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It's math that's simple enough for a third grader, but it seems wrong no matter how you calculate it.

Time is a strange phenomenon. It speeds up when we want it to slow down and drags when we wish it would go by faster. Sometimes it feels like we blink and a decade has gone by. Cue "the days are long, but the years are short," "time flies when you're having fun," and all the other time cliches that feel 100% true.

Of course, those truisms are all about our perception of time, not time itself. Time ticks by in a never-changing rhythm of seconds, minutes, hours, days and years, perfectly metered and measured. But it sure doesn't feel that way, which is why a simple math equation an average third grader can do has grown adults pulling out their calculators to make sure it's correct.

The equation in question comes from meme that reads "1981 and 2024 are as far apart as 1981 and 1938."

Yep, it's correct. The math checks out, no matter how many times you plug the numbers into the calculator. So why does it feel so wrong?

Again, time is a tricky thing. Those of us who were alive in 1981 remember how far back 1938 seemed to us at that time, and there's simply no way that distance is what 1981 is to us now. It seems impossible.

Part of the problem is that, at least for the middle-agers among us, the 80s still feels like they happened 20 years ago, not 43. That's simply how time perception works as we age.

But that's not all of it. As some people have pointed out, there were certainly major changes in both time periods, but the hugely significant cultural changes from 1938 to 1981 were more visible in many ways than most changes we've seen since then. Yes, technology exploded near the turn of the millennium, but once the internet and laptops and smartphones hit the scene, tech advancements have mostly been a matter of degree—better, smaller, lighter, faster, more efficient, more intuitive—in fairly steady increments and not so much dramatic jumps.

From 1938 to 1981, we saw huge leaps, from tiny black-and-white television to full-color cable television, from the first transatlantic passenger flight to sending humans to the moon on space shuttles, from switchboards and party lines to cell phone technology, from human computers to PCs.

We also saw clothing styles change drastically from one decade to the next during that time period in a way that we haven’t really seen in the past 40 years. Same with architecture and home designs. The mid-20th century saw the birth of rock n' roll, the Civil Rights Movement and the shift to women into the workforce. Again, huge leaps.

Wars also defined generations more in the mid-20th century than in the decades since, from WWII to the Vietnam War to the Cold War. It’s not that we haven’t had wars since 1981, but the direct impact of those wars on American life has not been as notable as those previous wars were.

Then again, it’s possible that much of the difference in feel is simply our perception of life now vs. then. Do the years since 1981 seem shorter simply because we’ve lived them, whereas most of us weren’t alive for a good chunk of the 1938 to 1981 time period and only learned it as “history”?

Hard to say, but one thing that’s clear is that people do not like the way this math feels, as evidenced by the comments people left on the post.

“Fitz is cancelled. Feeling triggered here. Lol”

“I did the math too many times because I don’t want to believe this.”

“As someone born in 1981 I really dislike this.”

“Shut your mouth. Those are fighting words! “

“I honestly did nothing to you! Like why?”

“They're not far apart. You're far apart."

It certainly will be interesting to see how the next 43 years feel for the people who live through it vs. 1981 until now.

Curiosity Show/YouTube

The Ames window trick.

Optical illusions are universally beloved for how they trick our brains and blow our minds. There's a reason we enjoy magic shows and Escher paintings and are mesmerized by fake oases in the desert. We love seeing things that bend our perceptions of reality, and the science behind the magic always proves fascinating as well.

The Ames window is a pretty well-known optical illusion, but it's always cool to see. When spun, the angled window appears to oscillate back and forth instead of spin all the way around. But this video adds a twist that makes the effect even more mindbending—our brains simply can't process objective reality mixed with an optical illusion.

The YouTube channel Curiosity Show explains the science of the illusion and gives a DIY demonstration for making your own Ames window. But wait until the pen gets taped to the window and spun. This is some real-life magic right here. Mind. Blown.

This article originally appeared on 02.21.20

Chris Biggs and the things that were "awful" in the '80s.

Rosy retrospection is a cognitive bias that all humans share. It alters our perception of the past by making us feel that it was better than it actually was. While there’s nothing wrong with looking back at the past fondly, it also leads people to think that the future will be worse, leading to a bias known as declinism.

We see these biases play out in the real world when politicians call for America to return to a perfect past that never happened. Or when older people criticize the younger generation for being lazy, entitled and weak.

Chris Biggs, one-half of Ottawa, Canada’s Biggs & Barr show on Chez 106.1 is doing his part to remind people that the ‘80s weren’t that great in a series of viral TikTok posts. The comedian recently put out four videos about “things from an '80s childhood that were awful.”

The videos are refreshing because most of the time younger generations have to hear Gen Xers go on and on about how the ‘80s were so great. But somebody is finally telling the truth about some aspects of their ‘80s upbringing that were downright disturbing.

In the first video, Barr reminds everyone that Miss Piggy was a super unpleasant character that dominated children’s entertainment in the ‘80s. He also takes on the game Simon which he calls a “demon disc” that causes “soul-crushing anxiety and rage.” The video ends with his take on the pogo ball that’s best known for removing all the flesh on the inside of your ankles.


