The Genderless Digital Voice the planet requirements Right Now

Boot up the choices for your digital voice associate of preference and you’re more likely to find two alternatives for the sex you prefer getting together with: man or woman. The problem is, that binary option is not an accurate representation of complexities of gender. Some folks don’t determine as either man or woman, and so they might want their sound assistant to mirror that identity. Currently, they’re out of fortune.

However a group of linguists, technologists, and noise designers—led by Copenhagen Pride and Vice’s creative agency Virtue—are for a quest to improve that having brand new, genderless digital voice, made from genuine voices, called Q. Q is not likely to show up within smartphone tomorrow, but the idea would be to pressure the tech industry into acknowledging that sex is not fundamentally binary, a matter of guy or girl, masculine or womanly.

The task is confronting a brand new electronic world fraught with dilemmas. It’s no accident that Siri and Cortana and Alexa all have feminine voices—research suggests that users respond more definitely to them than they would up to a male vocals. But as developers make that option, they operate the risk of reinforcing sex stereotypes, that female AI assistants should be helpful and caring, while machines like protection robots needs a male voice to telegraph authority. While this is certainlyn’t the very first make an effort to create a gender-neutral sound, with Q, the thinking goes, we can’t only make technology more comprehensive and utilize that technology to spark conversation on social issues.

The group began by recording the voices of two dozen those who identify as male, feminine, transgender, or nonbinary. Every person read a predetermined listing of sentences. “At the period, we did not understand whenever we were planning to layer the sounds, so we needed similar phrase in identical tempo because close once we could get it,” says noise designer Nis Nørgaard. By merging the voices together, they might be able to create some kind of average. “But which was too difficult,” he states.

Instead, Nørgaard zeroed in on a single person’s sound, which registered approximately just what we’d give consideration to masculine or feminine. That comes down mostly to frequency, or pitch: Men are apt to have a larger vocal tract, which creates a lower-sounding timbre. But there’s a sweet spot between 145 and 175 hertz, an assortment that studies have shown we perceive as more gender-neutral. Increase and you’ll perceive the vocals as typically female; get smaller and it becomes more masculine. You can test it away for yourself within interactive by dragging the bubble down and up to improve the frequency regarding the vocals.

Nørgaard started initially to tweak that one sweet-spot vocals. “It was really tricky, because your brain can inform in the event that voice is pitched up and down,” he claims. “It was difficult to make use of these voices without destroying them.”

Nørgaard created four variants, that the group then delivered to 4,500 people in European countries. One sound stuck out to the study participants. “People were saying, ‘This actually neutral sound. I can not inform the sex of this voice,’” Nørgaard says. “initially, I became like, this really is likely to be difficult. Nevertheless When we got feedback from these 4,500 individuals, I Believe we nailed it, really.” That sound became the cornerstone for Q.

Q, then, can now literally give a voice toward voiceless in modern technology. “I think it’s really important to have representation for trans individuals about not just AI, but voices as a whole,” says Ask Stig Kistvad, a trans guy whom lent his voice towards task. “It’s a new part of the last three to five years, that trans folks are actually represented in popular tradition.” it is just normal, Kistvad states, that some designers sooner or later embrace them, too.

That is especially important with regards to sound assistants, a market that’s projected to grow by 35 percent per year until at least 2023. “Itwill be an increasingly prevalent method for us to communicate with tech,” states venture Q collaborator Julie Carpenter, a study other with the Ethics and Emerging Sciences Group, which explores the social problems around technology. “Naming a house assistant Alexa, which sounds female, could be problematic for some people, since it reinforces this label that females help and support people in tasks.”

Become fair, tech organizations aren’t fundamentally available of maliciously excluding sounds that don’t neatly align using the male-female binary. But they most certainly have the ability to build up something similar to a genderless voice, and at minimum, they are able to begin thinking harder concerning the sounds their products or services default to making use of. Maybe they think anything outside of the “norm” could be too distracting for item that is utilitarian in nature (ask question, get answer). “But one thing we are able to do is push what typical is,” claims Anna Jørgensen, a linguist whom labored on venture Q. “and now we must do that.”

Now’s a very good time, because things are about to obtain a great deal more difficult as advanced social robots proliferate. Research indicates, like, that folks judge security robots to be more masculine, while those exact same robots appear more feminine when they are programmed to provide a less respected guidance part. What if we start confronting those biases, both by toying utilizing the real as a type of robots and their voices?

