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Seeds from Taiwan plant species launched to space station – Taiwan News

Posted: December 8, 2020 at 3:11 am

SpaceX successfully launchesupgraded Dragon spacecraft into space Dec. 6. (Twitter, SpaceX photo) SpaceX successfully launchesupgraded Dragon spacecraft into space Dec. 6. (Twitter, SpaceX photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) A cargo capsule carrying seeds from four plant species provided by Taiwan is on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) after launching from the U.S. state of Florida on Sunday (Dec. 6).

The seeds were among supplies transported by SpaceX using its newly upgraded Dragon spacecraft. They were sent as part of the "Space Seeds for Asian Future" project initiated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to observe how the space environment affects germination.

According to the National Space Organization (NSPO), Taiwan is one of nine countries participating in the international research project to send seeds into space for approximately four months before bringing them back to be planted on Earth. Each participating nation can send seeds weighing up to 50 grams to the Japanese experimental module at ISS.

The NSPO said the four plant species the Taiwanese researchers had selected were Formosa lambsquarters, bell pepper, common sunflower, and Phalaenopsis equestris. It said the Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute and National Chung Hsing University will be in charge of studying and growing the seeds once they return to Earth in April 2021, reported CNA.

Besides the germination project, several experiments were also on the Dragon capsule, including the first coronavirus drug research experiment in space. The European Space Agency previously explained that the experiment is aimed at improving the efficiency of antiviral drug remdesivir by understanding how the medicine interacts with its delivery substance cyclodextrin in microgravity.

Taiwan sends seeds of four plant species to outer space. (National Chung Hsing University photo)

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Pathologic 2 Is a Fascinating Experiment in Method Role-Playing – The Escapist

Posted: November 10, 2020 at 1:43 am

Pathologic 2 didnt get a lot of attention when it released last year. There were good reasons for that: It is a follow-up to a game that was notorious for its poor Russian-to-English localization, it ran badly, and it was exceptionally arguably unfairly difficult. It did have an excellent English localization this time around, and developer Ice-Pick Lodge introduced a slew of patches and difficulty sliders to tweak all aspects of the gameplay in the weeks following its release, but it was too late. The game had missed its opportunity to make a positive impression on the mainstream press, and it was relegated to cult status within just a few months of release.

Part of me thinks thats just fine, since Pathologic 2 is absolutely not for everyone, but I also believe it deserves much more recognition than it got. Because once you turn the difficulty down (I dont advise this often, but turn it all the way down.) and get over the uneven performance, you are left with a singularly fascinating experiment in what Im going to call method role-playing.

To understand what I mean here, consider a typical role-playing game like Baldurs Gate or The Witcher. In the former you build a character out of a set of variable characteristics and then pretend-play as that character for the rest of the game. In the latter you assume an existing, predetermined role and do the same. In both you make dialogue choices and decisions that affect the progress and usually the ending of the story, broken up by bits of gameplay that itself offers more or less player choice.

However, you do not need to pay a huge amount of attention to the story in either type of game. It is possible to ignore most cutscenes, or click through most dialogue options and decisions, and still make it through to the end.

That is not the case with Pathologic 2. Not every dialogue choice or decision will progress the story in a particular direction, and if you dawdle too long or make too many disparate and unconnected choices, you will eventually face the so-called Late Ending: an unsatisfying conclusion that effectively mocks you for not paying enough attention and not doing anything of real substance.

To get the intended experience from Pathologic 2, you have to go beyond the pretend play of traditional RPGs and learn the role you are given (something the game heavily implies with a meta-narrative set inside a theater). That means paying attention to every piece of information you are presented with every bit of the local dialect, history, customs, and opinions and internalizing it until you can speak, think, and apply it back to the game world to form your own view of that world. By analogy with method acting, Pathologic 2 requires you to method role-play: to inhabit the games protagonist and their environment.

This is not an easy thing to do. Pathologic 2 is set in The Town, a turn-of-the-20th-century province in an unnamed country that is a bizarre mix of architectural styles, technologies, customs, and characters. You play as Artemy Burakh, a Haruspex, a term that seems to be loosely borrowed from ancient Rome to describe a quasi-religious official who studies the interconnections between the physical and the spiritual. Artemy had left The Town to study medicine in a big city and is recalled years later by a letter from his father, a well-respected local physician. On arrival, Artemy finds himself a stranger in his birthplace, overshadowed by his fathers achievements, and expected to follow in his footsteps.

This is already a lot to take in, and while Pathologic 2 does give you a few hours to do that, eventually The Town becomes infected with a deadly plague, its citizens start falling ill and dying, and you have just 12 days (Each one takes about two real-life hours.) to understand what caused it and how to stop it.

It is impossible to heal or even visit and speak to everyone who falls ill in a given day. It is likewise impossible to pursue every story thread or bit of lore, especially since many characters give contradictory information, seem to outright lie, or may even be figments of Artemys imagination. For example, late in the game the plague begins manifesting itself to Artemy as a plague doctor.

You get thirsty, hungry, tired, and can become infected or injured in combat. You also need to monitor your immunity, inventory, and supplies. If you dont do this and push yourself to try to complete everything in a given day, you will wear yourself out and eventually die. Or you will run out of resources and get stuck in a loop of trial and failure thats difficult to solve by loading earlier saves, since many decisions dont have follow-on consequences until hours later.

There is no glossary or codex and no objective marker to keep you on track. Despite this, you need to learn your Shabnak-Adyr from your Bos Turokh, your Boddhos from your herd brides, Erdems from Bohirs, and many other pieces of lore and tradition, or you will say the wrong things to the wrong people and shut off possible avenues for progression. And if you do not decide which approach to the plague and to The Towns general future you agree with from the scientific rationalism of the big city to the mysticism of the local steppes tribes you will lose your thread on the main story entirely.

If you can internalize all that and make peace with it, then youll find you are method role-playing as Artemy. Youll realize its not possible for Artemy to complete every task, save everyone, or share his viewpoint with them, so equally its not possible for you. Youll embrace the fact that quests will go uncompleted, NPCs will go unspoken to, and large aspects of the story will remain unknown, and youll just play according to your chosen style and perspective on The Town.

