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The best boxer briefs — Typical Contents

Preface:
This is the first guide in a series from Typical Contents, a kind of “wirecutter for clothes”. It’s by the team behind Epochs, a now defunct menswear blog.
We’ll be reviewing categories of clothing in hopes of finding the best item(s) in that category. This first post focuses on finding the best pair of boxer briefs. We bought all 13 pairs tested using our own money and there are no referral or affiliate links contained in this post.
Over the past six months I've been on a personal crusade to find the best pair of mens boxer briefs. The reason? I'm investing the time and money now, upfront, so I never have to think about what underwear I buy ever again. During this quest I've researched over 20 pairs of underwear, and wore and washed 13 pairs over six months (and I will continue to test and update this guide accordingly). CDLP's Boxer Brief came out on top; they're light and comfortable, look great and can be had for a reasonable price when bought in multiples.

Best overall

CDLP Boxer Brief
£29
An incredibly comfortable pair of underwear thanks to their light and airy lyocell material and lack of a fabric label. They're not quite so hard on the wallet in multipacks and subscriptions. Made in Portugal.
View on CDLP's website
CDLP’s Boxer Brief came out top in our testing. They were the most comfortable fit, perfectly hugging the wearer in a reassuring and supportive way. The unusual lyocell material was light, soft and has significant stretch. The material did have a slightly unusual sheen but this lessened on the body of the garment after a few washes (but remained on the waistband). The printed label on the inside is an excellent touch, avoiding the irritation of fabric labels. The waistband seam is moved off centre, preventing irritation in the small of the wearer’s back. The Portuguese manufacture oozes quality and means you’ll be supporting well paid workers. They are also durable: After six months of weekly wears and washes they show no issues.
£29 is expensive for a pair of underwear but its on par with others also made in developed countries. The price per pair can be brought down significantly by multipacks and CDLP's "Automatique" subscription service. A three pack costs £75, reducing the price per pair to £25 (a nine pack reduces the price per pair to £21.60 but costs an eye watering £195). Combining the three pack with a three month subscription reduces the price to £59 every three months. This reduces the price per pair to a relatively reasonable £19.
We were also impressed by CDLP’s presentation. The garments themselves exude a premium but understated feeling which is preferable to the brash loudness found in a lot of mens underwear. The bright yellow box the underwear arrives in was not only visually arresting, but made the unboxing feel special. It was reminiscent of a Mr Porter or Apple box opening experience.
This is the best pair of underpants I've ever owned. In the entire rotation this is the only pair I really looked forward to putting on. If you only want to own a single model of boxer brief, these should be it.

What we’d like to see improved

As CDLP’s founders themselves say, they “are not perfect”. We'd like more transparency around their factory in Portugal, more transparency about their lyocell material, its environmental impact, and manufacturing process. We’d also like to see some sort of recycling/disposal programme where old or worn out pairs can be sent back to the company for recycling alá Patagonia and others.

Also good

Sunspel Stretch Cotton Trunk
£28
A well crafted pair of underwear that is comfortable and will last a long time. The material is more substantial than our top pick, but was less breathable and light feeling. Made in Portugal.
View on Sunspel's website
The Sunspel Stretch Cotton Trunk is just as comfortable as our top pick, the CDLP Boxer Brief. They have an excellent, supportive and flattering fit, and conform well to the wearer's body. Unfortunately it does have a fabric label, which we found annoying. Where this pair differs from our top pick is the material, which is a more traditional cotton/elastane mix. It is thicker and more substantial feeling than CDLP's lyocell offering but we prefer CDLP's lighter feeling material. The quality and durability on display from Sunspel is outstanding, and we expect this pair to last a very long time. Do not confuse these Stretch Cotton Trunks with Sunspel's Superfine Cotton Trunks, which are 100% cotton and we did not favour in our testing (they are also more expensive).
Sunspel do not offer multipacks or any kind of subscription service meaning what you see is what you get in terms of pricing, barring sales. All in all Sunspel has a nearly as compelling offering as our top pick for the same price (or more expensive if you take multipacks and subscription discounts into account) as our top pick. But purchasers will not be disappointed with the quality and fit on display from this heritage British brand.

Budget pick

UNIQLO Mens Supima Cotton Boxer Brief
£5.90
Nearly (but not quite) as comfortable as our top picks, but there are significant sacrifices made in durability, quality and—arguably—origin. Made in Sri Lanka.
Buy on UNIQLO's website
For the more fiscally minded there is the UNIQLO Mens Supima Cotton Boxer Brief. They have an excellent, close fit and were almost (but not quite) as comfortable as our more expensive top picks. We were honestly surprised at how close they came though. The construction and quality doesn't feel as robust as our top picks and don't expect them to last nearly as long as the pairs made in Portugal. We wish they didn't have a fabric label, although it is at least a small one.
There was some slight confusion between different models with identical names on UNIQLO's website. Likely they are similar models from different factories that changed season to season. Perhaps this is a hazard of fast fashion. Speaking of which, there is some debate around the ethics used in UNIQLO's factories, despite the company’s claims. Bear in mind that this is a rock-bottom priced piece of clothing made in Sri Lanka, so ethically minded shoppers should probably steer clear.

Why you should trust us

We are the team behind the (now defunct) menswear website Epochs. Epochs examined the cultural and social history of menswear and produced some well received articles in the menswear community (e.g. Epochs Field Guide to Nautical Clothing, Epochs Field Guide to Camoflauge). We pride ourselves on our in-depth approach to research and focus on good design.
Luke McDonald is a fashion writer and stylist at London-based Thread. He has written many articles about menswear and styled a wide array of fashion shoots at Thread. Patrick McDonald is a designer based in Vancouver and has been a Muji underwear enthusiast for many years.
I (Andrew Emerson) am a designer in London. Finding the best pair of underwear became a mission of mine when I ended up with a drawer full of identical boxer briefs from a clothing subscription service in 2019. The consistency was nice but the quality was poor, so I decided I would replace my dozens of pairs of this brand's boxer brief with another model.

How we tested

Researching began online. We looked at a number of Reddit threads on malefashionadvice (thread 1, thread 2) and buyitforlife (thread 1, thread 2). We also looked at The Wirecutter’s “Best Boxer brief for Men” and “Best Travel Underwear 2020” articles as well. The Strategist had three relevant articles: ”The Best Men’s Underwear on Amazon, According to Hyperenthusiastic Reviewers”, ”What’s the Best Men’s Underwear?”, and ”What Are the Best Boxer Briefs for Men?”.
We also looked at brands that we had previous experience with, and that had permanent basics collections such as Everlane, Sunspel, ARKET and UNIQLO.
We looked to get a spread on different materials (cotton, cotton/elastane, wool, synthetics), different origins (Europe, Middle East, and Asia), and price points. Finally we purchased a shortlist of these using our own money.
We created a set of criteria that all pairs were judged against (see “What to look for” below). All purchased pairs were put in rotation for several months and notes taken on first and subsequent wears. We tracked the different pairs, stored notes, and ranked them using a Notion database. Finally we compiled our findings into this article. We intend to update this page periodically as we try new pairs (keep and eye on our changelog for updates) as there are other pairs we would still like to try.

What to look for in a pair of boxer briefs

We looked for a pair of underwear that was suitable for every day wear and most of life’s occasions; work, sleeping in, date night, running to catch a bus, dropping kids off, lounging around your apartment (but not for going to the gym or exercising in, you will need specialty underwear for that).
Boxer briefs only: We looked specifically at boxer briefs so that discounts more loose fitting boxers, and legless varieties like briefs. Boxer briefs were chosen because they are more supportive and comfortable than their cousins, and are flattering without being overly revealing. They are a modern, balanced undergarment for men.
Availability: Garments should be widely available and be almost always in stock. We discounted most high street labels because they have many different models that change frequently. We preferred those that were underwear specialists, or had a permanent collection of underwear.
Colours: We tested everything in black. This was to have a fair comparison, but also we prefer an understated look. It’s also more practical and won’t discolour.
Length and rise: Is the pair long or short in the leg? High or low rise? A balance is important here, but generally we want a regular rise combined with a slightly shorter leg length. Longer leg length can look antiquated, but a very short leg length can be uncomfortable and veer into hot pants territory (that’s bad). A slightly shorter leg can be flattering.
Fit: How tight or loose the pair is. Being boxer briefs, we are looking for a closer fitting garment, without being tight. The fit or cut is also a key factor when considering aesthetics. The fit should be flattering to the shape of the wearer, but bear in mind that it won’t make you look fit if you’re not.
Material: The main body will be some combination of cotton, wool, lyocell, elastane (spandex for our American compatriots). We found about 5-10% elastane is necessary for a comfortable, slightly stretchy fit. Without elastane, the garments had no give, weren’t fitted enough, and were generally less comfortable (they also tended to ride up the leg more). The waistband is generally a synthetic material with a percentage of elastane. The material of the waistband wasn’t as important as how it fit and felt (see below for more on waistbands).
Waistband: Two things to consider — softness and width. It should have a soft handle and be wide enough to spread the load. It also shouldn’t be too tight, or turn over easily.
Keyhole: Pretty much the only “feature” that mens boxer briefs can have; does the garment have a keyhole or not? We do not have a strong preference; slightly preferring without for simplicity. However it was not a factor that was taken into account when making our picks.
Durability: How does the garment hold up in day to day wear? How does it cope with being washed again and again? Despite what Tom Ford says, we don’t believe in throwing out our underwear after six months. We believe underwear should be able to stand up to being worn and washed at least once per week for around twelve months. We will update this guide as we continue to wash and wear our top picks.
Label/tag: Underwear should not have tags, which are annoying and itchy. Labels/tags printed directly on the garment are strongly preferred.
Price: Price can vary significantly, but we found there are generally a low and high price bracket, mostly depending on where the garment is made (see “origin” below).
Origin: Where the garment is manufactured. Today’s shoppers are much more conscientious about the ethics of their clothing. We gave preference to garments manufactured in developed countries and made in ethical, transparent ways.
Multipacks and subscription: Often a good way to reduce the price per unit. Subscription services are a great way to build up your underwear collection and of injecting fresh pairs into your rotation.

The competition

The ARKET Pima Cotton Trunks had too narrow a waistband which caused pressure on the wearer's hips. The tag is very long and caused irritation. They were also more expensive than our budget pick, which took them out of the running for us.
Although similar in many ways to our top pick (particularly the excellent lyocell material), the CDLP Boxer Trunk offers a more aggressive cut and a lower rise than their Boxer Brief cousins. However we found the leg length overly short and the cuffs of the legs more loose fitting than our top pick, leading to a overall less secure feeling fit. Some people may prefer the more sporty look, and the pair could be described as more flattering than any of our picks, but for everyday wear we prefer the CDLP Boxer Brief.
The Everlane Boxer Brief is a comfortable and all round good pair of underwear. They fit well, are the right length, and look good. The printed tag is a great touch as well. They fit was good, but were ever so slightly on the loose side in medium and weren't as flattering as the rest of our picks. The issue with Everlane's entry was the price. At £14 they are nearly three times more expensive than our budget pick for about the same experience. And although our top pick is priced at £29, they can be had for as low as £19 (and they're made in Portugal, not Sri Lanka). Shipping to the UK was also very expensive at £12. Overall they are a Very Good pair of boxer briefs but they're too expensive to be a budget pick and don't quite reach the excellence of our top picks.
The Rozenbroek Organic Bamboo Jersey Trunk is the only pair we wore that was manufactured in the UK, and is well priced for such a claim. Unfortunately we found the waistband very uncomfortable. It was too stiff, tight and thick. The edges were also slightly sharp and dug into the wearer’s hips. The bamboo material was comfortable, stretchy and light but Rozenbroek don't show the exact material breakdown on their website or on the garment itself.
Saxx is a brand well known and liked on the internet, featuring on many favourites lists. We tried the Saxx Undercover Trunk and found the cotton/modal/elastane material light, airy and supportive. One of Saxx's primary selling points is their "ballpark" technology, which is designed to cup the wearer’s genitals. We found this to be somewhat uncomfortable in practice though, with the fabric edge of the "pouch" rubbing annoyingly against the skin. The Vancouver, Canada based brand also isn't transparent about where it makes its product, which appear to be Chinese in origin. This lack of transparency made us somewhat uncomfortable, and £21 is on the steep side for China made underwear. The branding and marketing is also slightly over the top and in your face, especially compared to the understated approach of our picks. Finally Saxx is quite difficult to get outside of Canada and the US, and we had to resort to specialty outdoor shops to purchase ours in the UK.
The baggiest fit we tested belongs to the Smartwool Men's Merino Sport 150 Boxer Brief, which took them out of the running for us. This was a shame, because the merino wool construction was soft and light. £35 is also too much to be charging for a pair of underwear made in Vietnam.
The leg length was a little too long on the Stór Bamboo Boxer Brief and as a result they don't flatter the wearer. The bamboo material mix is soft and breathable and conforms well to the body and feels comparable to the lyocell used in our top pick. The origin (Turkey) is a little suspicious as it isn't listed anywhere on the website or the product. I had to reach out to the company to find out where they were made.
Being 100% cotton means the Sunspel Superfine Cotton Trunks don’t have much give, which created problems when worn. When combined with slightly too tight leg openings, it meant they tended to ride up over time, eventually leading to a nappy like appearance which then had to be readjusted. The tag is also a little annoying. Having said all that the waistband was soft and comfortable, and they are constructed well.
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Your morning coffee

Bless up, GL
Of note for electric vehicle makers (TSLA, NIO, NKLA), Nissan (NSANY) unveiled the first of its new electric vehicles as part of a turnaround strategy for the loss-making company and is hoping its new all-electric SUV Ariya will sell well in China, but it faces tough competition from Tesla (TSLA) in the region.
COVID-sensitive sectors (AAL, UAL, LUV, CCL, RCL, MAR, H) are seeing gains pre-market on positive vaccine updates from Moderna (MRNA) and reports that there could be a positive update tomorrow from AstraZeneca (AZN). Meanwhile, the stay-at-home beneficiaries (AMZN, NFLX, ZM) are weaker in the pre-market.

