Dual disaster planning, communication and reason for hope: a discussion with professor Sam Montano – temblor

By Tiegan Hobbs, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Seismic Risk Scientist, Temblor (@THobbsGeo)

Sam Montano, professor of emergency management and disaster science, talks about COVID19 and what recovery might look like.

Citation: Hobbs, T.E. (2020), Dual disaster planning, communication and reason for hope: a discussion with professor Sam Montano http://doi.org/10.32858/temblor.086

Since seeing the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Sam Montano, Ph.D., has made it her lifes work to better understand how emergencies are handled, and how disasters affect communities. Shes a world-renowned expert in emergency management for recovery, disaster volunteerism and communicating disaster information to the public. In between working on her upcoming book, Disasterology, and teaching as a Professor of Emergency Management & Disaster Science at University of Nebraska Omaha, Montano took the time to talk about how emergency management is tackling COVID19, how the burden will be shouldered by our communities, and what recovery might look like.

Tiegan Hobbs (TH): Pandemics come without the same data emergency managers might usually have. For a wildfire, you know where was burned and roughly how badly. For an earthquake, you at least know the epicenter and magnitude. Whats it like for emergency managers to work when they are flying blind?

Sam Montano (SM): Its really difficult, because our decisions are very often only as good as the data we have. In one sense, emergency managers are used to operating without having all the information they would ideally have say, if communication lines are down during a hurricane but it certainly makes the response more difficult. Emergency managers around the world are all saying similar things. Theyre preparing for what they think is going to happen, but they dont know exactly what its going to look like in their communities. Especially in the absence of widespread testing in the U.S., theres a point where you can only do so much.

TH: We know that people with comorbidities and older people are at greater risk, medically. Can you speak to some of the non-medical categories of people who are at risk that were not hearing as much about?

SM: In the past couple of weeks, there have started to be more news stories written about the disproportionate impacts of COVID19 on low-income communities of color. These articles that Ive seen have primarily focused on New York City and New Orleans: two of our hotspots in the U.S. Theyre both places where weve seen folks who work essential jobs not having the privilege of being able to physically distance and stay home. So were starting to see that the rates of COVID and the impacts of COVID in those communities are going to be higher than in more affluent communities.

Any community where people are still having to leave their houses to go to work, people who cant afford to stay home, people who dont have the money to pay to have groceries delivered all of those factors are going to play into who actually contracts COVID.

In terms of the [comorbidity] component, this illness collides with communities that have higher rates of chronic illness, so we can expect to see that lower-income communities will likely have a much higher death toll.

Disinfection of New York City Subway cars against coronavirus. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0.

TH: Are there things that we can still do to improve this outcome?

SM: Yeah! Many people are already doing it, but I would encourage folks to pay attention to their own community. There are many mutual aid groups that have formed or repurposed around the country, that are helping with grocery shopping for elderly folks or babysitting their neighbors kids so they can still go to work. Its through these grassroots, one-on-one helping actions that stuff actually happens during disasters.

You should be calling in to check in on your neighbors to see if theyre ok. In emergency management we think of a whole of community response, which includes government, businesses and nonprofits but it also includes individuals. If you are in a position to donate, do so! A lot of food banks are struggling right now. Any local nonprofits are probably struggling right now, so if you can throw them any cash, that would be a helpful thing as well.

TH: What happens if a natural hazard strikes while COVID19 is still spreading?

SM: There are not a lot of easy answers. Any major disaster that happens during a pandemic isnt going to go well. Almost everything we do in terms of how we respond to and recover from a major disaster requires us to be close to one another: evacuation, search and rescue, sheltering displaced persons, rebuilding.

That said, there are trends that we can look toward that can make us more hopeful. The convergence of spontaneous volunteers is now online. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, folks from all over the world were coming together to help map earthquake damage. After Hurricane Harvey [hit Houston in 2017], there was a call system to coordinate rescue all done virtually. The big takeaway here is that we just need to be creative. Its going to look different than were used to. And people will show up: There was a tornado in Nashville in early March, right as COVID started to explode in the U.S., but thousands of volunteers still showed up to help.

[On the government side,] I have talked to a lot of emergency managers in this country who are in the midst of rewriting their plans for hurricane season, or for how to deal with sheltering for tornadoes. [The idea of simultaneous disasters is] on their radar, for sure. The agencies that have resources to dedicate to reworking those plans are doing that.

Flooding in Port Arthur, Texas on August 31, 2017. Image Credit: Public Domain.

TH: How could we better prepare for compounding disasters?

SM: Its not that people didnt plan for dual disasters, its that we have systematically under-invested in our emergency management systems across the country. Most communities have a part-time emergency manager. They work maybe 15-20 hours a week on emergency-related stuff, and you cannot possibly expect that part-time emergency manager in a rural community in the Midwest to be able to create these plans to address not only a pandemic but also think through adjusting all their other plans for another disaster.

It gets back to the core philosophy of emergency management, where we take an all-hazards approach to planning. We focus on creating systems that are versatile, resilient and flexible no matter what the hazard is. What makes a response to a hurricane or tornado during the pandemic more challenging is primarily tied to the issue of physically needing to be apart from one another, but the system that we use to organize a response like the National Incident Management System should be the same as for a hurricane with no pandemic. Looking forward, its important for us to still focus on those core systems, but maybe we need to talk about how to make them more flexible.

TH: Youve said that the data clearly support sharing uncensored information directly with the public. Some have claimed this is a scare tactic. How has that played out here so far?

SM: The public deserves to know what is happening around us. Withholding information from the public leads to people not being able to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. I think it stems from a persistent belief that we need command and control during the response to a disaster, but research suggests that the public has to be active participants in a response because theyre making decisions that are going to impact that overall response. So instead of taking a top-down approach where officials are trying to disguise or withhold information from the public, a more bottom-up approach relies on those in positions of authority to provide information to the public so that they can be participants.

There needs to be clarity from anyone in a position of authority: the president, the health institutions, the media, your local mayor. Uncertainty leaves space for poor decisions, and the research supports that it is better to be honest with public. None of us are happy with the news were hearing, but it empowers us to make the right choices for ourselves and our families.

TH: Theres an idea that people turn into their worst selves during a crisis looting, hoarding, the negative sides of society. Is this borne out by data?

SM: Going back to the 1950s, disaster sociologists did a bunch of studies following disasters in the U.S. and they found that people were most likely to exhibit prosocial behavior during and following disasters, rather than antisocial. Theres a myth that people are running around panicking, looting, increases in violence, and that the whole situation is chaotic. In fact, research finds that people come together. They look around at the resources they have and seeing how they can improvise or use those resources to help. Thats where we see this convergence of people coming in to help, as well as emergence where the survivors of the disaster are the real first responders to the disaster. They begin search and rescue immediately after an earthquake. Theyre not waiting for official urban search and rescue teams to come in. It doesnt mean its a utopia, but its a time where people are coming together to help one another.

TH: The Imperial College study projected that well need to keep social distancing in place in some form until theres a vaccine widely available. Now theres interest in loosening restrictions earlier, and clamping back down when the numbers spike. Is there any precedent for this pulse-and-suppression strategy?

SM: No, I cant think of any precedent. The idea that we are going to minimize shelter-in-place orders and then put them back in place, and maybe do this multiple times, is logistically very complicated. It would require extensive and very clear communication from people in positions of authority that the public trusts. Given how the response has unfolded thus far I find it difficult to believe that we would be successful in navigating such a sophisticated order to the public.

Modeling suggests that the virus can be slowed below the capacity of the healthcare system so long as aggressive social distancing measures remain in place. A surge is expected if restrictions are loosened prior to development of a vaccine. Image Credit: Modified from Ferguson et al., 2020.

TH: Given the wealth of data that we will collect during this crisis, do you think disaster management will change?

SM: Obviously I hope that it does, but I am a bit more of a pessimist about it. We see differential impacts among gender, race, class lines, and their intersections, in just about every disaster. This is extremely well known among the disaster research community. Still, people think that disaster is this great equalizer and of course thats not true. All of those social inequalities that exist pre-disaster are exposed and made more prominent during and after a disaster. So perhaps this will make the public more aware of these disparities. That would be the optimistic take here.

That being said, this is exactly why we need to view emergency management through a social justice lens, because thats how we can get at not just the systematic inequalities in our communities, but we can also assess the systematic inequalities within our approach to emergency management.

TH: Do you think individual people will change their response in the future? With the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, communities where people had memories of a fatal tsunami had no fatalities in the 2011 event. Do you expect a similar effect from this?

SM: Yeah. Preparedness research is messy, but there is definitely some indication that previous disaster experience influences preparing for future disasters. I am particularly curious because FEMA has been talking a lot about creating a culture of preparedness in the United States. This shared experience across the country of being in the midst of this crisis has people realizing that they were not really prepared to go through this. Maybe there will be a lingering culture of preparedness that comes about because of it. Again, though, this is very closely tied to resources. Its much easier for a millionaire to stockpile a month of food in their basement than it is for somebody whos living paycheck to paycheck. Hopefully it will help people have preparedness on their mind moving forward.

Further Reading:

Anderson, R. M., Heesterbeek, H., Klinkenberg, D., & Hollingsworth, T. D. (2020). How will country-based mitigation measures influence the course of the COVID-19 epidemic?. The Lancet, 395(10228), 931-934.

Ferguson, N., Laydon, D., Nedjati Gilani, G., Imai, N., Ainslie, K., Baguelin, M., & Dighe, A. (2020). Report 9: Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID19 mortality and healthcare demand.

Montano, S., & Savitt, A. (2016). Rethinking our approach to gender and disasters: Needs, responsibilities, and solutions. Journal of emergency management (Weston, Mass.), 14(3), 189-199.

Montano, S. (2019). Disaster volunteerism as a contributor to resilience. The Routledge Handbook of Urban Resilience.

Postdoctoral Seismic Risk Scientist at Natural Resources Canada

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Dual disaster planning, communication and reason for hope: a discussion with professor Sam Montano - temblor

India’s COVID-19 cases rise to 11933, districts to be classified in three categories – News Live

New Delhi: The government continued to gear up its preparations in the fight against COVID-19 with three-way categorisation of districts as the total number of positive cases mounted to 11,933.

Out of total number of cases, 10,197 are active while 1,344 patients have been cured/discharged/migrated and 392 people have died.

The Ministry of Home Affairs issued revised guidelines on Wednesday about the extension of lockdown which also said that wearing of face cover is mandatory in all workplaces and public places.

With 117 new cases, Maharashtra continues to have the largest number of 2,801 COVID-19 positive cases. Of these, Mumbai has 1936 cases followed by Pune with 44, according to the state Health Department. Dharavi area in Mumbai has reported 60 COVID-19 positive cases.

As many as 35 staff members of a Mumbai hospital have tested COVID-19 positive.Fresh cases have been reported several states including West Bengal, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

In Indore, the number has gone up to 555 with 117 new cases.

A COVID-19 patient died in Meghalaya while six of his contacts have also tested positive for the infection.

While no case was reported from Gurugram for the sixth consecutive day, the number of cases in Haryana rose to 190.

Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal said that Delhi will use plasma technique for treatment on a trial basis to save lives of critical COVID-19 patients.

The Gautam Buddh Nagar administration added seven new areas in the district as hotspots including Sector 50 Noida, Shatabdi Rail Vihar Sector 2 Noida, Eldeco Utopia Sector 93A Noida, Gaur City 14 Avenue Noida Extension, ETA-1 Greater Noida and Kulsera Greater Noida.

Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba held a high-level review meeting through video conference with all chief secretaries, health secretaries, DGPs, District Collectors, Municipal Commissioners, SPs, CMOs and other officials of States/UTs and held a detailed discussion on a range of issues including large outbreak containment strategies and cluster containment strategies.

Stones were pelted at an ambulance carrying a team of medical personnel and police in UPs Moradabad, which had gone to escort family members of a person who died of COVID-19 here, to a quarantine facility.

Sharing details regarding the incident, SSP Amit Pathak said, A COVID-19 positive patient had passed away in Nagphani area. In this regard, the patients first contact, his family members, were to be quarantined. A medical team and police team had visited here for the same.

When the family members came out, a crowd pelted stones. The ambulance and police vehicle got damaged. We are sending the family members to the quarantine centre. The situation is under control now. We will identify the people involved in this incident and strict action will be taken against them, he said.

Addressing the daily regular press briefing, Indian Council of Medical Researchs (ICMR) head scientists Dr Raman R. Gangakhedkar said that according to research in China, it was found that coronavirus might have mutated in bats so as to infect humans.

There is also a possibility that bats might have transmitted it to pangolins, and from pangolins, it got transmitted to humans, he said.

