Lennie James, voice of Shaxx in Destiny 2, reveals his favourite Crucible line (but it’s not in the game yet)

The voice of Shaxx has reflected on his work for Destiny, and fondly remembers one strange little Shakespeare reference that was cut from the final game.

Shaxx, the Crucible master, played by Lennie James (Morgan from The Walking Dead), likes to shout praise at you when you’re doing a good job (and gently suggest that you could be doing better when you lose, which will maybe happen less if you check out our Destiny 2 guide, wink wink).

He has numerous different possible lines he can deliver, some of them comical, as tends to be the case throughout Destiny 2. In an interview with Gamespot, James has talked about his favourite line from the game…but it’s not a line that’s actually in the game right now.

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James, who is currently doing press for Blade Runner 2049 and isn’t a gamer himself, recalls his favourite line, and it happens to be a Shakespeare reference.

‘But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and I–I am the Crucible.’

This is a reference to a line from Romeo and Juliet, although the original is slightly more poetic:

‘But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.’

(Sidenote: this doesn’t get said often anymore, because the work is so ubiquitous and recognisable, but Romeo and Juliet is really wonderful. If you’ve never read the play, or were never forced to do so in high school, give it a look, even if you’ve seen the Leo DiCaprio/Claire Danes film from the 90s.)

This line isn’t actually in the game right now, but James mentions that he has been recording dialog for new content that is on the way, so it might eventually pop up. Of course, it’s also possible that it won’t.

The full text is worth having a read in the original article – it’s always interesting to hear what voice actors who don’t play games make of the ones they are in.

How Uber Stalled in London | by James Bloodworth | NYR Daily

Dan Kitwood/Getty ImagesA London black-cab taxi driver at a protest against Uber, London, February 10, 2016

On September 22, Uber, the app-based ride-hailing company, hit a major roadblock in Britain. Transport for London, the capital’s main transportation agency, which regulates the taxi cab industry, refused to renew the license that allowed Uber to operate in the metropolitan area. In a statement, TfL said that Uber demonstrates “a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications.” These included the company’s approach to reporting serious criminal offenses, its use of Greyball technology that could, in theory, prevent regulators from gaining access to the Uber app, and the company’s method of acquiring drivers’ medical papers and criminal-record checks.

Uber is appealing the TfL decision—as well it might, since a ban in London represents a major setback for the company’s expansion in Europe. Already, Uber operates in twenty-one European Union states and, according to the firm, it has more than 120,000 active drivers in the region. But other European regulators, as well as employment courts, are moving against Uber. Italy has banned use of the company’s app; Spain has barred Uber entirely. In Denmark and Hungary, Uber has withdrawn service in the face of legislation placing restrictions on taxi drivers that Uber was unable to meet—Denmark, for instance, passed a law requiring taxis to be equipped with fare meters. Nor are Uber’s difficulties with licensing authorities limited to Europe, despite the stereotypes of strict European regulation. In the United States, Uber suspended operations in Austin, Texas, last year over criminal-record checks; and the company recently settled a lawsuit in California for $20 million after the Federal Trade Commission sued the company over misleading claims about how much drivers could earn.  

Until London’s regulatory pushback, Uber had thrived in Britain. The interests of the public, as consumers, were understood to be intrinsically bound together with those of this Silicon Valley disrupter in a struggle against restrictive business practices. Uber’s media cheerleaders have portrayed the company as a liberator in a battle of innovators in opposition to vested interests, tech-savvy creatives against stolid bureaucrats, the future versus the past. In the words of a columnist for The Spectator magazine, TfL’s decision to ban Uber represented a “pitiful howl against a changing economy.”

Yet the past now appears to be exacting its revenge. Or, to be more precise, the future may not look as laissez faire as Uber’s champions would have us believe.

For about three months this year, I drove an Uber taxi in London (as research for a book about the company). My entry into this world of casual employment was greeted by reams of pseudo-emancipatory rhetoric about my “autonomy,” “being my own boss,” and how I would be turning my car into a “money machine.”

