Monthly Horoscope: Leo, June 2023

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 11:04

Gemini season is an exciting time of year as the sun illuminates the friendship sector of your chart and finds you connecting with new groups and communities!

This is a great moment for teamwork, and connecting with your romantic partners on an intellectual level. The sector of your chart activated by the sun in Gemini is also associated with hopes for the future, making it a wonderful opportunity for wish making and daydreaming. Achieving goals may also feel much easier as the month opens, because Mercury finishes its post-retrograde shadow period in Taurus on June 1! Discussions about your career, life in the public eye, or legacy begin to move forward in an exciting way.

Venus in Cancer makes a harmonious connection with Neptune in Pisces on June 2, inspiring a magically romantic atmosphere and perhaps finding you emotionally liberated in some way. Some heavy issue about the past could be resolved.

The full moon in fellow fire sign Sagittarius takes place on June 3, potentially bringing a climax to a situation concerning your love life! You may learn how a crush really feels about you, or you and an established lover can connect on a deeper level. Being honest about your emotions is a big theme at this time. This full moon wants you to be honest about what, and who, truly makes you happy. This might mean you’ll end a romantic connection, but if your heart's not in it, you need to be real with yourself. Aside from your love life, you could be completing a big art project. A celebration may take place—if you haven’t let loose in a while, this full moon can find you eager to party.

Mercury and Uranus meet in Taurus on June 4, and you could be exploring an unexpected opportunity. Surprising news may be shared at this time. A move you make might shock your fans and followers, or an experimental idea can inspire you!

Venus enters your sign, Leo, and opposes Pluto in Aquarius on June 5, which could be complicated: On one hand, Venus in your sign can find you feeling especially attractive, but on the other hand, Venus’s opposition to Pluto might signal hiding the most remarkable parts of yourself around people who are controlling, overpowering, or unpredictable. If you’re in that position, take this as a wake-up call to extract yourself from these dynamics. Call in help from a counselor or trusted friend; there’s no reason for you not to have support! 

If you’re not in any partnerships like that, Venus’s opposition to Pluto might still find you feeling wary of who you dazzle with your sparkle and shine, as you don’t want to catch the attention of any envious haters… However, dear Leo, remember that dimming your shine is exactly what the hates want, and changing yourself to suit other people is no way to live! If you notice yourself doing this, remember that lions are a symbol of royalty, and as a Leo, it’s your cosmic destiny to be fabulous. The opposition between Venus and Pluto doesn’t have to be negative—in fact, it could transform your partnerships in a positive way, especially if you and the people you’re involved with are capable of vulnerability, honesty, and letting go of the past. 

Pluto reenters Capricorn on June 11, which can find you dramatically rearranging your schedule. This might also be a powerful time to dump an old habit. This day finds Mercury connecting with Pluto before Mercury enters Gemini, plus Venus squares off with Jupiter in Taurus: Mercury’s alignment with Pluto inspires a productive atmosphere at work and might bring the inside scoop on a project or company of interest. Mercury in Gemini creates a busy atmosphere in your social life and finds you making new friends and reconnecting with people with whom you share a deeply satisfying intellectual connection. Venus’s clash with Jupiter can mean you’re especially popular: You might be lavished with attention at this time!

Mercury squares off with Saturn in Pisces on June 15, perhaps finding you issuing a rejection, or learning that other people aren’t as generous or as you’d like. Obstacles may arise in communication. A clique could be especially hard to break into. A much more easygoing energy flows around communication on June 17 as Mercury mingles with Venus, and the mood is much friendlier. Also on this day, Saturn begins its retrograde, which can find you deep in thought about financial responsibilities, especially themes like debt, taxes, inheritances, or resources you share with others. 

You could be exploring a new social circle or enjoying a new hobby during the new moon in Gemini on June 18. A new friendship can inspire you, and emotionally, this new moon finds you exploring your true wishes for the future. Knowing what your heart wants is the first step toward achieving these goals!

The sun squares off with Neptune in Pisces on June 18, inspiring a hazy, daydreamy atmosphere. This isn’t the ideal astrological time to take important actions, as the mood is far too lazy. A frustrating conversation about love or money might take place, especially if you let your imagination run away from you. Find ways to stay grounded. Jupiter connects with Saturn on June 19, which bodes well for discussing future plans! New opportunities can be explored and there may be a strong sense of support around you. Logistics for long-term plans might click into place. 

The sun enters Cancer, and Mercury connects with Mars in Leo, on June 21, making for a day of conflicting astrological archetypes! The sun in Cancer inspires a cozy atmosphere, encouraging you to rest and relax. Cancer season is all about catching up on quality time with yourself before the celebrations of Leo season begin. But Mercury’s alignment with Mars in your zodiac sign can also find your social life very busy! Discussions take place at a rapid speed, too, so take a quiet retreat, even if there’s plenty of action in your social life before you turn off your phone!

Mercury squares off with Neptune on June 25, stirring some laziness; watch out for fibs, space cadets, and misunderstandings—though sincere miscommunications can also take place. Neptune is the planet of dreams and fantasies, but it can also be the planet of paranoia: As it clashes with the planet of logic, Mercury, find ways to stay grounded. Get second opinions and don’t jump to conclusions.

Mars squares off with Uranus on June 26, which could put people in an impulsive mood. You might feel this atmosphere in your career, and may be ready to make a big change. Also on this day, Mercury enters Cancer, finding you connecting with your inner voice in a deep and significant way. Secrets may be shared. The sun connects with Saturn on June 28, inspiring a supportive atmosphere, for emotionally tender situations. June 30 finds Mercury in alignment with Saturn, which could bring a deep and meaningful discussion about fears, boundaries, limits, and future plans. 

June 30 finds Neptune beginning its retrograde, which might blur the financial lines in relationships, in love or business. If you’re unsure about what you want to give or take, don’t pressure yourself to make a decision. Take time to feel things out. Ask yourself whether there are any strings attached to gifts being given, and if you’re unsure, take time before accepting support. You may come to understand that certain relationships are transactional, or that there isn’t fair give-and-take. Boundaries are key at this time, and you might learn where your boundaries need to shift. In partnerships with solid boundaries, this period can be a productive time to reorganize expectations and share dreams and fantasies about the goals the future.

Good luck this month, Leo, and see you in July!

Categories: Tech News

Microsoft embraces Apple Mac loyalists – as long as they're using its software

The Register - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 11:03
iDevice admins now have a safe space where they can talk about M365

Microsoft is seeing the work environment – both in office and remote – become more heterogeneous, with a healthier mix of Windows and Apple Mac devices being embraced by enterprises and workers alike.…

Categories: Tech News

FTC: Amazon/Ring workers illegally spied on users of home security cameras

ARS Technica - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 10:46
Two Amazon Ring cameras sitting on a table.

Enlarge / Amazon Ring indoor cameras displayed during an event at company headquarters in Seattle on September 25, 2019. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

A Federal Trade Commission lawsuit filed yesterday accused Ring, the home security camera company owned by Amazon, of invading users' privacy by "allowing thousands of employees and contractors to watch video recordings of customers' private spaces."