We also conducted surveillance. We found that there are two types of bats, and they carried coronavirus which was not capable of affecting humans. Its rare, maybe once in 1000 years that it gets transmitted from bats to humans, he added.

Union Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Aggarwal said the districts of the country will be classified into three categories hotspot districts, non-hotspot districts with cases being reported from there and the green zone districts.

The Home Ministry guidelines said a few relaxations have been given to the movement and operations of some more industries in areas that have not been declared as hotspots or containment zones.

However, precautionary measures such as social distancing and wearing masks have to be followed.

The MHA also said that no unchecked movement of people except those maintaining essential services and providing medical care will be permitted from the COVID-19 hotspot zones.

The ministry emphasized that even the activities allowed under the new guidelines will not be permitted in the hotspot zones or the areas/clusters with high occurrence of COVID-19 cases.

As per the guidelines, all educational, training, coaching institutions shall remain closed. However, these establishments are expected to maintain the academic schedule through online teaching during the lockdown.

The bank branches and ATMs, IT vendors for banking operations, banking correspondents, ATM operation and cash management agencies will remain functional during the period.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan held a high-level meeting through video conferencing with the World Health Organization (WHO) officials on measures to combat COVID-19.

A Health Ministry release said districts have been told to classify hospitals as: COVID Care Centres for mild cases or very mild cases, COVID Health Centres for clinical moderate cases requiring oxygen support and COVID Dedicated Hospitals for severe and critical cases with ventilator support.

Heres a quick read on the COVID-19 related updates:1. Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal said that Delhi will use plasma technique for treatment on a trial basis to save lives of critical COVID-19 patients.2. An FIR was registered here against nine Bangladeshi nationals for allegedly misusing their travel visa by being involved in religious preaching under Tablighi Jamaat and for trying to spread coronavirus, police said on Wednesday.3. Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on Wednesday launched a COVID-19 portal on its website to disseminate relevant information in relation to the novel coronavirus.4. The United Kingdom will receive nearly 3 million units of paracetamol from India.5. Andhra Pradesh government has set up an additional 471 temporary Rythu Bazars, which are government-run vegetable markets where farmers directly sell their produce.6. OYO Hotels and Homes has decided to open the doors to its hotels and offering free stays to doctors, nurses and other medical first responders who are helping in the fight against Coronavirus (COVID-19) in India.7. The Jharkhand Police has issued a set of guidelines for promoting safe usage of social media by citizens.8. Delhi High Court on Wednesday extended the suspension of the functioning of the High Court and its subordinate courts till May 3, when the extended lockdown is scheduled to end.9. Cab aggregator Ola on Wednesday announced its partnership with Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to support essential mobility amid the lockdown.10. The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) administration informed that no deductions will be made from the salaries and Resident doctors who wish to contribute to the PM-CARES Fund should voluntarily do so. (ANI)

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India's COVID-19 cases rise to 11933, districts to be classified in three categories - News Live

‘We are powerless’: Italians offer window into life in second month of COVID-19 lockdown – National Post

Ilaria Piotto thought she was doing OK. She was focussed on the things she could control. She had built a routine. Sure, she was home all day, almost every day. But she was studying and chatting and keeping busy. I felt fine, she said. I didnt think all this was impacting me. And then, in the grocery store, she saw a friend.

It wasnt her best friend. Thats the thing. Before all this, they werent all that close. They ran in the same group. They saw each other at parties. But when she saw him that day, in the store, wearing his gloves and mask, she was overwhelmed. She barely stopped herself from crying.

It was so strange, so moving to see him after all this time, she said. You get used to a situation. You kind of forget things used to be different. Something like that reminds you of how they were.

Most Italians, including Piotto, have been in some form of mandated isolation for more than a month now. The COVID-19 pandemic struck northern Italy earlier and harder than it had any other Western country at the time. (The United States has since passed Italy in both total cases and fatalities.)

In early March, the National Post spoke to four Italian residents about life in that country in the early stages of the lockdown. The goal was to get a sense of what might soon be coming here. A month later, three of those four spoke to the Post again about their lives now and in the month since. The fourth person was unavailable to comment.

All three spoke about boredom and fear and the value of doing what has to be done. For Canadians, their reflections offer another window into our very near future, a place where the situation may just be turning the corner, but where much work and sacrifice remains to be done.

The comments below have been edited for clarity, style and space.

Jake Rupert is a former newspaper reporter from Ottawa. He now operates a villa and tour company in Abruzzo, east of Rome, with his wife, Lisa Grassi-Blais.

About a month ago, the numbers were going up so fast. They couldnt cremate the bodies fast enough in Bergamo, which is a pretty big city with several crematoriums. They were sending them out on military trucks. And that was the tipping point where I thought, OK. It was weird and a bit scary before, but this is very stark. Ive never seen anything like this in my life. I dont think anybody has.

So that was the tipping point for me. Well deal with the business. Were going to be OK, but were going to do our part. Im not going to complain about anything. Were going to follow the rules and hopefully get out of this without too much carnage. And I think most people have been that way. Even though our town has only one confirmed case, people know people in other villages that have passed away. Its like: my great uncle, my uncle, my grandfather, that kind of thing. So nobody here is really complaining about the quarantine.

In the last 10 days, it sort of plateaued and now were getting fewer cases. But the government isnt taking any chances. Theyre talking about possibly relaxing things, but its not going to be any time soon. They want to do what China did to pretty much eliminate the number of new cases before people start to resume daily life and then theyre going to do it in stages.

People here are doing what they have to do to get through. Our friend is the town clerk. Before this she was processing birth certificates and citizenship applications and zoning applications. All shes been doing for the last 30 days is doling out food stamps.

The good thing about our business is, weve been very conservative. We didnt take on debt and mortgages. So were OK. Its different for the 10 people that work with us. A couple of our cleaning ladies are getting food stamps. Were trying to help them out as best we can, but we have negative income. Were getting a lot of people cancelling. But well go broke before we see our staff members suffering.

Hezar Abbas is a 22-year-old asylum seeker originally from Pakistan. He came to Europe more than four years ago and has lived in Florence, where he has worked in a leather factory, for the past year-and-a-half. Hes been out of work and stuck at home since early March.

Right now our condition is like last month. Everything is the same. We are worried about our finances, our work and the things we need in our daily lives. Last week I sent a message to my boss because the Italian government announced a 600 euro ($910) bonus for workers. I wanted some information on how we could apply for it. My boss told us we have to wait. We are still waiting. And our boss has not paid us yet, so money is a big problem.

There are five of us in the house. We are playing cards, improving our language and trying to get Italian lessons. We have all our cricket stuff in the house, ball, bat, everything. But we havent broken anything because we play very slowly. We cook for each other. Today is my turn. I am going to make rice because it is easy to cook and you dont need too much stuff to put into it.

Obviously we are getting bored. If you spend more than a month at home, you are going to get bored. But it was worse in the first two or three weeks. I had nothing to do then. Then I thought, maybe I can try some online courses, or maybe I can try to improve my Italian. So now Im trying that and its going better.

If I go outside, to the market, if the police see me, they ask me, what are you doing here? Why are you outside? I must tell them that Im here to buy groceries. We can only go outside to buy the things we need for our daily lives. Buying anything takes at least an hour. We have to wait in a line. And one by one we can go in to buy our things.

One good thing is, everyone is the same now. Im treated like an Italian and the Italians are treated like me. At first, I thought they thought we were different, but now I think, they know we are equal.

Ilaria Piotto, 21, is a student at the Ca Foscari University of Venice. She lives with her parents in Padua, about 40 kilometres west of the city.

At the beginning I felt very anxious. I didnt know what was going on. I was struggling to create a routine. If youre at home, you can study. Thats fine. But its difficult to make yourself do things when you dont have a schedule, when you dont have places to be. I was worrying so much about the situation, about the news, but then, slowly, I was able to create a routine, I accepted the situation. I accepted that we are powerless.

Now, Im just trying to live my regular life, to focus on school and to stay busy basically. It feels almost normal not going out now, whereas at the beginning it was so strange. I cant even remember the last time I went out casually without anything important to do.

Imagining that things will go back to normal seems almost like a utopia

I didnt realize how much the isolation was affecting me until I saw one of my friends at the grocery store and I almost started crying. I felt like I was fine. I didnt think about that that much. That moment helped me understand, that maybe even if I thought I was fine, there was something deeper happening to me.

I dont know what life will look like when this is over. I cant imagine it. At this point my friends and I have all kind of accepted it. We came to terms with the situation. So imagining that things will go back to normal seems almost like a utopia. I dont know. I think it will take a long, long time before things return to the way they used to be.

Email: rwarnica@nationalpost.com | Twitter:

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'We are powerless': Italians offer window into life in second month of COVID-19 lockdown - National Post

The Schitts Creek Series Finale: The Vindication of Twyla – The New Yorker

Schitts Creek, the beloved Canadian sitcom, which wrapped up, on Tuesday, after six seasons of blissful distraction, was always a show about utopia. Its titular setting is a rundown town where the Roses, a rich, eccentric family of four, decamp after financial calamity. Theyve lost all their assets except the deed to Schitts Creek, which Johnny Rose, their patriarch, bought for pocket change years before, as a joke. Though it takes the family three years to see it, their new home is nothing short of a haven. Bigotry doesnt seem to exist there. When, in the most recent season, protesters throng the town hall to express their disappointment with Johnnys wife, Moiraa washed-up soap-opera actress who has unwittingly belittled the locals in an interview with Peoplethey carry signs that read That wasnt very nice.

In the five years since Schitts Creek premired, the series has spoiled fans with a surfeit of exquisite character work. Eugene Levy portrayed Johnny with an owlish deadpan, and Catherine OHara, his frequent collaborator on the Canadian sketch circuit, granted Moira a loopy flair, an unplaceable accent, and a gonzo lexicon. Playing Alexis, their socialite daughter, and David, their flamboyant son, Annie Murphy and Dan Levy, who co-created the show with his father, perfected a sibling bond built on caustic histrionics. But beneath the bickering was always a sense of tenderness that, over the seasons, first sustained Schitts Creek and then stifled it. As the clueless, narcissistic Roses found new purpose in their drab environs, the show lost an essential tension and began to feel somewhat like fan fiction, curing its protagonists of the petty miseries that animated them at the start.

One character who never seemed to get a break was Twyla Sands, the plucky, unfussy waitress at the towns seemingly lone restaurant, Caf Tropical. Twyla, who is played by Dan Levys sister, Sarah, occupied a maligned side role, pouring black coffee, scraping freezer burn from mozzarella sticks, and catering to the whims of the Roses and other locals. Unlike Stevie, the acerbic clerk of the towns motel, where the Roses relocate, Twyla is an unparalleled listener, offering sage if strange advice over the buzz of her blender. She infers the Roses orders and withstands their tantrums, hardly flinching when Alexis summons her by throwing a muffin or Moira tries to order miso black cod.

Twylas role didnt demand the hammy virtuosity that powered the series past cutesiness; sometimes the character felt like a throwaway. And yet, beneath her chipper exterior, Twyla was the darkest resident of Schitts Creek. Her best lines were odd non sequiturs that revealed disturbing flashes of family history. Her father, we learn, is a convict. Her mother, who cycled through more than a few abusive lovers, confuses Twyla with her cousin. A deaf relative, who relies on sign language to communicate, traded several of his fingers to pay off a mysterious debt. Most of these disclosures were zany enough to elicit a laugh, or else disclosed, in passing, in the midst of other action. But together they made Twyla a kind of Kimmy Schmidt character, someone who relished the everyday because of what she had survived to reach it. My uncle had a parrot that kept asking me to take my bra off, she blurts out, in the most recent season, when Moira shows their a-capella troupe the trailer to her upcoming film, an apocalyptic thriller about killer crows.

Twyla was never quite a pariahshes too happy and unflappablebut the Roses and the rest of the locals often bonded, obliquely, at her expense, and more than a few episodes revolved around their efforts to improve her. In one episode, Alexis takes Twyla out for a night on the town, and her mother does the makeovers. Twyla lights up at Moiras complimentsThats the nicest thing anyones ever said to menot realizing that they are addressed to Alexis. In another episode, Moira deigns to promote Twylas annual murder-mystery party, which even Jocelyn, the mayors obliging wife, tries to skip. If the central struggle of Schitts Creek was, for the Roses, the indignity of being made mundane, Twyla was the model of finding pride in mundanity and all of the problems it entailed.

