How to future-proof your life

+ Living through war, visualised. Why memorising random facts is useful. Non-existent food designed by artificial intelligence (#390)

I'm glad to have you for another issue of the Weekly Filet. It's David again, I spend a ton of time searching for great things to read, watch and listen to so that you can spend your time actually reading, watching, listening to great things.

This week, you get the extended version of the newsletter — usually reserved for paying members. This is thanks to International Intrigue who are sponsoring this issue.

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And with that, here are my five recommendations plus six instant-gratification links for you this week:

1. How to future-proof your life from pandemics and other threats

Think about a difficult, potentially traumatising period in the future. Now write down a short journal entry as if you're just living through that experience. Ask yourself questions like: What will I feel in this future? What will I and others need most? How will I use my unique strengths to help others? This is how game designer and forecaster Jane McGonigal is teaching people to «future-proof» themselves. This article is part of a series by on «the upgrades we can make to prepare for the next pandemic». I liked this one best because it is useful well beyond the context of a future pandemic.

How to future-proof your life from pandemics and other threats
You can prepare your brain for the next big disaster, biological or otherwise. A futurist explains how.

2. Forget Brexit, here comes Marine Le Pen

Last Sunday's results of the first round might have prompted a sigh of relief. There is still a very real chance that Marine Le Pen will be France's next president. For a lot of people, I feel, it hasn't sunk in how disruptive that would be. This column from Politico Europe is worth a read. Key quote: «Much more than Brexit ever did, Le Pen’s policies present a great threat to the EU and to the liberal, democratic, Western status quo. That’s something that everybody — and French voters in particular — need to understand.»‌

Forget Brexit, here comes Marine Le Pen
Expect trouble if Emmanuel Macron’s far-right challenger becomes president.

3. Visualizing Air Raid Sirens in Ukraine

There is always the danger of dehumanising when actual suffering is turned into data points. That said, I think this visualisation offers a unique perspective on the war in Ukraine, and what it feels like for the people living through it.

Visualizing Air Raid Sirens in Ukraine
As Ukraine continues to heroically resist Russia’s invasion, Ukrainians have to face new realities of war. One of them, a constant presence in our daily lives, is Air Raid Sirens — a loud sound indicating the threat of imminent attack from the air and a call to take shelter immediately. In the digit…

4. ​​Putin’s war shows autocracies and fossil fuels go hand in hand. Here’s how to tackle both

In a weird twist of irony, Russia's invasion has both taken away much needed attention from the climate crisis, and serves as a great example of the big picture that connects the two («autocrats are often directly the result of fossil fuel»). For all the progress that has been made since the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, this trend is worrying: «Over those few years the world seemed to have swerved sharply away from democracy and toward autocracy – and in the process dramatically limited our ability to fight the climate crisis.»

Putin’s war shows autocracies and fossil fuels go hand in hand. Here’s how to tackle both
Democracies are making more progress than autocracies when it comes to climate action. But divestment campaigns can put pressure on the most recalcitrant of political leaders

5. In Praise of Memorization

We all remember a couple of things school teachers forced us to learn by heart that, in hindsight, make zero sense. That doesn't mean memorising facts you can look up within seconds is worthless. This essay makes a great case for memorisation (well, with a z, but I think it holds true on both sides of the Atlantic). In short: If you know something about a lot of things, that gives you more dots to connect. In the author's words: «The point is that memorizing data gives you a bank of material to run through when forming and testing a hypothesis»

Pearl Leff | In Praise of Memorization

What else?

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Take care. See you next Friday*!‌‌‌‌
— David 👋

* Actually, that's not true. I have a surprise for you on Sunday.