Of course, the Uber driver soon discovers just how flimsy are the foundations on which these euphemisms rest. During my “onboarding” session, a brief classroom training for new drivers, an Uber employee informed me that as a driver I could not “pick and choose” which jobs I accepted. At the end of a typical week, I took home only a little more than the minimum wage of £7.50 an hour, and that was before deducting the inevitable expenses or loss of earnings that would result from illness or time off. I also learned that Uber would closely monitor my customer satisfaction rating. If it went too low, Uber would temporarily ban me from using the app.

None of these conditions would be particularly unusual in regular salaried employment. But Uber purports to simply facilitate the rider’s relationship with the taxi driver who provides the transportation. As our onboarding instructor put it, “Uber is a technology app, it’s not a private-hire company.” This is how the company attempts to distinguish itself from the private-hire companies whose so-called minicabs make up more than 75 percent of licensed taxis in London. But all taxis and taxi operators that are not black cabs—which are subject to more stringent licensing and regulation—need a private-hire operator’s license to work in London, including Uber. And Uber had one, until September 22.

Yet Uber is, in some respects, an improvement on what existed before. Many of my fellow Uber drivers had previously had a torrid time working for traditional minicab firms. All but one of those I met were first-generation migrants to the UK, and most had—initially, at least—seen Uber as a welcome opportunity. Some had indeed joined Uber precisely to escape traditional minicab companies’ penurious rates of pay and tyrannical human controllers, who assign rides to drivers and are often notorious for their favoritism. If nothing else, Uber’s algorithm was not going to prevent you from earning enough to eat because it didn’t like your face.

One unfortunate consequence of TfL’s ruling is that it will penalize a great many drivers from immigrant backgrounds who have not only been underpaid and discriminated against by private-hire companies, but have also been de facto excluded from London’s tight-knit black-cab industry. Uber’s own data suggests that around a third of its drivers in London come from neighborhoods with unemployment rates of more than 10 percent. Out on the road, the Uber driver already sits at the bottom of the pecking order. Black-cab drivers occasionally curse you and call you “a scab.” The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, the trade body representing the capital’s black-cab drivers, has 11,000 members and considerable lobbying power with the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and TfL, whereas Uber drivers are represented mainly by the much smaller Independent Workers Union of Great Britain.

The trying experiences of drivers in the less regulated minicab industry point to a contradiction in the TfL decision: it’s not as though standards were exemplary before Uber arrived on the scene. Many cab companies, mostly small, independent operators, ran for years with similar employment practices to Uber. As James Farrar, head of the private-hire drivers’ branch of the IWGB union, told me when I spoke to him a few months ago, “This was a rotten trade before Uber ever came along and we mustn’t lose sight of that.… We need to clean up the whole trade.” With its innovative app and greater capacity to invest, Uber is simply better at doing what many traditional firms did. And by taking human controllers out of the game, Uber has arguably created more equality of opportunity among drivers.

During my onboarding session, Uber warned us that topics such as politics, religion, and sport were off limits for conversation with customers in our cars. (As anyone who has ridden in one of London’s black-cab taxis will know, their drivers observe no such restraint.) Yet last month, Uber made a U-turn of sorts. On the day of the TfL decision, I received an email from the company to all Uber drivers encouraging us to ask our passengers to sign Uber’s petition against the ban. Uber wanted its drivers to talk politics, after all.

By the end of that week, more than half a million people had signed. Uber is skilled at mobilizing popular support, at least from its customer base, but it can now also call on the large constituency of its laid-off workforce: the company’s tens of thousands of drivers, many of whom are stuck with eye-watering finance deals for leased cars.  

That Uber has become a whipping boy for the wider “gig economy” may in part explain the mayor’s support for TfL’s decision to withhold the company’s license, thereby making an example of the company. This is less a case of the regulator stepping up—it is, after all, TfL that carries out the safety checks and issues licenses to Uber drivers—and more an instance of it caving in to the powerful black-cab lobby. Last year, the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association launched an inflammatory poster campaign implying that passengers were at risk of being raped by an Uber driver. It is hard to get away from the feeling that Uber has also been singled out thanks to the scaremongering directed at its predominantly immigrant drivers.