I found it stressful at first completionist habits die hard but it makes room for the punishing systems, bleak story, strange setting, and rich lore to come together in one of the most unique, thematically ambitious, and rewarding narrative experiences in recent memory.

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Science-fiction master Ted Chiang explores the rights and wrongs of AI – GeekWire

Posted: at 1:43 am

The story of Ted Chiangs life includes stints as a technical writer in the Seattle area and worldwide acclaim as a science-fiction writer. (Alan Berner Photo via Knopf Doubleday Publicity)

What rights does a robot have? If our machines become intelligent in the science-fiction way, thats likely to become a complicated question and the humans who nurture those robots just might take their side.

Ted Chiang, a science-fiction author of growing renown with long-lasting connections to Seattles tech community, doesnt back away from such questions. They spark the thought experiments that generate award-winning novellas like The Lifecycle of Software Objects, and inspire Hollywood movies like Arrival.

Chiangs soulful short stories have earned him kudos from the likes of The New Yorker, which has called him one of the most influential science-fiction writers of his generation. During this years pandemic-plagued summer, he joined the Museum of Pop Cultures Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. And this week, hes receiving an award from the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation for employing imagination in service to society.

Can science fiction have an impact in the real world, even at times when the world seems as if its in the midst of a slow-moving disaster movie?

Absolutely, Chiang says.

Art is one way to make sense of a world which, on its own, does not make sense, he says in the latest episode of the Fiction Science podcast, which focuses on the intersection between science and fiction. Art can impose a kind of order onto things. It doesnt offer a cure-all, because I dont think theres going to be any easy cure-all, but I think art helps us get by in these stressful times.

COVID-19 provides one illustration. Chiang would argue that our response to the coronavirus pandemic has been problematic in part because it doesnt match what weve seen in sci-fi movies.

The greatest conflict that we see generated is from people who dont believe in it vs. everyone else, he said. That might be the product of the fact that it is not as severe. If it looked like various movie pandemics, itd probably be hard for anyone to deny that it was happening.

This pandemic may well spark a new kind of sci-fi theme.

Its worth thinking about, that traditional depictions of pandemics dont spend much time on people coming together and trying to support each other, Chiang said. That is not typically a theme in stories about disaster or enormous crisis. I guess the narrative is usually, Its the end of civilization. And people have not turned on each other in that way.

Artificial intelligence is another field where science fiction often gives people the wrong idea. When we talk about AI in science fiction, were talking about something very different than what we mean when we say AI in the context of current technology, he said.

Chiang isnt speaking here merely as an author of short stories, but as someone who joined the Seattle tech community three decades ago to work at Microsoft as a technical writer. During his first days in Seattle, his participation in 1989s Clarion West Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop helped launch his second career as a fiction writer.

In our interview, Chiang didnt want to say much about the technical-writing side of his career, but his expertise showed through in our discussion about real vs. sci-fi AI. When people talk about AI in the real world theyre talking about a certain type of software that is usually like a superpowered version of applied statistics, he said.

Thats a far cry from the software-enhanced supervillains of movies like Terminator or The Matrix, or the somewhat more sympathetic characters in shows like Westworld and Humans.

In Chiangs view, most depictions of sci-fi AI fall short even by science-fiction standards. A lot of stories imagine something which is a product like a robot that comes in a box, and you flip it on, and suddenly you have a butler a perfectly competent and loyal and obedient butler, he noted. That, I think jumps over all these steps, because butlers dont just happen.

In The Lifecycle of Software Objects, Chiang imagines a world in which it takes just as long to raise a robot as it does to raise a child. That thought experiment sparks all kinds of interesting all-too-human questions: What if the people who raise such robots want them to be something more than butlers? Would they stand by and let their sci-fi robot progeny be treated like slaves, even like sex slaves?

Maybe they want that robot, or conscious software, to have some kind of autonomy, Chiang said. To have a good life.

Chiangs latest collection of short stories, Exhalation, extends those kinds of thought experiments to science-fiction standbys ranging from free will to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

Both those subjects come into play in whats certainly Chiangs best-known novella, Story of Your Life, which was first published in 1998 and adapted to produce the screenplay for Arrival in 2016. Like so many of Chiangs other stories, Story of Your Life takes an oft-used science-fiction trope in this case, first contact with intelligent aliens and adds an unexpected but insightful and heart-rending twist.

Chiang said that the success of the novella and the movie hasnt led to particularly dramatic changes in the story of his own life, but that it has broadened the audience for the kinds of stories he tells.

My work has been read by people who would not describe themselves as science-fiction readers, by people who dont usually read a lot of science fiction, and thats been amazing. Thats been really gratifying, he said. Its not something that I ever really expected.

Whats more, Chiangs work has been popping up in places where you wouldnt expect to see science fiction such as The New York Times, where he weighs in on the implications of human gene editing; or Buzzfeed News, where he reflects on the downside of Silicon Valleys world view; or the journal Nature, where you can find Chiangs thought experiments on free will and transhumanism; or Nautilus, where Chiang offers an unorthodox perspective on SETI.

During our podcast chat, Chiang indulged in yet another thought experiment: Could AI replace science-fiction writers?

Chiangs answer? It depends.

If we could get software-generated novels that were coherent, but not necessarily particularly good, I think there would be a market for them, he said.

But Chiang doesnt think that would doom human authors.

For an AI to generate a novel that you think of as really good, that you feel like, Oh, wow, this novel was both gripping and caused me to think about my life in a new way that, I think, is going to be very, very hard, he said.

Ted Chiang only makes it look easy.

Chiang and other Arthur C. Clarke Foundation awardees will take part in the 2020 Clarke Conversation on Imagination at 9 a.m. PT Nov. 12. Register via the foundations website and Eventbrite to get in on the interactive video event.

