Weekly Review — May 18, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Tempest, December 1878]

Conservative Party leader David Cameron became the British prime minister after agreeing to form a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats. Cameron and the Tories joined with Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats after Clegg began negotiating with Labour Party leaders about ruling through a minority coalition. Clegg’s bluff forced the Conservatives to concede to the Liberal Democrats’ demand that Britain hold a public referendum on electoral reform. London Mayor Boris Johnson called the maneuvering “ludicrous skullduggery” that was “absolutely spectacular and scandalous.” After four out of five Britons said they approved of the coalition government, Johnson praised the arrangement: “I just said it was like a cross between a bulldog and chihuahua, but what I meant is it will have a fantastic hybrid vigor.”NYTNYTBBCNYTThe Philippines held automated elections for the first time in the nation’s history. Although canvassing had not officially ended, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, son of martyred politician Ninoy Aquino and former president Corazon Aquino, who died in August, was expected to win the presidency. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., whose father is believed to have ordered the 1983 assassination of Aquino’s father, seemed likely to win one of twelve open senatorial seats. His mother, Imelda Marcos, was elected to the House of Representatives, along with outgoing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the world champion boxer Manny Pacquiao. Despite vote buying, voter intimidation, and defective ballot-reading machines, officials were relieved that the election hadn’t failed. “We’re smiling again,” said Elections Commissioner Jose Melo. “The machines worked more than we expected.” USA TodayPhilippine Daily InquirerPhilippine Daily InquirerPhilippine Daily InquirerGMA News TVPhilippine Daily InquirerPhilippine Daily Inquirer

Terrorists carried out the deadliest attacks in Iraq so far this year, killing at least 119 people in a series of coordinated car bombings in ten cities and forcing U.S. military commanders to question whether they will be able to withdraw troops as scheduled in August. “Wait for the long gloomy nights and dark days soaked with blood,” insurgent leader Lideen Allah Abu Suleiman wrote on a militant website. “What is happening to you nowadays is just a drizzle.” AP The TimesAP Rogue Thai General Khattiya Sawatdiphol, who had been protecting anti-government protesters in Bangkok from the military, was shot in the head moments after saying, “The government cannot get in here.” He died three days later. Thirty-five people were killed in subsequent clashes, with Thai troops shooting tear gas and bullets at protesters, who defended themselves with homemade rockets, sharpened bamboo poles, and plastic bags filled with spicy fish sauce.NYTNYTNYTA middle-aged landlord in the Chinese city of Hanzhong was overheard complaining about his rent on his way to a kindergarten, where he used a cleaver to hack to death a teacher, her mother, and seven children before returning home and committing suicide;NYTan elderly Illinois man shot and killed a 23-year-old father of two whose dog urinated on his lawn; Chicago Tribuneand a prostitute at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Arizona, punctured a concierge’s scalp with her stiletto heel because he called a yellow taxi for her. The woman later told police that hotel employees “should know I need a sedan.” Smoking Gun

Massive, salad-dressing-like plumes of oil were observed in the Gulf of Mexico, one of which was estimated to be ten miles long, three miles wide, and up to three hundred feet thick. Scientists said oil may be escaping from BP’s damaged well at a rate five to sixteen times the government’s estimate of 5,000 barrels per day. BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward called the spill “relatively tiny” in relation to the “very big ocean” and promised that his company would fix the leak. “The only question,” he said, “is we do not know when.” At congressional hearings, BP’s representative blamed Transocean, the company that owns the Deep Horizon rig where the accident occurred; a Transocean executive blamed Halliburton for building the well’s defective concrete casing; and Halliburton’s representative said his company was only following BP’s orders. President Obama blamed all three for “falling over each other to point the finger of blame at somebody else.” NYTGuardianCNNCNNObama visited Duff’s Famous Wings in Buffalo, New York, where 45-year-old customer Luann Haley told him he was a “hottie with a smokin’ little body”CBSnewsand a billboard outside depicted unemployed college students. “Dear Mr. President,” the billboard said, “we need a freakin’ job.”CBSnewsThe housing market was rebounding in Las Vegas, where contractors were building 1,100 new homes, even as more than 15,000 brand new and foreclosed houses remained empty. “Our customers wouldn’t care if there were 50 homes in an established neighborhood of 1980 or 1990 vintage, all foreclosed, empty and for sale at $10,000 or less,” said real estate executive Brent Anderson. “They want new. And what are we going to do, let someone else build it?” NYT

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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.

— 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.

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