Why Al Gore isn’t giving up the climate change fight

The Trump Administration doesn’t believe in human-made climate change. Over the last year, it has vowed to pull the US out of the Paris climate deal, promised to repeal a key policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and scrapped the word climate change from government websites. But Al Gore is not discouraged. In fact, the former vice president says that there are many reasons to be optimistic.

On December 4th, Gore is hosting a 24-hour event focused on efforts to combat climate change around the world, from US cities switching to renewable energy sources to Australian elementary school kids demanding climate action. The live broadcast, called 24 Hours of Reality, will include musicians, actors, and politicians like California Governor Jerry Brown. It’s a call to action and a demand for governments to act boldly — and as such, it’s imbued with a feeling of hope.

That’s because, no matter what kind of discouraging signals the current administration sends, Gore says there are signs of hope: his non-profit organization, The Climate Reality Project, is creating an army of climate activists all over the world, called climate reality leaders; solar energy is costing a few cents per kilowatt hour; and 37 coal mines are closing in India this year.

The 69-year-old Gore has been a prominent member of the environmental movement since the 1970s, winning a Nobel prize for his efforts in 2007. Earlier this year, he released of a sequel to his 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth, which spread awareness about global warming. Over the last few years, however, Gore has also been criticized for his role in the movement, with some activists complaining that he’s too polarizing and not very representative of those who will be hit particularly hard by climate change, which includes people who are poor and people of color.

But Gore says he isn’t going anywhere. With Trump in the White House, his resolve to advocate for climate change policies has only become stronger. Ahead of the 24-hour live broadcast, which begins at 6PM ET on Monday, The Verge spoke with Gore about why the US is such an outlier when it comes to climate change, how to sway public opinion, and when he’ll stop doing what he’s doing.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Events like 24 Hours of Realityarea bit like preaching to the choir the people who are going to listen to the broadcast are probably the one who already care about climate change. How are you trying to reach out to those who don’t care about climate change?

Our climate reality leaders — and we now have almost 14,000 of them — come from every country in the world. There’s a concerted effort to organize watch parties and to invite those who may not have formed their views on the climate crisis, to listen and hopefully keep an open mind. And then hopefully, some will join the ranks of those who realize that this is the leading challenge human civilization must confront. We have had a very favorable experience in past years with persuading people who are undecided about this challenge to listen and watch with an open mind.

I’m from Italy and when I go back now people ask me, “What’s going on with the US? Why do Americans believe thatclimate change is a hoax?” What would you tell them?

Here’s the most important reality: more than 70 percent of the American people agree that the climate crisis is a serious threat that must be confronted. A majority of Republican voters agree with the same conclusions. A plurality of those who voted for Donald Trump also agree with those positions. So it would be wrong to interpret Donald Trump’s election, much less his policy move to try to thwart solutions to the climate crisis, as the view of the majority of the American people. The overwhelming majority of the American people firmly disagree with what he’s doing.

This experiment [the Trump presidency] is less than a year old. In medicine and science, some experiments are terminated early for ethical reasons. I don’t have any inside information that that will happen with Donald Trump, but as you know, his former national security advisor pleaded guilty to a felony and is now actively cooperating as a witness for the prosecution. That seems to be heading toward Donald Trump not necessarily with an indictment, because he’s a sitting president, but with a compilation of facts that could serve as a source of genuine concern for the US Congress and exercising its constitutional responsibility.

Are you hoping for an impeachment then?

It’s not for me to jump to conclusions about a legal process that is now unfolding. I’m just noting that the president actually may not be reelected in 2020, [and] could potentially leave office before then. But in any case, however long he is president, the decision by state governments in the US — including some of our largest states, New York and California and many others — decisions by hundreds of cities, including some of our largest cities, and thousands of business leaders, all of whom have said we’re still in the Paris Agreement by hashtag #WeGotThis, will ensure that the United States meets and exceeds its commitment under the Paris Agreement regardless of what Donald Trump tweets or says.