This is a version of an article first published on Cosmic Log. Check out the Cosmic Log posting for Ted Chiangs reading recommendations, which are this months selections for the Cosmic Log Used Book Club.

My co-host for the Fiction Science podcast is Dominica Phetteplace, an award-winning writerwho is a graduate of theClarion West Writers Workshopand currently lives in Berkeley, Calif. Shes among the science-fiction authors featured inThe Best Science Fiction of the Year. To learn more about Phetteplace, check out her website,

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Problem gambling and crime appear co-symptomatic, not causal – UB News Center

Posted: August 10, 2020 at 4:45 pm

BUFFALO, N.Y. New research from a University at Buffalo sociologist is providing valuable insight into better understanding the association between criminal behaviors and problem gambling.

Were finding that its not so much that problem gambling causes crime, but rather that the same background characteristics that contribute to predicting the likelihood of someone being a problem gambler also predict that theyll engage in crime, says Christopher Dennison, an assistant professor of sociology in UBs College of Arts and Sciences.

Accounting for existing differences between problem gamblers and non-problem gamblers weakens the widely held assumption that points to a strong causal relationship that gambling disorders can lead to criminal outcomes.

In the case of problem gambling which is indicated by traits including a preoccupation with gambling; an inability to scale back; or when gambling becomes a vehicle for escaping negative emotional states, like depression its a matter of general deviance, according to Dennison.

Its not that one causes the other, but rather that the two are co-symptomatic.

Socioeconomic status, prior substance use, and involvement with delinquent peers early in life are part of a set of variables associated with both criminal behavior and problem gambling.

Dennison categorizes these variables collectively in his research as confounding bias.

On the surface, problem gambling might be observed as a direct x-to-y relationship, but confounding bias is saying there might be another variable, z for instance, notes Dennison, who conducted the research with co-authors Jessica Finkeldey, an assistant professor at the State University of New York at Fredonia, and Gregory Rocheleau, an assistant professor at Ball State University.

Something in between that x-to-y pathway might explain gambling and might also explain crime, he says. If you ignore those variables if you ignore confounding bias you might overestimate the relationship.

The findings, which appear in the Journal of Gambling Studies, could lead to the development of new treatments that account for how these background characteristics influence behavior. Addressing these issues early in the life course can be beneficial for decreasing the likelihood of both problem gambling and crime later in life.

From a co-symptomatic perspective, we can provide interventions that address both behaviors at the same time rather than pursuing separate treatments, one for gambling and another for crime, Dennison says.

Dennisons team is not the first research group to look at this association, but unlike previous studies that relied on small, non-random, and cross-sectional samples that provide a snap shot view, the current paper is based on the Add Health data set. The nationally representative study interviewed more than 21,000 adolescents in the early 1990s, and subsequently re-interviewed them between the ages of 18-26 and 26-34.

In addition to relying on a rich data set for their research, Dennison and his co-authors wanted to statistically balance differences in background characteristics between problem gamblers and non-problem gamblers in hopes to simulate a gold standard experiment.

The social sciences present research challenges that make it difficult to isolate a control group. Medical sciences, for instance, can provide a treatment to one group, a placebo to a control group, and look at the outcome. But in the case of the current research, its not possible to simply compare problem gamblers with non-problem gamblers, because of the differences in background characteristics.

We created two groups that were statistically equal problem gamblers who look like non-problem gamblers in the data, says Dennison. This helped us shed light on the question of general deviance by examining the relationship between problem gambling and crime net of pre-existing differences.

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An In-Depth Guide to the Microphones –

Posted: August 8, 2020 at 11:59 pm

LISTS An In-Depth Guide to the Microphones By Grayson Haver Currin August 07, 2020 Original artwork by Phil Elverum

For the last 25 years, across more than 60 releasesfirst as the Microphones and then as Mount EeriePhil Elverum has used the humdrum details of his daily life as fodder for experimental folk, indie rock, and even heavy metal. He has articulated his search for validation and truth in a world that can seem designed to prove how little you matter. That sentiment stretches cleanly from 2001s The Glow Pt. 2, Elverums boundless examination of young adult heartache, to 2017s A Crow Looked at Me, his heartrending document of life as a widower and single father after his wife, Genevive Castre, died.

When it comes to namesof projects and even his ownone could reckon Elverum to be obsessed.

At the start of 2003, just as albums like The Glow Pt. 2 began to make the Microphones an indie rock commodity, he dropped that moniker for Mount Eerie, the name of the last proper Microphones LP and a reference to the mountain perched over his hometown of Anacortes, WA. The songwriter soon supplemented his surname, Elvrum, with a second e, matching that of a small Norwegian city when he spent a winter in the far north of the country.

But for Elverum, none of that actually matters too much. Names are window dressings, he suggests: superficial marketing tactics that distract from what an artist has to say about life and the quest for meaning. That is the premise of Microphones in 2020, his astounding first album as the Microphones in 17 years. On its single, 45-minute track, Elverum, now 42, revisits his arts origins, trying to locate and reignite the unifying impulse that guided him as an artist in his early twenties. The names, sounds, and circumstances may have changed, but his desires remain the same: this luxurious privilege to sit around frowning and wondering what it means, he sings, playing with words and trying to prove that names mean nothing.

There is no easy distinction between the Microphones and Mount Eerie. When Elverum started the Microphones, he was a young audio enthusiast, a kid thrilled by the process of discovery that recording entailed. He worked with a ragtag cast of collaborators, so his equipmentlike, microphonesbecame his bandmate. As he learned more about recording and began to codify an aesthetic, he started to focus more on language, refining the poetry that best expressed his feelings. Such is the essence of Mount Eerie.

At least until now: Microphones in 2020 may be the most compelling, exacting, and poignant writing of his career. I hope this record is the end of all names, but I know thats probably not possible, says Elverum from home, laughing.

We sorted through six highlights of what Elverum has called the Microphones: an overwhelming catalog, without even considering Mount Eerie. We asked him how he feels about those records now, after spending so much time pondering what the Microphones have meant in his life.

