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Like its exceptional prime minister, New Zealand has a national culture unlike any other in Europe or the Americas. Its isolation and distance makes its distinctiveness possible, and the difference is palpable. It is a spectacularly beautiful country with a population of ﬁve million occupying an area larger than Britain. Though an urbanized country with a stable developed economy, it has a pace and an outlook of life that seem at odds with the extractive demands of modernity.
Migrants from developing countries relate easily to friendly Kiwis and are often surprised to see children and adults walk the streets barefoot. There are superb public libraries and innumerable public spaces in the form of beaches, bays and parks. Community ties are crucial, work-life balance matters, long weekends are sacred.
Public-funded advice bureaus help migrants settle in. The streets are safe, schools are free and university costs are relatively modest. Kiwis complain about lack of public investment in specialized health care but it is already impressive for a foreigner: a full course of prescribed antibiotics costs $3.43. New Zealand grapples with neoliberal pressures but is attempting to hold on to its social democracy.
Of course, the country has its problems. Lack of housing is a serious concern, attributed to a property market spiked reportedly by Chinese investors over the years. Maori communities seek compensation for historical dispossession, which is being addressed by a tribunal and conscious promotion of indigenous culture. Mental health comes up as an underdiscussed issue and public infrastructure needs more investment.
Cities like Auckland grew rapidly in the last decade owing to thousands of foreign students and workers, which increased pressure on services in ways that Kiwis did not expect. Many New Zealanders are still getting used to diversity and often regret that “the country has changed.” This yields resentment among some that right-wing ﬁgures seek to stoke. Muslims have been subject to racial slurs and hate speech since the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, but as Mohamed Hassan, a Kiwi journalist put it, not in ways that one’s “life would be on the line.”
But there is a vibrant political debate on immigration and about the need to import skilled labor without provoking domestic tensions — all conducted without rancor or vitriol. Migrants will not deny sensing subtle forms of exclusion in securing jobs or promotions at work, but the ingrained commitment to everyday civility among New Zealanders is something an immigrant appreciates the most.
Ms. Ardern has a tough road ahead to ensure that the country’s “proﬁle” does not change. The challenges she faces resonate with those in other democracies. It remains to be seen if in her case normative habits and deliberative practice can prevail over nasty right-wing subcultures that are ampliﬁed by technology, social media and weapons.
Mr. Merwin’s ardor for the natural world took frequent root in his poetry. But while for many poets nature begets odes, for him it was far more likely to inspire elegies. In “For a Coming Extinction,” part of his acclaimed 1967 verse collection, “The Lice,” he wrote:
Now that we are sending you to The End
That great god
That we who follow you invented forgiveness
And forgive nothing
I write as though you could understand
And I could say it
One must always pretend something
Among the dying
When you have left the seas nodding on their stalks
Empty of you
Tell him that we were made
On another day
Stylistically, Mr. Merwin’s mature work was known for metrical promiscuity; stark, sometimes epigrammatic language; and the frequent use of enjambment — the poetic device in which a phrase breaks over two consecutive lines, without intervening punctuation.
“It is as though the voice ﬁlters up to the reader like echoes from a very deep well, and yet it strikes his ear with a raw energy,” the poet and critic Laurence Lieberman wrote, discussing “The Lice,” a collection whose bitter contents were widely understood as a denunciation of the Vietnam War. He added:
“The poems must be read very slowly, since most of their uncanny power is hidden in overtones that must be listened for in silences between lines, and still stranger silences within lines.”
The themes that preoccupied Mr. Merwin most keenly were those that haunt nearly every poet: the earth, the sea and their myriad creatures; the cycle of the seasons; myth and spirituality (he was a practicing Buddhist); personal history and memory; and, above all, life and its damnable evanescence.
Yet there was about his work an intensity of purpose — heightened by a formal style not quite like anyone else’s — that, his champions maintained, gave it a fervor often described as oracular. A “post-Presbyterian Zen poet and channeler of ancient paradoxes,” The Los Angeles Times called him in 2007.
In “Leviathan,” from his 1956 collection, “Green With Beasts,” Mr. Merwin evokes the epic verse of old through his strategic use of alliteration, the central organizing principle of Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse poetry:
The hulk of him is like hills heaving
Dark, yet as crags of drift-ice, crowns cracking in thunder,
Like land’s self by night black-looming, surf churning and trailing
Along his shores’ rushing, shoal-water boding
About the dark of his jaws; and who should moor at his edge
And fare on afoot would ﬁnd gates of no gardens,
But the hill of dark underfoot diving,
Closing overhead, the cold deep, and drowning.
