Browser Daily Newsletter 1217

Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

Fear And Loathing Of The English Passive

Geoffrey Pullum | Edinburgh University | 17th January 2014

Critics of the passive voice often don't know what it is. "I provide an informal but comprehensive syntactic description of passive clauses in English, and then exhibit numerous published examples of incompetent criticism in which critics reveal that they cannot tell passives from actives. The evidence demonstrates an extraordinary level of grammatical ignorance among educated English language critics" (PDF)

These Are Very Calm Pigs

Alastair Philip Wiper | de zeen | 23rd January 2014

Photo essay from a visit to a vast Danish slaughterhouse where 100,000 pigs are killed each week. "I was pleasantly surprised by the openness of the plant." And it's quiet. "These are very calm pigs, and that’s the way we want them to be. This room has been designed to calm the pigs down before they go into the slaughterhouse. If the pigs are stressed when they are killed, the quality of the meat will not be so good"

Danny Pearl’s Final Story

Asra Q. Nomani | Washingtonian | 23rd January 2014

Former colleague of WSJ reporter Daniel Pearl, murdered in Pakistan 12 years ago, explains how she pieced together the story of his capture, imprisonment and decapitation. The murderer, the man who wielded the knife, was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, arrested and tried for his part in 9/11 — but never charged with Pearl's killing. Throat-slitting was his speciality; he taught it to the 9/11 hijackers, using sheep

What Jobs Will The Robots Take?

Derek Thompson | Atlantic | 23rd January 2014

Nearly half of today's American jobs could be automated "in a decade or two". Jobs with a "99% likelihood" of being replaced by machines include routine-based jobs such as telemarketing and sewing; and work that can be solved by smart algorithms — tax preparation, data entry keyers, insurance underwriters. Fire fighters seem safe. And recreational therapists. But who knows?

Pinter’s Proust

Christopher Richards | Paris Review | 23rd January 2014

The Proust Screenplay, Harold Pinter’s adaptation of À la recherche du temps perdu, was written in the 1970s and never filmed. It was meant to begin with "a wordless sequence of thirty-six shots". It might seem hard to imagine two writers further apart in style or posture; but Proust and Pinter shared a fascination with memory. In Pinter's No Man’s Land and Old Times, "memories become weaponised". In Proust, they become art

Video of the day:  A Conference Call In Real Life

Thought for the day:

"A good maxim allows you to have the last word without even starting a conversation" — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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