The Boys season finale: Victoria Neuman head exploder twist reveals the limits of the show’s nihilism. – Slate

Now you AOC see her Amazon Prime

This article contains spoilers for the Season 2 finale of The Boys.

Watchers of The Boys got a real jolt of a reveal at the end of the shows second-season finale. Victoria Neuman, the truth-speaking young congresswoman played by Claudia Doumit, who had worked with the vigilante Boys in their efforts to bring down the evil Vought Enterprises, turns out to be a secret superhero. She also seems to be pretty evilshes the one responsible for all the disgusting random head explosions that have made the show so hard to watch this season. In fact, the terrible scene we were subjected to in Episode 7a Congressional hearing Neuman calls in order to bring Vought Industries to justice ends in a huge mess as the star witness and multiple attendees get their gourds squished by an invisible forcewas all Neumans doing.

Why did this surprise retain the power to jar and upset me, since Im generally a huge fan of what Slates Matthew Dessem has described as the shows deep and abiding misanthropy? Because Neuman is clearly an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez analog. The comic-book series the shows drawn from had a character named Victor Neuman, but he was a dim-witted Vought exec turned politician, apparently inspired by George W. Bush. This Victoria Neuman is totally different. Shes a young woman of color (Doumit is Lebanese, Italian, and Australian). Shes plain-spoken, sharp, and brimming with charismaand just like AOC, Neuman knows her way around a statement lipstick.

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The show even gestures to the similarity explicitly in Episode 5, when Neuman convenes a rally outside Vought after the once-hidden fact that the company has been manufacturing a superhero serum goes public. Homelander (Antony Starr), the evilest superhero, drops in on the rally, paying Neuman a series of smarmy compliments. Didnt you love that little Walk Like an Egyptian dance she did online? he asks the crowd, a seeming reference to that time a video of AOC dancing adorably to Phoenixs Lisztomania on a rooftop in college went viral. So fun! I loved it! Homelander, an old-school sociopath deeply uncomfortable with the workings of online celebrity, did not in fact love itbut the crowd, full of people hoisting signs that say We love you, Victoria!, clearly did.

Not everyone is sold on Neuman, even before the big reveal. The Boys meet with Neuman at a mutual allys house to prepare for those hearings that end in blood. Their leader, Billy Butcher (Karl Urban), doesnt want to collaborate; he is, to put it politely, not a believer in electoral politics. Weve never had Congress on our side before, says the ally (Grace Mallory, ex-CIA, played by Laila Robbins), asking Butcher to play along. To which Butcher spits, in his classic brutal form: Congress? Please! What a bunch of corrupt fucking cunts they are! Neuman replies, casually: Youre not the first to call me a cunt, Mr. Butcher; Im starting to think its like a badge of honor. Rep. Ted Yoho called Ocasio-Cortez a fucking bitch on the Capitol steps in July of this year, so this cant have been an explicit connection since this season of the show was already in the can, but Ocasio-Cortez certainly gets enough abuse online to make the connection resonate.

Looking back at the times Neuman appeared this season, Im not sure why I didnt call this turn ahead of time. This particular show is not about to put its faith in a politician, no matter how apparently virtuous. The reveal that Victoria Neuman is a head-squishing supe works within the universe of The Boys, because nobody but the Boys (and maybe the good superhero, Starlight, and Grace Mallory) are allowed to have pure hearts. But this twist of the story makes me look twice at the shows nihilism, and wonder whether I want to be along for this particular ride.

When we find out shes a supe secretly working against the Boys, Victoria Neumans force of personalitythe leadership qualities that draw people to attend the rallies she convenes, toting signs that say Victoria Neuman, Political Badassbecomes instantly suspicious. Its just too reminiscent of online right-wingers making up fables about AOCs secret nature (Snopes.com has debunked conspiracy theories from AOC is an actress playing a congresswoman to AOC wants to ban motorcycles.) Clearly jealous of her youth and beauty, these real-life conspiracists insist shes too good to be true. I wish this show hadnt done the same.

Neumans nature isnt known to the Boys yet (just to the shows viewers), and the finale ends with Hughie (Jack Quaid), the most idealistic of all the vigilantes, joining up with Neumans campaign. Season 3 is supposed to start filming in early 2021, COVID willing. I suppose theres some room for a turnaroundmaybe well find out the congresswoman had reasons for busting the heads she busted. But Im not holding out much hope.

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The Boys season finale: Victoria Neuman head exploder twist reveals the limits of the show's nihilism. - Slate

The Second Season of The Boys Was Fueled by the Nihilism of Reality – The Ringer

The penultimate episode of The Boys second season begins in unnerving fashion, even by the shows standards. A lonely young white man who lives at home with his mother is slowly enveloped, and radicalized, by the dangerous rhetoric spewed by the Vought Corporation superhero and newest member of the Seven, Stormfront. Over time, and with Stormfronts warnings of super-terrorists invading America from beyond our borders constantly booming from his phone and computer screens, the loner begins to suspect that his local bodega owner is one of these threats in hiding. (The owner is, of course, a person of color.) The tragic sequence culminates with the man shooting the innocent owner in the face.

While The Boys is a pessimistic thought exercise exploring what would happen if super-powered beings actually existed among usspoiler: yes, superheroes would absolutely abuse their powersthis particular moment, unfortunately, feels very much rooted in our current reality. As other on-screen superhero stories have confronted historical examples of fascismHYDRA, originally an experimental scientific branch of the Nazi Party, is a recurring antagonist in the Marvel Cinematic UniverseThe Boys portrays more contemporary racist ideologies. Modern fascism comes by way of social media, memes, and conspiracy theories.

Stormfront, a being who the second season reveals was originally created by Heinrich Himmler (a side effect of her powers is that she doesnt really age), is the evolution of the white supremacist rebrand in practice. Once a literal Nazi from Nazi Germany, she shaves part of her head, is undeniably crafty with her faux-feminist/anti-corporate messaging, and succinctly underlines her philosophy for recruiting people like the aforementioned loner. You cant win the whole country anymore, so stop trying, Stormfront tells Homelander, the shows sociopathic Superman/Captain America stand-in. You dont need 50 million people to love you, you need 5 million people fucking pissed. Anger sells. You have fans; I have soldiers.

That The Boys season finale, What I Know, premiered the day after the FBI uncovered a terrorist plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is further proof that, existence of superpowered humans wearing dorky costumes aside, the series has a firm grasp on how actual cults of personality are formed. Reality these days can be just as strange, and depraved, as fiction. (If the second season wasnt put together in 2019, Stormfront may well have given a shoutout to the same white supremacist group that the president told to stand by just two weeks ago; The Boys is rarely subtle.)

Viewers expecting a crass, irreverent take on superhero culturethe tone of Deadpool in the form of a TV seriescertainly wont be disappointed by The Boys, but Season 2 sure goes down with an un-Deadpool-like bitterness. Amazon Studios originally sent critics the entire second season in advance over the summer, so my enjoyment of the show was distilled in a few afternoons. But The Boys actual release modelafter the first three episodes premiered on September 4, Amazon went with a weekly rollouthas its pros and cons.

On the one hand, the series reaped the rewards of sustaining interest for weeks on end; its popularity is such that not only was The Boys renewed for a third season, but a spin-off about superpowered kids in college is also on the way. (Suggestion: Cast Nicholas Braun for all the Sky High heads out there.) On the other hand, stretching out this particular season into weekly morsels is asking fans to become gluttons for punishment. Even though her name was an obvious reference, Stormfront doesnt reveal her true nature until the end of the third episodeat which point, the show takes its time laying out the full extent of her awfulness (an ageless Nazi who, in a previous superhero iteration under the name Liberty, viciously murdered a young Black man). Its compelling, up to a point: Eventually, you just want to see Stormfront, like Ramsay Bolton on Game of Thrones, get her comeuppance.

To the credit of The Boys, What I Know does deliver a satisfying rebuke to, as many characters end up dubbing her, the Nazi bitch. After A-Train discovers the real reason why Stormfront doesnt want him back in the Sevenbecause hes Blackhe goes about stealing buried, classified documents of her Nazi past. With Hughie and Starlights help, Stormfronts real identity is leaked to the press, giving Vought another PR nightmare to deal with. (One of the many effects of the revelations of Stormfronts Nazi ties is that A-Train is let back into the Seven so the company can try and save face.) As for Stormfront, who confronts the Boys in the finale, she pivots very quickly from decrying the information as a deepfake to acknowledging that people like what she has to saythey just dont like the word Nazi.

And then, thankfully, she gets walloped. Queen Maeve, whos spent much of the series wallowing in self-pity, leads a Stormfront beatdown, joined by Starlight and Kimiko. The sequence is immensely cathartic and scored to the on-the-nose tune of Peaches Boys Want to Be Her. The Boys loves to take jabs at Marvelwhether intentional or not, three female heroes beating the crap out of a Nazi feels like the shows answer to Avengers: Endgames cringey and entirely unearned girl power moment. Stormfront eventually does her best Anakin Skywalker getting roasted on Mustafar impressioncourtesy of Homelanders superpowered son Ryan nailing her with his laser visionto cap off her arc. With all due respect to Aya Cash, who delivered an incredible performance, Id be fine if that was the last we ever see of her.

Season 2 was a transitional period for The Boys. After all, What I Know saves its biggest mic drop for last: Victoria Neuman, the representative reminiscent of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez whos been trying to hold Vought accountable for its actions, has powers herself. And not only that, shes the character responsible for the series of head-exploding assassinations this season. (Her final kill of the season was the leader of the shows equivalent of the Church of Scientology.)

While Neumans motivations arent entirely clear, it appears that Vought is covering all bases: Since the company cant stop the government from interfering in its nefarious plans, they might as well have a mole in charge of the newly established Office of Supe Affairs. If a Nazi becoming the most popular and social-media-savvy member of the Seven was The Boys appetizer, the shows main course looks like it will be Voughta conglomerate with shades of Disney and Lockheed Martin that turns a blind eye to fascists and murderers in its ranksvying for complete global domination.

Having a young representative in the mold of AOC secretly being a ruthless assassin who can explode heads with her mind is, uh, definitely in line with The Boys provocative sensibilities. But the finales Neuman twist also reaffirms what the show has hammered home from the very beginning: Whether its superheroes, celebrities, or politicians, you should always have a healthy dose of skepticism for authority figures and the institutions that put them on a pedestal. And if you ever find yourself confronted by a Nazi, punch them square in the face.

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The Second Season of The Boys Was Fueled by the Nihilism of Reality - The Ringer

How the Right Is Starting a Psychological War by Targeting the Old and Ageing – The Wire

When Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated, he was a frail man, disappointed and also withdrawn from national politics. He was 78 years old, and one thought it was a travesty that a person who spoke tirelessly of non-violence all his life met a violent death. But it now looks it was not happenstance; almost 70 years later we are now witnessing a series of events that echo it.

It began with the murders of Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar and Kalburgi all of them into their 70s, and more recently the arrest of Varavara Rao, and now Stan Swamy, both into their 80s. The silent but unmistakable ageism in the way the Right in India thinks will hold important clues to how they see life and the nihilism, and contempt for anyone considered vulnerable. What can explain the series of killings and arrests of octogenarians, and what could be the possible message that they wish to communicate?

From the left: Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar, Varavara Rao and Stan Swamy. Credit: PTI

Predatory state

There seems to be a mix of factors as to how activists who are old, ageing and ailing seem to be picked up and made a spectacle of. It immediately communicates certain ruthlessness and recklessness. Varavara who was once known to be a powerful public speaker was struggling to find the right words and who was known to have an elephants memory failing to recognise his own family. All stress-induced symptoms also come with ageing. But repeated refusals to grant bail and machinations to keep him in prison are a clear message of seeing this as a fight to finish.

It symbolises a predatory culture where one can either be a victor or the vanquished. Targeting the old seems to bring a sense of doomsday where there is no escape for the rest if the old and ailing are not spared.

It seems to also resonate with the idea of a strong nation that has little space and patience for the unproductive bodies. It brings back the memories of Nazi rule that targeted not just the Jews but also the disabled White German kids and put them through the same gas chambers. It symbolises a kind of productivism of both the market and the nation. If one is not of use and not productive it is not immoral to dispense with them.

This, figuratively, seems to stand in opposition to the young and productive nation that is looking ahead. By default making a spectacle of the old and ageing seem to also signify that the values and ideologies they stood for are outdated and irrelevant. Shrinking bodies become the templates for conveying coded message of fading ideas and upend value system.

The recent video of Stan Swamy complaining of ailments and yet remaining steadfast for the values he stood for in fighting for the tribals can send a message of unflinching commitment, but it can also mean they are stretching themselves at a time when they needed to retire and spend time with grandkids, be contemplative and await the inevitable.

