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Monday Links (10/17)

Posted by Josh Rothman  October 17, 2011 06:30 AM

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Bill Clinton and Simon Schama: Great interview. “We’re living in a time when there is a disconnect between the way both politics and many of the communications channels work, and what works for the economy and society. Basically we know what works to create jobs and grow prosperity is networking and co-operation, but it’s not a very exciting segment on the evening news and it doesn’t get blood boiling in elections.” (Financial Times)

The pointlessness of daily market reporting: Market reporter basically admits that headlines connecting market movements to day-to-day events in the news are totally made up, as Nassim Taleb argues in Fooled by Randomness: "[M]ovements in the stock market result from trillions of calculations about future prospects for the economy and for individual companies, most of these unknowable, it’s impossible to come up with a solid proof of what the collective psychology is at any one moment." But this silly reporting will continue, because stopping it is "a sure way to lose readers, who are grasping for an explanation." Nice. (Columbia Journalism Review)

Man accidentally "surfs" great white shark: "Looking down, he could see a dorsal fin in front of his feet as he stood on what he described as 10 feet (three metres) of back as wide as his surfboard and as black as his wetsuit. A tail thrashed back and forth and the water churned around him." He plans to go back out, but "will take a waterproof video camera" next time. (The Guardian)

Paleontologist discovers "giant kraken lair": It might be true -- giant pre-historic octopuses killed huge, 45-foot-long ichthyosaurs, stored their bodies in huge underwater lairs, then arranged their vertebrae in giant, kraken-like shapes to make self-portraits. (The Escapist)

Call of Duty: Postmodern Warfare: Encompasses a surprising number of postmodern genres. "The first level is a flashback level where you are a old man retelling the events of the last level of the game to your grandson. Only your grandson doesn’t exist yet and it’s really you in the present day imagining what it’ll be like to be an old man retelling the last level...." (McSweeney's)

The trouble with n-dimensional objects: For the math nerds out there, a brief overview of "'the curse of dimensionality'.... As the number of spatial dimensions goes up, finding things or measuring their size and shape gets harder." Brian Hayes explains, "in case anyone else also missed school on the day the class learned n-dimensional geometry." (American Scientist)

[Video: Octopus vs. shark!]

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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.
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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