One of the shows more satisfying surprises was the friendship that developed, over the seasons, between Alexis and Twyla. The two were always perfect foils, the spoiled socialite and her patient confidante. But they were united, in a subtler sense, by a shared history of maternal neglect. Twylas stories of her own mother evoked a working-class version of Moira, an addled woman preoccupied by personal drama. Twyla was a kind of counterfactual to Alexis, offering a vision of how the latter might have turned out with a little more grit and a lot less money. Sarah Levy was, in this way, a clever casting choice; though she lacks the bushy eyebrows of the men in her family, she always looked enough like a Rose to suggest a kinship with them. In a documentary that aired after the finale, Levy recalls that an early version of the pilot presented a more benighted Twylanerdy and downtrodden, in a constraining cardigan and chunky glasses. There was a sadness to her, she says. But one of the reasons Twyla doesnt recede is that she retains a sense of confidence despite everything. Sarcasm pings off her earnest surface.

Schitts Creek, in its later seasons, always verged on schmaltz, and it ended up settling the fate of each of the Roses a little too neatly. Johnny, who plans to expand the local motel into a franchise, and Moira, who has been cast in a reboot of her fame-making soap opera, take off for California. Alexis parts ways with Ted, her veterinarian boyfriend, and prepares to head to New York. And David, whose wedding to Patrick, his business partner turned soulmate, is the perfect culmination, decides that he will stay put to run his business and settle into the newlywed life. For Twyla, the indignities dont quite subside. She stumbles into an invitation to Davids wedding only by accident. Later, in the penultimate episode, Alexis shows up to the Caf Tropical with a black trash bag filled with old clothes, hoping to pass off some hand-me-downs before moving to New York. Twyla insists on paying for the clothes, over Alexiss objections, and in the process makes a casual disclosure: right around the time the Roses arrived, she lucked into a lottery jackpot of forty-six million dollars.

It turns out that the Roses were not the only residents of Schitts Creek to weather a sudden reversal in fortune at the start of the series. Reflecting on the shows run in a recent interview, Dan Levy attributed Twylas spirit to the secret lottery win; the shows writers, he said, had to find a reason for her hopefulness and optimism. The beauty of Twylas windfall, though, is that it hardly altered her life. If Ive learned anything from how my mom spent the money I gave her, Twyla says when Alexis asks why she hasnt left her job or the town, its that money can buy a lot of snowmobiles, but it cant buy happiness. When, in the end, Twyla comes to wish Alexis farewell, she reveals that she has taken her friends advice to buy herself something nicenot a spa day or a cute little anklet, as Alexis suggests, but the Caf Tropical.

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The Schitts Creek Series Finale: The Vindication of Twyla - The New Yorker

Merging Fashion Photography and Installation Art, Tyler Mitchell Crafts a Vision of Freedom for Black Youth – ARTnews

Born in 1995, Tyler Mitchell is a Gen Z phenom. Just a year after earning a bachelors degree in film and television from New York University, he made history by shooting Beyonc for the September 2018 cover of Voguebecoming the first black photographer to have his work grace the publications front. While growing up in Marietta, Georgia, a largely white suburb of Atlanta, Mitchell gravitated to alt-fashion magazines like i-D and Dazed. He was inspired by Ryan McGinley and Larry Clarks stylized images of teen life, but says he really received his photography education from social media. At thirteen, he picked up a camera and amassed an early Tumblr following with his skateboarding videos. Using a palette that responds to the heightened reality of aspirational online contentcotton-candy pink, baby blue, sunny yellowhis portraits and short films conjure tender innocence. Importantly, Mitchell creates this fantasy for and with people of color, reimagining what freedom might look like for black youth.

On a study-abroad trip to Cuba after Mitchells sophomore year at NYU, a documentary photography instructor told him that his portraits of chic friends were a type of fashion imagerya realization that piqued the young artists interest. His early work responds critically to the conventions of fashion ads. In the short film Wish This Was Real (2016), young, stylish black men play with water guns and plastic chains against bright seamless backgroundsa poignant rejoinder to the death of twelve-year-old Tamir Rice, who was killed in 2014 by a police officer, while holding a toy weapon. The playful scenes are cut between an unsettling sequence showing one actor lying with plastic wrap over his face, hinting at the danger that black men face even in ordinary jest. In 2016, Mitchell cemented his fashion ascent with a commission for Dazed that depicted a vision of black utopia: models pose in magic-hour light, sometimes with toys, sometimes casually embracing each other.

Mitchells first US museum exhibition, I Can Make You Feel Good, is on view at the International Center of Photography (ICP) through mid-May. Curated by Isolde Brielmaier, this expanded version of the show (which debuted at Amsterdams photography museum Foam) brings together video installations, life-size photographic prints, and a new work in fabric that pays homage to black domestic labor. Opposite the shows entrance, the three-channel video Chasing Pink, Found Red (2019) tempers visual fantasy with an acrid dose of reality. Projected onto walls that form a triangle, the work shows lush images of picnicking black youths. Offscreen, various individuals describe racial microaggressions. Feeling obligated to control peoples perception of you is an everyday black experience, says one voice. Mitchell crowdsourced the stories from his social media accounts, receiving voice memos from followers located around the world: from Nigeria to the Caribbean.

The installation Laundry Line (2020), which debuted at ICP, takes its inspiration in part from African American photographer Gordon Parkss image of two Alabama women at a wire fence loaded with clothes, part of the full-color series A Segregation Story (1956). Mitchells Laundry Line includes portraits of models, influencers, and friends printed using dye-sublimation processes onto a variety of textiles: blue terrycloth, a vintage floral Pierre Cardin scarf, and diaphanous materials that recall crinkly plastic. Mitchells engagement with Parkss diverse oeuvre is ongoing; he is currently working on a commission based on the late artists fashion photography for the Parks Foundation in Pleasantville, New York, where it will be on view this fall.

This article appears under the title First Look: Tyler Mitchell in the March 2020 issue, p. 14.

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Merging Fashion Photography and Installation Art, Tyler Mitchell Crafts a Vision of Freedom for Black Youth - ARTnews

Coronavirus: Why we should beware talk of global utopia after Covid-19 threat recedes Alastair Stewart – The Scotsman

NewsOpinionColumnistsPeople are already thinking big about how human affairs should be run after the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, writes Alastair Stewart.

Tuesday, 7th April 2020, 5:00 pm

If you look around, theres a lot of discussion about what the post-Covid world will look like. Did Uncle Monty in the film Withnail & I call it correctly when he said: The older order changeth... oh my boys, my boys... were at the end of an age!

Seldom has there been a greater chance for a practical application of Gandhis be the change you want to see.

Most people just get on, and pray tomorrow is better than today. Covid-19 and the UKs response to it is a nuclear blast wave that has torn domestic political possibilities. We might want everything to go back to how it was before, but well never be able to forget the massive economic power that could well eradicate homelessness and a plethora of other ills.

Gordon Brown has touted the genuine possibility of a temporary global government to tackle Covid-19. Hes somewhat deliberately overlooked the United Nations (UN), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the G20, the European Union (EU) and every other acronym out there. Browns timing might seem off, but all-new global paradigms and international organisations can follow a period of tumult or war.

The United Nations was touted as early as 1942 before its 1945 launch and the League of Nations in the middle of the First World War. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 was a unified effort to bring peace after the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The end of the Second World War ushered in calls for human rights norms with the Nuremberg Trials; as did the Balkans Wars and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. The EU, Nato and the World Bank were all instruments to keep the peace.

Full-scale conflict inevitably breeds long-range thinking to unify and prevent future losses of life. If we consider the Covid-19 problem as our first experience of total war in decades, its a fair expectation to presume there will be some radical thinking. This pandemic is a horror thats hard to come back from.

But time and time again, the world has shaken under disasters then recoiled back to normalcy almost as quickly as they happen.

Both world wars produced a genuine conviction that this was it; there simply must be lasting peace afterwards which could only be administered by some global system. By the time of the Cold War, no one tried to hide the fact that such a system was anything other than realpolitik and the most reliable system able to impose or shape values. Capitalism, democracy and the liberal hegemony were the talking points.

As sure as others might have said it in decades past, we do, genuinely, have something we havent had for years a tangible, relatable, ubiquitous experience of health horror. Environmental damage, the refugee crisis and poverty were always, always somewhere else. Now the sheer calamity of these things has become not just a constant on social media but a heart pang. There is very little cultural relativism in this human health scare.

The question is whether theres a need for a new global organisation when health provision is a national responsibility. If anything, Covid-19 points the way to business as usual because there is no one cause for the health crisis. National boundaries are at once meaningless and everything the disease is universal, its treatment is local.

The lesson of the 20th and early 21st centuries is that national sovereignty can change hands, but public services are always a hot topic, as the Brexit debate showcased. Resources are finite, scarcity very real. Trade, money and the flow of information are still fundamentals that will not be solved by yet another world body.

Many global organisations, which take a proportion of national budgets to fund operating budgets anyway, are underpinned by chronic fatigue. Any plans for a new world order are more likely to be treated with disdain; any effort called a diplomatic screen for the ideological, not the practical.

Sickness doesnt distinguish between nationalities, credos or any other human division. We all have an inherent vulnerability to natural problems. Its a fact of life when viruses like Covid-19 can so easily spread. This is about much more than mere foreign policy, and so it is far less easily resolved by creating some fictitious global government.

Although we can feel sympathy, pain and worry for those in other countries, emergencies like this exaggerate the hyperlocal. This isnt some warped racist or nationalist creed, its a human inability to see beyond our line of sight when we know scarcity dictates our response, if not our sentiment.

If there is a new organisation, it will very likely be advisory but with the charm of a fresh start. The irony of Covid-19 is that despite it being a global pandemic, no one can help us but ourselves; technology is bought and sold as war materiel and we try to win that battle. Like campaign alliances, interests can align, tactics can echo each other, but we still must fight the fight. Petty squabbling, once again, isnt going anywhere and calls for some new global utopia are dangerous and naive.

That said, you mustnt be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling. Maybe words to live by, but words from a film, Inception, about a dream.

Alastair Stewart is a freelance writer and public affairs consultant. Read more from Alastair at http://www.agjstewart.com and follow him on Twitter @agjstewart

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Coronavirus: Why we should beware talk of global utopia after Covid-19 threat recedes Alastair Stewart - The Scotsman

5 Classic Dystopian Novels and Where You Can Find Them at Chicago Bookstores – UrbanMatter

For years, dystopian literature has been a means to dissect particular aspects of modern society and magnify these characteristics in a futuristic world. Dystopia, literally, translates into bad place; and, although these novels might not be the good place, they are good reads for those who want to take a critical eye to (seemingly) fictitious social processes and systems. Delve into the world of dystopian fiction with these classic novels from decades past and while youre at it, support your local bookstores in Chicago!

Available at Volumes Book Cafe.

Ray Bradburys dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451, transports you to a futuristic America in which books are fiercely outlawed. In addition to books, free-thinking and the discussion of free-flowing ideas are all criminal acts, punishable by institutionalization or death. To the government, books are threatening and, as such, must be burned by firemen all in the name of censorship. Self-absorbed television and media consumption is hailed as proper and law-abiding. Embark on this literary excursion with Guy Montag (a fireman) and Clarisse McClellan (a random encounter turned true friend) as they fight the good fight against an oppressive dystopian government.

Find it at Women and Children First.

Ira Levin, probably most known for his horror novel, Rosemarys Baby, offers a different take on a dystopia. In this satirical thriller, youll explore the lives of the wives in a white-picket fence-neighborhood in Stepford, Connecticut, who discover their husbands horrifying secrets. This novel offers a meaningful (albeit foreboding) interpretation of power dynamics and gender juxtaposed with the ideals of domesticity and turmoil of feminism. For only 145 pages, The Stepford Wives is a quick, telling, and insightful read that may give a whole new meaning to the term Stepford Wife.

Get it at The Book Cellar.

Remember this title from eighth grade English class? Most likely, Lord of the Flies left some form of an impression on you be it Piggy, the conch, or Jack and Ralph. Lord of the Flies is a seemingly simple yet deeply complex critique of social organization, power, and human nature in the face of imminent threat. Taking place on an island after a plane crash, Lord of the Flies explores themes of self-governance and group-mentality such that youll start to wonder if humans can ever exist in harmony while a beast lives deep within them.

Available at Unabridged Bookstore.

Known as an anti-war book, Slaughterhouse-Fiveor its lesser-known subtitle: The Childrens Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Deathexplores the life of Billy Pilgrim, a prisoner of war from the historic 1944 Battle of the Bulge. A nod to the reality of prisoners experiences with PTSD, Slaughterhouse-Five depicts the cyclical loop of memories that Pilgrim encounters while a prisoner. In this loop, you feel Pilgrims pain, confusion, and frustration as the memories incessantly flood him (and you). Eventually discharged, Pilgrim then attempts to re-enter normal life but is later institutionalized. Follow the life and strife of Pilgrim, from discharge and marriage to fatherhood and alien abduction, and youll quickly consider this sci-fi dystopia a classic, albeit haunting, reminder of historys havoc.

