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Sunday, July 31, 2016

HAMILTON Wins Big In BROADWAY


With the Tony hype starting to calm down weeks after the awards, New York’s Broadway preps itself for the summer and the expected wave of tourists eager to catch – or re-watch – one of the 32 currently running shows, and on the 5 th week of the 2016-17 theatre season they have grossed between them $28.9 million, with a total audience attendance of 273,633.

One of these big musical hits currently performing at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, is the unexpectedly successful “Hamilton”, which had swept up a tidy eleven awards at this year’s Tony Awards last June 12. Not bad for a recent production that debuted off-Broadway only last year, but now has secured for itself a spot along the Great White Way with a critical and popular acclaim that shoots ever higher like a rocket with no signs of stopping. Forbes reports that at the latest, an aficionado would have better luck winning the jackpot at a lottery than get a ticket for a “Hamilton” performance, no thanks to its astoundingly long waiting list that is a sure indication of the musical’s great appeal.

Based on the colorful life of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, the musical, adapted for the stage by Lin-Manuel Miranda from a biography by Ron Chernow, follows Hamilton from the days leading

up to the American Revolution, his role as George Washington’s aide, his later political career, his troubled marriage to Eliza Schuyler, and his eventual quarrel with Aaron Burr that led to the fateful duel where he set himself to die.

Although really, “Hamilton” the musical is remarkably solid enough to keep seats filled for every performance. We’re talking about a 102% theater capacity standing-room- only crowd of 10,732. All in all its earnings for this week amount to a tidy $2,007,222, beaten out only by the venerable “The Lion King” at $2,007,222.

Other productions outside Broadway include one at Chicago later this year, with a National tour and another production at London’s West End in 2017. And while Lin-Manuel Mendoza himself is soon to exit from his creation, things seem certain that “Hamilton” has got what it takes to run and run long.

Photo Credit to www.hamiltonbroadway.com

ISTANBUL AIRPORT ATTACKS


There was once a time when Turkey, standing between Europe and Asia and serving as a gateway of sorts to the adjacent Middle East, was a picture of public security and stability of law and order. It had to be in order to maintain its status as a premiere tourist destination for travelers all over the world. Now however the country is coming under increasingly frequent and violent attacks originating from its neighbors to the southeast. The latest such assault took place on Tuesday evening just over a week left before the end of Ramadan – when three heavily armed suicide bombers struck at Istanbul Ataturk Airport, shooting at civilians and airport personnel before detonating their explosive vests.

Turkish officials told The New York Times that the attack occurred sometime around 10 PM of June 28, when three gunmen arrived at the airport by taxi. Two of them went to the arrival hall and started shooting at a security checkpoint and nearby passengers. When airport police fought back in force, the terrorists set their bomb vests to blow. Airport security camera footage caught two separate videos, one where a bomber made his detonation in a bright flash caught on screen, with running bystanders suddenly collapsing as the floor began to fill with blood. A second video showed a wounded bomber on the floor, the security guard who shot him hurriedly running away mere 10 seconds before the man exploded. The third bomber proceeded to the parking lot and detonated his vest there.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said to CNN that the attack resulted in the deaths of at least 36 people, with Justice Minister Bekir Bozadag adding that a further 147 suffered various injuries. A majority of the casualties were Turks, although there were also foreigners. Authorities issued a blanket ban on local media publishing images and footage from the scene of the attack as the dead and wounded were loaded into ambulances. Witnesses who were not harmed in the attack were distraught and emotional as they waited for information on the airport front steps. While US Intelligence sources in touch with the news network opine that the assault had all the identifying hallmarks of being orchestrated or at least inspired by ISIS, no one terrorist group has yet to claim responsibility for the carnage.

Over the past year alone, Turkey has been beset by a continuous string of terror attacks in its territory, including Istanbul to the near extreme west of the country. Usual acknowledged perpetrators of these violent threats are ISIS and armed Kurdish militants rising against Turkey’s southeastern provinces. Travel advisories have long warned against that region while urging caution everywhere else.

In the wake of the attack, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged world leaders to a renewed active international fight against terrorism. Ataturk airport meanwhile has been reopened to flight traffic.

Photo Credit to www.bbc.com

KANYE’S “FAMOUS” MV Makes Usual KANYE BUZZ, No Celebrities


If anyone ever told you that Kanye West, after interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech in that memetic incident at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards and then dropping her name in some raunchy explicit lyrics on his single “Famous” from his “Life of Pablo” album this February, would still be able to land the singer-songwriter and a bunch of other entertainment and political celebrities in bed with him and his wife Kim Kardashian all naked, would you believe it?