By the time Phil Elverum began making his first masterpiece, The Glow Pt. 2, in the spring of 2000, he was more than four years deep into his recording obsession. On a series of tapes conceived in the rear of an Anacortes record store, hed plundered almost every sound he could imagine, turning drones, drums, and acoustic guitars into miniature composites. Now in Olympia, hed thrown himself into the capital citys scene wholesale. He lived in the legendary Track House for $175 a month and volunteered at the food co-op for cheap groceries. He spent his free time across the street at Dub Narcotic Studio, trawling Calvin Johnsons massive trove of aging equipment.

The Glow Pt. 2 captured the collision of Elverums youthful energy and budding experience, the exact moment his understanding of recording and the rawness of his nerves dovetailed. An unflinching, 20-song document of heartache that feels like an extinction-level event, it tells us everything: how he thought he understood love and permanence, how he sulks and even stalks, how he wants to disappear. But the world of sound Elverum conjures here, a homespun backdrop of unrest and intrigue, keeps the songs churning. It is a complicated portrait of a young person learning how to lose, the quality that makes it perennially poignant.

K Records released The Glow Pt. 2 on September 11, 2001. It feels now like it did thena headlong escape into someone elses woe, a place where the grief and worry were so immersive that you had no choice but to step away from your fear for a while. The Glow repeatedly flirts with abject despair, with the prospect of just giving up. But after an hour, Elverum sits cold and alone in the dark, surrounded only by the insects who know his red blood is still warm. That is, things suckbut at least hes still here to tell the tale.

I always think Im making something thats the best I can possibly do, says Elverum. Usually I am wrong, but I always have that feeling. Mirah had been with me on tour while I was writing some of The Glow Pt. 2, and she had been coming in and out of Dub Narcotic, overhearing what I was working on. And I remember her saying, Wow, Phil, Im really excited. This record is going to be something special. I like it now. But legacy is so baffling. Its almost arbitrary, the things that get put on pedestals, but Im lucky to have benefited from that arbitrariness.

For a decade, St. Ives epitomized the record label as a community art project. On early and very limited editions from the likes of Animal Collective, Man Forever, and Fruit Bats, bands would paint recycled record covers themselves, alternately rendering ornate designs and slapdash expressionist pastiche. The Indiana label seemed especially suited to an early-20s Elverum, a prolific painter and photographer who constantly doodled in notebooks. His debut on St. Ives2001s discursive Blood, limited to 300 copieswas the labels first release aside from a compilation of Hoosier favorites.

When St. Ives asked Elverum for a follow-up, he strolled into Dub Narcotic on February 2, 2002. He set up a single microphone, a pump organ, and a piano, then pressed Record at 2 p.m. After 40 minutes, Elverum had finished Little Bird Flies Into a Big Black Cloud, an extemporaneous vocal rendition of a recently released chapbook. You can hear him shuffling the pages after Three Steps, a stepwise spoken-word guide to considering mortality and the endlessness of your imagination, and witness him faltering as he tries to find a note during I Got Stabbed, a meditation on prying apart your feelings for art. It is as personal as the hand-painted covers for this edition of 400, now a pricey collectors item.

His use of language herebeautiful lines that are somehow both spare and florid, triangulating the sensations of his feelingsrepresents a crucial development. Hed been listening to Will Oldham and Little Wings, trying to learn how he could mirror the sonic care of the Microphones with words. He maps his feelings to trees, flowers, oceans, and soil, shaping a personal pantheism of frailty and strength, beauty and decay. Youre a warming wind from a distant sun, he croons during one fraught moment. Im an iceberg and Ill melt and out Ill run.

Phil Elverum doesnt see Little Bird Flies Into A Big Black Cloud so much as a record as an exercise in anti-production, a counterpoint to his developed sound experiments. Were only talking about it because the Internet came around and leveled out the accessibility of everything, he says. It now has the same size thumbnail as all the other albums. But I like to have things available and not seem exploitative of cultivated scarcity. I still think this record is only worth 400 copies, but I also like saying, Heres everything. You get to decide how many copies its worth.'

Early in the decade, Elverum was driving between New England tour stops when he found himself with a day off in New Hampshire. Passing through the states iconic White Mountains, he decided to climb, despite encroaching winter weather. Partway up Mount Jefferson, the snow began to drift down as Elverum passed signs demanding that hikers turn back during worsening conditions. He pressed ahead, eventually staring out across a tremendous, cloud-shrouded gorge: I imagined going to the brink and looking beyond this life, he remembers, to the other side of death.

Elverum also missed his hometown of Anacortes, two hours up Washingtons puzzle-piece coastline from Olympia. He pined for the sight of the towns own Mount Erie, a stubby tree-covered mountain with a dramatically exposed rock face. Inspired by the 9th century Buddhist poet Han-shan who wrote his poetry on the rocks of mountains, Elverum decided to bind his songs to Anacortes little peak forever with an album that used it as a symbol of lifes arduous journey and eventual end. That is the premise of Mount Eerie, Elverums last full LP as the Microphones for nearly 20 years.

Mount Eerie is Elverums most elemental but complex album. It is the archetypal story of birth and death and afterlife, cast in an extended metaphor about ascending a peak and peering out into the canyon of life below. But its five seamless movements shift between harsh noise and plaintive folk, between throbbing dance music and ghoulishly chanted harmonies. A Greek chorus even narrates Elverums climb up the mountain, toward his end. The culmination of years spent experimenting with sound, examining the uncertainty of existence, and expressing those ideas through increasingly sylvan images, the operatic Mount Eerie offered an aptly climactic finale for the Microphones.

Mount Eerie is a concept-story album, but I wanted it to flow directly out of The Glow Pt. 2, says Elverum. I started it with the same sound The Glow ends with; that thing is common through everything I make, a thread that ties it together. I like forefront-ing the connections, but its almost all for me. I intentionally dont think about what fans will notice, or if anyone is even going to listen at all.