DOW JONES

Apple Inc. (AAPL) – Europe’s second-highest court ruled against European Commission on whether AAPL has to pay EUR 13bln in Irish back taxes. Four years ago the European Commission said AAPL benefited from illegal state aid via two Irish tax rulings that artificially reduced its tax burden for over two decades. Analysts say defeat for EC could also weaken or delay pending cases against Nike’s (NKE) deals with the Netherlands.
Goldman Sachs Group (GS) Q2 2020 (USD): EPS 6.26 (exp. 3.78/4.16 reported); Revenue 13.3bln (exp. 9.75bln). Loan loss provisions: 1.59bln (exp. 1.01bln). Net interest income: 944mln (exp. 1.23bln). Trading income: 4.24bln (exp. 3.8bln). Global markets revenue: 7.18bln (exp. 4.22bln). Fixed Income revenue: 4.24bln (exp. 2.53bln). Equities revenue: (exp. 2.04bln). Investment banking revenue: 2.66bln (exp. 1.8bln). Tier 1 capital ratio: 13.6% (exp. 12.46%). Dividend: 1.25/shr (exp. Q3 1.25, Q4 1.25, FY20 5.02). During the second quarter of 2020, the firm recorded net provisions for litigation and regulatory proceedings of USD 945 million, which increased net provisions to USD 1.13 billion for the first half of 2020. These amounts reduced diluted EPS by $2.60 and annualised ROE by 4.5 percentage points in the second quarter of 2020 and reduced diluted EPS by USD 3.15 and annualised ROE by 2.8 percentage points in the first half of 2020.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) June net credit losses 2.06% (prev. 2.34%).
Merck & Co. (MRK) CEO announced COVID-19 vaccines under development are not guaranteed to work and people who say to expect a vaccine by year-end are doing “grave disservice to the public”.
United Health Group Inc. (UNH) Q2 2020 (USD): Adj. EPS 7.12 (exp. 5.28/5.09 reported); Revenue 62.1bln (exp. 63.5bln). EPS guidance: FY20 16.25-16.55 (guidance maintained) (exp. 16.29 reported). Premiums revenue: 49.39bln (exp. 50.04bln). Product revenue: 8.25bln (exp. 8.17bln). Services revenue: 4.16bln (exp. 4.97bln). As the pandemic advanced, access to and demand for care were most constrained from mid-March through April, began to recover in May and approached more typical levels by the end of the second quarter.

NASDAQ 100

Alphabet Inc (GOOG/GOOGL) announced it signed an agreement to invest USD 4.5bln (INR 33,737 crore) in Jio Platforms Ltd, taking a 7.73% stake in the company, pending regulatory review in India. Elsewhere, it has been accused of tracking user activity through hundreds of thousands of apps, even when users followed Google’s recommended setting for stopping the monitoring, a lawsuit alleges.
Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) AWS announced it has been selected by HSBC (HSBC) as a key, long-term strategic cloud provider to drive their digital transformation and provide new personalised banking services.
ASML Holding (ASML) reported a near 58% jump in Q2 profit but fell short of market estimates and forecast overall growth for 2020, despite the coronavirus outbreak. Net profit jumped to EUR 751mln from EUR 476mln in the same period a year earlier. Net sales rose to EUR 3.33bln from EUR 2.57bln (analysts had expected net profit of EUR 860mln and revenue at EUR 3.42bln); ASML said that sales would have been in line if revenue from two systems that shipped had been recognised. CEO said the company is in a “privileged position” with an order backlog of worth more than EUR 10bln, and that while the COVID was hurting the global economy, demand in some sectors is stronger than ever, predicting that 2020 will be a growth year for the company.
Facebook, Inc. (FB) and Sony (SNE) are reportedly preparing to increase output of upcoming gaming devices by as much as 50%, according to Nikkei.
Sirius XM (SIRI) announced an additional USD 2bln share repurchase programme (taking the authorisation to a total USD 16bln) and declared a quarterly cash dividend of USD 0.01331 per share.
Tesla (TSLA) – A county in Texas, home of Austin, approved a plan to provide millions of tax subsidies to TSLA if it builds a USD 1.1bln vehicle factory in the area.

S & P 500

Bank of New York Mellon (BK) Q2 2020 (USD): EPS 1.01 (exp. 0.91/0.92 reported); Revenue 4.01bln (exp. 3.99bln). Loan loss provisions: 143mln (exp. 127mln). Tier 1 capital ratio: 12.6% (exp. 12.41%). Net interest revenue: 780mln (exp. 776mln). Net income: 965mln (exp. 811mln). NIM: 0.88% (exp. 0.91%).
Becton Dickinson (BDX) is supporting the US government COVID-19 testing efforts by expanding point-of-care tests; expects to produce up to 10mln test from July through September, running at 2mln per week by September-end.
Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) announced it would record USD 3bln charges of USD 3bln on employee voluntary retirement and separation plans in this quarter.
Diamondback Energy (FANG) cut its 2020 production forecast due to higher-than-expected curtailed volumes in Q2 and volatile oil prices; the shale producer said it had suspended almost all completion activity and cut about 5% of production in Q2, adding that nearly all of the curtailed production was now back online
Garmin Ltd. (GRMN) European counterpart TomTom swung to a net loss for Q2, though it said operational revenue was on track to recovery from the lows it experienced in April due to COVID; it posted a net loss of EUR 62mln when stripping out the telematics unit vs a net profit of EUR 742mln for the same period a year earlier.
Medtronic (MDT) Health Care/Health Care Equipment) announced it is to acquire Medicrea in an all-cash tender offer for EUR 7/shr.
PNC Financial Services (PNC) Q2 20 (USD): EPS 0.40 (exp. 0.51), Revenue 4.1bln (exp. 4.11bln). NII 2.5bln (exp. 2.51bln). NIM 2.52% (exp. 2.61%). CET1 ratio 11.3% (exp. 10.44%). Net Charge-Offs 0.35% (exp. 0.48%). Loan Loss Provisions 1.56bln (exp. 1.19bln).
PVH Corp. (PVH) announced plans to streamline its North American operations which have been hit by COVID. Actions include exiting its 162 outlet store Heritage Brands Retail business and reducing its office workforce by approximately 450 positions or 12%
Stanley Black & Decker (SWK) board increased quarterly dividend to 70 cents a share from 69 cents a share.
U.S. Bancorp (USB) Q2 2002 (USD): EPS 0.41 (exp. 0.22), Revenue 5.838bln (exp 5.54bln). Loan loss provisions 1.73bln (exp. 1.64bln). NII 3.22bln (exp. 3.23bln). CET 1: 9.0% (exp. 9.11%). Expects to maintain quarterly dividend at 0.42/shr.
Wells Fargo (WFC) CFO said he does not expect the bank’s dividend to fall to zero; his remarks came after WFC reported disappointing earnings where it also cut its dividend.

OTHER

AstraZeneca (AZN) – ITV’s Peston reported he is hearing positive news is coming on the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, that is being produced by AstraZeneca (AZN LN). The vaccine is reportedly generating the kind of antibody and T-cell (killer cell) response researchers hoped for.
Beyond Meat (BYND) is partnering with meal kit service Home Chef, a subsidiary of Kroger (KR), to offer the Impossible Burger as an alternative to other traditional animal-based proteins, according to Fox.
CoreLogic (CLGX) again rejected an unsolicited USD 7bln buyout offer as inadequate after meeting with the two investment firms that made the bid, Senator Investment Group and Cannae Holdings (CNNE)
Eldorado Resorts (ERI) / Caesar’s Entertainment (CZR) – New Jersey regulators will meet today to decide n the planned merger between the two. NJ is the last state approval that it will need to complete the deal.
Energy Transfer LP (ET) - The Dakota Access oil pipeline can continue to operate amid an ongoing court battle, a US Appeals Court said, setting aside, for now, a lower court’s order earlier this month to shut and empty the line. Dakota Access, controlled by the co., was granted an administrative stay while Court considers whether the line should be shut due to permitting issues dating to 2017, meaning that oil can keep flowing through the 570k BPD pipeline.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) FDA has voted to approve Belantamab Mafodotin for the treatment of patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma.
Infosys (INFY) Q1 (USD): EPS 0.13 (exp. 0.12), revenue 3.12bln (exp. 2.94bln).
Moderna (MRNA) announced its COVID-19 vaccine trial produced ‘robust’ immune response and produced neutralising antibodies in all patients that were tested. However, only 45 patients were tested, and some experienced severe side effects. However, NIH Dr. Fauci noted the side effects were not alarming and were typical of those experienced with other vaccines. Although Tony Moody, a doctor and researcher at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, said it was unusual for a vaccine to have this rate of side effect, but the antibody levels produced were really encouraging. The results were published in the peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine; note, this is the trial that MRNA released preliminary results for in May.
Moleculin Biotech (MBRX) has entered into an agreement to produce WP1122 for expanded development of the potential COVID-19 and oncology drug candidate; believes the mechanism of the drug is very different from other drugs being developed against COVID-19.
MorphoSys (MOR)and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) announced the FDA approved its psoriatic arthritis treatment for adult patients, Tremfya.
Uber (UBER) / Lyft (LYFT) is now also being sued by Massachusetts, following California, over allegedly misclassifying their drivers as independent contractors instead of employees entitled to extensive benefits. The complaint claims Uber and Lyft violate state minimum wage, hour and sick time laws.

Additional US Equity Stories:

Zoom (ZM) is launching Zoom for Home, a new category of software experiences and hardware devices to support remote work use cases.
Forescout (FSCT) and Advent International reach amended merger agreement, where FSCT will receive USD 29/shr, with the board unanimously recommending its shareholders tender their shares in support of the transaction.
ViacomCBS (VIAC) announced a multi-year deal with Cox Media Group that renews CBS Television Network affiliation agreements for five stations, including two top 50 market affiliates, KIRO-TV in Seattle, WA and WJAX-TV in
Tesla (TSLA) is reportedly planning a Fremont factory shutdown for upgrades, opening a new assembly line
Amazon (AMZN) announces a new fulfilment centre in Texas, anticipated to launch 2021 and will create 1,000 jobs; workers will work along side robots.
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Venus Retrograde Through the Houses: What You Can Expect.