In Hindu philosophy, it signifies an age to move towards vanaprastha and sanyasa referring to giving up worldly pursuits. It goes with the symbolism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi meditating in the cave and taking a lonely walk between the election results and announcing 75 as a cut off year to hold administrative posts in state or central governments. He had moved the ageing leaders to a freshly minted Margadarshak Mandal.

The Right seems to believe that given the cultural codes of Hindu way of life, dispensing with the old will meet less protest and resistance from the society. It creates a scope for more fear and less resistance. The suffering they are being put through seems to be seen through the prism of a calculus of how many more years are really left and society would forgive and may be even forget the excesses more easily but the message of being ruthless and un-pardoning slowly seeps in.

Also read: Modi 2.0: A Coming-of-Age Drama for Majoritarianism and Authoritarianism

Political nihilism

While the arrests of young men brings a spirit of resistance that can inspire the society, incarcerating the old makes us more contemplative, look at the meaning and purpose of life, and we associate it less with action. It brings in a sense of nihilism, reminding us of the inevitability of death and futility of suffering. It reminds us of a time for other worldly pursuits as is poignantly reminded to us in the film Mukti Bhawan. In fact, in much of religious philosophy, death is Moksha, a kind of liberation for the corporeal self and body and is not something to grieve over, much less resist.

Ageing reminds us of a sense of loneliness that awaits us with a deep sense of vulnerability. It reminds us of the need to plan for ones safety and care and pursuit of collective interest and heroic activism can cost you not just your life but the bare needs necessary for an ageing body. It can have deep roots in psychology of creating innate insecurity; the Right consciously targets sites that harbour our latent and dark selves.

Psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar notes how rumours of poisoned milk being sold are spread during communal riots as figuratively milk symbolises a primordial maternal security. It can arouse latent fears and insecurities and primordial instinct for violence. In killing and arresting the old and ageing, the Right is targeting a psychological warfare on its own society to disempower and silence it.

It is an empowering irony to watch and get inspired by the dadis of Shaheen Bagh where Bilkis Bano symbolises the new hope. Her age evokes happiness, love and mischief. It transcends social boundaries of religion and place. Time magazine listed her in 100 most influential people of 2020.

Shaheen Bagh, on one of the evenings in March. Photo: Rayees Amin

Life moves through dialectics, as the current regime looks at the underside of age, dadis of Shaheen Bagh are reminding us of what Mark Twain once famously said: Age is an issue of mind over matter, if you dont mind, it doesnt matter. Age brings the best of lighter side of life and reminds us of taking life with a pinch of salt and standing for causes well beyond ones immediate interest could possibly be the most meaningful way of living ones life. Collective resistance needs to upturn the cynical spectacle in resisting for and celebrating the lives of these ageing soldiers of salvation and emancipation.

Ajay Gudavarthyis an associate professor at the Centre for Political Studies, JNU.

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How the Right Is Starting a Psychological War by Targeting the Old and Ageing - The Wire

Can the GOP ever redeem itself? – The Week

Democrats look well poised to beat President Trump and the Republican Party in this fall's election. There are some observers who hope that a good electoral thrashing will bring Republican leaders to their senses and cause them to steer a course away from the party's unofficial platform of revanchism, culture wars, and white identity politics toward a less-alarming path.

But defeat no matter how large or ignominious probably won't redeem the GOP, nor cure it of its Trumpist excesses.

A landslide victory for Democratic candidate Joe Biden "would turn the Trump era of nihilism, tribalism, and cruelty into a cautionary tale of extremism, illiberalism, and, above all, failure," Andrew Sullivan wrote last week. He added: "And a landslide is the only thing that can possibly, finally break the far right fever that has destroyed the GOP as a legitimate right-of-center political party, and turned it into a paranoid, media-driven, fact-free festival of fear and animus."

This might sound familiar. Sullivan made a similar case in 2007, arguing in The Atlantic for the candidacy of Barack Obama as a means of repudiating the Boomer-driven culture wars that had culminated in the multiple disasters Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, the Great Recession of George W. Bush's presidency.

"At its best, the Obama candidacy is about ending a war not so much the war in Iraq, which now has a momentum that will propel the occupation into the next decade but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most," Sullivan wrote. "It is a war about war and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama and Obama alone offers the possibility of a truce."

Obviously, that's not how things actually worked out.

Republican leaders did distance themselves from Bush, but Obama's landslide election victory sparked a backlash that ushered in the Tea Party, Glenn Beck's ugly heyday, GOP intransigence, and birtherism.

When Obama won big again in 2012, there was a moment when the party's leaders appeared ready to set a new course. The Republican National Committee produced a postmortem report that proclaimed voters perceived the party as belonging to "stuffy old men." The RNC vowed to plunge its resources into reaching out to minority voters. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) eyeing a 2012 run for the presidency even took the lead on crafting a bipartisan immigration reform bill as part of an effort to soften the GOP's image.

The bill never gained traction. Conservatives bludgeoned Rubio for his perceived softness on immigration. Republican voters chose Donald Trump and his border wall in the 2016 primaries, despite the obvious agitation it caused the party establishment. But when Trump was elected, that establishment including Rubio fell in line.

So even if Trump loses the election by double-digit margins, as several recent polls have indicated he might, recent history doesn't augur Republican repentance. The party's Trump-loving base voters aren't going anywhere. Neither is Trump. It is doubtful he would follow the lead of his predecessors and recede into the background after leaving office instead we probably can expect a Mar-a-Lago tweetstorm to keep the former reality star in the spotlight and stirring up trouble for as long as he is able.

One big election defeat, or two, might not convince Republicans of the errors of their ways. It might take a generation of losses, of being deprived of power, to do the trick. Republicans were locked out of the White House for 20 years starting with Franklin Roosevelt's election in 1932, and only reclaimed office after Dwight Eisenhower a hugely popular war hero whom Democrats had also tried to woo as their candidate took office and governed as a post-New Deal moderate. Similarly, Democrats spent most of the post-Richard Nixon era in the wilderness, given a break only by the Watergate-driven election of Jimmy Carter, and getting relief only when Bill Clinton arrived on the scene in 1992 to steer the party toward the center.

Maybe this time will be different.

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Strong government response needed in COVID battle – Harvard Gazette

A worldwide forum convened to share insights gleaned from the fight against the novel coronavirus highlighted the importance of a strong, coordinated government response as crucial to stopping its spread, both within a country and internationally.

It has never been more important for us than it is now to shoulder the responsibility to respond quickly and effectively to the threat posed to human lives and to the health of our communities, local, regional, national, and global, said Mark Elliott, vice provost for international affairs and the Mark Schwartz Professor of Chinese and Inner Asian History. Introducing Global Perspectives on COVID-19, which brought together medical and scientific participants from China, Italy, South Africa, and the U.S. on Wednesday, Elliott characterized the pandemic as a monumental public health crisis.

There is strong evidence, however, that it is a crisis that responds to lockdown. Zhong Nanshan, professor of respiratory medicine at Guangzhou Medical University, discussed the speed of containment in Wuhan, China, where COVID-19 was first documented on Dec. 7, its severity apparent by Jan. 20, and the city locked down by Jan. 23. The containment appeared to work, said Zhong, who is also director of the National Clinical Research Center for Respiratory Disease, as cases in China leveled out at approximately 80,000 by March 1. To date, they have increased by only about 10,000, which he attributed to imported cases.

Strong action by the central government is still the most effective way to block transmission, Zhong said. The next step, however, is the development of vaccines, he said, citing the urgent need for international collaboration.

Fabio Ciceri, scientific director of the San Raffaele Scientific Institute, said earlier interventions and the introduction of some important treatments in Northern Italy helped bring down mortality rates in the San Rafaelle hospital from 24 percent to less than 1 percent. As the country prepares for a possible second wave, perhaps as soon as December, he stressed the importance of early testing and tracing, networking between hospitals, and referrals to COVID-19 care hubs. These centers have new clinical trials with investigational treatments, as well as post-COVID-19 clinics, which follow up on long-term care and management of late and lingering symptoms, he said.

Salim Abdool Karim, director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) and member of the African Task Force on Coronavirus, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), said that in Africa the coronavirus has infected approximately 1.5 million people and killed more than 36,000, a fatality rate of approximately 2.4 percent. COVID-19 now appears to be in decline on the continent, though that could be from underreporting or under-testing in some of its countries, or the facts that Africas population skews significantly younger than Europe or North Americas, and fewer of its citizens travel internationally.

However, he too credited a coordinated government response with saving lives. Citing a strong and consistent political commitment by the African Union, he noted that Africa CDC quickly set up a platform for a coordinated response for supplies. We were not competing against each other for, say, test kits, he said. This coordinated response also engaged the public. Karim pointed to a tradition of working for the collective good, which Karim called the principle of ubuntu, translated as I am, because you are.

You are safe because I am safe, Karim said. Our collective interdependence is how well protect ourselves going forward.

George Q. Daley, Harvard Medical Schools dean of the faculty of medicine, noted how in its 10th month, the pandemic has passed a grim milestone of 1 million deaths. Vanquishing COVID-19 will depend critically on how we learn from each other and how we collaborate as a global biomedical community united against this common threat, he said. Meanwhile, Megan Murray, the Ronda Stryker and William Johnston Professor of Global Health at HMS, discussed the possibility of zoonosis, the leap of pathogens from animals to humans and how it has been enabled by climate change and magnified by climate migration and the mass displacement of marginalized people. As the natural environment is destroyed, we can expect to see more such disease, she said, which will disproportionately affect the poor. Epidemics expose the fault lines of our society.

Paul Farmer, Kolokotrones University Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine and chair of Harvard Medical Schools Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, wrapped up the conference with a look at what doesnt work: contact nihilism, in which governments give up tracing contacts, and clinical nihilism, in which they focus solely on containment and almost give up on treatment.

When you see claims that the treatment of a pathology in a pandemic is impossible, unfeasible, not cost effective, make sure youre not seeing clinical nihilism, he said. Theres always a gap between the development of a new therapeutic and its widespread distribution.

The forum was co-sponsored by Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness (MassCPR) as part of Worldwide Week at Harvard.


Strong government response needed in COVID battle - Harvard Gazette

Passenger’s ode to quarantine | The Current – The Current – The Student-Run Newspaper of Nova Southeastern University.

In early July, singer-songwriter Passenger, known for his 2013 hit Let Her Go, released his new studio album titled Patchwork. Although this is his twelfth studio album, there is one major difference that Patchwork boasts: it was written and recorded almost entirely during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The album sets the tone from the beginning with Sword in the Stone, which immediately tells the listener that this is going to be a concept album about the pandemic. Just when you think that you have heard enough about it, the first song brings about the realization that we have survived a major historical event. Passenger sings about the pain and frustration we endured on the rollercoaster that was the early months of the pandemic. For many, this is still a reality. There is a sense of vulnerable honesty when he begins the song by asking how his darling is and then sharing the unbearably hard time he has been having.

Year on Year, Day by Day gives the listener a shoulder to lean on and the assurance that, in time, everything will be okay. Passenger walks the fine line between nihilism and stoicism near the end of the song, calling life a comedy show and how if you live longer than expected, the Queen gives you a medal. In the albums titular track Patchwork, apart from the cozy melody that gives any lullaby a run for its money, the song is a love letter to the tenacity of humankind and the real-life superhero ability that is being able to move on. Patchwork encourages the listener to look at everything weve built and to, metaphorically, sew another square onto our quilt.

Venice Canals is one of those songs that makes you actually go and learn something. The track speaks to the numerous natural wonders that had returned during the quarantine. The stars of Beijing, the birds of Times Square and the fish in the Venice Canals. During the lockdown, the waters of the Venice Canals were clear enough to see the fish. Passenger speaks to a beautiful silver lining in the wake of the global chaos that began in March. He sings dont get me wrong, this aint no happy song, meaning that the human world is still in ruins, but ironically, the natural world is flourishing when it was previously the other way around.

Queenstown is the track on the album most deserving of being a single, meaning its really good. If one looks deeper, under its comforting chord progressions and warm verses, you can see its not just about a good time in a town in New Zealand. This indie, playing-guitar-by-candlelight ballad is about the good memories with friends and family before we had to wear masks that hide our smiles, stay six feet apart, do away with hugs and put on hand sanitizer every time we go out. Its the type of nostalgia that brings more sadness than euphoria.

Swimming Upstream is a very refreshing upbeat song, providing a little motivation boost for those who need it. This song is for those who feel like no matter how hard they try, life just does not seem to be leading them anywhere. He relates it to swimming upstream and encourages listeners to keep swimming. Somebody You Loved is the only cover on the album, originally performed by Lewis Capaldi, but Passengers version does it just like you would expect him to: soft guitar picking, overlapping vocals and an artistic touch of electric guitar here and there.

