Neil deGrasse Tyson: We Don’t Understand the Most Fundamental Aspects of Our Universe

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We have nanobots that swim inside our bodies and monitor our vital organs. We have autonomous robots that work alongside human doctors to perform complex surgeries. There are rovers driving across the surface of Mars and, as you read this, thee humans are orbiting high above you, living in the cold vacuum of space.

In many ways, it seems like we’re living in the future. But if you ask Neil deGrasse Tyson, it seems like we’re little more than infants trying to clutch sunbeams in our fists.

At the 2018 World Government Summit in Dubai, Tyson gave a presentation to an enraptured audience. The topic? How humans will — most definitely not — colonize Mars (Tyson, if you aren’t aware, is an eternal skeptic). It seems fitting then that, following his rather depressing speech, he took the time to discuss how humans are, in many ways, entirely ignorant.

Here are three things that, according to Tyson, show just how far we have to go:

Dark Matter

A portion of our universe is missing. A rather significant portion, in fact. Scientists estimate that less than 5% of our universe is made up of ordinary matter (protons, neutrons, electrons, and all the things that make our bodies, our planet, and everything we’ve ever seen or touched). The rest of the matter in our universe? Well, we have no idea what it is.

“Dark matter is the longest standing unsolved problem in modern astrophysics,” Tyson said. He continued with a slightly exasperated sigh, “It has been with us for eighty years, and it’s high time we had a solution.” Yet, we aren’t exactly close.

The problem stems from the fact that dark matter doesn’t interact with electromagnetic radiation (aka light). We can only observe it because of its gravitational influence — say, by a galaxy spinning slower or faster than it should. However, there are a number of ongoing experiments that seek to detect dark matter, such as SNOLAB and ADMX, so answers may be on the horizon.

Dark Energy

Dark energy is, perhaps, one of the most interesting scientific discoveries ever made. This is because it may hold the keys to the ultimate fate of our universe. Tyson explains it as “a pressure in the vacuum of space forcing the acceleration of the [expansion of] the universe.” Does that sound confusing? That’s probably because it is.

If you weren’t aware, all of space is expanding — the space between the galaxies, the space between the Earth and the Sun, the space between your eyes and your computer screen. Of course, this expansion is minimal. It’s so minimal that we don’t even notice it when we look at our local solar system. But on a cosmic scale, its impact is profound.

Because space is so vast, billions of light-years of space are expanding, causing many galaxies to fly away from us at unimaginable speeds. And if this flight continues, eventually the cosmos will be nothing more than a cold unendingly dark void. If it reverses, the universe will collapse in on itself in a Big Crunch.
Unfortunately, we have absolutely no idea which will happen, as we have no clue what dark energy is.


We know a lot about how life evolved on Earth. About 3.5 billion years ago, the earliest forms of life emerged. These single-celled creatures dominated our planet for billions and billions of years. A little over 600 million years ago, the first multicellular organisms took up residence. The Cambrian explosion followed soon after and *boom* the fossil record was born. Just 500 million years ago, plants started taking to land. Animals soon followed, and here we are today.

However, Tyson is quick to point out that we don’t understand the most vital component of evolution — the beginning. “We still don’t know how we go from organic molecules to self-replicating life,” Tyson said, and he noted how unfortunate this is because “that is basically the origin of life as we know it.” The process is called abiogenesis. In non-scientific jargon, it deals with how life arises from nonliving matter. Although we have a number of hypotheses related to this process, we don’t have a comprehensive understanding or any evidence to support one.

There we have it. The biggest mysteries of the cosmos just happen to be some of the most important and fundamental. So, when will we finally figure out these scientific conundrums and move out of our infancy? Tyson refuses to make a prediction.

If there’s one thing he knows, it’s how very little humans actually know: “I’m not very good at predicting the future, and I’ve looked at other people’s predictions and seen how bad those are even among those that say ‘I am good.’ So I can tell you what I want to happen, but that’s different than what I think will happen.”