Buy it from Bookends and Beginnings.

Looking for a novel that combines all the horrors of a dystopian society through a futuristic utopia? Be prepared to do so in Woman On the Edge of Time. Beginning with an allegory of institutionalization, healthcare, and drug violence, Woman On the Edge of Time paints a bleak scene of 1970s New York for an impoverished, new mother, Consuelo Ramos (otherwise known as Connie).

After shes institutionalized again through malevolent policing, Connie has communication with Luciente. Luciente is an androdgynous figure from a futuristic communal and agrarian society, Mattapoisett. The result? A community in the year 2137 without social classes, gender differentiators, and pollution. From environmentalism and sexism to racism and class-subordination, Lucientes society has made sense of the troubles that plague current times or has it? Read Piercys dystopia to expand the limits and boundaries of a utopian dystopia or a dystopian utopia.

Explore a different world as we navigate our current circumstances and youll discover gut-wrenching and foreboding tales that are still relevant to this day.

Featured Image Credit: The Book Cellar

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5 Classic Dystopian Novels and Where You Can Find Them at Chicago Bookstores - UrbanMatter

Now’s the perfect time for a deep dive into Spike Lee films. Here are our critic’s top 7 – Minneapolis Star Tribune

If all Spike Lee did was create movie careers for some of our finest actors, that would have been plenty.

Folks such as Samuel L. Jackson, Halle Berry, John David Washington (whose dad, Denzel, is also a Lee regular), Kerry Washington, Rosie Perez and John Turturro had breakthrough roles in Lee movies, which he prefers to call joints. Many have become part of his repertory company, revealing new dimensions of their talents and making strides to counter the underrepresentation of African-American people on screen.

Lee always has been willing to cast actors in unexpected ways. Who else would have seen Miss USA runner-up Berry as a bedraggled crack addict in Jungle Fever? A similar sense of experimentation courses through his movies, which makes him both inconsistent (2012s Red Hook Summer and 2014s Da Sweet Blood of Jesus are virtually unwatchable) but also one of our most adventurous filmmakers, from his comedic debut Shes Gotta Have It to his lacerating documentaries. Next up will be a concert film of David Byrnes American Utopia.

Never afraid of a big gesture, Lee goes for broke every time he directs (which is a lot his IMDB page lists eight projects for 2014 alone, which might be part of the problem with Da Sweet Blood). Lee seems less interested in reality, whatever that is, than in bold statements about existence, particularly black existence. Which is one reason his characters dont even move through the world like real people.

In Lees signature camera trick, which he has called a Spikeism but which is technically a double dolly shot, a lead character appears to walk-glide toward us, without the up-and-down movement that usually comes from using your feet. Introduced in Do the Right Thing, the unnerving effect pops up in many Lee movies. Hes even done it with both Washingtons: dad Denzel in Malcolm X and son John David in BlacKkKlansman, in both cases at moments of truth for their characters.

So, yes. His fondness for big gestures can make a Spike Lee movie go south, but when they work as these seven do they really work.

Do the Right Thing (1989)

I saw it again recently, and Lees look at racial tensions coming to a head in a Brooklyn neighborhood on the hottest day anyone can remember is as angry and compassionate as ever. Beginning with an electrifying opening credits sequence (Perez, dancing to Public Enemys Fight the Power) and climaxing with a shocking betrayal, Do the Right Thing is a straight-up masterpiece.

When the Levees Broke (2006)

Lees intimate tour of post-Katrina New Orleans is a denunciation of the institutional racism that meant the citys most vulnerable people were hit hardest by the hurricane, a prayer for the struggling souls Lee meets and a faint, hopeful plea to revive one of the countrys quirkiest cities. Composer Terence Blanchard, frequent Lee collaborator and New Orleans native, wrote the mournful score.

25th Hour (2002)

Edward Norton stars as a New York drug dealer on his final day before entering prison. Coming only a year after the Sept. 11 attacks, 25th Hour boldly connects its main characters attempts to accept responsibility for his own tragedy with what Lee perceives as this countrys failure to do so.

4 Little Girls (1997)

Maybe the quietest movie Lee has made, the documentary about the 1963 church bombing that killed four African-American girls lets the shocking events speak for themselves. Lees cameras revisit the scene in Birmingham, Ala., with friends and family members looking back on the day that changed their lives. (Like Do the Right Thing, Shes Gotta Have It and Malcom X, its listed on the National Film Registry.)

Inside Man (2006)

When Lee tries to bend his talent to fit conventional genres, the results vary (theres great stuff in his Malcolm X but its adherence to biopic tropes makes it feel stodgy). Inside Man, though, is nothing but fun. The twisty caper boasts big stars in flashy parts, with Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster, Clive Owen, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Christopher Plummer as fast-talking good or bad guys who get involved in a bank heist. The title may seem like a spoiler but that ends up being part of the joke.

Shes Gotta Have It (1986)

Tracy Camilla Johns was a find as Nola Darling, the confident center of Lees jazzy romcom about a woman with options. Its also the movie debut of the great S. Epatha Merkerson, who would become a star as a tut-tutting detective on TVs Law & Order.

School Daze (1988)

Lees most exuberant film alternates wild choreography with social commentary. Set at a dance-crazed historically black college, School Daze is a bright comedy/drama about the artificial divisions we create between ourselves. The enormous cast wears the op-art work of first-time costume designer Ruth E. Carter, who became a frequent Lee collaborator and won an Oscar for Black Panther.


Now's the perfect time for a deep dive into Spike Lee films. Here are our critic's top 7 - Minneapolis Star Tribune

What’s the Buzz: Utopia, Lost in Vegas, and More! – 25YearsLaterSite.com

Welcome to Whats the Buzz, 25YLs feature where members of our staff provide you with recommendations on a weekly basis. In our internet age, there is so much out there to think about watching, reading, listening to, etc., that it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, filter out the noise, or find those diamonds in the rough. But have no fear! Were here to help you do that thing I just described with three different metaphors. Each week a rotating cast of writers will offer their recommendations based on things they have discovered. They wont always be new to the world, but theyll be new to us, or we hope new to you. This week, Caemeron Crain is down the rabbit hole with Lost in Vegas, John Bernardy is listening to the podcast Toasted Cake, and Vincent Greene recommends Utopia and Grimm.

Vincent: Utopia is a British black-comedy/conspiracy thriller that aired on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom for two seasons. The show was created by Dennis Kelly and starred Fiona OShaughnessy, Adeel Akhtar, Paul Higgins, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Alexandra Roach, Oliver Woollford, Alistair Petrie and Neil Maskell. Back in 2014 HBO went about obtaining the rights to make an American version but due to budgetary disputes, it would not come to fruition. Instead, Amazon would go on to acquire the rights four years later in 2018 with production slated to begin the following year in 2019.

The plot mainly focuses on a graphic novel called The Utopia Experiments, written by a man named Philip Carvel. The text supposedly predicted some disastrous viral outbreaksdiseases such as BSE, otherwise known as The Mad Cows disease. What was believed to be a variant of the CreutzfeldtJakob disease. For years after its release, a rumor about the existence of an unpublished sequel to the seemingly clairvoyant comic would do the rounds amongst the online conspiracy theory forums.

This sequel is believed to contain even more important information that could prevent further catastrophes. Five people from one of the online forums that focus on The Utopia Experiments decide to meet in real-life to share in their fandom and discuss the validity of the murmurings about the secret manuscript. Only three of the five actually make it to the meeting: a post-graduate student named Becky (Alexandra Roach), an I.T consultant by the name of Ian (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) and the other a man known as Wilson Wilson (Adeel Akhtar).

After the group meets up things turn sour quickly and everything gets out of hand in the most monumental of ways. They soon find themselves on the run from a pair of ruthless hitmen and at the center of a vast conspiracy with an organization known only as The Network at its core. The hitmen in question go by the names of Arby (Neil Haskell) and Lee (Paul Ready), they kill man, woman, and child alike, with nothing but one question for their soon to be victims. That question being, Where is Jessica Hyde? As they get closer and closer to our group of heroes there is a knock on the door and we are introduced to Jessica Hyde (Fiona OShaughnessy).

Jessica goes about quickly teaching the group how to stay hidden from their pursuers. Jessica then goes in search of the manuscript with one of the members of the group who did not make the original rendezvous, an 11-year-old by the name of Grant (Oliver Woollford). The young adolescent gained entry into the group by masquerading as a man in his mid 20s in their chat forum. The unlikely duo manages to get their hands on the manuscript and they and the rest of the group go on the hunt for information about a secret project called Janus and a man by the name of Mr. Rabbit, the mysterious figurehead of The Network.

Whilst our group of heroes seek the truth and look to evade their would-be assassins another story is unfolding. That other story is centered around civil servant Michael Dugdale (Paul Higgins), who finds himself in the middle of a blackmail plot. The blackmailers are using their leverage against Digdale to push through a bill on the Russian Flu, which is a huge focal point of Utopia and in todays current climate really plays on your mind. As the storylines begin to converge we see how smart the creator of Utopia really is. He pieces every little thing together seamlessly. The narrative of Utopia takes the audience in directions that you didnt envisage were even on the horizon, Kelly should be commended for how expertly he crafted this show.

Utopia asks a lot of extremely interesting and deep questions, it is stylish, intelligent and backed by a near hypnotic techno soundtrack. Its strengths lie in its pacing and its efficiency in how it does its storytelling. It is a sharp series that keeps you on your toes throughout, never giving you a second of comfort. The use of extremely dark humor to break up the heavy story content is very well done. The cast is perfect in their roles and brings their characters to life with incredible believability. They are real, flawed people that have stumbled on to something that they are totally ill-equipped to deal with.

Speaking of the strength of characters that Utopia has the standout has to be Neil Maskell as Arby, the cold, tormented assassin, who slowly begins to unravel as he becomes haunted by his past acts. Maskell puts in an incredible performance, his delivery of dialogue is mesmerizing, his arc is definitely one of if not the best of the shows short run. You hang on every word of the scenes he is in, especially the scenes he shares with Paul Ready as his hitman partner Lee. The two men have great chemistry and it is clear for all to see when they share the screen.

Even with all of these qualities, Utopia was canceled after only two seasons, which is a shame. It is unfortunate that it never got a chance to finish up in a satisfactory way because it really was on a very high level narratively when it bowed out. Albeit its run was a short one, it was an undoubtedly strong one. It really is a case of quality over quantity. There is not a bad episode in the dozen.

Utopia broaches very sensitive content matter but does it with remarkable nuance and subtly. It is a show with an extremely high I.Q. I for one am looking forward to seeing what shape Amazons iteration takes on. I hope it does not veer too much from the British version but also manages to be uniquely original in its own right. The streaming giant has proven now that it is a safe pair of hands and continues to put out original content of a very high standard.

Although I would have loved to have seen the original iteration get the climax it deserved I feel comfortable in the knowledge that the future looks bright for this compelling story, whether it be a slightly different version that what might have been. Hopefully, now the fans of this show, which I count myself one of, will get the culmination to this story that we crave so badly.

Caemeron: Lost in Vegas is a YouTube channel where two self-described hip-hop guysGeorge and Ryanlisten to metal. Or, well, thats overly simple. They also listen to things we might better categorize as hard rock, or alternative, and they havent given up on their hip-hop roots (even if that isnt what I tend to listen to from them).

You can find various person listens to iconic song x for the first time videos out there, but Lost in Vegas is distinctive in its approach. Sometimes Ryan and George have heard the song before, though often they havent. Either way, theyre interested not just in reacting, but in analyzing whatever song is on offerincluding its lyrics.

So while it is a joy to see them discover things for the first time, Lost in Vegas also shines in the way that George and Ryan break down the aspects of the songs they listen to. They dont just tell you that they like something or dontthey do their best to tell you why.

That being said, some of my favorite moments are when one of them shouts out, Fire! or Playlist! as they listen to a song that I have loved for decades. Frankly, every time Ryan hollers Golly! my heart just melts a little. Its such a weirdly old-timey and yet heartfelt reaction on his part. And I love seeing these guys bang their heads along to some of these tracks. There is something really fun about seeing someone come to love something that you do, and I think we all know this. Its like making your friend watch Twin Peaks, or whatever your favorite TV show might be, and feeding off of their reaction.

Of course, George and Ryan dont love everything. Theyre freethinkers as theyd say. But that is refreshing, too. Even if they dont like something that I do, they offer reasons, and those reasons are interesting to think about.

