Why we prefer subtitles

A certain article has been making the rounds. I’m not linking to it, even with rel=nofollow, but you can search for these quotes if you want to read the cringe first hand. Like all screeds of this nature it inadvertedly proves the opposite.

First off, it’s hardly just Americans who don’t like subtitles. No one likes subtitles. They’re only common in markets where film revenues aren’t high enough for studios to recoup the cost of producing dubbed versions.

Not even remotely close. Even where dubs are available, some people prefer subtitles. It would have taken five seconds of web searching to see this. At least it’s better than his first take, emphasis added:

First off, it’s hardly just Americans who don’t like subtitles. No one likes subtitles. They’re only common in countries too poor to afford a dubbing industry.

Subtitle from SSSS.Gridman: I hate to burst your bubble.

Back to his sanitised revision:

My pet peeve is that of course no one likes subtitles. After all, they eliminate one of the key aspects of the acting craft: reading lines.

That’s exactly why we prefer subtitles. We want to hear the emotion, cadence, and timing of the original actor and lines. Dubs necessarily detract from this, even with the best intentions, translations, and actors.

It is faux sophistication of the highest order to pretend that this shouldn’t—or doesn’t—matter.

But only one of my pinkies was up while typing this, and I only had half a slice of smashed avo too. Check mate from the unwashed masses!

None of this is to say that you can’t enjoy subtitled films. Of course you can. And I saw almost no movies last year, so I have no opinion on Parasite one way or the other. It’s only to say that spoken dialogue is a key part of the theatrical experience. Of course it matters.

He’s absolutely right, perhaps just not in the way he intended.

Subtitle from SSSS.Gridman: I'll leave you here.

Screenshots from SSSS.Gridman, released by Trigger in 2018. For the gentleman who wrote this, anime is used in the West to refer specifically to Japanese animation. Japan is a country in Eastern Asia, a region of the world that isn’t the United States, that isn’t poor, and that dubs and subtitles their exported shows because they don’t natively speak English. That’s the language you’re reading now as opposed to listening to, because I was too poor to hire voice actors. Or whatever his point was.

Fog in Sydney yesterday

It was wonderful having hampered visibility on account of water vapour over bushfire smoke for the first time in months. Photo below taken in Chatswood in the early morning, and Wynyard later in the day.

Photo of the fog in Chatswood shrouding a few buildingsPhoto around Wynyard showing the fog down a street

The Rural Fire Service was also reporting the torrential rain has put out thirty fires over the last few days.

Let’s not get complacent though. This all happened because humans continue to screw with the environment with reckless abandon, which is counterproductive at best because we happen to live and grow our food in it.

Coronavirus info from data centres

Equinix in Australia just advised us:

The following additional processes have been implemented across our [data centres] in Asia-Pacific:

  • Before entering the data center, all visitors are required to have their temperature checked by the facility staff using no-contact infrared thermometers. We do not record any of the information collected. Those who have a body temperature above 37.3 degree Celsius will not be allowed to enter the data center

  • Hand sanitizers have been placed at the security counter of all data centers

  • Liquid soap, disposable towels and hand dryers are available in data center restrooms

Getting a temperature check before going into the data centre reminds me of Singapore immigration during SARS. The Coronavirus has now killed more people.

Music Monday: Samba Pa Ti

Welcome to another installment of Music Monday, the self-evident blog post series for which no further explanation is presumed to be required. Or needed, if this were about Bread. Get it? Because kneeding is what you… shaddup.

My parents had a set of their own mix tapes they’d play in the car during long road trips which came to define my sister’s and my childhoods. I owe my knowledge of Michael Franks, The Beatles, Van Morrison, Joe Cocker, Santana, the Dooby Brothers, Angélique Kidjo, Bread, and too many more to count from listening to those tapes. They were played through rural Australia, winding roads in the Balinese mountains, and the first few years after we moved to Singapore.

Play Samba Pa Ti

This song from his 1970 album Abraxas is my all-time favourite Santana song, and in my top five favourite songs of all time. It evokes so many emotions and nostalgic feelings for those carefree days before my mum got sick and the biggest troubles to beset our family were deciding where to spend the holidays. It’s also a beautifully-crafted song in its own right.

TeX graphicx changing page margins

graphicx is the de facto standard for including images in (La)TeX documents. But I noticed on the weekend that importing the package resulted in the margins in the document shifting:


I’d been using this for years, so the behavior surprised me. I swapped the document type back to book, and changed my beloved b5paper size to a4paper without any difference. I thought maybe some images were stretching the margins somewhere, but removing the aforementioned visual depictions them also did nothing.

Importing the paper geometry after graphicx fixed it:


Or defining it in your documentclass if it’s supported:


I love writing in LaTeX, but I always forget small things like this.

Another post on open source civility

On a recent Rubenerd Show I talked about the reception NomadBSD had received in certain quarters like Reddit, and how a vocal pluality deemed it unnessesary because it didn’t fill any purpose for them. Ignoring the logical fallacy so vast one could drive a lorry of Walnut Creek CD-ROMs through it, what’s the point of such belitteling statements? Just because it’s not useful to you, doesn’t mean it’s not useful to someone else, to spell it out.

Which leads me to this article by Tim Anderson in The Register about the developer of Actix. I’ve heard of Actix, and I’m not even a Rust developer or user beyond Firefox being my primary browser. It has some impressive performance stats, especially compared to other CMSs run on similar servers. I checked it out when I was flirting with moving off gohugo and static site generation.