Until September 2017, every employee of Ring and a Ukraine-based contractor had access to customer videos, which were stored without encryption, the FTC said. "Ring gave every employee—as well as hundreds of Ukraine-based third-party contractors—full access to every customer video, regardless of whether the employee or contractor actually needed that access to perform his or her job function," the FTC said.

Violations did not stop in 2017 despite new access controls, according to the lawsuit, which alleges privacy invasions both before and after Amazon bought Ring in 2018. The FTC's lawsuit in US District Court for the District of Columbia also alleged that Ring failed to promptly implement basic privacy and security protections, making it easier for hackers to take over customers' accounts and cameras. A settlement that is pending a judge's approval would require Ring to pay $5.8 million for customer refunds, delete certain types of data, and implement privacy and security controls. Amazon did not admit any wrongdoing.

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Monthly Horoscope: Cancer, June 2023

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 10:44

Cancer season starts later this month, but June opens with the sun in Gemini, lighting up a very private and sensitive sector of your chart, putting you in an introspective mood. You could be focused on spiritual development or exploring your shadow and examining your psyche. Slowing down to focus on rest and relaxation is also favored at this time.

June opens with Mercury ending its post-retrograde shadow period: There was a Mercury retrograde last month in Taurus, which might have found you running into lots of old friends, but now that Mercury is clear of its shadow, you’re in a new place with these friendships, and exploring new connections, hobbies, and communities.

Venus in your sign, Cancer, makes a harmonious connection with Neptune in fellow water sign Pisces on June 2, inspiring a whimsically romantic atmosphere! You may be whisked off your feet and taken on a romantic vacation. Even if you don’t go abroad, you and a partner can bond in a deep and special way that feels transportive and inspiring. If you’re not looking for love, this could simply be a time to enjoy a major creative boost and embark on a fun and unexpected adventure.

The full moon in Sagittarius takes place on June 3, which can find you busily wrapping up a new project or even kicking an old habit. You might be reworking your schedule, and this full moon has an important message for you regarding your routine: It’s crucial to create a supportive and healthy work-life balance! To do this, you’ll have to be honest about your feelings: Cancers don’t typically have a hard time connecting with their emotions, but expressing them can sometimes be hard, especially when people depend on you. Fortunately, this full moon supports us all to say what we need to say, even if it’s a little difficult.

Mercury and Uranus meet in Taurus on June 4, which can find you connecting with exciting, unexpected people. You might learn something surprising at this time, too. A shocking idea may be shared. Venus enters Leo and opposes Pluto in Aquarius on June 5, which can bring deep discussions about money and realizations that you need to get real about who you trust to share money and other important matters with. Venus in Leo generally bodes well for exchanging gifts and enjoying the glamorous aspects of life, but Venus’s opposition to Pluto can find you exploring the nitty gritty, perhaps even shady, side to some of your dealings and negotiations. Pluto reenters Capricorn on July 11, which could find you revisiting power dynamics—and power struggles—in your relationships.

Mercury connects with Pluto before entering Gemini on June 11, which might find you learning a juicy secret. A deep, intellectual connection forms. Mercury in Gemini can also find you connecting with your intuition in a significant way. Lastly, Venus squares off with Jupiter in Taurus on June 11, inspiring an over-the-top fun atmosphere, especially in your social life—just keep your spending in check!

Mercury squares off with Saturn in Pisces on June 15, which can find you setting important limits. You might have to issue a rejection or learn a boundary. Protecting your space and peace is a priority at this time. Perhaps mute the group chat that’s been distracting you lately! This alignment is all about having less noise in your life, in order for you to get more rest. Mercury mingles with Venus and Saturn retrograde begins on June 17: Mercury’s connection with Venus inspires a sweet, easygoing atmosphere, and Saturn’s retrograde finds you reworking travel or education plans, editing work you want to publish, or reflecting on themes like boundaries and responsibility.

The new moon in Gemini takes place on June 18, which can find you connecting with your intuition in a deep, meaningful way. Make time for meditation and journaling. This is a powerful moment to explore your shadow or psyche. You can also feel inspired to explore your spirituality; it’s a good opportunity to go on a private retreat. This new moon also asks you to slow down and rest!

The sun squares off with Neptune in Pisces on June 18, which may bring an emotional breakthrough, but it might also find you questioning things or feeling unrooted. Find ways to stay grounded: laugh with friends, connect with the earth, focus on what’s real in your life and not your fears or fantasies. You can feel more down-to-earth as Jupiter connects with Saturn on June 19: Exciting possibilities open up and the support you need could become available. This can be an especially productive time for teamwork. Work you’re doing with a group or community can make great progress at this time.

The sun enters Cancer on June 21! Happy solar return, and happy solstice, dear crab! You feel especially revitalized, creative, and confident at this time. Mercury connects with Mars in Leo on June 21, which might put people in a decisive mood, and discussions move along at a quick pace—so watch out for misunderstandings, confusion, or even laziness as Mercury squares off with Neptune on June 25. Don’t get swept up by fears and fantasies! Watch out for fibs and exaggerations.

Mars squares off with Uranus on June 26, which can find people taking unexpected action. You might feel inspired to take a risk, too! Just think things through carefully and maybe get a second opinion, especially if it could impact your wallet. Cancers are famously cautious, but you might feel peer pressure to take a risk at this time: Ask yourself whether it’s what you really want. Also on this day, Mercury enters your sign, which can find you feeling especially sharp and expressive, ready to say something that’s been weighing on your mind or make a decision about something you’ve been thinking over.

The sun connects with Saturn on June 28, inspiring a productive atmosphere that’s solid time for discussing future plans, especially regarding school, travel, or work you want to publish. You could be connecting with a mentor or teacher, too. Mercury mingles with Saturn on June 30, creating a solid opportunity to explore details, commitments, and logistics. Neptune begins its retrograde on June 30, which might find us in a daydreamy mood. For you, Cancer, this is a wonderful time to get lost in a book, wander around a place that’s new to you, or explore a new idea that you find inspiring. 

Good luck this month, Cancer, and see you in July!

Categories: Tech News

“Clickless” iOS exploits infect Kaspersky iPhones with never-before-seen malware

ARS Technica - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 10:25
“Clickless” iOS exploits infect Kaspersky iPhones with never-before-seen malware


Moscow-based security firm Kaspersky has been hit by an advanced cyberattack that used clickless exploits to infect the iPhones of several dozen employees with malware that collects microphone recordings, photos, geolocation, and other data, company officials said.

“We are quite confident that Kaspersky was not the main target of this cyberattack,” Eugene Kaspersky, founder of the company, wrote in a post published on Thursday. “The coming days will bring more clarity and further details on the worldwide proliferation of the spyware.”

According to officials inside the Russian National Coordination Centre for Computer Incidents, the attacks were part of a broader campaign by the US National Security Agency that infected several thousand iPhones belonging to people inside diplomatic missions and embassies in Russia, specifically from those located in NATO countries, post-Soviet nations, Israel, and China. A separate alert from the FSB, Russia's Federal Security Service, alleged Apple cooperated with the NSA in the campaign.