If I have one complaint about Lost in Vegas, its a small one. Sometimes I feel like they could have maybe done a little bit more research about this or that on their own, rather than asking people to let them know in the comments. But then, they seem to have a pretty great community to help them out there. Maybe if they looked into things more it would taint their unbiased reactions? Im not sure.

Regardless, though I discovered Lost in Vegas a bit ago, Ive found myself returning to them in these trying times. If you havent checked them out at all, and are anything like me, there is a rabbit hole here you can fall down for hours. I actually kind of wish I hadnt seen so much already, because this strikes me as the perfect distraction right now.

But Ive still managed to spend some hours the past few nights with Lost in Vegas, going to things that didnt stand out to me before, or going again to some standout favorites. These guys love Tool (as they should), and their reaction to Megadeths Holy Wars is awesome.

Lately, they have been exploring Black Sabbath, and golly! I dont know why I love to watch them love Sabbath so much, but I do.

Vincent: Grimm is an American fantasy/procedural that aired on NBC for six seasons. It was created by Stephen Carpenter, Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt. Grimm stars David Giuntoli as the lead. It also stars Russell Hornsby, Bitsie Tulloch, Silas Weir Mitchell, Sasha Roiz, Reggie Lee, Bree Turner, and Claire Coffee in supporting roles. Grimm was initially developed for CBS but was put on hold due to the writers strike and was later picked up in 2011 by NBC.

The series is mostly centers around the exploits of a Portland detective named Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) who has just discovered that he comes from a long line of monster hunters known as Grimm. These hunters are the thin line that maintains the balance between humanity and creatures that we believed only lived in our myths. Just like Nick, we too find out very quickly that these creatures may not be so mythical after all.

Not only does Nick discover his newfound lineage but he also happens upon a world that exists just beneath the surface of our own. That world is inhabited by Wesen. For all intents and purposes the Wesen look just like you or me but they hide a more animalistic side, only showing this side under moments of emotional distress. It is only the Grimm that has the ability to see them even when they try to hide their transformation known as the woge.

Although Grimm initially finds its inspiration in German folklore and fairytales, it branches out as the story expands, taking in myths from cultures from all around the world. It also cleverly hides smart, subtle social commentary under the guise of just more monster stories. It takes on some very brave subject matter such as domestic violence, racial inequality, white supremacy and much more. It is a show with many layers: it has action, fantasy, horror, nuanced social undertones all wrapped up in a cop procedural with a twist.

When you viewGrimmyou will clearly see how it is steeped in the worlds ofBuffy the Vampire SlayerandAngel. David Greenwalts work on both of those shows clearly influenced the style and tone ofGrimm. Just like those two cult classics,Grimm is a dark and sometimes gory show but it is not without its moments of humor. The jokes are brilliantly timed and used correctly, they help brighten up the show without ever taking away from its overall seriousness too much.

AsGrimm progresses it also expands, not just on its mythos but also on how it uses its supporting cast. Each member of the extended cast is given far more meat to their roles as the show moves on, and every one of them excels as they take on their greater narrative workload. I love it when a show promotes from within instead of just adding a whole bunch of new characters that were never necessary to begin with. This is another trait that Grimmshares with bothBuffy the Vampire SlayerandAngel.

That aforementioned expansion of Grimmuncovers a very original and magnificently monstrous world. The special effects used to bring these monsters to life are very well done, the woge transformation is seamless and the actors cast in the roles are always so believable as the creatures they morph into. All of these elements giveGrimm a level of realism that many other shows that share this space lack. It never ventures in the realm of being cartoonish and the creators have to be commended for the effort they put in on this side of things.

When fantasy is rooted in reality then it becomes more real; it also becomes more frightening. It gives you pause, what would it be like if there were some hidden species that live amongst us. What if our imaginations of monsters and legends were because they were real at one time and still may lurk there in the shadows just out of sight.Grimmdoes an excellent job of bringing life to these mythical creatures but it also shows you that what we see on the surface is not always the true core of what lies beneath, whether that be bad or good. The evidence for the duality of man has never been so clear.

Grimm is an excellent show that deserves a bit more light shining on it. The pacing is fast, the storylines are sharp and immersive. The actors are perfectly cast and the writing is smart, subtle and filled with self-awareness. It is delightfully dark and brilliantly original. It is a homage to what came before whilst remaining entirely singular. Grimm is solid from pillar to postit is a fantastical frightening world just waiting to be explored.

John: Toasted Cake host Tina Connelly is a published author, and host of Escape Pod, a short story podcast from Escape Artists, but Toasted Cake is an audio podcast all her own. It presents a piece of flash fiction from any number of authors, followed by commentary by Connelly about why she chose the writing she just read. All told, most podcasts weigh in at 15 minutes or less. Like its name, its meant to be a pleasant snack for our ears and minds.

This weeks offeringEmergency Scenarios, by Kelly Sandovalworked particularly well. Connelly reads it in her trademark pleasant, easy-to-listen-to and wry style. She tells a science fiction style story of people leaving Mars for Earth, but its through the perspective of Tricia, a teenage girl who has feelings for her best friend Jas. Tricia comes off vulnerable rather than melodramatic, and her plan to run through worst case scenarios with her computer Adiana is a nice twist on the internal agonizing we all did back in high school when we were weighing the pros and cons of revealing our feelings to our friends. It was science fiction that was 100% relatable.

After the story endedwith a satisfying twist when you learn Tricia has more help than she thoughtConnelly tells us how shes presenting us with the same kind of relief that she needs during these times. Instead of darker stories, shes giving us tales where everyones trying their best and outcomes will probably turn out all right. None of this comes off as precious. Connellys just taking care of her heart. And I think shes right that hearing happy, hopeful stories will be good for ours too.

Those are our recommendations this week! What are yours? Let us know in the comments!

Help us keep the conversation alive! We publish new content daily that can easily be found by following us onTwitter,Instagram, by joining ourFacebook Page, or becoming an email subscriber here onthe site. Thank you as always for your support of 25YL!

If you would like to write for 25YL leave us a message on our websitehereor send an email to: andrew@25YearsLaterSite.com

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What's the Buzz: Utopia, Lost in Vegas, and More! - 25YearsLaterSite.com

The redemption of Doug Ramsey, the worst New Mutant – SYFY WIRE

If you were an original reader of The New Mutants and you aren't clinically insane, then you surely agree with the assessment made in the second half of the title to this week's column. Put a hold on those Hot Takes: Doug Ramsey was the LAMEST of Professor Xavier's mutant heroes-in-training. Search your feelings, you know it to be true.

So how has he become one of the prime figures in Jonathan Hickman's ongoing X-Menaissance? Despite limited page time, Ramsey occupies an important place in the new mutant sovereignty, thanks to his unique abilities that allow him to decipher any language. As a result, he is able to communicate directly with the mutant island of Krakoa, making him indispensable and earning him a seat on the Quiet Council.

The last time we saw him in X-Men #7, he was spotted sitting with his old pal Warlock when Cyclops showed up. Warlock disappeared in an instant, so Cyke isn't even sure he actually saw him, and Ramsey did nothing to dissuade him of that. Strange and likely sinister things are afoot, for certain. What Mr. Ramsey's role was in those affairs has sparked lots of speculation on comics message boards, with some thinking Hickman is playing a long game that will set up the Technarchy as a major adversary to the mutant nation. Makes sense, given that there have been subtle hints almost since the launch of Hickman's ambitious reboot.

There was the moment in Powers of X #2 when the Krakoa of an alternate future mentioned that his form once was controlled by a mutant who could communicate with anything. In Powers of X #4, Doug's technarch-bonded arm glances a Krakoa flower, beginning the gradual infection. Given the Technarch's history, did Ramsey just set the table for the alien races invasion of Krakoa? Is he aware?

[FYI, while the comics industry tries to get itself situated during the pandemic, there's a sale on all the Dawn of X comics at Marvels Digital Shop. So if you need to catch up, that's a cost-effective way to do it.]

For those who aren't as familiar with him, Doug Ramsey was introduced in The New Mutants #13 by Chris Claremont and Sal Buscema. He was computer pals with Kitty Pryde and later Warlock. But from the start, he was as forgettable as those original NM black & yellow costumes, and twice as annoying. If they had made a New Mutants movie in the '80s, he would have been played by William Zabka. His code-name 'Cypher' did little to rally support around him, because back then, having the ability to decipher any language basically meant he stood around a lot and dished out information. It wasn't just the fans who didn't care for him; not even the book's editor, Louise Simonson, thought much of him, and Weezie is about the nicest person in comics.

In a cruel bit of irony, it would take his death in The New Mutants #60, taking a bullet meant for his teammate Rahne Sinclair, to get fans to actually give a crap about him. He would stay in the Marvel morgue for an unusually long time even by comics standards -- more than 20 years, with an occasional reference or a head-fake like the "Phalanx Covenant" storyline notwithstanding. He would truly come back during the 2009 "Necrosha" crossover.

Ramsey not only returned but his resurrection made him interesting. As writers got more creative and savvy about how to apply his powers during the Internet era, he became a true Cypher. Someone who could interpret all languages even body language. He became something of a mutant version of Taskmaster, only instead of photographic reflexes, Ramsey could instantly decode an opponent's body language and counteract their moves. Brilliant, actually. Over the next few years, he would do things like actually defeat the Master Mold and save Utopia and have sex with a sentient robot. Yeah, that happened.

To me, though, Doug Ramsey wouldn't become a fully formed character until years later, in 2018's Hunt for Wolverine arc. Writer Charles Soule and artist Matteo Buffagni portrayed him as an information addict, a tech junkie. Their version of Cypher was hopelessly addicted to the Internet, trying to decode the entire World Wide Web. It was a fascinating and tragic lens through which to view his power set... and it was the first time I had ever truly cared about Doug Ramsey.

All it took was time for different creators to bring a fresh perspective to a character whose potential was buried deeper than most. It's happened before in comics. It took John Romita Sr. replacing Steve Ditko on The Amazing Spider-Man to help Stan Lee unlock the potential of Gwen Stacy. Later, Gerry Conway would figure out that Mary Jane Watson was really the girl of Peter Parker's dreams.

John Byrne did the same with She-Hulk, as did Marv Wolfman and George Perez with Donna Troy. It took a couple of decades, but Jim Shooter (and others like Roger Stern) finally managed to unlock the Wasp's potential as a truly great Avenger. Now, Hickman's taking the ball from Soule and doing the same with Doug Ramsey.

Even though he's back to his clean-shaven, prep-school look, it's clear there is much more to Ramsey than his perfect blonde hair. We know Hickman loves his reclamation projects. Look at what he's doing with Black Tom and, of course, Moira MacTaggart. I'm really looking forward to seeing where his grand plans go, and I especially can't wait to see what role Doug and his information-culling skills play in the X-tapestry.

And I really can't believe I just wrote that about a character that I loathed when he first arrived in Mutant-landia. But here we are.

What's your favorite Doug Ramsey story? Oh, who am I kidding? How about you sharing your favorite Dawn of X theories? Find me on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram and let me know!

And don't forget that Behind the Panel is a multi-platform series that can help keep you entertained during these strange and stressful times we're in. Our video series is chock-full of my in-depth interviews with amazing comic book creators. The Behind the Panel podcast is an audio documentary series that provides unique insight into your favorite creators and stories. Check 'em out, we think you'll enjoy them.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBCUniversal.

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The redemption of Doug Ramsey, the worst New Mutant - SYFY WIRE

We’re T-minus 4 years to the next Great American Solar Eclipse in 2024 – Space.com

The next Great North American Solar Eclipse is coming.

Four years from now, on Monday, April 8, 2024, a total eclipse of the sun will sweep across our continent. The dark shadow cone of the moon known as the umbra will trace out a path like a black crayon across parts of 15 states. An estimated 130 million people will either be positioned inside or within less than a day's drive of the zone of the total eclipse. Almost all of North America, as well as Central America and a sliver of northwestern South America will see a partial eclipse.

The path of totality will begin in the Pacific Ocean at a point 7 degrees south of the equator at longitude 158 degrees and 44 minutes west.. The moon's dark umbral shadow from where the glorious spectacle of a total solar eclipse can be viewed will then move northeast across the Mexican states of Sinaloa, Nayarit, Durango and Coahuila, then cross over the Rio Grande River into the Lone Star State of Texas. The American portion of the totality track, averaging 114 miles (184 kilometers) in width, will stretch from southwest Texas to northern Maine.

Video: Total Solar Eclipse in April 2024 - See the path of totalityRelated: Total solar eclipse 2024: Here's what you need to know

While passing through Ohio, upstate New York and northern New England, the dark lunar shadow will also interact with the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.

After that, totality will be observable from parts of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and the island of Newfoundland. In all, the umbra will touch the Earth for 3 hours and 14 minutes.