In 2002, Elverum asked the fans on K Records website for an outlandish favor: he wanted to spend a winter in Northern Norway, writing and thinking in Arctic seclusion. A fan in Bod, a mid-sized city ringed by rugged peaks and the Norwegian Sea, offered him a show and eventually pointed him toward a cabin two hours away. Elverum, who is of Scandinavian descent himself, spent months therebattling the relentless cold, confronting the turmoil of a recent breakup, and writing lots. His diaries from that time became the 134-page Dawn: Winter Journal, while his songs, which cut to the quick of living in solitary sadness, became a gripping Mount Eerie LP, also titled Dawn.

Mid-winter, Elverum briefly left his cabin for a long journey to Shibuya, stepping into the streets in snow pants and a heavy coat. He was there to play several shows with Calvin Johnson, Little Wings, and Japanese indie rock band The Moools. Elverum had already decided to drop the Microphones moniker for Mount Eerie, but he kept it for these sets for whatever name recognition it may confer. Its in quotation marks on this subsequent live albums coverin Elverums mind, he was already something new.

The enduring power of Live in Japan is the sense that a hermit is being let out of its hut, that the beast with feelings is emerging from a cave to share. Elverum is alternately playful and tortured, finding joy in relationships while painfully recognizing they have limits. During the gripping We Squirm, Elverum offers a late Microphones and early Mount Eerie cri de cur: I say let feelings hold you/ I say embrace your captors/ I say get to know them deep, he sings at the end of the songs breathless single verse, his voice crashing against the rocks of his heavy strums.

I dont like live albums that much, but I decided to release this one because so many of the songs were documents of something that would never happen again, Elverum says of the record. All the other Microphones things I repress from time to time, but Im not going to let this one fade away. Its weird, super raw, hard to listen to. I had been in this cabin in Norway, going head-to-head with my demons. All of a sudden, Im in Japan, performing this raw stuff to strangers that maybe didnt even understand the language. Its a document of being mid-exorcism.

By early 2007, Elverum had taken several tentative steps as Mount Eerie, releasing one full album and a bevy of singles and conceptual experiments. He was still on the eve of the recordsnotably 2008s Dawn and Lost Wisdomthat would codify the projects stark sound and frank core. He realized, however, that two new songs wouldnt fit Mount Eeries increasingly confessional aesthetic: Dont Smoke and Get Off the Internet, released in 2007 as a 7 attributed to the Microphones. Wouldnt the name just make these punk tunes stranger?

They are indeed outliers in Elverums oeuvre, preachy imperatives that tell listeners what to do rather than reframe what he has done himself. Slyly written to the tune of We Are the World and traced by spectral harmonies and sighing guitars, Get Off the Internet foretold the FOMO and exhaustion of our digital futures, a preemptive warning that a world of wonder and meaning exists beyond browser windows. Dont Smoke may grate when heard as a puritanical straight-edge plea; considered more broadly, its an enduring anthem for solidarity and self-reliance, for letting the nasty habits of the past die at last. We are the ones/ We have to do it, he urges in a rare moment of motivational earnestness. No more parents or gods.

As Elverum tells it, When I made those songs, it was me being a little snot, wanting to fuck with people. I was telling people what the rules are. And I wanted to poke with whatever preciousness existed around the name the Microphones. The songs seemed like their own thing, too. They were overtly political and definitely written with the audience in mind, though I normally try to ignore the fact that people will listen.

Early last summer, Elverum surprised his most ardent fans with a most unexpected twist: he would play one set as the Microphones in July, 16 years since his last album under that name. It was a reunionthough not really, since the band had always been an amorphous collective, anyway. Instead, Elverum had reunited with old friends to resurrect What the Heck Fest, the low-key, homecoming-style fte hed helped anchor in Anacortes in the early 00s. For Elverum, it felt fitting to dust off the mothballed name hed used for those early days, but he didnt want to settle for old favorites.

That feeling spawned a 20-minute metatextual saga Elverum premiered at the 2019 festival. He wondered aloud how hed shaped the Microphones, how it had shaped him, and what reviving the name said about the art hed always made. What were the threads that tied the melancholy teenager whod started this project in Anacortes because he loved recording, to the 41-year-old widower and acclaimed songwriter whod returned? The finished song, Microphones in 2020, is arguably the third Microphones masterpiece and a definitive framework for Elverums entire career.

This uninterrupted 45-minute tone poem rises around a tiny choir of acoustic guitars, shimmering like a moon glow on an endless ocean horizon. Elverum zooms in and out on his life, using seemingly small moments as chances to ask very big questions about why making art matters. He remembers playing alone in the garden as a toddler and wonders if thats why hes clung to mountains and oceans, fog and rain as a writer. He recounts a transformative experience watching Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, a film that pushed him to express truths greater than mere romantic disappointment. He borrows from Mayhem as well as himself, quoting and alluding to his past work as he examines how the pieces of his life cohere.

Midway through the track, Elverum sings of his early days, I was already who I am. Not 20 minutes later, he appears to contradict himself, singing, I am older now, and I no longer feel the same way that I did even 5 seconds ago, his voice cracking as he squeezes in the syllables. This miraculous paradox is central to his creative lifethe idea of growing where youre rooted. Microphones in 2020 feels like a roadmap for pursuing new ideas, vividly illustrated with a renewed understanding that doing just that has been your lifes work.

Its not a good feeling to get dangerously close to self-indulgent nostalgia, Elverum says. Its distasteful to me. I made this as an antidote, and playing this felt weird and new and challenging. Thats where I want to be as an artist. I dont want to indulge in the comfort of repeating something I know works. I want to be moving forward, and Ive always been that way. Fingers crossed that Im done making albums about the baggage of the past for a little while.

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SpaceX: Crew Dragon is returning to Earth here’s when to hold your – Astronomy Magazine

Posted: August 3, 2020 at 6:22 am

Importantly, the missions primary purpose is to test and demonstrate the vehicles capability to safely carry crew to and from Earth orbit, as the first step in the plan of commencing regular ISS missions and commercial space flights.

The extreme velocities and temperatures the vehicle must endure present a major challenge to engineers and makes reentry the most perilous part of a mission.