The post Neil deGrasse Tyson: We Don’t Understand the Most Fundamental Aspects of Our Universe appeared first on Futurism.


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Sony made a projector helmet to help you understand mosquitoes

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Every year at SXSW in Austin, TX, Sony shows off a bunch of experimental projects. This year, the company introduced its Superception Head Light system, which is basically a helmet with a Sony MP-CL1 projector sticking out the front and attached Sony MDR-XB950 headphones on the side. Someone at Sony just strapped a bunch of devices together and attached a HTC Vive tracker to the back so that wearers can move around the room while the projection follows their movements.

Sony says the device is supposed to demonstrate how technology can affect human perception through our various senses. This demo attempts to teach wearers about how animals use their senses to get around the world — like how mosquitos use smell to find blood. The…

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Actions on Google Assistant now understand 7 new languages

Google is also present at MWC 2018 to unveil new technology. The company just announced major improvements in the Actions department, responsible for booking tickets and adding reminders on Google Assistant. Starting this week, Actions can be built in seven new languages, bringing the total to 16 – Hindi, Thai, Indonesian, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Dutch. They join English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian and Russian. The 16 supported languages can be used for developing localized apps for the regions where the languages are spoken. From… – Latest articles

NASA May Stop Trying to Understand Dark Energy

First To Fall

In recent weeks we’ve heard how the Trump administration’s proposed NASA budget might affect the future of the agency’s projects. The International Space Station could be eyeing its last seven years in service; its funding will likely not be extended beyond the mid-2020s. Now, another NASA initiative is on the chopping block.

The new budget, if passed, will defund the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), a high-priority project by a blue-ribbon panel from the National Academy of Sciences in 2010. The telescope was set to launch in the next decade, helping astronomers in their quest to explore an expanding universe and unravel the mysteries behind dark energy.

NASA’s acting administrator, Robert M. Lightfoot Jr., described the cut as “one hard decision,” according to a report from the New York Times. He stressed the need to reallocate the telescope’s funds — the project is set to cost more than $ 3 billion in total — into other areas of research.

Astronomers have harshly criticized plans to nix WFIRST’s funding. A statement from the American Astronomical Society suggested that NASA’s budget reductions could “cripple U.S. astronomy.”

“A handful of people within the bureaucracy” David Spergel, former chairman of the academy’s Space Study Board, told the New York Times, “have overturned decades of community-driven processes and tried to set the direction for space astronomy.”

Learning more about dark energy — a cosmological force that makes up 68 percent of the universe — could have a profound impact on our knowledge of how and why our universe is expanding. Scientists want to delve deeper into its intricacies, but need better tools to do so. That’s where WFIRST comes in.

WFIRST’s original mission timeline was pushed back because of delays to the James Webb Telescope launch, which went well over budget. When it became clear that WFIRST wasn’t going to launch on schedule, NASA purchased a share of a spacecraft called Euclid, a mission to explore dark energy spearheaded by the European Space Agency. But the Euclid mission isn’t expected to be as comprehensive as WFIRST, and NASA will have to rely on an outside agency for dark energy data. Without a wholly NASA-based mission, our nation’s dark energy research will suffer.

It’s no secret that the Trump administration wants NASA to focus on sending astronauts to the Moon  — but now it seems clear that prioritizing that kind of attention-grabbing program might come at the cost of other, perhaps more important, research.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that Congress will approve this budget in its current form. Despite the administration’s sweeping cuts and proposed reallocations, the clock has yet to strike midnight on the WFIRST mission.

The post NASA May Stop Trying to Understand Dark Energy appeared first on Futurism.


