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Technical: The Path to Taproot Activation

Taproot! Everybody wants to have it, somebody wants to make it, nobody knows how to get it!
(If you are asking why everybody wants it, see: Technical: Taproot: Why Activate?)
(Pedants: I mostly elide over lockin times)
Briefly, Taproot is that neat new thing that gets us:
So yes, let's activate taproot!

The SegWit Wars

The biggest problem with activating Taproot is PTSD from the previous softfork, SegWit. Pieter Wuille, one of the authors of the current Taproot proposal, has consistently held the position that he will not discuss activation, and will accept whatever activation process is imposed on Taproot. Other developers have expressed similar opinions.
So what happened with SegWit activation that was so traumatic? SegWit used the BIP9 activation method. Let's dive into BIP9!

BIP9 Miner-Activated Soft Fork

Basically, BIP9 has a bunch of parameters:
Now there are other parameters (name, starttime) but they are not anywhere near as important as the above two.
A number that is not a parameter, is 95%. Basically, activation of a BIP9 softfork is considered as actually succeeding if at least 95% of blocks in the last 2 weeks had the specified bit in the nVersion set. If less than 95% had this bit set before the timeout, then the upgrade fails and never goes into the network. This is not a parameter: it is a constant defined by BIP9, and developers using BIP9 activation cannot change this.
So, first some simple questions and their answers:

The Great Battles of the SegWit Wars

SegWit not only fixed transaction malleability, it also created a practical softforkable blocksize increase that also rebalanced weights so that the cost of spending a UTXO is about the same as the cost of creating UTXOs (and spending UTXOs is "better" since it limits the size of the UTXO set that every fullnode has to maintain).
So SegWit was written, the activation was decided to be BIP9, and then.... miner signalling stalled at below 75%.
Thus were the Great SegWit Wars started.

BIP9 Feature Hostage

If you are a miner with at least 5% global hashpower, you can hold a BIP9-activated softfork hostage.
You might even secretly want the softfork to actually push through. But you might want to extract concession from the users and the developers. Like removing the halvening. Or raising or even removing the block size caps (which helps larger miners more than smaller miners, making it easier to become a bigger fish that eats all the smaller fishes). Or whatever.
With BIP9, you can hold the softfork hostage. You just hold out and refuse to signal. You tell everyone you will signal, if and only if certain concessions are given to you.
This ability by miners to hold a feature hostage was enabled because of the miner-exit allowed by the timeout on BIP9. Prior to that, miners were considered little more than expendable security guards, paid for the risk they take to secure the network, but not special in the grand scheme of Bitcoin.

Covert ASICBoost

ASICBoost was a novel way of optimizing SHA256 mining, by taking advantage of the structure of the 80-byte header that is hashed in order to perform proof-of-work. The details of ASICBoost are out-of-scope here but you can read about it elsewhere
Here is a short summary of the two types of ASICBoost, relevant to the activation discussion.
Now, "overt" means "obvious", while "covert" means hidden. Overt ASICBoost is obvious because nVersion bits that are not currently in use for BIP9 activations are usually 0 by default, so setting those bits to 1 makes it obvious that you are doing something weird (namely, Overt ASICBoost). Covert ASICBoost is non-obvious because the order of transactions in a block are up to the miner anyway, so the miner rearranging the transactions in order to get lower power consumption is not going to be detected.
Unfortunately, while Overt ASICBoost was compatible with SegWit, Covert ASICBoost was not. This is because, pre-SegWit, only the block header Merkle tree committed to the transaction ordering. However, with SegWit, another Merkle tree exists, which commits to transaction ordering as well. Covert ASICBoost would require more computation to manipulate two Merkle trees, obviating the power benefits of Covert ASICBoost anyway.
Now, miners want to use ASICBoost (indeed, about 60->70% of current miners probably use the Overt ASICBoost nowadays; if you have a Bitcoin fullnode running you will see the logs with lots of "60 of last 100 blocks had unexpected versions" which is exactly what you would see with the nVersion manipulation that Overt ASICBoost does). But remember: ASICBoost was, at around the time, a novel improvement. Not all miners had ASICBoost hardware. Those who did, did not want it known that they had ASICBoost hardware, and wanted to do Covert ASICBoost!
But Covert ASICBoost is incompatible with SegWit, because SegWit actually has two Merkle trees of transaction data, and Covert ASICBoost works by fudging around with transaction ordering in a block, and recomputing two Merkle Trees is more expensive than recomputing just one (and loses the ASICBoost advantage).
Of course, those miners that wanted Covert ASICBoost did not want to openly admit that they had ASICBoost hardware, they wanted to keep their advantage secret because miners are strongly competitive in a very tight market. And doing ASICBoost Covertly was just the ticket, but they could not work post-SegWit.
Fortunately, due to the BIP9 activation process, they could hold SegWit hostage while covertly taking advantage of Covert ASICBoost!