You probably will, in a fashion, after watching the eagerly-anticipated music video for “Famous”, simultaneously released Friday June 24 at the Forum in Los Angeles and live-streamed on Tidal, as covered by E! News. And yes, it does show Kanye and Kim in a big bed surrounded by nude doppelgangers of big-name famous people in its key visual sequence. Aside from Swift, we get doubles of artists Rihanna, Ray J and Chris Brown, Vogue editor Anna Wintour, model-actress Amber Rose, Caitlyn Jenner, comedian legend Bill Cosby, former president George W. Bush, and current Republican candidate Donald Trump. At the end of the song in the video, the artist then thanks all the “featured” celebrities for being famous, referencing the song’s title.

Needless to say, Kanye has unleashed a masterstroke of controversy with this one.

One of the more prominent voices criticizing the “Famous” video is television writer/producer Lena Dunham, the creator of “Girls” on HBO. CNN reports that on Monday, Dunham wrote a substantially lengthy post on Facebook textually savaging the video’s merits, or (to her,) lack of them. She slammed West’s depiction of women on the video, and made a call back to one of her earlier videos where she verbally tears into the suspect of the Stanford rape case, making juxtaposition between the rapist and Kanye. Dunham also had a few choice words regarding the Bill Cosby lookalike, citing the ongoing case of sexual assault filed against the real deal. And there was a great deal of despair for the writer upon seeing her close personal friend Taylor Swift portrayed by a nude double in the video.

As is always the case, the “Famous” video did manage to win some supporters. Painter Vincent Desiderio called it magical and even wrote an essay on W Magazine where he all but sang praises of Kanye’s work. Not surprising as his 2008 painting “Sleep” was the acknowledged piece of inspiration for the music video. Most surprisingly, none of the celebrities lampooned on “Famous” commented so much as a peep the first few days it was on. Not even Swift could be bothered to give a reaction. Well, Chris Brown doesn’t seem to be the least bit bothered, even describing Kanye as talented but crazy on Instagram. West meanwhile has defended his latest video in an Interview on Vanity Fair, claiming that his “Famous” music video is nothing more than a commentary on fame. Shaped like itself, perhaps.

Photo Credit to www.intouchweekly.com

Saturday, July 30, 2016

AFTER BREXIT: Money Stable, But Investment Leaving & Racism Rising


As the days add up to one week after the fateful “Brexit” referendum, a lot of events have taken place not just in Britain but in the rest of Europe that appear to indicate the far reaching effects and repercussions of the United Kingdom cutting its ties to the European Union. Some have been positive, some have been negative, and others have been most unusual.

When the referendum declared a victory for Brexit last week, the value of the pound sterling and the British stock market suddenly dropped like two rocks. Fortunately, the pound according to The Wall Street Journal seems to have recovered by Tuesday after gaining back losses from trading in Asia, alongside the general rise in the global stock market after the new reality has had time to sink in. But there are still some rough waters ahead if analysts have a say about it; with a big question mark still hanging on the post-Brexit politics and economy, the pound remains dangerously close to its 31-year all time low.

Continuing on this thread, British billionaire and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson shared with The Guardian some alarming news that many of the UK’s business partners from China have not only stopped making new investments in the country, but also withdrawing what existing investments are already in place, all in light of the uncertainty brought on by Brexit on the UK. Branson places the blame solidly on the fiery pro-Brexit politicians who have lulled the public as part of their campaign that there would be no significant effects in the global market from Britain leaving the EU. Already he is calling on the government to hold a new referendum, calling the Brexit promises lies, a position shared with Alistair Campbell, former communications director to former PM Tony Blair. The pro-Brexit camp is unsympathetic to the financial upheavals, with UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage dismissing it all as irrelevant nonsense.

On a more sobering note, on the heels of Brexit comes a sudden upsurge of racial abuse and race-related violence throughout the UK, with CNN reporting how London’s Polish Social and Cultural Center was vandalized with anti-Polish immigrant diatribes. Individual immigrants like Marianna Koli from Finland have been subjected to racist remarks days after the referendum, despite having lived in the UK for over a decade. Police have begun working alongside groups such as the Polish community in order to investigate and apprehend persons behind racial hate acts. A total of 85 incidents have been reported to authorities since Brexit.