The album ends with Summer Rain, which sums up the entire album in one song seemingly reinforcing the idea, in case the listener has not understood it yet. The pandemic was and continues to be horrible. It has caused massive financial suffering, moral debates, serious sickness, and in the worst cases, death.However, comfort can be found in the fact that it happened to everyone. In this divided time, if we cant relate to each other on anything, at least we can share and understand each others pain.


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Exposing the Fault Lines – Harvard Medical School

This article is part of Harvard Medical Schoolscontinuing coverageof medicine, biomedical research, medical education and policy related to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and the disease COVID-19.

Nine months into the coronavirus pandemic that has now killed more than one million people, global health experts have gained a clearer understanding of what has to happen to successfully contain the disease and protect populations going forwardand its going to require close coordination and collaboration.

They shared those hard-won lessons recently at a special, virtual gathering of international scientists and clinicians hosted by Harvard.

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Conquering this contagion will depend on unraveling the biology of the virus, understanding the pathophysiology of the disease, and developing treatments and vaccines to halt its spread, said George Q. Daley, dean of Harvard Medical School, in his welcoming remarks at the online symposium, which focused on developing solutions to the global health crisis.

Vanquishing COVID-19 will depend critically on how we learn from each other and how we collaborate as a global biomedical community united against this common threat, he added.

Scientists from the HMS-ledMassachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness(MassCPR)in Boston, and colleagues in China, Italy and South Africa convened via teleconference on Oct. 7 to examine the impact of and response to COVID-19 in some of the early pandemic hot spots and to share lessons learned from past epidemics.

The session was part ofWorldwide Week at Harvard, and it featured researchers and clinicians who have spent decades fighting some of the worlds deadly outbreaks of infectious disease.

Mark Elliott, vice provost for international affairs and the Mark Schwartz Professor of Chinese and Inner Asian History at Harvard, welcomed participants to the remote event, noting that MassCPR is a historic partnership benefitting people around the world as nations join to confront COVID-19s unprecedented threat to life, health and well-being.

In just 10 months, Daley said, the pathogen has exacted an extraordinary human tollnot only through a high mortality rate, widespread infection, and the severity of illness it has wrought but also through economic devastation and radical transformations in the way societies are socializing, working and learning.

To help put COVID-19 in context, Megan Murray,the Ronda Stryker and William Johnston Professor of Global Health in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School and director of research atPartners In Health, shared a historical perspective from epidemics past and a current view of ongoing outbreaks.

Murray described several of the most catastrophic epidemics of infectious disease in the 20th and 21st centuries, including outbreaks of pneumonic plague among migrant hunters in Mongolia, Nipah virus among farmers and meat processing workers in Malaysia, and the ongoing series of Ebola outbreaks that have ravaged the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The common threads that bind these outbreaks, she said, are economic and ecological disruption, which put impoverished people with limited access to health care in direct contact with deadly pathogens.

Murray noted that it is not just novel pathogens that pose a particular risk: tuberculosis, like COVD-19, does not cause symptomatic disease in most of the people infected and thrives where people live in crowded conditions with poor ventilation, indoor air pollution and comorbidities of chronic diseases associated with poverty.

The lesson for the current coronavirus pandemic is that these social and environmental forces need to be taken into account when confronting an outbreak, she said.

Epidemics expose the fault lines of our society, and we cannot address them without seeing and trying to mend the fissures in our society, Murray said.

Awareness of the social, cultural and political context of the disease outbreak is an important element in the way the pandemic plays out around the globe, both in terms of how the illness is transmitted and in terms of how it is treated and controlled, noted Paul Farmer, the Kolokotrones University Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine, head of the department of global health and social medicine at HMS, and co-founder of Partners In Health.

We need to look at pathogens, of course, which have different modes of transmission, he said. We also need to understand pathogenic forces that drive transmission in overcrowded hospitals and meat packing plants.

Farmer said that two key takeaways from his decades of experience confronting tuberculosis, HIV, Ebola and other pandemics around the world is that the global medical community needs to understand two deadly concepts: treatment nihilism and containment nihilism.

Treatment nihilism occurs when someone says its not feasible or sustainable to treat someone for a particular disease, typically people who are poor or in rural areas facing complex diseases, Farmer said. It explains why so many Ebola treatment units did not offer any treatment for people with Ebola in the 2014-2016 outbreak in West Africa. Containment nihilism is when someone says its too challenging or too late to control the spread of a disease.

COVID-19 case studies from China, Italy and South Africa highlighted during the symposium demonstrated the critical importance of ramping up treatment capacity while also controlling the transmission of the disease through social distancing, mask wearing and eliminating large gatherings.

In the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, however, Farmer said there have been early and ongoing declarations from government leaders at the local and national level that it was too late or too challenging to contain the disease or do contact tracing.

This was a key element in the substantial failure at disease control in the U.S., he said.

In April, people had already given up on contact tracing, Farmer said.

At that time, Partners In Health was contracted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to provide assistance with contact tracing and social support to help individuals who were exposed or infected and were in isolation or quarantine.

Farmer said he believed that the expanded contact tracing effort Harvard and PIH were able to support likely played a role in helping Massachusetts maintain infection rates at lower levels than in many other states which were experiencing a rise in infection rates.

With COVID-19 now hitting the White House, Farmer said, there is no sign of any contact tracing being done to follow the spread of the outbreak into the communities of Washington, D.C., and beyond.

This is a real problem, since experience has shown us that contact tracing should play a role in curbing the pandemic, Farmer said.

Nanshan Zhong, professor of respiratory medicine at Guangzhou Medical University and director of the Chinese National Clinical Research Center for Respiratory Disease, was introduced by Daley as the legendary physician-scientist who discovered the first SARS virus and who has led the Chinese response to both SARS and SARS-CoV-2.

Zhong detailed the early response and evolving dynamics of the infection in China, describing the rapid recognition, characterization and response to the novel coronavirus when it first emerged in Wuhan.

The first cluster of pneumonia was reported Dec. 27, 2019, and by early January 2020, Chinese scientists had already sequenced the genome of the virus, sharing the information with the World Health Organization by Jan. 12, he said.

Following a rapid, thorough investigation of the outbreak, Zhong said the team on the ground in Wuhan reported definite human-to-human transmission and confirmed, within weeks of the first known cases, that medical staff there had been infected while treating people with the virus.

By Jan. 23, Wuhan was under lockdown; the government was providing real time announcements of the number of patients affected, and it was implementing a program of early diagnosis, early isolation and early treatment.

The Chinese government also issued orders for compulsory social distancing, mask wearing and travel restrictions in an effort to quickly contain the disease, he said, and it swiftly constructed 16 hospitals within 19 days that added 13,000 hospital beds to the local capacity, rapidly filling 12,000 of those beds.

That speedy response to contain and treat the disease helped drive a prompt decrease in cases, he said. Within two weeks of the shutdown order, Zhong said, the outbreak reached its peak. Within four weeks, he said, the outbreak was basically under control.

Since then, the outbreak has remained quite stable inside China, with low levels of infection, Zhong said. The total number of reported cases in China was 80,000 by March 1 and was just over 91,000 as of Oct. 5. The 11,000 cases reported since March 1 includes 3,000 cases brought into China by visitors from outside the country, Zhong said.

Because of the countrys swift, coordinated action, China was able to reduce infections and illness and reopen the economy sooner, Zhong said. Going forward, he added, a strategy of prevention remains crucial until vaccines can be brought online.

Herd immunity through natural infection would likely result in 30 million additional deaths, he noted. Meanwhile, even with a dozen vaccines already in various phases of the clinical trial process around the world, it will likely take 1-2 years, even with global collaboration, for vaccines to be widely available to the general public, he said.

Strong, coordinated action by central governments to help block transmission routes at the community level is still the most effective means for disease control, Zhong said.

There is also an urgent need for close international collaboration in tracing sources of new outbreaks, developing targeted treatment and finding effective vaccines, he said.

Salim Abdool Karim, professor of global health at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and adjunct professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said that, to date, Africa has seen many fewer cases and deaths from COVID-19 than expected, with 1.5 million cases and 36,000 deaths for the entire continent.

So far, the disease has been particularly concentrated in just a few African countries. South Africa alone represents nearly 40 percent of cases, with five nations on the continent accounting for two-thirds of all cases in Africa, he said,

He noted that while many African countries lack sufficient testing and reporting capabilities to gain a completely accurate picture of the spread of the virus on the continent, hospital surveillance confirms that there has not been a great increase in severe cases of respiratory disease there.

There is still no definitive evidence to explain why Africa has been less severely impacted than other regions, he said, but Karim noted that many suspect it may be related to Africas youth dividend, referring to the fact that Africa has a much younger population on average than other places that have seen higher rates of infection and severe disease.

Other possible explanations include the fact that there seem to have been few initial cases seeded before international and local travel were limited by early lockdowns, said Karim, a member of the Africa Task Force for Novel Coronavirus of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

He also noted that there has been a strong, consistent commitment among the nations of the African union to control the outbreak, with strong guidance and a coordinated response led by the recently created Africa CDC. That included bulk procurement of testing supplies and personal protective equipment and early adoption of mask wearing and social distancing.

South Africa had some of the first reported cases on the continent in early March, but instead of seeing a rapid spike, the country was able to quickly get the outbreak under control following a rapid declaration of a national state of disaster and a highly restrictive shutdown, he said.

The early flattening of the curve brought a great deal of economic hardship, according to Karim, but the rapid shutdown bought the health system the time that it needed before cases surged.

If the peak had occurred in April, we would have had lots of death because we were simply not prepared, Karim said. Pushing the peak back allowed us to prepare.

South African health officials opened field hospitals with hundreds of ICU beds, and the government redirected industrial oxygen to medical purposes. Building on experience from nations that faced the surge earlier, physicians there replaced mechanical ventilation with less invasive means of delivering oxygen to patients in respiratory distress.

One important element of African efforts to control spread of the virus was a shift of responsibility from government control to individual engagement, Karim said.

We knew he had to pivot away from government action quickly so that people could take agency, he said.

The early emphasis on shutdowns and travel restrictions was replaced with an emphasis on mask wearing, social distance and hand hygiene. Education and awareness efforts focused on the individuals shared responsibility to their fellow community members.

The message was, If you don't follow the rules, you put everyone at risk, Karim said, drawing on the concept of ubuntu, a paradigm and social norm instilled by former South African President Nelson Mandela in much of South African society, Karim said.

Ubuntu holds I am safe, because you are safe, he said.

Our collective interdependence is the basis on which we will protect ourselves going forward, he said.

One other key concept is perseverance, he said. With the relaxation of restrictions, the levels of infection have begun to climb slowly, but Karim emphasized that the countrys efforts will not be over even when COVID-19 is under control.

Were not looking at it as a sprint, as we did in March, he said. Now were looking at it as a marathon.

We've seen other epidemics, and we will see more, he said. We recognize that we're going to have to deal with this for a long time. This is not something that is just going to go away.

Fabio Ciceri,scientific director of the San Raffaele Scientific Institute and professor of hematology at Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan, shared his insights from the early days of the pandemic in northern Italy and its evolving nature there today.

When COVID-19 hit northern Italy, the novel coronavirus was still almost completely unknown, he said.

We were the first country in Europe touched by the wave, Ciceri said.

Centrally coordinated regional and national responses helped get the outbreak under control relatively rapidly, he said, with national shutdowns and care coordination that focused 80 percent of national health care resources on beating back the novel coronavirus.

Even in the early days of the outbreak, Ciceri said, his team made an extra effort to collect biological samples and clinical data to be used for important research activities, with scientists carefully analyzing the results of numerous potential treatments and enrolling many patients in clinical trials.

These early efforts to incorporate research into care delivery are now providing Italys scientists with the raw materials necessary to power biological studies of the viruss pathology and detail the immune systems response to the infection. Ciceri said this approach helped Italy rapidly lower mortality rates in the early surge.

As clinicians developed new protocols for rapid, aggressive early intervention in potentially serious cases, fewer patients needed to be admitted to hospitals, fewer of those who were admitted needed intensive care, and fewer patients died, he said. Mortality rates for those admitted dropped from 25 percent to 2 percent, he said.

Going forward, Italy has increased early testing and contact tracing of new positive cases and built connections between hospitals across the country to share experience and care, focusing on early interventions for patients with symptomatic disease and referrals to special COVID-19 hubs for patients who might benefit from new treatments and investigational trials.

Daley said the advance warning and the generous flow of clinical and scientific knowledge from colleagues in China and northern Italy was of incalculable value.

They provided us with ample warning about the hurricane headed our way, enabling us here in New England to prepare for the surge and avert catastrophic overload of our hospital systems, Daley said.

