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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Billionaires trying to fix US poverty are the sign of a failed system


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Can we rely on corporate leaders to fix poverty?

Of all the solutions to poverty that other developed countries have already implemented, Alston points out one particularly American failure: Insufficient public services and structural support for lower income people. Describing the American view of welfare services, Alston notes that in the US society “immense faith is placed in the goodwill and altruism of the corporate beneficiaries, while with welfare reform the opposite assumptions apply. The poor are inherently lazy, dishonest, and care only about their own interests.” As he notes in his report, the tax reform and the policies of the Trump administration are only likely to expand that divide.

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Annalisa Merelli – Quartz

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World history would be very different without the blood moon eclipse of 1504


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Interesting tidbit from history. How chance events impact future. Recommended by Aayush.

That’s what happened in 1504, in the place now known as Jamaica, when Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus performed a deception that would alter the world’s future, as Duncan Steel explains in his book Eclipse: The Celestial Phenomenon that Changed the Course of History. Without this illusion, colonization of the Americas as we know it—with all it entailed, including the massacres of an incalculable number of indigenous people—might not have been.

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Ephrat Livni — Quartz

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“Positive thinking” has turned happiness into a duty and a burden


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I first read a self-help book just before joining college. Then, I read many more over next few years. These books put a pressure on you to be happy. Always.

There’s nothing wrong with those who have a naturally sunny disposition or who enjoy the odd self-help book, says Brinkmann. The problem is when happiness becomes a requisite. In the workplace, for example, where performance reviews often insist on focusing on positive growth rather than genuine difficulties, demanding displays of happiness is “almost totalitarian.” Brinkmann likens insistence on employee happiness to “thought control.”

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Olivia Goldhill — Quartz

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As Paris expands, what will become of its notorious suburbs?


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Paris is a big city,a must visit city for any traveler. But, there are problems as with any other large city.

Foreigners may think that these problems are not specifically French. Indeed, competing for global relevance while fighting the rising cost of living in ascending megalopolises is an observably international issue. But, as the celebrated French jouranlist Philippe Meyer told Le Monde, Paris is a singular case in many ways, at least in Europe: “a 100 kilometer city with 20,000 inhabitants per kilometer. When we denounce the gentrification of London or of Berlin, we talk about cities where the density of population—4,800 inhabitants per kilometer for London and 3,800 for Berlin—makes the transformations less tumultuous, less fast.”

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Lucile Roger Durieux — Quartz

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