Final point: the technological and business trends are now in the driver seat. We need policy and we could move faster with good policy, but the cost reduction curves for renewable energy and energy storage and efficiency improvements and electric vehicles are now revolutionizing business and every human endeavor. We’re in the early stages of a global sustainability revolution that has the magnitude of the Industrial Revolution but the speed of the digital revolution. And it is decoupling CO2 emissions from economic growth, it is disrupting business models throughout the world, it’s being jumpstarted in developing and developed countries alike, and it is unstoppable.

Some people believe you’re too polarizing to be the spokesperson for environmental activism. What do you think about that?

The social science research definitively debunks that meme. I don’t know if you’re aware of Joe Romm and his climate blog — he was the deputy secretary of energy in the Clinton years and he’s among those who’s done very careful research into what the relationship is between my personal role and public opinion on climate. That meme is simply inaccurate. For three years, following the release of my first movie, bipartisanship actually increased significantly. I was able to run television advertisements in the United States in prime time, with prominent Republican leaders sitting alongside Democratic leaders.

The bipartisanship hit very high levels, until Barack Obama was elected and the Koch brothers and others financed the National Tea Party movement, [which] began in January of ‘09 and [which] also coincided with the harsh impact of the Great Recession. The hundreds of millions of dollars spent by the Koch brothers and Exxon Mobil and other large carbon polluters intentionally created a partisan wedge that had at its principal target Barack Obama and his administration. So anyone who’s visible in the climate movement is a target for climate deniers. You must have taken note of the harsh impacts on the Holy Father, Pope Francis, as soon as he issued his encyclical. I feel like I’m in about as good a company as there is in this Earth or beyond.

Some people also say we need new voices to speak about climate change. Maybe women, people of color, or people who are directly affected by climate change. Are you sure that you’re the best person to continue advocating for the environment?

It’s not a zero sum game. The fact that I speak out on climate is not a bar to others speaking out. Indeed, the Climate Reality Project, in our training program and also with Climate Speakers Bureau, has had many public events focused on recruiting voices in the African American community, the Latino and Hispanic community, the Native American community. We have reached out to the faith-based communities around the world and especially in the US, and we have sought to elevate the voices of minorities and the disadvantaged and to cultivate new voices within those communities speaking out on climate. We have made a conscious effort to broaden the spectrum of voices and life experiences and points of views that are speaking out on the climate issue.

How do we win the climate fight? Should environmental activists appeal to Republicans and the climate change skeptics? Or should we refuse to meet them halfway if they dismiss climate change?

I think we must continue efforts to bring Republicans and conservatives into this struggle of course. In my recent movie, made by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, we spotlighted a conservative Republican Trump-supporting mayor from Texas who has a very powerful and unique voice, Mayor Dale Ross of Georgetown, Texas, who has come to the issue through the economic benefits, but noticed that it’s a pleasant side benefit that we’re helping to save the future of humanity. And he’s now involved to speak out.

There are now 30 new Republican members of the House of Representatives who have joined the climate solution’s caucus. There are 10 Republican US Senators who are now actively considering a public switch in their point of view. Two of them already have. We’re not far from a working majority in the Congress on this issue and indeed we have actually won a few votes this year that weren’t highly visible. But we defeated Donald Trump’s proposed change to the methane rule, for example. And we’re actually making progress. Ultimately, any big policy change in the US has to have bipartisan support so yes, we have to continue working for more Republican support for the action that’s needed.

What’s your final goal? When will you stop and say, “I’ve accomplished what I wanted to accomplish?”

I’ve worked on this for 40 years and throughout that time, the central problem has been that the maximum that’s politically feasible still falls short of the minimum needed to satisfy the laws of physics and stave off this crisis. And confronted with that big gap, you have two options: one is despair, which accomplishes nothing, and the other option is to expand the limits of what is politically feasible. In my own mind, I have always felt that the definition of victory will be when a majority of political leaders and policymakers throughout the world and throughout the United States are persuaded by public opinion to compete sincerely and enthusiastically in offering genuinely meaningful solutions to this crisis.

