Weekly Review — January 18, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: All In My Eye, December 1853]

An American cattleman.

President Barack Obama, speaking at a memorial service in Arizona for the six killed during Jared Loughner’s shooting spree, urged Americans to be better people. “I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it,” Obama said, referring to 9-year-old victim Christina Taylor Green. “All of usâ??we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our childrenâ??s expectations.” The president then choked up, pausing for 51 seconds. “I had her heart in my hand,” said Dr. Randall Friese, the surgeon who operated on Christina. “We filled it with blood. It still didnâ??t want to beat. So, it was over. Weâ??re finished.” Sales of Glock semi-automatic pistols, the model of handgun used by Loughner, surged. Four Arizona Republicans resigned from public office, fearing violence from Tea Party activists, and Clear Channel removed a Tucson billboard that described Rush Limbaugh as a “straight shooter.” Gabrielle Giffords opened her eye for the first time since the shooting, and the Safeway where the shooting took place reopened.Washington PostNew York TimesNew York TimesBloombergRaw StoryRaw StoryNew York TimesNew York Times

Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was forced out of office and replaced by his ally Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, but within 24 hours the interim government had also been ousted amid violent protests that left dozens dead.New York TimesFloods and mudslides in southeast Brazil killed more than 250 people. “I walked on something soft,” said one survivor, “and saw it was the body of a woman covered in mud. She had her arm over her face like she was trying to protect herself.”The Sydney Morning HeraldAn 11-page paper outlining the U.S. government’s strategy to prevent leaks was leaked.TechspotSecretary of State Hillary Clinton, stopping in Yemen during a Middle East trip meant to placate Arab leaders upset by the release of diplomatic memos, told aides she needed a tour jacket like those worn by roadies, that would have a “big picture of the world and would say The Apology Tour on it.”The IndependentPhoenix Jones, or “The Real Life Superhero,” a man who wears a costume and tries to prevent crime in Seattle, had his nose broken when he tried to come between two men “swearing at each other and, like, about to fight,” and a California family was killed by a downed power line; Steven Vego was electrocuted when he stepped on the wire, followed by his wife, who was trying to save him, followed by their son, who was trying to save his parents. Talking Points MemoABC NewsA British man discovered after shaving his head that 19 years ago his hair-transplant doctor branded his scalp with the word “wanker,” and doctors amputated the right leg of Zsa Zsa Gabor.The SunAssociated Press

Wikipedia turned ten.The Economic TimesAstronomers discovered Cosmos-Aztec3, a fast-growing galaxy cluster that is further away and in an earlier stage of development than any previously known galaxy cluster. “We’re seeing the seeds of a galaxy metropolis,” said astronomer Peter Capak, “a city of galaxies that will eventually grow into a large city like London.”BBCResearchers found that people are more likely to remember details about their first kiss than about losing their virginity, and scientists who watched hours and hours of hermaphroditic worm sex learned that sex shapes sperm. “In the lab they mate like crazy,” said lead scientist Lukas Schärer. “Once, we saw a pair mate 40 times in an hour.”Daily MailNatureA former New York State inmate was seeking compensation for negligence after a rat crawled out of his mattress and bit his penis.Orange NewsA Taiwanese man lost a suit against his neighbors for training their mynah bird to call him “a clueless, big-mouthed idiot” every time the bird saw him; the Cambridge University Union announced plans to invite porn stars to participate in an organized debate; and the “grande dame” of audiobooks, Flo Gibson, died at 86, halfway through the taping of her 1,134th title, Les MisĂ©rables.Orange NewsOrange NewsNew York TimesPima County Community College released “Meat Head,” a poem written last spring by Jared Loughner for his poetry class: “Awaking on the first day of school/ Pain of a morning hang over/ Attending a weight lifting class for college credit/ Attempting to exercise since freshman year of high school/ Crawling out of bed and walking to the shower/ Warm water hitting my back/ Eureka.”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.

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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

Photograph from the United Arab Emirates by the author. This page: Ruwais Mall
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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

Minimum square footage of San Francisco apartments allowed under new regulations:

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A Disney behavioral ecologist announced that elephants’ long-range low-frequency vocal rumblings draw elephant friends together and drive elephant enemies apart.

The judge continued to disallow the public release of Brailsford’s body-cam footage, and the jury spent less than six hours in deliberation before returning a verdict of not guilty. The police then released the video, showing Brailsford pointing his AR-15 assault rifle at Shaver while a sergeant asked him if he understood that there was “a very severe possibility” he would “get shot.”

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"Gun owners have long been the hypochondriacs of American politics. Over the past twenty years, the gun-rights movement has won just about every battle it has fought; states have passed at least a hundred laws loosening gun restrictions since President Obama took office. Yet the National Rifle Association has continued to insist that government confiscation of privately owned firearms is nigh. The NRA’s alarmism helped maintain an active membership, but the strategy was risky: sooner or later, gun guys might have realized that they’d been had. Then came the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, followed swiftly by the nightmare the NRA had been promising for decades: a dedicated push at every level of government for new gun laws. The gun-rights movement was now that most insufferable of species: a hypochondriac taken suddenly, seriously ill."

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