"I guess I am thinking a lot about the early 2000s lately, like a lot of people, I think, in their 30s."
That’s one of the first things writer, game designer, and podcaster Merritt K said to me in early November. At this moment, everything about gaming, and being online generally, was fundamentally easier than it was at the turn of the century. You can now play intensive triple-A games on a cheap phone, given a cloud gaming subscription and a decent wireless connection. You can set up a chat room, build an online presence, even publish videos, instantaneously, for free. Performance-minded and customizable PC gaming hardware is just a few clicks and a couple days away from showing up at your door.
And yet we're both hopelessly wistful for something else entirely: LAN parties. Merritt K so much so that she's writing, compiling, and crowdfunding a book: LAN Party. It's a collection of original amateur photos—many upscaled through AI—and short essays on a period when multiplayer gaming meant desktop towers, energy drinks, and being physically present in some awkward spaces. It's been in the works for more than a year, but she's been thinking about it much longer.
"Some reasons for that are just nostalgia, like, 'Remember when you were a teen, listening to emo music, going to LAN parties and stuff.' But there is another aspect of it, where the Internet that I think a lot of like, Gen X, elder millennial, or mid-millennial-aged people grew up with, is basically falling apart," Merritt K said. "We've felt like this thing that was so important to me, Internet culture and being online and tech and all this stuff—it was so hard to be growing up, and it gave me a way to talk to people and make connections.
"And now it's like the opposite of that. Real life is where you can have meaningful interactions with people, and online is where you have to present this brand, this manicured identity. I think one thing that appeals to people, and to me, about LAN parties is they're kind of emblematic of this earlier era of tech, when things were a little rougher around the edges."From late-night tweet to AI upscaling
The decline of truly DIY consumer tech, the 20-year nostalgia window, the isolation of COVID-19—some or all of these guided a late-night tweet of Merritt K's in September 2021 to nearly 100,000 likes. Over four harshly lit images of people wearing patently millennium-era clothing: "I want to produce a coffee table book that's just pictures of LAN parties from the 90s and 2000s." Two minutes later: "Do not steal this idea it's mine someone please publish this."
I want to produce a coffee table book that’s just pictures of LAN parties from the 90s and 2000s pic.twitter.com/2YpOn8U5cF— merritt k (@merrittk) September 2, 2021
Someone is indeed publishing this: the UK-based videogame history publisher Read-Only Memory. Merritt K sought out original photos and heard from hundreds of eager fans. Some had to dig through old media and hope entropy had yet to set in. Some still had image folders sitting on long-neglected but public web servers. Merritt K had seen many of the famous LAN party memes—the San Antonio Spurs playing StarCraft on a plane next to their NBA championship trophy, the guy duct-taped to a ceiling—but was taken aback by how rich the lesser-known photos she received were.
"The composition in some of these is, accidentally, so good," Merritt K said. "They just reveal so much about the era in terms of the fashions, the food, the drinks, even the interior decor. I think that resonated with a lot of other people, too."
The people who frequented LAN parties tended to be early adopters, and that included digital photography—grainy, yellow-timestamped, single-digit-megapixel, point-and-shoot digital photography. Untrained photographers shooting with Y2K-era gear in dimly lit spaces lent the photos Merritt K collected a lot of charm but also made many of them impossible to publish in high-resolution print.
Enter Gigapixel AI, learning software that can upscale images up to 600 percent. Gigapixel upscaled famous 1896 films of trains arriving, helped another AI claim a controversial art fair win, and further blurred the line between digital photo and illustration. Some interesting photos had to be left out because they were just too dark or blurry, even with AI help. Others made Merritt K and her editors question the line between the dark-basement reality and needing images that worked in a physical book. It was a tricky balance, Merritt K said, but the overall spirit was enlightenment and entertainment, not light-balance accuracy.What killed the LAN party?
Digital photography would vastly improve as the century progressed, but LAN parties would mostly disappear. The reasons for this are strange and contradictory, Merritt K said.
"LAN parties started declining as broadband became more prominent, but, weirdly, the other thing that's happening in computers at that time is gaming laptops becoming more of a thing," she said. "And flat-screen monitors that can at least compete with older, bulkier tube monitors. … You have these photos of guys with huge monitors, crammed into the back of their mom's minivan or whatever, it's a lot. A few years later, just as it would be so much less onerous to do this, they stop."
The games, and their economics, certainly drove this shift. Company-hosted multiplayer servers helped cut down on piracy, opened up new revenue streams, and, certainly, made finding opponents on a moment's notice much easier. But now, even if you wanted to put together an old-school LAN event and experience some of the lowest latency possible in gaming, there are nowhere near as many games that would support it.
