Futurists, Chomsky, Medieval Manners, China, Welsh Patagonia, Juncker

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Andrew Curry: The Future

Beatrice Wilford | Five Books | 19th June 2015

Futurist talks about what futurists do — it's about pattern recognition, not prediction; how they have fared in the past; and the best books on futurism. "There's three types of futures: possible futures, probable futures, and preferred futures. People tend to do one or the other. Preferred futures are the bit from the peace movement; possible and probable are the bit from the wartime systems analysis work" (5,579 words)

Revolutionary Methodological Preliminaries

Geoffrey Pullum | Lingua Franca | 22nd June 2015

If Noam Chomsky had published his masterpiece under a snappier title, its fiftieth anniversary this year might be getting more notice. Aspects Of The Theory Of Syntax set "three or four disciplines alight" with its first chapter alone, which introduced deep structure and universal grammar, separated competence from performance, and observed what a demanding feat it was for infants to acquire language at all (818 words)

Life Lessons From The Past

Elizabeth Archibald | Guardian | 18th June 2015

Medieval self-help. "Bedbugs. Awkward conversations. Embarrassment on the dance floor. No matter what problem you’re facing, the Past has already faced it. The Past has already written about it. Medieval scribes sat in their scriptoria and copied recipes for shampoo. Renaissance printers dedicated their movable type to the dissemination of friendly advice about armpit stench. Every century weighed in on the elusive hangover cure" (1,200 words)

The House By The River

Karoline Kan | Anthill | 22nd June 2015

A family story of modern China. "Our family grew big, like a tree. Grandpa was like the root of the tree that went deep underneath his waterside house". He was born at the close of the Qing dynasty; when he died in 2009 "he was buried in the field outside his waterside house, the field his father had lost gambling, not far from the graves of his old friends. We burned his Falungong books and his Communist membership card along with him" (1,500 words)

In Welsh Patagonia

Jasper Rees | Intelligent Life | 19th June 2015

Travels amongst the Argentine Welsh of Patagonia, descendants of 150 Welsh Nationalists who sailed out in 1865 to found a colony, Y Wladfa. They farmed, built roads and chapels — but lost their Welsh. Teachers from Wales have successfully revived the language in the past 20 years. Welsh-speakers with no Welsh blood are called Muggles. “You have to remember that we are not Welsh. We are Argentine people who speak Welsh” (3,000 words)

Interview With EU Commission President Juncker

Peter Müller et al | Der Spiegel | 19th June 2015

Useful observations about Greece, Britain, and Germany. "With all due respect to the new Greek government, one has to point out that some of its representatives came into office without being adequately prepared for the tasks awaiting them ... I don't understand Tsipras. I once told him during a coffee break: If I had campaigned on your platform, I would have won 80 percent of the vote. But he only got 36 percent" (2,500 words)

Video of the day: Baby X

What to expect: Computer-simulated baby. The sound is poor but the visuals are stunning (1'43")

Thought for the day

Either a new novel is worse than mine and I don’t like it, or it is better than mine and I don’t like it
Umberto Eco

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