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The Week in Ideas (7/30)

Posted by Josh Rothman  July 30, 2012 04:27 PM

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Boston's lost island neighborhood: Courtney Humphries revisits an ambitious plan, hatched in the 1970s, to augment Boston's downtown with a huge "floating neighborhood" in Boston harbor, with tall buildings planted on "floating platforms." It's "a bold and optimistic souvenir of a time when Boston wasn’t afraid to look ahead" -- and architects and planners are warming up to the idea of similarly ambitious developments today.

How did 'Monday' become a racist slur? Ben Zimmer explores the world of the "secret ethnic or racial slur" -- ordinary words that can be used, with "plausible deniability," to say terrible things. "Such code words require shared recognition among the in-group, while, in principle, leaving the targets of the slurs unaware of the game."

The Libya that Khadafy left behind: Gal Beckerman talks to the Libya specialist Alison Pargeter about the dictator's bewildering legacy. His reign took the country on an "ideological journey," and, for Libyans, "a true reckoning with the past four decades and the legacy Khadafy bequeathed is only just beginning."

Plus: Kevin Lewis on movie sex, dinner with your ex, and the economic incentives behind piracy.

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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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