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Atari embraces cryptocurrencies and sees its stock prices soar

Atari, the company that dominated the early years of the American video game industry, has fallen on hard times. Despite the company’s storied history and influence on the gaming industry, it never truly recovered from the video game crash of 1983. The company is still around, however, and recently saw its stock prices soar as it announced a new line of Atari-branded cryptocurrency tokens.

Bloomberg has reported that shares of the Paris-based company rose by 60 percent following the announcement that it had partnered with Infinity Networks to create a new cryptocurrency known as “Atari Tokens.” The company is also planning on working with online casino company PariPlay to create a separate currency that will be called”Pong Tokens,” which will be used in online casinos. “Blockchain technology is poised to take a very important place in our environment and to transform, if not revolutionize, the current economic ecosystem, especially in the areas of the video game industry and online transactions,” said Atari CEO Frederic Chesnais. “Our aim is to take strategic positions with a limited cash risk, in order to best create value with the assets and the Atari brand.”

The term “Atari Token” may be a bit confusing for some, as it was the name previously used for Atari’s own reward system. The two names are likely unrelated, though it is possible that Atari may try and combine the two systems in some way. Atari is far from the only brand to embrace cryptocurrencies.

Kodak’s shares saw a 245 percent increase in value in the days following the announcement that it had partnered with another company to create a blockchain-based service for photo purchases. Even businesses completely unrelated to the tech industry have gotten involved. Last December, the Long Island Iced Tea company saw its stock prices rise by 183 percent after it rebranded itself as Long Blockchain Corp.

Atari’s entry into the crypto market at least makes more sense than an iced tea company doing the same.

The company was one of the earliest leaders of the video game industry, and is planning a return to the console market in the form of the upcoming Ataribox.

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The past, present and Afrofuturism of 'Black Panther'

There’s a secret at the heart of Marvel’s superhero adventure “Black Panther“: the African nation of Wakanda, bursting with advanced technology and hidden from the world.

Afrofuturist icon Janelle Monae at the Los Angeles world premiere of “Black Panther” in January.

Alberto E. Rodriguez

But that’s not the only thing this Afrofuturist epic uncovers. By drawing directly from Africa as its source material, “Black Panther” gives us a new way to think about a past, present and future rarely seen in mainstream movies. (Here’s CNET’s review of the film, which opened in US theaters on Friday and earlier worldwide.)

Marvel’s latest superhero flick is the perfect example of the genre and movement known as Afrofuturism. It combines elements of sci-fi, fantasy and African history and culture to create a new world to explore and escape into. The term Afrofuturism was coined in the early 1990s to refer to an analysis of African-American sci-fi.

But it’s since become a method for speculative thought, imagining “what if” scenarios in fiction, music and even architecture that reclaim and reinvigorate depictions of the black experience. By re-examining historical events through an African lens, we can more deeply understand where we are today and, in sci-fi creations like the high-tech culture of Wakanda, imagine possibilities beyond the status quo.

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“Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman, who plays T’Challa, said he expressly thought about how he should approach his accent as Wakanda’s king from a purely African perspective. “He’s the ruler of a nation,” Boseman told CNET in a November interview. “And if he’s the ruler of a nation, he has to speak to his people.

He has to galvanize his people. And there’s no way I could speak to my people, who have never been conquered by Europeans, with a European voice.”

Ryan Coogler directs Chadwick Boseman on the set of Marvel’s “Black Panther”.

Matt Kennedy/Marvel Studios 2018

The “Afro” in the Afrofuturism of “Black Panther,” isn’t just evident in the predominantly black cast, also featuring Angela Bassett as T’Challa’s mother, Ramonda; Michael B. Jordan as zealous villain Killmonger; and Lupita Nyong’o as spy Nakia.

It’s everywhere in the aesthetics, from the vibrant design of the sets and costumes to the fictional rituals of Black Panther’s home, Wakanda. Look at the ochre earth that covers the floor of the Wakandan throne room. Or the thatched roofs on the country’s gleaming skyscrapers.