Some critics indicted Mr. Merwin’s later work for trafﬁcking in a level of abstraction bordering on the obscure. It was rendered even less accessible, they complained, by the fact that by the late 1960s he had jettisoned punctuation almost entirely. (Mr. Merwin had his reasons, which spoke to the very heart of his lifelong poetic program.)
LIGO Gravitational Wave Detectors That Hunt For Ripples In Space-Time Upgraded The twin sites in the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory are about to go back online. New hardware should make them able to sense more colliding black holes and other cosmic events.
Massive U. S. Machines That Hunt For Ripples In Space-Time Just Got An Upgrade
Massive U.S. Machines That Hunt For Ripples In Space-Time Just Got An Upgrade
Massive U. S. Machines That Hunt For Ripples In Space-Time Just Got An Upgrade
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory is made up of two detectors, this one in Livingston, La., and one near Hanford, Wash. The detectors use giant arms in the shape of an “L” to measure tiny ripples in the fabric of the universe.
Scientists are about to restart the two giant facilities in the United States that register gravitational waves, the ripples in the very fabric of the universe that were predicted by Albert Einstein more than a century ago. Einstein realized that when massive objects such as black holes collide, the impact sends shock waves through space-time that are like the ripples in water created by tossing a pebble in a pond. In 2015, researchers made history by detecting gravitational waves from colliding black holes for the ﬁrst time — and this was such a milestone that three U.S. physicists almost immediately won the Nobel Prize for their work on the project.
This artist’s animation shows the merger of two black holes and the gravitational waves that ripple outward during the event.
LIGO Lab Caltech : MIT via
Since then, physicists have detected gravitational waves from other exotic smashups. The grand total is 10 pairs of black holes colliding and a pair of neutron stars crashing together. Now they’re getting ready to discover more of these cosmic events. On April 1, the twin facilities in Louisiana and Washington state that make up the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory will start doing science again after being shut down for more than a year so that workers could install hardware upgrades. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation and the improvements should dramatically increase the detector’s ability to sense some of the most mysterious and powerful events in the universe. “So far, we’ve seen 11 things. Maybe we’ll see twice that many this year,” says Joseph Giaime, head of the LIGO Observatory in Livingston, La. Researchers will also be helped by the fact that a third detector in Italy, called Virgo, will be up and running. It was only online for the very end of LIGO’s last observation period. Having more detectors working together makes it easier for researchers to locate the source of gravitational waves in the sky. What’s more, a new detector in Japan called KAGRA is expected to join in at some point.
A visualization of the 10 merging black holes that LIGO and Virgo have observed so far. As the horizons of the black holes spiral together and merge, the emitted gravitational waves become louder (larger amplitude) and higher pitched (higher in frequency).
SXS Collaboration via
Being able to sense gravitational waves is new for astronomy, which has spent centuries studying light. But black holes don’t emit light, and these detectors offer a new way to probe their secrets. “Galileo invented the telescope or used the telescope for the ﬁrst time to do astronomy 400 years ago. And today we’re still building better telescopes,” notes Gabriela González, professor of physics and astronomy at Louisiana State University. “I think this decade has been the beginning of gravitational wave astronomy. So this will keep making progress, with better detectors, with different detectors, with more detectors.”
She worked on gravitational waves for years before they actually were detected and says friends now confess that they worried about her career because the task was so hard that it seemed the waves might never be detected. Now, she says, they are jealous that she works in such a cutting-edge ﬁeld.
The 2017 Nobel Prize in physics laureates (from left) Barry C. Barish, Kip S. Thorne and Rainer Weiss, pose during a joint news conference in December 2017 at the Royal Swedish Academy of Science in Stockholm.
Each LIGO detector in the U.S. is made of two long, concrete pipes that come together in what looks like a huge letter “L.” Each arm stretches out for more than 2 miles. “I’ve spoken with pilots who ﬂy over this who wonder why there is a pipeline that starts nowhere, travels a couple miles, turns right and then also goes nowhere,” Giaime says. Inside the pipeline is a powerful laser beam that bounces back and forth between mirrors. Scientists use this laser to precisely measure the length of each arm of the L. When a gravitational wave passes through and distorts space, the lengths change by a tiny, tiny bit — a fraction of the width of a subatomic particle. Giaime says some of the recent upgrades to the detectors include types of hardware that boost laser power and reduce certain kinds of “noise” in their measurements. “We replaced some optics, which is a lot of work,” he says.