Tomorrow Venus stations retrograde in Gemini. Actually, Venus has been slowing down for a bit now, called a station, meaning her footprint is heavy in the sky. Likely, you've already been acquainted with the pitter pattering of themes you can expect during this period. Venus retrograde corresponds to general themes such as: relationship reviews, rewinds, renewals and reversals--evaluating how you relate to your own self-worth and esteem--retooling what you actually value/need--budgeting, getting serious about finances--hiccups with beauty related tools, industries, purchases and decisions.
But Venus RX means more when you account for the house it will be drudging stuff up in. My general take on Venus RX is: detouring into the ugly and resurfacing with a new appreciation of beauty. Kind of like the plot of Shrek. Where are the ogres in your life? And can you just decide to marry them and live happily ever after in a swamp with your donkey dragon friends? I digress...
This RX will be decidedly less brutal than the 2018 one in Scorpio. Those were some dire, uggo times. Venus in Gemini is peregrine, and to me, far more effervescent. Like a La Croix. Some gross flavors. But mostly ok. The reviews and themes will have more to do with ideas, thoughts, beliefs, etc. Very much juggling many dissonant thoughts and being okay with not settling on a conclusion. This will be a mentally exhausting time for some.
Gemini occupies a house in everyone's chart. Welcome to the circus:
First House: a time to reconsider what makes you feel beautiful, to redefine what beauty has to mean and look like. a time of enhanced social awareness (from a distance) and learning how you bring a distinct value to people--but first settling on how you wish to value yourself. being comfortable with your many faces, but also eliminating the faces, the out-grown personalities, that do not suit you anymore
Second House: a time to reevaluate how material possessions add beauty, add value, add ease-- or completely distract you from the assets that matter the most. a renewed version of self-care, a hard and honest look at your bank account and closet and cabinets, a purging to make room for new beautiful things to bloom. divine dividends
Third House: a time to reconsider what needs to be said. holding space for new ideas to take the place of old ones. learning to value your unique perspective, whilst also respecting the perspectives of others. work that neuro plasticity, pave new grooves into your gray matter. a time to stop and smell the roses as you are out and about. rekindling bonds with siblings and teammates.
Fourth House: a time to spackle, paint, hang and rearrange. where has the beauty in your home become stagnant, and how can you insert new pathways of inspiration into your halls? retooling your roots, beautifying your sanctuaries, finding Aphrodite in your ancestry. this can be a time to reacquaint yourself with the value a tribe, a home, a family, and a foundation gives you. that's how beauty can blossom.
Fifth House: a time to make friends with that blinking cursor on a blank page, the dried paint brush, the stack of half-finished poetry in the corner of your room, and the project that makes your heart sing--but that you've been too afraid to sing along with. retool your relationship with your inner child, that spark in the dark. your authentic self could use some authenticating
Sixth House: a time to throw out ugly habits, dead-end jobs, and the futile and self-deprecating sense of duty and responsibility you hold. time for new rituals. time put your worth and value ahead of the needs of others. you are more than a cog in a machine. you are the machine. an extraordinary one. and an extraordinary one needs all the tonics, tinctures, remedies and herbs. beautiful insides make for a beautiful outside, so celebrate your vitality, and appreciate all that your body does--in sickness and in health
Seventh House: a time to throw out ugly people! where are your relationships failing to live up to the happiness, joy, and wonder that you deserve? time for the talks, time to press send on an apology, time to ask for help, time to delete the dating profile and jump into the vulnerability of committed partnership, or time to unwed yourself from the security of singledom and start to mingle your heart out. also a good time to take inventory of the people you've invited into your hopes and dreams, the business affiliates that either help you sink or swim. choose people who bring beauty and warmth into your life. unbreak your heart. time for new patterns.
Eighth House: a time to get a handle on your debt, obligations, on your portfolios and investments. where are you over-sharing, where are you under-sharing, where can you give more, and where can you divest? immaterially, your heart, your humanness, your deeply disowned ugliness--they all deserve some TLC. those ogres aren't so scary or ugly when you get to know them. nothing to fear but fear itself. a time for magic and mysticism to inform your path forward.
Ninth House: a time to reevaluate your schooling, your education, what you have accepting as TRUTH actually has more to it. become more nimble with your personal dogma and ideology. challenges to your way of seeing the world don't have to be challenging, but rather, give you a wider array of intellectual and cultural beauty to sample from and enjoy. though not a good time for travel, certainly still a good time to plan. that faraway corner of the world is calling out for you. and that faraway corner of your mind could use a refresh. where are your gurus and mentors failing to inspire you? ditch the old paradigms. there's a yellow brick road with your name on it.
Tenth House: a time to reevaluate your career, your place in the world, the value that you bring to the world, and your unique set of talents. where are you asking to be respected yet still bumping up against gatekeepers? where can your creativity be better suited? you are your own boss, and your manager can't manage you. time to step up into a firmer sense of self and confidence. take up space. be loud. this is your world and we are living in it.
Eleventh House: a time to reevaluate your social networks, your friend groups, your hopes, accomplishments and your communities at large. unfriend the group think. jettison the crusty cliques. deactivate the profiles. consider where society has perhaps let you down, and recommit to creating environments worthy of the cause that is you. there is beauty to be shared. humanity has cracks but that is where light enters. be the light, even if you need to go dark for now.
Twelfth House: a time to reconsider where you self-sabotage, where you isolate, where you needlessly alienate yourself and others. this can be a deeply creative time when you burrow in the right direction, where unconscious gifts lay, where spirituality sparkles, where the undulations of life at large are within your grasp. beautify your alone time, make it work for you. give your mental hardships some love and tenderness. play around with the unknown, remold your trauma and psychic entanglements, find the beauty in necessary endings and loss. for that is how you begin again.

Mazel!
submitted by millymichelle to astrology [link] [comments]