Unfortunately, he said, the U.S. failed to mount a coordinated national effort and some parts of our country did not heed the early warnings from abroadchoosing instead to ignore the very public health measures that had worked to ultimately bring the explosive virus under control in the early epicenters of the pandemic. To this day the U.S. continues to struggle to contain the virus, and the death toll continues to mount.

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Exposing the Fault Lines - Harvard Medical School

Op-Ed: How Black people maintain hope and why that’s so important – Los Angeles Times

Well, here we are again. With the most consequential presidential election in modern times approaching faster than anybody wants it to, and with the richest and most powerful country in the world threatening to collapse under the weight of its worst and most undemocratic impulses, Black peoples reenergized fight for equality could potentially pull America back from the abyss.

In the midst of moral chaos, the fight to validate Black lives once again requires the nation to examine its own ideals in order to definitively answer the age-old question: What kind of a country are we?

Not so long ago we had a stock answer: We are a country that stands for truth, justice and the pursuit of liberty for all. All political parties Democratic, Republican, Libertarian claimed these principles as their guiding lights; not to embrace them was heresy, or at least political suicide. Of course there were always huge gaps between the stated goals and reality, and Black people have lived in those gaps for all of our time in this country. Still, the broad public agreement on the importance of the ideals meant something actually, its meant everything.

Black people have hope only because of these ideals, because of the ongoing possibility that they might be fulfilled. Its an incredibly tenuous thing to hang a whole future on, but we do it, generation after generation.

We do it understanding that hope is not calm or static. Hope is vigilance, and it is also fury. You have to have hope for a just America in order to feel betrayed by the unjust one. It is a keen sense of betrayal (not nihilism, as conservatives claim) that has been animating this years street protests and calls for police reform. Black hope today is less patient. In 2020, the demand is that the long arc of the moral universe bend now.

Since May, many white people who have joined the police protests and adopted antiracist views have embraced that impatience as their own, as American. But can they really move an unjust system off its foundation?

For many whites, the ideals of democracy are noble and essential so long as the caste system is not seriously disrupted. This was Howard Zinns point in A Peoples History of the United States, that real revolution is almost never successful because the American hierarchy, built on color first and wealth second, is too entrenched, too beneficial to too many to be easily dismantled. In Zinns view, its the hierarchy, not the journey to justice, that largely defines us.

I think very uneasily about the 40-odd percent of Americans unnervingly loyal to President Trump. Its abundantly clear at this point that he is the total antithesis of anything resembling American ideals, the worst white man out there and his followers dont care! Their ideal America has nothing to do with equality and justice for all, and theyre fine with that. Theyre even proud of it.

Trumps role has been to make acceptable a pride in inequality that since the 1960s has had to be kept secret. Now it is cheered at televised rallies, where attendees boo protesters as unpatriotic and stand up for the Confederacy like a wronged family member.

This is what terrifies anyone not in the Trump camp, that these other white people will not be moved or shamed by appeals of change and justice, or worse, that these 40-percenters are, objectively speaking, the real Americans.

Its easy to condemn Trump for dragging down the country, but there would be no Donald Trump were it not for these 40-percenters who have always been open to his message. His naked white fury is a projection of them, not the other way around, and they like what they see.

What can we do about this America? Thats the real question thats been hanging over the country the last four years, the one that must be answered. The strategy of conscientious white folks seems to be simply trying to appeal to everybodys better angels, which Democrats essentially did during their convention in August. Its a strategy doomed to fail. You can be antiracist all day long, but if you cant call out other white folk for their racism because theyre friends or family, or because you think they actually have a point then little will change.

As usual, Black people saw it all coming, from 40,000 feet up, saw it the heady moment Barack Obama got elected the first time, when Republicans declared in the aftermath of the inauguration, before Obama had done anything of note, that their goal would be to make him a one-term president. Anti-Obama-ism a code for anti-Blackness quickly took root and in eight years totally remade the Republican Party, or revealed what it always was.

It was in this shift that Trump found his footing, and the new GOP base found a figurehead. Black people understand that at any given time in history, a good percentage of white people are wedded to anti-Blackness, in one way or another; we always hoped that the percentage in the body politic, like a viral load, would stay below a certain number.

Today, the percentage has hit a dangerous level. The best-case scenario is that the percentage of fair-minded white people and fair-minded people of all colors has risen at the same rate, and that their numbers are enough to soundly defeat Trump at the polls in November.

Even if this is case, the way forward will not be easy. A brewing clash of ideals has already turned violent with the appearance of armed white militias helping the police quell protests and defending property from alleged rioters, with Trump not so subtly urging them on.

At the heart of this latest battle of Who We Are, still at the bottom of the hierarchy but leading the elusive way forward, are Black people and their quest for the country of ideals that America must be. This time the quest isnt symbolic or abstract, or largely limited to Black folks; we all need to finally get there.

Erin Aubry Kaplan is a contributing writer to Opinion.

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Op-Ed: How Black people maintain hope and why that's so important - Los Angeles Times

Hear Wreck and Reference Side Project Hand Model’s Biting New Industrial Song – Revolver Magazine

Over 11 years, seven releases and numerous collaborations with everyone from How to Dress Well and La Dispute to fine art photographer Wolfgang Tillmans L.A. duo Wreck and Reference have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the world of experimental metal. Enter hand model, the solo project of the group's Ignat Frege, who contributed production, acoustic drums and vocals to Wreck and Reference's twisted, abrasive soundscapes. Due out October 9th on Bandcamp, the project's debut LP, manufactured joy, explores similar ground as Frege's main band, but with the instrumentals pushed into what he calls a "kinda maximalist" frame. Today (October 7th), hand model have teamed with Revolver to unleash "American Brain Worms," one of the album's most punishing cuts. Blast it below.

Frege comments of the track: "The awful contradictions that pervade life in America. The nihilism, the sadism, the ambivalence. Always chasing the imaginary."

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Hear Wreck and Reference Side Project Hand Model's Biting New Industrial Song - Revolver Magazine

Inflection Point? How Much Change Are We Really Facing? – JD Supra

I am trying to figure out how much I care, as a businessman (as opposed to an actual living, breathing human being), about the chaos swirling around us. Every days news seems more the stuff of a dramatic conceit of someones next thriller than reality. Throw in a car chase and some sex, and weve got a movie. (The North Carolina sexting scandal doesnt really get us there for this purpose.)

I watched the whole Presidential Debate the other week (I passed on watching the warm bucket of spit (bowdlerized version) debate this past week). The debate made me feel like Malcolm McDonald in A Clockwork Orange. You know the scene; eyelids pinned back, forced to watch a re-education video over and over again; it still gives me nightmares. Ugh! Between a truly ugly and chaotic election, war, insurrection, sedition, plague, fire, storms, flooding, locusts (and, ugh, lantern flies), grotesque incivility, and the collapse of norms, where are we going? What next? Human sacrifice and dogs lying down with cats? Terrific.

Talking heads like to talk inflection points because hey, drama sells. The SNL headline from years ago that Generalissimo Francisco Franco Is Still Dead is pretty thin stuff for the 6 oclock news hour. So, we bloviate and bloviate about the fraught state of the world. This is the stuff that very serious people (we know that they are serious people, because they tell us how very serious they are all the time) pontificate, hand wring and generally tut-tut about every day.

Uncertainty makes this easy. Questions about the state of the world and the state of business abound. Asking questions designed to be without answers, fans the flames of anxiety, which of course garners ratings which is probably the point.

I will, for the moment, put aside geopolitical adventurism, space aliens and the possibility that the New York Giants might actually win a football game. You know, the truly unlikely, and focus instead on the election and COVID-19.

Every day we hear: Who will win the election? Is it a blue wave? Do we care? Does the business year effectively end on November 4 if we have no clear winners? What happens if we dont know whose hands are on the levers of power for a considerable period of time? What happens when, no matter who prevails, half the country is convinced that the process was flawed and unfair? Constitutional crisis in the making? Electoral college collapse? Whats the consequence of a new sheriff in town at Justice, at Treasury, at the CFPB, at HUD? What will the Fed do? Is it still really independent? Will we have 104 senators soon? Eleven members of the Supreme Court? Will we really have a green revolution? Is the oil business toast? Is trade policy and in general the countrys geopolitical posture going to change radically (again)? What sort of recession are we really in? Did we come out and were going back? Are we actually in one at all? Has the US economys capacity to grow been secularly reduced? How about the worlds?

Will political and social norms continue to erode, and does that mean that the political pendulum will swing even more wildly between left and right as Democrats replace Republicans and Republicans replace Democrats? What happens if the customary progression of somewhat left of center and somewhat right of center collapses? Is there a chance the Republican alternative has been so badly scrambled by the past four years that we may see a semi-permanent one-party government for a considerable period of time? What will that mean for us all?

Will this plague ever end? Might there be a next one (lets face it, there surely will be, but when)? Will COVID-19 get worse? Are we in the middle of a second wave right now? Does the election matter for how we respond? Is a vaccine more likely to show up after a blue wave? Are major cities likely to reopen sooner after a blue wave? Or not? Should we expect sustainedsocial unrest; a never-ending 1968?

Will we ever return to a semblance of the time before?

If you are inclined to worry about these sorts of things, no matter how finely you grind, you will find more to confound. This is an anxiety fractal.

I take some comfort (again, with my businesspersons hat screwed tightly on) that continuity is more common than discontinuity. Inertia, habit, routine, convention, capitulation, and indeed human nature in general all argue that incremental change is easier and hence more to be expected than rapid or discontinuous change. A rift or abyss from what was to what is, is a rare thing in history.

What will that likely mean for us in 2021? Im expecting a blue wave. Thats certainly the consensus view, though 2016 should give us a hardy dose of humility in the election predicting business. Yet, my guess is that this election drama will not wildly change how our polity is organized, how our country is governed, or how our economy works. It will not radically change the shape of 2021. Sure the arc of many of these things which make up the American experience, which define how the American capital markets function, may change a bit, but while they may be nudged onto a slightly different orbit, they will not be radically reimagined. Taxes will likely go up, but not become confiscatory. Business interest will continue to be deductible. In general, the US Tax Code as it applies to commercial real estate and capital formation will remain largely as it is right now (with the exception of carried interest, the elimination of which is, of course, a democratic shibboleth). The laws affecting capital formation will be essentially unchanged. Corporate law will not radically change. Stakeholders will not be elevated to shareholders, at least formally in most states (though Im watching California, Oregon and Washington, the capital of the woke). The partnership code will not change. The rules governing forbearance, foreclosure and enforcement of remedies, will re-stabilize in pre-COVID-19 form. We will still have the opportunity to play with opportunity zones. 1031? Maybe (a lot of big Biden donors own a lot of real estate).

Capital formation will continue apace, lending and borrowing will progress largely as before. The basics fundaments of our largely capital system will not change radically but might become a bit more mixed la our European friends. After this curious recession is done, GDP will continue to repair (albeit probably more slowly than we would like). The Fed will continue to be accommodative. Many of our friends and colleagues will undoubtedly spend more quality time on Capitol Hill with the various and sundry select committees, but, notwithstanding the continued weaponization of statutes affecting business, I am not predicting that orange jumpsuit will become the new white cuff and collar of Wall Street.

Will animal spirits survive? Probably.

But of course, that all might not all be true.

Are we on the cusp of a chasm where what follows will be radically different than what was? After the current caesura, will we discover that 2021 will be radically different than 2019?

Thats really the question, isnt it? In some ways, while it matters why we might confront discontinuity (is it a geopolitical event, political upheaval at home, more bad medical news, space aliens, or something else?) the big predicate question for planning purposes is whether any of these Four Horseman of the Apocalypse will ride into town at all.

I have always been fascinated with discontinuities. Think about the years leading up to 1914 and the years that followed the War. The world radically changed and strikingly, once radical change began to occur, it seemed to metastasize. Start with a war with millions dead, boundaries scrambled, empires fallen. Arguably enough change for a lifetime but look what else happened. The voting franchise was expanded, prohibition (Good Lord), rapid acceleration of technology in transportation and electronics, radio and the movies, the explosion of the consumer society, the expiation of the gold standard (well, until the British in a fit of moronic sentimentality about their lost empire, returned to it briefly in 1925), changes in literature, mores and public morals, artistic sensibilities, jazz, nihilism, Wall Street bombings (a tad more challenging than recent sit-ins ), radicalism of all sorts including the rejection of new found democracy in much of the developed world, (think Italy) . And thats just some of the change. Looking back, the decade following the war was extraordinarily transformational. While theres not particularly strong causal relationships between war in Europe and much of this, it seems that change is itself an enabler and multiplier of change.

So, as we sit here on what might well be the cusp of something fairly consequential, we should be eyes wide open to the fact that cascading change might be soon our reality.

Theres not really much to do about all that, is there? Unless youve a mind to become a prepper, buy a go-bag, dig a hole, sell your FANG stocks for gold bullion and stockpile MREs, we really have to continue to believe that, in large measure, the past is prelude.

