Weekly Review — March 22, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: All In My Eye, December 1853]

An American cattleman.

With 112 missiles fired at Libyan military targets, the United States and allies commenced Operation Odyssey Dawn. The military attack followed a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing military action against Muammar Qaddafi’s regime and demanding that attacks against rebel troops cease immediately. “You have proven to the world that you are not civilized,” said Qaddafi, in response to the allied air strikes, “that you are terroristsâ??animals attacking a safe nation that did nothing against you.”CNNABC NewsNew York TimesThe confirmed death toll from Japan’s earthquake and tsunami rose to about 8,400, and the final death toll was expected to be more than 20,000. President Barack Obama made an unannounced visit to the Japanese embassy in Washington, D.C., to sign a condolence book. As the risk of full-scale meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant became more likely, 750 emergency staff were evacuated, leaving behind only 50 technicians, who either volunteered or were compelled to stay. “I may be a bit too callous about this due to the fact that I was really heavily exposed to radiation,” said seventy-one-year-old Kazuko Yamashita, who was five when her home in Nagasaki was destroyed by an atomic bomb, “but I don’t think this is anything to turn pale over.” New York TimesTalking Points MemoNew York TimesMSNBC

Authorities in Bahrain tore down a 300-foot sculpture in Pearl Square that had become the defining monument of the protest movement, saying the change was to “boost the flow of traffic” in the square, and security forces in Yemen opened fire on protestors, injuring more than 200 people and killing at least 40. “I actually expect more than this,” said one activist, “because freedom requires martyrs.” New York TimesNew York TimesThe Browning M1911 semiautomatic pistol was declared the state gun of Utah, and the U.S. House of Representatives ended a program (implemented when Democrats controlled the House) that had replaced plastic utensils and foam cups with compostable products in the House cafeterias. Talking Points MemoNew York TimesA New York City woman whose husband had jabbed a cyanide-filled needle into her buttocks died, as did a snake that bit an Israeli model’s fake breast, of silicone poisoning. New York Daily NewsOrange NewsPhysicists said that the Large Hadron Collider could be used as a time machine to send messages to the past or the future.Live Science

Former secretary of state Warren Christopher, 41-year-old hip-hop singer Nate Dogg, and Knut, Germany’s beloved polar bear, all died. “He was by himself in his compound, he was in the water,” said bearkeeper Heiner Kloes about Knut, “and then he was dead.” New York TimesAssociated PressNew York TimesDoctors in China were struggling to save Xin Xin, a two-month-old boy who was born with his heart growing on his stomach.Orange NewsThe most expensive dog in the world, an 11-month-old red Tibetan mastiff named Big Splash (or Hong Dong in Chinese), was sold to a Chinese coal baron for more than $1 million. “If you don’t give them enough attention they sit in front of the TV,” said Tibetan mastiff breeder James Pally.Daily MailA New York City mother sued a $19,000-a-year preschool for allowing her four-year-old daughter to play too much, claiming that the school had damaged her child’s chances of one day attending an Ivy League college, and high school students gathered online to grumble about an SAT prompt that asked test-takers to write about reality television. “I ended up talking about Jacob Riis and how any form of media cannot capture reality objectively,” one student wrote, invoking the 19th-century social reformer. “I kinda want to cry right now.”New York Daily NewsNew York TimesFour-year-old Suri Cruise was photographed holding a box of penis gummies. Daily MailAlexandra Wallace, a third-year UCLA undergraduate, apologized and withdrew from the school after creating a YouTube video in which she complained about “the hordes of Asian people” talking on cell phones in the campus library. “I swear they’re going through their whole families just checking on everybody from the tsunami thing,” she said. “You might as well go outside, because, if something is wrong, you might really freak out and you’re in the library, and everybody’s quiet.”New York Daily News

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Progress is impossible without change,” George Bernard Shaw wrote in 1944, “and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” But progress through persuasion has never seemed harder to achieve. Political segregation has made many Americans inaccessible, even unimaginable, to those on the other side of the partisan divide. On the rare occasions when we do come face-to-face, it is not clear what we could say to change each other’s minds or reach a worthwhile compromise. Psychological research has shown that humans often fail to process facts that conflict with our preexisting worldviews. The stakes are simply too high: our self-worth and identity are entangled with our beliefs — and with those who share them. The weakness of logic as a tool of persuasion, combined with the urgency of the political moment, can be paralyzing.

Yet we know that people do change their minds. We are constantly molded by our environment and our culture, by the events of the world, by the gossip we hear and the books we read. In the essays that follow, seven writers explore the ways that persuasion operates in our lives, from the intimate to the far-reaching. Some consider the ethics and mechanics of persuasion itself — in religion, politics, and foreign policy — and others turn their attention to the channels through which it acts, such as music, protest, and technology. How, they ask, can we persuade others to join our cause or see things the way we do? And when it comes to our own openness to change, how do we decide when to compromise and when to resist?

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On a balmy day last spring, Connor Chase sat on a red couch in the waiting room of a medical clinic in Columbus, Ohio, and watched the traffic on the street. His bleached-blond hair fell into his eyes as he scrolled through his phone to distract himself. Waiting to see Mimi Rivard, a nurse practitioner, was making Chase nervous: it would be the first time he would tell a medical professional that he was transgender.

By the time he arrived at the Equitas Health clinic, Chase was eighteen, and had long since come to dread doctors and hospitals. As a child, he’d had asthma, migraines, two surgeries for a tumor that had caused deafness in one ear, and gangrene from an infected bug bite. Doctors had always assumed he was a girl. After puberty, Chase said, he avoided looking in the mirror because his chest and hips “didn’t feel like my body.” He liked it when strangers saw him as male, but his voice was high-pitched, so he rarely spoke in public. Then, when Chase was fourteen, he watched a video on YouTube in which a twentysomething trans man described taking testosterone to lower his voice and appear more masculine. Suddenly, Chase had an explanation for how he felt — and what he wanted.

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In the summer of 2016, when Congress installed a financial control board to address Puerto Rico’s crippling debt, I traveled to San Juan, the capital. The island owed some $120 billion, and Wall Street was demanding action. On the news, President Obama announced his appointments to the Junta de Supervisión y Administración Financiera. “The task ahead for Puerto Rico is not an easy one,” he said. “But I am confident Puerto Rico is up to the challenge of stabilizing the fiscal situation, restoring growth, and building a better future for all Puerto Ricans.” Among locals, however, the control board was widely viewed as a transparent effort to satisfy mainland creditors — just the latest tool of colonialist plundering that went back generations.

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In 1899, the art critic Layton Crippen complained in the New York Times that private donors and committees had been permitted to run amok, erecting all across the city a large number of “painfully ugly monuments.” The very worst statues had been dumped in Central Park. “The sculptures go as far toward spoiling the Park as it is possible to spoil it,” he wrote. Even worse, he lamented, no organization had “power of removal” to correct the damage that was being done.

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After losing their savings in the stock market crash of 2008, seniors Barb and Chuck find seasonal employment at Amazon fulfillment centers.

Chance that a Silicon Valley technology company started since 1995 was founded by Indian or Chinese immigrants:

1 in 3

A gay penguin couple in China’s Polar Land zoo were ostracized by other penguins and then placed in a separate enclosure after they made repeated attempts to steal the eggs of straight penguin couples and replace them with stones.

Trump’s former chief strategist, whom Trump said had “lost his mind,” issued a statement saying that Trump’s son did not commit treason; the US ambassador to the United Nations announced that “no one questions” Trump’s mental stability; and the director of the CIA said that Trump, who requested “killer graphics” in his intelligence briefings, is able to read.

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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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