Something else went missing when the LAN party era ended, and it's likely harder to reproduce. A quote from a veteran gamer on the LAN Party funding page reminisces about "this strange alternate universe where the captain of the football team hung out with the science fair nerds." The ethnic diversity of LAN parties wasn't typically impressive, though Merritt K notes finding more women and people of color than she expected in her archive dig. But communities were more easily cohered and moderated.
"When you have to meet in person to play the games you're playing, whether at an arcade or a LAN party, it's harder—not impossible, but harder—to be a total asshole, because people will ask you to leave," she said. "Whereas online, you're dependent on tools for reporting or blocking, and you can easily assume someone else will do it."
If the people more easily cohered, the computers at LAN parties were heterogeneous: "a sheer anarchy of cases, desktop layouts, and diverse approaches to building," Merritt K said. It's a stark contrast to today's standardized shapes and specs for a mid-tower, an ultrabook, a gaming laptop with one of a handful of accent light colors. Computers were a consumer product by the early 2000s, but with a lot more variation. People would show off their systems at LAN gatherings, get tips from other builders, and even trade or donate parts from older rigs and designs.
In curating a book of LAN party photos, Merritt K inadvertently captures many other aspects of that culture at that time: Cameron Diaz posters, JNCO jeans, BAWLS Guarana sculptures, and all the interior and office design choices of the time. I asked Merritt K how she felt about being an archaeologist for an obscure but distinct part of history. She didn't think of their work that way and noted she wasn't a part of the scene herself—she only had lower-spec Dell or Gateway PCs on hand during that time.
So LAN Party is not a definitive survey. But it is an important time capsule, part of the reason why Merritt K followed through on her seemingly offhand Twitter idea.
"Some people might say, 'Oh, this is just a bunch of idiots having fun.' But that's a lot of what culture, what human history is, though, idiots having fun. It was a really entertaining project in itself, and the idea that it might be useful, or historically relevant in the future, that's cool, too."
As with every World Cup, at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar the players will be using a new ball. The last thing competitors want is for the most important piece of equipment in the most important tournament in the world’s most popular sport to behave in unexpected ways, so a lot of work goes into making sure that every new World Cup ball feels familiar to players.
I am a physics professor at the University of Lynchburg who studies the physics of sports. Despite controversies over corruption and human rights issues surrounding this year’s World Cup, there is still beauty in the science and skill of soccer. As part of my research, every four years I do an analysis of the new World Cup ball to see what went into creating the centerpiece of the world’s most beautiful game.The physics of drag
Between shots on goal, free kicks, and long passes, many important moments of a soccer game happen when the ball is in the air. So one of the most important characteristics of a soccer ball is how it travels through air.
Cybersecurity moves fast. New and bigger threats emerge all the time across an ever-expanding attack surface and there's not enough people to fill vacant jobs.…
In brief A security researcher whose Google Pixel battery died while sending a text is probably thankful for the interruption - powering it back up led to a discovery that netted him a $70,000 bounty from Google for a lock screen bypass bug.…
The moon in Libra makes harmonious connections with Saturn in Aquarius and Mars retrograde in Gemini at 5:18 PM and 10:37 PM, respectively, inspiring a sense of structure, purpose, and self-awareness, especially as we work through our limits and frustrations. The sun in Scorpio connects with Jupiter in Pisces at 11:07 PM, bringing optimism, generosity, and adventure!
All times ET.