The Times reported recently that 43 percent of Londoners questioned said the mayor of London was right to back the TfL decision to ban Uber; only 20 percent disagreed. Even if Uber were successful in its appeal against the TfL ruling, it still faces the prospect of an employment tribunal that may uphold the right of Uber drivers to claim holiday pay and a minimum wage. In that case, the company could extricate itself from TfL’s regulatory labyrinth only to be slapped with an enormous bill for drivers’ backdated claims.

The story of Uber in London was, in one telling, a story of bootstrapping entrepreneurship by some of the most marginalized workers in one of the wealthiest cities in the world. “They [are] immigrants,” Aman, an Uber driver originally from Eritrea, told me. “They were exploited before, as well, in their other jobs.” But many of his friends drove for the company, he said, because they “don’t really have any options.” The window of opportunity Uber provided may now be closed for good. If anything has undone Uber, it is the hubris of its claim to be a vehicle for freedom and prosperity—when, in fact, it only made more visible the precariousness of casual employment in Britain’s poorly regulated labor market. For that, it has been punished.

Apple shares bounce back after Raymond James sees ‘surprising’ demand for iPhone X

A key reason for Apple’s outperformance this year was investor anticipation for a big upgrade cycle from this year’s more innovative iPhone models.

Now one Wall Street firm says the so-called “supercycle” may not happen, but strong demand for the $1,000 iPhone X will boost the company’s earnings next year instead.

The iPhone X will be available Nov. 3 at a base model price of $999, while the iPhone 8 launched last week. Raymond James reiterated its outperform rating for Apple shares, predicting better profitability and average selling prices for iPhones next year.

“Our September consumer survey suggests no evidence of an accelerated upgrade cycle for the 8 or X, but it does suggest a surprising demand for the X over the 8 given the price differential and lack of killer app,” Tavis McCourt wrote in a note to clients Tuesday.

“Therefore, we view the recent pullback as a trading opportunity.”

Apple shares rose 1.4 percent in early trading Tuesday after the report.

The company has lost approximately $50 billion in market value since it announced its latest line of products on Sept. 12. Despite recent weakness this month, Apple is still one of the market’s best-performing large-cap stocks so far this year. Its shares have rallied 30 percent through Friday versus the S&P 500’s 12 percent gain.

McCourt said 37 percent of iPhone owners plan to upgrade in the next 12 months versus a 44 percent average in the previous three years, according to the firm’s surveys. In addition, only 14 percent of iPhone owners plan to upgrade in the next three months versus 15 percent last year and 17 percent in 2015.

“The data suggests that this year’s refresh may not drive the proverbial ‘supercycle’ that many have predicted,” he wrote.

As a result, the analyst lowered his fiscal 2018 iPhone unit sales forecast to 240 million from 260 million.

However, he said there was big positive news in the survey. McCourt cited how 46 percent of the upgrading consumers plan to buy the more expensive iPhone X. He predicts the better product mix will benefit Apple’s gross profit margins by 2 percentage points in fiscal 2018 and increase the average selling price for its iPhone business by 10 percent next year.

Consequently, he raised his earnings per share estimate for Apple’s fiscal 2018 to $10.85 from $10.50.

McCourt also increased his price target for Apple shares to $180 from $170, which is 20 percent higher than Friday’s close.

“We still expect the trading peak [for Apple shares] to occur in 1H18, likely the March quarter, as historically the shares have peaked in the quarters of maximum y/y growth,” he wrote.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Why James Dolan may be forced to sell the Knicks

New York Knicks owner James Dolan, a successful businessman, knows how to run a company. But the changing sports media market may finally force him to sell the Knicks.

There is no doubt New York Knicks owner James Dolan raised an eyebrow when the Houston Rockets sold for $2.2 billion. Similarly, he surely took notice when the Los Angeles Clippers sold for $2 billion to Steve Ballmer.

The Clippers sale was a special circumstance and was a forced sell because of the behavior of owner Donald Sterling. However, the sale of the Rockets signaled a new era for the business side of the NBA.

