Obama? Romney? How about both? Leon Neyfakh on the (surprisingly serious) case for having two presidents instead of one -- which is sort of the way Switzerland's government works (it's run by a committee of seven). It's "one of several far-out proposals being floated by legal scholars who believe the United States government has become so dysfunctional that it requires radical restructuring."
What the Rorschach tells us: Carolyn Johnson talks to Peter Galison, a historian of science at Harvard, about the Rorschach test. "The Rorschach inkblots have their roots in a European parlor game called Klexographie, in which people would create inkblots and imagine what they represented" -- but "what the Rorschach test really marked was the spread of the idea of the unconscious -- an idea about how the mind works that has proved as timeless as the images themselves."
Making fun of Boston.... 100th anniversary edition: Andrew Woodruff on how we mocked Boston a century ago -- just like we do now, it turns out. In 1911, an entire issue of Life was dedicated to making fun of Boston -- the city with "More culture than Athens (Ga.) and More art than Paris (Ky.)
Marriage, defined: Ben Zimmer on the real definition(s). "Despite the belief among some social conservatives that marriage has always meant one thing, its definition has been evolving for as long as there have been dictionaries. For instance, the Century Dictionary, edited by the great American linguist William Dwight Whitney in the late 19th century, included 'plural' marriage in its entry."
The case against tote bags: Kevin Lewis on how receiving a thank-you gift for a charitable donation makes you less likely to donate again -- and more.
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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.