Tag Archives: Journey

Prepare for Your Journey as Weird West Hits Xbox This Fall

Hello Xbox community! We’ve been working away on our debut title Weird West for a while now, and we’re extremely excited to announce that it’s coming to Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S this Fall. As this is the first time we’re writing to you, we figured we’d give you an exclusive look at two of the journeys you’ll be taking during your time in the Old West.

Weird West

Weird West is a third-person immersive sim set in a dark fantasy reimagining of the Old West. Gunslingers, evil stalking the night, ritual performers, and people cursed to live freakish lives fill the world with unique and exciting encounters. And beware: Your ally can quickly become your foe as you hunt for the meaning of the burning mark at the heart of your story.

Weird West features five intertwined Journeys, and here we’ll dip into two of them, the Oneirist and the Pigman.

Weird West

The Oneirists have spent their time in the West perfecting the art of future telling to protect the land from its own dark devices. As a new initiate to their order, you’ll begin the Oneirist journey by slipping into your first vision trance that shows you a much grimmer future than initiates normally see. Your journey won’t be an easy one—a whole future hangs in the balance—but with a heap of magical abilities, alongside a six shooter or two, you’ll have as good a shot as you could hope for to save the West from what’s coming.

Weird West

Moving on to something a little different now: the Pigman journey. You were a man once, sure, but now your body’s been transformed into half-human half-pig by somebody with a bone to pick. Now you’re unsightly. Disgusting to the people you once knew; even entering a town in Weird West will cause folks to shout insults, or worse—sic the law on you. As your journey begins, you’ll thirst for one thing and one thing only: to find the person who did this to you and discover their reasons for doing it. But looking like a monster brings out the worst in people, so don’t expect it to be an easy ride.

Weird West

These are just two of the five journeys you’ll take in Weird West, where no two are the same. As an immersive experience, you’ll create posse’s, form friendships, and enemies.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post, we’re extremely excited to be releasing on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S this Fall. Follow @WolfEyeGames and @devolverdigital for all the latest info on Weird West.

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This post originally posted here Xbox Wire

Start a Journey of Discovery When Omno Launches July 29 with Xbox Game Pass

Greetings, explorers!

I’ve been working away on my very first game, Omno, for nearly 5 years now, and I’m delighted, relieved, and terrified to finally be able to announce the game will be launching July 29 (that’s only 3 weeks from now) for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.

Omno

For those of you who don’t know the game, Omno is a single-player adventure full of creatures to befriend, secrets to discover, and puzzles to solve. I had the idea for the game originally way back when I was working as an animator, mostly in T.V. and movies, and as time went on I developed the idea more and more until I finally took the leap and dedicated myself to the project full time.

Omno

When the team from [email protected] got in touch with me about Omno, that was a real moment where I thought, “Wow, things are getting kinda serious now!” The support the Xbox team have shown me in helping to get my solo dev project out there to the wider gaming audience has been amazing, and I’m so happy that Omno will be available with Xbox Game Pass, for both console and PC, from day one, so I can share it with as many people as possible. Seeing my game in the Xbox Game Pass library alongside so many incredible games is going to be a surreal experience!

Omno

If you’re a fan of smaller, carefully crafted adventure games with a lot of heart, I really hope you’ll join me on the journey when Omno launches July 29 for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and with Xbox Game Pass. I can’t wait to share it with the world!

Author: Jonas Manke, Creator, Omno
Read more here >>> Xbox Wire

Pent-up demand is only one of the factors driving up the cost of every step of the travel journey

Hotel rooms? Up about 44% at the end of June compared to a year earlier, according to data from hotel research firm STR. Air fares? They were 24% higher in May than in the same month last year, according to the Consumer Price Index.
Even so, many of the prices are still below where they stood in the summer of 2019, six months before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic brought demand for travel to a near halt and sent prices plunging.
“Most of what people are seeing in price inflation is due to how cheap things were last year,” said Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics.
Most in the industry avoid making the year-over-year comparisons in the CPI. Instead they’re looking at the contrast with the 2019 price and booking levels.
But even some of those prices are back to near or even above 2019 levels, thanks to the strong rebound in demand. For example, STR shows the national average for US hotel rates in the week ending June 26 back to 99.5% of where they were at the same time in 2019.
“That’s an incredible run,” said Sacks. Only two weeks ago they stood at 93% of 2019 levels, he added.
The national average disguises some even bigger increases in vacation destinations.
“The price differences are pretty disparate,” Sacks said. “The national prices don’t really mean anything when you’re looking to travel to a specific location at a specific time.”
He said that in locations where the travel and tourism industry depend on business travel, such as New York, Chicago and Washington, prices are still well below 2019 levels, since business travel has been much slower to return than leisure travel. That suggests fare increases for leisure travelers are likely even greater than the overall numbers show, he said
“If business travel was performing anywhere near what it was in normal times, we’d be seeing record performance,” said Sacks.
Popular vacation destinations have hotel prices already going above 2019 levels. In Orlando, prices are up 6%, and in Miami they’ve jumped 48% during the week ending June 26 compared to the same time two years ago. But if you’re going to New York City, traditionally a center for business travel which also has yet to reopen Broadway shows, a major tourist draw, hotel prices are 25% below where they were in the same week of 2019, according to data from hotel research firm STR.
“You see pent-up demand to get back out on vacation pushing up travel, and prices,” said Vivek Pandya, senior digital insights manager at Adobe.
Hotels and air fares aren’t the only travel items that are more expensive.
The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline today stands at $ 3.13, a seven-year high and a 44% increase from a year ago.
The most extreme example? Rental car prices, which have not only soared 110% from a year ago to record levels, but are 70% higher than even the pre-pandemic prices, according to the May Conumer Price Index.
The increase in pricing is connected to the supply of autos. To raise enough cash to survive the downturn, rental car companies sold off about a third of their fleets, and they’ve been unable to purchase the replacement vehicles this year due to a chip shortage that’s choking off new car production. Significantly smaller fleets and a rebound in demand means significantly higher prices.
Unlike the rental car companies, hotels and airlines have restored most of the capacity they shut down during the pandemic.
But bringing back capacity has been somewhat constrained by staffing difficulties. Even airlines, which pay far above the wages paid in lodging, are struggling with staffing shortages at some of their suppliers. That has forced some airlines, including American (AAL), the largest, to cut back on flights they had planned to fly this summer, adding to the upward pressure on prices.

