Weekly Review — February 14, 2012, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Saluting the Town, March 1854]

Greeceâ??s parliament approved an austerity bill, cutting 15,000 government jobs and reducing the minimum wage by 22 percent in exchange for $170 billion in bailout funds from the European Union and the I.M.F. “We must show that Greeks, when they are called on to choose between the bad and the worst, choose the bad to avoid the worst,” said finance minister Evangelos Venizelos. More than 80,000 protesters marched in Athens on Sunday, some of them looting and vandalizing local stores. At least 34 buildings burned, including a Starbucks and an underground movie theater once used as a torture chamber by the Gestapo. “This is worse than the Forties,” said an elderly woman. “This time the government is following the Germansâ?? orders.”APAP via USA TodayReutersBloombergNew York TimesWhile striking in Brussels against an increase in their retirement age, hundreds of firefighters broke through barricades outside the prime ministerâ??s office and soaked riot police in water and fire retardant.GuardianRT.comA man was arrested in The Hague after trying to throw a marijuana snowball over a prison wall, and Dutch ice skaters expressed hope that the extreme cold in Europe, which has killed more than 500 people, would allow them to hold the traditional 124-mile Elfstedentocht speed-skating race for the first time in 15 years.APTelegraphReutersRight-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart addressed Occupy D.C. demonstrators outside the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. “Behave yourself! Behave yourself! Learn to behave yourselves!” he screamed as police led him away. “Stop raping people! Stop raping people! Stop raping people! Stop raping the people! You freaks! You filthy freaks! You filthy, filthy, filthy, raping, murdering freaks!”Atlantic Wire

Al Qaeda announced its support of antiregime protesters in Syria, and Anonymous hacked into the servers of the Syrian Ministry of Presidential Affairs, gaining access to staffersâ?? email accounts, many of which had the password “12345.” One leaked document detailed plans to bypass international sanctions by trading fertilizer with Iran, while another listed talking points for President Bashar al-Assadâ??s December 2011 interview with Barbara Walters. “American psyche can be easily manipulated when they hear that there are â??mistakesâ?? done and now we are fixing it,â??” the document stated, suggesting that Assad mention Wall Street protests “and the way the demonstrations are been suppressed by police men, police dogs and beatings.”ReutersPC MagazineHaaretzHaaretzFollowing complaints from Catholic officials, President Barack Obama amended a recently issued mandate requiring employers to provide free contraception to employees. “Thanks to President Obama,” said Southern Baptist minister and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, “we are all Catholics now.”PoliticoRaw StoryA woman claimed that John F. Kennedy took her virginity when she was a 19-year-old White House intern, and an Oklahoma state senator withdrew from an antiabortion bill her proposed amendment banning ejaculation anywhere but a womanâ??s vagina.Daily BeastJezebelGuardianRepublican presidential candidate Rick Santorum toured a Bemidji, Minnesota, sweater-vest factory, won caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota and a nonbinding primary in Missouri, and said he opposed combat roles for female soldiers because of “the emotions of men… having men not focusing potentially on the mission instead of the natural instinct to protect someone thatâ??s a female.”Raw StoryNew York TimesNew York TimesDallas schoolgirls were excluded from a field trip to see “Red Tails,” a movie about the Tuskegee Airmen. “Girls stayed at school,” said a school-board spokesman, “but principals were given the option to show them â??Akeelah and the Bee.â??”Dallas Morning NewsFlorence Green, the last known veteran of World War I, died at age 110 in England; singer Whitney Houston died at age 48 in Los Angeles; and 1,000 mourners in Illinois attended the funeral of Nello Ferrara, inventor of the Lemonhead and the Atomic Fireball.New York TimesCBS NewsAP via ABC NewsA Wisconsin company was reported to have granted a four-year-oldâ??s Christmas wish for a $380 “Persuade” dual-flush toilet. “â??Mom, wouldnâ??t that be great if I could have this?” the boy said during a visit to the companyâ??s showroom. “Could you imagine all of the things I could do?”Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

New York City hotels announced plans to issue panic buttons to their maids, and British mathematicians used the Rapunzel Number to solve the Ponytail Shape Equation. “We all have likely wondered about the fluffiness of hair,” said Raymond Goldstein, Schlumberger Professor of Complex Physical Systems at the University of Cambridge.AFPDaily MailReuters via Raw StoryUniversity of CambridgeA federal appeals court overturned Californiaâ??s gay-marriage ban, the state legislatures of Washington and New Jersey passed same-sex marriage bills, and Uganda reintroduced an antigay measure, substituting life imprisonment for the original penalty of death.USA TodayAP via USA TodayAP via USA TodayRaw StoryFollowing incidents in four other states, the notorious Piggyback Bandit was spotted in Minnesota, where officials feared he would again rub the necks of high school athletes and jump onto their backs. “Itâ??s the creepiness of the behavior that alarms most people,” said a North Dakota activities director. “Itâ??s a little creepy.”UPIAn official inquiry was ordered in Karnataka, India, after Laxman Savadi, the minister for cooperation, was caught viewing a lewd video clip with the minister for women and children. “Why should I resign?” asked Savadi before resigning. “The video I watched was of a woman being raped by four people. It was not porn.”BBCFilmmakers raised money to release a movie about Osama bin Laden and an “army of zombie terrorists.”Raw StoryIn the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth formally rededicated herself to England, gardeners dug up a bed of blue centaurea growing in the shape of a swastika in Weston-super-Mare, and Swansea University administrators installed restroom posters instructing foreign students on proper toilet postures.Daily MailTelegraphBBCThe Newtown Creek sewage-treatment plant in Brooklyn planned a Valentineâ??s Day tour package including gifts of Hersheyâ??s Kisses and views of its stainless steel “digester eggs,” which process millions of gallons of gas and sludge each day. “Just imagine,” said the plantâ??s superintendent, “going home and saying, â??Where did he take me on Valentineâ??s Day? I went to see the digester eggs in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.â??”GovPro

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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.

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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.)

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.

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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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