Meanwhile, over in mainland Europe, the European Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) have posted a warning that, as the UK is the only EU member to have listed English as an official language, and with them having chosen to quit the Union, the English language as a result might no longer be used as an official language of communication between EU member nations, an unfortunate fate as it was already the dominant language of the Union. In response to Brexit, the European Commission, according to The Wall Street Journal, has stopped using English for their external communications, alternating instead between French and German.

As Prime Minister David Cameron, who has announced his stepping down in 10 weeks, washes his hands of the chaos surrounding the referendum, Britons call to mind the old but revived World War II patriotic slogan, “Keep Calm and Carry On”. But with the Labour Party in disarray, and Scotland, possibly Northern Ireland and even the Gibraltar colony mulling over the possibility of breaking from the UK to remain in the EU, the future after Brexit looks very frantic, and shadowy.

Photo Credit to indaily.com.au



“BACHELORETTE” SEASON 12’S JOJO Still Searching By Week 4/5


It’s been 5 weeks in the lives of the twelfth “Bachelorette” and her ever dwindling reverse harem – and 6 weeks of broadcast episodes on ABC. As the weeks count down until the July 26 finale, a picture becomes increasingly clears as to what type of guy Joelle “JoJo” Fletcher (of “The Bachelor” season 20 fame) would not only enjoy spending time with, but also be able to proclaim feelings of love to and imagine living with for the rest of their lives together, or at least that’s how things would ideally go without the random uncertainty of real life.

The latest episode saw JoJo and her eight remaining boys going to Buenos Aires in Argentina, after spending time in Uruguay during TV episode 5 (Week 4 Part 2). Vulture.com chronicles the events as they went. There was the initial one-one- one date where JoJo and Wells Adams explored the city with all the wholesomeness of school kids, not kissing every so often as they meander through a market and watch the Fureza Bruta theatre show. When Wells finally decided to land a big fat one on JoJo’s kisser, she actually congratulated him out loud, a weird reaction for female viewers.

During the dinner date Wells regaled JoJo with the tale of his first relationship that simply simmered down into a platonic friendship. Unfortunately his utterly clean-cut and “normal” look and demeanor didn’t at all click for the Bachelorette who withheld the rose and sent Wells home, as The Huffington Post sordidly reports. Her emotional farewell stating how Wells was great guy but not the sort she wants to spend her life with finally seems to set in stone her choice in guys: not the sensitive modern man but the all-American jock at best and the douchebag at worst.

Next, JoJo’s group date with Luke Pell, Robby Hayes, pro-footballer Jordan Rodgers, James Taylor, and Alex Wotykiw had them taking on a youth street soccer team. James wins a chance to kiss JoJo, taking advantage of an opportunity to tell her of some unsportsmanlike conduct from Jordan in a past poker game. Unfortunately JoJo’s jerk fixation has her taking Jordan’s side later on, while Luke got the group date rose after she spent more time with him during the whole thing.

Finally, the two-on- one date with Chase McNary and Derek Peth had them and JoJo getting tango lessons. Video editing had Derek being supremely confident in the outcome, which by “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” conventions meant that he gets no rose in the end. The loss sends Derek into such a spiral of despair that he spent his return trip to the airport asking himself why he’s crying. All as “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” plays over with alternating scenes with JoJo and Chase. The following rose ceremony saw no one else eliminated.

Viewers of this season and writers of articles concerning this episode all had very pointed questions online regarding JoJo’s preferences and even her thought processes. Many see her as being somewhat broken as a person, citing how JoJo herself has asked the same question they are asking: how does an attractive person like her single? With her rather convoluted musings on romance, that question could well be one for the ages, or at least until further episodes air in the following weeks.

Photo Credit to www.buddytv.com

“HTGAWM” SEASON 3 Premiere Date Set, More Info Released


After around three months of uncertainty since the March 17 finale of “How to Get Away with Murder” season 2, there finally comes some light at the end of the tunnel as regards to when exactly ABC is finally going to release the third season this year, other than the general timeframe of “fall”Thanks to actress Viola “Annalise Keating” Davis making the announcement on her Facebook, fans of the drama series can now mark their calendars for September 22.