The danger starts with finding the right angle of the trajectory as the spacecraft enters the upper atmosphere. If it is too steep, the astronauts will experience potentially fatal g-forces, and the friction of the air drag could cause the spacecraft to explode. If it is too shallow, the capsule will instead catastrophically skip off the atmosphere and back into Earth orbit.

The spacecraft will enter the upper atmosphere at 27,000km/hour. That is 7.5km/second, or more than 20 times the speed of sound. In whichever units you prefer this is fast. At these velocities, a very strong shock wave forms around the front of the vehicle, compressing and superheating the air. Managing the immense thermal load is a huge reentry engineering challenge.

At the most extreme stage, the temperature of the air in the shock layer exceeds 7,000C. By comparison, the temperature at the surface of the Sun is around 5,500C. This makes the vehicles heat shield so hot that it starts to glow a process called incandescence. SpaceXs new and advanced PICA-X material heat shield has managed to protect the capsule in test flights, later being recovered in a very charred state.

The air molecules around the vehicle also break down into positively charged atoms and free electrons a so-called plasma. When some of the molecules recombine, excess energy is released as photons (light particles) giving the air around the vehicle an amber glow.

This plasma layer may be beautiful, but it can cause radio blackouts. When an electron travels along a conductive wire, we have electricity. Similarly, when free electrons move through the plasma around the vehicle, we have an electric field. If the electric field becomes too strong, it can reflect and attenuate the radiowaves trying to reach the spacecraft.

Blackout not only leads to a loss of connection to on-board crew and flight data, it can also make remote control and guidance impossible. The Apollo missions, the Mars Pathfinder and the recent, failed 2018 Soyuz rocket launch all incurred communications blackout on the order of minutes. NASA mission control are anticipating a nervous six minutes of blackout during the peak heating phase of Crew Dragons return if anything goes wrong during this time, its in the hands of the astronauts.

Another risky stage is the parachute-assisted landing. The Crew Dragon will deploy four parachutes upon the final stage of reentry, as the vehicle descends toward a gentle splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. This manoeuvre has been tested by SpaceX 27 times prior to next weeks crewed landing, so it should work.

A successful landing will have huge implications lowering the cost of space exploration through the use of reusable rockets and enabling private space exploration. While SpaceX engineered the Crew Dragon vehicle under contract to NASA, the company is free to use the spacecraft for commercial flights without NASA involvement after operational certification.

SpaceX has a partnership with commercial aerospace company Axiom Space, which has the ultimate goal of building the worlds first commercial space station. The proposed commercial activities for the station are broad: from in-space research and manufacturing to space exploration support.

Then there is space tourism. Private citizens are already queuing for their ticket to space, and with a successful Crew Dragon splashdown, they wont be waiting long. American space tourism company, Space Adventures (partnered with SpaceX), are planning to offer zero-gravity atmospheric flights, orbital flights with a spacewalk option and laps of the Moon by late 2021.

Whether the costs, environmental impact and dangers of spaceflight is justified for space tourism is debatable. As this articles shows, the required safety briefing for Space Adventure ticket holders will be much more comprehensive than your regular please take a moment to read the safety card in the seat pocket in front of you.

Heather Muir, PhD in Computational Physics, University of Cambridge

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Caribbean Observes 186th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery –

Posted: at 6:22 am

GEORGETOWN-Guyana -The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will observe the 186th anniversary of the abolition of slavery on Saturday, with the chairman of the regional integration movement, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves saying that this years observance is taking on a greater international significance.

Gonsalves said that all, all but two of the CARICOM countries commemorate and celebrate Emancipation Day on August 1st .

The overwhelming majority of the population of CARICOM member-countries are of African descent. Joyously, people of all ethnicities in CARICOM join in commemorating and celebrating Emancipation Day; all rightfully claim this historic day as their own.

Gonsalves said the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement has gone global in a massive way consequent upon the popular resistance in the United States of America to racism, racial inequality, racial injustice and oppression and the uplifting fight for liberty, justice, and equality in every material respect.

He said the world is half-way through the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015- 2024), which was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in a Resolution (68/237), adopted on December 23, 2013; and focused on the theme People of African Descent: Recognition, Justice, and Development.

The gathering pace of the international movement for Reparations for Native Genocide and the Enslavement of Africans in the Caribbean, Africa, Latin America, Europe and North America, to provide appropriate recompense for the legacy of under-development consequent upon native genocide and

The joinder of the struggle for reparations with the quest for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015, and designed as a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030, he said.

He said the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has adversely affected, disproportionately, poor communities and countries, especially those already ravaged by developmental inequities and distortions, traced substantially to the legacy of under-development to native genocide and the enslavement of Africans.

Gonsalves said he was urging all in CARICOM to focus on reparations for the enslavement of Africans on Emancipation Day.

In our region, and elsewhere, we need to have a more thorough-going public education programme on the meaning and significance of reparatory justice for the Caribbean. Further, our governments must ramp up the political, diplomatic, and international legal struggle for reparations. All hands are required on deck as a matter of urgency.

He said CARICOM has established a Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on Reparatory Justice headed by the Prime Minister of Barbados. CARICOM has set up, too, a CARICOM Reparations Commission, chaired by Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies.

Gonsalves said the Commission has advanced a 10-point CARlCOM Reparations Agenda which has been adopted by the CARICOM leaders and that in each country, a National Reparations Commission has been established with broad-based representation.

Solid ground work has been done thus far, but we must not lose any momentum or be side-tracked. The circumstances are now propitious for escalating a coordinated push for reparatory justice. And CARICOM must engage the African Union fully on this.

He said recently, several CARICOM member-states have been strengthening their links with Africa in profound ways; so, too, CARICOM and the African Union.

Much more is required to be done, and urgently, too. At the United Nations Security Council, a new institutional linkage of much consequence has been forged known as the A3 Plus One (the African 3: Niger, South Africa, and Tunisia, Plus St. Vincent and the Grenadines) ; this represents a collaboration between the regions of continental Africa and a representative country (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) of the sixth region of the African Union, namely the African diaspora.