We’re not there yet and we’re not solving this crisis fast enough. But we’re gaining speed. There was an economist in the US in the 20th century who said, “Things take longer to happen than you think they will, but then they happen much faster than you thought they could.” We are at the inflection point now where changes are beginning to happen faster than anyone thought they could. The momentum is increasing daily and when we cross the threshold beyond which it is clear that we will succeed, then that will be a happy day.

Twitter retracts its reason for why it didn’t remove Trump’s anti-Muslim tweets

In a blow to Twitter’s credibility, the company retracted its previous explanation for why it did not remove tweets that included graphic anti-Muslim videos that were retweeted this week by President Donald Trump. “We mistakenly pointed to the wrong reason we didn’t take action on the videos from earlier this week,” CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted on Friday. “We’re still looking critically at all of our current policies, and appreciate all the feedback.”

This marked a stark reversal from Thursday, when an unnamed spokesman offered this explanation: “To help ensure people have an opportunity to see every side of an issue, there may be the rare occasion when we allow controversial content or behavior which may otherwise violate our rules to remain on our service because we believe there is a legitimate public interest in its availability.”

The gotta-hear-all-sides explanation drew complaints from critics who said the president had used Twitter to incite violence. On Friday, Twitter said that explanation was no longer operative. A two-part tweet from Twitter’s trust and safety team said that the videos “are permitted on Twitter based on our current media policy.”

To clarify: these videos are not being kept up because they are newsworthy or for public interest. Rather, these videos are permitted on Twitter based on our current media policy. https://t.co/RqEQy3skgc

— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) December 1, 2017

So, the videos were permitted to be on the platform because … the videos are permitted to be on the platform. Not because they offer “an opportunity to see every side of an issue.”

The move recasts a decision that was highly editorial in nature as one that was supported by policy. Unfortunately, Twitter policies change regularly and are poorly understood and articulated, particularly by the people who make and enforce them.

Twitter’s regular missteps, half-steps, and apologies around its policies have become a running joke this year. But even in a rough year for policymaking on the platform, this retraction stands out for the way that it undermines the credibility of Twitter’s communications team and casts doubt on the company’s future announcements about what is and is not allowed on the platform.

The C by GE Sol light looks futuristic but doesn’t need Alexa

My room looks infinitely cooler when lit by a glowing smart ring, but I don’t need or want my fashionable lamp to include Amazon’s Alexa assistant. I’ve been testing the C by GE Sol light for the past few months and have grown attached to it. It’s a large glowing ring with a built-in microphone and speaker for playing music and controlling Alexa.

I genuinely enjoy having the Sol in my room and would recommend it as a light. It features both a bright white and nighttime yellow mode, similar to Apple’s Night Shift. But I wish the lamp was cheaper and that GE had neglected to include Alexa, as the voice controls make no sense and are more cumbersome to use than the company’s C by GE companion iOS / Android app. The physical buttons are easier to use, too. In short: we don’t need Alexa in this connected gadget.

Here’s the good: users can preprogram lighting scenarios for the Sol, like “bedtime,” “wake up,” or “movie time,” in the event that you want a yellow glow at night and a bright white light in the morning or the light off completely for a movie. These go-to icons are mildly useful, although I mostly used the light at night because my room gets sunlight during the day. The glowing ring by itself is sufficient to light a room and looks good, but you can amplify the Sol experience by turning on the lamp’s interior lights, which convey information like the time of day, whether the Alexa mic is off, and the time left on a timer.

Red and blue light tell the time, with the blue light representing the hour hand and the red representing the minute. I didn’t get how to read it at first, and honestly, I still don’t fully understand or use it, but the red and blue at least make the lamp look more futuristic. But with that said, you have to manually turn the clock on and off in the lamp’s app, meaning that even if you turn the Sol off, the clock stays lit.