Stay in the cosmic loop with the VICE horoscopes newsletter. Get horoscopes straight to your inbox when you sign up here!Aries: March 20, 2022 - April 19, 2022
The moon in Libra aligns with Saturn in Aquarius and your ruling planet Mars, currently retrograde in Gemini, which can find you setting new boundaries regarding communication. A productive energy flows, and emotional healing or a feeling of freedom arises as the sun in Scorpio connects with Jupiter in Pisces!Taurus: April 19, 2022 - May 20, 2022
You could be setting important boundaries regarding your time, energy, or career as the moon in Libra connects with Saturn in Aquarius and Mars retrograde in Gemini. The sun in Scorpio connects with Jupiter in Pisces, inspiring an uplifting atmosphere in your romantic relationships and social life!Gemini: May 20, 2022 - June 21, 2022
The moon in Libra mingles with Saturn in Aquarius and with Mars, which is retrograde in your sign, finding you reassessing your plans and goals. You’re figuring out your next steps, and good news concerning your career may arrive as the sun in Scorpio connects with Jupiter in Pisces.Cancer: June 21, 2022 - July 22, 2022
You may be ripping off emotional bandaids and in a take-charge mood as the moon in Libra connects with Saturn in Aquarius and Mars retrograde in Gemini. The sun in Scorpio connects with Jupiter in Pisces, inspiring optimism, and a fun, romantic atmosphere!Leo: July 22, 2022 - August 22, 2022
Progress can be made in your relationships and group efforts as the moon in Libra connects with Saturn in Aquarius and Mars retrograde in Gemini. The sun in Scorpio connects with Jupiter in Pisces, inspiring an uplifting and warm atmosphere at home!Virgo: August 22, 2022 - September 22, 2022
The moon in Libra aligns with Saturn in Aquarius and Mars retrograde in Gemini, which can find you reorganizing your finances and getting clear on your professional goals. The sun in Scorpio connects with Jupiter in Pisces, perhaps finding you having an inspiring discussion, and connecting with your partners in deep and significant ways.Libra: September 22, 2022 - October 23, 2022
The moon in your sign, Libra connects with Saturn in Aquarius and Mars retrograde in Gemini, inspiring a productive atmosphere for setting boundaries and getting clear on your goals. The sun in Scorpio connects with Jupiter in Pisces, which can bode well for building wealth!Scorpio: October 23, 2022 - November 22, 2022
The moon in Libra mingles with Saturn in Aquarius and your ruling planet Mars, now retrograde in Gemini, which can find you setting boundaries in your personal life. The sun in Scorpio connects with Jupiter in Pisces, inspiring a fun, celebratory atmosphere! Romance abounds!Sagittarius: November 22, 2022 - December 21, 2022
A productive energy flows in your social life and around communication as the moon in Libra mingles with Saturn in Aquarius and Mars retrograde in Gemini. The sun in Scorpio connects with your ruling planet Jupiter, now in Pisces, inspiring an emotionally, and perhaps spiritually, expansive atmosphere!Capricorn: December 21, 2021 - January 19, 2022
Progress in your career can be made as the moon in Libra mingles with your ruling planet Saturn, now in Aquarius, and with Mars retrograde in Gemini. The sun in Scorpio connects with Jupiter in Pisces, which could find you having an exciting discussion or connecting with inspiring people. This can be a great time to network, socially or professionally.Aquarius: January 19, 2022 - February 18, 2022
The moon in Libra mingles with your ruling planet Saturn in your zodiac sign, Aquarius, and with Mars retrograde in Gemini, inspiring a productive atmosphere as you work toward your goals. The sun in Scorpio connects with Jupiter in Pisces, which can bode especially well for building wealth or influence!Pisces: February 18, 2022 - March 20, 2022
The moon in Libra mingles with Saturn in Aquarius and Mars retrograde in Gemini, which can find you making progress with any emotional work. The sun in Scorpio connects with your ruling planet Jupiter, which is in your sign, which could bring exciting opportunities and invitations!
Few were prepared for the dramatic collapse of crypto exchange FTX on November 11. The incident has left hundreds of thousands of customers without access to their funds, and the ripple effects have wiped billions of dollars from the market, as well as casting doubt over the integrity of other crypto companies.
FTX was so deeply embedded in the cryptosphere that many firms (including crypto lenders Genesis and BlockFi) have spent the last week hurriedly calculating their own financial exposure to the collapse, in fear they may be dragged down in the swell. Others, however, have sensed opportunity in the crisis and are readying plans to prevent further contagion. “We actually think this is a very good cleansing period,” said Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, during a Twitter Spaces Q&A earlier this week. “The weak projects are gone, and the industry is much healthier.”
Nobody knows who did it first, or when. But by the 2nd or 3rd century BCE, Roman engineers were routinely grinding up burnt limestone and volcanic ash to make caementum: a powder that would start to harden as soon as it was mixed with water.
They made extensive use of the still-wet slurry as mortar for their brick- and stoneworks. But they had also learned the value of stirring in pumice, pebbles, or pot shards along with the water: Get the proportions right, and the cement would eventually bind it all into a strong, durable, rock-like conglomerate called opus caementicium or—in a later term derived from a Latin verb meaning “to bring together”—concretum.
The Romans used this marvelous stuff throughout their empire—in viaducts, breakwaters, coliseums, and even temples like the Pantheon, which still stands in central Rome and still boasts the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world.
SC22 It's safe to say liquid cooling was a hot topic at the Supercomputing conference in Dallas this week. …
On Tuesday, Meta AI unveiled a demo of Galactica, a large language model designed to "store, combine and reason about scientific knowledge." While intended to accelerate writing scientific literature, adversarial users running tests found it could also generate realistic nonsense. After several days of ethical criticism, Meta took the demo offline, reports MIT Technology Review.