Things from an 80’s childhood that were awful. #80s #genx #90s #millennial #classic #abcxyz #lol #funny #smile #comedy #viralvideo #xyz #relatable #omg #okthen #fyp #trend #trending #trend#greenscreen

In the second video, he highlights the game Perfection which felt like diffusing a bomb. He also attacks ‘80s fashion by blasting one of the era’s biggest fads, the neon ski jacket. “If you ever wanted to know what it was like to wear the power of a thousand suns, this was it,” Biggs jokes. He finishes with his take on Jim Henson's “The Dark Crystal” a children’s film about decapitating beetle monsters, a witch who pulls her eyeball out of her head and giant ostrich zombies.


More things from an 80’s childhood that were awful. #80s #90s #genx #millennial #childhood #classic #abc #lol #funny #smile #comedy #viralvideo #xyz #relatable #omg #okthen #fyp #trend #trending #trend

Video number 3 takes a swipe at Operation, a game Biggs says feels like operating on your favorite “drunkle.” He also takes aim at Hypercolor shirts, the clothing that changes color when you apply heat. These shirts were fun until you noticed everyone had hot armpits. He ends with “The Neverending Story” a film with two scenes that had “no business being in a children’s movie.”


Even more things from an 80’s childhood that were awful. #80s #90s #genx #millennial #classic #retro #abc #lol #funny #smile #comedy #viralvideo #xyz #relatable #omg #okthen #fyp #trend #trending #trend

His fourth video opens with one of the most uncomfortable and downright dangerous toys that were ubiquitous in the ‘80s, Fisher Price plastic roller skates. He also notes that water beds made you sweat through “your Transformer PJs in under two seconds flat because who knew that two inches of thick plastic wasn’t very breathable.” The final thing Biggs says was “awful” in the ‘80s was the arcade, which smelled like a “cigarette-smoke-filled dungeon.”


Part 4 of more things from an 80’s childhood that were awful. #80s #90s #genx #millennial #classic #retro #oldschool #abc #lol #funny #smile #comedy #viralvideo #xyz #relatable #omg #okthen #fyp #trend #trending #trend

1989 video brings back strong memories for Gen Xers who came of age in the '80s.

It was the year we saw violence in Tiananmen Square and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. The year we got Meg Ryan in "When Harry Met Sally" and Michael Keaton in Tim Burton's "Batman." The year "Seinfeld" and "The Simpsons" debuted on TV, with no clue as to how successful they would become. The year that gave us New Kids on the Block and Paula Abdul while Madonna and Janet Jackson were enjoying their heyday.

The jeans were pegged, the shoulders were padded and the hair was feathered and huge. It was 1989—the peak of Gen X youth coming of age.

A viral video of a group of high school students sitting at their desks in 1989—undoubtedly filmed by some geeky kid in the AV club who probably went on to found an internet startup—has gone viral across social media, tapping straight into Gen X's memory banks. For those of us who were in high school at the time, it's like hopping into a time machine.

The show "Stranger Things" has given young folks of today a pretty good glimpse of that era, but if you want to see exactly what the late '80s looked like for real, here it is:

Oh so many mullets. And the Skid Row soundtrack is just the icing on this nostalgia cake. (Hair band power ballads were ubiquitous, kids.)

I swear I went to high school with every person in this video. Like, I couldn't have scripted a more perfect representation of my classmates (which is funny considering that this video came from Paramus High School in New Jersey and I went to high school on the opposite side of the country).

Comments have poured in on Reddit from both Gen Xers who lived through this era and those who have questions.

First, the confirmations:

"Can confirm. I was a freshman that year, and not only did everyone look exactly like this (Metallica shirt included), I also looked like this. 😱😅"

"I graduated in ‘89, and while I didn’t go to this school, I know every person in this room."

"It's like I can virtually smell the AquaNet and WhiteRain hairspray from here...."

"I remember every time you went to the bathroom you were hit with a wall of hairspray and when the wind blew you looked like you had wings."

Then the observations about how differently we responded to cameras back then.

"Also look how uncomfortable our generation was in front of the camera! I mean I still am! To see kids now immediately pose as soon as a phone is pointed at them is insanity to me 🤣"

"Born in 84 and growing up in the late 80’s and 90’s, it’s hard to explain to younger people that video cameras weren’t everywhere and you didn’t count on seeing yourself in what was being filmed. You just smiled and went on with your life."

Which, of course, led to some inevitable "ah the good old days" laments:

"Life was better before the Internet. There, I said it."

"Not a single cell phone to be seen. Oh the freedom."

"It's so nice to be reminded what life was like before cell phones absorbed and isolated social gatherings."

But perhaps the most common response was how old those teens looked.

"Why do they all look like they're in their 30's?"

"Everyone in this video is simultaneously 17 and 49 years old."

"Now we know why they always use 30 y/o actors in high school movies."

As some people pointed out, there is an explanation for why they look old to us. It has more to do with how we interpret the fashion than how old they actually look.

Ah, what a fun little trip down memory lane for those of us who lived it. (Let's just all agree to never bring back those hairstyles, though, k?)