Setting up the Sol was relatively painless. You have to pair it to your home Wi-Fi and then enable the C by GE skill on Amazon’s Alexa app. The steps were simple, and I’ve had no issues reconnecting to the device, even if I unplug it. I realize the power cord looks atrocious in these photos, by the way, and I’m sure I could have done a better job at hiding it, although I don’t readily have an idea of how I’d do it.

I don’t have many complaints with the light, but it costs too much for what it is. It sells for $150 through GE’s website. For comparison, an Amazon Echo Dot costs $29.99, and a starter pack of two Philips Hue bulbs and a hub costs $70. (These two products together cost less than the Sol.) You could also get a better-sounding full-size Echo and the Hue bulbs for $170. This would be a better move. I don’t think the unique Sol design warrants more money, especially considering its Alexa features aren’t as built out.

Alexa presents the critical problem with the Sol, despite being the lamp’s main selling point. The assistant can’t play music from Spotify, and when it plays music off Amazon, it sounds atrocious. It’s both muddled and blown-out. While voice content sounds okay, Alexa can’t register commands if the volume is too high. I’ve ended up shouting as loudly as possible in an effort to get the Sol to shut up. Also, good luck if you’re hoping to control the light through Alexa. The voice commands are difficult to use, particularly if you want to adjust the lamp’s brightness.

Here’s a screenshot from GE’s FAQ page on the voice controls. The instructions looks more like equations than commands to say aloud.


The percentages are where the commands get particularly difficult. I have no idea what my desired brightness percentage is because the app, which you can see below, assigns brightness a number, not a percentage. Also, I don’t think in brightness percentages? But regardless, these commands aren’t intuitive, and when I find voice-enabled gadgets annoying to use, I resort back to their respective apps. You might figure out what brightness you like and then constantly reference it, but I still prefer going to my iOS app and making adjustments.

GE could have created a cool smart light without Alexa, and I probably would have recommended it. I don’t need my lamp to be a speaker. My speakers already do a good job at being speakers. I’m hoping GE strips the light of Alexa, adds a few more color lighting options, and lowers the price, because I’d absolutely buy a Sol in that case.

This 3D-printed ‘living ink’ could someday help with skin replacements

Tomorrow’s replacement skin could be 3D printed from a new ink embedded with living bacteria.

Bacteria are able to do everything from breaking down toxins to synthesizing vitamins. When they move, they create strands of a material called cellulose that is useful for wound patches and other medical applications. Until now, bacterial cellulose could only be grown on a flat surface — and few parts of our body are perfectly flat. In a paper published today in Science Advances, researchers created a special ink that contains these living bacteria. Because it is an ink, it can be used to 3D print in shapes — including a T-shirt, a face, and circles — and not just flat sheets.

Bacterial cellulose is free of debris, holds a lot of water, and has a soothing effect once it’s applied on wounds. Because it’s a natural material, our body is unlikely to reject it, so it has many potential applications for creating skin transplants, biosensors, or tissue envelopes to carry and protect organs before transplanting them.

The tricky part is how the cellulose is made. These harmless bacteria produce strands of cellulose to help propel themselves forward. So, they need to be mobile to create the material, but this movement makes 3D printing difficult, says study co-author Manuel Schaffner, a materials scientist at ETH Zurich. To 3D print something, you need ink that flows a certain way to get it through the printing nozzle, and making ink the right thickness can freeze the bacteria.

The team needed to create a material that kept the bacteria alive and mobile, but also had the right properties for printing. Their special “living ink” includes sugars that bacteria can use as nutrients so they stay alive and continue producing cellulose. It also incorporates a type of tiny glass beads that break apart and let the entire ink flow through a printing nozzle before solidifying again. So most of the cellulose is actually produced on the surface of the printed object. (Once the ink has been printed, the bacteria can move around again and create more food from oxygen and the environment.)

Now the team is able to make other shapes other than the usual flat sheets, says co-author Patrick Rühs, who also researchers complex materials at ETH Zurich. These shapes include a skin film, a T-shirt, and even cellulose film on top of a silicone face mold.