Or gadgets in the form of traditional necklaces and beads. Even the natural landscapes of Wakanda draw on the variety of Africa’s beauty, with rolling green hillsides and magnificent snowcapped mountains taking the place of the stereotypical parched desert.

King T’Challa’s throne room is an example of Wakanda’s combination of African heritage and comic book technology.

Marvel Studios

Yet Afrofuturism is more than a visual style bringing African influences into the mainstream. Even before the first (white) men walked on the moon in the 1960s, African-American writers, artists and musicians like Sun Ra looked to space and to the fantasies of science fiction to find the freedom denied them on Earth.

“Afrofuturism does a couple of things,” filmmaker, author and futurist Ytasha L. Womack explained in a keynote speech at Canada’s McGill University in 2015. “It affirms the agency of people who pull from aspects of the African or black experience in the future … but it also recovers this lost history, heritage and perspectives that aren’t talked about in our education system. You can pull from these different aspects to shape your present — and the future.”

Representation of the historical black experience on screen has often focused on slavery, from 1915’s “The Birth of a Nation” to 2013’s “12 Years a Slave.” In the present, black people are regularly depicted as passive victims of police brutality and gang warfare who come from violent, impoverished communities the world over. In sci-fi’s future or fantasy settings, black people frequently don’t exist: How many are there in “Blade Runner 2049”, for example? In sci-fi, people of colour are often replaced by green- or blue-hued aliens or other fantastic beings as a proxy, from “Avatar,” “Alien Nation” and “Bright” to “Blade Runner” and “X-Men.”

Lupita Nyong’o (left) and Letitia Wright (right) fire up Wakandan high technology.

Marvel Studios

In other words, humanity has been living with a Westernised narrative.

But in “Black Panther,” the black people and culture we see are very different from stereotypical representations. Wakanda’s past is free of colonisation and enslavement. Wakandans of the present are active citizens with agency over their country’s resources.

And they combine their chief resource, Vibranium, with their knowledge and ingenuity to develop futuristic technology outstripping the rest of the world. “One of the things that we really wanted to make sure about Wakanda is the technology, and I think that that’s something that all the fans want to see,” the film’s production designer, Hannah Beachler, told Black Girl Nerds. “The other thing that we really talked about was keeping the tradition of several different African tribes. We really delved into what that was and how we mix this new and this old.”

For Beachler, Afrofuturism means taking a familiar narrative and “mixing it up and reowning it … going back to an older time and modernizing it, and reclaiming it, and owning it in a different way.” You’ll find Afrofuturism in fiction such as Octavia Butler’s 1976 time-travelling slave narrative novel “Kindred“, or more recently, the novel “Who Fears Death” by Nigerian-American writer Nnedi Okorafor. Set in a postapocalyptic future version of Sudan, “Who Fears Death” is scheduled to be made into an HBO series produced by “Game of Thrones” author George R.R.

Martin. Even before academic Mark Dery coined the term Afrofuturism in 1993, we saw it in the work of artists like otherworldly jazz performer Sun Ra. His experimental music, extraterrestrial-inspired cosmic philosophy and flamboyant performances produced works like the psychedelic 1974 film “Space Is the Place,” in which he comes to us as a “Universal Being” not of this dimension.

Sun Ra and his Arkestra look to the future in 1978.

Getty Images

African-American singer, songwriter and record producer George Clinton of Parliament/Funkadelic fame shared many of the cosmic viewpoints of Sun Ra.

His music was infused with an Afrofuturist vision of protest, hope, intergalactic mythology and fun, and he was one of the many who laid the groundwork for the evolution of electro. In the 1980s, hip-hop ambassador Afrika Bambaataa appeared as a being somewhere between a robot and an ancient Egyptian godhead for his influential 1982 hit “Planet Rock.” More recently, my personal favourite, Janelle Monae, adopted an android alter ego to take us on a tour of futuristic museums paying homage to rebel artists on the albums “The ArchAndroid” and “Electric Lady.”

