If you enjoy the absurd and extreme edge of comics, SyFy’s Happy may be for you

This trailer does a good job capturing the over-the-top nature of Happy.

The beauty of comics may be the infinite range of stories they can tell. Unlike film and television—with the accompanying restraints of those media due to production costs, broadcast standards, ratings potential, etc.—comics can simply get as crazy and imaginative as a writer wants.

Happy, SyFy’s new series drawing upon the Grant Morrison comic of the same name, is the kind of comic-inspired adaptation that may not have existed a few years back. The violence can be extreme, the concept itself (a twisted buddy-cop caper involving a disgraced hitman and an imaginary unicorn) is absurd, and the humor and situations definitely exist in the high-end of the TV-MA range. But as the array of content-hungry providers has diversified and comics as varied as The Walking Dead, Legion, and Preacher paved the way, a show like Happy can finally exist on television, too.

We’ve collectively come a long, long way from Adam West’s Batman or even the more recent Dean Cain in Lois & Clark. And for a certain type of fan, that’s a very welcome development.

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Nine key areas for boosting China’s manufacturing

The Three-year Action Plan to Enhance the Core Competence of the Manufacturing Industry (2018-2020) was released by the National Development and Reform Commission on Nov 27.

Democrat Franken to resign from Senate: radio report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrat Al Franken will resign from the U.S. Senate on Thursday, Minnesota Public Radio reported, after more than half of his Senate Democratic colleagues urged him to do so in light of sexual misconduct accusations.

Democrat Franken to resign from Senate: radio report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrat Al Franken will resign from the U.S. Senate on Thursday, Minnesota Public Radio reported, after more than half of his Senate Democratic colleagues urged him to do so in light of sexual misconduct accusations.

Volkswagen Executive Gets Max Sentence Of 7 Years For Role In Emissions Scandal

“This crime … attacks and destroys the very foundation of our economic system,” the judge said.

After a three-month drought, now comes the rate-reset deluge

Go figure.

After almost three months without a rate-reset preferred share transaction, the market has given up $1.4 billion to eager issuers over the past week.

From early September to late November, not one issuer came to the market with a product that offers a fixed-rate yield for the first five years of its life and the prospect of either another fixed-rate or a floating-rate security for the following five years.

But things have changed dramatically over the past seven days with all the issuance coming from non-financial corporations.

Resurgence

Pembina Pipelines — which closed its $9.4 billion takeover of Veresen Inc. in early October — started the resurgence with a $400 million raise at 4.90 per cent. (The $400 million assumes the four million share underwriters’ option will be exercised. We’ll know Thursday.) In five years that rate will serve as the minimum reset yield for the following five years.

Brookfield Office Properties was the next cab to join the line: it priced a $250 million offering on which investors will receive a fixed yield of 4.85 per cent. The underwriters were given an option to sell another two million shares and raise an extra $50 million.

Then came Enbridge Inc. with a $500 million issue that will also pay investors a fixed rate of 4.90 per cent over the next five years. (The $400 million raise includes $100 million that’s subject to an underwriters’ option.)

That financing was part of a package that included a $1.5 billion private placement of equity (at $44.84 a share) with three large institutional investors plus a 10 per cent dividend hike. The financing news has had a positive effect on the share price, which has been on a steady downtrend for about a year. In fact the shares hit a 52-week low of $44.01 in mid November. They closed Wednesday at $48.76.

The fourth transaction occurred Wednesday when Kinder Morgan Canada, which went public last May, announced a $200 million deal. (The deal could end up at $250 million for which Kinder Morgan will pay 5.20 per cent.) At 5.20 per cent, the rate is five basis points more than what it paid in August for $300 million of similar capital.

A key difference between the two deals is the spread above the base, the yield on five-year Canada bonds: in August the spread was 365 basis points (reflecting a base rate of 160 basis points) whereas in December the spread was 351 basis points (which equates to a base rate of 169 basis points). Over the period the preferred shares continue to be rated Pfd-3 (high).

Institutional support

So what’s an explanation? Clearly there was a lack of supply over the period until late November. For whatever reason, issuers felt they didn’t need the extra capital because reset offerings get snapped up quickly and generally receive substantial institutional support.

But that scenario changed a week or so back. In one case (Enbridge) it coincided, with “the finalization of its strategic plan and outlook following the merger with Spectra Energy” a transaction that closed last February. As for the timing, Enbridge had to get matters addressed before two investor conferences are held next week. In another case (Kinder Morgan) the financing presumably had to wait until the U.S. parent released its “preliminary 2018 financial projections to ensure that investors had the most recent information.” That occurred Monday.

The word is that if companies want the capital before year end, speed is required. Given the upcoming holidays and the time taken to close a transaction, next week is about the cut-off.

Financial Post
bcritchley@postmedia.com

Snapdragon 845 unveiled with 25-percent faster CPU, 30-percent faster graphics

Qualcomm is hosting the “Snapdragon Technology Summit” in Hawaii this week, where it unveiled its flagship system-on-a-chip (SoC) for 2018: the Snapdragon 845. Qualcomm has a near-monopoly on the high-end smartphone SoC market, so unless you’re buying an iPhone or non-US Samsung phone, you can expect most 2018 flagship smartphones to be powered by Qualcomm’s latest. You might even see the chip in your next laptop, with Qualcomm breaking into the Windows 10 market.

The SoC is manufactured by Samsung on the company’s 10nm process, just like the Snapdragon 835. The Kryo 385 is once again a derivative of ARM’s Cortex CPU, with four “performance” cores (based on the Cortex A75) clocked at up to 2.8GHz and four “efficiency” cores (based on the Cortex A55) that run at up to 1.8GHz. Qualcomm is boosting the performance core clock speeds by 19 percent over the Snapdragon 835, but thanks to a CPU redesign, Qualcomm is promising a “25-percent performance uplift” over the previous generation. The CPU also gets a new 2MB L3 cache and 3MB of system cache.

The GPU is now the Adreno 630, and Qualcomm is promising “30-percent faster graphics” and “30-percent better power efficiency.” The company says a 2.5×-faster display throughput will allow for a 2K×2K display at 120Hz. Qualcomm is really pushing AR and VR with the Snapdragon 845, promising out-of-the-box support for eye tracking, hand tracking, foveated rendering (adding more detail to the part of the screen you’re looking at), multiview rendering (great for rendering the left and right eyes in VR goggles), and HTC Vive-style six degree of freedom (6DoF) tracking for headsets and controllers. In fact, the Adreno 630 GPU isn’t even called a “GPU” anymore—now it’s a “Visual Processing Subsystem.” It’s not that any of this was impossible before, but now Qualcomm is officially supporting all of these VR/AR use cases out of the box.

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