Large language models (LLMs), such as OpenAI's GPT-3, learn to write text by studying millions of examples and understanding the statistical relationships between words. As a result, they can author convincing-sounding documents, but those works can also be riddled with falsehoods and potentially harmful stereotypes. Some critics call LLMs "stochastic parrots" for their ability to convincingly spit out text without understanding its meaning.
Enter Galactica, an LLM aimed at writing scientific literature. Its authors trained Galactica on "a large and curated corpus of humanity’s scientific knowledge," including over 48 million papers, textbooks and lecture notes, scientific websites, and encyclopedias. According to Galactica's paper, Meta AI researchers believed this purported high-quality data would lead to high-quality output.
We’re deep in the throes of Movember, baby, which means men everywhere are celebrating facial hair in honor of men’s health (whether they can grow a full on lumbersexual beard or struggle to produce anything more than stubble) and unleashing the power of the stache. That said, ask any dude who has any level of facial hair beyond a five-o’-clock shadow, and they’ll tell you that it’s a lot more involved than just *existing*; if you want to avoid beard dandruff (gross, and yes—a thing) or painful ingrown hairs, taking care of the skin under what’s slowly growing on your face is serious business. A beardy face is nature’s canvas, as Bob Ross would say, and thankfully, we’re blessed now with products designed specifically for keeping your beard shiny, silky, and—dare we say—sexy.
One such brand taking beard-care tech to the next level is Foreo. The maker of a vibrating beard-cleaner, micro-foaming beard cleanser, and beyond is appreciating the fine art facial hair with its Movember Sale, offering up to 50% off across a suite of products.
Keeping a mustache or goatee well-cleaned is no easy task. Beard-induced acne is real, as hair follicles can trap oil in pores. To avoid disrupting your facial flow, having the right cleansing routine and products can make all the difference. A great place to start your facial hair maintenance—ideally before even picking up a razor—is to literally just wash your face. Foreo’s Luna 3 is a deep cleaning tool that gets the nitty gritty beneath thick facial hair, using silicone touchpoints to gently exfoliate, boost circulation, and massage skin without being abrasive. It offers 16 different intensities for both a light touch or a heavy grind depending on how deep you’re ready to go. If this is also a point where you’re interested in cleaning the rest of the area around your beard, Foreo’s also got a bundle that includes its tech-savvy toothbrush, which uses a 360-degree silicone brush head to clean not just teeth and gums, but also your inner cheeks and tongue. That’s oral hygiene, baby.
Of course, washing your face requires…well, soap. While we’ve got nothing against our favorite drugstore brands, we’re impressed with how this Micro-Foam Cleanser by Foreo gently removes impurities while also hydrating all skin types. You may save yourself a trip to the dermatologist (and purchasing their expensive prescription face cleaner) with the simple act of vibrating, foaming, and rinsing with this Foreo combo.
Perhaps you’re seeking out a more luxurious, at-home spa experience (or, you know, you just want to make sure your skin is actually clear post-shave). The UFO 2 is primed to deliver that spa-like experience without spending hundreds for someone to extract the gunk from your pores, packing in temperature-controlled thermo-therapy to gently help ingredients penetrate the skin, and cyrotherapy to depuff, firm skin, and shrink the look of pores. Yes, this is all very high-tech—maybe aliens are behind it, but as long as we look sexy AF we’ll gladly welcome extraterrestrial assistance with open arms. Other features of the UFO 2 include a T-Sonic massage to relax muscle tension and full-spectrum LED light, proven to help with acne, wrinkle prevention, and more. To get the full experience, grab Foreo’s sheet or activated masks—also on sale—and light some scented candles, duh.
With December on our doorstep, there’s a good chance your Movember mustache is on its way out. Whether you’re trying to stock up on gear to make your end-of-month- shave a little less painful, or looking to gift some unique grooming gear to someone on your holiday shopping list, Foreo’s Movember Sale with up to 50% off select products is a solid way to trim a few to-do’s off the list. Plus, doesn’t rubbing your face with a vibrating beard cleaner that feels like a Koosh ball sound delightful?
Keep that ‘stache alive—but also keep it clean. For more tips on keeping your facial hair lookin’ fine, check out our guide to the best beard care products.
Shop Foreo’s entire Movember Sale here.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.
A federal judge on Friday sentenced former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes to 11.25 years in prison and three years of supervised release for defrauding investors in the failed blood testing company.…
Calling all my exhausted, overworked, and serotonin-depleted comrades—if you’ve been praying for a good night’s sleep, it may be time to take control of the situation, and we really can’t imagine a better sleep remedy than tasty CBD-infused gummy bears. Starting Monday, VICE editor-fave Evn CBD is having a massive Black Friday Sale. There are sitewide discounts, with greater savings the more you spend. Evn is offering 20% off on all orders over $50, 25% off on all orders over $100, and 30% off on all orders over $150 with promo code HOLIDAY2022. So if you’ve been waiting for the opportune time to stock up on reliable relaxation bears, you’re about to get the best bang for your buck.