“I watched ‘Metropolis’ and was really inspired by it,” Monae told The Irish Times. “Then I started to get into ‘Alien’ and ‘Blade Runner’, and I started to look at the android as the form of the other, all the discrimination that the android faced in these films. I could relate to that, the idea of being the minority within the majority.” Monae’s next album and film will be titled “Dirty Computer” and will continue to explore sci-fi themes.

No wonder she was the perfect choice to appear in “Hidden Figures,” the award-winning 2016 movie reclaiming the contribution of African-American women to the space race. By looking to both the past and the future and imagining new possibilities in stories like “Black Panther,” we can inspire the present. At Afro Futures_UK, a UK-based collective of researchers, artists, programmers and activists, we explore new ways of seeing ourselves.

Through seminars, workshops and social media, our black-led group aims to get more people involved in science, technology and the arts to do our bit toward self-determination and liberation. As “Black Panther” sinks its teeth into huge box office success, Afrofuturism is now mainstream. A smash hit Marvel blockbuster made by a black cast, director and filmmakers should pave the way to change how Hollywood portrays Africa, the birthplace of humanity.

That’s the irresistible freedom of Afrofuturism.

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Tech Culture: From film and television to social media and games, here’s your place for the lighter side of tech.

Crowd Control: A crowdsourced science fiction novel written by CNET readers.

First look inside the 2018 Toy Fair

Uno Attack Jurassic World is basically the game of Uno, except when you draw an “Attack” card, this dinosaur face might start spitting cards at you.

That’s it for the Mattel presentation, but check back tomorrow as we’ll have more SB© toys to show off from the rest of the show!

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Metal Gear Survive Beta 2 download live on PS4, Xbox One

We have some great news for Metal Gear fans now, as we are pleased to confirm that the Metal Gear Survive Beta 2 has now gone live and is available to download on PS4, Xbox One and PC. You will now have another weekend to get as much game time as you possibly can, as the beta will end two days later on February 18. There is a lot of attention surrounding this game, as of course it is the first Metal Gear game which hasn’t been developed by Hideo Kojima following on from his infamous exit from Konami.

For those downloading the game for the first time, you should expect an 8GB install on console and if you need help getting used to the basics – these 5 tips to keep you alive should help. Let us know if you are playing the new Metal Gear game at the moment and how you think it compares to Phantom Pain. Will you still be supporting the series or have you moved on now that Kojima is no longer developing?

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5 practical uses for Elon Musk’s impractical flamethrower

Let’s start with the obvious: Elon Musk is an interesting man. He proposed “warming up” Mars for human habitation by dropping thermonuclear weapons on it. He wants to alleviate Los Angeles’ traffic congestion by building tunnel networks below the city and using them to transport cars on high-speed electric sleds.

He just sent one of his own £100,000 cars into space, presumably for the same reason that you used to melt G.I. Joes as a kid — because he could. (We’re not buying the whole “experimental payload” line.

Please. You wanted to shoot a car into space, and it’s fine. It’s your rocket.)

In a way, Elon Musk is the tech equivalent of the previous century’s big-game hunters. He’s always on the hunt for the next big trophy, the one that stops people in their tracks, the one people say he’s crazy to even attempt. Some of his “exploits” have no perceived value to anyone, but they make the rest of us want to get out there and do something equally daring.

Or maybe 50 percent as daring. Because we don’t have anything like his bail money. On Saturday, January 27, Musk opened a pre-sale for what must surely have been an idea scribbled on a bar napkin: flamethrowers.

And all the brosephs rejoiced. The flamethrower is being marketed by Musk’s new side hustle, an outfit called The Boring Company. Despite being priced at £500 (or maybe because of it), it only took five days for the first run of flamethrowers to be claimed by mayhem-makers around the globe.

These would-be Rambos may have to wait a while to get their new SB© toys, however. Certain countries’ customs agencies have stated their objections to shipping anything labeled “flamethrower.”

