Roadside Bear Statue in Wales is So Lifelike That Safety Officials Want It Removed

Wooden bear statue.

There are no real bears in the British Isles for residents to worry about, but a statue of one in the small Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells has become a cause of concern. As The Telegraph reports, the statue is so convincing that it's scaring drivers, causing at least one motorist to crash her car. Now road safety officials are demanding it be removed.

The 10-foot wooden statue has been a fixture on the roadside for at least 15 years. It made headlines in May of 2018 when a woman driving her car saw the landmark and took it to be the real thing. She was so startled that she veered off the road and into a street sign.

After the incident, she complained about the bear to highways officials who agreed that it poses a safety threat and should be removed. But the small town isn't giving in to the Welsh government's demands so quickly.

The bear statue was originally erected on the site of a now-defunct wool mill. Even though the mill has since closed, locals still see the statue as an important landmark. Llanwrtyd Wells councilor Peter James called it an "iconic gateway of the town," according to The Telegraph.

Another town resident, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Telegraph that the woman who crashed her car had been a tourist from Canada where bears are common. Bear were hunted to extinction in Britain about 1000 years ago, so local drivers have no reason to look out for the real animals on the side of the road.

The statue remains in its old spot, but Welsh government officials plan to remove it themselves if the town doesn't cooperate. For now, temporary traffic lights have been set up around the site of the accident to prevent any similar incidents.

[h/t The Telegraph]

Yes, You Have Too Many Tabs Open on Your Computer—and Your Brain is Probably to Blame

iStock.com/baona
iStock.com/baona

If you’re anything like me, you likely have dozens of tabs open at this very moment. Whether it’s news stories you mean to read later, podcast episodes you want to listen to when you have a chance, or just various email and social media accounts, your browser is probably cluttered with numerous, often unnecessary tabs—and your computer is working slower as a result. So, why do we leave so many tabs open? Metro recently provided some answers to this question, which we spotted via Travel + Leisure.

The key phrase to know, according to the Metro's Ellen Scott, is “task switching,” which is what our brains are really doing when we think we're multitasking. Research has found that humans can't really efficiently multitask at all—instead, our brains hop rapidly from one task to another, losing concentration every time we shift our attention. Opening a million tabs, it turns out, is often just a digital form of task switching.

It isn't just about feeling like we're getting things done. Keeping various tabs open also works as a protection against boredom, according to Metro. Having dozens of tabs open allows us to pretend we’re always doing something, or at least that we always have something available to do.

A screenshot of many tabs in a browser screen
This is too many tabs.
Screenshot, Shaunacy Ferro

It may also be driven by a fear of missing information—a kind of “Internet FOMO,” as Travel + Leisure explains it. We fear that we might miss an important update if we close out of our social media feed or email account or that news article, so we just never close anything.

But this can lead to information overload. Even when you think you're only focused on whatever you're doing in a single window, seeing all those open tabs in the corner of your eye takes up mental energy, distracting you from the task at hand. Based on studies of multitasking, this tendency to keep an overwhelming number of tabs open may actually be altering your brain. Some studies have found that "heavy media multitaskers"—like tab power users—may perform worse on various cognitive tests than people who don't try to consume media at such a frenzied pace.

More simply, it just might not be worth the bandwidth. Just like your brain, your browser and your computer can only handle so much information at a time. To optimize your browser's performance, Lifehacker suggests keeping only nine tabs open—at most—at one time. With nine or fewer tabs, you're able to see everything that's open at a glance, and you can use keyboard shortcuts to navigate between them. (On a Mac, you can press Command + No. 1 through No. 9 to switch between tabs; on a PC, it's Control + the number.)

Nine open tabs on a desktop browser
With nine or fewer tabs open, you can actually tell what each page is.
Screenshot, Shaunacy Ferro

That said, there are, obviously, situations in which one might need many tabs open at one time. Daria Kuss, a senior lecturer specializing in cyberpsychology at Nottingham Trent University, tells Metro that “there are two opposing reasons we keep loads of tabs open: to be efficient and ‘create a multi-source and multi-topic context for the task at hand.’” Right now, for example, I have six tabs open to refer to for the purposes of writing this story. Sometimes, there's just no avoiding tabs.

In the end, it's all about accepting our (and our computers') limitations. When in doubt, there’s no shame in shutting down those windows. If you really want to get back to them, they're all saved in your browser history. If you're a relentless tab-opener, there are also browser extensions like OneTab, which collapses all of your open tabs into a single window of links for you to return to later.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

New Game of Thrones Teaser Has Fans Debating: Where Is Bran Stark?

HBO
HBO

On Sunday, January 13—just ahead of the premiere of True Detective season three—Game of Thrones fans were delighted to finally find out when the epic series' eighth season will premiere, and to be treated to a full 90-second teaser that hinted at what is to come in the highly anticipated final season (albeit cryptically).

Since season seven came to an end in August 2017, viewers have spent countless hours speculating about how the series might conclude, and have managed to come up with some truly wild fan theories. But the most recent teaser seems to have ignited an even bigger question about the final season: Where is Bran Stark?

The epic new teaser shows Jon Snow and Sansa and Arya Stark walking separately through the Crypts of Winterfell with the late Lyanna, Catelyn, and Ned Stark speaking in voiceover as the living characters pass by their statues. As Jon, Sansa, and Arya come together, they see what appear to be statues of themselves, before being distracted by a swell of icy winds coming toward them. But where was Bran?

Many viewers have taken to social media to share their thought about why Bran wasn't seen in the latest teaser, with one of the most popular beliefs being one of the oldest (and still-possible) theories for the show: Bran Stark is the Night King.

While TIME acknowledged the popularity of this ongoing theory, it also pointed out how Bran's absence could actually be proof of him being the Three-Eyed Raven instead—yet another popular fan theory that initially gained traction in season three, when Jojen Reed (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) appeared to Bran in a dream to tell him that the Three-Eyed Raven “is you.” In season six, the Three-Eyed Raven told Bran that "The time has come ... for you to become me." But when Sansa asked Bran point blank whether he was the Three-Eyed Raven, he replied: "It’s difficult to explain."

And confusing! As with most things related to Game of Thrones, nothing is ever quite as it seems.

While the series' stars are sworn to secrecy regarding any spoilers regarding their characters or plot lines, Isaac Hempstead Wright—who plays Bran—isn't buying the whole Night King thing. "It just doesn’t feel like Game of Thrones,” Hempstead Wright told Nerdist in 2017. "It feels a little bit too Hollywood." Which may be one more hint that he indeed is the Three-Eyed Raven.

Whether Hempstead Wright was legitimately trying to shut the theory down, or engaging in a little misdirection, we'll finally start getting answers when Game of Thrones returns for its final season on April 14, 2019.

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