The Emerging Marketing Intent Graph: How to Understand and Manage Consumer Preferences

The following is a guest contributed post by Sameer Patel is the CEO of Kahuna
The battleground for understanding and managing consumer preferences is heating up. The recent acquisition of consumer identity management provider Gigya by SAP for $ 350 million is an encouraging sign, showing proof that consumer marketers are increasingly interested in deeply understanding how the consumer wants to traverse the purchase journey.
The acquisition got me thinking about how the adoption of very useful but very fractured consumer engagement touchpoints over the past decade has left us with a woefully chaotic view of consumer intent. Here’s what the marketer is experiencing:
  1. Weak signals from spray-and-pray email, largely limited to opens and click-throughs.
  2. Shaky purchase intent gleaned from fly-by-night gestures such as “likes” inside the walled gardens of social networks.
  3. Rich, near real-time but siloed digital breadcrumbs from mobile experiences that are disconnected from a batch & blast-style email marketing technology stack.
  4. Even richer yet even more disconnected insights captured via browse & cart abandonment resulting in a staggering drop off of 7 out of 10 transactions, because your e-commerce system can’t effectively take the baton from your email or mobile marketing system to maintain a consistent thread of the customer’s journey.
  5. A lack of preparation for the coming tsunami of emerging engagement channels in the next 12 months: beacons, chatbots, AR/VR, voice, and ironically, what Forrester analyst and retail expert Brendan Witcher describes as an uninspiring effort by brick & mortar to bring its sexy back.
The lure of being able to capture the sheer scale of customer expression from this wide array of touchpoints no doubt gives digital commerce providers some serious X factor. But the single most glaring inefficiency in all of this is that every marketer has lost a single identity layer that exposes true intent.

Consumers Are Complicated

The reality is this: Some of us research at certain times and buy at other times. Some find products and research products on different devices or physical locations. Others want to be marketed to based on what similar buyers have browsed or bought. And for yet another group, even the incessant bombardment of untargeted emails won’t be able to trigger a purchase; instead, a simple external event such as good weather or a baseball game this weekend might be enough motivation. You get my drift—consumers are a complicated bunch. We’re all different.

Introducing the Intent Graph

True identity comes from building a dynamic Intent Graph by gathering gestures across all touchpoints in near real time and orchestrating a meaningful 1:1 personalized experience for every individual consumer.
If there is a single common thread I’ve seen across modern marketers who are giving established brands a run for their money, it is the ruthless prioritization of the marketing stack around the Intent Graph. Everything else—segmentation, campaign design and execution, and message delivery—must work to maximize the value of the Intent Graph.
The good news is that this doesn’t need to be as daunting as it sounds, and it doesn’t require the complete replacement of your existing email, web, or mobile marketing automation technology. Leading digital brands are simply injecting an intelligent layer that can make sense of consumer gestures and make machine-driven orchestration decisions about how to engage consumers, in real time.

A Dynamic Future Awaits Us

And by the way, this is just the beginning. The Intent Graph will be extremely dynamic. Emerging touch points such as beacons will express intent with situational awareness. The growing popularity of voice assistants such as Amazon Echo or Google Home will enable consumers to express intent with an added emphasis on tone and emotion. And if that’s not enough, AR/VR wipes out these seemingly physical and digital constraints and lets the consumer express tone, emotion, and situational awareness without ever leaving her living room. The Intent Graph keeps building from her couch.

CMOs Must Focus on Consumer Intent, Not on the Process

CMOs at some of the most iconic brands of the past lost the plot when they focused on the process and not on the consumer’s intent. This scathing characterization by Mark Bonchek and Gene Cornfield in Harvard Business Review about the reasons behind the removal of Coca Cola’s CMO sounds like a career obituary that may well become the rule and not the exception:
“Coca-Cola—widely regarded as one of the top marketers in the world—recently eliminated the role of CMO and replaced it with a Chief Growth Officer. The previous CMO was known for his focus on campaigns and was thanked for ‘improving the productivity of marketing’ and leading a ‘resurgence in the quality of advertising.’ In contrast, the CEO explained the leadership changes as necessary to ‘respond to the fast-changing needs’ of customers, employees and partners and to ‘transform our business for the future.’”
Ouch. But it unapologetically reinforces my point.

Final Thoughts

Channels will come and go. Campaigns and delivery will always matter. But a 1:1 personalized experience based on an ever-fluid Intent Graph for every individual consumer will be the digital commerce battle ground for e-commerce brands and marketplaces in 2018.

