Weekly Review — June 22, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Babylonian lion, 1875]

President Barack Obama premiered a new political narrative of the BP oil spill during a nationally televised address. Instead of portraying government efforts as a cleanup, Obama described a “battle plan”: the oil flowing from the destroyed BP wellhead was not an industrial accident but a “siege” and an “assault [on] our shores.” BP announced that it would cease paying dividends to shareholders and instead hoard money for use in future lawsuits. Americans remained in favor of offshore drilling, members of Congress sold their shares in oil and gas companies as quickly as they could, and Vice President Joe Biden confirmed that he was a politician and proud of it.NY TimesNY TimesNY TimesNY TimesNY TimesWashington PostDrudge ReportAfricans were accused of wasting “obscene” amounts of food, and a “cooker malfunction” in a Campbell’s Soup factory in Paris, Texas, forced the recall of 15 million pounds of SpaghettiOs with meatballs.USA TodayMy Way News via DrudgeAn American man arrested in Pakistan in possession of a pistol, a sword, night-vision equipment, and Christian religious books, who was believed to be trying to find and kill or convert Osama bin Laden, was found to have a history of mental problems.CNNAli Larijani, speaker of the Iranian Parliament, warned “certain adventurous countries” not to inspect his country’s cargo ships at sea.English News via Drudge

The Supreme Court of California heard arguments as to whether only people capable of procreating should be allowed to marry, and Catholics in New York State came out against legislation that would abolish fault-only divorce. “New York State has one of the lowest divorce rates in the country,” said Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference. “While we see that as a cause for state pride, sadly some may see it as a problem to be corrected.”NY TimesNY TimesThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported that “female Viagra” makes women depressed, dizzy, and lightheaded but does not increase their sexual satisfaction, and Harvard scientists determined that American doctors will work harder if they are paid less.USA TodayNY TimesA study commissioned by Mayor Michael Bloomberg revealed that New York City’s administrators know far less about rats than previously assumed, and Andrew Cuomo, a gubernatorial candidate in the state, clarified his stance on pasta cookery. “As an independent Democrat,” he said, “I eat everybodyâ??s lasagna. I eat conservatives’ lasagna. I eat liberal lasagna.”NY TimesGothamist via eaterResearch showed that fat women have a much harder time finding sexual partners than do fat men, and childhood educators dismissed the importance of best friends. “Parents sometimes say Johnny needs that one special friend,” said Christine Laycob, director of counseling at Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School in St. Louis. “We say he doesnâ??t need a best friend.”USA TodayNY TimesIn Munich, a young man dressed only in his underwear mooned a group of Hells Angels, threw a puppy at them, and then fled on a stolen bulldozer. BBC

Incidences of suspected fraud by American soldiers, mercenaries, and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan were up 18 percent over last year, and a funeral-home director in Findlay, Ohio, was arrested for failing to wear clothes in the presence of a corpse.USA TodayCNNThe U.S. Department of Transportation debated the legality of serving peanuts on commercial airliners, and food scientists at Penn State University found that “supertasters” who “live in a neon taste world” experience salty and bitter flavors more intensely than their “pastel” non-supertaster counterparts.LA TimesCNNIn Chicago, the Honorable Richard M. Daley told local reporters that they hate Walmart because they live in the suburbs.Chicago News CoopA growing “epidemic” of Web pornography prompted the decency group Enough is Enough to lobby Congress in favor of censoring the Internet; as many as 60 severed human heads were discovered on a Southwest Airlines flight to Fort Worth, Texas; and Warren Buffett and Bill Gates established a foundation whose purpose is to shame rich people.Washington Times via DrudgeDFW via DrudgeLA TimesIncarcerated men were spending more time with their children.USA TodayIn Botswana, England’s Prince William agreed to blow a young boy’s vuvuzela. “There you go,” the prince said after playing the three-foot trumpet. “Iâ??ve embarrassed myself again.”Telegraph via Drudge

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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

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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