admitting that he grabbed the man and said, “‘Well, what I really ought to be doing is fracking you.'” He then “tousled the guyâ??s hair and left, went to my room, because I knew the party was getting to a point where it wasn’t right for me to be there.”CNNA crowd in Cleveland set a world record for the most people wearing Snuggie blankets in the same place at the same time.Yahoo! SportsDoctors in Fallujah were reporting an increase in birth defects, which some blamed on sophisticated U.S. weaponry used during the siege of the city six years ago. “I’ve seen footage of babies born with an eye in the middle of the forehead,” said an Iraqi researcher. “The nose on the forehead.” BBC NewsA three-year-old girl in South Korea died of starvation while her parents played a child-rearing game online,The Guardian25 people were hospitalized in Vietnam after a box of rat poisyon was mistaken for curry,The Hinduand Sandra Bullock won an Oscar.The LA Times

Scientists at NASA theorized that the recent earthquake in Chile had shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 millionths of a second.NASADemocratic fundraiser Julianna Smoot, known as “The $75 million woman,” replaced Desiree Rogers as White House social secretary.New York TimesLawmakers in South Carolina sought to repeal a 1951 law requiring “subversive agents” to register with the state government by paying a $5 fee and filling out a form and checking “yes” or “no” to answer the question “Do you or your organization directly or indirectly advocate, advise, teach or practice the duty or necessity of controlling, seizing or overthrowing the government of the United States?”CBS NewsThe sentencing of rapper Lil Wayne for a weapons conviction was postponed after a fire in the courthouse,BBC Newsand a German man was arrested after snorting methamphetamine off the hood of a police car in Nuremberg. ReutersThe Pentagon said it would reconsider the Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibitions against sodomy and oral sex as part of the reconsideration of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.CBS NewsPolice in New Jersey forced a woman to put clothes on a Venus de Milo snow sculpture,BBCand Topeka, Kansas, officially changed its name to Google, Kansas, for the next month. “Oh, heavens no,” said mayor Bill Bunten when asked about making the change permanent. “Topeka is an Indian word which means ‘a good place to grow potatoes.’ We’re not going to change that.”CNN

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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.

Illustration by Darrel Rees. Source photographs: Kim Jong-un © ITAR-TASS Photo Agency/Alamy Stock Photo; Donald Trump © Yuri Gripas/Reuters/Newscom
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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.

— Karl Marx

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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

Brontosaurus was restored as a genus, and cannibalism was reported in tyrannosaurine dinosaurs.

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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