This one weird Netflix trick shortens winter

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Here’saquestionforyou: Whynospaces?


It was translated from Latin, which didn’t use spaces. Did you know that? Everything just ran together. Eventually they adopted the space from northern European tribes, which invented the space because they felt uncomfortable seeing words that close together. Shaking hands in church is one thing, but hugging is another.

We’re preparing for a day when everything runs together to save money. Or, we could go the Sunday-comics route and make things tiny.

Yes, I had six cups of coffee before 10am. But that’s not the reason for the spaceless words. They were meant to prepare us for something Netflix is going to roll out soon. The online streaming service is going to offer the opportunity to play videos at 1.5x speed.

Why? Because you are busy and tired. At the end of the day when you sit down to watch one of Netflix’s 394 new shows, you fade out about 37 minutes into it. The remote slips from your hand, and you awake on the sofa with a puddle of drool on your sweatshirt and no idea how the show ended. When you watch at 1.5x speed, those slow-moving historical dramas get brisk and engaging, and before you know it, WWII is over.

This is already available for podcasts, where you can select the speed and make it sound as if you’re listening to two helium-huffing chipmunks.

But the idea of fast-forwarding through things has its appeal when you consider long shows with little plot whose characters and stories you know quite well. “Time for another season; guess I’m committed. Maybe something different will happen.”

Let’s take season literally, though. What if we could run winter at 1.5x?


“No,” say the winter partisans. “It is meant to be experienced! Who among us would accelerate the holiday season? Do we not look back on the Decembers of yore and wish they had been longer, savoured, cherished?”

Here I nod in agreement but quibble with your use of the word “yore,” which no one ever says. If you hear, “Hey, dude, check your fly” you don’t think: “Is he suggesting I recall zippers of past days?”

OK, let’s say we run December at normal speed. Could we then agree to 1.5x through November?

We could do with a little less of the only month that warns us by starting out with No. (It’s from the Latin “no,” meaning “no” and “vember,” meaning “happiness”.) The entire month is like sitting in an underheated dentist’s office, waiting for winter to open the door and call your name.

January, February and March would be a perfect time to hit the 1.5x button. Imagine a February that’s only 22 days long, flanked by two swift months instead of the current towering glacial slabs of January and March. Yes, the days would be shorter – but they’d get longer quicker.

We’d all have to agree to hit the 1.5x button, though. Otherwise the purists who insist on taking time as it’s doled out old-style would be habitually late for meetings and appointments. They’d glare at the fast-forward advocates as impatient, weak souls who’d skip over the slow part of the movie to get to the exciting parts, without realising that the long, aching stretches give the action scenes meaning.

And we’d wonder: Would spring really be as sweet if we didn’t have to wait so long for it? Would it really seem as if we’d survived something long, dark and cold, and now deserved the warm sun on our up-stretched faces? -The Star

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