Author: Chris Isidore, CNN Business
Read more here >>> CNN.com – RSS Channel – HP Hero

Review: LEGO Builder's Journey – A Chill, Beautiful Building Experience

As an adult, LEGO usually means a busy Sunday afternoon spent with a chunky manual, tons of tiny plastic bags, and liberal use of the brick separator tool, because you accidentally skipped ten steps and now the thing is stuck to the other thing and you tried to pry it off but your nails are too short and maybe you need to take a break to look at something that isn’t minuscule plastic for a bit.

As a child, though, LEGO is more like “I have a large tub of bits and I’m going to put them together to make a SPACESHIP ROBOT PRINCESS with a JETPACK”. Many of LEGO’s games lately have been about the former — master builders, official sets recreated in on-screen polygons, rapidly re-building something to make something else — but LEGO Builder’s Journey is very much about the latter.

At its core, LEGO Builder’s Journey is a puzzle game, told through simple vignettes with a single goal, which is usually “get to the other side”. Various obstacles — rivers, broken bridges, chasms and so on — will need to be overcome in order to journey onwards, and later on, these obstacles turn a little more abstract as you try to appease computers and work with a strange but lovable dog/mailbox hybrid.

You play the game as a kid, but not a minifig; you’re just a bunch of bricks stacked together to make a kid-like shape. You go on adventures with your parent, who is also a stack of bricks, and you build… mostly utter nonsense. This isn’t about precision, and it’s not about following instructions; it’s about imagination. You can turn a pile of shapes into a bridge or a sandcastle, and you can make a rickety walkway that winds its way over a swamp. LEGO is a means to an end, and that end is having fun.

LEGO Builder’s Journey was originally an Apple Arcade game, and like many other Apple Arcade games — including its clear inspiration, Monument Valley — it is loaded with story, despite its deceptively simple presentation. On Switch, it’s been almost doubled in length, with extra levels on top of what the original release had that expand the story a little further. You see, kids can have fun with LEGO all they like, but parents have to work to pay for that LEGO, and your parent is whisked away mid-build to do some extremely tedious factory work (which is also LEGO).

This tedium is there to make a point about creative freedom and childlike wonder versus the monotony of adulthood and the loss of imagination and fun, which it does pretty expertly without a single line of dialogue. The sound design and the animation come together to create convincing little dioramas of repetitive and dull work for the parent, and magic and wonder for the kid. But the problem is that the repetitive and dull stuff is… well… repetitive and dull. Because of the lack of dialogue, too, it’s pretty hard in the later levels to figure out what on earth you’re supposed to be doing.

Early puzzle levels are remarkably simple to figure out, as they usually entail your character needing to move forwards one step at a time, but later puzzles are pretty obtuse, especially in the new levels. It can even feel a little like padding at times, as the two characters keep juuuust missing each other, having to do a few more puzzles in order to meet up again.

What’s more, it’s sometimes a bit fiddly to put down bricks because of the game’s own limitations. Simplicity is key in these little vignettes, but simplicity can sometimes obscure things a little too much, especially if you’re using controllers. The touchscreen controls are much more accessible, but we found that we didn’t really… want to play the game on the touchscreen, you know? That’s not really how this reviewer tends to interact with the Switch. Your mileage may vary on that one, of course.

We never got stuck for too long, though, and the new levels certainly have interesting game design which elevates the puzzles beyond just “get to the other side”, but it occasionally feels like the game is overstaying its welcome. Extra content is a great thing, but the game has a very natural ending — its original ending — that is neatly stepped over so that the extra levels can follow on.

Still, the game is quite beautiful (although noticeably less pretty than the RTX PC version, which has lovely dynamic lighting and raytracing), and its new and interesting take on what it means to play (with LEGO, of course) is something we’d love to see more of, alongside its franchise-heavy adventure games. We can imagine it being a fantastic experience to play with a kid who’s beginning to learn how to experiment, because Builder’s Journey is all about rewarding trial and error.

The game will take you an evening or two to play through all the way to the (second) ending, making it a bitesize game that’s an experiment, a proof-of-concept, a first tentative step in a direction that’s new and exciting for LEGO games. It makes a couple of missteps in prioritising its aesthetic over its accessibility as a puzzle game, sure — but the fact remains that this is something we’d love to see more of.