UASF: BIP148 and BIP8

When the incompatibility between Covert ASICBoost and SegWit was realized, still, activation of SegWit stalled, and miners were still not openly claiming that ASICBoost was related to non-activation of SegWit.
Eventually, a new proposal was created: BIP148. With this rule, 3 months before the end of the SegWit timeout, nodes would reject blocks that did not signal SegWit. Thus, 3 months before SegWit timeout, BIP148 would force activation of SegWit.
This proposal was not accepted by Bitcoin Core, due to the shortening of the timeout (it effectively times out 3 months before the initial SegWit timeout). Instead, a fork of Bitcoin Core was created which added the patch to comply with BIP148. This was claimed as a User Activated Soft Fork, UASF, since users could freely download the alternate fork rather than sticking with the developers of Bitcoin Core.
Now, BIP148 effectively is just a BIP9 activation, except at its (earlier) timeout, the new rules would be activated anyway (instead of the BIP9-mandated behavior that the upgrade is cancelled at the end of the timeout).
BIP148 was actually inspired by the BIP8 proposal (the link here is a historical version; BIP8 has been updated recently, precisely in preparation for Taproot activation). BIP8 is basically BIP9, but at the end of timeout, the softfork is activated anyway rather than cancelled.
This removed the ability of miners to hold the softfork hostage. At best, they can delay the activation, but not stop it entirely by holding out as in BIP9.
Of course, this implies risk that not all miners have upgraded before activation, leading to possible losses for SPV users, as well as again re-pressuring miners to signal activation, possibly without the miners actually upgrading their software to properly impose the new softfork rules.

BIP91, SegWit2X, and The Aftermath

BIP148 inspired countermeasures, possibly from the Covert ASiCBoost miners, possibly from concerned users who wanted to offer concessions to miners. To this day, the common name for BIP148 - UASF - remains an emotionally-charged rallying cry for parts of the Bitcoin community.
One of these was SegWit2X. This was brokered in a deal between some Bitcoin personalities at a conference in New York, and thus part of the so-called "New York Agreement" or NYA, another emotionally-charged acronym.
The text of the NYA was basically:
  1. Set up a new activation threshold at 80% signalled at bit 4 (vs bit 1 for SegWit).
    • When this 80% signalling was reached, miners would require that bit 1 for SegWit be signalled to achive the 95% activation needed for SegWit.
  2. If the bit 4 signalling reached 80%, increase the block weight limit from the SegWit 4000000 to the SegWit2X 8000000, 6 months after bit 1 activation.
The first item above was coded in BIP91.
Unfortunately, if you read the BIP91, independently of NYA, you might come to the conclusion that BIP91 was only about lowering the threshold to 80%. In particular, BIP91 never mentions anything about the second point above, it never mentions that bit 4 80% threshold would also signal for a later hardfork increase in weight limit.
Because of this, even though there are claims that NYA (SegWit2X) reached 80% dominance, a close reading of BIP91 shows that the 80% dominance was only for SegWit activation, without necessarily a later 2x capacity hardfork (SegWit2X).
This ambiguity of bit 4 (NYA says it includes a 2x capacity hardfork, BIP91 says it does not) has continued to be a thorn in blocksize debates later. Economically speaking, Bitcoin futures between SegWit and SegWit2X showed strong economic dominance in favor of SegWit (SegWit2X futures were traded at a fraction in value of SegWit futures: I personally made a tidy but small amount of money betting against SegWit2X in the futures market), so suggesting that NYA achieved 80% dominance even in mining is laughable, but the NYA text that ties bit 4 to SegWit2X still exists.
Historically, BIP91 triggered which caused SegWit to activate before the BIP148 shorter timeout. BIP148 proponents continue to hold this day that it was the BIP148 shorter timeout and no-compromises-activate-on-August-1 that made miners flock to BIP91 as a face-saving tactic that actually removed the second clause of NYA. NYA supporters keep pointing to the bit 4 text in the NYA and the historical activation of BIP91 as a failed promise by Bitcoin developers.

Taproot Activation Proposals

There are two primary proposals I can see for Taproot activation:
  1. BIP8.
  2. Modern Softfork Activation.
We have discussed BIP8: roughly, it has bit and timeout, if 95% of miners signal bit it activates, at the end of timeout it activates. (EDIT: BIP8 has had recent updates: at the end of timeout it can now activate or fail. For the most part, in the below text "BIP8", means BIP8-and-activate-at-timeout, and "BIP9" means BIP8-and-fail-at-timeout)
So let's take a look at Modern Softfork Activation!

Modern Softfork Activation

This is a more complex activation method, composed of BIP9 and BIP8 as supcomponents.
  1. First have a 12-month BIP9 (fail at timeout).
  2. If the above fails to activate, have a 6-month discussion period during which users and developers and miners discuss whether to continue to step 3.
  3. Have a 24-month BIP8 (activate at timeout).
The total above is 42 months, if you are counting: 3.5 years worst-case activation.
The logic here is that if there are no problems, BIP9 will work just fine anyway. And if there are problems, the 6-month period should weed it out. Finally, miners cannot hold the feature hostage since the 24-month BIP8 period will exist anyway.