It won’t be effortless, because our brains are culturally programmed for a globe that views sex as strictly male or female. “It is really because Q will probably play with this minds that it’s crucial,” says Kristina Hultgren, a linguist who wasn’t involved in the research. “It plays with this urge to place people into bins therefore gets the possible to push people’s boundaries and broaden their perspectives.”

Whether tech organizations embrace the theory will be seen. Regardless if they do, don’t expect them to fully embrace Q. “As a great deal when I such as the idea of a gender-neutral AI, we believe it is really hard to assume it being truly a default thing in five years,” says Kistvad. “It is great, however for me personally it might be such as a utopia—I do not understand if it is even realistic.”

The danger of AI and robotics usually individual designers infuse their technologies along with their very own biases. However the beauty of AI and robotics usually whenever we start having honest conversations about those biases and stereotypes, we could contour a rapidly changing technical future to be not just more comprehensive but thought-provoking. And also the vanguard leading us there sounds nearly the same as Q.


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The Genderless Digital Voice the World Needs Right Now

Boot up the options for your digital voice assistant of choice and you’re likely to find two options for the gender you prefer interacting with: male or female. The problem is, that binary choice isn’t an accurate representation of the complexities of gender. Some folks don’t identify as either male or female, and they may want their voice assistant to mirror that identity. As of now, they’re out of luck.

But a group of linguists, technologists, and sound designers—led by Copenhagen Pride and Vice’s creative agency Virtue—are on a quest to change that with a new, genderless digital voice, made from real voices, called Q. Q isn’t going to show up in your smartphone tomorrow, but the idea is to pressure the tech industry into acknowledging that gender isn’t necessarily binary, a matter of man or woman, masculine or feminine.

The project is confronting a new digital universe fraught with problems. It’s no accident that Siri and Cortana and Alexa all have female voices—research shows that users react more positively to them than they would to a male voice. But as designers make that choice, they run the risk of reinforcing gender stereotypes, that female AI assistants should be helpful and caring, while machines like security robots should have a male voice to telegraph authority. While this isn’t the first attempt to craft a gender-neutral voice, with Q, the thinking goes, we can not only make technology more inclusive but also use that technology to spark conversation on social issues.

The team began by recording the voices of two dozen people who identify as male, female, transgender, or nonbinary. Each person read a predetermined list of sentences. “At that point, we didn’t know if we were going to layer the voices, so we needed the same sentence in the same tempo as close as we could get it,” says sound designer Nis Nørgaard. By merging the voices together, they might be able to create some kind of average. “But that was too difficult,” he says.

Instead, Nørgaard zeroed in on one person’s voice, which registered somewhere between what we’d consider masculine or feminine. That comes down largely to frequency, or pitch: Men tend to have a larger vocal tract, which produces a lower-sounding timbre. But there’s a sweet spot between 145 and 175 hertz, a range that research shows we perceive as more gender-neutral. Go higher and you’ll perceive the voice as typically female; go lower and it becomes more masculine. You can try it out for yourself in this interactive by dragging the bubble up and down to change the frequency of the voice.

Nørgaard started to tweak that one sweet-spot voice. “It was really tricky, because your brain can tell if the voice has been pitched up and down,” he says. “It was difficult to work with these voices without destroying them.”

Nørgaard created four variants, which the team then sent to 4,500 people in Europe. One voice stuck out to the survey participants. “People were saying, ‘This is a neutral voice. I can’t tell the gender of this voice,’” Nørgaard says. “In the beginning, I was like, this is going to be difficult. But when we got feedback from these 4,500 people, I think we nailed it, actually.” That voice became the basis for Q.

Q, then, can now literally give a voice to the voiceless in modern technology. “I think it’s really important to have representation for trans people when it comes to not only AI, but voices in general,” says Ask Stig Kistvad, a trans man who lent his voice to the project. “It’s a new thing in the last three to five years, that trans people are actually represented in popular culture.” It’s only natural, Kistvad says, that some developers eventually embrace them, too.