Gonsalves said that a high quality of abundant research has been done and published, on Reparations for Native Genocide and the Enslavement of Africans.

More is still required to be done, but there is more than enough for us to proceed upon in our many-sided struggle. So, let us highlight reparatory justice on Emancipation Day, 2020, even as the individual countries in CARICOM engage in commemorative and celebratory activities of a cultural, social, political, and religious nature, he added.

He also urged the Caribbean to remember that June 13, this year was the 40th anniversary of the assassination of the Guyanese-born academic, Walter Rodney.

No one has yet been brought to court for the killing of Walter. The next government of Guyana must address this matter fully; it is a gaping wound in our collective consciousness which must be healed, Gonsalves said.



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CORRECTING and REPLACING Jeff Robinson, CEO of Wuhan, Provides Key Updates and Outlook in a New Audio Interview with -…

Posted: May 22, 2020 at 11:49 am

AUSTIN, Texas, May 22, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In a release issued under the same headline earlier today, Inc. and Wuhan General Group, Inc. (OTC PINK: WUHN),please note that additional content and quotations have become available.The corrected release follows:, Inc. (SCV) and Wuhan General Group, Inc. (OTC PINK: WUHN) (the "Company" and "Wuhan"), announced today that a new audio interview with the Company is now available.

The interview featuring an overview of WUHNs current news and moves can be heard at

Jeff Robinson, CEO of Wuhan, called in to go over the business model and markets that his Company operates in. Wuhan is currently positioning itself to become a major player in the estimated 146.4 billion dollars medical cannabidiol (CBD) space, as well as the promising psilocybin medical health sector.

The Companys subsidiary MJ MedTech is a cosmetics and food for special medical purposes (FSMP) company with leading alternative plant-based cannabinoids and psilocybin medical research, formulation and delivery system divisions. Cannabinoids and mushroom-based formulations are under the Dr. AnnaRxand Medspressobrands.

The Companys cannabinoids research and development division is focused on new treatments to help patients who suffer from chronic and inflammatory diseases: inflammatory bowel syndrome, arthritis, chronic respiratory diseases, migraine, sleeping disorders, cancer and diabetes.

In addition, its division M2Bio is researching and developing indications for psilocybin new therapies that will help patients diagnosed with mental health disorders, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, major depressive disorder, drug and alcohol addiction, and cardiovascular diseases.

As well, Wuhan has been researching multiple medicinal mushroom types in order to formulate its upcoming range of mushroom-infused cosmetics, coffee, and teas for commercialization in late 2020 within its Dr. AnnaRxand Medspressobrands.

In the interview Robinson stated, We are one of only a handful of companies in the world working with psilocybin and conducting clinical trials. On the CBD side, once the lockdown ends in South Africa, our products will be on store shelves. That would be the products in the Dr. AnnaRxand Medspressobrands. These are really exciting times for our company. We are thankful for the opportunity to share our story with our shareholders and the listening audience.

The company name change, updated financials and fully reporting status, key employee new hires, strategic new partnerships, research findings and new clinical initiatives - just a few items soon to be shared. We are extremely excited!

Wuhan General Group, Inc. is a client of StockVest. StockVest's team of top Influencers introduces publicly traded companies to a wide audience of investors from around the globe helping public companies attain maximum market awareness resulting in increased trading volume, a broadened shareholder base and increased share valuations.

About Wuhan General Group, Inc.

Wuhan General Group, Inc. through its wholly owned subsidiary MJ MedTech is a cosmetics and food for special medical purposes (FSMP) company with leading alternative plant-based cannabinoids and psilocybin medical research, formulation and delivery system divisions. Cannabinoids and mushroom-based formulations are under the Dr. AnnaRxand Medspressobrands. In addition, its established division, M2Bio is researching and developing indications for psilocybin new therapies that will help patients diagnosed with mental health disorders, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, major depressive disorder, drug and alcohol addiction, cardiovascular diseases and PTSD. Our mission is to advance botanical-based medicine to the forefront by deploying best- practice science and medicine, clinical research and emerging technologies. Wuhan is listed and traded on the Over the Counter Bulletin Board of NASDAQ under the trading symbol WUHN.

Wuhan General Group, Inc.

Publicly traded company (OTC Pink:WUHN)

About, Inc. is a recognized corporate investor relations firm, with clients nationwide, known for its ability to help emerging growth companies, small cap and micro-cap stocks build a following among retail and institutional investors. utilizes its stock newsletter to feature its daily stock picks, podcasts, as well as its clients' financial news releases. also offers individual investors all the tools they need to make informed decisions about the stocks in which they are interested. Tools like stock charts, stock alerts, and Company Information Sheets can assist with investing in stocks that are traded on the OTCMarkets. To learn more about and its services, please visit

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Forward-Looking Statements

Safe Harbour Statement - In addition to historical information, this press release may contain statements that constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements contained in this press release include the intent, belief, or expectations of the Company and members of its management team with respect to the Company's future business operations and the assumptions upon which such statements are based. Prospective investors are cautioned that any such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties and that actual results may differ materially from those contemplated by such forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause these differences include, but are not limited to, failure to complete anticipated sales under negotiations, lack of revenue growth, client discontinuances, failure to realize improvements in performance, efficiency and profitability, and adverse developments with respect to litigation or increased litigation costs, the operation or performance of the Company's business units or the market price of its common stock. Additional factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated within this press release can also be found on the Company's website. The Company disclaims any responsibility to update any forward-looking statements. For further information contact:

Public Relations



Stuart T. Smith



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CORRECTING and REPLACING Jeff Robinson, CEO of Wuhan, Provides Key Updates and Outlook in a New Audio Interview with -...

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Scientists concerned that coronavirus is adapting to humans – msnNOW

Posted: May 12, 2020 at 10:54 am

Provided by The Guardian Photograph: David Cheskin/PA

Scientists have found evidence for mutations in some strains of the coronavirus that suggest the pathogen may be adapting to humans after spilling over from bats.