PSA: Being Resilient to Upgrades

Software is very birttle.
Anyone who has been using software for a long time has experienced something like this:
  1. You hear a new version of your favorite software has a nice new feature.
  2. Excited, you install the new version.
  3. You find that the new version has subtle incompatibilities with your current workflow.
  4. You are sad and downgrade to the older version.
  5. You find out that the new version has changed your files in incompatible ways that the old version cannot work with anymore.
  6. You tearfully reinstall the newer version and figure out how to get your lost productivity now that you have to adapt to a new workflow
If you are a technically-competent user, you might codify your workflow into a bunch of programs. And then you upgrade one of the external pieces of software you are using, and find that it has a subtle incompatibility with your current workflow which is based on a bunch of simple programs you wrote yourself. And if those simple programs are used as the basis of some important production system, you hve just screwed up because you upgraded software on an important production system.
And well, one of the issues with new softfork activation is that if not enough people (users and miners) upgrade to the newest Bitcoin software, the security of the new softfork rules are at risk.
Upgrading software of any kind is always a risk, and the more software you build on top of the software-being-upgraded, the greater you risk your tower of software collapsing while you change its foundations.
So if you have some complex Bitcoin-manipulating system with Bitcoin somewhere at the foundations, consider running two Bitcoin nodes:
  1. One is a "stable-version" Bitcoin node. Once it has synced, set it up to connect=x.x.x.x to the second node below (so that your ISP bandwidth is only spent on the second node). Use this node to run all your software: it's a stable version that you don't change for long periods of time. Enable txiindex, disable pruning, whatever your software needs.
  2. The other is an "always-up-to-date" Bitcoin Node. Keep its stoarge down with pruning (initially sync it off the "stable-version" node). You can't use blocksonly if your "stable-version" node needs to send transactions, but otherwise this "always-up-to-date" Bitcoin node can be kept as a low-resource node, so you can run both nodes in the same machine.
When a new Bitcoin version comes up, you just upgrade the "always-up-to-date" Bitcoin node. This protects you if a future softfork activates, you will only receive valid Bitcoin blocks and transactions. Since this node has nothing running on top of it, it is just a special peer of the "stable-version" node, any software incompatibilities with your system software do not exist.
Your "stable-version" Bitcoin node remains the same version until you are ready to actually upgrade this node and are prepared to rewrite most of the software you have running on top of it due to version compatibility problems.
When upgrading the "always-up-to-date", you can bring it down safely and then start it later. Your "stable-version" wil keep running, disconnected from the network, but otherwise still available for whatever queries. You do need some system to stop the "always-up-to-date" node if for any reason the "stable-version" goes down (otherwisee if the "always-up-to-date" advances its pruning window past what your "stable-version" has, the "stable-version" cannot sync afterwards), but if you are technically competent enough that you need to do this, you are technically competent enough to write such a trivial monitor program (EDIT: gmax notes you can adjust the pruning window by RPC commands to help with this as well).
This recommendation is from gmaxwell on IRC, by the way.
submitted by almkglor to Bitcoin [link] [comments]