Conclusion

Throughout LEGO Builder’s Journey, we found that the aim of the game was to make you feel like a kid — whether or not you are one. Getting back in touch with the pre-manual-following version of yourself is a delight, and having the story be about a parent and a child connecting through child’s play is as touching as it is smart. Despite occasional misfires and what can feel like padding, this is a LEGO game which plays with the fundamental philosophy of creativity far more than the average LEGO-branded title, and we hope this is an indication of new games to come.

Author:
This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Reviews

Liz Cheney’s Unlikely Journey From G.O.P. Royalty to Republican Outcast

CASPER, Wyo. — Representative Liz Cheney was holed up in a secure undisclosed location of the Dick Cheney Federal Building, recounting how she got an alarmed phone call from her father on Jan. 6.

Ms. Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, recalled that she had been preparing to speak on the House floor in support of certifying Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s election as president. Mr. Cheney, the former vice president and his daughter’s closest political adviser, consulted with her on most days, but this time was calling as a worried parent.

He had seen President Donald J. Trump on television at a rally that morning vow to get rid of “the Liz Cheneys of the world.” Her floor speech could inflame tensions, he told her, and he feared for her safety. Was she sure she wanted to go ahead?

“Absolutely,” she told her father. “Nothing could be more important.”

Minutes later, Mr. Trump’s supporters breached the entrance, House members evacuated and the political future of Ms. Cheney, who never delivered her speech, was suddenly scrambled. Her promising rise in the House, which friends say the former vice president had been enthusiastically invested in and hoped might culminate in the speaker’s office, had been replaced with a very different mission.

“This is about being able to tell your kids that you stood up and did the right thing,” she said.

Ms. Cheney entered Congress in 2017, and her lineage always ensured her a conspicuous profile, although not in the way it has since blown up. Her campaign to defeat the “ongoing threat” and “fundamental toxicity of a president who lost” has landed one of the most conservative House members in the most un-Cheney-like position of resistance leader and Republican outcast. Ms. Cheney has vowed to be a counterforce, no matter how lonely that pursuit might be or where it might lead, including a possible primary challenge to Mr. Trump if he runs for president in 2024, a prospect she has not ruled out.

Beyond the daunting politics, Ms. Cheney’s predicament is also a father-daughter story, rife with dynastic echoes and ironies. An unapologetic Prince of Darkness figure throughout his career, Mr. Cheney was always attuned to doomsday scenarios and existential threats he saw posed by America’s enemies, whether from Russia during the Cold War, Saddam Hussein after the Sept. 11 attacks, or the general menace of tyrants and terrorists.

Ms. Cheney has come to view the current circumstances with Mr. Trump in the same apocalyptic terms. The difference is that today’s threat resides inside the party in which her family has been royalty for nearly half a century.

“He is just deeply troubled for the country about what we watched President Trump do,” Ms. Cheney said of her father. “He’s a student of history. He’s a student of the presidency. He knows the gravity of those jobs, and as he’s watched these events unfold, certainly he’s been appalled.”

On the day last month that Ms. Cheney’s House colleagues ousted her as the third-ranking Republican over her condemnations of Mr. Trump, she invited an old family friend, the photographer David Hume Kennerly, to record her movements for posterity. After work, they repaired to her parents’ home in McLean, Va., to commiserate over wine and a steak dinner.

“There was maybe a little bit of post-mortem, but it didn’t feel like a wake,” said Mr. Kennerly, the official photographer for President Gerald R. Ford while Mr. Cheney was White House chief of staff. “Mostly, I got a real sense at that dinner of two parents who were extremely proud of their kid and wanted to be there for her at the end of a bad day.”

Mr. Cheney declined to be interviewed for this article, but provided a statement: “As a father, I am enormously proud of my daughter. As an American, I am deeply grateful to her for defending our Constitution and the rule of law.”

The Cheneys are a private and insular brood, though not without tensions that have gone public. Ms. Cheney’s opposition to same-sex marriage during a brief Senate campaign in 2013 enraged her sister, Mary Cheney, and Mary’s longtime partner, Heather Poe. It was conspicuous, then, when Mary conveyed full support for her sister after Jan. 6.

“As many people know, Liz and I have definitely had our differences over the years,” she wrote in a Facebook post on Jan. 7. “But I am very proud of how she handled herself during the fight over the Electoral College…Good job Big Sister.’’

In an interview in Casper, Ms. Cheney, 54, spoke in urgent, clipped cadences in an unmarked conference room of the Dick Cheney Federal Building, one of many places that carry her family name in the nation’s least populous and most Trump-loving state. Her disposition conveyed both determination and worry, and also a sense of someone who had endured an embattled stretch.

Ms. Cheney had spent much of a recent congressional recess in Wyoming and yet was rarely seen in public. The appearances she did make — a visit to the Chamber of Commerce in Casper, a hospital opening (with her father) in Star Valley — were barely publicized beforehand, in large part for security concerns. She has received a stream of death threats, common menaces among high-profile critics of Mr. Trump, and is now surrounded by a newly deployed detail of plainclothes, ear-pieced agents.

Her campaign spent $ 58,000 on security from January to March, including three former Secret Service officers, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission. Ms. Cheney was recently assigned protection from the Capitol Police, an unusual measure for a House member not in a leadership position. The fortress aura around Ms. Cheney is reminiscent of the “secure undisclosed location” of her father in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Ms. Cheney’s temperament bears the imprint of both parents, especially her mother, Lynne Cheney, a conservative scholar and commentator who is far more extroverted than her husband. But Mr. Cheney has long been his eldest daughter’s closest professional alter ego, especially after he left office in 2009, and Ms. Cheney devoted marathon sessions to collaborating on his memoir, “In My Times.” Their work coincided with some of Mr. Cheney’s gravest heart conditions, including a period in 2010 when he was near death.