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Boffins snap X-ray closeup of single atom – and by closeup we mean nanometres

The Register - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 10:01
Achievement took 12 years of blood, sweat and science

Scientists in the US have managed to capture the first X-ray image of a single atom, and it only took 12 years of work developing a technique and a super-powered X-ray instrument to do it.…

Categories: Tech News

The Taliban Is Fighting Iran With American Weapons

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 09:32

The Taliban clashed with Iranian border guards over the weekend, and it used American equipment to do it. The fight took place in the Nimroz province of Afghanistan, on its south western border with Iran. At least three people died, and others were wounded in a dispute about water rights in the region.

Videos of the skirmish are all over social media, and they show Afghanistan fighters using a mix of old Soviet gear and U.S. weapons from the War on Terror. On Telegram, videos from the advocacy group HalVash showed U.S. armored Humvees rolling down a road reportedly on their way to the fight. Another showed a massive Soviet D-30 howitzer rolling down the road in the back of a Navistar 7000 transport truck from the U.S.

One dramatic video first seen on HalVash’s Telegram showed a Humvee with an M240 machine gun in the back. Taken from the point of view of the man behind the gun, the shot lingers on the spent ammunition littering the top of the Humvee before panning up to show the Iranian flag fluttering in the breeze above a building at the border. Iran reportedly struck back at Afghanistan with mortars.

Tehran and Kabul have been fighting over water rights for a while now, and droughts have been a problem in Iran for decades. Earlier in May, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned the Taliban about violating Iran’s water rights in places like Helmand province. The fighting on the border represents a dramatic escalation in tensions.

The Taliban has a lot of military equipment captured from both the Soviet Union during the 1980s and the Afghan National Army and the U.S. military following the West’s withdrawal from the country in 2021. 

According to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a U.S. agency that tracked waste, fraud, and abuse in Afghanistan, America spent around $18.6 billion equipping the Afghan National. Much of that equipment is now in the hands of the Taliban. The Pentagon has said it left behind about $7.12 billion worth of military equipment, and it’s had a hard time keeping track of it all in the wake of its withdrawal.

It didn’t have a complete picture of it during the twenty years of occupation either. The U.S. would frequently ship guns and equipment into the country only to have it go missing later. Shipping containers filled with small arms would sit unattended for years. The Taliban has much of it now. After the collapse, a Taliban official told AL Jazeera that it had taken more than 300,000 light arms, 26,000 heavy weapons, and around 61,000 military vehicles when it gook over the country. He said the plan was to use these weapons and the Soviet-era armor to create a “grand army.”

That “grand army” may be facing its first real threat if tensions continue to escalate with Iran. “The border forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran will decisively respond to any border trespassing and aggression, and the current authorities of Afghanistan must be held accountable for their unmeasured and contrary actions to international principles,” Iran’s police chief, Gen. Ahmadreza Radan, said after the clash, according to the AP.

Categories: Tech News

Asus will offer local ChatGPT-style AI servers for office use

ARS Technica - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 09:00
The ASUS logo in front of an AI-generated background.

Enlarge / The ASUS logo in front of an AI-generated background. (credit: ASUS / Stable Diffusion)

Taiwan's Asustek Computer (known popularly as "Asus") plans to introduce a rental business AI server that will operate on-site to address security concerns and data control issues from cloud-based AI systems, Bloomberg reports. The service, called AFS Appliance, will feature Nvidia chips and run an AI language model called "Formosa" that Asus claims is equivalent to OpenAI's GPT-3.5.

Asus hopes to offer the service at about $6,000 per month, according to Bloomberg's interview with Asus Cloud and TWS President Peter Wu. The highest-powered server, based on an Nvidia DGX AI platform, will cost about $10,000 a month. The servers will be powered by Nvidia's A100 GPUs and will be owned and operated by Asus. The company hopes to provide the service to 30 to 50 enterprise customers in Taiwan at first, then expand internationally later in 2023.

"Nvidia are a partner with us to accelerate the enterprise adoption of this technology,” Wu told Bloomberg. “Before ChatGPT, the enterprises were not aware of why they need so much computing power.”

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Smartphone recovery that's always around the corner is around the corner

The Register - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 08:56
Pay a bill or buy new phone? That lovely question facing some of us in 2023

Things aren't going to get better for smartphone brands anytime soon as households and businesses weigh up monthly bills versus discretionary spending, and decide a shiny handset perhaps isn't the wisest use of funds.…

Categories: Tech News

Apple reportedly prepping a pair of high-end Mac desktops ahead of WWDC

ARS Technica - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 08:51
Apple's Mac Studio desktop.

Enlarge / Apple's Mac Studio desktop. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

As Apple rumors go, the long-rumored 15-inch MacBook Air sounds almost certain to be announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference next week. But as Apple’s plans take shape, it also seems possible that we’ll see new Mac desktops featuring high-end M2 Max and M2 Ultra chips.

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman believes that these new chips are most likely to power an updated range of Mac Studio desktops, a little over a year after the first Studios were initially introduced. As recently as a few months ago, Gurman speculated that the M2 generation would skip over the Mac Studio entirely and that Apple would instead opt to use the newer chips as a selling point for a new Apple Silicon Mac Pro.

But that version of reality may not come to pass. Gurman says these new Mac models have Mac14,3 and Mac14,4 model identifiers, while the Mac Pro that Apple is testing internally is identified as Mac14,8. (We initially thought these no-adjective model identifiers were a throwback to the PowerPC days, but the reality is more boring; Apple just isn’t using unique Mac names in model identifiers anymore, possibly to combat leaks and the speculation that arises when new IDs break cover.)

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Monthly Horoscope: Gemini, June 2023

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 08:41

It’s Gemini season, which can mean you’re feeling energized, full of confidence, and ready to have fun! The sun in your sign is an excellent time for celebration, and indeed, you may feel relieved and eager to party as Mercury finishes its post-retrograde shadow period on June 1!

Last month, Mercury was retrograde, which might have put you in a sluggish mood, or confused and delayed your conversations. Things have cleared up over the last few weeks while Mercury moved through its post-retrograde shadow period, and now that the shadow is officially over, clear communication can finally reign! A feeling of emotional clarity could arise. Your dreams at night may finally become less weird, and you could be reconnecting with your intuition or inner voice in some significant way.

Venus in Cancer makes a harmonious connection with Neptune in Pisces on June 2, which can bode well for your career or popularity. You may find yourself feeling very popular and attractive. Your fans can’t get enough of you! Financial success could arrive. Special gifts might be exchanged.

The full moon in Sagittarius takes place on June 3, activating the relationship sector of your chart, dear Gemini! A confrontation could take place, but a very important compromise or collaboration can also result. You may end a relationship, or grow closer to someone. It’s a “make it or break it” kind of mood, and themes like fair give-and-take, communication, and flexibility are highlighted. You can learn a lot about someone else’s point of view. You could learn how someone really feels about something. 