Why Speedrun.com should disassociate themselves from Guinness World Records

For many years, Guinness World Records exclusively partnered with Twin Galaxies as its authority on video gaming achievements. For all its flaws, at one time TG was the sole major scorekeeping organization. In 2017, Guinness broadened their scorekeeping affiliations, adding material from speedrunning hub Speedrun.com to their annual "Gamer's Edition" of the Guinness World Records book. More recently, Speedrun.com started a new collaboration with Guinness, offering official Guinness world records to anyone who could complete specific challenges in Super Mario Odyssey, God of War, and Minecraft. As Guinness put it, "[W]e're now taking our partnership with Speedrun.com to the next level by working directly with moderators from their community to create some totally new and unique GWR speedrun challenges."
But an issue has come up recently, one that I think deserves a good long look. Everyone heard this bit of news last week, but not everyone is aware of all the underlying ramifications, which when spelled out are actually quite appalling. I think it's worth reevaluating whether this relationship between SRC and Guinness is actually worth maintaining, either from the perspective of the speedrunning community at large, or from the perspective of Speedrun.com administration themselves.
BILLY MITCHELL
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2x6ZrWUkWo
I would love to say I had a long list of reasons for this post. I mean, we could throw in last month's brouhaha over Guinness falsely copyright striking several speedrunners' videos, or we could talk about Guinness' affinity for oppressive autocratic regimes, if it really makes a difference. But truthfully, I'm here today to talk about Guinness' recent decision to restore illegitimately claimed world records by longtime video game cheater, Billy Mitchell. But don't think for a moment this is just one minor grievance.
As you'll see, this post is about a lot more than just "Billy Mitchell is a cheater," but let's start there. For the last two years, even after the conclusion of the score dispute, I've been researching the Billy Mitchell case. I could talk all day about the mountain of evidence proving Billy Mitchell cheated. (No, no. Literally, all day.) But for right now, if anyone wants, we'll do a short recap.
https://i.imgur.com/zYXtX9C.png
In February 2018, Jeremy Young, a moderator at Donkey Kong Forum, published the result of an investigation into three historical Billy Mitchell performances, which were claimed to be "direct feeds" from Donkey Kong arcade cabinets. It turns out, when drawing game boards to the screen, MAME produces image frames which are noticeably different from what genuine arcade produces. And guess what! Billy's tapes didn't match arcade, and were an exact match for MAME. (MAME is legal of course, but at Twin Galaxies is listed separately, with special verification to prohibit cheating.) The circumstances around Billy's scores had always been fishy (and remain so), but this MAME evidence was the smoking gun. These "MAME signatures" weren't incidental differences, but rather byproducts of the fact that MAME draws images to the screen in a fundamentally different manner. Rigorous testing by a number of parties at Twin Galaxies and elsewhere concluded Billy's tapes could not have originated from authentic arcade hardware as claimed. To this day, neither Billy nor anyone else has been able to explain why three different tapes of Billy's, allegedly produced on three different Donkey Kong machines with different capture setups several years apart, all show dozens upon dozens of MAME signatures, and exactly zero arcade signatures, nor has anyone been able to replicate the phenomenon, nor has anyone been able to show why this phenomenon apparently happened to only Billy Mitchell and not literally anyone else ever.
For over a year after the dispute closed, Billy promised his exonerating evidence was on its way. In September 2019, this evidence was finally delivered, along with an explicit legal threat to Twin Galaxies and to Guinness, threatening legal action if they did not reinstate his scores (which Twin Galaxies, under the ownership of Jace Hall, has refused to do). Billy's evidence packet was an exercise in throwing as much at the wall as possible, and while some passersby were convinced by Billy's smoke-and-mirrors approach, for those of us who followed the dispute and understood the core evidence, this evidence packet was a massive flop. "Hey look, I used to own a real Donkey Kong circuit board! I have shipping receipts for it!" Billy claimed the tapes weren't his while simultaneously going to great lengths to prove it was his legit game play on those tapes after all. Billy continued to rely on a wacky long-debunked theory that a guy named Dwayne Richard snuck into peoples' homes, took Billy's real tapes, and either swapped them all with perfect MAME forgeries, or used some sort of magic tool to draw MAME signatures all over Billy's VHS tapes. (Dwayne would have needed a time machine to pull off this preposterous caper, and even then, there's no way he could have affected a third tape in 2010, which also showed MAME signatures, and which stayed strictly in Billy's possession as he presented it, which Billy seems to conveniently forget about.) But don't worry. Billy did have several friends of his sign witness statements testifying that he's a really good guy and that he totally did get these scores and didn't cheat.
HOW GUINNESS FAILED
On Thursday, June 18, Guinness released a video (seen above) and a written statement, announcing they had reversed their previous decision to strike Billy Mitchell from their record books. Guinness cited "compelling new evidence", including "a re-examination of the records in question and the emergence of key eyewitness and expert testimonials". Craig Glenday, in the video announcement, said this decision involved "reviewing both the existing evidence, and newly sourced eyewitness testimony, plus some new expert game play analyses and hardware verification". (I'll get more into this in a moment, but they're referring to Billy's September 2019 evidence packet - the one that had this cover sheet. There is no "new" evidence at play, simply "newer" material than was presented during the original score dispute in 2018.) Glenday finally added, "In cases such as this, where there is debate, we would typically defer to the original, contemporaneous adjudication, and this is the case here."
The first thing one should notice is that no particular piece of evidence is presented or emphasized. What exactly was the most compelling piece of new evidence? Whose eyewitness statements were instrumental in this decision? In the Twin Galaxies dispute thread, everything was made public and transparent. We knew what the evidence was, and what was being discussed and considered. Things were openly tested and verified. If you did claim to find a way to produce MAME signatures with arcade, you had to explain how you did it, and the process had to be replicable. With Guinness, we are given only a final decision.
Speaking of witness statements, how exactly did Guinness resolve glaring discrepancies in Billy's and his friends' stories? In 2018, Billy's technician, Rob Childs, boasted of his direct feed setup, and how it would prove Billy's innocence. So confident was he that he offered to donate $5000 to charity on behalf of anyone who could come into his shop and prove him wrong. Of course, when it came time for witness statements the following year, Mr. Childs suddenly had almost nothing to do with the direct feed setup (page 43 here), and of course the people who did create the setup, who would have the answers to these questions, have all vanished into the ether. And then of course, there's literally Todd Rogers. How did Guinness reconcile Todd being the referee to verify Billy's scores with him also having been thoroughly discredited, with even Guinness themselves no longer recognizing his old scores? How did they reconcile new witness statements claiming the 2010 score was arranged ahead of time with Todd's account that he just happened to be in the area that day?
Guinness mentions "hardware verification". Make no mistake, this didn't involve Guinness doing actual hardware tests of their own, but rather looking at Billy's shipping receipts for a DK board and saying "Yup, those do indeed look like shipping receipts." How did Guinness resolve these receipts and witness statements with the fact that the tapes that were produced and submitted could not have originated from an authentic Donkey Kong arcade cabinet as claimed? Did they ever find any explanation for the MAME signatures, seen across three different claimed performances allegedly done on three different machines years apart? Did they make any attempt at all to resolve this?
Also, there's this whole fake equivalence thing. "Gosh, the cheater hasn't confessed. As long as there's 'debate', I guess we can't do anything until both parties agree." Billy Mitchell will take his lies to his grave. He will always have some new round of evidence and witness statements to sucker people with. Heck, Todd Rogers still maintains his innocence. Maybe Guinness should send Todd a new certificate for that 5.51 on Dragster? It was, after all, verified by a major game publisher using the "contemporaneous adjudication" standards at the time. Is that really going to be Guinness' standard?
I could go on, but I do want to make one last point about how ridiculous Guinness' decision was. This is what makes this so utterly preposterous to me. Guinness re-awarded Billy Mitchell the world record for "First gamer to score one million points on Donkey Kong" for his bogus 1.047m score, basing their decision on the September 2019 evidence packet where, it just so happens, both Billy Mitchell and Walter Day testify (page 17 here and page 5 here) that the 1.047m score was for "entertainment purposes only" and was never intended as an official submission. (Yes, that score you saw in King of Kong, with Walter and Billy on the phone? Billy now says Robert Mruczek stole the tape shown at Funspot - a claim we can prove was a lie - and entered the score against poor Billy's wishes. And somehow, Billy never found the time to object to this "entertainment purposes only" score being on the scoreboard - understandably I guess as he was too busy promoting it as a verified world record.) Never mind, for the moment, that we have previous statements from both of them stating the exact opposite. But no, this is what they're now claiming, in their submission to Guinness. The 1.047m didn't count.
The 1.047m tape was submitted in 2005. (Billy claims he "achieved" it in 2004, but who knows?) Billy's next one million point submission (also fake) was in 2007. Problem is, Steve Wiebe had a fully verified one million point submission in 2006. So if Billy's 2004/5 score doesn't count........... how on earth does he have the first million?
I described this perplexing proposal back in dispute thread, mockingly playing the part of Walter Day giving his new-at-the-time testimony:
"Billy totally didn't submit the tape, and I only entered it as a stunt, but he still had the first million on DK, because I did enter it, but I didn't, because it wasn't submitted, but you should reinstate first million on DK anyway, because it was verified, and it could only be verified because he submitted it, but he didn't submit it, and I didn't enter it, even though I did, but I really didn't, but still, nobody else out there got the first million, because Billy got it first, because we verified it, even though he didn't submit it, because he only does his world records live and in person, but it really was the world record, because we did enter it, even though we also didn't, so he still should get credit, and not the other guy."
Guinness apparently didn't resolve any of this, and just looked the other way. "Sure, first one million, whatever you say."
Oh, and on top of that, Guinness got the date wrong.
NO, BUT REALLY, IT GETS WORSE
This is fun and all, jumping back on the "Fuck Billy Mitchell" train for another sweet ride. But that by itself isn't worth writing this post. Here's where we get a bit serious. The implications laid out below are what deserve some frank consideration.
First, Guinness' statement was coordinated with a simultaneous statement from Billy Mitchell himself, on Twitter. Billy proclaimed, "After its own fair and unbiased investigation, Guinness World Records has announced the reinstatement of my Pac-Man and Donkey Kong records, effective immediately."
In this announcement, what may have gone unnoticed was an additional video, posted to Billy Mitchell's own YouTube channel (a channel which he has renamed "King of Kong"). This video, filmed in the same arcade setting as his portion of the Guinness video and featuring an opening card reading "Billy Mitchell Official Statement", lasted four minutes and 35 seconds, with the vast majority of that time featuring Billy speaking to the camera. This video was accessible here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLqPZkzKYDA
However, realizing he may have said too much, Billy soon set the video to private. Obviously I can't reupload his proprietary video, but I have transcribed the relevant uninterrupted portion as follows:
I've waited a long time for this announcement. Today, June 18, 2020, Guinness World Records has announced the unanimous decision to reinstate all of my world record scores, from 1982 to present day. This is not a decision they came to quickly. It was a long investigation, substantial due diligence, and it's that that I'd like to talk to you about here today.
My first communication on this with Guinness World Records was September, 2019. They were very alarmed at the situation. Guinness World Records, as the most respected world record keeping authority in the world, decided it needed to take its own look into the situation, conduct its own due diligence, and reach its own conclusion.
Over the next few months, the lines of communication remained open and active. In December, 2019, we received an email with their conclusions - to reinstate all of my world records, from 1982 to present day.
There's a lot to unpack in this revelation, so let's take it piece-by-piece.
First of all, he says his first communication with Guinness was September, 2019, well over a year after the dispute conclusion. The evidence packet was sent to both Twin Galaxies and Guinness on September 9, 2019, which as said before, came with a legal threat letter making their terms very clear:
Each corporation has a 14-day deadline to review the information and issue the retraction, or we will resort to legal recourse, our final option.
Unless we are to believe there was some prior communication between Sept. 1-8, which quickly escalated to legal threats days later, that means Billy's threat was his first communication with Guinness. He didn't present evidence and ask that it be weighed fairly - which he could have done in the actual TG score dispute at any time. He opened with the threat. So how seriously are we to take Guinness' investigation when it's done under an explicit legal threat? And how exactly does this make them "unbiased"?
*points gun at bystander* "Tell them I didn't do it!"
"Uhhh.... I guess he didn't do it?"
"As you can see, this fair and impartial witness did their own thorough investigation, and has concluded that I am innocent of all charges."
In his Sept. 2019 evidence packet, Billy labels anyone critical of him (based on either evidence or experience) as biased or of having some kind of personal vendetta against him. So it's not really a surprise that Billy is going to alternatively tout the investigative abilities of anyone who agrees with him, even if their "investigation" consisted only of "Okay, fine, please don't sue us." Unlike Twin Galaxies and various other participants in the 2018 score dispute, Guinness' "investigation" probably didn't involve coming within a mile of an actual Donkey Kong cabinet.
But this "long investigation"? This "substantial due diligence"? Interesting thing about that: I've asked around, and I have yet to find anyone who would advocate the "Billy is guilty" position who was sought for input into this "investigation" by Guinness. I've asked Jeremy Young, moderator at Donkey Kong Forum and initial publisher of the MAME evidence (and recent lawsuit target of Billy Mitchell). Guinness did not contact him for input into their "investigation". I've asked J.C. Harrist, administrator at DKF (and another recent Billy lawsuit target). Guinness did not contact him. Tanner Fokkens, a.k.a. "expandedidea", who rehosted the bogus tapes for examination and who contributed significantly to the body of evidence. Guinness did not contact him. For my part, while I'm not particularly important in my own right, I have written extensively on the topic, and have already addressed each element of Billy's evidence submission worth discussing. Guinness did not reach out to me for input into their investigation - even though Jace Hall and Twin Galaxies did. It certainly doesn't seem Guinness took what I or many others have written into consideration. Given that I care about the integrity of competitive video gaming and its history, I would've been happy to answer any of Guinness' questions to the best of my ability at no charge.
This "investigation" is already lacking enough, especially for an organization which has in the past openly acknowledged the need to farm out video game adjudication to the experts. But it gets even more troubling when you take into consideration Billy's other remark:
Over the next few months, the lines of communication remained open and active.
So Guinness didn't reach out to the people who published the damning evidence, and who could elaborate on its context and address any concerns. But they did keep constant contact with Billy and his people, exclusively?
I wonder whose idea that was.
NOPE, STILL WORSE
There was obviously a lot of collaboration between Guinness and Billy leading up to their announcement. They produced a video together. They had their statements prepared and ready to go. One might ask, exactly how far did this collaboration go?
Look back to Billy's quotes above. According to him, he was notified of Guinness' decision in December.
Sooooooo why are we hearing about this now? When Twin Galaxies ruled on the Dragster dispute, Todd's scores were gone by the next day. When Twin Galaxies ruled on this score dispute in April 2018, Billy's scores were gone by the next day. But this time, they wait six months? What on earth possessed them to do that?
I suppose we can't say for sure, but I'll tell you one thing: The next hearing in the Billy Mitchell v. Twin Galaxies case is July 6. The hearing is to rule on Twin Galaxies' anti-SLAPP motion. This is in reference to a law that allows defendants (such as Jace Hall) to get frivolous lawsuits which are only intended to stifle free speech (such as Billy Mitchell's meritless lawsuit against TG) dismissed before trial. But to do that, you basically have to show the suit has no merit. Right now is the home stretch for filings for that hearing, where this poor judge, whose closest experience to video games is probably watching their grandkids play Fortnite, is going to have to review the facts and decide if these video game nerds have a case against each other. Given the already superficial approach of Billy's defense to date, do you really think "Guinness did their own investigation and they reinstated my records" isn't going to factor heavily into Billy's filings against the anti-SLAPP motion? Or, for that matter, his public relations campaign?
Exactly what possessed Guinness to withhold their announcement for months, blindsiding everyone right as court proceedings are about to start?
I guess it's time to stop beating around the bush on this: Is Guinness World Records intentionally assisting a proven cheater in his lawsuit against another video gaming recordkeeper?
If so, the implications are horrifying, and would merit some serious reconsideration of collaboration, for Speedrun.com, for Twin Galaxies, or any other competitive gaming adjudicator.
Now, I'm willing to believe, perhaps, that Guinness isn't consciously approaching this situation in that fashion (although at this point, that's not even a given). They might not be thinking "Yeah, let's fuck Twin Galaxies up! Let's do it for Billy!" I'm willing to believe, perhaps, that Guinness simply got sweet-talked by Billy, then suckered into only listening to him and his friends, then duped into thinking anyone who doesn't fall for Billy's fairy-tale evidence is some conspiracy wacko, and then finally tricked into announcing their decision whenever Billy felt it appropriate. It would be pretty derelict of them, but Billy is charismatic and forceful, so I could maybe see that.
But can we seriously rule out the alternative? Can we truly say Guinness didn't know damn well what they were doing? That maybe they decided Billy Mitchell would be their better friend?
Even if you want to give Guinness the benefit of the doubt on this one, there's still no getting around the fact that Guinness was quite well aware of this lawsuit in progress against their longtime partner, Twin Galaxies. They could have issued a quiet, boilerplate retraction, or they could have withheld announcement altogether until this current civil action is resolved. But no, instead, as another scorekeeper is being sued, they chose to make a big show out of backing the litigant. They did a video with the guy, giving him this major platform and celebrating him with favorable "evidence" and favorable media. All over their big "investigation", which for all we know may have consisted of nothing more than Billy Mitchell handing them a wad of cash.
LOL GUINNESS
Look, I don't think it's really a secret that Guinness is a joke when it comes to video gaming adjudication. First, it doesn't seem Guinness ever really understood these score disputes in the first place, simply taking Twin Galaxies' conclusions (or whatever Guinness understood the conclusions to be) as gospel. In their printed 2019 Gamer's Edition (released summer 2018), when they chose to explain what happened with the Todd and Billy score disputes, they printed the following statement, suggesting that it was Billy's Pac-Man records (rather than his multiple Donkey Kong scores) which were accused of being fraudulent:
https://i.imgur.com/ygB2KGD.png
That's not all. They're now claiming the first million point game of Donkey Kong was "achieved by Billy Mitchell (USA), on 4 June 2005." They can put whatever date they want I guess, but for the record, that's the day Billy had his tape played at Funspot (as seen in King of Kong). Even if you believed the score was real, it was obviously "achieved" earlier than that.
It doesn't end there. Remember that current collaboration between Speedrun.com and Guinness? That special ongoing Minecraft challenge they selected? Turns out that challenge is likely not even possible at all. (But hey, maybe that one's SRC's fault?) Say, remember Rodrigo Lopes? Rodrigo was a massive speedrun liar going back to the Speed Demos Archive days, typically posting videos of only the final portions of his runs as proof. Last year, Twin Galaxies tossed Rodrigo on his cheating butt for taunting everyone with his spliced Zelda tapes. Well, he may not be recognized by TG anymore, but he's still recognized with a Guinness World Record!
One could certainly understand if Guinness simply threw their hands in the air and said "We don't know. We can't decide this stuff. You gamers figure it out." Guinness' representatives themselves have said many times that they don't have the expertise in competitive video gaming to authoritatively make these determinations themselves, and that they rely on experts in the field to make these sorts of findings for them. But that doesn't excuse this. It's one thing for Guinness to be sort of half-assed in this one field (a field for which they have a yearly publication exclusively dedicated to), as long as they take seriously the recommendations of the experts in that field. But when they decide to go directly and boldly against the determinations of those experts - in this case, against both the true DK experts at Donkey Kong Forum and the open-evidence based dispute process at Twin Galaxies - then that really calls to question why these scoreboards would stamp their tacit endorsement on Guinness' decisions at all.
THE RAMIFICATIONS
It would be easy to say that nothing "needs to be done" about Guinness and their foolishness. Truthfully, if they really want, Guinness can have their own laughingstock scoreboard, with Billy Mitchell, Todd Rogers, Rodrigo Lopes, Michael Damiani, Kevin Durden, Henning Blom, Rosie Ruiz, Mike Postle, Alex Bertoncini, and whoever else they feel like "honoring" for their "achievements". It's not the job of the video gaming community to prevent Guinness from embarrassing themselves. But, even assuming the best of intentions on their part, if Guinness is inclined to be swindled by some huckster in a suit with a flashy bag of tricks, if they're not willing to accept the evidence-based findings of the competitive video gaming community, or at the very least seek out that community for input into their deliberations, then frankly, why should they either expect or receive the endorsement of that community?
It's one thing for a scorekeeper to associate with Guinness when they're merely dysfunctional, when their blunders are simply a matter of correcting typos and updating them on which players have been outed as cheaters. But Guinness really screwed up this time. They didn't just let a cheater get by. They armed him. They knowingly assisted in his lawsuit against another scoreboard. They actively reinforced a culture of cheating held over from the old Twin Galaxies days, and in the process, hung a lot of people doing a lot of hard work out to dry. This can have a very chilling effect on scoreboard integrity efforts beyond Twin Galaxies or arcade high score chasing. I can already tell that, until and unless this is remedied, any time I explain the evidence against Billy Mitchell, I'll have to deal with answers of "wElL gUiNnEsS rEiNsTaTeD hIm aNd i tHiNk gUiNnEsS kNoWs mOrE aBoUt wOrLd rEcOrDs tHaN yOu dO."
Busting cheaters, while satisfying to watch and in some ways satisfying to do, can be dangerous work. You have to find clear evidence to make your case (while at the same time being careful not to inadvertently publish instruction manuals on how to get better at cheating). You have to dedicate a lot of time and headspace to the effort. (I would be playing Final Fantasy 5 right now if I wasn't writing this.) As in the case of Phantasy Star cheater Kevin Durden last year (who accused the moderators of fabricating evidence to frame him), you may also have to dedicate a lot of time and effort just to address the avalanche of lies and recriminations coming back your way. You may face copyright strikes for rehosting the evidence the cheater is trying to suppress. And of course, there's always the danger one of these cheaters takes the case to actual grown-up court, and tries to exact real world consequences as the price of your integrity. Yet all of this, the effort and the risk, is necessary to keep this sport clean.
I get it. No one wants to get sued. Certainly Guinness didn't want to get sued by Billy Mitchell, either for removing his scores or for their poorly reviewed printed statement about Pac-Man. But I can tell you one thing for sure: Billy Mitchell won't be the last cheater to take a scoreboard to court to try and force them to recognize his fraudulent achievements. If Billy Mitchell is able to browbeat Guinness World Records into recognizing his bogus scores, what hope is there if someone of equal access and resources decides to go after Speedrun.com in the same fashion?
On that note, what would Guinness do in that event? Would Guinness appease the cheater right in the middle of a lawsuit against SRC? Would Guinness release a statement declaring "We looked into it, and we don't think Speedrun.com got this right, but we won't tell you why"? Would Guinness do a high-five video with the cheater and root them on in their litigation?
But let's not kid ourselves. Guinness has lawyers. They certainly do have the resources to withstand petty legal action. They didn't just choose to roll over; they chose to roll over in epic fashion, right on top of the next defendant down the line. They gave a cheater his license. They revoked a world record from its rightful holder (Steve Wiebe). And they chose to make life more difficult for competitive gaming scorekeepers everywhere.
Now, we should be clear about something: Guinness World Records is a household name, far more than either Speedrun.com or Twin Galaxies. Everyone has heard of Guinness World Records. SRC certainly gains public prestige from the arrangement. And I totally get that. But Guinness does gain from the arrangement as well. They are provided scores, and the associations with dedicated scoreboards give them legitimacy. Unless they want to hire their own video game adjudication division, or unless they decide they really don't care how little credibility their annual Gamer's Edition has, then they need this relationship, too. How serious would their video game records be if every score adjudicator was known to openly disassociate from them? It's not as if world record speedruns won't still be achieved. It's not as if people will stop speedrunning altogether. And it's not as if individual players couldn't still submit directly to Guinness if for whatever reason they did want their names alongside Billy Mitchell and Rodrigo Lopes. Guinness is not a benefactor here. With these actions, they may have shown that the dangers of associating with them outweigh the rewards.
CONCLUSION
In drafting up this post, I started with a more inquisitive headline: "Should Speedrun.com disassociate themselves from Guinness World Records?" I didn't feel it was my place to make such a bold directive. I'm not a speedrun competitor. I once briefly held a few WRs on an old Atari 2600 game (a few of which were on uncontested tracks), and that's it. But in laying out the facts of the case, and fully absorbing the implications, the answer to my question became obvious to me. Sure, I may be a mere enthusiast, but it still matters to me that the achievements I watch and celebrate are legitimate, and not the forgeries of some fragile narcissist consumed with jealousy. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. From high score chasers to speedrunners, the reaction in the gaming community to last week's announcement was quite negative. I won't name names, but one well-known competitive gamer requested all their videos be taken down from Guinness' YouTube channel. Another well-known competitive gamer publicly removed "Guinness world record holder" from their bio. (I'll let them speak for themselves if they wish.)
I'm not looking to start a big angry crusade against Speedrun.com in particular, nor am I suggesting anyone else do so. I am definitely NOT saying Speedrun.com should be "cancelled" if they go about business as usual. I'm sure the good folks at SRC aren't suckered by Billy's "Gosh, I have no idea how this happened" act, and that there are probably many factors at play for them in whatever decision they make. I also get that this Billy Mitchell / Twin Galaxies stuff is not particularly even their fight, since Billy isn't a speedrunner. (Although, funny side story, Billy Mitchell did once aspire to be a speedrunner, before losing and deciding speedrunning was stupid and that being "first" was more important than being "fast".)
I'm not saying SRC must listen to little old me. I'm simply saying this is a thing they ought to do, that they would be smart to do - not for my sake, not necessarily for Donkey Kong Forum's or Twin Galaxies' sake, and not even necessarily for the sake of the speedrun community at large. Ultimately, the only reason they need is to do it is for their own sake. Because SRC has to deal with cheaters, too. And one day, they'll find themselves the target of a zealous litigating lunatic, who will seek to employ the power of the courts to force them to celebrate lies as facts, and to humiliate themselves and alienate all their subscribers in the process. And as they and their lawyers prepare their legal defense for court, they could turn to social media to discover a statement from Guinness, declaring "Well, we spoke at length with Mr. Cheater, and we looked at his special evidence, and we won't tell you exactly what it was, but we assure you it was very compelling, and since we definitely know what we're talking about better than these speedrun sites do, we have now chosen to award Mr. Cheater several more Guinness world records and to name him Video Game Champion of the Millennium." And on that day, the staff at Speedrun.com should be prepared to say "Guinness has no idea what they're doing with video games, which was precisely why we cut ties with them years ago."
TL;DR:
ETA: The day after this post, Jace hall published a recent retraction demand they received from Billy's lawyers, as well as a trove of legal filings, both submitted and received by TG. This provides added confirmation to many points made above.
The retraction letter, which only discusses Guinness' decision and nothing else, was sent June 18, the exact date of Guinness' announcement. This signifies yet another point of collaboration (unwitting or otherwise) between Guinness and Billy in the latter's attempts to threaten and sue a competitive scoreboard. The letter, written by Billy's lawyer, also makes a point to say "Guinness World Records evaluated the exact evidence which your client deliberately ignored during its original investigation and which was set out in the initial retraction demand". In other words, Guinness based their new decision based on the September 2019 evidence packet we've all seen. We're not being asked to believe in any "secret evidence" aside from the public record.
Billy's 41-page declaration (filed on Monday, June 22) significantly features Guinness' decision as well. Out of those 41 pages, not counting URLs, it features the word "Guinness" or the acronym "GWR" 28 times. Billy also reiterates the time frame discussed above, stating that he was notified of Guinness' decision on December 12, 2019. On the same day, Billy's lawyer filed a 20-page motion against TG's anti-SLAPP motion, featuring the word "Guinness" or the acronym "GWR" a total of 16 times (not counting the table of contents).
Also, there was this:
https://i.imgur.com/2ans5QH.png
submitted by ersatz_cats to speedrun [link] [comments]

