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The Week in Ideas (5/29)

Posted by Josh Rothman  May 29, 2012 01:24 PM

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The amazing expanding Pentagon: Thanassis Cambanis on how the Defense Department has slowly taken over our foreign policy. "After a decade of 'mission creep' -- into diplomacy, agriculture, even energy policy -- the Department of Defense has become America’s default tool for dealing with the world. Where does this leave the next president?"

How to look at the Pru: Absolutely awesome interactive info graphic on the Prudential Tower. The history of the Pru is the history of Boston.

Putting that doctorate to work: Keith O'Brien on the Ronin Institute, an initiative to put "the unharnessed brainpower of the highly educated underemployed" to work around the world. It's "named for ronin -- the samurai who broke with the code of feudal Japan, refusing to commit suicide upon the deaths of their masters."

Close-reading Donna Summer: Matthew Guerrieri on the pop diva. She "helped changed pop music’s DNA." It dethroned "the riff-oriented thrust of rock dominance" and replaced it with the ebb and flow of dance music.

"Mixed feelings" might be good for you: Kevin Lewis reports on a study showing that "people who experienced more simultaneous positive and negative emotion tended to report fewer health symptoms."

[Image: The Pentagon, by David B. Gleason.]

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
contributors
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

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.

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