This is particularly important when it comes to voice assistants, a market that’s projected to grow by 35 percent a year until at least 2023. “It’s going to become an increasingly commonplace way for us to communicate with tech,” says Project Q collaborator Julie Carpenter, a research fellow with the Ethics and Emerging Sciences Group, which explores the social issues around technology. “Naming a home assistant Alexa, which sounds female, can be problematic for some people, because it reinforces this stereotype that females assist and support people in tasks.”

To be fair, tech companies aren’t necessarily in the business of maliciously excluding voices that don’t neatly align with the male-female binary. But they most certainly have the power to develop something like a genderless voice, and at the very least, they can start thinking harder about the voices their products default to using. Maybe they think anything outside the “norm” would be too distracting for a product that’s utilitarian in nature (ask question, get answer). “But one thing we can do is push what the norm is,” says Anna Jørgensen, a linguist who worked on Project Q. “And we should do that.”

Now’s a good time, because things are about to get a whole lot more complicated as sophisticated social robots proliferate. Research has shown, for example, that people judge security robots to be more masculine, while those same robots seem more feminine when they are programmed to serve a less authoritative guidance role. What if we start confronting those biases, both by toying with the physical form of robots as well as their voices?

It won’t be easy, because our brains are culturally programmed for a world that sees gender as strictly male or female. “It is because Q is likely to play with our minds that it is important,” says Kristina Hultgren, a linguist who wasn’t involved in the research. “It plays with our urge to put people into boxes and therefore has the potential to push people’s boundaries and broaden their horizons.”

Whether tech companies embrace the idea is to be seen. Even if they do, don’t expect them to fully embrace Q. “As much as I like the idea of a gender-neutral AI, I find it really hard to imagine it being a default thing in five years,” says Kistvad. “It would be great, but for me it would be like a utopia—I don’t know if it’s even realistic.”

The danger of AI and robotics is that human designers infuse their technologies with their own biases. But the beauty of AI and robotics is that if we start having honest conversations about those biases and stereotypes, we can shape a rapidly changing technological future to be not only more inclusive but thought-provoking. And the vanguard leading us there sounds a lot like Q.


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This Fearsome *Titan Games* Event Reveals the worthiness of Torque

i am oddly attracted to The Titan Games. I do believe we can all agree that this is actually the latest incarnation regarding the popular ’90s show United states Gladiators. It isn’t the theatrics that I enjoy, oahu is the crazy competitions. Understandably, there’s a couple of cool physics to generally share for some among these events. Really, if you are using some physics you may be able to get an benefit over your opponent.

In this case, the function could be the Herculean Pull. The primary idea should pull some horizontal poles from a huge wedge. Both contestants are trying to pull the poles out of different sides. There is a possibility you could reach a pole ahead of the other person and win the straightforward method. But if you’re both pulling on the same pole, you should utilize some physics. Right here, discover this clip from show.

The physics trick is always to not only pull out on the pole—but additionally UP! Yes, grab or more. This is especially valid if you are regarding losing end as you can see in instance above. She makes the blunder of taking out and down (because that appears more natural), however it results in the woman loss.

How come you need to pull UP? i want to draw an easy force diagram showing the pole combined with forces performing on this pole.

Rhett Allain

There’s a lot happening in that diagram. I’d like to break it down available (that’s the things I do). The obvious forces will be the two pulls through the contestants. I’ve labeled these “A” and “B” to be since generic as you are able to. Within diagram, both of those are pulling straight down a little bit. The next group of forces are the “normal forces”—labeled using the “N” for normal. These forces are a outcome of the pole pressing against the edges regarding the wedge opening. Since the pole doesn’t go in to the wedge product, we all know the wedge pushes back regarding pole. This might be simply the exact same force that pushes through to a book sitting for a dining table. Without this force, the book would simply go through the table—and that might be super strange.

The final set of forces will be the frictional forces (I have labeled them as Ff1 and Ff2). The frictional force are pretty tricky, but we can still produce a fairly simple model for the magnitude of the frictional force. In case in which two objects are sliding against one another, the frictional force depends upon the two types of materials interacting and magnitude regarding the normal force. Being an equation, it could seem like this.

Rhett Allain

Within expression the μk is really a coefficient that changes for various interacting materials. Let’s say we’ve lumber rubbing against synthetic. The coefficient of friction could possibly be around 0.2 (that’s simply an estimate). But it is not just the coefficient. The frictional force also depends on the normal force. The harder those two areas are pushed together, the more the frictional force.