His health stabilized after doctors installed a blood-pumping device that kept him alive and allowed him to travel. This included trips between Virginia and Wyoming in which Mr. Cheney would drive while dictating stories to Ms. Cheney in the passenger seat, who would type his words into a laptop. He received his heart transplant in 2012.

Father and daughter promoted the memoir in joint appearances, with Ms. Cheney interviewing her father in venues around the country. “She was basically there with her dad to ease his re-entry back to health on the public stage,” said former Senator Alan K. Simpson, a Wyoming Republican and a longtime family friend.

By 2016, Ms. Cheney had been elected to Congress and quickly rose to become the third-ranking Republican, a post her father also held. As powerful as Mr. Cheney was as vice president, he had always considered himself a product of the House, where he had served as Wyoming’s at-large congressman from 1979 to 1989.

Neither father nor daughter is a natural politician in any traditional sense. Mr. Cheney was a plotter and bureaucratic brawler, ambitious but in a quiet, secretive and, to many eyes, devious way. Ms. Cheney was largely focused on strategic planning and hawkish policymaking.

After graduating from Colorado College (“The Evolution of Presidential War Powers” was her senior thesis), Ms. Cheney worked at the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development while her father was defense secretary. She attended the University of Chicago Law School and practiced at the firm White & Case before returning to the State Department while her father was vice president. She was not sheepish or dispassionate like her father — she was a cheerleader at McLean High School — but held off running for office until well into her 40s.

Once in the House, Ms. Cheney was seen as a possible speaker — a hybrid of establishment background, hard-line conservatism and partisan instincts. While she had reservations about Mr. Trump, she was selective with her critiques and voted with him 93 percent of time and against his first impeachment.

As for Mr. Cheney, his distress over the Trump administration was initially focused on foreign policy, though he eventually came to view the 45th president’s performance overall as abysmal.

“I had a couple of conversations with the vice president last summer where he was really deeply troubled,” said Eric S. Edelman, a former American ambassador to Turkey, a Pentagon official in the George W. Bush administration and family friend.

As a transplant recipient whose compromised immune system placed him at severe risk of Covid-19, Mr. Cheney found that his contempt for the Trump White House only grew during the pandemic. He had also known and admired Dr. Anthony S. Fauci for many years.

At the same time, Ms. Cheney publicly supported Dr. Fauci and seemed to be trolling the White House last June when she tweeted “Dick Cheney says WEAR A MASK” over a photograph of her father — looking every bit the stoic Westerner — sporting a face covering and cowboy hat (hashtag “#realmenwearmasks”).

She has received notable support in her otherwise lonely efforts from a number of top-level figures of the Republican establishment, including many of her father’s old White House colleagues. Former President George W. Bush — through a spokesman — made a point of thanking Mr. Cheney “for his daughter’s service” in a call to his former vice president on his 80th birthday in January.

Ms. Cheney did wind up voting for Mr. Trump in November, but came to regret it immediately. In her view, Mr. Trump’s conduct after the election went irreversibly beyond the pale. “For Liz, it was like, I just can’t do this anymore,” said former Representative Barbara Comstock, Republican of Virginia.

Ms. Cheney returned last week to Washington, where she had minimal dealings with her former leadership cohorts and was less inhibited in sharing her dim view of certain Republican colleagues. On Tuesday, she slammed Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona for repeating “disgusting and despicable lies” about the actions of the Capitol Police on Jan. 6.

“We’ve got people we’ve entrusted with the perpetuation of the Republic who don’t know what the rule of law is,” she said. “We probably need to do Constitution boot camps for newly sworn-in members of Congress. Clearly.”

She said her main pursuit now involved teaching basic civics to voters who had been misinformed by Mr. Trump and other Republicans who should know better. “I’m not naïve about the education that has to go on here,” Ms. Cheney said. “This is dangerous. It’s not complicated. I think Trump has a plan.”

Ms. Cheney’s own plan has been the object of considerable speculation. Although she was re-elected in 2020 by 44 percentage points, she faces a potentially treacherous path in 2022. Several Wyoming Republicans have already announced plans to mount primary challenges against Ms. Cheney, and her race is certain to be among the most closely followed in the country next year. It will also provide a visible platform for her campaign to ensure Mr. Trump “never again gets near the Oval Office” — an enterprise that could plausibly include a long-shot primary bid against him in 2024.

Friends say that at a certain point, events — namely Jan. 6 — came to transcend any parochial political concerns for Ms. Cheney. “Maybe I’m being Pollyanna a little bit here, but I do think Liz is playing the long game,” said Matt Micheli, a Cheyenne lawyer and former chairman of the Wyoming Republican Party. Ms. Cheney has confirmed as much.

“This is something that determines the nature of this Republic going forward,” she said. “So I really don’t know how long that takes.”

Author: Mark Leibovich
This post originally appeared on NYT > Top Stories

Ralph Northam Reflects on His Journey Back From the Edge

RICHMOND, Va. — Just two years ago, nearly every national politician in the Democratic Party was calling for Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia to resign. A racist picture was discovered on Mr. Northam’s medical school yearbook page, and the physician-turned-politician said he did not know which person he was in the photograph — the white man dressed in blackface or the one in Ku Klux Klan regalia.