Mercury and Uranus meet in Taurus on June 4, which could bring unexpected news. You may learn a surprising secret! Venus enters Leo and opposes Pluto in Aquarius on June 5, which could find you having a deep and intense discussion. In general, Venus in Leo typically brings you good news and finds you and your partners connecting on an intellectual level. Venus in Leo is usually light and glamorous, but we might experience a more sensitive side to Venus in Leo as it opposes Pluto in Aquarius. If you and a partner don’t feel safe being vulnerable with each other, issues concerning your inability to connect could come to a head at this time. 

Pluto reenters Capricorn on June 11, which can find you tying up loose ends, especially concerning money like debts, taxes, inheritances, or resources you share with partners. Power struggles concerning these themes may be addressed! Mercury connects with Pluto before it enters Gemini on this day, too, which can inspire a profound emotional breakthrough. Your ruling planet Mercury entering your zodiac sign can also find you very much in your element. Communication flows easily and things feel like they just “click.” Also on June 11, Venus squares off with Jupiter in Taurus, stirring up plenty of fun! Just be careful not to overindulge. Juicy information could be shared, but be mindful of rumors and exaggerations!

Mercury squares off with Saturn in Pisces on June 15, which might find you setting some boundaries, especially at work or with the public. You may have to issue a rejection at this time, or let people know you won’t be available for things. It can be hard to say no to opportunities, but it’s also important to protect your time and peace of mind! Mercury mingles with Venus and Saturn retrograde begins on June 17, which can find you in a generally easygoing mood as you reorganize yourself at work. You could be rethinking which responsibilities you want to take on. Good news may arrive.

A new moon in your zodiac sign, Gemini, takes place on June 18: A fresh start is beginning in your life. On a mundane level, this could be a wonderful time for a makeover: Go shopping, try out a new hairstyle, explore new trends, and update your look! On a deeper level, this new moon can find you feeling transformed in your relationships: You may be presenting yourself in a new way when introduced to others, or approaching your partnerships with a new attitude. This is also a powerful time to simply reconnect with yourself and your emotions.

The sun squares off with Neptune in Pisces on June 18, which could find you daydreaming the day away! Some fantasy is OK, but find ways to stay grounded. You might feel deflated if the visions you have don’t turn out to be real. Jupiter connects with Saturn on June 19, inspiring a supportive atmosphere: This alignment can bode well for your career, as your creative vision manifests in an impressive and successful way. There’s an atmosphere of opportunity and growth, and supportive, reliable mentors may be available to guide you. If you’ve been stuck in a creative rut, a bit of rest can find you feeling revitalized.

Cancer season starts on June 21: Happy summer solstice! The sun in Cancer lights up the sector of your chart that rules comfort and wealth, so this time of year can find you in exciting negotiations, raising your rates, receiving money or other resources, and generally cultivating a sense of abundance in your life. Your relationship to money can undergo an evolution.

Also on June 21, your ruling planet Mercury connects with Mars in Leo, which might find conversations moving at a quick pace—but they may slow down or get confused as Mercury squares off with Neptune on June 25. You could receive rapid fire information one day, then nonsense or nothing the next. Things will eventually even out, but for now, accomplish what you can and give yourself a break once things slow down.

Unexpected changes in plans could arise as Mars squares off with Uranus on June 26: People might feel impulsive at this time, too! Also on this day, Mercury enters Cancer, kicking up discussions about money. Future plans can be discussed as the sun connects with Saturn on June 28, and you could become comfortable in a leadership position at this time! Recognition for your hard work may arrive.

June 30 finds Mercury mingling with Saturn, which bodes well for discussing commitments and logistics. Neptune also starts its retrograde on this day and people may feel especially sensitive at this time. You might feel sensitive about your career and which direction you want to take things. Or maybe you’re feeling sensitive about how you and your work are perceived. Get an outside perspective and don’t let your imagination run away from you! You can gain interesting insight about fame or glamour at this time, and a brilliant creative breakthrough may also take place!

Good luck this month, Gemini, and see you in July!

Categories: Tech News

Players replace Tears of the Kingdom’s patched-out item-dupe glitches

ARS Technica - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 08:24

A guide for watching "memories" to perfectly time a new item-duplication glitch.

It has been only a week since Nintendo removed a number of popular The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom item-duplication glitches with the release of the game's 1.1.2 update patch. But intrepid players have already found alternate methods for creating infinite items to build and fight to their heart's content.

The most straightforward (if slow) new method for item duplication, as described by Kibbles Gaming, involves fusing an item to a weapon, preparing to throw that weapon, and then watching previously viewed cutscenes via the "memories" section of the Adventure Log. Each memory you view apparently advances the game's logic by a single frame, letting you easily pinpoint the four-frame timing window where you can throw a weapon while also retaining a copy in your inventory. While this method is consistent and simple to perform (even early in the game), it can take quite a while to fill up your inventory this way.

A more efficient item duplication method requires you to purchase Link's House near Tarry Town in the east, then place a shock emitter item near the weapon display. With good timing, you can place a weapon on that display during the same frame that the shock emitter knocks it out of your hands, thus creating two copies of the weapon (and any fused item) instantly.

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Categories: Tech News

Researchers get primate embryos to start organ development in culture dishes

ARS Technica - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 08:15
Image of a sphere of cells with a small cluster of additional cells inside.

Enlarge / Computer-generated image of an early stage in embryonic development, before organ formation starts. (credit: KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY)

Scientists set a new record for growing primate embryos outside the womb, as reported in the May issue of the journal Cell. For the first time, monkey embryos were cultivated in a lab for 25 days post-fertilization, achieving key developmental landmarks never before observed in culture, including the start of organ development. The ability to track these processes in the lab might be an important step toward understanding congenital birth defects and organ development in humans.

Understanding development

The early stages of animal development, often referred to as embryogenesis, encompass the transition from a seemingly unremarkable clump of cells to a complex and compartmentalized organism. At the conclusion of embryogenesis, cells have started the march toward specialization, and organ systems have begun to form. In mammals, this is a process that usually happens in the comfort and privacy of the uterus, making it difficult to observe, even with the advent of advanced imaging. And it’s difficult to experiment with factors that might influence development.

All of this has led developmental biologists to search for ways to get this process to occur in a culture dish, bypassing these limitations. Studying human embryogenesis is restricted due to ethical and legal considerations. While the specific guidelines may vary from country to country, the outcome is a nearly global prohibition on lab-maintained human embryos past 14 days—before the progenitor of the nervous system forms. This detail is of particular medical relevance, as irregularities during nervous system formation can result in a range of conditions affecting the spine, spinal cord, and brain, including spina bifida.

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Categories: Tech News

Toyota to build electric 3-row SUV in Kentucky, batteries in N. Carolina

ARS Technica - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 07:55
A grey Toyota electric SUV concept, next to some other Toyota EV concepts

Enlarge / We don't know what this new SUV will look like or be called. The last big electric SUV concept the company showed was this bZ Large SUV in 2021. (credit: Toyota)

Toyota's factory in Georgetown, Kentucky, will get a bit of a glow-up. This week, the automaker confirmed that its factory in the Bluegrass State will assemble a new battery-electric vehicle starting in 2025. It will be an as-yet-unnamed three-row SUV, and the batteries for this new BEV will come from (somewhat) nearby North Carolina.