Money makes the world go round and there is plenty available in professional sports. Furthermore, the decline of MLB and even the NFL opens the door for the NBA. Team owners, players and the league itself reap the financial benefit of renewed interest in professional basketball.

Anyone that owns a business or pays attention to financial markets understands the risk involved. Ultra successful financiers buy at a low price and sell at a high price. Consequently, it may now be high time for Dolan to sell his Knicks.

A bundled mess

The New York Knicks and the entire NBA owe much of their financial success to TV rights deals with various national and local broadcasters. However, recent trends show a decline in subscribers for one of the NBA’s biggest partners: ESPN. Andrew Bucholtz of Awful Announcing reports ESPN lost 220,000 subscribers between March and August.

In May, Claire Atkinson of the NY Post reported ESPN‘s household viewership was down 3.3 percent from last year. One reason for this downtrend is how TV viewers are moving away from traditional cable and satellite bundles in favor of streaming services. The question is, how does this affect the New York Knicks and James Dolan?

James Dolan has made a fortune off of the same kind of Cable/Satellite bundles that seem to be trending downward. A report by Trey Williams of Market Watch on Monday revealed at least one market analyst thinks the Knicks could be sold. The reasoning? Before being caught up in the future downward trend, Dolan could sell the Knicks before the market for NBA teams collapses.

The future value of television rights for NBA games could drop as people move toward streaming services and away from traditional bundle packages. Eventually, that could erode the value of NBA franchises, like the Knicks. James Dolan may be a bad team owner, but he is not a dumb businessman. If Dolan foresees the NBA’s bubble bursting, he will sell the Knicks in a heartbeat.

James Dolan

(Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Sell high

Since 2010, 14 NBA teams of various market sizes have been sold, as noted by Tim Cato of SB Nation. In other words, almost half of the NBA’s franchises have changed ownership in less than a decade. This upward trend won’t last forever and eventually, record-breaking sale prices will be a thing of the past.

According to Forbes, the New York Knicks are the most valuable team in the NBA. No doubt, Dolan is aware that the future sale price of the Knicks would top $2 billion. Furthermore, the previously mentioned shift in television viewing means eventually, there will be less TV money for owners to split. The Market Watch report quoted Dolan’s thoughts on the future of TV rights:

“Today’s monetization system, the one we’ve had over the last 20 years… Where 90 something percent of the American public who has television pays for ESPN whether they watch ESPN or not, right?” Dolan said during a future of sports content panel at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. “All of that advertising, if that system falls apart, which it looks like it is starting to erode now, it will not even come close to that kind of production of rights value and that’s really the thing we will all have to grapple with.”

Dolan is already grappling with what the future holds for TV rights and for his business interests. While it is possible Dolan will stubbornly keep the Knicks, it wouldn’t be a smart business decision. There are no guarantees the next television deal will be anything like the $24 billion deal the NBA began last season.

Recently, Dolan has taken a notable step back from involvement in the day-to-day basketball decisions of the Knicks. A new front office led by Steve Mills and Scott Perry is dealing with Carmelo Anthony without any meddling from Dolan.

Just because it makes sense for James Dolan to sell the New York Knicks doesn’t mean it will happen. Yet, overblown values of NBA teams and the decline in subscription-based television may force Dolan to finally put his Knicks on the market.

A Wall Street Insider Says James Dolan Could Possibly Sell The Knicks

Getty Image

With the Rockets selling for $2.2 billion to Tilman Fertitta, more than half a billion more than their 2017 Forbes valuation of $1.65 billion, it’s clear that the market for NBA franchises has never been bigger. Now that Houston is off of the market, the Nets are expected to be the next team to change ownership as Mikhail Prokhorov has reportedly been shopping the team to overseas buyers in China.

While the Nets would be an unsurprising team sale, the other New York franchise would be a stunner, but there are some on Wall Street speculating that James Dolan listening to offers for the Knicks (or Rangers) could be a possibility.

According to BTIG’s Madison Square Garden analyst Brandon Ross, the sale of the Rockets for $2.2 billion could spark interest in Dolan to at least consider offers to sell the Knicks.
As Marketwatch notes, Dolan is keenly aware of the decline of the cable TV bundle as the former owner of Cablevision (which he sold recently) and MSG and MSG Networks, and, thus, he knows the dangers the collapse of the cable bundle has for sports television rights to decrease.