As I sit here, my best bet is that none of the more awful or even more disruptive things that could happen in 2021 will happen in 2021. (As making predictions about the future is particularly fraught, Im comforted by the fact that if massive disruption occurs, no one is likely to have the time or energy to remember this commentary.)

So small-ball change is almost certain and small-ball change is what Im going to prepare for. Im looking at a return to a more regulatory-minded government, more institutionalized hostility toward Wall Street and finance writ large, the probability that the prudentially regulated institutions will be more risk adverse (creating a potential dividend for the alternate lending marketplace).

A reinvigorated CFPB and more focus on protecting consumers will make consumer lending more difficult. Were not done with forbearance, foreclosure bans, rent control and the like, but we will rebalance when it becomes apparent that these threaten to make the delivery of homes to regular people well-nigh impossible. It will be harder to develop both urban and suburban sites. We will all need to recognize and embrace the green agenda. A more redistributive federal policy will obtain. Lots more debt (sometimes I hope that Modern Monetary Theorists are right), and a Fed that will make all that possible will be our reality. Zero bound interest rates for as far as the eye can see. (Lets not even talk about negative rates because I still dont understand them.)

So, I am focusing on getting ready for a sustained period of economic slow or negative growth. If theres economic growth in the United States in the next year or so, it will be uneven. Im expecting to see significant amount of mortgage debt and corporate and industrial debt default. Retail is not coming back. Hospitality episodically. Assets will need to reprice. Values of fixed assets are generally going down and while thats a cyclical change, the cycle may be so long as to be effectively secular. The supply of capital to capital markets will be more volatile as politics continues to intersect with finance and banking in new ways. The alternate or non-bank sector is almost surely to grow in importance. Well see new winners and new losers. And sadly, well see many of our friends and colleagues whipsawed as political toys by our gloriously elected representatives. As I have said so often, it is so easy to blame the financial sector for maladies whose birthing was far away from our world.

So what to do? We will build workout capacity and develop workout strategies and asset repricing strategies and make that part of our practice more robust. Well be prepared to spend a great deal more time with the Bankruptcy Code. Weve dusted off our liquidating trustand securitization structures and thought about how liquidity could be brought to non-performing and sub-performing assets in a difficult environment. Were ready to see loan pools start to trade, either NPL or sub-performing pools. Trades will occur because of asset repricing. Many will become highly motivated sellers because of business or regulatory externalities. Well be alert to how regulated institutions behave and the flow of investable funds into what may be a disproportionately growing alternate lending space. Were watching regulatory change with utmost care. Some of the changes affecting the banking world that had been put on the back burner over the past four years may be re-accelerated into reality. Basil in full, which is almost a certainty if we have a globalist-minded administration next spring. Were trying to think around the corner and see how change will impact markets.

For the moment, stay nimble, my friends. Be mindful that banking and capital formation tend not to be popular during periods of economic stress and as I was saying last week, be ready to protect our industry from real or ginned up assault and calumny. Sticks and stones arent the only things that hurts these days.

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Inflection Point? How Much Change Are We Really Facing? - JD Supra

Thurston Moore on killer new music and the high order nihilism of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump – NME

Art rock-pioneer Thurston Moore has just released his rapturously-received new solo album, By The Fire, which NMEs review hailed as containing some of his boldest and most invigorating work to date. Despite being released under his own name, its a collaborative effort that continues his creatively fecund partnership with his band that includes his old group Sonic Youths Steve Shelley and My Bloody Valentines Debbie Googe.

We caught up with Thurston for a quick chat about his new record, trying to inject positivity and escapism into turbulent world, and how he used quarantine as an opportunity to write a quasi-memoir called Sonic Life.

Last year, I put out a Spirit Counsel triple CD set featuring one extended instrumental composition per disc. I toured that for a year and half. There was no microphone onstage and I wasnt singing. While I wanted to continue that, I was missing more proper rock music those pop-rock nuggets. So I was trying to figure out how to do both things. I decided to write a response that dealt with Spirit Counsel, particularly the instrumental Venus the last song on the album which I figured would be my final say with that period of writing, before it was time to get back on the microphone. I started writing other songs that would be a balance between the Spirit Counsel material and the more proper pop stuff I could do.

When I was sequencing the record, it was right when lockdown was happening, and it allowed me to be more contemplative of what I wanted to present. I think it would have been a different record if it was more business as usual. I wanted the record to come out of the gate with a real happiness, and then be a bit more serious as it went along, and have this deliverance at the end with Venus. I feel the enforced isolation has given this record its vibe but it also meant I wanted it to be something with a sense of hopefulness and liberation as well.

Yeah and I think thats perfectly valid. Were all in the same boat and still dont know how this is going to develop and its all a bit unwieldy. Looking at the records coming out at the same time as mine, I see Public Enemys album [What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down] which is a very activist record. Thats important and I would hope there are more direct-action voices like Chuck D. But at the same time, there should be work in resistance to all the negativity thats being enacted in the media and on the political stage.

To have resistance by creating work that has a sense of creative impulse, joy, and is against divisiveness. Its about recognising and dignifying the marginalised on the planet right now. And understanding that migration is a very natural occurrence to not demonise it as something that is a threat. There is a nihilism that goes on in the highest levels whether its the Brexiteering Boris Johnsons or the racist dog-whistling of Donald Trump. None of this spelt out clearly on the record, but just calling it By The Fire is about communication. Theres a duplicity in that title.

Thurston Moore (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

The title was taken from me seeing Julien Temples film Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten, where he had musicians who knew Joe when he was in The 101ers sitting round a campfire talking about the Joe Strummer they knew before he joined the punk rock brigade. I thought that was a moving and wonderful vision. And then [I was] equating it with people having the courage and urge to go out into the streets physically while theres a pandemic going on, to raise their voices against oppression to the point where theyre so angry that there are fires erupting in the street. I wanted to get that across in the title alone.

I think my styles transition into each other fairly organically. If I give any distinction to anything, its whether I play in the context of free improvisation or in composition. But even in the history of Sonic Youth, the idea of incorporating methods of free improvisation into a composed piece have always been at play. I like to work in both genres, but Im careful not to get tripped up without being fully-focussed on one genre, you can be a little junior sometimes, and so its a bit of a high-wire act. The idea in free improvisation music that there are no leaders and theres no hierarchy in players is something I find alluring I bring those ideas into the democracy of my band.

I never tell the players in my group what to play, just as I never told anybody in Sonic Youth what to play. When Id bring a song to Sonic Youth, I could never tell them what to play Id only make suggestions. Having my name on the marquee [as a solo artist], I should say: This is exactly what I want, do it or Ill get somebody else who can. But I dont I never want to be in a situation where I am anything more than somebody who suggests things.

Ive been embracing it. Its allowed me to focus on a project Ive considered for a number of years, which is writing about my history of coming to New York City as a teenager and finding my footing as a musician. I wanted to write about the process of that and what was informing, not only myself, but community of people I was involved with. In this last couple of months, I was able to put pen to paper and write about this world of inspiration.

Its not only just Well heres my life story, as I wanted to get away from the ego of it and talk about the information so when you first see a picture of Iggy and the Stooges in 1973 in a magazine, why did it have such an effect on you? Why did that photograph of something that was so subversive in the music scene appeal to somebody from a safe and protected middle-class lifestyle? I wanted to write about being in the milieu of the CBGBs explosion, and essay what was happening in the flurry of those years especially between 77 and 79 when this incredible seismic shift happened in underground culture. Ive been focussing on putting this manuscript together that Ill hopefully publish in a years time. Im calling it Sonic Life for want of a better title!

By The Fire is out now. Stay tuned for an upcoming Thurston-starring edition of our longstanding weekly Does Rock N Roll Kill Braincells?! feature, where the 62-year-old is quizzed on his eventful life.

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Thurston Moore on killer new music and the high order nihilism of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump - NME

What’s On Tonight: ‘We Are Who We Are’s Most Euphoria’-Like Episode – UPROXX

If nothing below suits your sensibilities, check out our guide to What You Should Watch On Streaming Right Now.

We Are Who We Are (HBO, 10:00pm EST) So far, this shows followed a dreamy narrative, but tonight, sh*t gets real, Euphoria-style. The entire episode is essentially a hedonistic party that follows a quickie marriage for a soldier on the fast-track to deployment. Sure, this relationship will last, right? Probably not, but its a party that no one will forget and helmed by Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino, whos taking his first stab at a TV series with less nihilism than the Zendaya-starring series.

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet (Netflix documentary) This doc follows the life of the man whos seen more of this Earths national state than any other person over the course of 90 years. Challenges on every continent shall be addressed while the movie hopes to spread optimism to future generations.

Filthy Rich (FOX, 9:00pm EST) Kim Cattrall returns to TV in a super-soapy turn, and this week, Gingers live, televised baptism is causing an uproar. Elsewhere, Jasons lies that were also exposed on TV are causing troubles.

Manhunt: Deadly Games (CBS, 10:00pm EST) This week, Richard Jewell fights back against both the FBI and the press thats hounding him. As thats ongoing, ATF Agent Embry discovers a crucial link to a serial bomber. Youve heard the story of the fallout from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, now witness the TV dramatization (as opposed to the sensationalized movie version) of one of the most complex manhunts on U.S. soil.

The Third Day (HBO, 9:00pm EST) Jude Law and Naomie Harris star in this series, which sees Helen surprising her daughter with a trip to Osea island. However, theres a booking SNAFU that seems more than a little bit suspicious.

Late Show With Stephen Colbert Jon Bon Jovi and the rest of Bon Jovi, Laura Benanti

Late Night With Jimmy Fallon Daniel Craig, Billie Eilish, Finneas

Late Night With Seth Meyers Jessica Chastain, John Slattery

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What's On Tonight: 'We Are Who We Are's Most Euphoria'-Like Episode - UPROXX

Targeted Therapy Options Transform AML Paradigm – OncLive

An increased understanding of the biologic intricacies of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) has led to the identification of more than 100 driver mutations associated with the disease, opening the door for targeted therapies with clinically meaningful outcomes for patients who are not candidates for intensive chemotherapy regimens.1

AML is 1 of the most deadly and difficult cancers to treat. Chemotherapy remains the treatment mainstay for most patients; however, for those who experience an initial response, refractory disease is common.

Additionally, patients may not be candidates for induction chemotherapy because of fitness status, which includes factors such as age, performance status, and comorbidities.

During a recent OncLive Peer Exchange, a panel of experts in leukemia discussed therapies that are reshaping the AML treatment landscape for some of the most vulnerable patient subsets.

They highlighted the use of the BCL-2 inhibitor venetoclax (Venclexta) in combinations as well as the emergence of the epigenetic drugs ivosidenib (Tibsovo) and enasidenib (Idhifa) for patients with IDH mutations. In addition to providing an overview of the clinical trial data for these drugs, they shared their insights into how they are using these agents in clinical practice and addressing treatment-related adverse events (AEs) to maximize outcomes.

Venetoclax: A New Standard of Care

In November 2018, the FDA granted accelerated approval to venetoclax for use in combination with the hypomethylating agents (HMAs) azacitidine (Vidaza) and decitabine (Dacogen) or with low-dose cytarabine (LDAC) for the treatment of newly diagnosed AML in adults aged at least 75 years or those with comorbidities that preclude the use of intensive induction chemotherapy.2 Approval was based on data from 2 open-label nonrandomized trials: M14-358 (NCT02203773), which assessed venetoclax in combination with azacitidine (n = 67) or decitabine (n = 13), and M14-387 (NCT02287233), which assessed venetoclax in combination with LDAC (n = 61), including in patients previously treated with an HMA for an antecedent hematologic disorder.

In these studies, 37% (n = 25) of those receiving venetoclax plus azacitidine achieved complete remission (CR), with a median of 5.5 months in remission; 54% (n = 7) of those receiving venetoclax plus decitabine achieved CR, with a median of 4.7 months in remission; and 21% (n = 13) of those receiving venetoclax plus LDAC achieved CR, with a median time in remission of 6 months.2

Most of us who treat AML have been very excited these past couple of years to see what venetoclax can do for some patients, Daniel Pollyea, MD, MS, said. However, he noted that approval was based on phase 2 data in noncomparative studies, which is why data in a randomized setting were highly anticipated. Most of us who have worked in AML know this is a critical test, a time when a lot of prior therapies have not been able to surmount this challenge in a randomized setting, he said. Pollyea proceeded to discuss the randomized, phase 3 VIALE-A (NCT02993523) and VIALE-C (NCT03069352) studies, which evaluated venetoclax in combination with azacitidine or LDAC, respectively.