Movie News Guide reports that filming for season 3 will commence next month of July, and show-runner Peter Nowalk had a few things to hint at on what viewers might expect to see when the story carries on where it left off. One major piece of info he shared is that they were going to change up the narrative format, as he felt that the ending stretch of season 2 was all tied up to the overarching story thread regarding the Hapstall case and the mystery linking Annalise to Rose, the mother of her intern Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch). For season 3 the series creators would have the Keating law firm take on a case-of- the-week to give more freedom from the main plot.

Further details that MNG has scrounged up on “HTGAWM”s next season reveal that even after the crises that have been messing up her life throughout the series,  will continue to practice her profession. On the subject of plot threads from the previous season, Entertainment Weekly discovered as it turns out that Annalise’s employee Frank Delfino (Charlie Weber) left her employ after she found out how he was involved in her miscarriage from 10 years before the start of the series; he had skipped town as a means to mend fences with Annalise, and despite his departure his character will remain a regular for the 3 rd season.

One can’t also forget the explosive final scene of season 2 when Wes meets his long-unseen father for the first time only to lose him to an assassin’s bullet. Yes he’s dead, Jim. Nowalk would tell Variety that it could be a toss-up if the killer’s identity will be shown in the season premier or if they would keep it a question mark for the characters and the audience to mull over until later on. He claims it’s because the murder of Wallace Gibbins is a complicated story.

“How to get Away with Murder” resumes at season three on September 22, 2016 at 10 PM EDT/PDT on the USA Network.

Photo Credit to when-will.net

“SUITS” SEASON 6 Hype Rising As July 13 Premiere Date Approaches

“SUITS” SEASON 6 HYPE RISING AS JULY 13 PREMIERE DATE APPROACHES

It’s getting real close now to July 13 and the premiere of the sixth season of the highly- nominated legal dramedy TV series “Suits” on the USA Network, and viewers are eager to get into the meat of the narrative left hanging from season 5 that saw genius fake lawyer Mike Ross, played Patrick J. Adams, getting thrown in prison after being exposed, while his partner Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) find himself trying to run a law firm utterly gutted of employees.

TV Guide has gotten the lowdown on an advanced viewing of the first episode, which sees Mike adjusting to life in jail, getting to know his new cellmate better and seemingly picking up on Harvey’s habit of dropping lines from a multitude of movies. But not all is seemingly alright in that picture. On the morning of his second day behind bars, Mike gets the inkling that someone is out to get him, and not only him, but everyone else he has worked with before. But is the threat real? Or is it, to the eyes of the viewing audience, the onset to Mike suffering a curse known to befall singularly brilliant geniuses: the creeping loss of sanity?

According to an article on the International Business Times, imprisoning Mike was deemed necessary by “Suits” show runners, a story element supported by Adams who believes his character’s incarceration storyline will boost viewership of the series on season 6, as it would be the culmination of the past five season’s worth of buildup for all the characters involved in Mike’s lawyer sham to face the consequences of their great white lie. This shakeup of the status quo to Adams will grab everyone’s attention while still retaining the core of the series overall plot.

On how long Mike is staying in the big house, Adams has been coy in answers. Meanwhile, life has to go one for Mike’s circle of friends and his almost wife. A past report by the Parent Herald has predicted the eventual breakdown of the loving relationship between Mike and Rachel Zane (Megan Markle) due to his incarceration, with Rachel herself eventually finding new love with a new associate from work.

While many questions and rumors still circle about like sharks in the water concerning what “Suits” season 6 will bring, it’s definitely certain that the mystery will soon start to unravel when it finally premieres on July 13.

Photo Credit to premieredate.tv

Free WINDOWS 10 Update Arriving On 1 st Year Anniversary


If you are a lucky user of the Windows 10 operating system, you’ll have something to look forward to this summer. It was the summer of last year that saw the debut of the latest version of Microsoft’s long-running powerhouse computer O.S., and they’re gearing up to celebrate its first anniversary in style. So clean up your ears and listen hard: Microsoft is putting together a Windows 10 Anniversary Update. It’s coming out on August 2. And it is going to be free!

Microsoft itself made the announcement on its own blog, by the hand of Windows and Devices Group Corporate Vice President Yusuf Mehdi. With over 350 million devices worldwide running on Windows 10 according to Mehdi, the O.S. has reached the highest level of satisfied customers in comparison to any of its older brothers. With feedback taken from over 135 billion hours of total recorded use of Windows 10, Microsoft has been able to assemble the best and most wanted features to be included in the upcoming Anniversary Update.