Here is a closer look at how the totality track will sweep across Mexico, United States and Canada.

The moon's umbra first meets land at the Pacific coast of Sinaloa, approximately 400 miles (640 km) northwest of Guadalajara. The city of Mazatln (population: 438,000) will see the sun go dark at 18:07 UT with totality lasting 4 minutes 17 seconds.

The most favorable land area for observing is in the state of Durango, 5 miles (9 km) north-northwest of the city of Nazas (population: 3,600), where the centerline duration is 4 minutes 28 seconds with the sun at mid-eclipse (1:17 p.m. local time; 1817 GMT) 70 degrees above the horizon. Nowhere else will the eclipsed sun appear higher, or totality last longer. These factors will almost certainly attract many amateur and professional astronomers as well as tour operators to Mexico, where the prospects for good weather are very encouraging. Indeed, Nazas is already being dubbed as "Eclipse City," and its close proximity to the point of greatest eclipse is mentioned on its Wikipedia page.

For the second time in less than 7 years, a total eclipse of the sun will sweep across the contiguous (48) United States. But compared to the "Great American Total Eclipse" of Aug. 21, 2017, the 2024 eclipse is far superior in that the path of totality is roughly 40% wider and the duration of totality along the centerline of the eclipse path lasts anywhere from 42 to 107 seconds longer than the maximum duration of the 2017 eclipse!

The first sizable U.S. population center that will greet the total eclipse will be Elm Creek in Maverick County, Texas (population: 2,500), which will see the sun go dark at 1:27 p.m. CDT (18:27 UT). Totality will last 4 minutes 25 seconds, with the sun standing 69 degrees high in the southern sky.

One impressive fact about the American portion of the eclipse track are the number of metropolitan areas with populations of over one million people that are in the eclipse path. These include Dallas-Fort Worth (6.8 million; most populous anywhere within the path), Austin (2.2 million), Cleveland (2.1 million), Indianapolis (2 million), Buffalo (1.1 million) and Rochester (1 million). And there are three additional metro areas of over 2 million people whose northwest portions straddle the southern edge of the totality path: San Antonio (2.5 million), Cincinnati and Columbus (each with 2.1 million).

And here's something that will make fans of Max Klinger (of M*A*S*H TV fame) happy: Toledo, Ohio will experience 1 minute 50 seconds of total eclipse beginning at 3:12 p.m. EDT (19:12 UT).

Cities just outside of the totality path where the moon will cover a significant percentage of the sun's disk in an exceedingly large partial eclipse include: Pittsburgh (97.4%), Memphis (97.8%), St. Louis (99.1%), Louisville (99.2%) and Detroit (99.4%). In the most extreme case, totality is no more than a few hours' drive away.

The shadow will exit the U.S. at Aroostook County in Maine, where in between the communities of Monticello and Littleton, totality arrives at 3:22 p.m. EDT (1932 GMT) and will last a very respectable 3 minutes 22 seconds with the sun 35 degrees high in the western sky.

Interestingly, for a specific geographic location on the Earth's surface, a total eclipse of the sun occurs (on average) once every 375 years. However, the paths of the 2017 and 2024 eclipses crisscross in America's heartland. Both eclipse paths overlap over a region encompassing parts of three states: Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky.The zone of overlapping totality measures almost 9,000 square miles (23,000 square km), or roughly the size of New Jersey.

For both eclipses, their respective centerlines cross near the eastern shore of Cedar Lake in Jackson County, Illinois. Technically, the closest town to this exact spot is Makanda, Illinois (population: 600). The nearest city of any size is Carbondale, Illinois (population: 26,000) located about three miles to the northeast. In fact, both Makanda and Carbondale are touting themselves as the place where the two centerlines cross, with Carbondale and its Southern Illinois University partner adopting the tagline "Eclipse Crossroads of America."

An even more amazing coincidence will take place about 10 miles north of the Texas community of Utopia (population: 230), at latitude 29 degrees and 46 minutes north, longitude 99 degrees and 30 minutes west. The centerline of the 2024 eclipse path passes through here, but on Oct. 14, 2023, the centerline of an annular solar eclipse will cross here as well. An annular eclipse differs from a total one in that the moon is too far away to cover the sun completely; at maximum eclipse a thin ring of sunlight shines all around the dark silhouette of the moon. So those living in this part of central Texas will be able to witness a spectacular "ring" eclipse, followed less than six months later by the even more spectacular sight of a total eclipse!

As the moon's umbra is sliding across parts of northern Ohio, a southeast sliver of the lower peninsula of Michigan, northwestern Pennsylvania and upstate New York, the northern half of the umbra will be moving across southeast Ontario. Point Pelee, the southernmost tip of Canada, witnesses 2 minutes 55 seconds of totality beginning at 3:13 p.m. EDT (1913 GMT).The 5.9 million people who reside in the Greater Toronto Metro area will see the sun narrowed down to a mere spot of light as all but one-tenth of a percent of its disk will be covered at 3:20 p.m. EDT (1920 GMT). But across Lake Ontario, 35 miles (55 km) to the southwest, the city of Hamilton (population: 763,000) will be rewarded with 1 minute 43 seconds of daytime darkness at 3:18 p.m. EDT (1918 GMT).

The shadow then moves into Quebec province; at 3:26 p.m. EDT (1926 GMT) its northern edge will cut the metropolitan area of Montreal (population: 4.1 million) virtually in half. South of a line running from Vandreuil-Dorion to Boucherville will see a total eclipse, while north of that line will see a partial eclipse. Farther to the northeast, Quebec City sees a very large (98.7%) partial eclipse at 3:30 p.m. EDT (1930 GMT).

The total eclipse then visits the maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and clips the northernmost end of Cape Breton Island of Nova Scotia. The shadow finally bids North America a fond adieu as it slips off the Bonavista Peninsula on the Island of Newfoundland and out into the open waters of the Atlantic at 4:16 p.m. NDT (1946 GMT).

Eight minutes later, the umbra will slide off the Earth at local sunset, approximately 1,250 miles (2,000 km) west of France, putting an end to our Great North American Solar Eclipse.

Mark your calendars!

Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York'sHayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy forNatural History magazine, theFarmers' Almanacand other publications. Follow uson Twitter@Spacedotcomand onFacebook

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We're T-minus 4 years to the next Great American Solar Eclipse in 2024 - Space.com

J. Posadas, the Trotskyist Who Believed in Intergalactic Communism – Jacobin magazine

Although a handful of Posadists continued, and still continue, their militancy, the movement largely faded from even its small relevance within Trotskyism after Posadass death in 1981. But the UFO essay and his enthusiasm for nuclear war remained legendary among Trotskyists and train-spotters of small revolutionary left sects. Among these was Matthew Salusbury, an intern for a magazine of the paranormal, the Fortean Times. He pitched an article that the British Posadists of the Revolutionary Workers Party were a Trotskyist UFO cult.

Although it hyperbolically leaned into the UFO angle, and unearthed, for the first time, Posadass late-life obsession with dolphins, it became the main referent for Posadass Wikipedia page, piquing many imaginative discussions on leftist message boards. In 2012, you translated the UFO essay into English for Marxists.org, which showed his interest in aliens was more than just a legend. Then, in 2016, as the insanity of the US and UK elections radicalized bizarre corners of the internet, Aaron Bastanis concept of Fully Automated Luxury Communism took off as a leftist meme.

Space was added to the schema, and a cartoonish Posadas alongside mushroom clouds, whizzing flying saucers, and dolphins leaping into space naturally followed. The Intergalactic Workers League Posadist was probably the most successful spin-off meme page. To date, its produced hundreds of memes, earned tens of thousands of followers, and its administrators occasionally venture out to a May Day parade or leftist event in character.

As a result of the memes, Posadas has become (in the Anglosphere, at least) one of the most notorious names in the pantheon in the history of revolutionary socialism outpacing his rivals and, at times, even overtaking Trotsky himself in terms of Google searches. Some have criticized the enthusiasm as cruel, citing a false rumor that Posadas was driven mad through torture, or that the Posadas memes do not take seriously the history of a movement that made heroic contributions to the South American labor movement and saw dozens of its militants killed and tortured.

Its a fair point, and thats part of why the bulk of my book offers a sober history of the Posadist Internationals origins and politics. But I also see a side of that is more positive. Young leftists today find themselves in between a century of counterrevolution and a future that seems destined to continue slowly sinking into dystopia. Posadas, who came to prominence in the 1950s as the spread of colonial revolution made it common for revolutionaries to believe a nuclear third world war was imminent, was the most extreme catastrophist thinker believing the war was both necessary and desirable, and that utopia was on the other side.

So, one way to read the Posadist memes, in absence of a potential world war between communism and capitalism, is that were fucked, drop the nukes, get it over with already. But theres also openness to another possibility that something strange and unexpected could happen, the emergence of a new Lenin, a mass, religious-like awakening of the working class, or a disaster that devastates the dominant order leaving the working class to rebuild the world on our own terms. Essentially, anyone who believes communist revolution is possible thinks something like this, even though to most people thats as ridiculous as waiting for the aliens.

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J. Posadas, the Trotskyist Who Believed in Intergalactic Communism - Jacobin magazine

Arizona Wildcats football roundup: Fall of Khalil Tate QB38 according to one NFL draft analyst is hard to fathom – Kokomo Perspective

Recent happenings related to Arizona Wildcats football, gathered from various sources:

Has the NFL draft punditrys disdain for Khalil Tate gone too far?

The former UA quarterback and one-time Heisman Trophy hopeful is generating little if any buzz entering the draft, which is set to begin April 23. Tate unquestionably was hurt by the cancellation of Arizonas pro day, where he would have been able to meet with NFL team representatives and show off what he learned from training with Donovan McNabb. The way the 2019 season ended for Tate didnt help either; he lost his full-time starting job, and the Wildcats lost their final seven games.

Still, Tate is an elite athlete with considerable arm talent who, if coached up, could fill a Slash-type role for a team along the lines of what Taysom Hill has done for New Orleans in recent seasons. Tate might have to do it as an undrafted free agent, though.

In The Athletics superb and extensive 2020 NFL Draft Guide, released earlier this week, analyst Dane Brugler ranks Tate as the No. 38 QB prospect in the draft. Some of the players ranked ahead of him: Kevin Davidson of Princeton, Reid Sinnett of San Diego, Kai Locksley of UTEP, Case Cookus of NAU, Ben DiNucci of James Madison, Roland Rivers III of Slippery Rock, Nick Tiano of Chattanooga, Jalen Morton of Prairie View A&M and Kurt Rawlings of Yale.

Because hes in the Best of the rest category, Tate doesnt have a writeup in the guide, which is available to anyone who has a subscription to The Athletic. We reached out to Brugler for his take on Tate:

Tate is tough because he's going to have to change positions for the NFL (in my opinion), but we don't really have any evidence of what he can do elsewhere. I was told he refused to do any receiver drills during the process before the pandemic shut everything down. You're right about the athleticism, though, which is why he'll get in a camp.

Would the scouting community view Tate differently if he had committed to moving to wide receiver and had an opportunity to display those skills at pro day and/or private workouts? Maybe. It would have shown a willingness on Tates part to be a team player and might have quelled some of the makeup concerns that also undoubtedly are dogging him during this process.

Pro Football Networks Tony Pauline ranks Tate as QB36. Bleacher Reports Matt Miller ranks Tate as the No. 24 quarterback prospect, which still would put him in the undrafted-free-agent bin. Over the past five years, an average of 11.2 quarterbacks have been selected. The peak was 15 in 2016.

The Athletic projects Arizona tailback J.J. Taylor as a seventh-round pick or priority free agent. Thats consistent with other seven-round mock drafts.

CBSSports.com projected Taylor to go in the seventh round to the Minnesota Vikings. USA Todays Draft Wire had Taylor going to New England in Round 7. Draft Wire also had the Patriots selecting UA cornerback Jace Whittaker in the sixth round. Brugler projects Whittaker as a priority free agent.

Here's Bruglers summation of Taylor:

Taylor is a quicker than fast athlete who loves to punch the gas instead of tapping on the brakes to attack defenses. While he should be commended for hurried decisiveness in the backfield, if he showed better discipline with his reads, he would see bigger holes about to open. Overall, Taylor has the shifty feet, soft hands and go-go-go play attitude that makes him a fun watch, but it will take the right situation for him to earn a roster spot as a change-of-pace option.

Taylor also received some love from CBSSports.com draft writer Chris Trapasso, who tweeted that Taylors effort vs. Stanford last season (133 scrimmage yards on 21 touches) was one of the best performances at the position in this draft class.

Arizona had offered scholarships to 161 class-of-2021 prospects as of Wednesday afternoon, according to 247Sports database. The UA is on pace to eclipse its total from 2020 of 258, which was higher than any of the previous three recruiting cycles.