The VIALE-A study randomly assigned 431 treatment-nave patients with confirmed AML who were ineligible for standard induction therapy because of age ( 75 years), comorbidities, or both 2:1 to azacitidine plus venetoclax (n = 286) or azacitidine plus placebo (n = 145).3 At a median follow-up of 20.5 months, the median overall survival (OS) was 14.7 months in the venetoclax arm and 9.6 months in the placebo arm (HR for death, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.52-0.85; P < .001). The venetoclax arm also had a significantly higher incidence of CR compared with the placebo arm (36.7% vs 17.9%; P < .001), including composite CR (CR or CR with incomplete hematologic recovery; 66.4% vs 28.3%; P < .001).

Most of us who treat this disease were relieved and very happy to see the data for the venetoclax arm. [The agent] really performed very consistently with what we have come to expect, based on the phase 2 data. Those of us who have been using this agent frequently in the past year and a half, based on the approval, are reassured that this likely is the new standard of care in this setting, Pollyea said. Throughout the discussion, the other panelists agreed that clinicians should consider venetoclax plus azacitidine the new standard of care for patients with AML who are not candidates for induction therapy because of age or comorbidities.

Weve been stuck in 28% to 30% response land for older patients with AML for decades. Now thats not true. The 60% or greater response rates across cytogenetic groups, across molecular groups, are real. They happen. Theyre quick. You dont have to wait for 100 cycles of azacitidine to see those responses. Its usually after 1 [cycle], sometimes 2, Gail J. Roboz, MD, said.

Based on the VIALE-A data, moderator Harry Paul Erba, MD, PhD, noted that HMA monotherapy should not even be considered for our patients anymore. He also explained that almost two-thirds of US patients, half of whom are aged at least 65 years, have historically not undergone AML treatment because of the relative lack of OS benefit seen with HMA monotherapy. In such untreated patients with AML, he said, the median survival is approximately 2 months, but with venetoclax plus azacitidine, older patients can have a median OS of 15 months. [Subsequently], its not 15 months versus 9 or 10 months; its 15 months versus 2 months. We have to get away from the therapeutic nihilism in older patients with AML. In fact, the greatest survival benefit is seen in those over the age of 75 years, he said.


The VIALE-C study randomly assigned 211 treatment-nave patients with confirmed AML who were ineligible for standard induction therapy because of age ( 75 years), comorbidities, or both 2:1 to LDAC in combination with venetoclax (n= 143) or placebo (n= 68).4 In the primary analysis, at a median follow-up of 12 months, the venetoclax arm had a 25% reduction in the risk of death, with a median OS of 7.2 months compared with 4.1 months in the placebo arm, but the finding did not reach statistical significance (P = .11).5 However, after a median follow-up of 17.5 months, the venetoclax arm demonstrated a 30% reduction in the risk of death, with a median OS of 8.4 months versus 4.1 months in the placebo arm, a finding that did reach statistical significance (P = .04).4

Based on a press release and some other information, [we had] the impression that the study would not be positive when compared with low-dose cytarabine alone. [But] when patients were followed for a little longer than the original planned analysis, there was a survival benefit, Pollyea said. He noted several reasons why the VIALE-C study may have shown less OS benefit than the VIALE-A study, such as the inclusion of a more challenging patient population. He noted that more than 33% of patients in the study had previously received an HMA for a myelodysplastic syndrome, and such patients had been excluded from the VIALE-A study. Regardless, Pollyea said the most important takeaway is that this regimen provides another treatment option. For us in the leukemia world, theres no way thats not a good thing.

Roboz, who was a coauthor of the VIALE-C study, said that although the findings are overshadowed by the azacitidine data, LDAC plus venetoclax is still a useful regimen. The reason youre not seeing the benefit is more because of disadvantageous study design with respect to the hazard ratio and statistics rather than because the regimen doesnt have any benefit, she said. Although venetoclax plus azacitidine is taking its place as the new standard of care, Roboz said she would still try LDAC plus venetoclax for patients, including those who are unlikely to benefit from the addition of more HMAs.

Venetoclax Safety Issues

The most common AEs ( 20%) observed with venetoclax in combination with azacitidine, decitabine, or LDAC in clinical trials were nausea, diarrhea, thrombocytopenia, constipation, neutropenia, febrile neutropenia, fatigue, vomiting, peripheral edema, pyrexia, pneumonia, dyspnea, hemorrhage, anemia, rash, abdominal pain, sepsis, back pain, myalgia, dizziness, cough, oropharyngeal pain, and hypotension. In the VIALE studies, the most frequently reported AEs were hematologic events (Table 1).3,4

Table 1. Prevalence of Hematologic AEs Observed With Venetoclax in the VIALE Studies3,4

Of note, venetoclax has a warning regarding tumor lysis syndrome; however, it appears to be uncommon in patients with AML. Its important to watch and to be careful, especially with the first few doses, but its much less common than what you would see with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, Amir Fathi, MD, said.

He noted that his greatest concern with venetoclax is the lack of consistency in how it is used in combination with HMAs in community practices. I cant tell you how many patients weve admitted to our ICUs [intensive care units] who have been treated in the community with HMA/venetoclax cycle after cycle after cycle and end up with severe marrow suppression, infections, and bleeding complications, he said.

Fathi added that although some nuances in treatment will always exist, a more consistent approach is needed.

He said that in his practice, he starts with 4 weeks of venetoclax plus the HMA and then conducts a bone marrow biopsy to assess blast level. If the marrow is empty, I allow count recovery [by holding venetoclax] and then resume. If it is full of blasts, I go with the second cycle, he said. If blast depletion occurs repeatedly, Fathi added, the intensity of treatment should be decreased, noting that he usually reduces treatment to 2 or 3 weeks in such cases.

Additionally, he said clinicians must consider concurrent medications, particularly the azoles (eg, isavuconazole sulfate [Cresemba], voriconazole [Vfend], and posaconazole [Noxafil]). You have to reduce the doseotherwise youre going to get in trouble with marrow suppression, he said.

Roboz agreed with Fathi: Please dont be on day 60 of venetoclax without a bone marrow biopsy. Please dont add an antifungal. If youre going to add it, youve got to down the dose. At least certain basic principles must be absolutely applied, even if the subtleties of exactly what day you do the marrow and exactly which antifungal cant be mandated.

Targeting IDH Mutations

Approximately 20% of patients with AML have IDH mutations, with IDH1 mutations found in 6% to 16% of patients and IDH2 mutations found in 8% to 19%.6 These mutations are associated with a poor prognosis.6 Before treatments targeting IDH mutations were developed, we [had] been pummeling [such patients] for decades with lots of different chemotherapy combinations without success, Roboz said.

The emergence of IDH inhibitors enables clinicians to treat patients with IDH mutations with a single-agent regimen that provides high response rates and durable remissions, often lasting 6 to 12 months, she said. Based on such findings in the relapsed setting, the IDH inhibitors ivosidenib, a potent IDH1 inhibitor, and enasidenib, a potent IDH2 inhibitor, have also been explored as treatments in the frontline setting. Both agents are currently FDA approved for adult patients with relapsed/refractory AML, with ivosidenib also approved as a first-line treatment.7,8 Several studies are currently examining these agents in combination treatments, including with venetoclax and azacitidine. An advantage of both agents is that they are taken orally, which may be particularly beneficial for some patients during the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.


Ivosidenib received FDA approval in May 2019 as a first-line treatment in patients with a susceptible IDH1 mutation, as detected by an FDA-approved test, who are not candidates for intensive induction chemotherapy because of age ( 75 years) or comorbidities.9 Approval was based on the open-label, single-arm, multicenter AG120-C-001 study (NCT02074839), which included 28 such patients. Of these patients, 12 (42.9%) achieved CR and CR with partial hematologic recovery (CRh) and 7 of the 17 transfusion-dependent patients (41.2%) achieved transfusion independence lasting at least 8 weeks.9

These are patients who might not actually have been offered anything. They were the patients who are older and may have fallen into the nihilism trap. And yet here they are in a durable remission, Roboz said.

Adding the HMA azacitidine to ivosidenib has also shown benefit. In a phase 1b/2 study (NCT02677922), the combination resulted in a high rate of clinical response with molecular remissions in patients ineligible for intensive chemotherapy.10 Investigators are assessing the combination for such patients in the phase 3 AGILE trial (NCT03173248).11 Participants are being randomly assigned 1:1 to ivosidenib 500 mg daily plus azacitidine 75 mg/m2 subcutaneously or intravenously for 7 days in 28-day cycles or to matched placebo plus azacitidine.11 The study is enrolling patients globally; however, enrollment has slowed because of COVID-19, and it is now expected to be completed in 2021.12

Further, investigators are conducting a phase 1/2 study (NCT03471260) of ivosidenib in combination with venetoclax with or without concomitant azacitidine in patients with treatment-nave (n = 5) and relapsed (n = 9) IDH1-mutated AML.13

Roboz said venetoclax has demonstrated efficacy in both IDH subgroups, making it an appealing partner for IDH-directed combination therapy. In the study, the composite CR (CR plus CR with incomplete hematologic recovery plus CRh) was 100% in the treatment-nave cohort and 75% in the relapsed/refractory cohort.13 After a median follow-up of 3.5 months, the median OS was not reached in treatment-nave patients and was 9.7 months in the patients with relapsed/ refractory disease.13


Erba said that presentations by Courtney D. DiNardo, MD, MSCE, on phase 2 trial data involving azacitidine alone versus azacitidine plus enasidenib were among the most interesting studies at the European Hematology Association and American Society of Clinical Oncology conferences.

The study (NCT02677922) included 101 patients with newly diagnosed IDH2-mutated AML who were randomly assigned 2:1 to the azacitidine/enasidenib combination (n = 68) or azacitidine monotherapy (n = 33).14 Both cohorts had a median OS of 22 months; however, the combination therapy arm had improvements in event-free survival (17.2 months vs 10.8 months), overall response rates (71% vs 42%), median duration of response (24.1 months vs 12.1 months), and complete response rates (53% vs 12%).14

Fathi warned about drawing conclusions about the OS data from this study because they are from the phase 2 portion of an open-label phase 1/2 randomized trial and not from a phase 3 randomized trial such as the VIALE studies. He noted this is an important consideration when thinking about combination therapies (ie, venetoclax/HMAs vs IDH inhibitor/HMAs). His preference is to use venetoclax/HMA in younger patients and those who can tolerate the combination, reserving the IDH inhibitors as a subsequent treatment option. However, if I think a patient may tolerate the HMA/IDH inhibitor better, I generally go with that. I like to have options so that I can prolong a patients survival with sequential therapy. There are no data, obviously, to guide that, but thats just been my general approach with these patients, he said.

After the Peer Exchange, Bristol Myers Squibb, the manufacturer of enasidenib, reported a further development with the drug.15 Enasidenib plus best supportive care (BSC) was not found to significantly improve OS in patients with IDH2-mutated relapsed/refractory AML in the phase 3 IDHENTIFY trial (NCT02577406), thereby failing to meet the studys primary end point.15 In the study, enasidenib plus BSC was compared with conventional care regimens, including BSC alone, azacitidine plus BSC, LDAC plus BSC, and intermediate-dose cytarabine plus BSC. A full evaluation of the IDHENTIFY data is ongoing and is expected to be presented at a future medical meeting.15

IDH Inhibitor Safety

The most common AEs observed with ivosidenib and enasidenib in clinical trials are listed in Table 2.7,8 The panelists said they do not undertake dose adjustments when they observe hyperbilirubinemia from inhibition of UGT1A1 in patients treated with enasidenib. Its a measure of patient adherence, Mark J. Levis, MD, PhD, said. Roboz agreed and explained that stopping therapy in some cases would be a mistake.

Table 2. Most Common AEs ( 30%), Boxed Warning Associated With Ivosidenib and Enasidenib7,8

They also noted that QT prolongation has been observed with ivosidenib. Although uncommon, Guillain-Barr syndrome was identified in some of these cases. In our phase 1 experience, Guillain-Barr [occurred] in 2 of about 250 patients, Erba said. Levis said he has also seen such a case; thus, clinicians should be aware of this association.

Although their AE profiles are a bit different, a potential AE that both IDH inhibitors share is differentiation syndrome, a potentially life-threatening complication that is noted in a boxed warning in their prescribing information.7,8 If you look at study after study with IDH inhibitors, either as monotherapy or a combination with induction for HMA, youll see approximately 12% to 20% of patients getting differentiation syndrome, Fathi said, noting it is a difficult entity to tease out because it has a vague constellation of symptoms, many of which may be associated with other causes. He explained that common symptoms seen in patients with IDH-associated differentiation syndrome include unexplained fever, respiratory issues, pleural effusions, pericardial effusions, rash, mild azotemia, bone pain, and adenopathy.

