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The Week in Ideas 7/14

Posted by Kevin Hartnett July 14, 2014 09:00 AM

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Gambling: an American love/hate story: As Massachusetts voters prepare to vote on casinos, Ruth Graham on how “gambling is really a clash between the deeply American principle that hard work is what should be rewarded, and the equally ingrained one that big payoffs come to those who take big risks.”

The Roman architecture of Mussolini, still standing: Max Page on how One of the world’s great cities bears the signature of a Fascist dictator, and nobody wants to talk about it.

A brief history of hating cities: Rebecca Onion interviews historian Steven Conn, author of the new book, “Americans Against the City: Anti-Urbanism in the Twentieth Century.” Conn talks about the anti-urban impulse running through 20th century American culture, and how even the federal government has been involved in pushing people out of cities.

Plus: Britt Peterson on the history of dog naming, and how it makes it hard to come up with a better term for “mutt.”

And: Kevin Lewis on how practice is less related to excellence than we think; how writing about math problems helps you solve them; how physical pain makes people feel socially isolated; and more.

Image by Jason Raish 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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