3D-printed T-shirt grown by cellulose-producing bacteria.
Photo by Manuel Schaffner and Patrick A. Rühs
3D-printed circles with embedded cellulose-producing bacteria.
Photo by Manuel Schaffner and Patrick A. Rühs

There’s a lot of potential here for personalized skin or scaffolds that fit people perfectly. And the material should be easy to scale, says Schaffner. The ink components are cheap, and culturing the various strains of bacteria is fairly straightforward. The team is now working on potential improvements, says Rühs, such as creating inks with different properties. But if one day they perfect their method, our bacteria-filled bodies might become even more merged with these invisible organisms.

One Video: Tell Me You Love Me by Demi Lovato

Every week, a slew of new music videos hits the web. Watching them at your desk is not time theft because you deserve it; think of it as a nice reward for surviving another work week. But what if you don’t have time to watch every video — maybe you have a deadline, a hungry pet, or other grown-up concerns. In consideration of your schedule, Lizzie and Kaitlyn bring you a series called One Video. Each week we’ll tell you “one video” you need to watch, why, and for how long.

Welcome to One Video, written by one woman. It’s just me (Kaitlyn) this week, as Lizzie is on a reporting trip in the Bronx doing something very important and interesting that you’ll get to read about later, I assume. Without Lizzie I am heartbroken, and I need a new source of entertainment. That’s why I chose a heartbreaking music video with a complicated narrative that is nearly seven minutes long.

This week’s video: “Tell Me You Love Me” by Demi Lovato

Video chat apps have been having a real moment in music videos lately, and specifically in the music videos of former Disney Channel stars and current pop princesses. “Tell Me You Love Me,” starts with Demi Lovato accepting an absolutely enormous engagement ring from Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams, then showing it off to a friend in a Google Duo call. At this point, Duo is a welcome, if baffling presence. It’s just a music video about a boring wedding proposal and a huge diamond and two attractive people kissing.

However, mere seconds later, you will be thrown for a loop! I’m sorry! Reminder that I warned you this would be heartbreaking! Suddenly, Demi receives a video call from a mysterious man who she does not want to discuss with her fiancé. Now they are fighting. Minutes later, her fiancé meets her at the altar and smiles at her for several minutes before frowning and leaving. Oh my god.

Who is Demi Lovato?

From 2008 to 2011, Demi Lovato starred in Disney Channel’s Camp Rock, perhaps the best televised musical of my lifetime, and Sonny With a Chance, undoubtedly the best kids version of 30 Rock to air in my lifetime. Now, Lovato is a pop star who The Ringer’s Lindsay Zoladz has described (affectionately) as “the pop star equivalent of a jammed caps-lock button.” It’s true that she is a belter, and it is true too that the dramatic stakes of this song and video could not possibly be higher.

This should not really come as a surprise, as one of her first music videos — for the 2012 song “Give Your Heart a Break,” which you might remember as the soundtrack to a confusing suburban summer when you were 19 and romantically obsessed with a sociopath, I don’t know, I don’t know your life — ends with Demi constructing a many-story-high shrine to her love interest, made up of thousands upon thousands of photos of them together. In the 2016 video for perfect song “Stone Cold,” she reenacts some key scenes from Alive.

What’s special about “Tell Me You Love Me” by Demi Lovato:

This video is special because it was directed by Mark Pellington, who has made dozens of music videos for the likes of Leonard Cohen, Michael Jackson, and Bruce Springsteen, including one for a song I had never heard of, called “Girls in Their Summer Clothes (Winter Mix).”

It’s also special because it’s essentially one entire Lifetime movie distilled down to the length of just two ordinary music videos stapled together. Before today you might have thought it would be impossible to watch an entire Lifetime movie at your desk without being caught and scolded. Before today you might have thought there was only just the one version of “Girls in Their Summer Clothes” by Bruce Springsteen. Before today, it was not yet December — the month of winter mixes and Lifetime movies. Before today, it would have been weird to have hot chocolate with your lunch. Today is amazing.