Toyota's Kentucky plant currently builds the powertrains and assembles the RAV4 hybrid, as well as sedans like the Camry and Lexus ES. It employs about 8,000 people to build more than half a million vehicles a year.

"Toyota Kentucky set the standard for Toyota vehicle manufacturing in the US, and now we’re leading the charge with BEVs," said Susan Elkington, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky. "Our incredible team of Kentuckians is excited to take on this new challenge while delivering the same great quality and reliability our customers expect."

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The Cuck Obsession Has Cucked Our Brains

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 07:28

For the last several years, to be a cuck has had little to do with your sexual proclivities or those of your partner. It has instead been a sort of energy: Being cucked is about being spiritually and philosophically submissive, resigning your values to some dominating ideological or cultural force, and telling yourself you like it. The threat of being cucked no longer comes down to whether your wife would cheat on you—now, the risk of anyone being cucked is near-constant. And as these recent weeks have made clear, we can’t get that idea off our minds.

Last week, the cuck conversation took two forms. The first was through a viral illustration of a line of naked men all waiting to have sex with a single woman. Among all these naked men is one man in a suit, holding a bouquet of flowers. It circulated via a masculinity and dating-centric Twitter account with over 200,000 followers called “The Man Maker,” who shared the image saying, “Ignoring her past will ruin your future.” Just two days later, the account posted it again, edited so that the line appears to extend into infinity, the woman at the end no longer even visible. “You can’t keep a woman who belongs to the streets,” the caption said. “I didn’t make these rules, nature did.”

The tweets amassed millions of views, with hundreds of men responding with “100” emojis and earnest retweets. “Once a prostitute, always a prostitute,” one wrote. It also generated plenty of mocking responses that went viral on their own. But even amid all those dunking on the post, for a significant population of men, this image does represent a deep fear: not only being the chump in the suit but being recognized among their peers as such.

At the same time, photos emerged of Jeff Bezos and his now-fiancé Lauren Sánchez hanging out with her ex-boyfriend, former NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez. There are pictures of the trio on Bezos’ yacht, with Gonzalez notably buff and shirtless, as well as some of the gang all walking down the street together—the suggestion being that Bezos shouldn’t tolerate hanging out with a man that fathered a child with his fiancé, particularly so soon after their engagement. It had to mean one of two things: for all his excessive wealth, Bezos cannot enforce boundaries with women and position himself as some “alpha”—or Gonzalez and Sánchez must be sleeping together, and Bezos must actually enjoy it. Either way, Bezos is a cuck—literally or emotionally.

In all likelihood, the three adults are probably attempting to foster some sort of blended family dynamic among all their children, or maybe Bezos doesn’t have many friends. Still, the mere image of them all together has brought the cuck theory to life, even when it doesn’t quite make sense. After all, Gonzalez and Sánchez had been separated for several years before Bezos came into the picture. Sánchez was married to an entirely different man when she and Bezos began seeing each other. If anyone was cucked in this dynamic, it was probably Sánchez’s ex-husband. But none of this matters because we know something about Bezos: no matter how much money he has, no matter how ripped he gets, and no matter how hot his new partner is, he will still evoke this image in our minds of a balding tech dork. For many, he will always embody the ethos of spiritual cuckoldry.

Cuckoldry has been the topic of insults and humor since at least Shakespearean times, but in less than a decade, its meaning has fluctuated repeatedly to this odd place it’s in now. When Trump-adjacent conservatives began using the term around 2015, the public acted scandalized. Buzzfeed News called it racist; the Southern Poverty Law Center published a blog explaining the meaning of the “cuckservative” meme. Meanwhile, at VICE, actual cuckold fetishists spoke out angrily about their niche being used as a right-wing dig. All this now feels dated, at best. We’re well beyond the phase of needing it either explained or defended. If anything, actual cucks have become relatively normalized: It’s common now for men whose wives or girlfriends have other partners to post publicly about the dynamic on social media, even if they are often met with some ridicule. Now, with “cuck” being both politically and sexually neutered, it’s come to mean everything and nothing.

We can say whatever we want to make ourselves feel superior to a man like Bezos, but that does not change the reality that he is one of the wealthiest people to ever live in a way that none of us will remotely compare. Whether Bezos’s fiancé sleeps with other men doesn’t change that. Meanwhile, images like the cuck line highlight the gaping insecurity men still feel about being put in such a category, whether getting labeled as a literal cuck or a spiritual one. Even if we’ve lost much of a definition of the word, it continues to dominate us. The frequency of the cuck conversation borders on obsession. Whether it be Bezos or this fantasy of comparing women to used cars, cucking has invaded our brains. And isn’t that a type of being cucked, in itself?

Categories: Tech News

India official fined after draining reservoir to recover phone

The Register - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 07:27
Dam it all to hell

Picture the scene. You're on holiday and intend to go for a swim in a nearby dam. You pull out your phone for a selfie to make sure everyone knows you're having a lovely time, but you fumble the handset and it falls into the water.…

Categories: Tech News

The Pentagon Is Spending $1 Billion a Year on ‘Directed Energy Weapons’

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 07:20

The Pentagon is spending $1 billion a year developing laser and microwave weapons, and Washington is worried that money will go to waste. 

According to new reports from the Government Accountability Office, the U.S. military faces serious challenges trying to get what it calls directed energy weapons out, but should consolidate efforts so that the weapons don’t fall into what it called the “valley of death.”

The U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force have all worked to develop various kinds of direct energy weapons. The most prominent are high energy lasers (HEL) and high power microwaves (HPM) weapons. An HEL is a tight beam weapon good for hitting direct targets like a drone or a missile. HPM hit a wider band and could have less than lethal uses. A HPM could down a swarm of drones or disable vehicles without harming the passengers. 

Both weapons would, hypothetically, come with unlimited ammo pools and would be far cheaper to fire than conventional munitions. An interceptor designed to down a nuclear ICBM costs the U.S. $111 million dollars. A laser that does the same thing would cost as much it takes to generate the energy to fire it.

The problem, according to the GAO, is that the Pentagon has no plan for consolidating these programs and actually deploying working weapons. “DOD has long noted a gap—sometimes called ‘the valley of death’—between its development and its acquisition communities that impede technology transition,” an April GAO report said. “For example, the acquisition community may require a higher level of technology maturity than the development community is able to produce.”

perfect.PNGGAO slide.

According to a May GAO report, there are three main problems with the weapons: technological limitations, concerns around battlefield use, and ethical and health concerns. The tech isn’t mature and the Pentagon is having trouble finding civilian contractors to help work on it. Both HEL and HPM are hard to power for long periods of time, for example, and laser-based weapons lose effectiveness in heavy fog or rain. 

There’s also what GAO called “Battlefield concerns.” The weapons are so new that the rules of engagement around them aren’t clear. Microwave weapons affect such a wide area that they could indiscriminately hit civilian or allied targets in a battle. And then there’s the ethical concerns. According to the GAO, no one is sure what the long term effects of DEWs would be on people who were “intentionally or unintentionally exposed.”