Byline: Sameer Patel is the CEO of Kahuna, a leading AI-powered consumer marketing software provider serving iconic digital commerce brands and online marketplaces. Sameer is @sameerpatel on Twitter.

The post The Emerging Marketing Intent Graph: How to Understand and Manage Consumer Preferences appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

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Empathic AI: The Next Generation of Vehicles Will Understand Your Emotions


Transportation will never be the same once our machines know how we feel.

We are all entering a wholesale, global disruption of the way people move from one place to another.  More than any other change in this sector, the one that is likely to have the most significant impact on human society is the rise of autonomous (i.e., self-driving) vehicles.

The transportation industry, historically dominated by a handful of large vehicle-manufacturing brands, is evolving into an ecosystem of ‘mobility services,’ underpinned by artificial intelligence (AI). A major step in the development of AI is to give it ‘empathy,’ allowing our physiological and emotional states to be observed and understood. This connection will mostly be achieved by connecting to wearable or remote sensors, the same way that fitness bands allow our physical state to be monitored.

By feeding this sensor data into AI systems, we can train them to know how we feel and how to respond appropriately. This kind of empathy can also be enhanced by giving AI its own artificial emotions, imbuing it with simulations of feelings.

Empathic technology will have no small effect on the mobility sector. How might an empathic vehicle look?

Safe Travels

There is already a growing body of research from top-tier auto companies into what kind of empathic interactions will protect drivers, passengers and everyone around them from harm. To investigate this, biometric sensors, cameras, and microphones are being used to detect:

  • Fatigue & drowsiness: e.g., monitoring head or eye movements, posture or heart/breathing rate.
  • Distraction: e.g., gaze detection to ensure the driver is watching the road.
  • Intoxication: e.g., using infrared optics or analyzing voice or breath.
  • Medical incidents: e.g., detecting a potential cardiac event from a wearable heart-rate sensor.

A Comfortable Journey

After ensuring the safety of the humans in the system, empathic tech can be employed to optimize the ride experience. There is a universe of auto-suppliers you’ve probably never heard of, who build all the components and systems that end up in the well-known vehicle brands. They are leading the way to a more empathic ride, with innovations such as:

  • Environmental controls: e.g., lighting, heating, AC, sound and olfactory output, customized to suit your current mood.
  • Physical controls: seat position, engine configuration, etc.
  • Humanising AI feedback: the virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri that are invading our homes and phones are also reaching into our vehicles. With empathic AI we can tailor their feedback to suit our preferred style of interaction.

An Entertaining Ride

Now that our customer is safe and comfortable, they can benefit from AI that knows how to push the right emotional buttons at the moment. This is particularly likely to apply to the onboard music and infotainment systems. Other subtle ways in which a vehicle could be designed to optimize the thrill of the ride include offering to increase the engine’s power output when the driver is feeling confident and happy.

The New Norms of Autonomous Society

An autonomous vehicle doesn’t exist in a bubble. Much of its intelligence is based on sensing its environment and making rapid judgments about how to act. Each vehicle will also be integrated with a global network of systems, able to share information ranging from weather forecasts to road obstructions. By connecting each vehicle to its neighbors and the wider world, we will see the emergence of a new type of ‘social’ structure with its own norms of behavior.

This AI-driven ‘society’ will involve interactions not just between the vehicles and their drivers or passengers, but also with onboard devices, nearby pedestrians, other vehicles, and their occupants, as well as surrounding infrastructure. The etiquette and rules of what the market calls ‘vehicle-to-everything’ (V2X) communications will establish themselves as we gradually let go of the wheel and hand our mobility needs over to ‘the machines.’

This mobility ecosystem is also likely to share data and processes with the rest of the AI in our lives, such as in our smartphones and home-automation systems. If coordinated correctly, this unified data architecture would allow empathic vehicles to know us much better, behaving ever more like a trusted friend.