This time around, if LIGO detects gravitational waves, the team will send out public alerts so that anyone can point a telescope at the right spot in the sky in case, like the neutron star collision, the event sends out any observable ﬁreworks. “We’ve only seen this handful of black holes out of all the possible ones that are out there. There are many, many questions we still don’t know how to answer,” says Nergis Mavalvala, a gravitational wave researcher at MIT. Plus, she says, there’s always the possibility that something completely unexpected will go boom and leave perplexed researchers scratching their heads. “That’s how discovery happens,” she says. “You turn on a new instrument, you point it out at the sky, and you see something that you had no idea existed.”
NEW YORK — Smartphones and digital technology are supposed to make our lives easier, but for young adults, it seems that things may only be getting tougher — and for a slew of reasons. According to one recent survey, about 3 out of 5 millennials (58%) feel life is more stressful right now than ever before.
In fact, the survey of 2,000 American millennials, commissioned by CBD oil company Endoca, reveals that one-third of millennials believe their lives are more stressful than the average person’s life.
The survey also pointed to numerous causes of the frustration for this young segment. Many feel their overall stress level is caused by the accumulation of daily micro-stressors — seemingly trivial experiences — such as being stuck in trafﬁc, waiting for appointments, or various smartphone issues.
For example, although losing one’s wallet or credit card ranked as the top source of stress for respondents, 1 in 5 say they’d be even more apoplectic if their smartphone screen broke. For more than 2 in 5 millennials (41%), a damaged phone screen is worse than seeing their “check engine” light ﬂash on in the car.
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Meanwhile, getting into an argument with a partner was the second greatest source of stress for participants overall, but nearly 1 in 5 agreed that getting zero “likes” on a social media post is a more stress-inducing experience. One-third feel that having their phone die is a more miserable scenario than seeing a fraudulent charge on their credit card bill. (For good measure, the researchers found that the average remaining-battery percentage for when millennials begin to feel stress is 23%.)
And while gridlock was the third most common cause of stress for young adults, 30% of those surveyed agreed that slow WiFi was even more stressful than slow trafﬁc.
About half of the survey respondents said they don’t feel they deal with stress well in general, and two-thirds said they’d like to ﬁnd more coping methods.
“Stress isn’t an abstract issue — it’s a significant problem and doesn’t necessarily have to be caused by one large inciting incident,” says Henry Vincenty, CEO of Endoca, in a statement. “No matter what’s causing our stress, we should take care to be proactive about ﬁnding solutions before it begins affecting our health.”
Researchers compiled the top 20 list of stressors for millennials (see below), and though arriving ﬁrst to a party did not make the list, 22% of participants ﬁnd that experience to be more brutal than a job interview. Another 35% ﬁnd that sticking to plans is more stressful than missing out on them.
As for how all this stress is affecting millennials, the survey found that participants struggled to fall asleep nearly three nights per week — about 138 nights each year — because of the various issues.
Here are the top 20 stressful scenarios reported by millennials:
1. Losing wallet/credit card
2. Arguing with partner
3. Commute/trafﬁc delays
4. Losing phone
5. Arriving late to work
6. Slow WiFi
7. Phone battery dying
8. Forgetting passwords
9. Credit card fraud
10. Forgetting phone charger
11. Losing/misplacing keys
12. Paying bills
13. Job interviews
14. Phone screen breaking
15. Credit card bills
16. Check engine light coming on
17. School loan payments
18. Job security
19. Choosing what to wear
20. Washing dishes
The survey was conducted by the market research ﬁrm OnePoll.
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Volk One is a smartphone that doesn’t need carriers. The Volk Fi network is secure, censorship resistant, and available to everyone.
Does this sound familiar to you?
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A new class-action lawsuit takes aim at real estate agents and the tools they use to do business, and housing industry watchers say it could revolutionize the way Americans buy and sell the biggest asset they’ll ever own.
The suit was ﬁled in Chicago on behalf of anyone who sold a home through one of 20 of the largest listing services in the country over the past ﬁve years. It charges that the mighty Washington-based lobby National Association of Realtors, as well as the four largest national real estate brokerages, and the Multiple Listing Services they use, have conspired to require anyone selling a home to pay the commission of the broker representing their buyer “at an inﬂated amount,” in violation of federal antitrust law.
Homeowners who are ready to sell their properties usually hire a real-estate agent to represent them by staging the home, photographing it, adding it to the MLS, marketing it, and showing it to prospective buyers. Sellers agree to pay that person a commission on the selling price of the home. That commission has traditionally been known as the “6%,” but it’s a little more complicated than that.
Sellers can really only negotiate with the agent they’ve hired, while agents representing buyers are generally assured of a standard 3% commission. That means that a seller’s agent who’s willing to negotiate, or one that works for a discount brokerage like Redﬁn
, will be paid less than a buyer’s agent.