But in which may be the physics trick to win this competition? I am getting there. We are in need of another physics concept to know the secret: torque. The idea of torque will get quite complicated, however in some situations it is not too bad. Just take the example of a door. Should you want to open the doorway, you need to exert a torque on it. So, where in the event you push in the home? On the side with the hinge or on the side opposite the hinge? Yes, you realize the answer. In the event that you push on the side utilizing the hinge, the entranceway will not open maybe not matter just how hard you push. This is because torque is really a product of force and distance from the rotation point.

Maybe this diagram will help.

Rhett Allain

The two forces push with the exact same magnitude, but the one further from the hinge includes a greater distance and therefore a larger torque. There. Which your quick introduction to torque. Now back again to that giant pole. Let’s hypothetically say for a minute that the pole reaches remainder plus in equilibrium (not going, maybe not rotating). In cases like this, two conditions should be true. The total vector force must certanly be equal to zero Newtons (otherwise it would speed up) and the total torque must be zero (otherwise it might have an angular acceleration). And there have to be both negative and positive torques to allow them to total up to zero. Let’s imagine that a torque that will make something turn into the clockwise way is negative. That may work.

Since the force is actually in 2 dimensions, we obtain the after three equations for balance.

Rhett Allain

Finally—we are ready to answer the question. Let’s look at the forces regarding the pole once again. In the x-direction, you will find four forces. You will find both forces from the humans (or about an element regarding the force) and you can find the 2 frictional forces. Let’s say all of these soon add up to zero. If that’s the case, one individual would have to pull a great deal harder than the other individual to overcome the other pull AND the frictional force.

When you can raise the frictional force, you may make it harder for the other person to pull out the pole. That’s where the torque in the pole issues. Imagine that both humans are pulling down as you care able to see in the diagram above. Additionally, let’s mount up the torques as determined from right end regarding the pole (you can pick any point though). The right-pulling individual brings down regarding the pole which creates a bad (clockwise) torque. Another two forces that contribute to the sum total torque will be the two normal forces. The standard force in the left pushes up and produces a positive torque additionally the normal force regarding the right pushes down by having a negative torque. Oh, the left-pulling person creates no torque since the torque distance for see your face is zero.

Let’s say there clearly was ways to increase the normal force in the right (labeled N1) inside diagram? Having a greater normal force you would additionally obtain a greater frictional force. This will ensure it is harder for the left-sided person to grab the pole. Right here, possibly this updated force diagram may help.

Rhett Allain

By pulling through to the right part, the standard force on that part even offers to increase in order to get the sum total torque to zero. This increase in normal force escalates the friction. That’s additional assist in avoiding the pole from sliding towards the right. It may seem normal to pull down, but pulling down simply helps it be more straightforward to lose. If you have Herculean strength it most likely does not matter—but for normal people, it can make the distinction between winning and losing.


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This Fearsome *Titan Games* Event Reveals the Value of Torque

I’m oddly attracted to The Titan Games. I think we can all agree that this is the newest incarnation of the popular ’90s show American Gladiators. It’s not the theatrics that I enjoy, it’s the crazy competitions. As you can imagine, there’s a bunch of cool physics to talk about for some of these events. Actually, if you use a little bit of physics you might be able to get an advantage over your opponent.

In this case, the event is the Herculean Pull. The main idea is to pull some horizontal poles out of a giant wedge. The two contestants are trying to pull the poles out from different sides. There’s a chance you could reach a pole before the other person and win the easy way. But if you’re both pulling on the same pole, you need to use some physics. Here, check out this clip from the show.

The physics trick is to not just pull out on the pole—but also UP! Yes, pull out and up. This is especially true if you are on the losing end as you can see in the example above. She makes the mistake of pulling out and down (because that seems more natural), but it leads to her loss.

Why do you want to pull UP? Let me draw a simple force diagram showing the pole along with the forces acting on this pole.

Rhett Allain

There’s a lot going on in that diagram. Let me break it down for you (that’s what I do). The most obvious forces are the two pulls from the contestants. I have labeled these “A” and “B” to be as generic as possible. In this diagram, both of them are pulling down a little bit. The next set of forces are the “normal forces”—labeled with the “N” for normal. These forces are a result of the pole pushing against the edges of the wedge hole. Since the pole doesn’t go into the wedge material, we know the wedge pushes back on the pole. This is essentially the same force that pushes up on a book sitting on a table. Without this force, the book would just move right through the table—and that would be super weird.

