Iceland’s battle against digital extinction


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Iceland’s struggle to save its Icelandic language.

For centuries, the Icelandic language has held off influences from foreign lingua franca like Danish and English. But today, there is a new threat: technologies that can only be operated in foreign languages, even at home. Apple’s voice assistant,Siri, for example, does not understand Icelandic (although Google Translate does, thanks to an Icelandic engineer who worked at the California-based company, according to legend). Half of the world’s 7,000 languages are at risk of disappearing within this century.

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Caitlin Hu — Quartz

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Living Our Own Truman Show


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To me it does seem like we are getting closer and closer to living The Truman Show.

One (real-life) reviewer described the series Teen Mom 2 similarly, writing “The show doesn’t resemble a show. It’s more like boring old life, strenuous and unyielding.” The Teen Mom franchise, which follows very young women raising children with limited support, has millions of viewers. It has even been granted qualified praise by some scholars for possibly reducing teen pregnancy rates. Several of the Kardashians—famously described by Kim to Barbara Walters as “famous for being ourselves”—have also given birth and raised children on their shows. And of course, there is our president, a former reality star who sets himself against “fake news” and whom no one seems to be able to stop watching. In a number of ways, including our desire to watch “real people” and our willingness to see the lives of infants and young children unfold on camera, we have accepted the morality of The Truman Show.

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Devorah Goldman — Public Discourse

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Breaking the Waves


Tracking feminism through generations.

From the start, then, participants in the second wave practiced the sort of dismissal and ingratitude of which they’d accuse later generations. Suspicion, rebuke, and hostility were commonplace among women who might otherwise be allies. “Here are the radicals, wanting to be heard,” Lear wrote in the Times article. “Out there are the mothers’ clubbers, waiting to be alienated.” In journals like Notes from the First Year out of New York, and Chicago’s Voice of the Women’s Liberation Movement, Vol. 1, feminists decried the January march as “futile,” “naive,” and too “moderate,” though it’s unclear what, exactly, they would have done instead. Tellingly, when they were put on the spot by disappointed participants who responded to their calls for more concrete action, they “missed an opportunity to do some valuable organizing” (Voice) and “were not really prepared to rechannel this disgust” (Notes).

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Charlotte Shane — Bookforum

What Sets Italian Americans Off From Other Immigrants?


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Each immigrant group possesses its own strategies for survival and success. For Italians, theirs rested upon two pillars: work and family. Italian immigrants helped provide the labor for American factories and mines and helped build roads, dams, tunnels, and other infrastructure. Their work provided them a small economic foothold in American society and allowed them to provide for their families, which stood at the core of Italian-American life.

Another paradox is that although Italian Americans tend to respect authority, especially the authority of parents and elders, they also harbor a suspicion of broader authority figures, such as politicians and the Catholic hierarchy. This stems from the distrust of such authority in Italy. In America, the family stood as a bulwark against the larger, sometimes hostile, institutions. Respect for authority within the family; suspicion of authority outside of the community.

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Vincent J. Cannato — Humanities

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Tears ‘R’ Us: The World’s Biggest Toy Store Didn’t Have to Die


Toys R US To Close 87 Stores

All stores will be empty by the end of June, but until then customers can stand in front of a “selfie banner featuring Geoffrey,” the retailer said in May. Soon after, Brandon and four other senior executives, now deemed nonessential, left the company. Brandon received almost $7 million in compensation in 2017, including a $2.8 million retention bonus paid just before the bankruptcy filing. He’s already started a consulting company. Former employees have started a Facebook page, Dead Giraffe Society. Some rallied outside the offices of Bain, KKR, and Vornado to protest losing their jobs without severance and occupied a soon-to-be-closed Toys “R” Us store in Union, N.J. Twenty miles away, the company began to liquidate its headquarters. Photos of what’s for sale, including a giant Sully from Monsters, Inc. posed next to a pool table, are available online.

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Bloomberg Businessweek

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THE TRUTH-AFFIRMING POWERS OF A GOOD, OLD-FASHIONED NETFLIX BINGE


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For people who need to justify their Netflix binges.

The Netflix Binge works on the theory that there’s nothing wrong with the web that can’t be fixed by what’s right with it. Close out the brain-cell-­bruising Facebook, and skip over to the neural luxury resort that is Netflix. With no mandate to sell ads, and because Netflix’s profit motive craves your love more than your data, the shows aim only to enthrall. Let yourself be enthralled, then, by shows that subdue consumerism—Netflix doesn’t want you bouncing to Amazon mid-binge—instead of amplifying it.

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Virginia Heffernan — Wired

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Why I Married Myself


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Sologamy.

Sasha Cagen, a women’s empowerment coach who helped popularize self-marriage with her book Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics, held her own ceremony three years ago, when she turned 40. At her wedding, held in a Japanese garden in Buenos Aires with two close friends present, “I vowed to trust myself, to see myself as beautiful, to accept my imperfections and the imperfections of others,” she says. “It helped me to raise the bar on what I would or would not accept in a relationship.” She wore an engagement necklace with two charms, one that says “love” and one that says “Alexandra,” her birth name.

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Abigail Pesta — Cosmopolitan

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