Buyers can choose to be represented by an agent, or to go without one — but in any case, all commission money for both sides of the deal is always paid by the seller, thanks to a 1996 NAR rule known as the “Buyer Broker Commission Rule.”
In order to list a property on one of the many regional databases known as Multiple Listing Services, agents must abide by the Buyer Broker Rule. Listing on the MLS is essential for making a sale, and most MLSs are controlled by local NAR associations.
“The conspiracy has saddled home sellers with a cost that would be borne by the buyer in a competitive market,” the lawsuit says. “Moreover, because most buyer brokers will not show homes to their clients where the seller is offering a lower buyer broker commission, or will show homes with higher commission offers ﬁrst, sellers are incentivized when making the required blanket, non-negotiable offer to procure the buyer brokers’ cooperation by offering a high commission.”
As MarketWatch has previously reported, many housing observers call Realtors a “cartel” for the way they purposely steer clients to transactions in which traditional ways of doing business are observed.
See: Meet the tech-savvy upstarts who think they can ﬁnally give Realtors a run for their money
Rob Hahn is founder and managing partner of 7DS Associates, a real estate consultancy. In a blog posted shortly after the lawsuit was ﬁled, Hahn called it a potential “nuclear bomb on the industry.” And in an interview with MarketWatch, he said that he’s taking it “very seriously.”
In large part, that’s because of the heft of the law ﬁrms behind the suit. Both Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, and Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro have a long history of prevailing over weighty entities like Volkswagen, for its emissions scandal, Apple, for its e-book collusion, and Exxon , after the Valdez spill.
In response to a request for comment, NAR said, “The complaint is baseless and contains an abundance of false claims. The U. S. Courts have routinely found that Multiple Listing Services are pro-competitive and beneﬁt consumers by creating great efﬁciencies in the home-buying and selling process. NAR looks forward to obtaining a similar precedent regarding this ﬁling.”
Still, as Hahn put it, past lawsuits have mostly been ﬁled by what he calls “ambulance-chasers,” not the ﬁrms behind some of the biggest civil settlements in American history.
That view is shared by Cohen Milstein partner Daniel Small, who called the way Realtors do business “a longstanding problem.” What’s different now, Small told MarketWatch, is that deep-pocketed law ﬁrms had done a “substantial investigation” that convinced them that there was merit to the case.
Small declined to elaborate on what had prompted the investigation in the ﬁrst place. It’s worth noting, however, that the suit was ﬁled roughly four months after the expiration of a Department of Justice consent decree against the National Association of Realtors. That settlement was struck in 2008 after the federal government spent several years unsuccessfully trying to rein in what it called anti-competitive behavior from NAR, which felt under attack from internet upstarts.
Read: Realtors will soon be free of 10-year-old Justice Department decree — so what happens to housing now?
Hahn thinks it’s ironic that an innovation that tried to protect buyers, by providing them with representation in a complex and deeply emotional transaction, has soured the market so badly. Many housing watchers have long argued that real estate services should be paid for a la carte, or in a sliding-scale fee structure, rather than a ﬂat commission, whether that’s 6% or 1%. But, Hahn said, “there’s no chance whatsoever that the industry goes that way voluntarily.”
What’s more likely, he thinks, is that the American system will come to resemble real estate markets in Australia or England, where sellers and buyers each pay their own broker — or don’t. After all, buyers are usually “cash-strapped,” Hahn noted: saving every nickel for a down payment, closing costs and moving expenses. While the entrenched interests in the American real estate industry will argue that’s not consumer-friendly, Hahn says he’s “never seen a study that says buyers get screwed” without representation.
A former lawyer himself, Hahn isn’t sure how to handicap this case. But if it prevails, he thinks enormous changes are in store for the industry. The ranks of buyers’ brokers will likely be decimated, and the infrastructure behind the MLSs and the local associations will wither away too.
A spokesperson for Realogy
said, “We believe this case has no merit and will not be commenting further.”
A spokesperson for Keller Williams said, “It’s not our policy to comment on pending litigation.” A spokesperson for RE/MAX Holdings
declined to comment, and a request for comment by Berkshire Hathaway-held
HomeServices of America, Inc. was not returned.
“This is an important case for many reasons,” Daniel Small said. “Among them is that this is the biggest transactions of most peoples’ lives. There is a lot at stake.”
Google is launching its Stadia cloud gaming service at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco today. Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who says he plays FIFA 19 “quite a bit,” introduced the Stadia service during a special keynote at GDC this morning. Describing it as a platform for everyone, Pichai talked up Google’s ambitions to stream games to all types of devices. Stadia will stream games from the cloud to the Chrome browser, Chromecast, and Pixel devices, and it will launch at some point in 2019 in the US, Canada, UK, and Europe.