Writer Mary-Frances Knapp recently reviewed the sweet and sour bears, and after ingesting a few, claimed she “could feel the tension in [her] jaw loosen and muscles relax.” Already sounding pretty good, but it gets even better—“I wasn’t ‘stoned,’ but it felt as if every noodle in my brain took its very own bubble bath, and made a long, gratified sigh of relief,” claims Knapp. We want to go to there. Imagine being carried of to dreamland in a blissed-out haze; that’s the feeling you get after poppin’ back a few gummies.
If sleep isn’t your issue (lucky!) Evn has some awesome topicals as well to ease all your frigid-temp-induced aches and pains. If you’re a huge fan of mentholated salves (think Vicks VapoRub but like… with CBD), the Cooling Cream is your best bet. Made from natural ingredients like shea butter, broad spectrum hemp extract, and botanicals like mint and camphor, it harnesses a powerful combo of skin-happy ingredients and menthol to deliver instant relief—and the addition ofCBD offers a deeper, more penetrative effect.
No, of course Evn didn’t forget about your best friend: your dog bro, fur-baby, or whatever you want to call your canine sidekick. The brand also makes CBD oil and treats, in case Fido has a serious case of separation anxiety, or just general doggy malaise.
We get it: The holidays are stressful enough, with all the delayed flights, overindulgence, and (obviously) shopping and gift-hunting. But, work smarter not harder; should everyone just get CBD this year? With Evn’s Black Friday sale, you can cop gifts for your stoner-friendly family member, your secret santa target, or even yourself—using promo code HOLIDAY2022 to save more as you drop more into your cart.
Before you freak out on your in-laws, maybe pop a gummy?
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals?Sign up for our newsletter.
Elizabeth Holmes has been sentenced to 11.25 years in federal prison, plus three years of supervision for her conviction in January on four counts of defrauding investors of her failed blood-testing company, Theranos. Restitution in the case will be determined at a later hearing, not yet set.
The sentencing is less than the maximum of 20 years set by federal sentencing guidelines, but still more than the nine-year prison sentence recommended by the probation officer in Holmes' case.
Federal prosecutors had sought 15 years of imprisonment and for Holmes, 38, to pay roughly $804 million in restitution to defrauded investors. Holmes' lawyers, meanwhile, requested just 18 months of house arrest and argued that she has "essentially no assets" and could not pay a nine-figure fine.
The moon in Virgo connects with the sun in Scorpio at 12:00 AM, inspiring a burst of confidence—but be careful not to overindulge or go to extremes as the moon opposes Jupiter in Pisces at 3:47 AM. The moon enters Libra at 5:58 AM, encouraging balance.
Mars retrograde in Gemini squares off with Neptune in Pisces at 10:43 AM, which could find us feeling a bit confused, lazy, “over it” (whatever “it” may be!), or pessimistic. Finding ways to stay grounded instead of jumping to conclusions would be wise at this time. We could be thinking back to situations that took place on or around October 12, 2022. The moon mingles with Mercury in Sagittarius at 12:54 PM and Venus in Sagittarius at 2:15 PM, encouraging communication and harmony.
All times ET.