Script for "History of the entire world I guess" by Bill wurtz

hi, you're on a rock floating in space. pretty cool, huh? some of it's water. fuck it. actually, most of it's water. i can't even get from here to there without buying a boat. it's sad. i'm sad. i miss you. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? a long time ago... actually, never. and also now. nothing is nowhere. when? never. makes sense, right? like i said, it didn't happen. nothing was never anywhere. that's why it's been everywhere. it's been so "everywhere," you don't need a "where." you don't even need a "when." that's how "every" it gets. forget this. i wanna be something. go somewhere. do something. i want things to change. i want to invent time and space. and i know it's possible because everything is here, and it probably already happened. i just don't know when to start. and that's exactly where it started. big bang— pause woah. i paused it. i think there's a universe now. what's it made of? quarks and stuff. ah, that's a thing! in a place! don't like it? try a new place, at a different Time™. try to stick together, because the world is gonna get bigger and emptier. but it's not empty yet! it's still very full, and about a kjghpillion degrees. about no seconds later great news! the quarks are now happily married in groups of three, called a "proton" and a "neutron." and there's something else flying around that wants to join in, but can't cause it's too HOT. ten minutes later great news! the protons and neutrons are now happily married to each other! some of them even doubled up. about 380,000 years later great news! the electrons have now joined in. congratulations! the world is now... a bunch of gas in space. but it's getting closer together... ten million years later and it's getting closer together... 500 million years later and it's getting closer togeth—star is born it's a star new shit just got made! some stars burn out and die. bigger stars burn out and die with passion! and make some brand new way crazier shit. space dust! which allows for newer and more interesting stars to be made, and then die and explode into even crazier space dust! so now, stars have cool stuff around them, like rocks, ice, and funny clouds, which can make some very interesting things. like this ball of flaming rocks, for example. meteor hits earth holy shit, we just got hit by another ball of flaming rocks. and it kind of... made a mess. which is now the moon weather update: it's raining rocks from outer space. weather update: those rocks might've had water inside of them and now there's hot steam in the sky. weather update: cooler temperatures today and the floor is no longer lava. weather update... it's raining. severe flooding alert, the entire world is now an ocean. volcano alert. that's land! there'slifeintheocean what? something's alive in the ocean oh, cool. like a plant, or an animal? no! a microscopic speck. it lives in the bottom of the ocean and eats chemical soup, which is being served hot and fresh, made from gnarly space ingredients left over from when it was raining rocks or whatever. microscopic speck asexually reproduces oh yeah, and it can do that. reproduces three more times it has secret instructions written inside itself telling it how to build another one of itself. so that's pretty nifty, i would say. tired of living at the bottom of the ocean? now you can eat sunlight! using a revolutionary technique, you can convert sunlight into food. taste the sun! side effect, now there's oxygen everywhere and the sky is blue. then the earth might've been a snowball for a while. maybe even a couple of times. it's a sponge... it's a plant... it's a worm, and some other types of weird strange water bugs and strange fish. it's the Cambrian explosion: "wow, that's animals and stuff" but we're still in the ocean. hey, can we go on land? NO why? the sun is a deadly laser oh okay. not anymore, there's a blanket now the animals can go on land. come on, animals, let's go on land! "nope, can't walk yet." "and there's no food yet, so i don't care." 100 million years later okay, will you learn to walk if there's plants up here? "maybe," said some bugs. and fish. fish gasps for air five million years later okay, so i can go on land, but i have to go back in the water to have babies! idea: learn to use an egg. "i was already doing that" use a stronger egg. put water in it. have a baby, on land, in an egg. water is in the egg. baby, in the egg, in the water, in the egg. works for me. bye bye ocean 50 million years later and now everything's huge. including bugs. wanna see a map of the land? sure. Permian extinction oh, fuck, now everything's dead. just kidding, here are the survivors. keep your eye on this one, because it's about to become 75 million years later the dinosaurs. here's another map of the land. yeah, it broke apart. don't worry about it, it does that all the time. here comes a meteor. meteor strikes and the dinosaurs are gone it's mammal time, here come the mammals. look at those breasts. now they're gonna dominate the world, but one of them just learned how to grab stuff. and walk. no, like, walk like that. and grab stuff at the same time. and bang rocks together to make pointed rocks. "ouch" and set things on fire. "yeouch" and make crazy sounds with their voice: "gneurshk" which can mean different things. that's a human person! and now they're everywhere. almost. ice age! what? you can walk over here? cool. not anymore well i guess we're stuck here now. let's review: there's people on the planet. and they're chasing their food. fuck it. time to plant some grass. look at this. i get to control the food now. now everyone will want to be my friend and live near me. let's all build houses, except mine is bigger because i own the food. this is great! i wonder if anyone else is doing this. tired of using rocks for everything? use metal. it's underground. better farming was just invented in a sweet dank valley right in between these two rivers, and the animals are helping. guess what happens next? more food. and more people, who came to buy the food. now you need people to help make the food and keep track of the sales. and now you need houses for people to live in and people to make the houses and now there's more people and they invent things which makes things better and more people come and there's more farming and more people to make more things for more people and now there's business, money, writing, laws, power, Society coming soon to a dank river