A series of twists helped Mr. Northam stay in office, including simultaneous scandals that engulfed his possible successors, a cross-generational coalition of Black activists who decided to defy national politics and stick by him, and a commitment from Mr. Northam’s administration to prioritize racial justice. And he followed through, shocking even his most ardent supporters, with a series of policy accomplishments that focused on racial equity.

Last week, as the ballot was set for Virginians to choose their next governor, Mr. Northam sat down for an extended interview to discuss his 2019 scandal and the personal and political evolution that followed. He reflected on what he has learned about race and his own white privilege, and how that understanding has changed his political priorities. He dismissed recent national concerns about critical race theory and so-called wokeness, saying his path of discovery has made him a better person.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

As a fact-checking thing, I know you said at the time you did not recall if you were either man in the racist photograph. Is that still true?

That is correct.

I wonder what your initial reaction was when it came out? Did you think your administration was over?

I guess it took a little while for the gravity of the situation to sink in. And then I talked to a lot of people, lots of friends and supporters, that were very hurt and upset by it. And there were some tenuous times that night, and the next day, as I was able to reach out and listen and talk to more people.

But the more I started thinking about it, I understood what’s going on. I know why these people are hurting. And I’m committed to learning, to listening and learning. And then having the pulpit, if you will, to really make some significant changes.

At the time, you articulated, as you do now, understanding the pain that the photograph caused. How did you feel comfortable saying, “Hey, these people are hurting, and they’re calling for me to resign, but I still won’t.”?

I know myself. I know how I was raised. I know that I got into this job because I want to help people. So I knew if people stuck with me, we could bring good.

I know that you compiled a reading list about race, and you did a listening tour. What were some of the things you read, and what did they teach you?

There were a number of books that were recommended. I have one by Robin DiAngelo called “White Fragility.” There was “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” One of the documentaries that I’ve watched a couple times is “13th.” Very powerful — that was probably what put things in perspective for me.

But the most powerful thing was people that were willing to sit down with me, and that I was willing to listen and learn from them. I was in the sixth grade when they desegregated schools, and my family chose to keep me in public schools, which was a great decision. I experienced white privilege and Black oppression, but I really never took the next step and have people explain to me why it was so important. The listening has made me a better person.

As a white person, we — people that look like me — need to take on that burden of educating the folks that we are associated with regarding racism, and white supremacy, and Black oppression and white privilege. That burden, for far too long, has been on people of color, rather than, ‘Let’s get some help from folks that look like me.’

I talked to people who met with you on that listening tour. And they say it was pretty explicit, that you were promising a change in priorities for your administration, that you were promising policy change. Was that the offer you were making?

I never looked at it as like, Let’s make a deal here. But what I did say is that I’m here to listen and I’m here to learn. And I’m in a position as governor and having a cabinet and working with legislators to really turn a lot of what we learn into action.

But some of the policy accomplishments that you’re touting around racial justice now would not have happened if not for the 2019 scandal? Is that accurate?

Absolutely.

So what was it about that moment that changed you?

It has really opened my eyes. It made me a better-educated and more-informed person. So it’s helped me to understand when people talk about Black oppression. And I don’t know that I was able to do that before February 2019. Not that my intentions weren’t there, because I’ve always tried to treat people equally and fair, but I understand more now.

I want to be clear. You’re saying this wasn’t a horse trade of politics, but that you changed personally and that was reflected in your policy priorities?

I meet with my cabinet every Monday morning. And I made it very clear from when this happened that we were going to work on equity and take what we learned and turn that into action.

Isn’t that rather a painful admission? That it took that moment of racist scandal for a Democratic governor to make racial equity a top priority?

Yes, I would have liked to have understood all this when I was, you know, sworn into office, but it wasn’t like that. I went to integrated schools from the sixth grade on, and I was actually a minority. I knew there were people that didn’t have rides after school when we practiced ball and we’d give them a ride home. And my mother and I, we used to go around and make sure people have something to eat on holidays. But the history, the 400 years of our history, I’ve learned a whole lot of that stuff, which I wish I would have known, since February of ’19.

Well, you’ve read a lot about race and whiteness over the last two, three years. Do you think a politician who wasn’t white could have survived this?

Every situation is different. Some of it’s about the timing. About what’s going on in your political career, and what’s going on in history and society and the time. I just made the decision that the best thing to do for Virginia was to listen and learn.

I was reading this week about Loudoun County in Virginia, where there’s been a big moral panic around some of the books you mentioned — saying that such teachings amount to an anti-white message in critical race theory. What would you say to white parents who are frankly afraid of the things you say have helped you grow?

Critical race theory is a dog whistle that the Republicans are using to frighten people. What I’m interested in is equity.

And part of this listening tour has been with young people, and it’s helped me reflect on my own education. Because what we’re teaching, and what we’ve been taught, is not only inadequate but inaccurate. Our textbooks are inadequate and inaccurate, as is who’s teaching them.

I think there are a lot of white people that are open-minded and want to do better. And you may be able to teach them something that they never really realized. But there’s some people that don’t want to lose their parking spots.

Do you share the fears of some Democrats that what you’re describing is leaning too far into a so-called wokeness? And that it is bad politically?

No, I think the more we know about our history, the better.