“Today’s monetization system, the one we’ve had over the last 20 years… Where 90 something percent of the American public who has television pays for ESPN whether they watch ESPN or not, right?” Dolan said during a future of sports content panel at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. “All of that advertising, if that system falls apart, which it looks like it is starting to erode now, it will not even come close to that kind of production of rights value and that’s really the thing we will all have to grapple with.”

With the NBA’s latest TV rights deal causing franchise valuations to skyrocket, it’s possible that Dolan could see this as the perfect time to get out before the bubble bursts and the decline of cable TV leads to a smaller rights deal in the future. As to whether he would sell the Knicks or the Rangers, because NBA teams are so much more valuable, Ross notes that it’d be far more lucrative for him to cash out on the Knicks should he decide to only sell one of the teams.

“Given Dolan’s views, we would think he would have to consider at least partially monetizing MSG’s sports interests (even with the Knicks at a competitive lull), if not now than in the near- to medium-term,” Ross wrote. “The largest dollar upside would clearly come from selling all or part of the Knicks.”

At a $3.3 billion valuation in the latest Forbes estimates, it’s conceivable, as Ross noted, the Knicks could fetch a record $4 billion price tag.

Should a group be willing to pony up that kind of money, it would have to force Dolan to consider selling the team and, in turn, delight Knicks fans that have loathed Dolan for nearly two decades.

(via Marketwatch and Street Insider)

The Internet Responds to James Cameron’s ‘Wonder Woman’ Critique In This Week’s News Roundup

Welcome back, internet fans. We’ve got a lot to catch up on, so let’s get started. First of all, to set the scene, it’s been the kind of week where an attempt to avoid backlash causes backlash and everyone in Texas is, as of this writing, getting ready for a hurricane that will hopefully disappoint when it shows up. In other news, plans are being made to “shrink” national monuments, British people are crying over a clock, and some folks are just now discovering Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” is a cover. As for what else has been going on, well, welcome to the highlights—and, OK, maybe some lowlights—of the past seven days of online playfulness.

Staring at the Sun

What Happened: Despite warnings to the contrary from nearly all corners, President Trump looked directly at the sun during last week’s solar eclipse. It did not go unnoticed.

What Really Happened: Cast your mind back to Monday, and the total solar eclipse that captivated the nation. If there was one thing everyone was told about the eclipse ahead of time, it was that no one should look at it without protective glasses. So guess what happened at the White House?

As should only be expected, this quickly became a thing being eagerly reported. And while most of the media covered it as you might expect—which is to say, in stunned disbelief—one network was giving it to America straight:

Oh, no, wait, that was a joke. Well, how did Fox cover it, anyway?

The Takeaway: Is there some way to put this all in some kind of perspective?

Well, OK, that’s certainly one way to do it.

The Internet Doesn’t Care About James Cameron’s Wonder Woman Opinions

What Happened: Director James Cameron decided to complain that they don’t make feminist action heroes like they did in his day. The internet was hearing none of it.

What Really Happened: With the re-release of Terminator 2 just days away, James Cameron decided to weigh in on the success of Wonder Woman in an interview with The Guardian.

“All of the self-congratulatory back-patting Hollywood’s been doing over Wonder Woman has been so misguided,” he said. “She’s an objectified icon, and it’s just male Hollywood doing the same old thing! I’m not saying I didn’t like the movie but, to me, it’s a step backwards. Sarah Connor was not a beauty icon. She was strong, she was troubled, she was a terrible mother, and she earned the respect of the audience through pure grit. And to me, [the benefit of characters like Sarah] is so obvious. I mean, half the audience is female!”

Let’s see how that went down, shall we?

Of course, Cameron’s criticism (and the pushback from fans) was something that the media couldn’t resist. And Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins ended up taking to Twitter herself to respond to the criticism.

Jenkins’ comments started a whole new conversation and series of thinkpieces, which continued into the weekend. As of this writing, Cameron hasn’t weighed in again.