This is not just a technological problem; it’s a monumental user-experience challenge too. Gradually increasing the empathic capability of the system will support the evolution of the transport experience towards one that is not only safe and comfortable but also delightful.

The future of mobility is emotional.

Editor Note & Disclaimer: The author is a member of the Sensum team, which is an alumnus of our ReadWrite Labs accelerator program. 

The post Empathic AI: The Next Generation of Vehicles Will Understand Your Emotions appeared first on ReadWrite.


Burger King thinks a Whopper can help you understand net neutrality — it really can’t

Net neutrality is the current cause du jour, and rightfully so. If undermined or eliminated, it could have lasting consequences for tech innovation in America. The thing is, it’s a really complicated topic. If you’re not particularly technologically clued up, you might struggle to grasp it. Burger King is an unlikely champion for Net Neutrality, and has created a video that “explains” it through an even unlikelier device: the Whopper. If you’ve ever wondered what it looks like when a fast food company wades ineptly into a topic it scarcely understands, you’ll probably want to watch this: The premise is…

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To understand 2018, you first have to understand the 1990s, Vanity Fair’s David Friend says

Everything from #MeToo to President Trump has its roots in the “naughty nineties,” Friend says.

It would be easy to say that our self-obsessed culture, rampant cynicism in politics and the decline of traditional dating are all recent trends. But to understand how we get selfies, President Trump and Tinder, you have to look back to the 1990s, Vanity Fair’s David Friend says.

Friend joined Recode’s Kara Swisher on the latest episode of Recode Decode to talk about his new book, “The Naughty Nineties: The Triumph of the American Libido.” In it, he argues that the last decade of the 20th century was the start of a sea change in social and political attitudes that have carried us to the present day.

“The boomers took over,” Friend said. “They started raising children, they started coming of age, they started becoming the powerful people that ran Hollywood, that ran Madison Avenue and — for the first time — ran the White House. And suddenly, you had the counterculture becoming the culture. Their values became the main values of America.”

And it’s no coincidence that the world wide web was born in the same decade. Friend said the thing that separated America Online from its early competitors was that that AOL did not censor sexual conversations; for people logging onto the web for the first time (as well as historically marginalized groups such as the LGBT community), the internet enabled a new sexual revolution.

“Porn and sex and these conversations were always — you were with another person,” he said. “Now, it was totally anonymous and it was intimate in a way that people did not know what you were doing. The embarrassment and shame left.”

You can listen to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

On the new podcast, Friend also talked about Anita Hill’s groundbreaking testimony against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991; Hill ultimately failed to convince enough people that Thomas was a serial sexual harasser, and he was confirmed to the court. However, Friend said the #MeToo movement of today that is exposing sexual harassment in Hollywood, Washington and beyond owes a debt to Hill’s actions.

Back then, a record number of women won elections to Congress, the so-called “Anita Hill class.” And Friend suggested that something similar could happen again, as a reaction to President Trump.

“If there’s any silver lining in all this, it would be if men just stopped and let women take over for a while,” he said.

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode, answers the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • And Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, including the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on Apple Podcasts — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Kara.

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You Don’t Need To Hire A Tech Expert To Understand Your IPad. Use These Tips!

It is hard to go overboard on the superlatives when discussing the amazing potential the iPad has for its army of users. It is important to realize, however, that by making an effort to learn all you can about its dizzying array of possibilities, you can get the absolute most value from your purchase. Continue perusing this piece and you will gain the insight you need.

Some newer iPads have a mute button instead of a lock orientation one. If you prefer the lock orientation feature, you should go into your settings and tap on the general section. You will be able to choose which function you want to associate with this button. Save your changes when you are done.

If you haven’t ever had a tablet before, you may be overwhelmed. The iPad is incredibly user friendly and almost impossible to screw up. Just start playing with it and see how much you can figure out alone. Even the most computer inept should be able to handle an iPad.

There is a feature you can use on your phone that will erase all the data on the phone if someone inputs the correct passcode. While this may seem like a good idea, be careful. You may put the wrong passcode yourself and end up losing all of your information.

