Noway's best-selling book of 2011 is... the Bible: Alison Flood explains: "The first Norwegian translation of the Bible for 30 years topped the country's book charts almost every week between its publication in October and the end of the year... Its launch in the autumn saw Harry Potter-style overnight queues, with bookshops selling out on the first day as Norwegians rushed to get their hands on the new edition." (The Guardian)
Two economic narratives: Great summary by Raghu Rajan of the two main ways analysts are accounting for the financial crisis. One narrative says we've accumulated too much debt over the last decade; another, that "the advanced economies’ fundamental capacity to grow by making useful things has been declining for decades, a trend that was masked by debt-fueled spending." Like Rajan, I incline towards the second narrative -- and the two narratives suggest different sorts of policy. (Booth School of Business / Fault Lines)
Why Presidents ignore spies: By a former C.I.A. counterterrorism expert: "Americans often get the sense that their leaders' hands are guided abroad by their all-knowing spying apparatus.... On major foreign-policy decisions, however, whether going to war or broadly rethinking U.S. strategy in the Arab world (as President Barack Obama is likely doing now), intelligence is not the decisive factor." A memo from some intelligence analyst they've never met simply can't compete with a President's closest advisors, friends, preconceived notions, and "neuroses." (Foreign Policy)
Excellent profile of Mitt Romney: But let's get right to what we're all interested in; it's true, he really did strap his dog to his roof in his dog carrier -- although not before "he had improvised a windshield for the carrier to make the ride more comfortable for the dog." (Vanity Fair)
Presidential style through the ages: An overview, with great pictures of every single president at his most stylish. "Thomas Jefferson, unapologetic in fur. Well played, sir." (The Significant Other)
Scientists invent invisibility cloak: It only works for 40 trillionths of a second, but still! "Other newly created invisibility cloaks fashioned by scientists move the light beams away in the traditional three dimensions. The Cornell team alters not where the light flows but how fast it moves, changing in the dimension of time, not space.... 'You kind of create a hole in time where an event takes place,' said study co-author Alexander Gaeta, director of Cornell's School of Applied and Engineering Physics. 'You just don't know that anything ever happened.'" (San Francisco Chronicle)
Harrison Ford playing Uncharted 3: For the boys in the audience -- a hilarious video of Harrison Ford playing the new, Indiana Jones-esque video game (filmed for this commercial). "In the movies I always win.... In the game, sometimes I don't win... Ohhh! I'm dead!"
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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.