Where are those offers being sent? What positions do those prospects play? Starting with the 2021 crop, we examined the past five rounds of offers. Here are some of our findings:


Calif. 35.96%

Texas 7.39%


Calif. 35.06%

Texas 19.48%


Calif. 31.03%

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Texas 25.62%


Calif. 22.09%

Texas 22.48%


Calif. 25.47%

Texas 27.95%

We recently had a chance to catch up with Marcus Griffin, a former defensive lineman at Arizona who lives in Bellevue, Washington in the heart of ground zero for the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.

A four-star recruit from Bellevue High School, Griffin appeared in 11 games for the Wildcats from 2015-17, recording five tackles. He spent the 2018 season as a grad transfer at Central Michigan, where he made 12 stops in 11 games.

Griffin graduated with a degree in social behavior and human understanding from the UA before earning his MBA at CMU. Hed like to work in a college football recruiting department one day.

For now, Griffin works in corporate sales. He got a job in that field in Seattle after moving home in December. He currently lives with his parents, who run the Enchanted Cuts hair salon for kids in nearby Redmond. Like most everyone else, the three are stuck at home for the time being.

Heres a snippet of our conversation with Griffin:

Bellevue is adjacent to Seattle. What has it been like there over the last month or so?

A: Bellevue is kind of like a utopia. Its a real city, but it doesnt feel like a real city. Its like Scottsdale but on steroids. Theres a lot of old wealth here. Microsoft, Amazon, Nordstrom, all those families are here. So this place is different.

Obviously, the city has (shut) down. You dont see as many people outside. Other than that, I havent really been able to tell the difference. A lot of people got old money, so this isnt a situation thats going to hurt them right now. Maybe in the long run, but not currently.

Whom do you see on a day-to-day basis?

A: My family. Nobody else. Just my mom and dad. Thats it. I havent seen my friends We actually had some beefs about it. I dont know who youve been around. I dont know who your familys been around. Id just rather not risk it.

This doesnt seem like a good time to have a hair salon.

A: My mom is a saver to her core, luckily enough. Were fine. I havent felt any change to our lifestyle. Shes always had that mindset of, Id rather save for a rainy day. If she had the mindset I have, wed be feeling it. Im in a great position with my job to where I could afford everything in my (own) household if I had to, but I havent had to.

Does it seem like people are scared there?

A: I wouldnt say scared. But I would say more cautious and more aware. I think in the beginning people thought this was a joke. They didnt take it seriously. I was fortunate. My parents did a lot of research in the beginning and saw that this could be a potential issue for us.

Whats your advice for people who are dealing with isolation, loneliness and other issues during the pandemic?

A: Were all different as human beings and what it takes for us to function and live our daily life. Make some goals. Come out of this wanting to get some things accomplished. I want to listen to a couple audio books. I want to lose 15 pounds. I want to learn some new things.

If you dont come out of this smarter, healthier, more in shape, more attuned to yourself, youre just wasting time. You gotta do the time instead of allowing the time to do you.

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Arizona Wildcats football roundup: Fall of Khalil Tate QB38 according to one NFL draft analyst is hard to fathom - Kokomo Perspective

ArenaNet Looks Back At 20 Years Of Guild Wars Art In New Book – MMOBomb

ArenaNet has never shied away from showcasing its unique art style. Three years before Guild Wars 2s launch, it released The Art of Guild Wars 2, a 128-page book full of lavish illustrations and introductions to many of the people and places in the game that players would become familiar with over the next decade.

In conjunction with Dark Horse, ArenaNet has now released its second Guild Wars art book, commemorating the companys 20th anniversary and offering a look at the progression of the series art style through both games. The Complete Art of Guild Wars: 20th Anniversary Edition (MSRP: $39.99) is a thicker (208 pages) volume filled with even more eye candy and text descriptions from the two games and all their expansions and even the cancelled Guild Wars: Utopia project. No, there arent spoilers for the third Guild Wars 2 expansion, unless I missed one in my brief skim-through.

Its still quite the package, and a worthy addition to the collection of any Guild Wars fan. You can pick it up via the Dark Horse website, which sells the book direct as well as providing links to several online retailers.

Disclosure: ArenaNet provided MMOBomb with a copy of this book.

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ArenaNet Looks Back At 20 Years Of Guild Wars Art In New Book - MMOBomb

Food was never the problem for Utopia comedian Dilruk Jayasinha – Sydney Morning Herald

After confirming were both on board with chicken liver pate (with hazelnut craquelin and spiced cherry), we order some dishes to share: the intriguing sounding sweetcorn madeleines with crab, the huge, single raviolo with chicken and shitake and a salad of heirloom tomatoes, macadamias and ricotta.

Frederic's grass-fed porterhouse steak.Credit:Joe Armao

Jayasinha cant choose between the glazed lamb scotch and the grass-fed porterhouse steak. So he orders both. Seriously. He declines the side serve of fries, though.

The steak is only a small serving, he says. Im quite comfortable having two plates in front of me.

And not just at home. Jayasinha tries to perform a gig as often as possible, and eats out almost every night. Ive given up trying to decide between which pasta I want, he says, explaining that he routinely orders two.

But he's not a monster: Ill have two separate forks. I dont want to mix the sauces.

Jayasinha taking photos for social media.Credit:Joe Armao

He shares these double pasta meals on social media, and fans now send him photos of when theyve done the same thing.

It does confuse wait staff, he says. He has left his two meals for a bathroom break only to return and find the table has been cleared away: So my main motivation for being in a relationship is to find someone to watch over my food.

Im just amazed he can eat so much and maintain his weight. The double-pasta days, he explains, are his cheat days, from the strict diet he followed while losing the weight.

I would have six days eating no carbs and sugars and then on the seventh day, you can eat anything. That was the day Id go and find a pasta place. Hes unfazed by what other diners think (our waiter is bemused at his double main-course order).

We share some mineral water; Jayasinha no longer drinks, something that must be tricky for someone whose career takes place in bars and licensed venues, late at night.

The chicken and shitake raviolo at Frederic.Credit:Joe Armao

Absolutely, I miss it. I would say, daily. I could probably have just a couple tonight, and ... a couple tomorrow and the next night, but somewhere in the future, that couple would become three, and the three would become 10-plus. Its easier for me to say zero, than to open that up, he says. As difficult as it is to be sober, it was difficult to deal with getting that drunk.

Our first dishes arrive, and after a mouthful of pate, Jayasinha holds up his hand. Ive just gotta take a moment; I need to process this, he says. Ive been trying to do more of this take a bite then leave my cutlery on the table until I finish the mouthful.

Jayasinha in 2016, before his dramatic weight loss.Credit:Wayne Taylor

Hes previously shared his weight-loss journey in his stand-up and now, after a couple of years of therapy and healthier living, hes finally comfortable with himself after years of self-loathing.

But now at this place where Im so comfortable, Im not sure I want to share it with anyone else.

His new show, Victorious Lion, (the name is the literal translation of his Sri Lankan surname) is a meditation on his newfound peace with himself.

It picks up where Ive not fixed myself completely, but Im comfortable with my mental health, and questioning, can I bring someone else into that picture? Its a new world for me, feeling self-confident and assured,'' he says.

It doesn't feel fair that someone might be interested in me now, when I actually needed them in my 20s.

Really, though, hes happy alone for the time being.

I come home and Ive got a bed to myself and I stretch out. I can go to the supermarket and get prosciutto and I dont have to share it, he says.

You can eat it naked, straight from the packet?

Thats it. At the supermarket, too.

Conversation with Jayasinha is relaxed; hes as interested in my views as giving his own, there are no "showbizzy" pretensions.

Jayasinha, far right, in ABC TV's Utopia.Credit:Hwa Goh

Im not that funny all the time, he says. I hate small talk. I like to ask about dark things, or what inspired people to get into their jobs. Im actually earnest.

When we meet, hes just back from a successful run at Adelaide Fringe Festival, and is preparing for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Since then, of course, the world has changed and the festival has been cancelled.

By email last week, Jayasinha says that like everyone in the industry, hes trying to figure out ''where to from now''.


It's a day-by-day challenge. Some days are a win where I've managed to eat healthily and do some physical activity but also tick off some work tasks, he says. Then there are other days where I've not changed out of PJs and I ate 1.5 litres of gelato at various points. But I've been prioritising finding a routine that works for me, and a big must-do each day is making a few calls to family and friends.

Hes also installed the video-sharing app Tik Tok, but is yet to upload anything, and has invested in a guitar, a keyboard and an electronic drum kit, despite having no musical skills.

This is in addition to the juggling balls I bought.

Jayasinha has been steadily making a name as a comic for the past decade, after moving to Australia from Sri Lanka in 2004 to study accountancy, a career that might be considered the antithesis of comedy.

It's a day-by-day challenge. Some days are a win where I've managed to eat healthily and do some physical activity ... Then there are other days where I've not changed out of PJs and I ate 1.5 litres of gelato.

He graduated and landed a job with one of the big firms, before moving to a smaller company where he worked for several years.

But crunching numbers was never his passion.

To begin with, the comedy was something on the side after he tried out at an open mic gig. He was instantly hooked, even though he bombed.

That was why I knew I had to do it because I loved it so much despite being shit at it, he says.

He was though, a funny kid: if he could make his brother laugh, his brother would go into their mums handbag and pay him 10 rupees.

If it was a really good joke hed give me 20, Jayasinha says. People would have described me as being funny, but there was always someone funnier than me.

As his stand-up career grew, little by little he shaved off his days in the office until for about six months, he was working as an accountant just one day a week.

Eventually, my boss was like, do you really need this job?.

While he doesnt miss the work (and declines to do my taxes), he misses his former colleagues; he still goes to the office Christmas parties.

And my ex-boss is my current accountant. Its a nice circle.

By the time our (three) main courses have been cleared, weve talked food weaknesses (Jayasinha cant resist good bread and butter), his tight-knit family, (he visits his parents in Sri Lanka three times a year), the divisiveness of comedy (In comedy, if you dont like what I find funny, then I cant believe that person thinks thats comedy. People get very passionate about it.), his new approach to exercise (I try and look at it as a celebration of what your body can do rather than a punishment for what you ate.) and his love of The Age crossword and sudoku. Im impressed hes a regular reader until he reveals he just steals that one page from cafes.

But Im paying for the coffee that ends up paying for the paper!

Completing the crossword, he says, is his one daily consistency.


In my job, there are a lot of variables. The mood of the crowd can change the show; if they've come in from the rain, from a hot day, if theyve been waiting for too long in the line, theyre drunk or tired, he says. But theres only 26 letters that can fit into that grid, and only nine digits for sudoku that have to go somewhere.

Like most of his socially distanced comedy peers, Jayasinha hopes he can get his material out to fans in other ways; his podcast Fitbet, originally set up with fellow comic Ben Lomas as a bet to see who could get their weight down to under 100kg first (for $1000), will continue; the pair will record over Skype.

And disappointed fans hoping to see Jayasinha at this years comedy festival can at least enjoy his TV special, streaming later this month.

In the meantime, perhaps its time for Jayasinha to tackle cooking?

Im still playing around with my old uni day staples of rice and cans of tuna, he says. But I think perhaps fine dining deliveries are the way to go.

Live: Dilruk Jayasinha, filmed at the Malthouse, available on Amazon Prime from April 24.


Receipt for lunch at Frederic in Cremorne.

Frederic, 9-11 Cremorne St, Cremorne. 9089 7224. (Temporarily closed; usual hours: Mon-Fri 11.30am-11pm; Sat 5pm-11pm; Sun 11.30am-3pm.)

Kylie Northover is Spectrum Deputy Editor at The Age

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Food was never the problem for Utopia comedian Dilruk Jayasinha - Sydney Morning Herald

Depression, Depression Books, Do-Goodersand Willie Nelson’s 70th Album | Opinion – Newsweek

Another week of pandemic chaos. Markets roller-coastered; unemployment claims broke a record, and the D-word is now being thrown around. Let's get started:

Recession or Depression? Well, it was inevitable, I guess, given the way things have been going that the words "depression" and "economy" would come up. "For the first time in my life, I think a depression is conceivable," writes Washington Post economics columnistand former NewsweekerRobert Samuelson. Bob is a very smart guy and not one for hyperbole. So, when he says we might already be in depression-land, pay attention. In the past two weeks 10 million jobless claims were filed with more to come. The likes of Boeing, Macy's and American Airlines all piled on the country's workers through a combination of pure layoffs, salary cuts and furloughs. Last Thursday's Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 39 percent of those surveyed have been laid off or have lost income. The equities markets continued to strugglethe S&P 500 was down 2.3 percent for the week. Let's be clear: I don't know what's going to happen and no one else does either. But it's pretty clear now that any recovery from what my colleague Bill Powell calls a "medically-induced depression" isn't going to happen soondespite predictions for a third-quarter bump only a week or two ago. I'm not all that sharp, but the impact of the pandemic, psychologically at the least, isn't going to suddenly evaporate after we're on the other end of the curve. After all, 70 percent of the GDP is consumer spending and I doubt folks, pre-vaccine, will be rushing back to restaurants, movie theaters, baseball parks and Cabo San Lucas once Dr. Fauci gives us the green light. Also keep in mind that that state budgets will be slammed, property and other taxes will go upand folks will be trying to find jobs at places that may not be in business anymore. (Business.com says about 62% of small businesses in its recent survey said that they have just two months or less before they go under if things don't improve.) Never mind that people, if they have jobs, will be trying to replenish their 401(k)s. I could go on. Ugh.