valley near you. meanwhile, out in the middle of nowhere, the horse is probably being tamed. why is all my metal so lame and lumpy? tired of using lame, sad metal? introducing: bronze. made from special ingredient tin from the far lands of Tin Land. i dunno, my dealer won't tell me where he gets it. also, guess what? egypt meanwhile, out in the middle of nowhere, they figured out how to put wheels on a horse. now we're getting somewhere. also, china and did i mention indus river valley civilization society count: 5 ... norte chico the middle east is getting more complicated. maybe because it's in the middle of the east. knock knock, er, clop clop. it's the... people with the horses? and they made an empire. and then everyone else copied their horses. greeks! ah look, it must be the greeks! er, a beta version of the greeks. let's check in with the indus river valley civilization: they're gone. guess who's not gone? china. new arrivals from india... maybe it's those horse people i was talking about... or their cousins or something... and they wrote some hymns and mantras and stuff... you could make a religion out of this. there's the bronze age collapse. now the phoenicians can get down to business also, can we switch to a metal that's a little easier to find? thanks. look who came back to israel, it's the twelve tribes of israel. and they believe in God just one though, and he's got like a ten-step program. here's some huge heads. must be the olmecs. the phoenicians make some colonies. the greeks copy their idea and make some colonies. the phoenicians made a colony so big it makes colonies. here comes the assyrian empire. never mind, it's the babyloni— media—it's the Persian Empire: "wow, that's big" enlightenment ah, the buddha was just enlightened. who's the buddha? this guy, who sat under a tree for so long that he figured out how to ignore the fact that we're all dying. you could make a religion out of this. oops, china just broke. but while it was breaking, confucius was figuring out how to have good morals. enlightenment ah, the greeks just had the idea of thinking about stuff. and right over here, alexander just had the idea of conquering the entire persian empire. it's a great idea. he was... great. and now he's dead. hopefully, the rest of the gang will be able to share the empire evenly between them. knock knock, it's chandragupta. he says "get the hell out of here. will you get the hell out of here if i give you 500 elephants? okay, thanks, bye" time to conquer all of india er most of india but what about this part? that's the tamil kings. no one conquers the tamil kings. who are the tamil kings? merchants, probably. and they've got spices! who would like to buy the spices? "me!" said the arabians, swiftly buying it and selling it to the rest of the world. hey, china put itself back together again, with good morals as their main philosophy. actually, they have three main philosophies: confucianism: have good morals taoism: go with the flow legalism: fuck you, obey the law out here, the horse nomads run wild and free, and they would like to ransack your city. nomads ransack china let's check the greekification levels of the greekified kingdoms: greekification overload. bye, said the parthians. bye, said the jews. hi, said the parthians, taking over the entire place. heyyyyy, said the romans, eating the entire mediterranean for breakfast. "thanks for invading our homeland," said the jews, who were starting to get tired of people invading their homeland. "hi, everything's great," said some guy who seems to be getting very popular and is then arrested and killed for being too popular, which actually makes him more popular. you could make a religion out of this. want silk? now you can buy it from china. they just made a brand new road to the world. conquers vietnam or you can get there on water "sick! new trade routes!" said india, accidentally spreading their religion to the entire southeast. hmm, that's a good place for an epic trading kingdom. there goes buddhism, travelling up the silk road. i wonder if it'll reach china before it collapses again. remember the persian empire? yep, said the persians, making a new one. axum is getting so powerful, they would like to build a long stick. has anyone populated madagascar yet? let's do it together. china is whole again... ...then it broke again still can't cross the sahara desert? try camels. "hell yeah! now we've got business," said the ghana empire, selling lots of gold. and slaves. "hi, i'm a member of the roman empire, and i was wondering is loving jesus legal yet?" "no" "actually, okay sure," said constantine, moving the capital way over here to be closer to his main rival. don't worry about rome, it won't fall. it's the golden age of india there's the gupta empire, not chandragupta, just gupta. first name chandra. the first. guess who's in rome? barbarians. what's a barbarian? "non-romans," said the romans, being invaded by non-romans. r.i.p. roman empire. actually just half of it, the other half is just fine, but it's not in rome anymore, so let's give it a new name. the mayans have figured out the stars oh, and here's a huge city, population: everyone. the göktürks have taken over the entire eurasian steppe. great job, göktürks. how's india? broken. how's china? back together. how's those trading kingdoms? bigger, and there's more of them. korea has three kingdoms. japan has a kingdom, it's the sunrise kingdom. intermission deep in the arabian desert, on the top of a mountain, the real god whispers in muhammad's ear. so, he goes down to the cube where everyone worships gods and he tells them their gods are all fake. and everyone got so mad at him that he had to leave town and go to a different town. you could make a religion out of this, and maybe conquer the world as well. the roman empire is long gone, but somehow the pope is still the pope. plus, there's new kingdoms all over europe. i wonder if there's room for moors. here's all the wisdom. in a house. it's the baghdad house of wisdom! just in time for the islamic golden age! "let's bring stuff to the coast and sell it, and become the swahili on the swahili coast," said the swahili on the swahili coast. remember this tiny space you have to go through to get from here to there? someone owns that now. wanna get enlightened in the middle of nowhere? the franks have the biggest kingdom in europe, and the pope is so proud that he invites the king over for christmas. "surprise! you're the new roman emporer!" said the pope, pretending to still be part of the roman empire. then the franks broke their kingdom into what will later be called france and not-france. the northerners, er, just "norse" if you don't have much time, are exploring. they go north, from the north to the northern north. and they find some land— two types of land!