Stay in the cosmic loop with the VICE horoscopes newsletter. Get horoscopes straight to your inbox when you sign up here!Aries: March 20, 2022 - April 19, 2022
The moon enters Libra, illuminating the relationship sector of your chart and encouraging connection—but you might also contend with confusing feelings as your ruling planet Mars, now retrograde in Gemini, squares off with Neptune in Pisces. Rest, rather than jumping to conclusions! Slowing down can be hard for fiery Aries, but sometimes it’s necessary.Taurus: April 19, 2022 - May 20, 2022
You could be reorganizing your schedule or workplace as the moon enters Libra. Mars retrograde in Gemini squares off with Neptune in Pisces, which can find you reconciling your fantasies with the realities of your budget or material needs.Gemini: May 20, 2022 - June 21, 2022
The moon enters fellow air sign Libra, bringing a light, fun, flirtatious, creatively inspired atmosphere—but Mars retrograde in your sign squares off with Neptune in Pisces, which can also find you contending with confusion about your career, reputation, or long-term goals. Get clear on what you want your relationship with the public to be like.Cancer: June 21, 2022 - July 22, 2022
The moon enters Libra, which can find you focused on your home and family life. Mars retrograde in Gemini squares off with Neptune in fellow water sign Pisces, and you’re feeling wistful and perhaps a bit lost… slow down, get some rest, and reconnect with your inner voice.Leo: July 22, 2022 - August 22, 2022
Communication gets a boost today as the moon enters Libra! Mars retrograde in Gemini squares off with Neptune in Pisces, which can find you contending with confusion within group projects. Take a step back and look at the big picture.Virgo: August 22, 2022 - September 22, 2022
The moon enters Libra, which can find you focused on your finances. You may feel frustrated by other people’s laziness or flippant attitudes as Mars retrograde in Gemini squares off with Neptune in Pisces—however, this can also be a good time to get real about the expectations you have of others.Libra: September 22, 2022 - October 23, 2022
The moon enters your sign today, Libra, encouraging you to focus on emotional self care. Mars retrograde in Gemini squares off with Neptune in Pisces, which can find you feeling frustrated about your schedule. Things could be disorganized at this time. Slow down; rushing forward might find you missing details.Scorpio: October 23, 2022 - November 22, 2022
The moon enters Libra, encouraging you to slow down and rest, and you may feel especially exhausted or uninterested in people’s shenanigans as Mars retrograde in Gemini squares off with Neptune in Pisces. Make time to reconnect with what brings you joy!Sagittarius: November 22, 2022 - December 21, 2022
The moon enters Libra, which can find you focused on your social life. Mars retrograde in Gemini squares off with Neptune in Pisces, and you may be feeling especially sentimental. A turning point in your relationships is reached as you realize the truth of your desires.Capricorn: December 21, 2021 - January 19, 2022
The moon enters Libra, which can find your attention on your career or your life in the public eye. A confusing discussion may take place as Mars retrograde in Gemini squares off with Neptune in Pisces… be careful that details aren’t overlooked and be mindful of exaggerations.Aquarius: January 19, 2022 - February 18, 2022
The moon enters fellow air sign Libra, which may find you planning your next vacation—however, you could be contending with delays or financial confusion as Mars retrograde in Gemini squares off with Neptune in Pisces.Pisces: February 18, 2022 - March 20, 2022
The moon enters Libra, which could find you and your partners sorting out financial issues. Mars retrograde in Gemini squares off with your ruling planet Neptune in your zodiac sign, and you may be feeling impatient about an issue concerning your living situation or family. You can find yourself feeling especially sentimental or perhaps disappointed with the lack of forward momentum… don’t worry, Pisces, things will eventually pick up!
A few years ago, I was at a wine tasting with a French couple that imports from low-intervention producers in France. One of the importers told me she was going to be leading a wine seminar at a local restaurant that evening and asked me what I would want to know about wine if I was there. Half-jokingly, I said she needed to answer the question: “What is wine?” She looked confused, and said, “Well, it’s just fermented grapes,” as if I was just some goddamn idiot. She didn’t find it funny at all, which brought me great shame. Luckily, I had an empty glass and was surrounded by open bottles of wine.
While my joke might have been bad, I do still think the question is important. As I’ve started to delve into the torrent of non-alcoholic offerings that has come onto the market over the past few years, I’ve found myself revisiting that question (or adapting it for other drinks, like beer, whiskey, and gin), especially with regard to non-alcoholic wines. So when Proxies, the non-alcoholic line of wine-seeming beverages from fancy-pantry-essentials brand Acid League, exploded onto the scene, I knew I had to try them.
So, what “is” wine?
With the real wine we all know and love, grapes (either one single varietal or a blend) are fermented using indigenous yeast or added yeast; the yeast eats the sugar from the grapes and creates natural byproducts like sulfites, carbon dioxide, and, of course, alcohol. The final part of the process, once it’s bottled, is you getting crunk at your friend’s sister’s wedding and throwing chairs in the lobby of a Hilton before being dragged back to your room for the night. It’s an interesting process!
OK, so then what is Proxies, and is it wine?
Acid League, popular producer of all things funky (vinegar, hot sauce, living tonics, koji kits, et cetera), has entered the N/A chat with Proxies, which it calls a “wine alternative”; it’s not real wine with the alcohol removed (like decaf coffee), but rather a deliberate blend of grapes, teas, bitters, vinegars, and other fruits. The bottles are calculated brews of sweet, bitter, and acidic flavors meant to mimic the complexity of wine, but without the processes that actually produce alcohol. Acid League started rolling out Proxies in early 2021, and bottles can already be found everywhere from Chicago’s Foxtrot convenience stores, local wine bars, and liquor stores to fine dining behemoths like The French Laundry and Audrey, whose chef-owner, Sean Brock, actually did a collab with Proxies.