Militaries all over the world have been working on some form of directed energy weapon since the early 20th century. The modern incarnations of the U.S. programs have their roots in President Ronald Reagan’s failed Strategic Defense Initiative. Later dubbed “Star Wars,” Reagan’s plan was to have scientists put energy weapons on satellites so that America could shoot Russian nukes out of the sky before they hit the homeland. It never worked.

Categories: Tech News

The Atlantic hurricane season has begun: What we know and what we don’t

ARS Technica - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 07:18
Hurricane Irma as seen by satellite in 2019.

Enlarge / Hurricane Irma as seen by satellite in 2019. (credit: NOAA)

Congratulations, everyone—we've made it to the startline of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season.

Fasten your seatbelts because it could be a wild and bumpy ride. Or maybe not. Because when it comes to tropical activity, no one can be sure what will happen more than a few days into the future. And after about 10 or 12 days? Chaos theory rules, baby.

Not everyone needs to read this article, but many of you do. According to the US Census, more than 60 million Americans live in coastal areas vulnerable to tropical systems in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. For those residents, including yours truly, the threat of a tropical storm or hurricane lurks in the back of one's mind during the summer months like the dull pain of a past injury. The longer it has been since a nearby landfall, the more distant the hum. But it's there.

Read 29 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories: Tech News

Man Robs Convenience Store With Nintendo ‘Duck Hunt’ Pistol

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 07:07

A South Carolina man robbed a convenience store with a fake gun from the Nintendo game Duck Hunt earlier this week, stealing $300 in cash.

As reported by Charlotte, North Carolina-based news station WBTV, David Joseph Dalesandro held up a Kwik Stop store on Tuesday evening around 5:45 p.m. According to a statement from the York County Sheriff’s Office, witnesses said that Dalesandro came into the store wearing a mask, wig, and hoodie, flashed the cashier the pistol, and demanded money.

NES Zapper. Wikipedia

Nintendo released Duck Hunt in the US in 1985 for the NES; the pistol, called the “NES Zapper,”  used an internal optical sensor that let players point it at a CRT monitor running the game and shoot down animated ducks. The zapper was originally bright orange and tan, but Dalesandro’s was spray-painted black.

Police found Dalesandro down the street in a Dollar General parking lot, with the Duck Hunt pistol still in his pants.

Categories: Tech News

The Man Who Knows What the World’s Richest People Want (and How To Get It)

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 07:00

Rey Flemings likes to say that he is two degrees of separation from any significant gatekeeper in the world, one of a few reasons why he is so good at getting the richest people in the world whatever their hearts desire.

Take, just for example’s sake, the $1 million house party he put together for a client who had recently moved to Miami and wanted to make a splash during Art Basel; Flemings secured, in a matter of days, a few pieces from the Smithsonian and an agreement with the U.S. Coast Guard to shut down the waterway so that guests, including three heads of state, could pass through by ship. Or maybe consider the time he helped protect one of his clients with armed private security in a country where doing so is usually illegal by convincing the government to “secure an American private citizen like a diplomat,” even having a member of the president’s own security detail help out. Or what about the NBA-style COVID bubble he successfully established at a Mexican private villa in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, which included a traveling party of roughly a dozen people and many dozens of staff, entertainers, and chefs? (Price tag: approximately $900,000.)

If there is one person in the world who has figured out how the upper crust of society works—its unwritten rules, language, and particulars—it might just be Flemings. Over the last decade, he has become one of the premiere fixers for the global elite, a Jeeves-like magician who professes to be able to make the wildest dreams of some of the richest people in the world come true. He can get clients into locker rooms, secure them private hospital wings during a pandemic, and help get them into most exclusive places in the world, like the Met Gala, highly anticipated Saturday Night Live performances, or on the field during the Super Bowl.

More than that though, Flemings gives the fantastically rich a private place to admit what they can’t say publicly: that their extravagant life is not as fulfilling as they had hoped it would be, and that they need help figuring out how to fix it.

“Nobody wants to cry for rich people and the 1 percent, but it is an odd, lonely world,” one of Flemings’ billionaire clients told me.

That is where Flemings comes in, offering, as his client put it, an opportunity “to live a more interesting life.” One of the first things Flemings does when he signs a new client is ask them to provide answers to approximately 150 questions. The list, which is regularly updated and tailored to the individual client, is broken down into approximately distinct sections like “Legacy,” “Private Medical,” Security & Risk,” “Public Relations & Brand Building,” “Matchmaking,” and, of course, “Yachts.” Some of the questions are of the more standard variety. What is your net worth? Where are your homes located? Are you interested in purchasing a plane?

But the crux of the exercise is to obtain a deeper knowledge of the client’s wants and desires.  Are you happy? Are you happy with the public’s perception of you? Your doctor says you have one year to live, what do you do? If it’s different than what you’re already doing—why?

The questions are an attempt to start finding a solution to the emptiness the rich can feel inside themselves. For a growing number, step one is to call Rey Flemings.

Fleming’s clients are not merely wealthy. His small and relatively unknown company, Myria, only accepts ultra-high net worth customers, defined as those worth more than $30 million. “This isn't the 1 percent. This is the .003 percent,” Flemings said. To join, potential customers must willingly spend an average of $1 million on their “lifestyle” alone each year, and they must be enthusiastic about donation-based philanthropy as well. The select few who have made the cut include A-list celebrities, star athletes, CEOs, and founders, none of whom I’m allowed to name publicly, but who often operate in and around Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and Hollywood. Flemings notes that there are almost 80 million members of the 1 percent globally, but only a few hundred thousand, at most, would be able to join Myria.

Even that might be overstating it. The name, Myria, comes from an obsolete metric prefix meant to indicate factors of 10,000, and serves as a reminder to Flemings to focus on the needs of “the top 10,000 people in the world” and no one else. “We cannot do what we do for everyone,” he said.

In the world Flemings operates in, the traditional rules of supply and demand do not apply. Indeed, they are often inverted: As the value of something goes up, so, too, does the demand for it. Such items are known, in strict economic parlance, as Veblen goods. The unorthodox rules apply only to the scarcest items, which Flemings describes as fitting one of three boxes: “the first, the best, the only.” Another way to say it is that Flemings focuses on the sort of homes that aren’t available on Airbnb, the sort of tickets that aren't on Ticketmaster, the sort of businesses that don't need to be on Yelp, and the sort of people who don't need to be on LinkedIn. According to Flemings, the available services run the gamut and have included, for example, obtaining an original copy of Facebook’s little red book, which the company handed out to employees early on and became a part of Silicon Valley lore, or helping clients gain immediate access to the top medical professionals in the world when disaster strikes for a loved one.

“Gaining access to world class medical assistance is not always a straightforward proposition,” he said.