The Takeaway: A step backwards, you said, Mr. Cameron?

You Say Potato and I Say Potato

What Happened: It’s the hot new buzzword, but what happens when the president yells “antifa!” during a rally?

What Really Happened: Donald Trump’s rally in Phoenix was another public display that stunned many, but that’s not to say there wasn’t something entirely inconsequential for people to focus on in the midst of it. Namely, Trump’s first public usage of one word in particular.

Yes, the president said “antifa,” and it caused a stir:

Actually, it’s funny you should ask…

Meanwhile, there was a backlash forming about the complaints about his pronunciation.

It’s the new “gif”/”jif” debate of our times! Which is to say it’s utterly pointless but will get debated ad nauseam anyway.

The Takeaway: Actually, does anyone remember how they pronounced “antifa” before this moment?

Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?

What Happened: From social media slithering to the backlash against a new single, it’s been quite a week on social media for the returning queen of pop, Taylor Swift.

What Really Happened: It hasn’t been all celestial events and political pronunciation on the internet this week, of course. For many, the biggest news was the emergence of a snake on social media.

Yes, Taylor Swift wiped her social media presence and replaced it with a glitchy image of a snake in advance of … something. (It was later revealed to be an album announcement. Because of course it was.) The internet went wild.

And then it continued to go wild as the promotional posts kept coming.

By the time the announcement was finally made, things had reached fever pitch.

And then the single dropped. And things… changed.

Yes, friends, just instants after the return of Taylor Swift, it’s the return of the Taylor Swift backlash! It’s nice to know that, in a time of shifting norms, some things can be relied upon.

The Takeaway: Hey, no one got that excited about the new Beck song, released the same day. What’s that about? Not enough snakes?

Cat Fancy

What Happened: One man just wants to love some cats, but there’s some weird catfishing to deal with first.

What Really Happened: We’ll end with one of the stranger stories of this last week—but one that, thankfully, has a happy ending. It has a less-than-happy beginning, though.

Twitter en masse was particularly understanding:

It turns out that that initial tweet was just the start of an amazing story:

Surreal, right? Turns out, some people weren’t quite into the story.

Oh, we promised you a happy ending, didn’t we?

The Takeaway: So we’re all agreed that this was a sweet and heartwarming story, right? That doesn’t mean there’s any excuse for puns, however. Do you hear me? No puns at—

—OK fine, “furvever” is allowed, but that’s it.

How NASA’s hugest telescope ever could seek out life on a nearby exoplanet The James Webb Space Telescope is NASA’s biggest space observatory ever, and could find aliens

Astronomers have had a telescopic eye on exoplanet Proxima Centauri B since last year, but they may soon get an unprecedented closeup of it with NASA’s upcoming monster scope.

Proxima B is a rocky Earth-size planet that orbits the star Proxima Centauri. What has really ignited curiosity about it is that it resides in the habitable zone of its star (don’t say “Aliens!” yet), which could mean liquid water and even life if atmospheric and environmental conditions align. Because Proxima B is only 4.5 light-years away, it’s actually not impossible to send a space telescope over there. The one NASA has in mind is huge. So huge that Hubble better watch out.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), aka its “premier observatory of the next decade,” boasts a mirror thrice the size of Hubble’s and has earned bragging rights for being the most enormous and powerful observatory designed to float around in space (goes to show how “micro” microgravity really is). It will orbit the sun to examine planetary heat emissions, which eliminates the possibility of interference from Earth’s atmosphere. The space agency has high expectations for it to beam back everything from hi-res images of distant planets to insights about how stars, planets, and galaxies emerged and evolved billions and billions of years ago.

Until now, nothing has been able to zoom in close enough to Promixa B to tell if it even has an atmosphere, and if so, whether its chemical composition could support life as we know it. This won’t exactly be easy even with such advanced equipment. Proxima Centauri is much brighter than its satellite, whose faintness could prove a problem when probing its atmosphere (if it has one). Astronomers propose searching for carbon dioxide as a possible lead to carbon-based life-forms. Never mind what Stephen Hawking has to say about that.