Arbitrary list of popular lights - Summer Solstice 2020 edition

Happy Solstice!
In honor of Summer Solstice for the northern hemisphere, I've made an updated list of popular lights. Today is a couple days after (sorry!) the day you're least likely to need a flashlight north of the equator, but it increases every day after so it's a good time to buy a flashlight.
Because a definitive buyer's guide is too hard, I've made an arbitrary list of popular lights you should consider if you're shopping for a light. There is no best flashlight, so this is not the last word in what's good, but a list of lights that are often bought or recommended here with a touch of my own opinion thrown in. Exclusion from this list doesn't mean a light isn't good. To search more lights by their attributes, try http://flashlights.parametrek.com/index.html
Where possible, official manufacturer URLs are linked here. Sometimes the manufacturer offers good deals through direct orders, sometimes vendors have the best prices. There are coupon codes available that apply to many of the lights listed. I'm hosting a version of this list on my own site with affiliate links because a few people have asked for a way to give me a kickback.
Shipping/availability may be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, items shipped from China are often taking 2 months to arrive. Supply chains and warehouse stock also appear to be disrupted as well, so you may have to be more patient than usual if you want certain flashlights, chargers, and batteries.

For those in a hurry

If you don't want to learn much, just get one of these.

All of the lights in this section come with a rechargeable battery and have a charger built in to the light. The battery will be a standard size you can buy online from third parties, and the charger will use USB as its power source, though some options do use a special cable. Aside from the Catapult, all have very good color quality compared to the average LED flashlight, improving your ability to see details.
These are at the top of the list not because they're the best in some objective sense, but because they're easy to own and use, and easy to buy. They score well on most measure flashlight nerds care about while also being suitable for non-enthusiasts.

About specs and considerations

Moved to the wiki due to character limit

Mainstream lights

Everyday Carry Lights

These are selected for pocketability first and performance second, but most of the larger options are perfectly adequate for house/cacamping/etc... uses. This section excludes right-angle designs that double as headlamps, but many people do use those for pocket carry, so see that section as well.

Keychain

AAA battery

AA battery

CR123A/16340 battery

18350 battery

18650 battery

This category is so popular it gets subcategories. If you're looking for a lot of power and runtime that's still possible to carry in most pants pockets, this is your battery.

Dual-switch lights

A tailswitch controls power, a sideswitch changes brightness. The ease of explaning the UI makes these perfect to hand out to others.

E-switch lights

Electronic switches enable shortcuts from off to useful modes - usually lowest, highest, and last-used.

Other by use case

Right-angle lights and headlamps

If I could have only one portable light, it would be a right-angle light that functions as both an everyday carry light and a headlamp. Some lights in this form factor also offer a magnetic tailcap, allowing them to act as mountable area lights.

Small

Medium

All of these use one 18650 battery.

Large

Duty lights

These are suitable for first responders and possibly members of the military in combat roles. The focus is on simple operation, reliability and a good way to make sure the light starts on high.

High-performance lights

Most lights on the list are easy to carry, with performance constrained by size and thermal mass as a result. After all, the best light is the one you have. Here are lights to bring when you know you'll be using them.

Flooders

Turn night into day, but not necessarily very far away

Throwers

What's that over there? WAY over there? The hotspots of these lights tend to be too focused for comfortable use up close, though using a diffuser is an option. These tend to be most useful for search and rescue, boating, and the like.
FL1 throw is the distance at which large objects can be detected in clear air. At half that distance, there's usually enough illumination to see clearly, though with more extreme throwers, the distances may be so great as to require binoculars to see clearly even during the day. Throwers have visible backscatter from the atmosphere even in clear air, which may obstruct the user's view of the target. Warmer color temperatures tend to have less.

Hybrids

Some throw, some flood... probably a lot

Other lights

Stuff that doesn't fit somewhere else goes here.

Enthusiast lights

Enthusiast lights can be subject to a bit of a flavor of the month phenomenon, and this section isn't necessarily going to try to include them all. What you'll find here are enthusiast lights with some staying power. There will probably be an Emisar D4 of some description this time next year, but not necessarily the latest new FW variant or whatever's currently trendy from Nightwatch.