— and they name them accordingly. prankd they also invade some other places and get called many names, such as "vikings." there's the rus! the kievan rus! are they vikings? "i don't think so," said the kievan rus. okay, fair enough. the pope is ready to make some more emperors of the roman empire. the holy roman empire! it's actually germany, but don't worry about it. new kingdoms—CRISTIANIZE ALL THE KINGDOMS!! which brand would you like? "mine's better" "mine's better" "mine's better" "time to conquer england," said william. it's a bird! it's a plane! it's the seljuk turks! "aah!" said the byzantine empire, who's getting so small and almost doesn't exist anymore. "we need help!" they need help! so they call the pope. "hey pope, can you help us get rid of the seljuks? maybe take back the holy land on the way? come on, i know you want to take back the holy land." "yes, i do actually want to do that. let's do a crusade." crusade! they did many crusades. some of which almost didn't fail. but at least the italians got some sweet trade deals. goodbye mayans. hello toltecs! goodbye toltecs. hello mississippi! look at those mounds. there's the pueblo. i always wondered how to build a town in a cliff. guess who's here? khmer. where? here! and pagan is there. vietnam unconquered itself, korea just became itself, and japan is so addicted to art that the military might have to take over the government. china just invented bombs, and typing. and the mongols just invaded most of the universe. nice going, genghis! i bet that will last a long time. some of the islamic turks were unaffected by the mongol invasions because they were busy invading india. is it tonga time? i think it's tonga time. i just figured out where the swahili gets all of their gold. look at this chad! it means "lake." there's an empire there! right in the middle of africa! the king of mali is so rich, he's going on tour to let everyone know. "wow, that guy's rich," everyone said. the christians are doing a great job reconquering iberia, which will soon be called spain and not-spain. please remain christian. we will check in later to see if you're still christian when you least expect. whoops, half of europe just died. ming! china's back, yay! hey, khmer. time to share. new kingdoms, here and there. oh, look who controls all of the islands. it's the mahajapit. majahapit. mapajahit. mahapajit. mapajahit. ma-ja-pa-hit? oh, italy's real rich. time for them to care a lot about art and the ancient classics. it's kinda like a rebirth. here's a printer. let's make books! so you think you can conquer the byzantine empire? yep, said the ottoman turks. nice job, ottoman turks. oops, you missed a spot. don't forget to ban europe from the indian spice trade. "what? that's bullshit," said portugal, spiceless. "well i guess we'll have to find another way to india" "wait!" said christopher columbus, probably smoking crack. "if the world is round, let's go this way to india." "nah, don't worry, we already got this," said portugal. so chris goes to spain. "hey spain, wanna hire me to find india by going around back of the world?" "no" "please?" "no" "please?" "wtf" "no" "please?" "...okay" so he sails into the ocean, and discovers... more ocean. and then discovers the indies, and japan! let's draw a line to decide who gets which half of the world. the aztec and the inca empires are off to a great start. i wonder if they know that europe just discovered their continent. the hapsburgs are marrying into so many royal families, they might have to start marrying each other. move over, lithuania, here comes moscow. ivan wants to make russia great again. move over, timurids, maybe go invade india or something. persia just made persia persian again. let's make it the other kind of islam. the one where we thought the first guy should've been the other guy. hey, christians! do you sin? now you can buy your way out of hell! "that's bullshit. this whole thing is bullshit. that's a scam. fuck the church. here's 95 reasons why," said martin luther, in his new book which might have accidentally started the protestant reformation. "you know what would be magnificent?" said suleiman wearing an onion hat. "what if the ottoman empire was... really big?" which it is now. "what if russia was big?" said ivan, trying not to be terrible. portugal had a dream that they controlled the entire indian ocean, including the spice trade. and then that dream was real. and spain realized that this is not india, but they pillaged it anyway. "damn," said england and france. "we gotta start pillaging some stuff." then the dutch revolt, and all the hipsters moved to amsterdam. "damn," said amsterdam. "we gotta start pillaging some stuff." question one: can you get to india from north america? no, but at least there's beaver. question two: steal the spice trade. that's not a question, but the dutch did it anyway. and sugar... guess where all of the sugar is made? in brazil! stolen! in the caribbean! and it's so goddamn profitable, you might forget to not do slavery. the next thing on russia's to-do list is to get bigger. britain and france are having a friendly discussion about who should control the entire world. more specifically, ohio. then it escalates into a seven-year discussion, giving prussia a chance to show austria who's boss. but what about britain and france, did they figure out who's boss? yes they did! it's britain. guess who's broke? also britain! so they start taxing the hell out of america. "fuck you!" says america, declaring their independence and fighting for it, and france helps them win. now france is broke, and britain will have to send their prisoners to a different continent. wait, if france is broke, why do the king and queen still wear such fancy dresses? "let's overthrow the palace and cut all their heads off!" said robespierre, cutting everybody's heads off until someone eventually got mad and cut his head off. you could make a rel— no, don't. haiti is starting to like the idea of a revolution, especially the slaves, who free themselves by killing their masters. "why didn't we think of this before?" wait, who's in charge of france now? "me," said napoleon, trying to take over europe. luckily, they