The main gist of the update is in additional security improvements, the Windows Ink appinnovations for easier computer device sharing in classrooms, and upgrades to the Microsoft Edge browser, Xbox gaming, and everyone’s new favorite helpful voice on your Windows-driven device: Cortana. For PC/laptop users, Cortana will soon be able to interact with you and do computer stuff at your request from the lock screen, saving you the trouble of unlocking every time. She will now also store and remember specific information, and notify you of things across all your Cortana-equipped devices.

On the security front, there are additional features to the free anti-malware program Windows Defender and the introduction of the new Windows Hello biometric authentication support. For business owners, the Anniversary update significantly boosts protection from cyber-attacks with the Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection, detecting malicious assaults and tracing them back with reports to the Windows intelligence network. There’s also the nifty Windows Information Protection, easily keeping business and personal computer data apart for added safety.

Next on the Anniversary Update is the Windows Ink platform, giving stylus input support to most applications. You can now handwrite on Smart Sticky Notes or Microsoft Office (making corrections on documents by hand is fun), draw directions on Maps and make annotations on sites displayed on Windows Edge. Graphic artists can now draw on the screen instead of a tablet and musicians can compose digitally. Imagine the possibilities.

Other upgrades go to making better your gaming experience with Xbox Play Anywhere (shared progress on an Xbox game between a paired Windows 10 PC and an Xbox One) and Language Region independence regardless of where in the world you’re playing at. Then there are new power-ups for Microsoft Edge in power-saving, less memory consumption, modern web standard accessibility and the availability of Edge extensions on the Window Store. Educational users will have an easier time doing their own tech support with the “Set up School PCs” app, share lots of devices at one with Windows Imaging and Configuration Designer, and create secure computer-stored tests with the “Take a Test” app.

There’s one last reminder however. As reported in CNBC, after July 29 there will be no more free updates of devices running on Windows 7 and 8.1 as there has been since the debut of 10. Come the 30 th , Windows 10 will be priced at $119 according to Windows and Devices Group Corporate President Terry Myerson. So power up to Windows 10 now if you can, while there is still “free” time, and watch out for the Anniversary Update coming on August 2.

Photo Credit to www.microsoft.com

TOM MALFOY FELTON To Star In THE FLASH SEASON 3


It may sound incongruous, but fans old and new of JK Rowling’s legendary Harry Potter seriesespecially the Warner Brothers films – where super bigoted pretty boy wizard Draco Malfoy graced the girls in the audience with his good looks and gave birth to the “Draco in Leather Pants” trope – are sure to enjoy the upcoming third season of The CW’s hit DC superhero TV series “The Flash”. And that is because Tom Felton, who portrayed Draco in the Potter movies to fan-girl- squealing intensity, is going to be joining the cast as a regularly recurring character. You could say his casting was a tad magical.

TVLine reports that Felton will play the part of Julian Dorn, another Crime Scene Investigator for the Central City Police Department and workmate of fellow CSI Barry Allen, aka the Flash (Grant Gustin). Comic Book Resources describes Dorn as an older, geekier associate of Barry’s at work, who begins to harbor suspicions that Barry has been keeping some big secrets, and will likely spend his air time in the season trying to investigate what it is – all while hiding some mysteries of his own. IGN further adds that Felton’s character is going to debut in the earliest episodes of season 3, although whether his first appearance will be in the premiere has yet to be determined.

Tom Felton catapulted to fame as Malfoy in all eight Harry Potter films, although his later film roles are more low-key, as in movies like “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and “The Apparition” and on TV in TNT’s “Murder in the First”..

Season 2 of “The Flash” ended with a traumatized Barry/Flash super-speeding back in time to prevent his mother’s murder. This action triggers the dramatically altered circumstances of season 3, of which the premiere episode will carry the title “Flashpoint”, after a definitive company-wide DC Comics crossover storyline of the same name wherein print-Flash does the same thing as TV-Flash, resulting in an alternate present where his mother is alive and most everything else about the world has been changed beyond recognition. The comics “Flashpoint” also served as a transition to DC’s “New 52” wide- scale story reboot and franchise re-launch. The after-effects of “Flashpoint” remain in all DC comic lines even at present, as the 2016 “DC Rebirth” re-launch initiative is going on.

Grant Gustin revealed the “Flashpoint” premiere episode title on Twitter, quickly adding that despite the same name and initial circumstances, the TV series will go its own way and not necessarily ape the comic story’s plot points.