Everyday carry

Jacket pocket, maybe

Big

* BLF GT90 - the GT with a Luminus SBT-90.2 for over 7000 lumens and 2700m throw claimed, but that's going to be limited by heat and power. For sustainable performance, the original may have the advantage. For short bursts, this will be most impressive. 360, but look for discounts

Edit 20200624: added Tool AA, NU25, KR4, KR1
submitted by Zak to flashlight [link] [comments]

SCP-5998, "Man, Ascendant"

Item #: SCP-5998
Author: Cerastes
Hello SCPDeclassified, Brewsterion here. Today, we're going to tackle a 5000 Contest entry from Cerastes, SCP-5998. Not much preface for this one, apart from this has been requested a few times, so let's begin on dealing with this clever little piece.
Well, first, I need to go through the standard disclaimer. Everything in this piece is just my interpretation, with some bits confirmed by the author but most of it my own conclusions. You are of course free to come to your own conclusions regarding this piece, and do not take my word as gospel here. With that out of the way, how do you guys feel about killing God?
Hey, don't look at me like that, I swear this is for an entirely unrelated deal. But your answer may be a bit important. You know what, let's just get into this thing.
Special Containment Procedures
Provisional Outpost-5998 has been constructed around SCP-5998, and should be staffed only by those with strong atheistic beliefs who have not previously expressed religious faith. Any changes observed in SCP-5998's condition should be reported to the Department of Tactical Theology immediately.
Yep no religious anomalies going on here, please disperse folks. Jokes aside, clearly the Foundation is trying not to tick this thing off. Whatever this thing is, odds are it's powerful and not something to mess with. There's literally nothing else to the conprocs, but hey move along then--wait what the shit is that?
I tried. I did. To make things better than I had.
Hidden text, here we go. This doesn't seem to have been graffitied into the article by some sort of hacker, or slipped in by a disgruntled employee. I don't think this is actually present in-universe, which probably makes it even more important. Let's keep an eye out for this in the description and onwards.
Description
SCP-5998 is a desiccated corpse frozen in a kneeling position south of the North Pole, at 86°07'10.6"N, 69°13'10.6"W. The corpse, which was covered by a thick blanket upon discovery, resembles a human with several physical abnormalities (six fingers on each hand, three eyes, bone protrusions emerging from its back). SCP-5998 has not decayed since discovery.
Oh that's just weird. There's clearly some sort of relationship with the title here, considering how this appears to be some sort of changed human. The corpse is weird enough, seeming to fit some sort of ascendant archetype, but the fact that it hasn't decayed at all makes things stranger. Wait, wait, there's more hidden text.
This world of ancient horrors and distortions in reality is fundamentally broken.
Yeah, no shit sherlock. This could just be some pessimistic ramblings from our resident text person, but based off of what the last one is, I think it's meant to be more resigned and defeated than annoyed. Still, no way to really tell what this means yet, so let's keep moving.
Disturbance of the corpse results in the formation of Type-I Empyrean entities, also known as Ophanim. While instances appear to last only minutes before dissipating, they are hostile to any personnel within sight. Instances will attempt to move SCP-5998 away, but are unable to do so before their cessation.
Ophanim are just a type of angel, traditionally shaped like burning concentric wheels with eyes on them though I don't know how true that holds here, but this adds a new wrinkle. Any attempts to move the corpse create angels that are hostile to anybody trying to move it, that also attempt to move the corpse but can't before they vanish? If this isn't something highly significant to the angels, then call me a fool. Or someone. Hidden text help us?
I gave you Commandments to keep your minds and souls pure.
Okay well this is just God's corpse I guess.
Of course, that assumes that the author of the text is in fact both God and the corpse, but it makes sense right now. The title, the strange qualities of the corpse, how much the angels care for it, and the nature of the other hidden text feels like it's already all adding up. Let's see if anything else can confirm this.
Religious personnel attempting to approach the area are subject to nausea, vomiting, and intense feelings of guilt, sorrow, or anger.
Yep, looking like it. You know whose cue it is now. White text?
To you, freedom was better than servitude, even if it would lead to your destruction.
This...doesn't actually help us all that much. At least, it doesn't confirm anything old. But there is something interesting in how this addresses what I assume is humanity in general. Yay, two plot lines to keep track of!
Religious personnel transported forcefully to SCP-5998's near proximity will experience seizures and remain incoherent until removed. Those who are currently non-religious, but have been so in the past, will typically experience a religious reawakening, professing a return to faith.I couldn't see what your flawed eyes, those beautiful eyes, could see.
So God couldn't quite understand why we wanted to be...free? Unrestrained by commandments? Free to run around a world full of broken reality? Yeah, we're gonna need a bit more here.
SCP-5998-1 is a gravemarker comprised of piled stones stacked on top of one another directly in front of the corpse. The gravestone is devoid of any names and dates, bearing instead the following line in English.
The chains have broken and the fires have been doused.
Two batches of hidden text here, by the way.
I ignored them and declared my punishments for those who would defy me.
I see what you see now. Humanity shall decide its own future.
Well, alright. Before we head into the discovery, let's try and figure out what we know. God's corpse is in the snow. God apparently died to humanity could be free or something similar. Angels want God back, God wants to be dead, bing bang boom, we here. Now let's see if the discovery tells us anything new.
The Foundation discovered SCP-5998 in 1961, after the Department of Tactical Theology had calculated the decreasing effectiveness of various religion-aligned containment procedures. Researchers theorized that an Iscariot Event (The death or cessation of a religiously significant figure) had occurred, and began reviewing global levels of akiva radiation.The snow is cold. A familiar feeling.
1961, alright. More Word Of God, in the white hidden text, but let's keep going.
In 1963, consistently high levels of ambient radiation around the North Pole drew suspicion, and concentrated searches of the area were undertaken, leading to the discovery of SCP-5998.It feels beautiful
Nothing new, apart from God seems to suddenly dislike periods.
Addendum: In 1989, the corpse of a Caucasian male in his early forties was found buried in a snowbank approximately fifty metres from SCP-5998. Identification in his pocket confirmed him as a member of GOI-182 ("la Spada di Cristo"), a Vatican-affiliated Group of Interest.
dying in the dark. You're living in the light. I did my duty.
Oh he doesn't hate periods, just keeping things in the same sentence. More confirmation of the "God willingly dying" theory, but this new thing with the other male corpse is a new wrinkle. We're gonna need more information on who this new guys is, though.
The remnants of a crashed Piasecki H-21 Shawnee helicopter were found similarly buried a short distance away from SCP-5998. Analysis of the crash site concluded that the pilot had likely lost control of the aircraft after the fuel tank had exploded, though the cause of the explosion could not be determined.
A number of items were recovered, in various states of damage.
An envelope with a letter enclosed, stamped by a seal. Illegible due to water damage.
A gold cross on a chain. Warped by the heat of the crash.
A personal calendar in Italian for the year of 1959. Ink damage is present extensively on most dates for the month of January, stopping at the 25th. Pope John XXIII announced the second Vatican Council on this date, which ultimately resulted in wide-spanning church reforms.
Remnants of a map, with ink damage present.
This still doesn't give us many answers. Based on the timing of the calendar as from 1959, as well as how 5998 was discovered in 1961, odds are not only was the pilot of the helicopter the corpse we recovered earlier, my money's on the corpse being the guy that killed 5998. As for motivation, we can't quite tell from this alone. The aforementioned letter's screwed, as is the map, although it's probably just one to make it to the North Pole or at least 5998's specific location. There's also the issue of the actual murder weapon. Apart from the protruding bones, there's no actual wounds on 5998. It's entirely possible the "death of god" could be some sort of metaphysical act, a sort of symbolic gesture that doesn't actually physically harm but still kills, but that part's just my own interpretation since we don't get much in the actual article. Let's get onto the last part of the article, a letter on the other corpse.
To whoever finds this, know what I did, I did with the heaviest of hearts.
I grew up an orphan. I never knew my mother. My father had gone to serve Italy in the Great War as they were calling it, and never came back. I was one of many, in the overcrowded streets I called home.
I most likely would've died in those streets, stealing food from the wrong shopkeeper or running afoul of the local mafia gangs, if I had not had the fortune of picking the pockets of a solider. Though I had not known it at the time, stealing from a Sword of Christ would turn out to be the greatest decision of my life.
For the first time in my life, I had brothers. A home. Faith. The Lord gave me the greatest gifts I had ever known, and the possibility of salvation for a misspent youth. He gave me everything I never knew I needed, and asked for nothing in return.
And what did I do to repay this unconditional kindness? I betrayed Him and everything I ever believed in. The Lord welcomed me into his arms, and I placed a dagger in his back.
The Holy Father insisted I would not burn for this act. That I would be venerated among my brothers as Saint Fillipo, a guardian of man's progress. But not even canonization can wash the blood from my hands.
Bury what you have found in here. Let me be forgotten, as He will be soon.
As expected, the new corpse was in fact the one that killed God, and honestly I feel a little bad for him. I--wait, there's still one more line of hidden text?
I'm sorry.
Oh.
Well, that's everything in the article. Let's try and put all this together, and make any sense of it.
What's Going On Here
So, we can definitely tell from the article a specific chain of events and certain facts that aren't lenient on "well it could be this." 5998 is the corpse of God, the Abrahamic one, and he was killed by this nameless corpse right here, who was a member of the Swords of Christ. The act of killing God was at the very least Vatican-sponsored, and although our Sword here knew it had to be done, he felt grief for it, and let himself get die in the snow with his God. That's everything we know. We also can clearly tell that God had sort of resigned to the fact that while the world was broken, humanity wanted to be free from control so they could view the world they thought was beautiful. God couldn't see that, but acknowledged it. Now, we come to the interpretational question.
Why is God dead?
We don't get much of a clear answer in the article itself, since God really likes being cryptic with what he says--hey, just like real life! As such, this is where the "individual interpretation" part kicks in. You can go nuts coming up with your own answer to this question, and here I will explain mine.
Personally? I think God is dead because he accepted he's incompatible with what humanity wants. The final apology, mentions of broken chains, and the saying how God "did my duty" lead me to think that God basically went "well, as long as I'm here they're tied to me, and that's not what they want, soooooooo......" and then went and asked the Vatican for assistance. The alternative would be that the Vatican came to the same realization, but God wimped out, so they sent somebody to go and assassinate him and in the end God accepted death, but that really sort of boils down to the same thing. God's dead, he's fine with it, but the people he wanted to help aren't, it seems.
And so ends SCP-5998, a story about freedom from ascendance and sacrificing for your creation. I hope this helped you understand this SCP better. Thank you all for reading, and remember that there's beauty in the fallout.
submitted by Brewsterion to SCPDeclassified [link] [comments]

[D] On the public advertising of NeurIPS submissions on Twitter

The deadline for submitting papers to the NeurIPS 2020 conference was two weeks ago. Since then, almost everyday I come across long Twitter threads from ML researchers that publicly advertise their work (obviously NeurIPS submissions, from the template and date of the shared arXiv preprint). They are often quite famous researchers from Google, Facebook... with thousands of followers and therefore a high visibility on Twitter. These posts often get a lot of likes and retweets - see examples in comment.
While I am glad to discover new exciting works, I am also concerned by the impact of such practice on the review process. I know that submissions of arXiv preprints are not forbidden by NeurIPS, but this kind of very engaging public advertising brings the anonymity violation to another level.
Besides harming the double-blind review process, I am concerned by the social pressure it puts on reviewers. It is definitely harder to reject or even criticise a work that already received praise across the community through such advertising, especially when it comes from the account of a famous researcher or a famous institution.
However, in recent Twitter discussions associated to these threads, I failed to find people caring about these aspects, notably among top researchers reacting to the posts. Would you also say that this is fine (as, anyway, we cannot really assume that a review is double-blind when arXiv public preprints with authors names and affiliations are allowed)? Or do you agree that this can be a problem?
submitted by guilIaume to MachineLearning [link] [comments]

Case Study 1: Month 48. $4k/m.

Hi all,
Semi-regular commenter here: this has been a long time coming. I’ve been a 'Just Starter' for over 4 years. I figured it’s time to share my story, lessons learned, and try to open up some good discussion.
I know we've all been frustrated at the lack of original content on here (shout out to all the Case Study: Month 1 posts) so hopefully this gives you something to read. So, instead of Month 1, here's Month 48!