Flemings himself first started to help the rich navigate the world around them by accident, when, almost a decade ago, he got a call from a founder who needed some help. This founder had sold his company to Amazon and wanted to go on a long summer vacation in Europe to celebrate. But a previous trip had left him frustrated, unable to shake the feeling he was constantly overcharged and being made to look like a fool. At the time, Flemings was building a mobile video application, but in a past life, he had worked in close proximity to entertainment stars like Justin Timberlake. Among other tasks, he helped plan extravagant traveling parties. The founder asked Flemings he could help him plan something similar.

In a bit of unspoken favor-trading, Flemings agreed, thinking that if he did a good job, the founder might invest in his startup. A few months later, Flemings sent the founder on a Spanish vacation that was produced and fine-tuned as if it were a global tour. The plan to have the founder invest failed—“No one wants to look at your mobile video application while they're having fun in Ibiza,” said Flemings—but it was a fortuitous moment nonetheless. Word started to travel that Flemings not only could be trusted, but could pull off world-class experiences. The rich started to reach out to Flemings with requests and he kept doing the favors in hopes of obtaining investors, only realizing six months in that the business opportunity in front of him wasn’t in mobile video, but in making the rich happier.

In September 2016, he launched a luxury concierge for the super rich—or, as Flemings puts it, the “super successful.” He called it The Blue, after the iconic “Blue Marble” photograph of the Earth, which was meant to indicate that Flemings could give clients the “access to the best of everything,” anywhere in the world. He was determined to develop the company into something with broader offerings than a luxury travel service—an organization equally as willing to help manage a public-relations crisis as it was to figure out a way to make someone’s kids happy. In time, Flemings would come to service 80 clients worth a combined $400 billion, and Flemings would become a sort of market-maker for the rich—able to serve as the trusted conduit between the people who hold the valuable resources, and the wealthy people who want them.

Flemings’ pitch to the hyper-rich begins by extending them something they don’t normally receive: empathy. Being rich is hard work, Flemings explained to me on one of our many calls this year, and it is perfectly fine to struggle with the responsibilities and stressors that come with it.

“The more successful you become,” Flemings said, “the fewer people you can trust. The more successful, the less the public thinks of you; billionaire has become a pejorative word. The more successful you become, the harder it is to find someone who will look you in the face and tell you the truth.”

Consider for a moment, Flemings asks me, the practicalities of having more money than you know what to do with. “When you're super successful, it's very hard to find people that you can trust,” said Flemings.  “Everybody wants to sell something to the richest people in the world.” That includes diamond dealers, celebrity stylists, and yacht operators, of course, but also grifters, scammers, con artists, and anyone else desperate (or confident) enough to try their hand at bilking the .003 percent. As a result, attempting to figure out what price to pay, and how to limit liability, contractually or otherwise, can prove difficult, even maddening.

That lack of trust is where Flemings has found his niche, making the richest people in the world feel both happy and in safe hands.

image_6487327 (3).JPG

To Flemings, the concept that the world’s richest people are conspiring together to rig the game in their favor seems foolish. He believes the closest the rich have come to assembling as an illuminati-like clan is in St. Barts between Christmas and New Year's Eve, because he’s been there.

“I gotta tell you, some of the richest people in the world are struggling to talk to a girl,” he said. “There is no way these people are leading some fucking global conspiracy to do shit.”

Perhaps, but Flemings also told me repeatedly that a central “value of the network” is in the intangible interconnections it has created and fortified between the rich, the well-connected, and the powerful in numerous industries. Such knock-on network effects from a curated community of hyper-elites afford numerous benefits, some obvious and some not.

“Ultimately, connection comes from people who share your problems,” the billionaire client said. “Being able to connect with people who share those problems, I think, is valuable.”

The benefits can be even more tangible than that. One member offered their private jet to others at cost, so long as they cover the fuel and pilot’s pay, after having less time to use it once his wife got pregnant. Other members have hosted events or dinner parties, or offered season tickets to top teams, access to top private clubs, or a vacation home too nice to list on Airbnb. (“When you have an $80 million house with $100 million in decor on your wall,” said Flemings, “you're not renting it out to complete strangers on the internet.”)

The community can even be lifesaving. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Flemings received “advanced notice” about the impending severity of the crisis from Yale professor and physician Nicholas Christakis, a compensated advisor to Flemings’ companies, which allowed his company to prepare early. By January, the company had sent an email to clients warning them that “the world would be shutting down,” then prepared COVID-19 kits with everything they needed and set up a Bay Area service where doctors would make house calls to clients. His clients were incredibly concerned they would not have “access to health care,” so Flemings also was able to successfully “privatize” the small wing of a hospital that could be set up for “emergency care.” For the favor, Flemings brokered a “large contribution” to the hospital, he said.

The community helps Flemings, too. One Tuesday this March, Flemings received word that Silicon Valley Bank was in trouble. The bank, a long-time partner of the technology and venture industry, was dealing with liquidity concerns after a series of bad bets on mortgage bonds, and the person on the other end of the line advised Flemings to pull his money as soon as he could. By Thursday, the bank run was in full swing, but Flemings was safe.

Flemings became comfortable winning over people far more wealthy and powerful than him at a young age.

The son of a single school teacher, he grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. After a brief stint at the University of Tennessee in the early 1990s, he found a mentor in a man named Richard Thomas, who ran a financial services company in Memphis. Thomas asked Flemings to start giving computer-based presentations to large financial clients. Suddenly, Flemings, a young Black man from humble origins, found himself making presentations to some of the richest people in the southeast. The presentations helped him become comfortable around wealthy people. He learned, he told me, how to form ideas and express them to the rich, and started to cultivate a network.

From there, Flemings began a circuitous path, moving to Austin and joining the early startup scene, before returning to Tennessee to head a Memphis music foundation that was part of a broader economic development initiative spearheaded by the CEOs of large employers in Tennessee. Some of the most famous members of the Tennessee music scene were involved, including Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun Records, and Three 6 Mafia. So was pop star Justin Timberlake, a Memphis native. Soon enough, Flemings had joined Timberlake’s family office, which opened him up to work with others in the entertainment industry. While many family offices are primarily focused on turning a dollar into $1.03, the entertainers had heavy service needs. Flemings helped plan traveling parties and met global tour managers. Eventually, he found his way back to tech, serving as CEO for a startup called Particle, which was acquired by Apple, and founding another startup focused on mobile video.

By the time Flemings got the call from the founder that would push him into the concierge business, he had developed a uniquely diverse rolodex. He felt as comfortable with Three 6 Mafia as he did with the CEOs of tech titans. “I was one of the few people who could walk between those worlds,” he said. In this regard, Flemings is especially convincing. In conversation, he is charismatic, focused, alert, and in control. It could feel at times when we spoke like he was simultaneously pitching me as he would an investor while listening intently to my every word, as if I was his best (and maybe only) friend.

To some, the world that the super-rich occupy can feel like a complex place. But Flemings’ talent boils down to an ability to figure out who society’s true gatekeepers are and an uncanny ability to cultivate relationships with all of them. “My philosophy is that the entire world and everything in it is gated by a human,” he said. If you can figure out who controls a certain gate and then woo them, the gate can be opened. In Flemings’ experience, gatekeepers can be government officials, politicians, A-list stars, one of Flemings’ own clients, or some combination thereof.