“The Flash” and other The CW superhero shows – “Arrow”, “Legends of Tomorrow” and “Supergirl” – will feature later this July at the Sand Diego Comic-Con. Its season 3 will hit The CW later this year, on October 4 at 8 PM EST.

Photo Credit To www.comicbook.com

TOM MALFOY FELTON To Star In THE FLASH SEASON 3


It may sound incongruous, but fans old and new of JK Rowling’s legendary Harry Potter seriesespecially the Warner Brothers films – where super bigoted pretty boy wizard Draco Malfoy graced the girls in the audience with his good looks and gave birth to the “Draco in Leather Pants” trope – are sure to enjoy the upcoming third season of The CW’s hit DC superhero TV series “The Flash”. And that is because Tom Felton, who portrayed Draco in the Potter movies to fan-girl- squealing intensity, is going to be joining the cast as a regularly recurring character. You could say his casting was a tad magical.

TVLine reports that Felton will play the part of Julian Dorn, another Crime Scene Investigator for the Central City Police Department and workmate of fellow CSI Barry Allen, aka the Flash (Grant Gustin). Comic Book Resources describes Dorn as an older, geekier associate of Barry’s at work, who begins to harbor suspicions that Barry has been keeping some big secrets, and will likely spend his air time in the season trying to investigate what it is – all while hiding some mysteries of his own. IGN further adds that Felton’s character is going to debut in the earliest episodes of season 3, although whether his first appearance will be in the premiere has yet to be determined.

Tom Felton catapulted to fame as Malfoy in all eight Harry Potter films, although his later film roles are more low-key, as in movies like “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and “The Apparition” and on TV in TNT’s “Murder in the First”..

Season 2 of “The Flash” ended with a traumatized Barry/Flash super-speeding back in time to prevent his mother’s murder. This action triggers the dramatically altered circumstances of season 3, of which the premiere episode will carry the title “Flashpoint”, after a definitive company-wide DC Comics crossover storyline of the same name wherein print-Flash does the same thing as TV-Flash, resulting in an alternate present where his mother is alive and most everything else about the world has been changed beyond recognition. The comics “Flashpoint” also served as a transition to DC’s “New 52” wide- scale story reboot and franchise re-launch. The after-effects of “Flashpoint” remain in all DC comic lines even at present, as the 2016 “DC Rebirth” re-launch initiative is going on.

Grant Gustin revealed the “Flashpoint” premiere episode title on Twitter, quickly adding that despite the same name and initial circumstances, the TV series will go its own way and not necessarily ape the comic story’s plot points.

“The Flash” and other The CW superhero shows – “Arrow”, “Legends of Tomorrow” and “Supergirl” – will feature later this July at the Sand Diego Comic-Con. Its season 3 will hit The CW later this year, on October 4 at 8 PM EST.

Photo Credit To www.comicbook.com

THAI CONDOM Company IntroducesDURIAN-FLAVORED Rubbers


Nowadays you would be (figuratively) living under a rock if you have no idea what a Durian is. To Southeast Asia and its nearby environs, it needs no introduction. To westerners, you may have seen or heard of it from travel shows or reality TV. Really, durian is part of world trivia by now. And the barest minimum knowledge everyone outside Asia has of the so-named “King of Fruits” is that it (might) taste really nice, but (definitely) smell really awful. Descriptions of its infamous odors range from gym socks to turpentine to raw sewage, and even in its native Asia they tend to get banned from some public places. Suffice to say a durian in the west is an acquired taste (and smell).

Well, prepare to have your minds blown as a Thai condom manufacturing firm has recently crossed into weird, near-Ripley’s territory by producing a line of durian-flavored condoms. You read right, there are now little foil packs of rubbers going around Southeast Asia with the indescribably tasty flavor and incredibly smelly scent. But take heart; according to Asian Correspondent, the condoms are primarily targeted at the Asian market by the unnamed rubber company, where they are – believe it or not – expected to be the new craze for Asians in bed. Yeah, it’s the weird corner of the news again.

At present the Bangkok-based condom manufacturer is churning out a yearly production of 2 billion rubber packets. However the opening of a new factory will see the numbers inflate to 5 billion. Even if only a portion of those condoms will be durian-flavored, it’s still quite a lot.

Mind you, that brave (or enterprising) Thai company is not the first in Southeast Asia to go durian for rubbers. Malaysian firm Karex has been rolling out their own smellies ever since 2013, and they come in colorful packaging to boot. They also have Piña Colada flavor.