The maintainer of the Actix web framework, written in Rust, has quit the project after complaining of a toxic web community - although over 100 Actix users have since signed a letter of support for him.

“Be[ing] a maintainer of large open source project is not a fun task. You[’re] alway[s] face[d] with rude[ness] and hate, everyone knows better how to build software, nobody wants to do homework and read docs and think a bit and very few provide any help. … You could notice after each unsafe shitstorm, i started to spend less and less time with the community. … Nowadays supporting actix project is not fun, and be[ing] part of rust community is not fun as well. I am done with open source.”

I’ll bet there’s some precious context here we’re missing, as with all these public burnouts. Kim might have not have been as forthcoming with fixes, or been as receptive to feedback as he could have been. He may be dealing with personal issues, or feedback he received in private pales in comparison to public, on the record comments. But this is all irrelevent if Kim felt threatened. It has nothing to do with his metaphorical skin thickness, or the responsibility people see him having. This should be intuitively obvious to more than just caring or empathetic people, yet here we are.

I’m unsure why poor treatment in free and open source software is getting more attention than it used to. The Internet had trolls before the WWW. Perhaps the sheer volume is larger now, or victims see Linus Torvalds apologise and feel emboldened to speak about it. I’m hoping more of the latter.

The thing that floors me is even blinkered narcissists should recognise that being a dick is not conducive to growing free and open source communities. I avoided speaking and blogging about BSD and Perl for years after being constantly harangued for my poor life choices. Maybe it was projection, or they were used to the crap they used to have to deal with and consider it an awkward form of hazing?

How many (admittedly far more talented) people have either stopped contributing, or have seen how others are treated and decided to steer clear? If the answer to either of those is greater than zero, we’ve lost.

Stepping on anything other than unsubscribe

Stepping, email footers… someone could have made that funny.

I’ve mentioned Merlin Mann’s bulk email trick a few times before, but there’s someone born every minute who hasn’t seen The Flintstones. Keep a smart folder or saved search in your email client that matches on the word unsubscribe, and it makes it a snap to perform regular purges.

Either I’ve become very good at this and fewer of those emails now arrive in my inbox, or marketers are cottoning onto the fact we’re doing this. I’m seeing more footers going to great lengths to reference anything but the specific word unsubscribe. Here are a few examples just from today:

  • Change communication preferences
  • Update your email preferences
  • Update your preference here
  • Update your subscription preferences

In fact, is a phrase with two words. The trend now seems to be some babble proceeded by prefererences. Maybe some regex is required.

Surface of the Sun

Photo of the surface of the sun, taken by the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope.

Speaking of things I tweeted recently, this image is one the most incredible things I’ve ever seen, couresy of the National Science Foundation in the US. The surface of the sun looks like golden animal skin.

The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope has produced the highest resolution image of the sun’s surface ever taken. In this picture, taken at 789 nanometers (nm), we can see features as small as 30km (18 miles) in size for the first time ever. The image shows a pattern of turbulent, “boiling” gas that covers the entire sun. The cell-like structures – each about the size of Texas – are the signature of violent motions that transport heat from the inside of the sun to its surface. Hot solar material (plasma) rises in the bright centers of “cells,” cools off and then sinks below the surface in dark lanes in a process known as convection. In these dark lanes we can also see the tiny, bright markers of magnetic fields. Never before seen to this clarity, these bright specks are thought to channel energy up into the outer layers of the solar atmosphere called the corona. These bright spots may be at the core of why the solar corona is more than a million degrees. Credit: NSO/AURA/NSF

There’s so much going wrong with the world right now, but I still feel honoured and privileged to be living during this time. We’ve seen the sun this close, and only a few years ago saw the heart on Pluto that our ancestors didn’t even know existed. Science is beautiful.

Empathy for Scotland rejoining the EU

From the BBC this morning:

When asked about the prospect of an independent Scotland joining the EU, [Former European Council president Donald Tusk] said he had to “respect the internal debate in the United Kingdom” and it was not his role to intervene.

But when pressed on the level of support in the EU towards an independent Scotland joining the union, he said: “Emotionally I have no doubt that everyone will be enthusiastic here in Brussels, and more generally in Europe.

Scotland voted in favour of the UK staying in the EU by 62% to 38% in 2016.

In a speech on Brexit day, Nicola Sturgeon said there was “real and profound sadness” felt by many Scots, also tinged with anger.

I maintain that the people who voted for Brexit are not aware of the Pandora’s Box they’ve opened, or they wouldn’t have done so. Breaking off from one union may lead to the dissolution of their own. It’s like watching a Pythonesque fish dance in slow motion, only the hapless chap they’re slapping is themselves.


Help NetBSD test 9.0 Release Candidate 2

I tweeted about this earlier today, but this is huge news. If you have a spare moment, please download and run the latest release candidate for NetBSD 9.0 for an architecture you can test on.

NetBSD 9.0 looks to be a stellar release, particularly for storage for which I harbour the most interest. ZFS pools can’t yet be booted from, but will be finally included for data use which I’m super keen to test. They’ve also reworked the SATA stack in the same vain to better handle reported drive errors.

There are tons of other features and changes; check the formal release notes for more details and grab an ISO or disk image.

I’m mostly a FreeBSD person now, but NetBSD was my first, and I still maintain a few computers and a template for it on OrionVM. I was also lucky enough to meet several of the maintainers at AsiaBSDCon who also explained to me how devpubd(8) worked for my platform integration scripts. And pkgsrc is the best cross-platform package manager, as far as I’m concerned.