banished him to an island. but he came back! luckily, they banished him to another island. there goes latin america, becoming independent in the latin american wars of independence. britain just figured out how to turn steam into power, so now they can make many different types of machines and factories with machines in them so they can make a lot of products real fast. then they invent some trains. and conquer india and maybe put some trains there. "hey, china!" said britain. "buy stuff from us!" "nah, dude, we already got everything," says china. so britain tried to get them addicted to opium, which worked, actually. but then china made it illegal and dumped it all into the sea. so britain threw a hissy fit and made them open up five cities and give them an island. britain and russia are playing a game where they try to stop the other person from conquering afghanistan. also, the sultan of oman lives in zanzibar now: "that's just where he lives." india just had a revolution, and they would like to govern themselves now. "nope," said britain, governing them even harder than before. incoming telegram: HI I JUST SENT YOU A MESSAGE THRU A WIRE technology is about to go crazy! the united states finally figured out whether slavery is good or bad. it's bad, they decided, and then they continued manifesting their destiny, which is to kill the rest of the natives and take their land and maybe kick out the mexicans too. "i know! let's rape africa!" said europe, scrambling to see who could rape it the fastest. they never got ethiopia... britain and france are still hungry. they never got thailand... the united states ran out of destiny to manifest, so they're looking for more: hawaii! cuba! wait, spain controls cuba. well, blame something on them and go to war! what should we blame on spain? u.s.s. maine sinks "let's blame the maine on spain." so they blame the maine on spain. now we're in business. to celebrate, they kick panama out of panama and make a canal, connecting the two oceans. britain just found oil in the middle east. it makes cars go... china is so tired of being bossed around that they delete their old government and make a new, stronger government, which is accidentally weaker and is controlled by a guy from the previous government. europe hasn't had a war since the last war, so they start world war one. look at those guns! it's gonna be a great war, so great we won't need a second one. after it's over, they blame germany. russia went on strike, and the workers overthrew the government. now, everyone's paycheck is the same. communism in the soviet union... the arabs revolt and britain helps. now the ottoman empire is gone, so we can give the jewish people a place to live. hopefully the arabs won't mind. "let's cut the cake!" said sykes and picot, carving up the remains of the not-so-ottoman-anymore-empire. except turkey! turkey makes a brand new turkey! and then the saudis conquer arabia. it just seemed like the right thing to do. phone rings hello? yes, it's the 1920's calling. let's get to a car and drive to a party and listen to jazz on the radio and go to the movies. the economy is great and it will probably be great forever. just kidding. germany's back, featuring hitler, the angry mustache model, and he's mad at the jews for existing. japan is finally conquering the east, and they're so excited, they rape nanking way too hard. they should probably just deny it. hitler's out of control, so the international community tackles him and tries to explain to him why killing all of the jews is a bad idea. but he kills himself because they could explain it to him. that's world war two! bonus round! pacific showdown united states vs. japan FIGHT!! united states drops two extinction balls on japan FINISH HIM! let's unite all the nations and have some world peace! seems legit. "hi, im gandhi, and if britain doesn't get the hell out of india, i'm going to starve myself in public." britain leaves "wow, that worked?" bonus! now there's pakistan. actually two pakistans, one of them can be bangladesh later. the jews and the arabs finally figured out which one of them should live in the holy land. "me!" they both said at the same time. let's divide up the lands so we're both happy. SIKE! they both get angrier! look out, china! there's a new china in china. what's on the menu? communism! no thanks, said the other china, escaping to an island. i wonder which one is the real china...? there's the korean war. korea versus korea! nobody wins, then its on pause forever. let's meet the sponsors. oh, it's the two global superpowers. they're having a friendly debate over which economic system is good and which one is an evil virus of satan. and they both have atom bombs. FIGHT!! wait, no, that would be the end of the world. let's just keep it cool and spy on each other instead. and make sure we have enough atom bombs. "i'll race you to space." united states plants a flag on the moon now let's make more countries fight themselves. europe is tired of pillaging other continents, and the continents they were pillaging are tired of being pillaged. so here's a new map with new countries. now you can't tell who they're being pillaged by. the united states finally decided whether racism is good or bad. they decided it's bad, and the world agrees. south africa might need another minute to think about it. let's check the world population! woah. okay. technology is better too, that might keep happening. the soviet union decides to relax a little, and accidentally falls apart. europe makes a union, so now they can all use the same money. except britain, because they don't feel like it. let's check the mail... surprise! it's on the computer! whoops, someone just attacked america. i bet they'll remember that. phone call! surprise! it's in your pocket! wanna learn everything? surprise! it's on the computer! now your phone's a computer, which is in your pocket! whoops, the economy just crashed. don't worry, the big banks won't fail, because they're not supposed to. surprise!... flying robots. with bombs. wanna print a brain? some people have no friends. some people have no food. the globe is warming, and the ocean is full of plastic! "let's save the planet!" said everybody, not knowing how. "let's invent a thing inventor," said the thing inventor inventor after being invented by a thing inventor. that's pretty cool. by the way, where the hell are we? thanks for watching history i hope i mentioned everything
submitted by Temnelc to copypasta [link] [comments]

