Ben Pearson writes about how movie dialogue seems to be more and more difficult to understand every day. "It's gotten to the point where I find myself occasionally not being able to parse entire lines of dialogue when I see a movie in a theater, and when I watch things at home, I've defaulted to turning the subtitles on to make sure I don't miss anything crucial to the plot," Pearson says. So he reached out to several professional sound editors, designers, and mixers, many of whom have won Oscars for their work on some of Hollywood's biggest films, to get to the bottom of what's going on. "One person refused to talk to me, saying it would be professional suicide to address this topic on the record. Another agreed to talk, but only under the condition that they remain anonymous. But several others spoke openly about the topic, and it quickly became apparent that this is a familiar subject among the folks in the sound community."
This man has arguably perfected the lost art of stone skipping
Kurt Steiner is the world’s greatest stone skipper. Over the past 22 years, he has won 17 tournaments in the United States and Europe, generating ESPN coverage and a documentary film. In September 2013, he threw a rock that skipped so many times it defied science. This year he hopes to smash records on both sides of the Atlantic, giving him a platform for sermonizing about a sport he believes is nothing short of a means for the redemption of mankind—“a legitimate path to an essential inner balance,” he says. Skipping has brought Steiner respite from a life of depression and other forms of mental illness. It has also, in part, left him broke, divorced, and, since the death of his greatest rival, adrift from his stone-skipping peers. Now he must contemplate the reality that, in his most truthful moments, he throws rocks not because he wants to, but because he has no choice.
Dying of a disease I never knew existed
Richard Woodward writes about being diagnosed with a disease that kills more than 40,000 people in the US every year, but remains largely unknown. "By this time next year, if the medical forecasts are correct, I will probably be dead," he writes, "another casualty of a fatal illness that most people have never heard of: idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis." Patients with IPF become increasingly short of breath as the lungs no longer perform their vital function of oxygenating the blood. The alveoli in the lungs fill with mucus and harden until they seem to turn to stone. Roughly 40,000 people die from it every year in the United States — 5,000 more than die from prostate cancer and only slightly fewer than die from breast cancer — but there are no TV ad campaigns, road races, color-coded ribbons, or ice-bucket challenges to raise awareness and fundraise for a cure.
The super-rich preppers who are getting ready to survive the apocalypse
Douglas Rushkoff, author and futurist, writes about being invited to speak with a small group of millionaires and billionaires about the end of the world. "They sat around the table and introduced themselves: five super-wealthy guys – yes, all men – from the upper echelon of the tech investing and hedge-fund world," he writes. "At least two of them were billionaires. After a bit of small talk, I realised they had no interest in the speech I had prepared about the future of technology. They had come to ask questions." They started out innocuously. Bitcoin or ethereum? Virtual reality or augmented reality? Then it got serious. "Which was the greater threat: global warming or biological warfare? How long should one plan to be able to survive with no outside help? Should a shelter have its own air supply? What was the likelihood of groundwater contamination?"
Star Citizen has raised more than $500 million from fans, and still has little to show for it
Star Citizen, the controversial space simulation game from developer Cloud Imperium Games, has now raised more than half a billion dollars in funding from backers. The game's exceedingly lengthy development is well-documented, with the game still in alpha over a decade after production began. And while it's attracted some private funding in that time, the overwhelming bulk has come via crowdfunding, beginning with a successful $2 million USD Kickstarter in 2012 and ballooning from there. As of today, Star Citizen has amassed $500,075,150 USD in crowdfunding from a total of 4,096,384 backers. But there's still no hint of a release date for a finished version of the game.
This is what life under China's iron-fist COVID lockdown is like
When the local government in Ruili, China — a city of about 250,000 right on the border with Myanmar — discovered new COVID infections, it imposed some of the harshest restrictions in China. Residents endured seven separate lockdowns from March 2021 to April 2022, and spent a total of 119 days barred from leaving their homes. Mandatory testing has been so frequent that, according to one Chinese news site, a baby there was swabbed six dozen times by his first birthday. When Bloomberg visited recently, boarded-up storefronts lined many streets, idle construction sites baked in the subtropical sun, and jade markets, the city’s best-known tourist attraction, had far more merchants than customers. After loosening restrictions somewhat in the summar, Ruili went back into lockdown in mid-September in response to an infection in a quarantine center. There’s been no indication of when—or if—the border will reopen.