How long everyone should watch “Tell Me You Love Me” by Demi Lovato:

Please watch until Demi Lovato leads an army of gospel singers in lab coats through the woods to hunt down Jesse Williams. This part of the video starts at 5:40.

Please tell Lizzie I miss her.

Correction: A previous version of this article identified the video calling app in this video as FaceTime, but it is in fact Google Duo. We regret the error.

Netflix’s Dark is hard to watch, and impossible to stop watching

Netflix’s mesmerizing new German-language series Dark certainly is aptly named. A great deal of the new 10-episode season takes place in dim rooms and unlit garages, in an ominously oppressive forest and a shadowy cave, or under sickly, faltering lighting that suggests a kind of heavy moral decay falling over the world. The series is conceptually dark, full of cheating spouses, ugly secrets, grotesque killings, and dead birds falling from the sky in a hail of limp, twisted bodies. But more noticeably, it’s as physically dark as an early David Fincher movie, and it carries the same level of ominous weight. It’s a series meant to be watched late at night, with the lights off, experienced like a ghost story around a campfire that’s burning down to its final embers.

Netflix’s first original German series — part of a growing foray into international productions, aimed at digging deeper into local entertainment markets — comes from Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese, the co-writers and director of 2014’s hacker-thriller Who Am I: No System Is Safe. It has some obvious aesthetics in common with that film. Swiss director bo Odar loves images of sleight-of-hand magic and glowering men lurking deep in the depths of giant hoods, and Dark shares Who Am I’s grimy, heavy cinematography and screaming discordant soundtrack.

But Dark slows down the story from Who Am I’s more frantic pacing, using the space of a 10-hour TV series to establish an entire town of people reacting to a slow-motion series of personal disasters. In that sense, Dark is closer to the original run of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s 1990s groundbreaker Twin Peaks, with a steaming nuclear power plant dominating the town instead of a lumber mill. Dark isn’t just about a murder that comes with a disturbing tinge of the supernatural. It’s about a community of people, all with their own problems, and all linked in different ways — both in the present and in the past.

Dark is an ensemble series, but it starts with Ulrich Nielsen (Oliver Masucci), a police officer and father of three who’s cheating on his wife with a woman whose husband commits suicide in the show’s earliest moments. Her shell-shocked son, Jonas (Louis Hofmann), is part of a pack of rangy pack-animal teenagers who venture into the woods outside their small German hometown of Winden, hunting the drug stash of a classmate who recently disappeared. While they’re out there, Ulrich’s youngest, Mikkel (Daan Lennard Liebrenz) also disappears, leading the police to wonder whether someone is targeting local youths. But the disappearances coincide with weird phenomena: animals dropping dead, lights wildly flickering and flashing. Some of the town’s older residents, including Mikkel’s grandmother, mutter about how the new disappearances recall older ones from when they were younger. And a mysterious hooded figure, looking at a newspaper clip reading “Where is Mikkel?”, crosses out the first word and rewrites the headline as “When is Mikkel?”

Dark Season 1Dark Season 1
Dark Season 1
Stefan Erhard/Netflix

The answer to that first mystery comes by the series’ third episode, and it raises even more questions — about time travel, official and unofficial cover-ups, and the roles of various authority figures and outsiders. It also complicates the meaning of smaller mysteries scattered throughout the show, like the ornately carved box with the suicide victim’s last letter, which bears a warning not to open it until a specific date and time. There’s a fair bit of “What’s going on?” in Dark, but the more compelling mystery is “Who knows about it?” It’s another link to Twin Peaks: that sense that there isn’t a single murderer abroad, so much as a compelling supernatural mystery, and a web of intrigue around it.