Background

I originally found Humble’s first case studies not long after he posted them. I was already looking at ways to make money online, and was instantly hooked.
With my web developer friend we made a broad home site, and I started writing. Basically just doing best of lists of blenders, ice cream makers, etc. I went through a summer of productivity: getting up at 5.45am before my office job and blasting out writing on the daily.
1 year later, with around 50 posts, two pages struck gold and we peaked at $2,700 in a month from US Amazon affiliate income. These were seasonal pages and a July heatwave helped a ton. It quickly died back off in the winter.
After that summer, productivity nosedived (I got a girlfriend). But sporadically kept building the site. Our income never got back to that peak, but the next summer saw a few $2k months. That's when I started to think doing this full time was possible. My job had become badly managed, and I wanted to move away from the city. So despite the site still making peanuts most months, I quit my full time job on July 1st, 2019.

1 Year Later

This year has flown by so quickly. I wondered so much about what it would be like to do this full time, and now here we are. Here’s the year in summary:

Traffic & Earnings

Traffic: https://imgur.com/ofnjfVa
The recent ‘explosion’ has been from the many informational posts I wrote after going full time. These are now finally maturing. Even with an established site it's still taking 3-6months for many of our posts to mature fully. Also we're still more summer focused than anything - still trying to get away from that.
Earnings: https://imgur.com/3Bfi5A0 (Amazon rate cut was April 21st). These don’t include UK/Canada which run at around 10% of US income. I couldn't get our earnings from the start - Amazon only goes back 2 years.
Until 2020, earnings were entirely from Amazon’s affiliate programs. Recently we signed up to Ezoic, though we were getting sweet f all ($6.5/1000 sessions). In the last month we switched to Mediavine and it’s changed everything. We’re seeing $25/1000 sessions, currently bringing $70+ a day. This alone has almost offset the Amazon cuts.

Our Strategy

I want to touch on how we’ve built the site, since that's always what I'm most interested in when reading other studies. Ours is about as simple a setup as you can imagine.
Until I went full time, 90% of our posts were simple ‘best of’ lists. These were lower competition keywords. We didn’t build a single backlink (mostly due to my lack of trying). Most of our success came from playing with the wording of semi-long tails. (For example instead of best blender, most reliable blender). Though this is getting harder with semantic search getting better.
Lately I’ve been doing more informational posts, with some level of link building to our top affiliate ones. These are 10x easier to rank for and, with a decent ad network, a good money maker.
Keyword Research
Nothing fancy here.
I’ve used a combination of Ahrefs (batching via their $7/7days trials) and Income School’s “alphabet soup” method to find keywords. Always manually checking the competition before committing to anything.
Article Setup
All on-page SEO is now covered in a publish checklist. Mostly watching out for:
I try to keep it up to date with the latest coming out of Authority Hacker, Backlinko, Ahrefs case studies.
Luckily my friend is a web dev wizard, so our theme is entirely custom with some slick formatting for product reviews, pros/cons, etc. This gives us a high authority look which I can only imagine helps.
Backlinks
Up until recently I hadn’t built a single backlink for the site.
We’d been pretty lucky with the keywords we went for – and mostly still are. There are very few posts I’ve actively built links to, and I’ve yet to deliberately win a medium/hard keyword with strategically built links.
That said, I’ve been trying to do much more in terms of link building. Especially now that I have the time. I’ve really noticed that it’s not about getting 400 money pages, but striking gold with 5-10 of them. We have 160 posts and the 80/20 principle definitely applies to the results we see from them.
Mostly the link building has been a case of shotgun skyscraper (Authority Hacker) and a few exchanges or paid links here and there. I’ve not had too much success, but I'm looking forward to sticking at it until we do. I’ve been inspired by the massive success jumstakl was sharing from this, and want to master it to his level. Though I do appreciate it's all pretty outdated now.
That said, our current top post (25% of all traffic) is a fairly random informational post that I’ve never built links to. For some reason it just topped a very nice SERP in Australia. Can't complain.
Content
One advantage we've had (imo) is in original, well researched content.
Having written over 150,000 words for this site I've gotten pretty quick at putting out articles. I typically take notes on every post in the top 10 results, collate that into one larger outline, and write. There's so many outsourced posts out there that sound like they were written using a Cambridge Thesaurus - so I try to keep things super conversational and easy to read.

The Future

The goal for this site is to keep maintaining what we have while continuing to build. I want minimal input for day-to-day writing, with my only involvement being keyword research, high quality posts, and outreach.
On top of that, I want us to hit a few ‘big’ keywords too. Topics with decent competition where our quality and real links get us to the top and blow up our income.
My ultimate goal is to hit $10k/month in income. This would be huge for me, give me friend some massive side income help (he gets 20%), and put us at a sale value that could buy an apartment.
Strategy
I desperately need to work with other affiliate programs away from Amazon. This has been something I thought would take days to fix, but I’ve spent ages analyzing potential affiliates and yet to make a sale with any. We’ve started on two silos built for new affiliate programs, so hopefully these will give some good returns.
From what I understand it’s going to be hitting huge success with smaller affiliate programs that will allow you to cruise past 5 figures a month in income. Though I'm a bit paralyzed because it feels like branching out into a new world – rather than the same old rinse and repeat I’m used to with Amazon.

Community Stuff

  1. I’d just like to shout out the mods for keeping this subreddit going. I literally wouldn’t be doing this without this sub (and Humble who started it). Thank you.*
  2. I’d like to agree with the recent sticky – there’s too much spam on here recently. I feel like Humble would lose his mind at the amount of shitposts. It’s up to all of us to report the dumb questions for the automod to remove, and to discourage the ‘Case Study: Month 1’ spam.*
  3. Are there any other communities you guys subscribe to for sites above the $1k/month mark? Speaking regularly to others with established sites would be a massive help - outside of this forum I don't really have anyone to talk to. Would love to become part of a community and make a few friends who also run sites like mine. If there’s anyone like that on here – particularly based in the UK – please hit me up!
Ask Me Anything
There’s obviously much more to our site than I can cover in one post. So AMA! It’s lockdown and I’m bored: if you want to know anything just ask. I may reply slowly, but I will reply.
Thanks for reading.
submitted by xferok to juststart [link] [comments]

READ THIS FIRST: Official Frequently Asked Questions and Answers - Important Up to Date Information You Need To Know about EIDL

\*LAST UPDATED 7/14**)

OFFICIAL FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOR EIDL


PURPOSE:
This post will be a master thread with everything we have collectively learned on EIDL about the loan and the application process. It will be updated on an ongoing basis and will always contain the most current information. Things change frequently at the SBA with policy and you should check back on this thread on a regular basis.
Please post any questions not covered and I will respond and add them here.

INDEX OF QUESTIONS:

  1. How do I get in touch with customer service phone support?
  2. What are my chances of being approved for this loan? Can I know in advance?
  3. I received a decline letter for “Business activity not eligible”. What can I do?
  4. How is the loan amount calculated? How can I request a specific amount?
  5. What is the maximum loan amount?
  6. When will I get my portal invite?
  7. I finally got a portal invite and accepted and submitted an amount. My application says it is "processing", now what?
  8. I understand that processing really means "underwriting", but how long will it actually take? What is the normal amount of time?
  9. Does contacting my congressmen or senator actually work?
  10. I accidentally entered the wrong revenue or COGS on my application and my offer amount was lower than I expected, is it possible to change this?
  11. I need to change my Rev or COGS and I already accepted an amount in the portal, Tier 2 told me to do it! Is it too late?
  12. Who are you, cue378? Can you help me?
  13. My loan as obligated or already funded, I made a mistake with my COGS or revenue and I am not happy with the amount. Can I change it?
  14. How do I show support for the volunteers and moderators for EIDL
  15. I received my portal link, but when I go to create an account it just takes me to the login page. What can be done?
  16. I was declined for "unsatisfactory credit". What are my options?
  17. What documents are required? Will a loan officer contact me?
  18. What is the status of the Advance/Grant program? Can I still get a grant?
  19. What are the eligible uses of EIDL funds?
  20. I received a denial letter for the reason "ECONOMIC INJURY NOT SUSTAINED". What does this mean and what can I do?
  21. What is CAWEB and how can it help me track my loan disbursement and other status?
  22. I received my portal invite link, however when I go to create an account I just get the message: "The user account has not been confirmed yet. Please confirm using the link in the e-mail". What can I do?



1. QUESTION: How do I get in touch with customer service phone support?
ANSWER: The highest level of official customer service is known as "tier 2" and can be reached by calling 1-800-659-2955 and asking for Tier 2. (NOTE: As of 5/29 the previous direct number is currently out of service) They are unfortunately, a very limited means of support. They are able to check your application status and see the current "stage" and leave notes in your file, but unable to directly make any changes or escalate anything in a meaningful way.
Most are very nice and well meaning people but are usually poorly informed and often provided contradictory information between calls. The important thing to understand is that notes left by T2 do not actually notify a loan officer or anyone, they are simply waiting to be read if someone happens to open your file and takes the time to review the case notes. So if a T2 says they requested a change do not assume it was or will be made.


2. QUESTION: What are my chances of being approved for this loan? Can I know in advance?
ANSWER: The loan is relatively easy to get approval for by loan standards. The exact underwriting criteria the SBA is using was leaked by some helpful people (hat tip to u/Sbaleaky) and thus you can have a good understanding what your chances are.
Underwriters look for the following:
-Minimum Credit Score of 570. They will pull from experian. Close to Vantage 3 model found on nav DOT com or TransUnion numbers on credit karma. They do NOT use FICO. Credit score is largest factor for approval for this loan and no exceptions are made for under 570.
-If economic injury was sustained based on formula described in QUESTION 4. If this is a negative number you will be auto declined. (SEE QUESTION 5) The SBA does not consider potential revenue lost or general expenses in the loan amount.
-Tax liens or tax issues are NOT a disqualifying factor or taken into consideration for COVID19 disaster.
-Business start date must be prior to 1/31/20
-open bankruptcies = Declined. Closed OK.
-Arrest for felony < 5 years = Declined
-Arrest for misdemeanor < 5 years = Declined
-Sole proprietors with delinquent child support > 60 days = Declined
-Any business principals with 50% or more ownership with delinquent child support > 60 days = Declined
-Your business must pass verification in some way that it is a valid operation. If they can find it on google it will suffice. Otherwise you may have to provide documents to prove it's a legit business.
-Your business type must not be on the list for ineligible business activity. See list on FAQ.
-All owners on application must be either US citizens or Permanent Residents. E-2 Investor visa is NOT eligible and any attempts to appeal or add a co-borrower who is a citizen or LPR will be unsuccessful. Corporations, Partnerships, and Limited Liability Entities (LLE): Alien-owned corporations, partnerships, and LLEs properly registered and licensed in the state where the disaster occurred are eligible. If any member, partner, or shareholder, owning 20 percent or more of the applicant business is in the USA they must be a qualified alien. If the alien resides outside the USA an exception may be made.


3. QUESTION: I received a decline letter for “Business activity not eligible”. What can I do?
ANSWER: EIDL has a list of restricted business categories, if your type is NOT on this list and you still received this letter you may have been improperly classified.

The following applicants are not eligible for EIDL assistance.



4. QUESTION: How is the loan amount calculated? How can I request a specific amount?
ANSWER: There is no way to request a specific amount, the eligible amount is calculated automatically by formula based on your inputs. There are three known formulas:
  1. Standard Small Business: Revenue minus COGS divided by 2 minus advance, subject to maximum of 150K
  2. Not for Profit: 6 months operating expenses year prior to 1/31/20
  3. Business that collects rental property income, your offer is calculated by lost rents due to the disaster, not the standard formula. If your offer is lower than expected you may have been wrongly classified into this formula.
  4. Agricultural businesses: 6 months operating expenses year prior to 1/31/20
If the formula results in a negative number or less than your advance you will be declined for "ECONOMIC INJURY NOT SUSTAINED"

5. QUESTION: What is the maximum loan amount?
ANSWER: As of last update it is currently 150K cap. This will not change anytime soon and there will be no way to request more at present. The only way to avoid the cap is if your loan was already being obligated prior to the change by the SBA from 500K. If I hear anything new on this it will be updated here.

6. QUESTION: When will I get my portal invite?
ANSWER: Portal invites are a fully automated process and not strictly sequential but follow general group patterns. If you see someone that has a higher number than you get a portal invite it does NOT mean you were "passed over".