CO2 doesn’t even mean the existence of something that could survive on Earth. Our planet is crawling with carbon-based life, and yet there are only traces of the gas among the dominant nitrogen and oxygen of the atmosphere. Ironically enough, it’s common in the killer atmosphere of Venus and on Mars, which only has a ghost of an atmosphere.  

JWST will revolutionize how we observe Proxima B and many other celestial objects and phenomena. This is what you get with an instrument that has been optimized to pick up infrared wavelengths invisible to the naked eye—and most other telescopes.

“Other telescopes are not able to do this,” said University of Leiden astronomy researcher Ignas Snellan, lead author of a study recently published in the Astrophysical Journal. “Hubble is too small and works in the wrong wavelength range. Current ground-based telescopes cannot touch the mid-infrared because of very high thermal backgrounds, and are in a not enough stable environment, in contrast to JWST, which operates from space.”

Whether there is life on Proxima B might not even be a question that the JWST can answer. If it still remains a mystery within the next decade or so, the European Extremely Large Telescope that is currently being built will at least be able to detect oxygen, a more reliable biosignature.

Oxygen still doesn’t mean aliens. We’ll just have to wait and see what observations these massive telescopes transmit to Earth. 

(via Seeker)

James Bond and Dr. No?

On Friday, President Trump will be a VIP guest of French President Emmanuel Macron during the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris. If the relationship between Macron and Trump started cold, it appears to have warmed up, taking a strategic and pragmatic turn.

On Thursday, the two will dine at “le Jules Vernes,” which has played host to a James Bond movie and some of the most successful marriage proposals (many by American citizens). Located on Eiffel Tower’s second floor, facing the Seine River and the emblematic Trocadero esplanade, Alain Ducasse’s Michelin star restaurant is an ideal spot. But let’s assume that Thursday evening, as champagne glasses tinkle around them, the atmosphere could between Macron and Trump will be slightly less romantic and a little more diplomatic.

Will the French president’s snake-charmer seduction work on Trump? Hard to predict. During their meeting last week in Hamburg for the G20 summit, they showed each other signs of sympathy, if not fellowship. But is the brave (or insolent) midnight declaration against Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement forgotten?

In France, public opinion seems to keep its distance from Trump. “It is not President Donald Trump’s visit that is set to be put forward, it is the United States of America that a hundred years ago came to help liberate France,” justified the French government’s spokesman, Christophe Castaner. He added that the invitation had a political dimension: Macron wishing to “reach out” to Trump, in order to “bring him back into the circle” and “make sure” that he is “not isolated.”

Very gentle of you, Mr. Bond.

However, the Bastille Day ceremony will showcase American soldiers celebrating the centenary of their involvement in the Great War as well as the French forces engaged against the Islamic State. The last time an American president attended Bastille Day celebrations in France was 1989, for the bicentenary of the French Revolution. That year, President George H.W. Bush, invited by French President François Mitterrand, attended the ceremonies.

This year, a total of 3,765 men will parade between the Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Concorde, where the presidents will observe.

During this long military parade, they have a lot to discuss: the Syrian and the Sahel situation, bilateral economic trade, possibly also their relationships with Russia. But that’s not all: The two freshly elected presidents are facing many other common issues.

Although there is a great disparity in their domestic media coverage, where one is seen as the next James Bond and the other as the villain, both created a huge surprise by emerging from their elections victorious. Both were never elected before, both could not count on the support of a political party at first, and both were elected on the expectation of creating strong economic growth.

For Macron, as for Trump, his first months in office saw skeletons emerging from the closet. The man Macron trusted most, who was literally worshipped by the party activists, was suspected of personal enrichment. A couple weeks later, among three other ministers also embroiled in scandals, he left Macron’s government and took the role of majority whip in the French National Assembly.

Again, a few days ago, the Paris prosecutor’s office opened a formal judicial inquiry into suspected irregularities in the organization of a costly event at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that Macron headlined as the French economy minister. This investigation is putting high pressure on the French labor minister — and possibly the president himself — as they pursue difficult reforms of French labor laws.

James Bond (Macron) can’t lecture Dr. No (Trump) about ongoing investigations.