The more I can learn about you, and the more you can learn about me, we’ll figure out that we have a lot more in common than divides us or separates us.

It is my understanding that you apologized to Black Virginia leaders for your news conference moment in 2019, in what seemed like a moment of levity, when you indicated you might moonwalk. Is that true? Do you regret that?

I don’t even want to go back and look at it. It was a difficult time, that press conference. I could no more moonwalk now than that picture behind you. Rather than getting ready to moonwalk, I was trying to think of something that was lighter to say. You don’t know me, but I can’t dance, for one thing. I was trying to think of something to say, and my wife told me that this wasn’t the best time.

Did you see the racial justice policy of the last two years as repaying a debt that you owed?

One of my proudest moments was being at Greensville Correctional Center and signing legislation to get rid of the death penalty. That’s another example of how Black oppression still existed in a different form. Doing things like that make me feel good about what I’ve done. But is it vindication for what I did, or what I’ve been through? I don’t really look at it like that. But, I think, having my eyes opened and being able to listen to so many people have helped me be able to really get involved with pieces of legislation like that.

I hear what you’re saying. I also think — as a Black person — isn’t this also a story of how someone can rise to be governor without ever learning that history? Isn’t there also a story of immense privilege here?

There’s no question about that. And I think if you look at my life, it’s been a story of privilege. I have had a life of privilege, and that’s why I want to level the playing field.

Author: Astead W. Herndon
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

One Man’s Amazing Journey to the Center of the Bowling Ball

Sposato patented his diamond-shaped core, which he claims produces 20 percent more inertia than any competitor, and placed it in balls that he manufactured under the brand name Lane #1. But while he’s adamant that his core is the most advanced on the market, Sposato has always lagged behind Pinel in terms of sales and recognition. That dynamic led to years of conflict between the two ornery men. After one tussle in the online forum Bowling Ball Exchange, Pinel was banned for his caustic replies to Sposato’s criticism.

“See, Mo, he talks above everybody, talks down to people,” Sposato says. “People can’t understand what he’s talking about—physics-wise, all these big words, stuff like that. So they just look at him and they agree with him. But I can see right through it. I know what he’s talking about, what he’s saying, and I can always throw it right back in his face.” (In addition to designing Lane #1 balls, Sposato also owns a nightclub in Syracuse; he made headlines last year for openly flouting the state’s lockdown by hosting a party.)

Sposato was partially vindicated when MoRich flamed out. The company suffered from typical startup woes, notably maintaining quality control when dealing with contract factories. More fundamentally, demand was down. Between 1996 and 2006, the number of league bowlers—the folks willing to splash out for a new ball or three every year—decreased by 36 percent. But Pinel’s ideas had also been copied by bigger competitors, who were now touting audaciously asymmetric balls of their own. Unlike MoRich, those companies had the means to put their products into the hands of the most influential pros. (Getting a brand approved for use on the Professional Bowlers Association Tour, the sport’s top circuit, costs in excess of $ 100,000 in certification fees.)

Pinel kept sinking his dwindling savings into MoRich until 2011. Shortly thereafter, he was offered a lifeline by an old friend. Phil Cardinale, the man who’d given Pinel his first design opportunity for Track more than two decades earlier, had recently become the CEO of Radical Bowling, a niche ball brand owned by Brunswick Bowling. Cardinale and the VP of Brunswick Bowling invited Pinel to become Radical’s technology director. In addition to designing cores for the brand, Pinel became Radical’s chief ambassador. His #MoMonday YouTube series drew thousands of viewers every week, and he also scheduled more than a hundred personal appearances a year. Though in his seventies, Pinel would regularly put 45,000 miles a year on his black 2006 Chevy Malibu Maxx. He’d drive across the Dakotas in midwinter, dropping into tiny alleys to talk up the cores he’d designed for Radical, balls with names like the Ludicrous, the Katana Legend, and the Conspiracy Theory.

Pinel was still trying to maximize flare potential in his designs, an effort that was arguably becoming outmoded. A new generation of pro bowlers, both stronger and more technically sophisticated than their predecessors, have achieved unprecedented amounts of spin on their balls—sometimes as much as 600 revolutions per minute for those who opt for the increasingly popular two-handed throwing technique. Such bowlers don’t need as much hook assistance as in days gone by, so they’re using more stable balls—a strategic trend that may be having a trickle-down effect on the league bowlers who worship the sport’s stars.

In our conversations, Pinel never displayed any hint that he was worried about the future of his cores. He seemed grateful to still have a place in the industry, and he was happy to be on the road preaching about the intricate relationship between core design and ball motion. When we spoke in mid-February, he called from Fort Myers. His upcoming Southern-tour itinerary sounded brutal: Two more stops in Florida, then he’d be hitting pro shops in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, and Louisville. At the trip’s conclusion, he was slated to help announce the release of Radical’s newest balls, the Incognito Pearl and the Pandemonium Solid, which promises “a strong mid-lane motion and lots of continuation through the pin deck.”

Author: Brendan I. Koerner
This post originally appeared on Backchannel Latest

Ma’Khia Bryant’s Journey Through Foster Care Ended With an Officer’s Bullet

Ms. Hammonds slept wherever she could for several months — sometimes in hotel rooms, sometimes with friends, and many nights in her car — until she secured a home that could accommodate the children. In December 2019, Ms. Hammonds submitted a petition to the court for their return, but it was rejected.