Apparently, some customs agencies are saying they won’t allow shipment of anything called a “Flamethrower”. To solve this, we are renaming it “Not a Flamethrower”.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 2, 2018

In response, Musk floated a few name changes out on his Twitter, like “Not a Flamethrower” and “Temperature Enhancement Device.” And all the brosephs retweeted. It only made the situation better when California Assemblyman Miguel Santiago intervened on this bro-fest in classic vice principal fashion, announcing his intention to introduce legislation to ban sales of the flamethrower in the state of California. In response, Musk posted a faux-PSA on Instagram, showing himself running while lighting the flamethrower.

The caption reads: “Don’t do this. Also, I want to be clear that a flamethrower is a super terrible idea. Definitely don’t buy one.

Unless you like fun.” And all the brosephs bowed down. The flamethrower is drawing criticism from more than just party-pooper politicians.

Many say it more resembles an Airsoft rifle that functions like a blowtorch, making for a certain buzzkill on those visions of Rambo grandeur.

Or maybe “Temperature Enhancement Device” — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 3, 2018

Whatever, man. It’s a handheld gun that shoots fire.

So maybe it’s not a real flamethrower by the strictest definition. So maybe it doesn’t shoot as far as a certain Arizona-based company’s flamethrowers. There are still lots of ways to put the Boring Company’s latest to to good, even practical use.

And we’ve highlighted our top five. (And no, we don’t mean roasting nuts. That was a dumb joke, Elon.

Stick to your strengths.)

No.

1: Home Security

Picture a burglar breaking into your house. Now picture yourself coming at that burglar from the top of the stairs, swinging a flaming rifle. It’s enough to scare any criminal straight.

Even if you should hurt yourself in the effort (as is entirely likely with such reckless use of the flamethrower), no intruder wants to f*** with the guy writhing on the floor wrapped in flames. Not unless he’s as crazy as you are.

No.2: De-icing a Driveway

Salt ruins your wheel wells. Sand is a pain to clean up.

Wouldn’t it be ideal if your driveway was just dry? Pop in your earbuds, put on some death metal, and go to town on that slab of concrete. That new “dad/husband/brother/roommate of the year” coffee mug is practically yours.

No.

3: In the Kitchen

Whether you’re finishing off a vat of creme brulee, or adding some nice singe marks to an entire roasted pig, the flamethrower will give you Costco-level value for your time and effort. Love that smoked flavor effect in your cocktail? Treat the entire neighborhood by felling a tree, surrounding it with highball glasses filled with whisky, then unleashing the flame and quickly tenting it with a heavy-duty tarp.

Wait about 60 seconds for the flavor to infuse, then finish with bitters and a twist. Be sure to save a couple for the firefighters when they show up.

No.

4: Clearing Unwanted Foliage

Honestly, this is probably why Assemblyman Santiago took such issue with the Boring Company’s flamethrower promotion. In the wake of the gnarliest wildfire season ever, a 6-foot jet of flame is the last thing a California homeowner needs for lawncare.

But for those in more humectant climates, the flamethrower can make quick work out of Bermuda grass, kudzu vine, and that backyard vegetable garden that you sort of forgot about. Plus, it’s a well-known fact that soil pH, carbon, and nutrient levels increase after burning. So you’re not just saving time, you’re actually improving your yard. (Memorize that for when the homeowner’s association guy comes by.)

No.

5: Getting Attention

This may well have been the inspiration for the flamethrower sale in the first place. The Boring Company’s first venture was selling ball caps. Some speculate the flamethrower thing is just a way flashier ball cap, i.e., a stunt designed to raise visibility around Musk’s Boring Company.

Because, you know, even Elon Musk is afraid of being forgotten about. Point is, the whole point of a domestic flamethrower is to draw attention. We suggest undertaking any (or all) of the previous four uses on behalf of someone you’ve been working up the courage to talk to.

De-ice their driveway. Clear their front garden out for spring planting. Think of it as a John Cusack holding the boombox over his head type of move, but way more practical.

If they don’t appreciate it, they don’t deserve you.

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