Macron showed his ability to juggle uncertainty. Trump showed his appetite to create uncertainty. But their mutual interest right now is to make this diplomatic tour shine as a glorious mirror. They need to promote a newborn friendship to show Europe and its Russian neighbor that they are not divided and that the French-American relationship is strong. They need to make France, America, and the planet as a whole great again.

Jean de Nicolay (@juannite) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is a consultant in lobbying and public affairs. He was a member of several French ministers’ cabinets until 2012.

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Apple: Apple Observe and AirPods Dominate for the Moment, Says Raymond James

Raymond James analyst Tavis McCourt today reiterates an Outperform rating on Apple (AAPL), and delivers what he conditions a “data dump” on the traits for the organization when the planet waits for the presumed “Apple iphone 8” this slide, and finds that the tale for the minute is all about peripherals, particularly Apple Observe, the “AirPods” wi-fi headphones, and the forthcoming “HomePod” wi-fi speaker.

“The peripheral businesses, specifically Apple Observe and AirPods, show up to be potent,” writes McCourt, “and original curiosity in HomePod looks far better than the tepid media response would suggest based mostly on our June survey.”

The broader outlook for Apple is that there is at the moment no transform, writes McCourt, to his outlook that income are smooth correctnow for the Apple iphone when buyers await the subsequent product. “We think world wide provide-as a result of of iPhones is flattish y/y, with market share gains in most marketplaces outside the house the emerging marketplaces.”

He thinks the market is a minor far too bullish on Apple iphone income for this quarter and subsequent, but not bullish more than enough for the new product in December and March:

We take note that consensus estimates for Apple iphone unit income in excess of the subsequent a few quarters (June-December) contact for ~172 million vs. our ~160 million, when our March/June 2018 expectations are very well above consensus owing to offer of OLED screens, which will stretch out the time by which Apple can saturate early need.

McCourt delivers some thoughts on the comments he acquired in a survey his business carried out pertaining to Apple Observe:

Our proprietary CESI [Consumer Electronics Strength Index] rating for Apple Observe is constant with very large double-digit y/y unit advancement globally, at a very regular degree considering that the Collection 2 start very last slide. This follows quick comps from a calendar year back when y/y traits have been down meaningfully, in our view. Similarly, our June purchaser survey was very optimistic for Apple Observe. As demonstrated beneath, 12% of respondents indicated they would buy an Apple Observe in the long run, the greatest in our survey’s heritage, and approaching Fitbit-like concentrations. Also, 22% of Apple iphone entrepreneurs indicated they would buy an Apple Observe in the long run, yet again the greatest in our survey’s heritage, and element of a very regular, and Extraordinary craze of expanding need from Apple iphone entrepreneurs.

AirPods continue on to provide out, he notes:

All we know for guaranteed on AirPods is that need has outstripped offer for 6 months now. Even as of nowadays, third get-togethers are charging meaningful premiums for AirPods on Amazon, and reputable channels are delivery products with 1-2 week delays. It is unclear how significant this product classification could be for Apple, but this most likely has been the most prosperous product start outside the house of the Apple iphone lineup in conditions of early need concentrations and media opinions in numerous many years.

And the HomePod reception among buyers wasn’t as flat as it was in the media, in accordance to his survey:

Apple’s HomePod was announced at the June Around the world Builders conference (WWDC) to a fairly tepid response by the media surrounding its late market entry relative to the Amazon Echo and its large value point. June was the to start with survey that we questioned about purchaser curiosity in the just announced HomePod, and relative to the tepid media response, curiosity concentrations show up rather large, as demonstrated beneath. When we inquire Apple iphone entrepreneurs, 14% intend to possess a HomePod, which if we incorporate with people that intend to possess a Beats wi-fi speaker, exceeds the ownership curiosity in each speech enabled speaker chief Amazon, and Bluetooth speaker chief, Bose. Also, the buy intention compares very favorably to Apple iphone owners’ buy intention of Apple Observe when that product was released in 2014, with only 6% of Apple iphone entrepreneurs originally indicating curiosity in getting originally.