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

Weekly Review

[Image: A Humbug, December 1853]

Egyptian troops killed at least 30 people and wounded at least 1,250 when demonstrators descended on Cairo’s Tahrir Square following an attempt by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to delay a presidential election and increase the military’s power under Egypt’s forthcoming constitution. The country’s interim civilian cabinet submitted its resignation, and a Supreme Council spokesman urged protesters to consider the damage they were doing to the economy. “There is an invisible hand in the square,” he said, “causing a rift between the army and the people.”MSNBCNew York TimesNew York TimesA police officer at the University of California, Davis was suspended after casually pepper-spraying a row of seated Occupy protesters who were blockading their tents; Seattle police pepper-sprayed an 84-year-old woman, a priest, and a pregnant teenager while clearing Occupy Seattle; and New York City police swept into Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park with noise cannons and Klieg lights, forcing out Occupy Wall Street protesters. Police vans obscured street-level views of the operation, the airspace above lower Manhattan was closed to news helicopters, and a half-dozen reporters were arrested. In a press conference, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said health and safety concerns took precedence over free speech. “New York City is the city where you can come and express yourself,” he said. “What was happening in Zuccotti Park was not that.” Two days later, as thousands of protesters marched past the New York Stock Exchange, Bloomberg spent the morning tweeting about the dangers of tobacco.Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostNew YorkerGuardianJosh SternsNew York TimesGuardianTwitterTwitterTwitter

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez of Idaho was charged with attempting to assassinate President Barack Obama after it was discovered he had fired nine rounds at the White House, cracking a window, while the First Family was out of town. In an “Oprah” audition tape uncovered by journalists, Ortega-Hernandez said, “I am the modern-day Jesus Christ that you all have been waiting for,” and, “When humans party, they party hard.”AP via New York TimesNew York MagazineBrazilian troops took control of Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro’s largest favela, to clean it up in advance of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. In the middle of the slum, police searched a mansion belonging to Sandro Luiz de Paula Amorim, a kingpin in the Friends of Friends drug gang, and found a copy of Sun Tzu’s “Art of War.”AP via Yahoo NewsIn China, where officials presented Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin with the Confucius Peace Prize for his “iron hand and toughness” during the Second Chechen War, a nine-seat van packed with 62 kindergartners collided with a truck, killing at least 18 children.NY TimesAP via MSNBCA signed copy of alleged child molester and former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky’s memoir, “Touched,” sold on eBay for $510.eBayMichele Bachmann shared her family’s Thanksgiving pie preferences with reporters, while Herman Cain discussed his pizza preferences. “My husband likes French silk,” said Bachmann, “so if he’s really good, he gets French silk.” “The more toppings a man has on his pizza, the more manly he is,” said Cain, adding, “A manly man don’t want it piled high with vegetables! He would call that a sissy pizza.”US NewsGQPETA requested that Turkey, Texas, change its name to Tofurky in time for Thanksgiving, offering in exchange meals of Tofurky with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes with vegan margarine, and vegan apple pie with non-dairy ice cream. “We are insulted,” said one Turkey resident. “We like Turkey. We are proud to be Turkey.”PETAConnect Amarillo

Moody’s downgraded its outlook on Pilgrim’s Pride, Congress determined that tomato paste was a vegetable, a man in California was arrested after skinning and eating a bobcat while high on meth, and sailors on the USS George H. W. Bush continued to look for a working toilet.Business WeekAP via MSNBCSan Jose Mercury NewsUPIThe Dutch convened history’s biggest Zumba class, and the Irish assembled the largest-ever group of people dressed as leprechauns.ReutersKarl Slover, one of four surviving Munchkins from “The Wizard of Oz,” died at the age of 93.AP via Access AtlantaA great horned owl named Dakota was kidnapped from a rehabilitation center in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. “He’s very talkative,” said the center’s director, “for an owl.”Milwaukee Journal SentinelIn Switzerland, where dolphins Shadow and Chelmers were fatally injured during a rave, scientists concluded that bumblebees eat their colonies’ feces to protect themselves from the intestinal parasite Crithidia bombi.Daily MailDiscoverSaudi Arabia’s Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice claimed the right to detain women whose eyes were too tempting, and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority demanded that the country’s wireless carriers block text messages containing any of 1,500 expressions including the English terms “fatso,” “barf-face,” “strap-on,” “cyber slimer,” “ass puppies,” “monkey crotch,” “finger food,” and “axing the weasel,” and an Urdu phrase meaning “sweat of a lizard’s pubic hair.” “Nobody,” said PTA spokesman Mohammed Younis, “would like this happening to their young boy or girl.”Bikya MasrBBCThe GuardianThe World

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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.

Illustration by Darrel Rees. Source photographs: Kim Jong-un © ITAR-TASS Photo Agency/Alamy Stock Photo; Donald Trump © Yuri Gripas/Reuters/Newscom
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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.

Illustration by Richard Mia
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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.)

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Chance that a teenager in a New York City jail has a history of traumatic brain injury:

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Altruistic children tend to be healthier but from poorer families.

The prosecution told the jury that the officer, Philip Brailsford, was a “killer” for forcing Shaver, who was unarmed and intoxicated, into the hallway and then shooting him as he crawled on the floor crying and asking not to be 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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