Weekly Review — July 20, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

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

The wire master and his puppets, 1875.

BP successfully capped its hemorrhaging Deepwater Horizon wellhead with an 18-foot, 150,000-pound stopper, 86 days after the rig exploded. The Obama Administration pushed for temporarily reopening the cap and piping oil to the surface to ease pressure on the unstable well, but BP dissented. “No one,” said a spokesman, “wants to see any more oil flow into the Gulf of Mexico.” Fishermen learned that the money they’ve earned helping to clean up the spill will be deducted from the amount they will receive from the $20 billion compensation fund set up by BP, and a new poll showed that 73 percent of Americans disagree with President Obama’s six-month ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf, believing the disastrous oil spill to be a “freak accident.”CNNAP via Yahoo NewsBloombergBP admitted that it had lobbied the British government last year on behalf of Libya to secure the release of the only person ever convicted in connection with the Lockerbie bombing, to protect a $900 million oil-and-gas exploration deal off Libya??s coast, and workers excavating the World Trade Center site discovered the keel of an eighteenth-century wooden ship, presumably used as landfill material when Manhattan’s shoreline was expanded.NYTNYTCordoba House, a Muslim community center and mosque planned for part of the redeveloped site, was still sparking debate. “Peaceful Muslims,” tweeted Sarah Palin, “pls refudiate.”WSJNew York TimesDubai’s Al-Arabiya television released the premature farewell video recorded by failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, and British researchers concluded that the chicken came before the egg.WaPoCNN

The Vatican issued a new set of ecclesiastical laws that categorized both the ordaining of women and the sexual abuse of children as “grave crimes,” and Switzerland refused to extradite Roman Polanski to the United States to face charges of having sex with a minor.New York TimesAOL NewsArgentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage. In Guatemala, President Álvaro Colom, who once posited that “God said ??Adan and Eva,?? not ??Adan and Esteban,??” apologized. “Esteban,” he said, “I ask you to pardon us for centuries of mistreatment and discrimination.”NYTBy a vote of 335 to 1, France’s lower house of parliament approved a ban on wearing an Islamic full-face veil in public, and fines and jail terms for men who force their wives to wear a burqa.BBCOxytocin, known as the “cuddle chemical” because it helps mothers bond with their babies, was shown to help schizophrenics, and a study found that a male penguin’s voice reveals how good a dad he will be by indicating how fat he is and hence how long he can incubate eggs without needing food. Psych CentralLive Science

Former leader Mark Williams was expelled from the Tea Party movement for writing an imaginary letter to Abraham Lincoln, calling slavery a “great gig” for “us coloreds.” Yahoo NewsWaPoGeorge Steinbrenner died, and Rush Limbaugh reflected that “that cracker made a lot of African-American millionaires. He fired a bunch of white guys as managers left and right.”AP via Fox NewsSewer cleaners were digging out an estimated 1,000 tons of putrid fat from underneath London, and Venezuelan officials exhumed nineteenth-century independence hero Simon Bolívar to determine whether he was poisoned by enemies in Colombia. “My God, my God… my Christ, our Christ… This glorious skeleton must be Bolivar because you can feel his presence. My God,” tweeted President Hugo Chávez.The IndependentReutersScientists speculated that Alexander the Great was poisoned by bacteria from the Styx River, and comic-book artist Harvey Pekar, who chronicled his mundane life in the series American Splendor, died.Discovery NewsLATExposure to antidepressants in the ocean was making shrimp suicidal, causing them to swim toward the light, despite its association with birds and fishermen.i09.comIt was determined that last month was the hottest June on record worldwide and the worst month for Armysuicides since the Vietnam era.CNNCNNAl Qaeda in Mesopotamia issued a fatwa telling its fighters to marry the widows of those who have died for their cause, and Omar bin Laden told a British newspaper that “I would love to meet Drew Barrymore. I am single now and she is the most beautiful woman in Hollywood.”NYT via Times of IndiaThe Telegraph

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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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