Phil Harrison, a former Sony and Microsoft executive, joined Pichai onstage to fully unveil Stadia in his role at Google. Harrison says Google will amplify this game streaming service by using YouTube and the many creators that already create game clips on the service. Google previously tested this service as Project Stream in recent months, allowing Chrome users to stream games in their browser. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was the ﬁrst and only game to be tested publicly using Google’s service, and the public tests ﬁnished in January.
Of course, Google won’t limit Stadia to just one game. Google demonstrated a new feature in YouTube that lets you view a game clip from a creator and then hit “play now” to instantly stream the title. “Stadia offers instant access to play,” says Harrison, without the need to download or install any games. At launch, games will be streamable across laptops, desktops, TVs, tablets, and phones.
Google demonstrated moving gameplay seamlessly from a phone to a tablet and then to a TV, all using Google-powered devices. While existing USB controllers will work on a laptop or PC, Google is also launching a new Stadia Controller that will power the game streaming service. It looks like a cross between an Xbox and PS4 controller, and it will work with the Stadia service by connecting directly through Wi-Fi to link it to a game session in the cloud. This will presumably help with latency and moving a game from one device to another. You can also use a button to capture and share clips straight to YouTube, or use another button to access the Google Assistant.
To power all of this cloud streaming, Google is leveraging its global infrastructure of data centers to ensure servers are as close to players around the world as possible. That’s a key part of Stadia, as lower latency is a necessity to stream games effectively across the internet. Google says it expects to support up to 4K at 60 fps at launch over an internet connection with approximately 25Mbps of bandwidth, and it’s planning to support up to 8K resolutions and 120 fps in the future.
Google is partnering with AMD to build a custom GPU for its datacenters. It’s a chip that Google claims will deliver 10.7 teraﬂops of power, which is more than the 4.2 teraﬂops of the PS4 Pro and the 6 teraﬂops of power on the Xbox One X. Each Stadia instance will also be powered by a custom 2.7GHz x86 processor with 16GB of RAM.
One of the ﬁrst games to launch on Google’s Stadia service will be Doom Eternal, which will support 4K resolution, HDR, and 60 fps game play. Doom Eternal doesn’t have a ﬁrm launch date just yet, but it will also be available on PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One. Stadia will also embrace full cross-platform play, so developers can enable cross-platform multiplayer and game saves and progression.
Focusing on developers, Google also unveiled an impressive way for game developers to apply their own design style to titles on Stadia. It’s a machine learning-based style transfer tool that developers can use to simply drop an image into the video frames of games and have it mimic the style throughout. Google is also using something called State Share to let players easily share moments, so you can even share an exact link to a part of a game, changing the way games are typically shared. Q-Games founder Dylan Cuthbert is even building an entire game all around this new State Share feature.
YouTube is a giant part of Stadia, and Google appears to be relying on it to push gamers to its cloud service. More than 50 billion hours of gaming content was watched on YouTube during 2018, so Google is letting Stadia users highlight, capture, and share straight to YouTube or even let viewers play alongside creators. A Crowd Play feature of Stadia is designed to facilitate this, and it includes a lobby system to let you match up with YouTube content creators.
Google is even creating its own game studio for Stadia-exclusive titles, Stadia Games and Entertainment. Jade Raymond, who recently joined Google as a VP is leading Google’s push for its own games. Raymond is an industry veteran who has previously worked at Sony, Electronic Arts, and Ubisoft. Google says more than 100 studios already have dev kits for Stadia, and more than 1,000 creatives and engineers are already working on titles that will work on the service.
While Google unveiled Stadia today, it had no details on exactly when the service will be available other than 2019. Google didn’t reveal pricing or even how many games the service will have at launch, but is promising more details in the summer.
Google will naturally face competition from a number of rivals that you’d typically associate with games and gaming services. Microsoft is planning its own xCloud game streaming service, which it demonstrated recently, with public trials set to start later this year. Amazon also appears to be readying a similar service, and both Nvidia and Sony are already streaming games over the internet. Even Valve is expanding its Steam Link game-streaming feature to allow you to stream your Steam games from a PC to anywhere through the Steam Link hardware or the Steam Link app.
Update, 8:40 PM ET: Added info from Google spokesperson that Stadia will require “approximately” 25Mbps download speeds to deliver 4K, 60fps streaming. More specifically, the Project Stream beta could do 1080p 60fps on a 25Mbps connection, and Google says recent improvements mean 4K 60fps will need “approximately the same bandwidth requirements” at launch.