On Proxies’ website, lauded sommelier and winemaker André Hueston Mack—who’s also done a collab bottle—offers tasting advice, like following “The Five Ss”: see, swirl, smell, sip, and savor. I don’t disagree with him in theory, but I would probably add a bit of extra context to that—especially for a product like this. For the record, Mack is a legend and I would never disrespect him, but I did find that a different approach to Proxies worked better for me; treating it like wine was the wrong starting point, at least for my palate. (In fact, I think one of the biggest impediments to N/A wine is calling it “wine” in the first place, but that’s a different conversation.) When I swirl, smell, and sip wine, I’m personally looking for an expression of the terroir—the smells and flavors of the land where the grapes were grown, and the other things grown near them. Wine is transportative in that way. But since literal grapes are only one ingredient of many in Proxies, you aren’t really going to get a sense of any coherent terroir or specifics notes outside of the ingredients in the blend. That is not a bad thing at all, but it’s an important distinction to make.
At first, I found the nose strange, but then I realized that since it wasn’t wine, I shouldn’t try to experience it as such. Then, I started to enjoy it more. There are a lot of special editions and collabs that drop throughout the year, but the four core bottles are Sauvage, a crisp white; Pastiche, a rich white; Zephyr, a fruity rosé; and Velvet, a smooth red. The Zephyr was very strawberry and vinegar forward, like a funky, floral rosé; the more acidic and bitter notes felt like a computed attempt to replicate alcohol. The Sauvage had a vinegary nose that was pungent, and it drank very dry, with waves of light juices and tea; I felt there could have been a kombucha vibe to it.
Is Proxies good?
The short answer is yes, extremely—as long as you go into it with an open mind. The Velvet was definitely my favorite—it looked exactly like a red wine when I poured it, and had a very pleasant cherry and dark chocolate nose with some possible fig or date notes. Taste-wise, the Velvet was truly great, something I’d happily order in a restaurant or bar if I was passing on traditional wine. I loved how it was slightly rich and robust, like a classic French red, but also had some allusions to sweeter, more dessert-y flavors that you’d expect in a more accessible conventional beverage. (Since it’s N/A, I’m literally about to have a glass with lunch as I write this.)
I was especially excited about the Pastiche, because it uses Gewürztraminer grapes and was styled like an Alsatian wine, which is one of my favorite regions. The nose, again, was jolting, because it just wasn’t what I expected at all; it was peachy, hoppy, floral—really very nice, just different from a typical wine bouquet. It was a little sweeter and less dry than what I was expecting, but it overall was a delicious sip. This one felt the most like a juice and the least like a wine, but it would still pair super well with something like a lighter pasta, thin crust pizza, vegetables, or a mezze platter. I also predict this would be a hit next time you watch Bachelor in Paradise with your White Wine Gang (you know who they are) and aren’t trying to get too out of control.
Between its diverse options, sleek aesthetic, cool collabs, and placement in some of the country’s most hyped restaurants, it’s safe to say that Proxies are here to stay. While, IMO, these drinks should be approached differently than wine, it is a strong option for wine lovers who are trying to spend more time in the Bountiful Land of N/A. Next time I decide to leave that bottle of Nebbiolo, Gamay, or carbonic pinot noir on the shelf when I grill meat and veggies, cook Italian food, or order in some Thai, I can absolutely see myself cracking a bottle of Velvet.
Part of the fun of drinking wine (and wine alternatives) is figuring out how you like to sip, and what kind of notes you are most attuned to. Whether you love wine, don’t drink at all, or lie somewhere in between, Proxies is an extremely unique and worthwhile line that, if you meet it where it is, delivers legitimately creative and well-crafted drinks.
Buy Proxies at drinkproxies.com.
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The American Civil Liberties Union on Friday asked the US Supreme Court to consider whether surveillance cameras placed on utility poles by police without a warrant should be allowed to watch people in their homes.…
Online verification through ID.me was supposed to help the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) prevent widespread fraud while rushing unemployment benefits to those who needed it most during the pandemic.
Instead, wait times to get verified for some stretched up to 10 hours, and in one case in California, actually took three days. A six-month investigation by the House Oversight Committee found evidence that ID.me “downplayed excessive wait times,” hiding the problem from federal and state agencies by only providing data related to successful connections, Politico reported. This likely kept aid out of reach for those most in need, whose technology access was not reliable enough to stay connected through substantially delayed wait times.
In a statement, chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), described the evidence revealed by the investigation as “appalling.” The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis chairman, Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), expressed disappointment that ID.me did not deliver as a partner in US efforts to quickly disburse aid.