While durian rubbers will likely get shunned in America, that Colada condom might just have it to be the new quirky fetish. Maybe.

Photo Credit to asiancorrespondent.com



SELF DRIVING CAR Startup Company ZOOX Gets $200 Million Funding


It is less “Back to the Future” and more Stallone’s “Demolition Man”, and it’s not even complete yet. But super hush-hush startup company Zoox, which has been working non-stop to develop an honest to goodness fully autonomous car in utter secrecy for so long, has just completed a funding round going all the way to around $200 million.

An anonymous source that is intimate with the Silicon Valley-based startup’s plans to gather financial backing for its top secret project tells The Business Insider that Zoox has managed to raise an equity amounting to more than $100 million before the round of funding came to a close, according to their SEC filing dated June 6. This was after a classified amount of capital funding back in May gave the startup an astonishing over $1 billion in value, according to an article on The Wall Street Journal. This effectively puts Zoox’s at a level equal to that of another startup company snapped up by General Motors in that same month.

Zoox has been carrying out their confidential research, development and assembly of a working self-driving automobile for several years now. From their California headquarters in Palo Alto, all Zoox personnel have been remarkably taciturn on their progress. The first and only time the startup made some noise regarding their product was way back in 2013, when they plastered the internet with snazzy concept CGI of their dream autonomous electrically powered car, before going off the grid once more.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers state that Boz would have no steering wheel nor brake pedal, and can feasibly drive in any direction while the passengers are seated facing one another. Its featured tech is said to be nearly similar to the Google self-driving car being worked on by Alphabet Inc., given that one of Zoox’s founders, Stanford engineer Jesse Levinson, had previously worked with the co-creator of the Google car, but is now teaming up with Australian designer Tim Kentley-Klay to make Boz a reality.

For the curious, back in March of this year, Zoox secured the necessary permits to test drive their Boz prototype in California. But when this will actually take off has yet to be revealed.

Photo Credit to telematicswire.net

Friday, July 29, 2016

SPOTIFY Speaks Out Against Anti-Competitive APPLE APP STORE


It was probably bound to happen sooner or later, when small online businesses utilizing major brand-name tech platforms (social media, hardware, op systems, etc.) end up becoming significant competitors of certain features of those selfsame platforms, the big companies end up putting unsporting pressure on the little guys operating through their services so as to stop them from cutting into their own business profits. It’s technically dirty, it’s borderline cheating, and it’s happening a lot.

So it was that on the final week of June, the Sweden/UK-based commercial music streaming, video and podcast service Spotify has cried foul against tech juggernaut Apple for unjustly curbing competition, according to Recode.net. In a July 26 letter sent by the company to Apple’s lawyers, Spotify accused Apple of blocking the approval of a new version of its iOS app to be made available on the Apple Store, ostensibly due to violations of “business model regulations” because Spotify refused to abide by Apple’s billing system that slapped a 30% “Apple tax” on top of the base subscription fee ($10 Spotify subscription plus 30% or $3 billing fee when buying through the Apple Store).

But the truth, according to Spotify general counsel Horacio Gutierrez’s letter to his opposite number on Apple, Bruce Sewell, is that the quashing of the Spotify app upgrade by Apple was the latest concrete action by the company to undercut and marginalize Spotify as a business competitor to Apple Music, their fairly recent in-house music streaming service that launched only in 2015 compared to Spotify’s 2008.

Mac World reports that Spotify had circulated copies of their letter to Apple in the US Congress at Washington DC, spurring Senator Elizabeth Warren (D, MA) to deliver a dressing down of Apple, as well as Google and Amazon for their general attitude of “anticompetitive measures” designed to punish and lock out smaller companies and newcomer firms if they happen to offer a service competing with their utilized platforms.

Gutierrez further stated that Spotify would not stand for Apple using its App Store approval process as a weapon against its competition, while Spotify communications and public policy head Jonathan Prince cited how Apple’s fees jacked the prices of rival services, prohibited them from informing customers of special offers, and setting up unfair platform advantages, all in all acting like they wanted to have their cake and eat the others’ share as well.

Earlier this year, Apple had shut down a Spotify special offer of a 3-month, $0.99-per- month subscription if the customer bought it directly from the Spotify website instead of through the app, under threat that the service will be banned from the Apple Store. Spotify retaliated by disabling the Apple billing system on their app. This turn of events illustrate an alarming domination by tech platforms that could see dark clouds ahead for little online business and services.

Photo Credit to en.yibada.com