D-Books: If you are tired of the Tiger Kingand I, unlike many of you, was after the first episode consider something a little heavier. Given the state of the economy, I asked David Warsh, the editor/writer of the terrific weekly newsletter Economic Principals, for some essential reading on big-time economic downturns. (Yeah, I know, many of you are onto the next item...but still I persist.) Among his favorites: Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression by Morris Dickstein; (Music, movies and dance halls included) Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World by Liaquat Ahamed ("A spell-binding narrative account of the run-up and subsequent foul-up," says Warsh); and for you economic geeks only: The World in Depression, 1929-1939, by Charles P. Kindleberger. OK, back to Joe Exotic.

Stepping-Up: If anything good comes out of the coronavirus plague it may be the positive response of many business folksbig, small and in-betweenwho had been hammered pretty hard as greedheads by various candidates during the Democrats presidential nomination race . Some of my favorite examples: Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle slashed his salaryand the pay of his executivesso his 3,500 retail store workers could continue to get their paychecks. Aflac CEO Dan Amos, through his family's foundation, donated $1 million to the Piedmont Columbus (Ga.) Regional Hospital. The money will be used to convert the hospital's fifth floor to a Covid-19 ward, including seven new intensive care units. Then there's Tarrytown, New York's Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, which plans to produce 500,000 coronavirus test kits for the stateno charge. And, from The New York Times, Brooklyn landlord Mario Salerno canceled April rent for scores of tenants. Take a bow.

Loose Change: Country star/legend Willie Nelson announced his 70th(!) studio album. First Rose Of Spring. The single of the same name was co-written by friend of Newsweek Marc Beeson along with his song-writing partners Randy Houser and Allen Shamblin. Instant review: One hundred stars from me...HR Hell: Charleston Post and Courier columnist Steve Bailey worries that the massive collection of coronavirus data will have a bigand negativeimpact on privacy in the workplace. Will employees be required to certify they are coronavirus-free? Will testing be required before employment? Just like drug testing is now by many companies?...And finally, a couple of many goodbyes in the music business. Adam Schlesinger, 52, the founder of the pop-rock band Fountains of Wayne passed on due to COVID-19 complications. Too little space here to list his accomplishmentsEmmy awards and, of course, "Stacy's Mom" but all I can say is that I spent hours listening to FOW in my car with my kids. I think "Utopia Parkway" was our favorite. Bill Withers died at 81 from heart problems. Three Emmy awards and the mega-hits "Stand by Me" and "Ain't No Sunshine" are on his CV. Legendary...Til' next week, be safe and remember: you can report hoarding or price gouging of personal protective equipment to disaster@leo.gov. Or Jared Kushner.

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Depression, Depression Books, Do-Goodersand Willie Nelson's 70th Album | Opinion - Newsweek

Who Says You Cant Give Tony Awards in an Abbreviated Season? – The New York Times

GREEN The creators of musicals really offered a sampler of ways to respond to the jukebox problem. Jagged Little Pill, built on the Alanis Morissette catalog, made the smart choice of abjuring biography and instead attaching her songs to a new plot (by Diablo Cody) that grew out of the same concerns and vocabulary. Or perhaps I should say new plots, because it is not shy with them. There are at least eight story lines.

BRANTLEY To be honest, this was the show that gave me a headache, because it was so insistently earnest in its topicality and, even when it was trying to be funny, humorless. So, of the new musicals (and we havent touched on The Lightning Thief, your personal favorite) what would you give the premature Tony to?

GREEN The one that wouldnt be eligible: American Utopia. Joy and sadness bound to each other through David Byrnes music and Annie-B Parsons movement: What else do you want from a musical, even if its just a concert?

BRANTLEY I loved American Utopia. I think, though, Id have to go with Girl From the North Country, but I wouldnt have predicted that after seeing it in London two years ago. I find more in it every time I revisit it.

GREEN Despite all the Best Musical possibilities this truncated season, only one, The Lightning Thief, had a new score. Yet most of the offerings sounded new anyway, the result of terrific arrangements and orchestrations. Im thinking especially of Justin Levines magpie-on-Ecstasy song collages for Moulin Rouge!, Tom Kitts theatricalization of post-grunge pop for Jagged Little Pill and Simon Hales excavation of the deeply layered Americana in Dylans catalog for Girl.

BRANTLEY Here, Id have to say its a tie between Girl and Moulin Rouge!, each a remarkable accomplishment in a very different way. As for best revival, the undisputed winner is Ivo van Hoves divisive revival of West Side Story, but thats because it is, remarkably, the only musical revival so far.

GREEN I liked West Side Story better than you did, Ben, perhaps because I wasnt reviewing it. I lapped up the new things it wanted to show me (while also hunting for the old things it wanted to hide from me) and didnt worry about the elements that laid an egg. (Gee, Officer Krupke.) Its evocation of innocence and hopelessness felt more like real life now than Ive experienced in previous revivals.

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Who Says You Cant Give Tony Awards in an Abbreviated Season? - The New York Times

Rick and Morty returns May 3, new trailer teases return of Tammy and Snuffles – SYFY WIRE

Hot off the heels of that anime and manga-inspired short over the weekend, Rick and Morty announced the premiere date for the second half of its fourth season with a brand new trailer. The hit animated sci-fi series will return to Adult Swim on Sunday, May 3 at 11:30 p.m. EST.

Theteaser trailer promises a litany of even moreoutrageous and meta adventures for the show's titular duo (both of whom are voiced by co-creator Justin Roiland). Not only that, but the new footage signals the return of two familiar characters: Snuffles (Rob Paulsen) and TammyGuetermann (Cassie Steele), but more on them later.

First, you must watch the teaser (set to Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back in Town") below:

Snuffles, who dates all the way back to the second episode of Season 1 ("Lawnmower Dog"),was once the Smith family dog before gaining hyper-intelligence and leaving Earth to form a utopia of super-smart canines. As you see in the trailer, he's now got a genius feline problem on his robotic hands.

Tammy, on the other hand, was Summer's high school friend who fell in love with Birdperson (voiced by Roiland's fellowco-creator Dan Harmon), only to reveal herself as an agent of the Galactic Federation. She murdered Birdperson at their wedding in the Season 2 finale ("The Wedding Squanchers")and laterbrought him back to life asPhoenixperson. Since we haven't seen either of them since the post-credits seen of the Season 3premiere ("The Rickshank Redemption"), it'll be interesting to see what kind of conflict Tammy brings to the table for Season 4.

Lastly, the presence of multiple Ricks in the teaser suggests a return ofthe Citadel, which is ruled by Evil Morty, who was elected president of the place in Season 3's "The Ricklantis Mixup."

Chris Parnell (Jerry Smith, Morty's father),Spencer Grammer (Summer Smith, Morty's older sister),Sarah Chalke (Beth Smith, Rick's daughter) make up the rest of Rick and Morty's principal voice cast.

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Rick and Morty returns May 3, new trailer teases return of Tammy and Snuffles - SYFY WIRE

The new digital world and the Holodeck – ZDNet

John Kao, founder and chairman of the Institute for Large Scale Innovation

The EconomistcalledJohn Kao "Mr. Creativity" and a "serial innovator" and CNN the "innovation maven." He is a thought leader, practitioner, and activist, who has played a leading role in the fields of innovation and business creativity for over 30 years. His knowledge is eclectic and blends the perspectives of former Harvard Business School professor, serial entrepreneur, musician, master facilitator, former CEO, Harvard-trained psychiatrist, best-selling author, and Tony-nominated producer of film and stage. Yamaha Music Corporation named him their first "innovation artist." He is a trusted advisor to leaders of companies, startups, and nations that are on the hot seat to deliver meaningful innovation strategies and action agendas.

I first met John Kao when we both spoke at a higher education technology summit. We then collaborated to advise a blockchain startup CEO on the importance of data ownership and privacy. Kao was also a brilliant guest on my weekly video podcast DisrupTV, which I co-host with Ray Wang, CEO and founder of Constellation Research.

Kao is also an incredible innovation expert and storyteller, often working on projects to improve the state of society and education. The innovation manifesto by Kao is a must-read.

I have written about how 2020 will be the year that redefined distance learning, telemedicine, remote work, ecommerce, and accelerated adoption of several new emerging technologies. It will also be the year that created an entirely new set of new business models based on aggressive digital transformation imperatives. I asked John Kao to share his thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic and future of leadership and innovation.

Here are Kao's thoughts:

We will look back on the black swan of COVID-19 as a milestone in our transition from the old digital world to a new one. It is forcing innovation in how we work, play, learn, care for ourselves and connect.

Certainly, the virtual domain has been a factor at least since Alexander Graham Bell's words "Watson come here" projected human intention through cyberspace. The notion of virtual work has been around at least since 1972 when the term "telecommuting" was coined by NASA scientist Jack Nilles.

But the current pandemic has challenged us to evolve our digital selves in new ways. Examples: A Fortune 500 CEO recently organized a virtual town hall for 50,000 employees. Which begs the question of what is leadership in the virtual domain as Slack, Microsoft Teams, Salesforce Chatter, Zoom, and other business-oriented collaboration platforms become the new work culture we inhabit. Then there is education. A high school student told me recently that transitioning to all online/remote learning wasn't nearly as good as being in school because continually staring at a screen "felt like doing homework all day." E-health is booming as people clamor for advice about coronavirus via telemedicine channels, while the questions of who and what to trust remains greater than ever. We hope that our politicians will ponder the challenges and opportunities inherent in the virtual for political campaigns and election security. And we hang out in new ways now - virtual yoga and wellness classes, concerts (thank you Yo-yo Ma), dramatic performances, meditation sessions, and even sex. Necessity, it would seem, is the mother of invention.

Star Trek and the Holodeck

All this is happening while the technology to support our lives continues to advance.Star Trek raised our expectations with the Holodeck, which presaged highly realistic, virtual environments that supported a wide range of activity. Now Microsoft has announced a hair-raising technology that is in a sense the opposite - an augmented reality system called Holoportation that allows people to embody themselves virtually in real, shared environments. Science fact is becoming stranger than science fiction.

But there are real challenges on the road to a digital utopia.

Personal identity and trust remain high on the to-do list. If I can "meet" you in a digital environment that is fully realistic with the exception of touch (and that problem is being worked on as well) how can I trust that you are you? How will I know that what you say about yourself and your qualifications is true? There are related issues of security and "hack-proofing." In an era in which the conventional password has become almost useless, what kind of access do you allow into privileged digital environments? Will the internet continue to devolve into a network of walled gardens as a consequence?

And then there is the human side of the equation. How much intimacy is possible, especially when the new tools become a rich-enough medium to address, if not entirely satisfy, the human need for nuance and connection? What happens to digital addiction when screens are the primary medium of exchange. What kinds of new mental health issues will emerge in the era of social distancing?

On the upside, how can our new technologies foster collaborative creativity? How will they spur activism as those with skills can be matched with increasing precision to those with needs via AI activated market spaces and increasingly intelligent agents? How can new technologies offer more efficient and secure voting? How will they increase the efficiency of learning and health care?

Meanwhile, we have more immediate matters to attend to. COVID-19 has placed each of us into a personal virtual laboratory that calls us to experiment with how we define our identity and tastes, how we stay connected and participate, and how we access the resources we need. The times are challenging us to raise our digital literacy to new and uncharted levels.

Technology visionary Marshall McLuhan would probably not recognize the "global village" we inhabit today. But he would stand firm with his assertion that the "medium is the message." Today we have a lot to figure out because in McLuhan's words, "We shape our tools and afterward our tools shape us." Welcome to the new world.

This article was co-authored by John Kao, chairman of the Institute for Large Scale Innovation and a former Harvard Business School professor. You can contact him via email at john@largescaleinnovation.org.

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The new digital world and the Holodeck - ZDNet