Importantly, although clinicians should try to rule out secondary causes of these symptoms, if they cannot do so easily or quickly, they should treat the patients as though they have differentiation syndrome, Fathi explained. [In such cases], initiation of steroids is important because these conditions can escalate, he said, recommending dexamethasone 10 mg twice daily for such patients. Then once patients get better, and they should if it is differentiation syndrome, there should be a tapering down of the dose over time, he said.

Unlike the differentiation syndrome observed in patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia treated with all-trans retinoic acid, IDH inhibitor-related differentiation syndrome in patients with AML is delayed. The median time of loss was around 12 weeks. So anywhere between 10 days and 6 months, you can potentially get it. If you stop treatment and resume it later, you can get recurrent episodes of differentiation syndrome, Fathi said. He concluded by stating that the condition sometimes occurs with other AEs, including leukocytosis, disseminated intravascular coagulation, and tumor lysis syndrome, and that such cases will require additional measures, such as the addition of hydroxyurea in the setting of concurrent leukocytosis.


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Targeted Therapy Options Transform AML Paradigm - OncLive

David Bowie predicts the rise of social media in vintage clip from 1999 – Far Out Magazine

There are many things that David Bowie is a pioneer of. With a set of extraordinary musical personas, the singer set a precedent for a new invigoration of theatricality in the machismo world of rock. With his remarkable performance on stage as part of The Elephant Man, a play in which Bowie took the lead role, the singer became a foundational stone in musicians trying their hand at acting. Above all, his determination to continue evolving artistically has laid the blueprint for the ultimate purist pursuit. But, as well as all that, he was also a pioneer of the internet.

BowieNet, launched on September 1st, 1998, was the Starmans very own Internet Service Provider. The singer, with his expert vision, saw the blossoming of the internet as something precious and powerful at the same time. He told Jeremy Paxman in 1999, The internet is now, it carries the flag of being subversive and possibly rebellious. Chaotic, nihilistic, as Bowies interrupted by a snort of derision from his interviewer, the singer puts him right, Oh yes it is!. During the interview, Bowie also talks about the demystification between the audience and the artist which he thinks is one of the internets most powerful tools. Considering hed set up his own BowieNet as a private ISP the previous year, he was well placed to agree.

For just 10 a month, you could not only have access to high-speed internet, whatever that was in 1998, but also the man himself. A press release of the time suggesting users would have a direct connection to David Bowie, his world, his friends, his fans, including live chats, live video feeds, chat rooms and bulletin boards. In 2020, we may look back at this with a heavy dose of scepticism. After all, were 22 years down the line of internet nihilism and the darkness of some corner of this here world wide web can be frightening. But, it turns out, Bowie really meant it.

In 1999, as part of the promotion for his album Hours, Bowie was interviewed by ZDTV. Bowie opens up about secretly speaking to his fans via BowieNet, telling the interviewer At least two or three times a week, I go into the rooms on my site, anonymously generally, but sometimes I have a name that they know me by. That alias would be Sailor, a fitting moniker for the singer. He would sue the handle to share Bowie updates as well as answering fan queries, even providing rave reviews of new releasesArcade Fires Funeral earned a particularly brilliant response. But mainly, he just used it to be closer to his fans.

Telling his interviewer that he is often online he says I participate a lot more than they think [laughs]. Yeh, I got several addresses, so it would be very hard for them to I know some of you know what they are, he says with a smile, staring down the barrel of the lens. The interviewer asks about Bowie the voyeur, suggesting it may be a strange situation to sit in anonymously on a conversation about yourself. But here Bowie not only predicts the rise of social medias community but the value of an online community.

No, thats the point, he says, the best thing thats happened with our site. I think because it has produced a kind of community feel, that one doesnt become the focus of everything. He reflects, Its amazing how much you get into their lives and find out about what theyre doing and whats interesting them other than being part of the BowieNet.

It showcases, yet again, what we already knew about Bowiehe has incredible foresight. The singer can see the blossoming of communities that social media can provide. While the platforms are not anywhere near perfect, its hard to ignore Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others ability to connect perfect strangers over mutual interests. Its the foundations laid down by countless early-internet chat rooms and one Bowie quickly took up as a vital piece of his own fandom.

As the conversation continues, Bowie reveals that his site had a dense population of artists and, it so happens, webmasters and those directly working on the very earliest websites. He also encourages artistic submissions continuously, receiving a plethora of both written word, and in graphics on the visual side. He effuses about the members of BowieNet Theyre an amazing bunch of people, they really are great, they really are. He evens throws a little shade at competitors, Ive been through a lot of the so-called fansites, of other artists, and Im really proud of my lot because they got a good sense of humour.

The interviewer agrees you should be proud he says, suggesting Bowie had achieved what he had set out to docreate a community. It feels like a virtual community. Im not quite sure how you differentiate between that and a real-time community. Theres something added by not actually knowing who the other person really is in reality and only having a sense of that person, its almost metaphysical. Its an extraordinary feeling. I enjoy it very much because I dont quite understand and Ive always enjoyed the things I dont understand. BowieNet would go on to be an award-winning ISP.

While Bowie doesnt quite predict every facet of the rise of social media, neglecting to mention the giant impact it has had on our political landscape. But he does clearly see it as a powerful and potent way of connection, while the singers viewpoint is through rose-tinted glasses, its hard not to reminisce about the innocence of early-internet age chat rooms, dial-up connection soundtracks and the chance of accidentally speaking to David Bowie without ever knowing it.

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David Bowie predicts the rise of social media in vintage clip from 1999 - Far Out Magazine

Now Comes the Reckoning – The Atlantic

Other Republicans were too genteel, too civilized, and too easily cowed by the press, or so the presidents supporters claimed. Not Donald Trump. He was always on the attack, he never apologized, and he hated the people they hatedDemocrats, progressives, the Squad, the media, the ruling-class elite, RINOs. The president gives voice to their grievances, and they have grown to love him for it.

Its true that Trump might have said some things now and then that made them a bit uncomfortable, especially early on in his run for the presidencywas it really necessary to mock John McCains time as a POW, or a reporter with a disability?but they quickly grew accustomed to it. Some even came to appreciate it. In any case, they came to believe that it was part of the packaged deal. You take the bad with the good with Trump. And, truth be told, the bad wasnt all that badand the good was really, really good.

Trump supporters believe that Trump critics, especially conservatives like myself, are too delicate. What mattered, we were told, is not what Trump said, not what he tweeted, but what Trump did.

Like Bill Clintons supporters in the late 1990s, they invoked the concept of compartmentalization. Trump may have said some unnecessarily provocative things, but the country was doing great under his stewardshipand besides, no real cost was associated with his regrettable words or deeds. On top of that, they believed, Trump was entertaining. Politics had become staid, even boring, before Trump; his presidency brought sparks, energy, excitement.

A few of us who had been lifelong Republicans said no. Much of the Republican Partys base and its political leadership may have rallied round Donald Trump, despite many of them knowing better, but count us out. Character is destiny, personal honor and rectitude matter, and integrity and excellence count. In Donald Trump, we found the antithesis of probity. He is a man of nearly unfathomable corruption, incuriosity, and ineptitude, a person who is psychologically damaged and emotionally wounded.

The day after Trump was inaugurated, I wrote, A man with illiberal tendencies, a volatile personality and no internal checks is now president. This isnt going to end well.

It couldnt end well. Donald Trump could not outrun events forever. Living in his hall of mirrors would eventually become too disorienting; the United States couldnt indefinitely escape the costs of his massive misjudgments and staggering incompetence, his mendacity and nihilism, his assaults on norms and institutions.

Ultimately, Donald Trump could not be anything other than who he is: a con artist; a person living in a world of lies and illusions; a cruel, lonely, rootless, and deeply broken man. The tragedy is that during his presidency, he has broken much of America. Now comes the reckoning. Then hopefully, after Trump, comes the healing. It wont be easy, but healing and renewal are within our reach.

Pain and suffering, they are a secret, Alan Paton wrote in his exquisite novel Cry, the Beloved Country. Kindness and love, they are a secret. But I have learned that kindness and love can pay for pain and suffering.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.

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Now Comes the Reckoning - The Atlantic

Protest and Patriotism | Opinion – Harvard Crimson

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to spend time as an exchange student in Germany, traveling with a group of students from across the United States. Part of traveling is a constant comparison between home and abroad: Public transportation? Germany wins. Sports? Toss-up. Food? Home. The reflex is natural for travelers, but some of my friends took it to extremes. Any positive experience they had had in America was dust in the Bavarian wind; Germany offered a superior alternative to every American system. The disposition, like our time abroad, proved temporary. But what was temporary among a bunch of Yankee tourists seems to have become a cultural default stateside.

The current intellectual mode is critical analysis and re-evaluation of important American moments and figures. Recurring tragedies of injustice understandably dampen any celebration of our history. And so the pendulum has swung harshly away from American exceptionalism, rejecting the city on a hill mythos and adopting a more cynical narrative: American inferiority. It reaches from high-profile academic work to popular protests, and leaves little room for patriotism. In a jungle of political connotations, that sentiment has been identified as a clawed and aggressive predator of the same genus as savage nationalism.

And yet what if we need patriotism? American inferiority, while it rightfully points out some errors of the exceptionalist mindset, hides a dangerous nihilism.

A revolutionary air hangs over the moment. The philosophy of American inferiority demands change, and its intellectual dissent has grown into physical revolt. There are two sides to any movement: the change and the ideal. The change is the force of action; the ideal is the goal. Each balances the other, change bringing ideal into actuality, and ideal keeping change from anarchy. Every movement skews one way or the other, never completely balanced. An overly philosophical movement is inert. But an overly aggressive movement is destructive. As protests sweep America, buildings burn down and bullets steal lives. Amid this frightening outbreak of violence, it is clear that this movement does not skew toward inaction. Yet without firm temperance, activism devolves into chaotic upheaval; focus upon the construction of a more just republic descends into rage against the ancien rgime; societal progress becomes a euphemism for the tumbril rolling to the guillotine. Rash enthusiast of Change, beware!

In every era, change has needed some guiding ideal to ascend to the height of progress. What ideal will guide this movement? The right of the people is a popular suggestion symbolized by the anonymous raised fist of humanity, ubiquitous in Portland, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C. A fine sentiment, but an unspecific assertion. Modern America, more mosaic than melting pot, responds, Which people? Our nation divides itself cleanly not even along political lines. With such diversity, the right of the people cannot possibly mean more than the right of each person; and the right of each person, carried to its furthest, is no more than anarchy. The people are the object, but are not the sort of thing a right, a virtue, an idea that can guide change.

Past protests had patriotism to guide them. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his most famous speech beside an American flag, overlooking a sea of red, white, and blue signs holding America accountable to its founding dream. Likewise, the civil rights marchers followed a platoon of American flags into Montgomery. If patriotism is unpopular now, it is because we have misunderstood America. Our history has its flaws. Too often the flag has witnessed the oppression and suffering of its own people. But whereas other nations base identity on dates and bloodlines and locations, America is not, at heart, a history. What is America? More than anything, she is an idea a dream of equality in the form of a republic. America is a social covenant, a commitment to the equality and unalienable rights written in the Declaration of Independence and applied through the Constitution. Patriotism is not a flag blindfolding the patriot to injustices. It is hope for this ideas ever-increasing realization; it tethers change to the transcendent ideals that form America.

Nevertheless, today one is as likely to find a flag flying as to find it upside down or burning in protest cities. Decrying an inherently corrupt America, the protests across the nation are all but void of national symbols. Consider athletes kneeling for the national anthem, a forerunner of todays demonstrations. The players action is rooted in the fact of unjust killings at the hands of the law, but what does its symbolism mean? For the civil rights movement, the flag was a symbol of hope they held onto that flag, letting go of equality for all men for nothing. Disregarding the flag or the national anthem, then, speaks to a nihilism about America. The nation will never be more than the worst of its history; there is no hope in a transcendent American ideal. Herein lies the danger of American inferiority. Far enough away to see the nations faults, it remains too close to see anything but the faults.

Patriotism cannot solve our nations problems. It cannot fix a wage gap. It cannot stop unjust killings. It cannot abolish injustice. But we cannot realize the sublime idea of America without patriotic hope. Otherwise all we have is American inferioritys nihilistic vision of a stumbling nation. Our eyes darkened, we may advocate and legislate, but we will be forever tossed upon the whims of the moment always reacting, never progressing. Our untethered change will create the stumbling nation we feared, and America will mean nothing more than a history or a place. Without patriotism, we will lose America, for we will have given up on the idea.

Joseph McDonough 23 lives in Kirkland House.