These people, be they world-class stylists, matchmakers, or the Golden State Warriors, have become the lifeblood of Flemings’ new business, and he does everything he can to cultivate the relationships. “We have to protect our relationships with the businesses and the brands that control access,” he said. Myria has sent multiple clients to the Met Gala over the years and has brokered introductions between some of the world’s richest people and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, so that the clients could become benefactors and build relationships in Hollywood. “No matter what financial resources I have, I could not have figured that out,” said the billionaire client, who attended the Oscars and Vanity Fair afterparty after Flemings made an introduction.

David Dezso, a former member of special forces who now runs a risk management firm that sometimes partners with Flemings, said trust is a requisite of the relationship. The work predominantly involves what he described as “travel risk protection” for billionaires in areas like Brazil, Mexico, and Europe. The timelines can sometimes feel “almost impossible” and when Flemings calls, Dezso doesn’t have time to work out a legally binding scope of work. But Flemings has never failed him.

At the highest levels, sellers often have considerations beyond money, a primary reason they often aren’t available to the highest bidder. The reason for the secrecy is that the seller wants to curate their buyers. “If you want access to things that other people don't have access to, part of the equation is always who is asking,” said Flemings. The issue then becomes figuring out how to beat out the rest of the people with seemingly limitless resources to gain special and privileged access. More often than one might expect, the final decision doesn’t come down to money, but one’s personal branding. It’s perhaps not necessary to be decent, but it helps to be cool. At a minimum, the person who can get you into the season premiere of Saturday Night Live wants to feel assured they won’t end up embarrassed for having done so.

Because of this “cold, hard reality,” Flemings’ carefully vets both clients and providers, including a live interview. Clients and vendors who make the cut then are rated on a scale of zero to 10. “People who are kind and easy to work with get increased access, and people who are shitty get diminished access,” he said. Flemings is adamant that Myria members are generally decent, but some bad apples slip through the cracks, and Flemings estimates he has had to ban an average of one client a year for misbehaving. “There are some people who don't respect other people … I've had people have one guy get out of line with my female staff,” he said. “It’s not worth the money.”

Of course, money helps. Flemings has cultivated relationships with the boards of organizations and occasionally expresses “the willingness of our client to be supportive of their endeavors,” such as hosting dinners or otherwise becoming more involved, however that may be possible. The implication is clear.

It all works, sometimes in miraculous ways. When a client was having trouble with a visa extension after government buildings shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, he was able to identify the gatekeeper amid the government bureaucracy and have his client’s case resolved in just over an hour after the initial request. Foreseeing my skepticism, he showed me the texts as proof of the power of knowing who to contact, and already having enough of a relationship to call in a favor.

“I didn't pay anyone,” he said with a smile. “Literally just called a friend.”

Screen Shot 2023-05-31 at 1.54.01 PM.png

Flemings’ claim that he is “two degrees of separation” from any significant gatekeeper in the world felt dubious to me. But he insisted it wasn’t as far-fetched as it seemed. The key, he continued, was cultivating relationships with what he called “super connectors,” “Eigen vectors,” or “the central nodes in any network,” in the places the rich most often want to visit and the industries with which they want to interact. If they don’t know how to make it work directly, they’ll usually know who the next call should be—a celebrity can connect to a politician, who knows a government official, etc.

In total, Flemings said there were only about 20 markets around the world that the richest people in the world care to visit—places like New York, Dubai, Ibiza, Paris, Tokyo, and the south of France—and roughly 15 categories of activities—oftentimes, they are in touring, government, and luxury services—that interest them, outside of a few edge cases. If you have enough connectors to cover each of those categories in each of those places, you can mostly cover “the zeitgeist” of the rich, he said. “It's much more finite than you realize.”

Two years ago, Flemings started Myria as a more professionalized, natural evolution of The Blue. The Blue’s growing client list, and the flights and movement that it required, had exhausted Flemings. He considered adopting what he called a “law firm business model,” with a local managing partner in every major hub. But that didn’t sit right with him.

So he started to put together something tailor-made for his tech-heavy clientele: an app, where Myria clients can make specific requests using the prompt  “I want to _______.” A member of the concierge team then sends out the request to the company’s network of providers on an “Uber-style” marketplace, as Flemings put it. If they get multiple offers, Myria makes a determination, so the client isn’t forced to waste time choosing. For its services, Myria decided to charge clients $25,000—The Blue had charged $50,000—as well as an additional fee per request, which varies according to degree of difficulty. The Silicon Valley spin on Fleming’s idea quickly garnered interest, and, in 2022, Myria earned investment from the influential accelerator Y Combinator and others.

Like any half-decent startup founder, Flemings has figured out a way to spin his new startup as not just a useful service for the rich to have fun, but a way to make the world a better place. At one point, Flemings expressed a soft and carefully managed criticism of capitalism to me, the kind a billionaire might find just OK enough, saying that the degree of wealth concentration amongst the highest echelons of society was not healthy for anyone—an opinion he shares with none other than JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.

“We have to remember: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates—for all of their wealth, they did not invent capitalism. They were born into it. And capitalism was invented, let's just say it, by our ancestors who didn't know very much,” he said. “When capitalism was invented, the brightest scientific human minds believed, not just that the Earth was flat, but that the Earth was the center of the universe. They believe the sun revolved around the Earth, that brown-skinned people were inferior, that female sexual desire was a mental illness.

“Well, we've gotten rid of all of those other ideas, but we've kept capitalism and we've enshrined it as some sort of almost holy idea.”

Flemings positions his venture as a way to ever so slightly improve an archaic system, by making more of the money trickle down. Myria, he said, is a competitor to the Forbes billionaire list, convincing the rich to spend money as possible instead of stack it.  "We believe that the world's richest people should be having more fun and spending more money. We believe that that is actually for the greater good,” he told me.

image_6487327 (2).JPGRey Flemings holds his new puppy, Wonder.

Flemings’ degree of empathy for the world’s billionaires, which even Tom Wambsgans would be hard-pressed to match, makes more than a little business sense: Flemings is in the business of taking their concerns seriously. They are his customers. As a result, he unsurprisingly comes to their defense.

“They're $1 billion out of an $80 trillion global economy. Even if they just took a billion dollars, converted it to cash and set it on a street corner in Manhattan, it doesn't change the system. So, they, even in that position, are, like, ‘How do we fix something so big, so out of my control, and so overwhelming?’” he told me. “My observation is that it's systemic, and that no one has their hand on the wheel. The systems are too big and too crazy, and no one really knows what they're doing.” But there comes a point where Flemings’ billionaire empathy can extend so far out that it almost strips away the agency of a group with, at an absolute minimum, a disproprionate ability to affect societal change.

“We're not going to shame the world's rich into helping to create a better society,” he told me the second time we spoke on record. “We need to open our arms. People are people and trying to figure this thing out together.” It was a perfect Rey Flemings line: empathetic, even-keeled, and exactly what the richest people in the world would want to hear.

Categories: Tech News