Choose between Orientation Lock and Mute. Older versions of the iPad featured an “Orientation Lock” button on the side of the device. The button remained on later versions, but its function was switched to “Mute.” If you preferred the older function, you can access a setting in the General Settings menu to set it back to its original function.

Your iPad will now support a VPN connection. You just need to configure it first. Start by going to your Settings menu. Look under General to find Network. Choose the VPN and switch that slider to On. You can then add the VPN configuration using your account details and server.

Learn all the things the side switch can do on your iPad. It is a handy way to turn your audio alerts on and off without affecting your playback sound. You can also use it to lock your screen so that it does not automatically rotate. If you want to use it for some other function, you can change this in the General Settings menu.

Find out about other Apple products. You may be able to use your iPad in tandem with other devices in the Apple family, making your use of all of them much easier. You can look at the Apple site, or you can just search on the internet for ways that you may be able to use other Apple devices.

If you have some recently purchased apps from the app store you want to hide, it’s quite easy! Open up the App Store and click on the ‘purchased’ tab on the bottom of your screen. It should give you a list of apps and choose the one you wish to hide. Swipe over the app or right over it, and it should now grey out over the ‘installed’ button. A red button will pop up and you will now have the option to hide the app.

Want a faster than light screenshot with your iPad? It’s now quicker and easier than ever; simply hold down the home and power buttons simultaneously and your screenshot is instantly saved. Look for it later in the Photos App under saved photos albums. You don’t have to do anything else!

You can’t just change days by swiping in the calendar. The way to get from one date to the next is by using the bar located below the main calendar screen. The current day is marked in blue and should be easy to notice.

If you are writing a lengthy article or submission, finding the best hotkeys is a necessity. A quick doubletap of the space and you’ll find a full stop and space appear in its place. This is a commonly used tool when writing on the iPad and saves a lot of time in the process.

Do you want to snap a screenshot fast? You’d be surprised how easy this is. Press the ‘Home’ and ‘sleep/wake’ button simultaneously. A flash will appear, and you will have taken a screenshot. Every screenshot is saved automatically, so you don’t need to save them yourself.

Is your iPad’s screen constantly getting scratched? Although the iPad is pretty sturdy, if a lot of small scratches are beginning to become visible, you may want to add a protector to your device. This will help protect your iPad from serious damage in case you drop it, and it also prevents your fingers from making tiny cuts.

Filling out long forms using the iPad’s touch-sensitive keyboard is time-consuming and frustrating. Access the settings for the Safari browser, then select the AutoFill feature. Whenever you need to fill out a form while browsing with Safari, you can have your information plugged in automatically. This makes signing up and providing basic information much more convenient.

Back up personal information in case of loss or theft. The iPad also contains a feature allowing you to erase all personal data if an unauthorized user attempts to hack into it. Under the “Password Lock” feature, select the general settings tab, and click to delete information if an incorrect password is entered into your device 10 times.

Have you heard about the new smart covers available for your iPad? You can use one that utilizes magnets within your device, allowing you to much more easily power down and wake up your iPad. It fits great, looks great, and is a very useful and valuable tool for your device.

There can be little argument about the ability the iPad has to transform the way countless people perform daily tasks of all types. The best way to optimize your use of the device is acquire a good amount of knowledge about what it can do. With any luck, the article above has provided you with just that.

People losing it over this ‘creepy’ Netflix tweet really don’t understand the internet

Yesterday Netflix freaked out some subsets of internet culture with a relatively harmless tweet some are now calling ‘creepy.’ The tweet read: To the 53 people who’ve watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days: Who hurt you? — Netflix US (@netflix) December 11, 2017 ‘A Christmas Prince,’ starring… doesn’t matter, you’ve never heard of them, is a Netflix original about an undercover reporter that… again, doesn’t matter. All that matters is that it’s another cheesy Christmas movie premise, only this time with royal douchery weaved ever-so-seamlessly throughout the plot. So seamless, in fact, one IMDB reviewer…

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