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Protest and Patriotism | Opinion - Harvard Crimson

The Dark and the Wicked Is One of the Scariest Movies of 2020 | Review – Collider.com

There are few things as scary as someone or something that wants to hurt you just because they can. And because they enjoy it. Bryan Bertino twisted the knife into that primal terror with his 2008 directorial debut The Strangers, which set a bar for the early-aughts home invasion trend by packaging pure evil as a trio of masked killers and setting them loose on a couple you couldnt help but root for. With The Dark and the Wicked, Bertino delivers another bleak and brutal home invasion story of sorts, but this time, its not the malice of mankind knocking at your door, its the dang devil himself.

Set on an isolated family farm, The Dark and the Wicked stars Marin Ireland andMichael Abbot Jr.as Louise and Michael; a distant sister and brother who return to their homestead on their fathers deathbed. Their mother gives them a vague warning not to come, which they obviously ignore, dutifully heading to their fathers bedside to say goodbye. But when they arrive, something is off. Their mother (Julie Oliver-Touchstone) is a rattling shadow of her former self and their father (Michael Zagst) is all but gone, but its not just the grief casting a shadow over their family home. Theres something else, something sinister in the air, and its not long until their already dreary homecoming turns into a hellish nightmare.

Image via RLJE/Shudder

Bertino stages his action over several days, giving the grief and the menace alike time to fester, swell, and transform. Punctuating his moments of terror with title cards not only track the passage of time, but infuses each moment with the knowledge that were heading towards some unholy endgame. If theres a start date, there must be an end date, and when you start in such a grim place, you cant help but wince in anticipation of whats to come.

In many ways, The Dark and the Wicked feels like a sibling film to The Strangers. Theres the remote rural setting, the sinking sense of despair, and the complicated emotional relationships, but they also share structural and thematic overlaps that slip the knife into the same existential terror: that in this world, there are cruel forces that will kill you just to see you die and torment you for the simple pleasure of watching you suffer.

Except The Dark and the Wicked kicks that dread up a notch, projecting the cavalier because you were home cruelty of his Strangers onto devilish otherworldly forces. Those Dark and Wicked entities dont just want your suffering, they want your soul, and there are no walls to build, doors to lock, or shotguns to load that can keep them from their desires. It makes no difference to them whether you believe. As the film puts it, the wolf doesnt care if the sheep believes in it. A meals a meal, a souls a soul.

As for the souls in question, both leads are fantastic at translating their terror through grounded, believable reactions. Ireland has always been one of those performers youre happy to see and coming off her scene-stealing role in The Umbrella Academy Season 2, its wonderful to see her carry the lead with such commanding presence and raw vulnerability. For his part, Bertino again proves hes a master of directing fear, giving his performers time and space (his use of a wide frame remains killer) to register the harrowing escalation of fear. Bertinos characters are more likely to crumple themselves up and cower in fear that run off shrieking, which means any time a scream cuts through the already hair-raising sound design, its earned and all the more effective for it.

Image via RLJE/Shudder

The Dark and the Wicked comes in quick with a smothering sense of dread and offers some early carnage to establish the stakes, but Bertino always takes time to sit with the characters, lingering in their agony, ramping up the oppressive atmosphere with each new sequence. Movies like this often get labeled a slow burn, but Bertinos effect is more of a slow freeze. He sets the stage with a chilling event that settles into the blood, then the gut, then your bones until youre frigid, frozen solid, ready to shatter on impact. Anyones whos seen The Strangers can tell you that Bertino knows how to land a blow. In fact, The Strangers has proved to be one of my most enduring horror movie-going experiences specifically because of its devastating ending.

But where The Strangers builds and builds and builds towards its inescapable climactic gut-punch, The Dark and the Wicked crescendos in smaller waves. Its scary and effective, and youd probably have better luck counting the scenes where you dont have goosebumps, but it never quite lands that finishing blow. The Dark and the Wicked is at its best when it weaponizes its existential nihilism, needling at the helplessness of facing down cosmic evil. But by roping that evil into the demonic, the film spins an uneven web of mythology that it never quite contends with, leaving too many unanswered questions that feel unsatisfying rather than provocative.

The Dark and the Wicked may not have the staying power of some of Bertinos other works (the ending of The Blackcoats Daughter, which he produced, has also haunted me for years), but its effect is certainly strong enough to linger into the night, when the lights are out and you ponder what might be waiting for you in the darkness. Its sinister and certainly one of the scariest movies of the year, elevated by Irelands outstanding performance and Bertinos skill for plunging head-first into some of the darkest spectrums of the human experience.

Rating: B+

The Dark and the Wicked premiered at Fantasia Fest 2020 and arrives in theaters, On Demand & Digital November 6th.

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The Dark and the Wicked Is One of the Scariest Movies of 2020 | Review - Collider.com

Film review The Roads Not Taken. (R) – Hampstead Highgate Express

PUBLISHED: 10:26 03 September 2020 | UPDATED: 10:26 03 September 2020

Michael Joyce

Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning

Adventure Pictures

In a depressingly nihilistic film Javier Bardems character explores three versions of the life he might have led and all of them are miserable

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If there are an infinite number of universes, splintered realities formed every time we make a decision, then there must be a few where Javier Bardem makes cheerful films. Some, but not many. For him, the multiverse is a series of glass half empties.

Here his character Leo flicks between three alternate realities, in each of which he is miserable. In one of these, he is married to Salma Hayek, which you might expect to put a bit of wind into his willow, but in that reality they are grieving for a lost son. In another he is an author of upbeat children books no of course not, hes a suffering artist.

In the main one, presumably the real one from which the other two are imagined, he is suffering from some form of dementia, living in a crummy New York apartment being helped around town by his daughter (Fanning.)

The incredibly drab choice of title is indicative of the lack of interest and energy with which the film tackles its subject. It has nothing to reveal other than he made a couple of choices that profoundly affected his life, but it would have turned out badly whichever path he took. Sally Potters movie seems as deflated by this conclusion as the audience. Thats some sedentary nihilism for you.

2/5 stars

Starring Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning, Branka Katic, Milena Tscharntke, Laura Linney and Salma Hayek. Partly subtitled. In cinemas. 85 mins.

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Film review The Roads Not Taken. (R) - Hampstead Highgate Express

Venice Review: The World to Come is a Gorgeous Drama Told in a Subdued Gear – The Film Stage

In The World to Come, an unlikely romance blossoms against the rugged rural backdrop of the American Northeast. The action plays out during the year 1856 somewhere in the region of Syracuse, a few years shy of the American Civil War. The setting could hardly be more isolated; the living much further from easy. On January 1st, our lonesome protagonist welcomes the changing of the calendar with the bleakest of resolutions: With little pride and less hope, we begin the new year.

Directed by Mona Fastvold, a Norwegian filmmaker now based in Brooklyn, the film marks her follow-up to The Sleepwalker, which followed another isolated couple whose marriage was set to crumblealbeit in the present day and with much more dancing. After co-writing The Childhood of a Leader and Vox Lux with partner Brady Corbet, it is with great anticipation that Fastvold returns to the directors seat. Its also the first time Fastvold has worked with a script not her own and its interesting to see her move away from all that nihilism and foreboding toward something so movingeven if the transition ultimately proves too much of a leap.

The narrative was taken from a short story of the same name by Jim Shepard, who developed it for the screen with Ron Hansen, the author of The Assassination of Jesse James by The Coward Robert Ford. Taking place over the course of a year, we follow the introverted Abigail (played beautifully by Katherine Waterston), who meets and soon falls for the naturally more confident and worldly Tallie (Vanessa Kirby). Abigail is married to Dyer (Casey Affleck), a decent if somewhat distanced man; Tallie to the more affluent Finney (Christopher Abbott), a seemingly likable sort who grows more possessive and menacing as the film wears on.

Fastvold says she was drawn as much to the content of Shepards text as she was to the rigor of his historical accuracy. (Fans of Kelly Reichardts period films will surely be pleased.) Most of this dialogue is heard in voiceover and delivered with real pathos from Waterston, an actress who has always seemed at home to these kinds of melancholic roles. The two women share real chemistry which Fastvold patiently draws out using only small gestures and, of course, stolen glances in devastating close-upone of the oldest and most reliable tricks in the book.

Shot on location using 16mm filmwith Romania filling in for the frontier, as it did in Jacques Audiards The Sisters BrothersAndr Chemetovs rurals vistas are as painterly as they are naturalistic. In particular, the early snow-swept sequences nod pleasingly towards Robert Altmans McCabe & Mrs. Miller. Daniel Blumbergs scorehis first for a featureis gentle and unobtrusive but powerfully moving when it needs to be. The sets feel lived in, Waterston and Kirby are immaculate, and Affleck and Abbott find interesting angles on what might have otherwise been archetypal roles.

Yet somehow the drama runs just a touch too flat, which is a shock coming from an artist whose last work reimagined A Star is Born with a high school shooting as the inciting incident. Perhaps as a force of habit, Fastvold never quite shakes the melancholy of the first act and seems almost reluctant to indulge the central romance even as it progresses. The comparisons to Cline Sciammas Portrait of a Lady on Fire (already an untouchable film to many) are unfair but just as difficult to ignore. It is a thoughtful, unquestionably moving piece of work with much to say about the inner lives of the women at the center, but it could have used another gear. Working alongside Corbet, Fastvold has delivered some of the most daring work to come from American independent cinema in recent memory. The World to Come undoubtedly shows her talents, and we look forward to them fully blossoming in the years to come.

The World to Come premiered at the Venice Film Festival.

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Venice Review: The World to Come is a Gorgeous Drama Told in a Subdued Gear - The Film Stage

Album of the Week: Uniform Shame – Treble

Uniforms music feels like a particularly intense form of therapy. Their songs are loud and punishing, unapologetically sothough the band has expanded to a trio, retiring the pummeling industrial beats of early releases in favor of a full-time drummer, their aural assault has lost none of its sting in the transaction. Amid Ben Greenbergs thrash metal guitar riffs and the brutal impact of Mike Sharps drums, no element of Uniforms sound cuts as deep as Michael Berdans manic primal scream. Whether reckoning with his own complicated faith, unpacking trauma or simply serving up reminders of the fucked-up America in which we live, Berdan always sounds like hes physically tearing at pieces from his own soul.

In the past three years, Berdan and Greenberg have released five albumsincluding two collaborations with The Bodythat have seen them refine their industrial machinepunk from a raw, direct form of catharsis into a more sophisticated form of soul shredding. Their 2018 album The Long Walk, featuring drummer Greg Fox (Liturgy, Ex Eye), revealed more textural variance and nuance in their seemingly subtlety-free approach, providing a greater degree of depth inside their urgent rippers. Shame, their first with Sharp, takes that even further, tracing the outline of traumas tattoos through their best and most varied set of songs to date.

On past albums, Uniform would begin with a squeal of feedback and a bombastic rush of noise-caked guitars, Shame immediately feels different. Leadoff track Delco immediately settles into a groove, Sharp playing at about half the BPMs most listeners are probably used to from this band, but the open space gives Berdan the opportunity to repeat a mantra of, You are what youve done/You are whats been done to you, reflecting on the imprint that childhood violence leaves on a person. The unexpected consequence isnt that of a mellower, less aggressive Uniform, but one whose songs have the real estate to build out something bigger and far more ominous. With Berdans scream of, I dream of blood/So much blood, during the songs chorus, it puts a pin in the moment that Uniform became their most terrifying selves.

The degree to which Shame assaults the ears hasnt wanedUniform are still as loud as ever, still frequently making space for piercing frequencies and sonic discomfort. They give themselves more room to work with, however, and between those shrill peaks and guttural valleys is a surprising array of ear candy. During the chorus of The Shadow of Gods Hand, Greenberg layers his typical power-chord crunch with a shimmering arpeggio riff reminiscent of The Stooges Gimme Danger. The title track is more of an oozing slow burn than a concrete brick to the face, Greenbergs guitars employing more of a shoegazing mist than the jagged edges of thrash, Berdan narrating a cycle of self-destructive behavior (Thats why I drink/Thats why I weep) inside of hypnotic layers of distortion. Its still nice to get a reminder in Dispatches form the Gutter that the building blocks of Uniforms music are structurally sound even without the added production layers, with Berdan going full nihilism against the straight-up hardcore beatdown: I know what Im missing/I just dont care.

Discussing Shame as Uniforms most nuanced album requires an understanding that the New York trio will never deliver a set of ballads or slowcore dirges. This album is meant to be played loud, because Uniform, themselves, play really fucking loud. Yet theres a level of depth in both the arrangements and in Berdans examinations of psychic wounds that reveal how much growth the band has undergone in half a decade and half a dozen albums. Play this album while running a few miles or sparring with a punching bag and youll find it provides the necessary fuel to keep going. But take a moment to catch your breath and dont be surprised of just how remarkable everything sounds between those moments of impact.

Label: Sacred BonesYear: 2020

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Sep 8, 2020Jeff Terich

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Album of the Week: Uniform Shame - Treble