Numlock News: April 26, 2022 • Subs vs. Dubs, Vinyl, Māori
By Walt Hickey
Artist Tyler, the Creator’s album Call Me If You Get Lost has hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart for the first time in almost a year, when it debuted to No. 1 on the chart in July of 2021. The rise was almost entirely fueled by, believe it or not, vinyl album sales, with the new release of Call Me If You Get Lost on vinyl moving 49,500 vinyl units in the United States, the vast majority of the 59,000 equivalent album units that put it at number one. That 49,500 vinyl albums in a week is the ninth-largest sales week for vinyl since tracking began in 1991, a sign that the archaic but charming format has some real muscle in the music business now overwhelmingly dominated by streaming.
Dust In The Wind
A paper published in Nature Astronomy argues that the planet Venus would likely not rotate at all if not for the incredibly powerful atmospheric winds. Venus takes 243 Earth days to complete a single rotation, but the atmosphere circulates the planet every four days, and the argument goes that those incredibly fast winds are pulling the planet itself along to rotate. The average temperature on Venus is 900 degrees Fahrenheit, and almost all of the Sun’s energy pelting the planet is absorbed by the thick atmosphere, not directly reaching the surface.
A non-profit radio station in New Zealand catering to a Māori listenership wanted to use natural language processing to digitally establish te reo, the Māori language, and develop tools for transcription and other similar tools. British colonization drove the language out, with 90 percent of Māori schoolchildren speaking native te reo in 1913 falling to just 12 percent of Māori in 1985. With the goal to reverse that trend, and to develop the digital tools, the couple that runs the station reached out to the community for audio recordings, within 10 days collecting 310 hours of speech-text pairs from 200,000 recordings and 2,500 people. That’s an outstanding dataset, and soon afterward they were able to develop a te reo speech recognition model with 86 percent accuracy.
Subs vs. Dubs
A new survey drags the pervasive subtitle vs audio dubbing debate out of the anime forum and into the international square, showing which countries on balance favor dubs and which favor subs. Leading the group that prefers dubs are the Russians (86 percent prefer dubbing to just 7 percent preferring subtitles), Germans (76 percent dubs, 12 percent subs), Italians (73 percent dubs, 18 percent subs) and Spaniards (67 percent dubs, 26 percent subs). Meanwhile, among correct countries, South Korea leads with 72 percent preferring subtitles to 25 percent who prefer dubs, followed by China (71 percent subs vs. 25 percent dubs), Australia (50 percent subs, 32 percent dubs), the United Kingdom (45 percent subs, 33 percent dubs) and the U.S. (43 percent subs, 36 percent dubs). Countries torn cleanly asunder by the subs vs. dubs culture war include India, Canada and Japan, each with four or fewer percentage points of difference. I know not with what weapons World War 4 will be fought, but I do know that it will be over whether the Kaguya-Sama: Love is War dub or sub is superior.
Over the past two years, only about 2 percent of U.S. movie screens have closed permanently since the onset of the pandemic, with many large cinema companies holding out for long temporary closures to make it to the other side of the era of release date punts. And while there have been some substantial losses in the independents, the big question is whether or not there are more closures to come. This year, the exhibitors will be closely monitoring the extent of the recovery, and trying to see what the existing market for movie theaters looks like.
Climate change is making it more expensive to insure collections of fine art that is in places like Florida and California which have seen weather-related disasters pose increasing threats to property, some of which is priceless art. California, which has seen the annual cost of a homeowners insurance policy increase 40 percent, has also seen the premiums for fine art insurance increase between 5 percent and 12 percent. Florida, which has seen intense storms and flooding, also has the people who insure one-of-a-kind art increasingly skittish. Listen, if “boo hoo, it’s getting too expensive to insure my vast art collection” is the thing that gets rich people to actually care about climate change I’m still gonna take that as a win.
The gas-powered engines on lots of lawn-care equipment are not particularly fuel efficient, which is why a number of states have begun rolling out emissions standards for the sputtering little engines, and equipment manufacturers have responded by rolling out lines of electric-powered equipment. In 2021, the lawn-care industry shipped 38 million products, of which 21 million were electric or zero-emission products. The electric equipment is mostly going to the home user side of the business: According to the California Air Resources Board, 6 percent of lawn-care equipment for professional landscapers is electric, compared to 55 percent of home user equipment. To try to move that needle, California allocated $30 million for small landscaping companies to buy electric equipment.
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