Though the court’s reasoning is not known, the Children Services agency had reported to the court that Ms. Hammonds had failed to meet all of the children’s needs and had not made sure they attended all necessary counseling appointments, according to Ms. Martin, the mother’s lawyer, who said the conditions imposed were unreasonable.

The girls, meanwhile, were placed in group homes. Ja’Niah recalled that, not long after their grandmother dropped them off, she and Ma’Khia were told they had to go into separate rooms for physical examinations. When she emerged, her sister was no longer there.

“I said, ‘Where’s my sister?’” she said. “It was like, ‘We don’t know, we’ll check,’ but he never got back. So that’s when I realized we were being split up.”

After that, Ja’Niah said, the two sisters moved through half a dozen living situations. There was, she said, a foster home so strict that Ma’Khia was often not allowed to leave the house; a group home with dog feces on the floor; a foster mother who screamed at the top of her lungs, not realizing Ma’Khia was recording it all on her phone.

Even when the living situation was good, and a foster parent in Dayton mused about adopting Ma’Khia, her sister was not interested, Ja’Niah said. “She wanted to get back to me, to family. To Columbus,” she said.

Credit…Paula Bryant

At school, Ma’Khia kept her family issues to herself. Jessica Oakley, the teacher’s aide who worked with her at Canal Winchester High School, recalled her as “a hard worker, a sweet girl, very shy.” At the end of ninth grade, she made the school’s honor roll.

Author: Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Ellen Barry and Will Wright
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Great British Sewing Bee journey over for East Yorkshire’s Cathryn

A cloud fell over The Great British Sewing Bee last night as East Yorkshire’s former dinner lady and amateur stitcher Cathryn Tosler-Waudby, described by the BBC One show’s crew as a ray of sunshine, left the sewing room for good.

After being placed sixth out of the nine remaining contestants in the first pattern challenge of international week, to create a traditional French Breton top, and then eighth in the transformation round, Cathryn had all on to impress judges Esme Young and Patrick Grant with her made-to-measure garment.

But the fun-loving competitor’s “From Russia With Love” shift dress failed to make the grade, even though Esme was pleased with the French seams Cathryn had carefully sewn.

Both judges could not overlook the fact that Cathryn had tried to disguise a seam sewn the wrong way out on one of the sleeves with a strip of fabric, or that the overlay of lace fabric obscured the Russian doll fabric of the dress underneath.

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East Yorkshire contestants Andrew Aspland and Cathryn Tosler-Waudby battle it out for the pick of fabrics in the haberdashery
East Yorkshire contestants Andrew Aspland and Cathryn Tosler-Waudby battle it out for the pick of fabrics in the haberdashery

Patrick said: “I am very, very sad to be sending Cathryn home, but I think between some silly mistakes and just a little lack of ambition, sadly, it is her time to leave.”

Cathryn said she totally agreed with the judges, her concluding remarks on the show being: “Sewing is a very solitary hobby, we have all been locked down for so long haven’t we, so it was like being let out and then being able to share and amongst such talented people, it was amazing.”

Earlier in the show, Cathryn had trouble matching the stripes on her Breton top and also accidentally snagged the fabric with the overlocker machine, making holes in the garment, telling show host Joe Lycett she had made “a bit of a boo-boo”.

The transformation challenge, to turn two sarongs into a garment for any age or gender, saw Cathryn initially aim for some trousers, with Joe enquiring if they were for Peter Crouch as they were so long.

But Cathryn reworked her idea into a dress instead, which led the judges to comment that it was still too much like a sarong, during their appraisal.

Earlier in the series, viewers learned that Cathryn enjoyed a bit of grime music and her allotment, when she was not sewing.

Still flying the flag for the East Riding in the show is Hull maths teacher, Andrew Aspland, who has survived for week five, which will be children’s week.

Andrew said he had been looking forward to international week because there would be so much colour.

Cathryn Tosler-Waudby, centre, learns she is to depart The Great British Sewing Bee after week four
Cathryn Tosler-Waudby, centre, learns she is to depart The Great British Sewing Bee after week four

“I’ve never made anything international, really, it will be a bit of an adventure,” he said.

He was pleased with the fabric he chose for the three-hour pattern challenge – “it is screaming French at me” – and came second in the transformation round with only 90 minutes to complete his ambitious collared shirt.

“This is a sprint, but a shirt without a collar isn’t a shirt, is it?” he said. “I hope Patrick doesn’t look at the collar points too closely.”

But Andrew need not have worried because Savile Row’s Patrick thought it was “a terrific, completely radical transformation” that earned Andrew third place.

In the made-to-measure round, with the stitchers inspired by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, Andrew rushed to complete his skirt and top leaving Patrick to judge the overall effect “really untidy”.

Author: [email protected] (Deborah Hall)
This post originally appeared on Hull Live – Celebs & TV

Continuing Our PC Gaming Journey in 2021 and Beyond

Author: Matt Booty, Head of Xbox Game Studios
This post originally appeared on Xbox Wire

We’ve talked often about our “player-first” approach to gaming over the last few years. In the past, that may have meant different things to different people, especially for those who identified strongly with being a console gamer, a PC gamer, or a mobile gamer. If you were to walk the (virtual) halls at Xbox today, I think you’d find that to us, the idea of the “player” has come to mean someone who plays many kinds of games on many different devices. PC gaming is part of this; “player first” has to apply for PC, as well, and to that end we’ve been making investments across the PC gaming ecosystem to ensure that PC is a key part of how people can play games.  

