How Generation Z became obsessed with subtitles

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Plenty has been written about the death of reading among Generation Z, but those critics clearly aren’t taking into account the millions of words they consume every year while watching TV and films. A 2021 survey by the captioning charity Stagetext found that in the 18-25 age group, four out of five use subtitles all or part of the time. What’s going on here? One reason they do it, a Gen Z-er said, “is so they can take in the whole scene quickly, and look back down at their phone, or whatever second screen they have. It’s kind of stupid, but everyone does it.”

Stranger Things uses some very creative subtitles CREDIT: Netflix

Ancient sculptures given back their “real” colours take some getting used to

Even when you know what to expect, the results are disconcerting: 17 richly painted reproductions of ancient sculpture interspersed among Greek and Roman originals, creating a riot of color amid the more subtle hues of marble and bronze. The colorized works are part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition “Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color,” displaying reconstructions of what ancient sculpture may have looked like, based on scientific analysis of pigment fragments from many surviving antiquities.

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The pros and cons of assisted suicide

Obviously this is a huge and problematic topic, and I’m not pretending that I have the definitive answer by any means, but I’ve been thinking about assisted suicide and Canada’s laws allowing it — although they use the much more palatable term “medical assistance in dying” or MAID. I know that there are those who argue that allowing people to choose to die encourages some (including the disabled, and the chronically depressed or mentally ill) to end their lives earlier than they perhaps should (Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, and a number of other countries byalso allow physician-assisted suicide)

That said, however, as someone who has watched a loved one (my father) waste away slowly from a terrible illness with little to no chance of recovering to have a normal life (lung and throat cancer), I believe that offering MAD is the most humane thing we can do in a lot of circumstances. I was reminded of this after a memorial for an old friend who was also diagnosed with stage four cancer, and given little to no chance of survival.

Rather than go through the pain and suffering associated with chemotherapy, this friend decided to choose their own ending. Their children talked at the memorial about how touching and special it was to be able to spend one last evening with their father, having dinner, watching old movies, and talking about the good times, before saying goodbye for the last time. It sounded like a pretty wonderful end to a life well lived.

Could this friend have survived and lived longer? Perhaps. It’s impossible to say. But what would his quality of life have been? Is it worth it to live longer, if you are in pain all the time, can’t eat or drinks, etc? I don’t think so. And I wish the option had been available when my father died, so that we could have had a last meal and watched movies and talked about the good old days. That sounds like a pretty good way to go, to me at least.

Why does the IRS need $80 billion? Just look at its cafeteria

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It’s part of what the IRS calls the “Pipeline”: a 1970s-era assembly line used to process tax returns at several locations around the country. And it might give you a sense of why Congress is on the verge of handing the agency $80 billion through the Inflation Reduction Act — not only for more enforcement but also for tech modernization. As of July 29, the IRS had a backlog of 10.2 million unprocessed individual returns. Blame the pandemic, sure, but also the agency’s embarrassingly outdated, paper-based system, which leaves stacks and stacks of returns cluttering shelves, hallways and even the cafeteria. On the Pipeline, paper tax returns aren’t scanned into computers; instead, IRS employees manually keystroke the numbers from each document into the system, digit by digit.

When Germans and Russians stopped fighting so they could kill wolves

During the winter of 1916-1917, in the area of Lithuania and Belarus in the Kovno-Wilna Minsk district (near modern Vilnius, Lithuania), starving wolves began to attack German and Russian soldiers. During one of the battles, the Russian and German scouts saw that a large pack of hungry wolves had attacked and were eating the wounded soldiers. Seeing what was happening, the opponents immediately stopped the fight and jointly began to kill the predators.

In one of the messages of the newspaper Oklahoma City Times, it said, “Parties of Russian and German scouts met recently and were hotly engaged in a skirmish when a large pack of wolves dashed onto the scene and attacked the wounded. Hostilities were at once suspended, and Germans and Russians instinctively attacked the pack, killing about 50 wolves.”

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Photo of nearest star turns out to be slice of chorizo

Note: This is a version of my personal newsletter, which I send out via Ghost, the open-source publishing platform. You can see other issues and sign up here.

Apparently Elon Musk, currently the world’s richest man with a net worth of about $265 billion, doesn’t live in a massive mansion somewhere. He said during a recent podcast with Canada’s Nelk Boys that his main house is a small one he bought for just $45,000 in Texas to be near the SpaceX launch site. And his guest house is a Boxabl — a tiny home (about 375 square feet or so, including a kitchen) that costs about $50,000 and comes folded up in a crate and gets assembled on site

A photo shared with Insider appears to show Boxabl delivering a Casita to SpaceX

Legendary Motown songwriter dies at 81

Motown hitmaker Lamont Dozier, who penned songs for The Supremes, The Four Tops and The Isley Brothers, as well as Marvin Gaye and Martha and the Vandellas, has died aged 81. The news was confirmed by his son Lamont Dozier Jr on Instagram. As part of the Holland, Dozier, Holland songwriting team, he had many number one records and Grammy awards. Their hits include Baby Love, Nowhere to Run, How Sweet It Is (to Be Loved by You) and You Can’t Hurry Love.

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The trouble with Facebook

From a great piece by Dave Karpf on the problem with Facebook:

“The trouble with Facebook is, more broadly, the trouble with the entirety of Silicon Valley and its particular version of techno-capitalism. You could imagine a profitable company that does what Facebook is actually good for. Create a free social network with a newsfeed optimized for personal life updates and conversations within your extended social graph. Pare things back, revert it to the place where people keep in touch and organize dinner parties. Sell advertisements against the page views. There’s money in such a company.

But it’s not a trillion-dollar company. Its founder doesn’t buy a mansion and then buy all the houses on adjacent lots to ensure privacy. Its early investors don’t carve out entire career paths on the basis of having been an early-investor-in-Facebook. It’s ultimately a small-money company. And Silicon Valley doesn’t do small-money companies.”

Things get weird at the sub-atomic level

Okay, we live in a world. That world contains us and all the things we see. Of what are these things comprised? Matter! physicists say. Fantastic! And what is matter made of? Atoms, physicists say, but not as enthusiastic because they sense where this is heading. And what are atoms and their sub-atomic particles made of? the world asks. The actual stuff of life?

Here physicists are silent. Not because they don’t know—not exactly—but because the answer is too weird to be believed. At the sub-atomic level, particles become waves of energy and those waves of energy can sense when they’re trying to be measured. It’s true. Physicists talk about how the reading comes back all strange and mangled and just at spot of their attempted measurement.

Also: sub-atomic particles exist in two places at once. This is even weirder. This one particle is here, and also there, and at the same time. How can one thing be in two places at once? And what is the implication of that? Especially when that one thing is the literal building block of all life?

Paul Kix’s intro to this piece by Adam Frank, a physicist, in Aeon magazine