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Nuclear Power, New Music and Wheat Worries

By:James Melton

A weekly look inside Luckbox magazine

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Sam Altman bets on small nuclear reactors

With the demand for electricity expected to increase significantly in the coming years, fresh players have emerged in the nuclear sector, aiming to supply innovative and environmentally friendly solutions. One such company, Oklo (OKLO), is backed by OpenAI’s Sam Altman and recently went public via a special purpose acquisition (SPAC).

Oklo plans to build and operate small modular reactors (SMRs) that use traditional nuclear fission technology, but on a more economical scale than traditional nuclear power plants.

SMRs are small-scale fission reactors designed to be more flexible and efficient than traditional nuclear reactors. SMRs typically are modular, which enables manufacturers to build them as a series of smaller, combinable segments instead of one large unit. This modularity is expected to provide greater scalability, while offering reduced costs and an overall superior value proposition. Some experts see SMRs as a useful transition technology until scientists make nuclear fusion commercially viable.

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New name, new album from Chicago duo

The Chicago experimental rock duo Finom is releasing a new album under a new band name. Though frustrating, the change gave the bandmates a chance to create what they want, on their own terms.

Finom, formerly known as Ohmme, are set to release their album "Not God" on Friday, May 24. Photo by Anna Claire Barlow

This is the second time Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart, both singer-songwriters and multi-instrumentalists, have had to change their band name. The duo went by Homme when it released its first album Parts in 2018 and was more recently known as Ohmme. The recent change was due to legal reasons—another musician goes by the same name.

Most of the songs on the new album, called Not God, were brand new when recording at The Loft, Wilco’s studio in Chicago. And while Cunningham and Stewart feel they’ve grown a lot since writing and recording the album, Stewart says what’s special about writing songs is that two years down the line, they have a deeper meaning.

Cunningham adds: “The world is still in a crazy place, maybe a slightly different kind of insanity, but we’re once again facing off all of these terrible wielders of power, and the record kind of deals with that. It feels more cathartic now to sing those songs than it did before.”

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Wheat rally adds to inflation worries

Inflation has been near the top of Wall Street’s “wall of worry” since early 2022, and based on recent activity in the wheat market, it’s going to remain there for a while longer. That's because suboptimal growing conditions scaled back expectations for the 2024-2025 harvest.

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Since bottoming in March of this year, wheat prices have been on a tear over the last eight weeks. A bushel of wheat now costs $6.85, which represents a nine-month high in prices. After rallying by about 30% since the March bottom, wheat prices are now in sight of a fresh 52-week high. Over the last year, wheat prices have ranged between roughly $5.20 and $7.20 per bushel.

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James Melton is managing editor of Luckbox magazine. @JDMeltonWriter

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