Reintroducing the Middle Ages: Adam Kirsch on the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library, a new series of medieval classics. In America, he argues, we undervalue the Middle Ages. In fact they are fascinating and wonderful, combining Christianity with "the pagan inheritance of the Teutonic world and the polytheism of Greece and Rome," containing everything from "pagan, erotic poetry written by priests" to "Biblical stories retold as Homeric epics." (Harvard Magazine)
How I became a 'terrorist': "Our homes were raided nightly, and we saw our friends, mothers, sisters being attacked....So a group of us kids - six of us, ages 13 to 16 - organized and fought back the only way we knew how: with rocks and a few improvised bottles filled with kerosene." Regret follows, but could he have made a different choice? Thoughtful essay.(Haaretz)
How do you measure global violence?: Is Steven Pinker right when he argues, in The Better Angels of Our Nature, that the world is more peaceful today than it's ever been? Timothy Snyder says not really: "Ask yourself: Is it preferable for ten people in a group of 1,000 to die violent deaths or for ten million in a group of one billion? For Pinker, the two scenarios are exactly the same." (Foreign Affairs)
A visual history of those 9/11 buildings in Seoul: The Dutch architecture firm MVRDV created a globe-spanning controversy with their Cloud skyscrapers, which look way too much like the Twin Towers in mid-collapse. Architecture professor D. Grahame Shane offers an architectural history of the 'cloud' concept, with links to tons of images. (The Architect's Newspaper)
You thought climbing walls were cool: One climbing wall manufacturer also sells artificial caves which you can use to practice spelunking. "The modular nature of the Speleo System makes it possible to create any cave type and can be modified in minutes by simply unbolting and rotating a section! This means you can have hundreds of possible caving challenges and configurations for the price of one." (BLDGBLOG)
What is it like to be a high-powered mathematician? Completely fascinating. "You develop a strong aesthetic preference for powerful and general ideas that connect hundreds of difficult questions, as opposed to resolutions of particular puzzles." (Quora)
[Image: Julian of Norwich, by Flickr user rocket john.]
Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His last article for Ideas was about choosing Congress by lottery.
Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.
Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.
Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.
Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.