7. QUESTION: I finally got a portal invite and accepted and submitted an amount. My application says it is "processing", now what?
ANSWER: This is when the actual loan process starts and underwriting begins. Your application will be assigned a loan officer for review using the criteria listed in question 2. The exact process is as follows (hat tip u/sbaleaky and u/LOL_Face_69) with the actual stages from start to finish. Keep in mind that once you accept in the portal a number of things are going on behind the scenes, which is why "processing" can take a great deal of time. Once you see a loan amount in your portal, this is NOT an approved offer. It is simply a potential amount you are eligible for based on the stated formula if you pass underwriting.

[The following takes place behind the scenes and will not reflect in your portal, but will still say "processing"]
Note: The exception to this process is that some applications which are considered easy (based on unknown factors) to approve are subject to full automation and may go straight to approval bypassing the above steps. This only happens in rare cases.
You may also see a status that says, "On-Hold" Amount $0: This status typically is when your loan was temporarily declined and is still in the reconsideration department pending possible reconsideration approval.


8. QUESTION: I now understand that processing really means "underwriting", but how long will it actually take? What is the normal amount of time?
ANSWER: The amount of time it is normal for your portal to say "processing" is highly variable as a hundred different factors are involved behind the scenes. As of 6/10 we are seeing extended delays in processing time and obligating stage specifically. The average we are seeing is around 14-16 days total in processing. If your application has been in underwriting for greater than 14 days it may merit investigate, but not necessarily indicate a problem with your chances of approval. Do NOT panic if it seems "stuck" with no communication from anyone. This is normal.


9. QUESTION: Does contacting my congressmen or senator actually work?
ANSWER: Yes, the SBA treats congressional inquiry very carefully and will flag and sometimes white glove your application. Often they will assign a special case worker during the process. The important thing is when your local congressional office reaches out they do NOT contact the local district SBA but this email: [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]). This email is NOT for use by applicants but only official government purposes.


10. QUESTION: Help! I accidentally entered the wrong revenue or COGS on my application and my offer amount was lower than I expected, is it possible to change this?
ANSWER: Yes, but two factors are important:
  1. You should NOT have already accepted an amount and submitted for processing in the portal. *If you already did see note below.
  2. You have documentation to backup the changes such as Federal Tax Returns 2018 or 2019 or P&L Statements. Tax returns are strongly preferred if available.
****The important thing here is DO NOT accept the offer in the portal if you need to revise your numbers.****
*IF YOU HAVE ALREADY ACCEPTED THE OFFER: Call tier 2 support as soon as you possibly can and ask them to make the following note in your file: Loan Officer, DO NOT approve this file without calling me, the applicant, because my (revenue or COGS) figures are wrong. I have supporting docs to make the changes. Please contact me ASAP.
If you meet the above two criteria contact me via email at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) with your Reddit username in the subject and put COGS REVISION REQUESTED in the subject line. I will respond and give you private advice on the matter.


11. QUESTION: I need to change my Rev or COGS and I already accepted an amount in the portal, Tier 2 told me to do it! Is it too late?
Answer: Unfortunately tier 2 is currently giving absolutely terrible advice in this situation. They are telling people to accept the offer in the portal to speak with a loan officer to make the revision. The problem is that once you accept you set the process in motion and then it gets obligated by treasury it is impossible to adjust. The proper time is prior to accepting. Often times loan officers never are needed, never reach out or even read these notes. I see it every day and people are stuck its the "kiss of death" advice. If you already accepted you may have time but would need to work quickly from date of submit.
UPDATE: As of 6/15 there is now a way to fix this. See question 13.

12. QUESTION: Who are you, cue378? Can you help me?
ANSWER: I am a small business owner who is a full time volunteer offering to assist in the EIDL process. I have experience assisting hundreds of other business owners in applying for and getting approved. I am sharing the information, strategies, and general knowledge I have gained over the course of 2 months. I do not work at the SBA nor do I have any affiliation with the SBA.
Do to an extreme flood of requests for help, I may not be able to answer PM's or chat requests. I have setup an email you are welcome to contact me on, but due to the volume I may not be able to respond right away or at all. My email is [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])
Some people have asked how they can support my efforts. While I do not ask for donations, our subreddit founder decided to setup a tip jar in case people want to show their support. To be clear I do not ask for donations for my help, but if you decide to spare anything I do appreciate it greatly. The tip jar can be found HERE.


13. QUESTION: My loan was obligated, already funded, or I already accepted the amount in the portal. I made a mistake with my COGS or revenue and I am not happy with the amount. Can I change it?
ANSWER: As of 6/12 loan modifications are now being allowed. You can contact [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) and request a "Loan Modification increase". It is a 3-4 week process that requires documentation. A second loan will be given for the difference from the first one. It will be processed as a 20xx series loan in the old system/portal. For more details email me. Note if you have not yet accepted the offer the normal process is much faster.


14. QUESTION: How do I show support for the volunteers and moderators for EIDL
ANSWER: For supporting Cue378, there is a tip jar listed above. If you wish to show support to our community moderators, a separate tip jar can be found HERE. Proceeds for this jar will be split between u/innocul8 and u/Scorpio14534. Donations in this jar do NOT go to Cue. Any amount is very appreciated. It takes a great deal of time and effort run the community and they are putting in a near full time effort.

15. QUESTION: I received my portal link, but when I go to create an account it just takes me to the login page. What can be done?
ANSWER: Follow these steps:
  1. Open the email to create your portal account. Right click on the green button that says, "create your account". Click "copy link address" or "copy hyperlink" depending on your browser.
  2. Use a VPN service, such as NordVPN or ProtonVPN (free), to connect to a VPN server in different state than yours, preferably on the opposite coast you are located.
  3. Open an incognito browser window, or private browser session if on firefox.
  4. Right click on the URL/web address field and paste the link you copied. Hit enter.
  5. You should then successfully be able to create a login, enter the portal, and accept your offer.
Alternately if you don't have a VPN or want to use one you can use a mobile phone to login incognito, with WiFi off on a cellular network, to create the account.

16. QUESTION: I was declined for "unsatisfactory credit". What are my options?
ANSWER: You have a few options.
  1. You can bring your vantage 3 score over 570 by paying down cards, when you are ready you can request the SBA re-pull your report and reactivate your account via [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])
  2. You can request to add a co-borrower that has a higher score than 570 with no open bankruptcy and run their credit to reactivate your application.
You can expedite your request for a co-borrower by having this ready to go. You can also do this preemptively if you expect to be declined for credit. The co-borrower does NOT have to be involved with the business and can be anyone. The form is available here:
SBA Form 3501 - Adding Co-Borrower
Only fill out the following:
Line #14 - Add the co-borrowers information under owner #1
Line #15 - Answer question for co-borrower.
Line #16 - Answer question for co-borrower.
Sign page 10, co-borrower signs.
Ownership percentage can be 0% if co-borrower is not part of business.
Attach and send with your co-borrower request to [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) with your application number.
NOTE: If you have an urgent need to have your co-borrower request expedited, please email me at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) with the subject line: "ADDING CO-BORROWER REQUESTED URGENT" I will respond within 24 hours.

17. QUESTION: What documents are required? Will a loan officer contact me?
ANSWER: In most cases no documentation is required and everything is self certified. In some cases a LO will need to contact you to clarify some things about your business or request specific documents. In most cases you will never be contacted by or communicate with a loan officer.


18. QUESTION: What is the status of the Advance/Grant program? Can I still get a grant?
ANSWER: As most of you already know, the EIDL Advance/Grant program has ended and the full 20 billion in funding for the advance has been exhausted. The option has been removed from new applications. Getting funding for the advance as a new applicant at this time will not be possible.
For older applications please see this post for more information:
https://www.reddit.com/EIDL/comments/hr3l41/eidl_news_714_update_regarding_the_current_status/

19. QUESTION: What are the eligible uses of EIDL funds?
ANSWER: These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. What are all the possible uses of the funds? The wording ‘obligations that are unable to be met due to lack of revenue’ seems to be a catch all, but how much so? The EIDL working capital loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred. The loans are not intended to replace lost sales or profits or for expansion.

20. QUESTION: I received a denial letter for the reason "ECONOMIC INJURY NOT SUSTAINED". What does this mean and what can I do?
ANSWER: This occurs when the numbers entered on your application for COGS are greater than your revenue. The SBA calculates economic injury based on the formula in question number 4. You can also be denied for this reason if the resulting number is less than your advance amount. Please note that the SBA is only taking into account revenue earned prior to the disaster date of 1/31/20 to calculate your economic injury. If your only revenue was earned after that date as a newer business you may not qualify.
If the numbers on your application were correct, you would not be eligible for an EIDL. If you made an error you can request an amendment and request reactivation of your application. I can assist with this process. You need at minimum Profit and Loss statements for the period 12 months prior to the disaster starting 1/31/20. Email me at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) with the subject: COGS DENIAL REVERSAL REQUESTED. Include your Reddit username. I will respond with instructions on how to file this amendment.

21. QUESTION: What is CAWEB and how can it help me track my loan disbursement and other status?
ANSWER: You can use the Capital Access Finance System to track your EIDL after your documents have been signed and submitted through funding. It allows you to see disbursement status and other details related to your loan.
****Hat tip to u/tahoechick36 for this amazing write up*\*
Using the Capital Access Finance System to track your EIDL after your documents have been signed and submitted through funding.
Visit caweb.sba.gov or click the link at the top of EIDL
Setting up an account:
You need a SBA Loan # to set up an account - for EIDL it appears on the first page of your documents, in the upper left hand area, and says "SBA Loan # XXXXXXXXXX.”
SBA loan #'s are 10 digits. Your Application # will NOT work for account set-up.
If you have a PPP Loan, you can use your SBA # for this loan to set up an account. Sometimes this # is easy to figure out, sometimes not. That has to do with an intermediary (like your bank) being involved, but if you can track down an actual SBA Loan #, you can go ahead and get registered without your EIDL loan number.
  1. On the home page click on "Not Enrolled?" in the top left. This takes you to a screen to enter info. You may come to hate this screen, this process is very finicky.
  2. Look at the rules for creating a User ID and Password by clicking on "Rules..." next to the fields.
  3. Write your exact ID & password down somewhere - if you ever get locked out and call the SBA for help, they are going to tell you that Borrowers are not supposed to be able to access CAFS CAWeb. Apparently we still can, so don't make this a big deal or maybe that will change!
  4. For user type - select "borrower" from the drop down menu.
  5. Fill in the highlighted fields with your info. Click on the "ZIP LOOKUP" button after you enter your zip code. This auto populates some other boxes, and registration won't work if you don't do this.
  6. For the country code in the phone number section enter "1" for the United States.
  7. Financial commitment ID is your Loan # - 10 digits.
  8. If you don't have a landline, it has been reported that just entering your mobile number in both fields works. You will have to select 3 of their security questions, enter the Captcha image info, then hit "submit" at the bottom.
If it didn't like the info you have entered, it will give you an error message for what part it didn't like, and you will have to try again, which requires re-entering quite a bit of the information. It's a pain.
But if it takes it, you're in! There may be a verification step now as well.
Finding your loan on CAWeb
  1. On the caweb homepage, login (if you aren't already), it will be personalized and show your name. You have to scroll down and check the "Agree to Terms" box when you are logging in.
  2. Click on "Borrower" in the top left, then click on "Borrower Search". This should take you to your "Loan List" showing the loan #, borrower name, loan type, amount, and loan status.
  3. PPP loans typically appear as "Active Un-Disbursed" - if your PPP is already funded don't worry about that. Your EIDL will show up as "Disbursed Current" if funds are on their way. It may say something else if you look immediately after you send back you Docs, but it should change pretty quickly. Logging out and back in again will sometimes refresh the status. Loan status will say "Active Un-Disbursed" until Treasury send the funds to your bank, then it changes to "Disbursed Current".


22. QUESTION: I received my portal invite link, however when I go to create an account I just get the message: "The user account has not been confirmed yet. Please confirm using the link in the e-mail". What can I do?
ANSWER: This is a known bug/error normally relating to either getting the invite ahead of schedule or other missing information in your file that would prevent the account creation from moving forward. Tier 2 cannot solve this and it need a special approach to resolve. Please email me with the subject line: "USER ACCOUNT HAS NOT BEEN CONFIRMED". Include your reddit username in the email somewhere. My address is [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])



submitted by cue378 to EIDL [link] [comments]

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