The analysis of more than 5,300 coronavirus genomes from 62 countries shows that while the virus is fairly stable, some have gained mutations, including two genetic changes that alter the critical spike protein the virus uses to infect human cells.

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine stress that it is unclear how the mutations affects the virus, but since the changes arose independently in different countries they may help the virus spread more easily.

The spike mutations are rare at the moment but Martin Hibberd, professor of emerging infectious diseases and a senior author on the study, said their emergence highlights the need for global surveillance of the virus so that more worrying changes are picked up fast.

Related: When will a coronavirus vaccine be ready?

This is exactly what we need to look out for, Hibberd said. People are making vaccines and other therapies against this spike protein because it seems a very good target. We need to keep an eye on it and make sure that any mutations dont invalidate any of these approaches.

Studies of the virus revealed early on that the shape of its spike protein allowed it to bind to human cells more efficiently than Sars, a related virus that sparked an outbreak in 2002. The difference may have helped the latest coronavirus infect more people and spread rapidly around the world.

Scientists will be concerned if more extensive mutations in the spike protein arise, not only because they may alter how the virus behaves. The spike protein is the main target of leading vaccines around the world, and if it changes too much those vaccines may no longer work. Other potential therapies, such as synthetic antibodies that home in on the spike protein, could be less effective, too.

This is an early warning, Hibberd said. Even if these mutations are not important for vaccines, other mutations might be and we need to maintain our surveillance so we are not caught out by deploying a vaccine that only works against some strains.

The scientists analysed 5,349 coronavirus genomes that have been uploaded to two major genetics databases since the outbreak began. By studying the genetic makeup of the viruses, the scientists worked out how it has diversified into different strains and looked for signs that it was adapting to its human host.

In an unpublished study that has yet to be peer reviewed, the researchers identified two broad groups of coronavirus that have now spread globally. Of the two spike mutations, one was found in 788 viruses around the world, with the other present in only 32.

The study shows that, until January, one group of coronaviruses in China escaped detection because they had a mutation in the genetic region that early tests relied on. More recent tests detect all of the known types of the virus.

Last month, an international team of scientists used genetic analyses to show that the coronavirus likely originated in bats and was not made in a lab as some conspiracy theorists have claimed.

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Gaming companies are looking like a coronavirus-proof investment. Here are the stocks to play, top fund managers say – MarketWatch

Posted: April 27, 2020 at 4:55 pm

People around the world are turning to fan-favorite games like Assassins Creed and Prince of Persia to pass the time during lockdown, firmly placing gaming companies in the buy column for some of the worlds most well-known fund managers.

Investment trust managers in the U.K. are tipping the industry as coronavirus-proof, as video games easily continue sales in this new reality that has negatively impacted other forms of entertainment, such as cinema and theater.

The total U.K. video games market, including buying software, consoles and online gaming, hit 5.35bn last year, according to figures published last week by the Association for U.K. Interactive Entertainment.

In the U.S., spending on video games in March rose 35% year-on-year to $1.6bn, while all video game categories experienced double-digit sales increases over the month, according to market research company The NPD Group.

NPD, which tracks U.S. consumer spending on video games, said last week that Animal Crossing - Nintendos latest release for its Switch console had taken the top spot as the best-selling title in March, beating 2019s most popular game, Activision Blizzards ATVI, +0.61% Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

Investment trust managers have argued that the gaming industry still has significant room to grow and with many of the stocks viewed as undervalued, they are seizing the opportunity to invest.

Speaking to trade body, The Association of Investment Companies, here is what they said:

Walter Price, Portfolio Manager of Allianz Technology: We think this is an undervalued part of technology and we like all the stocks to varying degrees. The event of Covid-19 has emphasised to some very powerful tech companies the value of diversified revenue streams and we think the game companies are undervalued relative to their diversification value.

Paul Johnson, Gaming Analyst for Polar Capital Technology Trust: We hold a position in Microsoft MSFT, -0.28% as well as several video game publishers which stand to benefit. We believe that higher engagement will translate into higher monetization and the early signs are promising if third-party transaction data aggregators are to be believed. Given shelter-in-place orders, we also anticipate an inflection in digital downloads which have better economics for Microsoft and the publishers than physical sales.

Harry Nimmo, Manager of Standard Life UK Smaller Companies Trust: There are now a good handful of video game-exposed companies listed in the U.K., but we believe Team17 TM17, +5.96% is one of the lower-risk models. They are a developer, but focused on lower-budget indie games, and work with a lot of third-party developers where they have a revenue share model. This means that there is very low capital at risk from the success or not of a particular game, with game budgets typically under 1 million. Team17s revenue stream is very diversified, and there is still significant revenue driven by back catalogue titles they were the creators of Worms for example where they continue to innovate on successful brands.

Alexander Windsor-Clive, Analyst for Lindsell Train Investment Trust: We believe that Nintendo NTDOY, -0.31% will continue to flourish in the long term, driven both by trends in the industry and the enduring resonance of its ubiquitous intellectual property, which has entertained quite literally hundreds of millions of people across the world over a multi-decade period. Companies like Nintendo with dominant intellectual property are best placed to capitalise on the digital shift and future innovations in the sector. Developments in cloud gaming, virtual reality, augmented reality and esports are still nascent but have the potential to fundamentally reshape the industry.

Joe Bauernfreund, Investment Manager of AVI Global: We view Sonys gaming segment as one of the four crown jewels of the empire, with the other three being semiconductors, music, and pictures. The heart of our investment thesis for Sony SNE, +0.77% is that the complex conglomerate structure serves to mask the value of the separate underlying businesses, each of which are highly attractive in their own right.

Greg Herr, Co-Portfolio Manager of Alliance Trust: With new markets opening up across the world, and the proliferation of mobile devices, we believe the scope for expansion within the video gaming sector is substantial. In the current environment, with millions of people across the globe confined to their homes in the battle against COVID-19, the scope for increasing use of video gaming is huge.

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