The last pair of forces are the frictional forces (I have labeled them as Ff1 and Ff2). The frictional force can be pretty tricky, but we can still make a fairly simple model for the magnitude of a frictional force. In the case where two objects are sliding against each other, the frictional force depends on the two types of materials interacting and the magnitude of the normal force. As an equation, it would look like this.

Rhett Allain

In this expression the μk is just a coefficient that changes for different interacting materials. Let’s say we have wood rubbing against plastic. The coefficient of friction could be around 0.2 (that’s just an estimate). But it’s not just the coefficient. The frictional force also depends on the normal force. The harder those two surfaces are pushed together, the greater the frictional force.

But where is the physics trick to win this competition? I’m getting there. We need one more physics idea to understand the trick: torque. The idea of torque can get quite complicated, but in some cases it’s not too bad. Take the example of a door. If you want to open the door, you need to exert a torque on it. So, where should you push on the door? On the side with the hinge or on the side opposite the hinge? Yes, you know the answer. If you push on the side with the hinge, the door will not open not matter how hard you push. This is because torque is a product of force and distance from the rotation point.

Maybe this diagram will help.

Rhett Allain

The two forces push with the same magnitude, but the one farther from the hinge has a greater distance and thus a greater torque. There. That is your quick introduction to torque. Now back to that giant pole. Let’s assume for a moment that the pole is at rest and in equilibrium (not moving, not rotating). In this case, two conditions must be true. The total vector force must be equal to zero Newtons (otherwise it would accelerate) and the total torque must be zero (otherwise it would have an angular acceleration). And there have to be both positive and negative torques in order for them to add up to zero. Let’s say that a torque that would make something rotate in the clockwise direction is negative. That will work.

Since the force is really in two dimensions, I get the following three equations for equilibrium.

Rhett Allain

Finally—we are ready to answer the question. Let’s look at the forces on the pole again. In the x-direction, there are four forces. There are the two forces from the humans (or at least a component of the force) and then there are the two frictional forces. Let’s say these all add up to zero. In that case, one person would have to pull much harder than the other person to overcome both the other pull AND the frictional force.

If you can increase the frictional force, you can make it harder for the other person to pull out the pole. This is where the torque on the pole matters. Imagine that both humans are pulling down as you can see in the diagram above. Also, let’s add up the torques as calculated from the right end of the pole (you can pick any point though). The right-pulling person pulls down on the pole and this produces a negative (clockwise) torque. The other two forces that contribute to the total torque are the two normal forces. The normal force on the left pushes up and creates a positive torque and the normal force on the right pushes down with a negative torque. Oh, the left-pulling person produces no torque since the torque distance for that person is zero.

What if there was a way to increase the normal force on the right (labeled N1) in the diagram? With a greater normal force you would also get a greater frictional force. This would make it harder for the left-sided person to pull out the pole. Here, maybe this updated force diagram will help.

Rhett Allain

By pulling UP on the right side, the normal force on that side also has to increase in order to get the total torque to zero. This increase in normal force increases the friction. That’s extra help in preventing the pole from sliding to the right. It might seem natural to pull down, but pulling down just makes it easier to lose. If you have Herculean strength it probably doesn’t matter—but for normal people, it can make the difference between winning and losing.


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Viewing the Super Blood Wolf Moon? What to find out about This Lunar Phenomenon

Our in-house Know-It-Alls answer questions regarding the interactions with technology and science. Today, we weigh in regarding January 20, 2019, total lunar eclipse as well as the crazy nomenclature surrounding it.

Q: What does it mean to be a super bloodstream wolf moon?

A: Like presidential elections and celebrity drama, the wonder and intrigue of lunar occasions lies in their regularity. Supermoon! Bloodstream moon! Harvest moon! Wolf harvest sturgeon blue blood pink worm supermoon!

Alright, possibly that final one isn’t a thing (a pink moon being the entire moon in April, a sturgeon being the one in August). You will find literally lots of nicknames for the moons at various times of the year—January’s full moon is recognized as wolf but also the ice moon or old moon, and, hell, you may possibly as well make up your now.

