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The Week in Ideas 11/25

Posted by Kevin Hartnett  November 25, 2013 09:46 AM

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Thanksgiving, or how to eat American politics: Rachel Laudan on the political values that gave rise to the standard Thanksgiving menu. The simple foods enjoyed on Thanksgiving, which was first declared a national holiday in 1863, draw “on a long tradition of antimonarchical political and culinary thought,” and are a deliberate repudiation of haute cuisine. The article includes capsule explanations of the culinary origins of many favorite Thanksgiving dishes, from turkey (an abundant, native bird served in contrast to elite fare like swans and herons) to Jell-O salad.

The Alfred Russell Wallace Revival Club: Liz Leyden on a small but determined campaign to give Alfred Russell Wallace his due. Wallace formulated a theory of species change nearly identical to Charles Darwin’s, and presented it to the world at the same time. But, Darwin went on to become one of the most famous men in history while Wallace has been largely ignored. Now, though, historians and scientists are publishing new books on Wallace and trying to push his important contributions to the forefront.

Want the best person for the job? Don’t interview: Sarah Laskow on new research showing that unstructured job interviews might make it harder to identify the best candidate. “Interviews give us so much information, the researchers say, that they pull our attention away from more relevant data.”

Plus: Kevin Lewis on how college kids pursue immediate gratification more often when surrounded by peers; how male political candidates bait female opponents into talking about “feminine” issues like education and welfare; how taking a semester off in college may hurt you later in the eyes of prospective employers; and more.

Image by Maurice Vellekoop for The Boston Globe.

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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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