Since the isolation of graphene, we've identified a number of materials that form atomically thin sheets. Like graphene, some of these sheets are made of a single element; others form from chemicals where the atomic bonds naturally create a sheet-like structure. Many of these materials have distinct properties. While graphene is an excellent conductor of electricity, a number of others are semiconductors. And it's possible to tune their properties further based on how you arrange the layers of a multi-sheet stack.
Given all those options, it shouldn't surprise anyone that researchers have figured out how to make electronics out of these materials, including flash memory and the smallest transistors ever made, by some measures. Most of these, however, are demonstrations of the ability to make the hardware—they're not integrated into a useful device. But a team of researchers has now demonstrated that it's possible to go beyond simple demonstrations by building a 900-pixel imaging sensor using an atomically thin material.Making pictures
Most image sensors currently consist of standard silicon semiconductors, manufactured using the usual complementary metal–oxide semiconductor (CMOS) processes. But it's possible to replace the silicon with another semiconductor. In this case, the researchers used molybdenum disulfide, an atomically thin material that has seen a lot of use in experimental devices.
On Wednesday, Elon Musk gave Twitter employees just under 36 hours to decide if they would be leaving or committing to stay and build “a breakthrough Twitter 2.0.” This ultimatum came after more than 3,000 employees were laid off a week into Musk’s leadership. While hundreds of employees are estimated to have quit, according to Reuters, Twitter employees who rely on the company for work visas are left grappling with a Catch-22: either they choose to buckle up and embrace Twitter’s unsure future, or give up their jobs and leave the United States.
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, around 300 employees at Twitter are working under the H-1B visa. The H-1B program allows foreign workers who are highly skilled in areas such as architecture, engineering, and economics to work in the United States. Many large tech companies in addition to Twitter, such as Amazon and Meta, employ H-1B workers. The recent tech layoffs have put H-1B workers in precarious positions, as they only have 60 days after losing employment or until their visa expires, whichever comes sooner, to find a new employer to sponsor their visa.
“I really feel bad for the people who are aghast at the way Musk has been managing the company but perhaps feel unable to raise their concerns, because they've seen what has happened when people do that before—they get unceremoniously fired," David Widder, a PhD. student in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, spoke to more than a hundred software engineers about the ethical concerns they face at work for a paper he is currently trying to publish. "Or feel like if they did raise their concerns, they might be let go and they have reasons why they can't afford to have that happen. They have a mortgage to pay, kids to feed, dependents with health care needs that they need to keep their insurance or a visa status to protect them. These are all examples of ways in which software engineers, despite being powerful in the scheme of work, generally still might be in a difficult situation.”
Widder’s research explains how the structure of a program like H-1B leaves workers in a helpless position, where they may disagree with the ethics of the company’s management or the work they’re doing, but are unable to speak out or quit due to financial pressures and their immigration status.
One software engineer interviewed by Widder said that people “on H1Bs [often] need to find something [a job] within a very short period of time or actually have to leave the country. And when that happens, you end up taking whatever is available.”
“For companies to turn their backs on them now is particularly callous and destructive and undermines the trust talented people have around in the world in the hope of America and its opportunities,” a former Twitter employee told CNN.
Widder said it’s unfair to blame employees who remain at the company and that this situation only magnifies the “systemic sources of precarity” that affect employees and create a power differential between them and their employers.
“The framing of our paper is not about blaming software engineers for not speaking up or not raising an ethical concern they might have when they see it, it's about asking why that is hard to do and what sort of systemic factors and unfair factors make that hard to do,” he said. “I'm concerned about some narratives emerging online where people talk about H-1B workers doing the dirty work. I don't think that's a fair or accurate framing of the current state at Twitter.”
The software engineers that participated in Widder’s research emphasized that the start to leveraging their power is through solidarity. “We had some participants talk about the fact that the work doesn't get done without them. And as Twitter's workforce is decimated, basically, I think we can remember that software does not maintain itself and software doesn't get built by itself. We need software engineers’ labor to make software systems continue to work and continue to be built,” Widder said.
Now, labor and tech experts including Widder are encouraging remaining workers to unionize. Widder said, “Speaking from our research here, I think there's a lot of power in recognizing the power of labor and that can look like a union, that can look like increased solidarity between workers who are at Twitter. Because the work doesn't get done without them.”
In the UK, a third of Twitter employees are being represented by a trade union called Prospect. The union has written to the company asking for a meeting to be scheduled in order for them to discuss their concerns for the future of the company.
There has also been a class-action lawsuit filed against the social media giant, organized by former Twitter employees who claim that the company violated labor law and California state law for not providing advance notice or severance pay to terminated employees.
Hive ransomware criminals have hit more than 1,300 companies globally, extorting about $100 million from its victims over the last 18 months, according to the FBI.…