But as with Twin Peaks, Dark is more of a draw for the nightmarish aesthetics, the sense of swoony horror that hangs over this elaborately drawn little world. Dark’s characters aren’t nearly as quirky and oddball as David Lynch’s — they’re more like the dour, desperate stars of a Scandinavian TV series, slowly drinking themselves to death and seeking whatever pleasures they can to compensate for the lack of light and hope in their world. Ulrich isn’t the only one in Winden having an affair. There’s more surreptitious, frustrated lust going on in the town than honest affection. Winden feels a bit like a soap opera in progress, full of secrets and lies. A strong cast full of characters who pull off “angst-stricken and unsatisfied” well contributes to the feeling of an unsettled, untrustworthy world where time-traveling children or era-hopping murderers just seem par for the course.

Dark Season 1Dark Season 1
Stefan Erhard/Netflix

At least their uncertainty is set in a beautifully rendered world. The jangling nails-on-chalkboard music and the bleak cinematography are off-putting, but in a conscious, controlled way that again recalls David Fincher. And by the end of the third episode, when bo Odar and Friese take time to visually compare the modern-day Winden residents with their younger selves, the series has gone in a lyrical, longing direction that feels miles away from Fincher or Lynch. In this moment, there’s an aching sense of beauty and loneliness to Dark that places it far above the usual procedural mystery or supernatural horror story. Suddenly, it’s not a series about dead birds and dead children, and the question of what links them. It’s about what links past and present, and how easily people drop the promise and premises of youth and become old and tired. Like so much of Dark, it’s a dark and dreary message, presented with an artfulness that becomes beautiful — and inevitably, addictive. Netflix is so often looking for bingeable, c’mon-just-one-more-episode entertainment. With Dark, it has a series that’s both hard to watch, and impossible to stop watching.

In America, Dark premieres on Netflix on December 1st.

Samsung’s new luxurious smart flip phone has the widest aperture camera lens yet

Samsung unveiled a new expensive flip phone, the Samsung W2018, during a launch event in China today, as first reported by GizmoChina. Many of the W2018’s specs are on par with the S8 and Note 8, with one exception: the camera lens.

The W2018 is the latest addition to Samsung’s W line, which gets updated with a new flip phone every year. It’s also the 10th anniversary of the W series, which is still popular in Asia. They are priced higher than typical Samsung global flagships, like the S8 and Note 8. A cheesy Chinese ad for the phone reads, “Hi Bixby, what’s true luxury?”

With an aperture of f/1.5, Samsung claims that the W2018’s 12-megapixel rear camera can capture sharp images in less light than the cameras on rival phones can. It also has a 5-megapixel front camera. Through software, the camera can sense when there’s enough light to switch to f/2.4 and capture more of the background in photos. The phone will launch with Android Nougat, instead of Oreo.

The W2018 has a 4.2-inch full HD AMOLED front display, and a 4.2-inch full HD inner display. As retro touches that make me nostalgic as I type them, it has a directional pad and a number keypad. There’s a fingerprint scanner beside the rear camera, like other Samsung models, and a Bixby button for voice assistance. It comes in gold and platinum in a metal-and-glass body protected by Gorilla Glass.

It’s equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with 6GB of RAM and 64GB or 256GB storage options. A 2,300mAh battery powers it all.

As an attempt to sweeten the deal for luxury lovers, Samsung says that W2018 buyers also get perks like concierge help at airports and subways, free software tech support, and a hotline just for VIPs. The phone will get released in China first and the price is yet to be announced, but we can guess it might be even higher than the W2017’s price tag of $3,000. That’s a lot to pay for tech support and taking clear photos at night.

Google Homes are buy one, get one free at Best Buy today

Did you miss out on snagging a $79 Google Home on Black Friday? Then you might want to check out Best Buy’s deal on Google’s smart speaker today: buy one Google Home for $129, and get one free.

Assuming you want two Google Homes, it’s actually a better deal than the original Black Friday one. And if you don’t want two Google Homes, you can also look at it as a second one to give to someone as an easy holiday gift.

The buy one, get one free sale is only available today at Best Buy, so you’ll want to move quickly if you’re looking to take advantage of it.