But here’s the thing: It’s the damn moon. It turns reddish in a bloodstream moon because we’re dealing with a complete lunar eclipse: sunlight delivers light through our atmosphere, scattering quick wavelengths like blue while longer wavelengths like red continue steadily to the moon. Our trusty satellite waxes and wanes, moves somewhat closer and farther from world because elliptical orbit, and provides us lunar and solar eclipses with predictable regularity. The moon is kinda clingy, so we think it’s great for that.

Say there is a super blood wolf moon, that will be super as it’s nearer to world in its elliptical orbit plus wolf as it’s a January full moon. Now, I’m maybe not gonna stay here and place for a hospital concerning the beginning of every moon nickname, however they drive astronomers crazy. “once I see every one of these headlines towards wolf bloodstream super moon, I go nuts,” states Fred Espenak, scientist emeritus at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “Because it’s a total eclipse associated with moon—that’s what’s perhaps not into the headline. It Is all these other terms to try and engage the public and get them to click material, nonetheless it form of hides exactly what the message is: It Is A total eclipse associated with the moon, which is a great term there.” That, however, just isn’t adequate for many people.

Another honorific that especially irks astronomers: the supermoon. It’s a moon that appears bigger to us, because once more, the moon follows an elliptical orbit. But really, it’s only 14 per cent bigger, that will be imperceptible towards human eye.

“I think making use of that term baits people into thinking something great is going to carry on outside,” states Espenak, “and they go out to view it and they’re disappointed since it just looks like a complete moon. You can’t see the several per cent that it is larger or smaller.”

Oh, additionally. It had beenn’t an astronomer whom thought up the expression supermoon, but an astrologer, who stated the big event is linked to seismic activities and also the weather. And astrology is approximately as not even close to science as being a wolf in the world is from the wolf moon. “Supermoon is a completely new term,” Espenak states. “It was not anything that astronomers paid any awareness of. Yeah, it was a closer moon, but it ended up being kind of like, ‘Yeah, so what?’”

Therefore okay, meh on supermoon. But that’s not saying that the individual obsession using the moon—and naming full moons in particular—is entirely unreasonable, historically talking. “If anybody has taken a walk under a full moon, it’s very bright,” claims research scientist Noah Petro, additionally of NASA’s Goddard area Flight Center. “You can realize why hunters might want to hunt with a complete moon. It’s Wise it will mean one thing.”

Indeed, other nicknames for the moon are grounded in genuine energy. The total moon closest to your autumn equinox is recognized as the harvest moon, because before electricity, the radiance afforded farmers the chance to work at night. Having an excellent grasp for the moon’s behavior would also help seagoing individuals divine changes in tides. A great comprehension of the moon’s phases is crucial for warmongering too, if that’s just what you’re into: It’d be significantly less than smart to launch a surprise night assault having complete moon over your head.

The utility of moon nicknames, however, has mostly disappeared within contemporary globe. Except, that is, for making use of the moon as being a grand academic platform. “It’s advertising,” claims Petro. “Because everybody else can venture out sufficient reason for unique naked eyes examine them to discover the light and dark areas and work out the standard of observations. It Is unifying because regard.”

The caveat being: If you build-up a supermoon as something which’s actually super, you’ll sow frustration. Nevertheless the moon possesses a uniquely available platform for getting nerdy about science—you don’t require a lab high in gear or possibly a telescope to enjoy it.

“One of biggest practical values of total lunar eclipses inside day and age is actually to spark the attention of kids and students to go out and appear at one thing,” states Espenak. “Especially whenever 90 or 95 percent of men and women live in urban centers and you can not start to see the Milky Way. A total lunar eclipse is something you can observe from downtown in every big city.”

Therefore yes, do get look at the moon, the fickle moon, the inconstant moon, that month-to-month changes in the woman circle orb. It’s a poetical, astronomical object; you don’t need to gussy it up with seafood and bloodstream.


Matt Simon actually technology author at WIRED who, become clear, loves the moon. But he also gets particular with semantics, while you could have noticed.

Exactly what can we inform you? No, actually, exactly what do you want among our in-house professionals to inform you? Post your concern inside remarks or e-mail the Know-It-Alls.


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