Building Communities Around Games, Not Devices

A big part of our role as a platform holder and game publisher is to connect players with games no matter where they play. Over the last 18 months we’ve launched games on PC like Age of Empires II and III DE, Gears Tactics, Wasteland 3, Minecraft Dungeons, and Microsoft Flight Simulator, many of which topped the Steam charts at launch. We’re looking forward to delivering more PC content, including Age of Empires IV, later this year. Whether they are new genres for established franchises, the next iteration of a classic favorite or the evolution of a storied PC brand, we’re making games that PC gamers love to play.

We know many of you play across more than just your PC, including on Xbox and mobile. That’s why we’re excited to announce Halo Infinite will support multiplayer cross-play and cross-progression when it releases later this year. That means if you’re playing on PC, you can play with your friends on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. It also means that your multiplayer customization and progress will follow you across all platforms.

Halo Infinite

We have been working closely with the PC community to ensure that Halo Infinite offers a premier PC experience, including highly desired features such as support for ultrawide and super ultrawide screens, triple keybinds, a wide variety of advanced graphics options and more. We want to make sure that Halo is serving the PC community.

We’re also using the cloud to make console gaming accessible on even more PCs. While not meant to replace native PC gaming, Xbox Cloud Gaming allows Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members to play over 100 console games on a wide range of computers, from lower-spec, entry-level machines to older devices that otherwise couldn’t handle games that require more power.

Halo Infinite

Creating Experiences Tailored to PC Gamers

We believe it’s important that players have a choice in where they purchase games and we want to make accessing content even easier. We know that the PC community uses multiple storefronts, which is why we also brought Sea of Thieves, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Age of Empires I, II, and III: Definitive Edition, and Forza Horizon 4 to Steam.

There are also millions of people opting to use their Xbox Game Pass membership to play. We launched Halo: The Master Chief Collection at the end of 2019 on the PC as part of Xbox Game Pass for PC; since then, over 10 million players have played it, with the vast majority of them being brand new to the franchise. We’re encouraged by the community’s response, and we continue to bring more games from publishers and developers across the industry into the Xbox Game Pass for PC library. We’re only four months into 2021, and we’ve already added 100 titles, including award-winning Bethesda games and brand new PC games, and we partnered with Electronic Arts to make EA Play a part of Xbox Game Pass for PC and Ultimate memberships at no additional cost. More than 50 leading device partners, including Acer, ASUS, Lenovo, MSI and Razer, are offering Xbox Game Pass for PC with qualifying devices, giving gamers around the world access to the library.

We regularly work on features and functionality that improves and/or allows for a more customized experience like Xbox Game Bar. We’re also bringing more quality-of-life improvements to PC gamers, including improved install reliability and faster download speeds over the next few months. We look forward to sharing more details on that soon.

Helping Developers Deliver Exceptional Experiences

Game developers are at the heart of bringing great games to our players, and we want them to find success on our platforms. That’s why today we’re announcing that we’re updating our Microsoft Store terms for PC game developers. As part of our commitment to empower every PC game creator to achieve more, starting on August 1 the developer share of Microsoft Store PC games sales net revenue will increase to 88%, from 70%. A clear, no-strings-attached revenue share means developers can bring more games to more players and find greater commercial success from doing so. You can read more about this new revenue share and our work with developers from CVP, Head of Game Creator Experience and Ecosystem Sarah Bond.

We empower developers to decide how to deliver their work based on their creative vision. Developing for PC was a priority for Microsoft Flight Simulator last year, using the help of Azure AI, machine learning, Azure Cognitive Services, and Bing Maps to bring the entire planet to life. . We’re also looking forward to releasing Age of Empires IV this fall, which modernizes the iconic RTS franchise for new and returning players with the first all-new title in the last 10 years. We’re building on our history in PC gaming with the addition of inXile entertainment, Obsidian and Bethesda to our development teams – bringing their world-class talent and heritage into the Xbox team.

We’re proud to empower all developers with the platform and services they need to execute their vision and provide exceptional experiences on PC. We introduced DirectX 12 Ultimate to both Xbox Series X|S and PC; coupled with the newly announced DirectX 12 Agility SDK, this enables incredible graphics experiences, like ray tracing, for an even larger set of PC gamers. We’re taking the work we did with our Auto HDR technology on Xbox to PC gamers, which is currently being tested with over 1,000 DirectX-based games. We’re also bringing DirectStorage technology on Xbox to PC, which means vastly reduced load times and more expansive and detailed virtual worlds.

The Future of PC Gaming is Brighter than Ever

We know that we still have a lot of work to do, but based on the response from both PC gamers and PC game developers, we think that we’re headed in the right direction for this community with the investments we’re making. We have never been in a better position as an organization to deliver for PC gamers, with Xbox Game Studios and Bethesda developing content for both PC and Xbox, the Windows and DirectX teams creating technologies that empower developers and provide PC players with features that specifically take advantage of PC hardware, Xbox Game Pass for PC featuring games for every type of PC gamer with Xbox Game Studio games coming on day one, and the ongoing evolution of the Xbox app and Xbox Game Bar. We’ll continue listening to the community to ensure we’re delivering on our promises, and respecting how players choose to play. This is especially true as we head into the second half of 2021, when our work across the entire PC ecosystem has the potential to  come together in a way that propels the industry forward and brings great games to more gamers around the world.