Emirates’ new first class suites feature virtual windows and a ‘zero-gravity’ seat

Emirates has just completed the first flight of its new 777 equipped with glorious first class suites inspired by Mercedes-Benz. Those lucky (or rich) enough were treated to what Emirates says is the world’s first fully enclosed suite, measuring a spacious 40 square feet. The private rooms feature “zero-gravity” seats, virtual windows, and active noise cancelling E1 headphones from Bowers and Wilkins developed for exclusively for Emirates (but based on B&W’s P7 wireless cans). The rooms were also fitted with a pair of Safari binoculars, an entertainment system featuring 2,500 channels and wireless remote, a super-wide 32-inch full HD LCD TV (Emirates says it’s the largest widescreen digital touch TV in the world on any aircraft), and custom-controlled mood lighting and climate allowing passenger to adjust the cabin’s temperature to 18 to 26 degrees Celsius / 64 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit.

The virtual windows are a feature on the otherwise windowless cabin suites along the middle aisle, and project a high-definition view of the outside using real-time cameras mounted on the plane. The NASA-inspired zero-gravity seat features a “buttery-soft” leather and a lounging position that Emirates says removes any pressure from the elbows, back, and neck in order to achieve maximum comfort.

These @Emirates virtual windows are INSANE. Look how sharp this is! Holy friggin crap. pic.twitter.com/0U6hDcBtit

— Zach Honig (@ZachHonig) December 1, 2017

There’s a total of six suites on the new Boeing 777, all with floor-to-ceiling doors, curtains, a service window (you can pull down and yell for more snacks), and a video call function where passengers can, more politely, request room service. Customers who fly in the suites will also receive a complimentary chauffeur service which uses Mercedes-Benz S-Class cars.

Here it is! The brand-new @Emirates 777, and my suite, 1E. This video tour’s for Patrick, an 8-year-old #AvGeek who’s obsessed with this plane. Hi Patrick! Hope you get to fly in 1E sometime soon! pic.twitter.com/aj1opnZDup

— Zach Honig (@ZachHonig) December 1, 2017

Emirates calls the suites a “hotel in the sky” and I’m inclined to agree, given the opulence. But to be fair I’d expect the best, given the millions Emirates spent upgrading its cabins. If you want to see for yourself how the super rich fly, there’s a video of a nice man named Doyle who takes you through all the features you’ll probably never experience.

Elon Musk’s giant battery is now delivering power to South Australia

The world’s largest lithium-ion battery is now live in South Australia after being delivered a few weeks ago, easily beating the promise Elon Musk made of “100 days or it’s free.” The South Australian Government notes that for the first time, clean wind energy can be siphoned to the grid 24/7 improving the system’s reliability, whether the wind is blowing or not. The 100MW battery farm has enough storage capacity to power more than 30,000 homes.

The launch today comes after a regulatory testing period that examined the battery’s ability to both charge to, and from, Australia’s National Energy Market and act as a generator. The NEM incorporates 40,000km of transmission lines and cables around Australia. Tesla powerpacks were connected to Neoen’s Hornsdale windfarm, several hours north of Adelaide. According to Hornsdale Power Reserve, the battery takes up less than 10,000 square meters of land.

“The completion of the world’s largest lithium-ion battery in record time shows that a sustainable, effective energy solution is possible,” Tesla said in a statement. “We are proud to be part of South Australia’s renewable energy future, and hope this project provides a model for future deployments around the world.

Happy #FridayWindPic

We just couldn’t not post this one today! pic.twitter.com/hfGR6B4CiU

— Australian Wind Alliance (@AusWindAll) December 1, 2017

Tesla notes that the battery will help solve the state’s power shortage woes, and assist during summertime peak loads. South Australia has been crippled by energy problems, and suffered a state-wide blackout last September. That event sparked a highly politicized debate about energy security, with the Federal Government blaming the failure of renewable energy to cover usage, while others pointed to transmission lines and towers toppling over due to severe weather.