I've a 100 Euro bet on with my friend that he won't complete this game in 3 days. >>>Day 3<<<

Death Count: 242
Iudex Gundyr - Defeated
Vordt of the Boreal Valley - Defeated
Curse-rotted Greatwood - Defeated
Crystal Sage - Defeated
Deacons of the Deep - Defeated
Abyss Watchers - Defeated
High Lord Wolnir - Defeated
Old Demon King - Defeated
Pontiff Sulyvahn - Defeated
Yhorm the Giant - Defeated
Aldrich, Devourer of Gods - Defeated
Dancer of the Boreal Valley - Defeated
Oceiros, the Consumed King - Defeated
Champion Gundyr - Defeated
Ancient Wyvern - Defeated
Dragonslayer Armour - Defeated
Lorian & Lothric
Soul of Cinder
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Welcome back, Unkindled Ones, for the grand finale. I will be updating the key highlights as we proceed throughout the game over these next few and final hours, as well as the death count. To make things easier to follow, I will have (updated) to the left of the most recent text below. The times I update may not be 100% accurate, but fairly close.
For anyone who doesn't know what this is all about, check out the link below.
https://www.reddit.com/darksouls3/comments/heepr2/ive_a_100_euro_bet_on_with_my_friend_that_he_wont/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share
For anyone who missed the events of Day 1, check out the link below.
https://www.reddit.com/darksouls3/comments/hg43r5/ive_a_100_euro_bet_on_with_my_friend_that_he_wont/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share
For anyone who missed the events of Day 2, check out the link below.
https://www.reddit.com/darksouls3/comments/hgqdbm/ive_a_100_bet_on_with_my_friend_that_he_wont/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share
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11:00 - Once again, I must apologize for the two day break in between. Here in Ireland, 364 days of the year are cold and wet, even when it's dry, so I sure as hell wasn't missing out on an opportunity to make the most of that one day that contained a sweltering 8°C (46.4°F for our American friends) heat wave. The deadline will be @ 1:00am as we started an hour later than originally planned. Weapon update: Lothric Knight Sword & Shield. Let's get into this.
11:10 - She bangs, she bangs, oh baby. When she moves, she moves, I go crazy. 'Cause she looks like a Hungarian belly dancer but she slices you up like a chicken in a rotisserie. Like every Outrider Knight in history.
11:44 - She prances elegantly across the room with the natural grace of the Ballerina that she is, executing a faultless arabesque and flowing like water over a smooth river stone, leaving her onlooker mesmerized and in awe, wondering who this pulchritudinous Dancer is. Their eyes meet for the first time. His heart begins to beat faster and faster, reaching dangerously high levels, on the verge of exploding in his chest. He gasps, almost forgetting to breath. It feels like he's being consumed by the gaping mouth of a great ocean. She advances toward him, one foot in front of the other. Controlled movements, never withdrawing her eyes from his. She's a hair's breadth from him now. He's never witnessed such magnificence. His lips part, words ready to escape to ask this enchantress her name. She slowly lifts her elongated fingers to his mouth, as if ready to hush his eager lips. Then she stabs him in his face and he dies.
12:29 - It could be the rustiness after taking a two day break or it could just be the encounter itself. He's struggling with this one, a lot. Her movements are off-putting and he's finding it difficult to understand her attack patterns.
13:05 - We're at a standstill here folks. Although progress is being made, it's not being made quick enough. Every death is costly minutes lost and the clock is ticking. 15-0 Dancer.
13:58 - And that's all she wrote. This Dancer was clearly not made for the stage. She suspends her head in shame as she is jeered off the platform after failing to impress the judges after 20 attempts.
14:05 - He's swung a sharp left and has decided to make his way to the Consumed Kings Garden in hope of defeating two bosses consecutively in quick succession. Time is his greatest enemy right now. To stand a chance of making it through Lothric Castle and the Archives, he'll need to do this with haste.
14:39 - The Pus of Men are misunderstood lovable abominations that only desire love and affection. With their mahoosize claw like appendages reaching out for a friendly handshake, they find themselves being set ablaze yet again by another terror-stricken, mismatched armour wearing dingbat.
15:04- The lift shortcut has been activated. It's time to meet Ocerios and baby Ocelotte, wherever he is.
15:54 - "Ahh, you ignorant slaves. Finally taken notice, have you? Of the power of my beloved Ocelotte, child of The Joy and The Sorrow." There's more than meets the eye(or lack of them), with this scaleless, clammy, staff weilding naked Wyvern-man. After consuming copius amounts of cocaine in phase 2, which would explain his dillusions, he begins bouncing off the walls on all fours like the absolute mad man that he is. Unleashing a plethora of swipes, bites and tail whips, he's establishing just why he has King in his name. He's certainly no push over so far and it shows.
16:33- The Consumed King has been dethroned. The key to this encounter was using his shield to absorb the barrage of blows in phase two. He's ready to make his way to the Untended Graves to face Gundyr for round two. I have shown him the secret passage as he'd have no knowledge of how to get there otherwise. But first we're going to take a short break. Be back soon.
17:12 - After spending months training away in a Muay Thai camp in southern Thailand, the Tin-Man has returned with seething vengance on his mind. Displaying a whole new moveset of quick dodges, open handed bitch slaps and a roundhouse kick that would give Chuck Norris a run for his money, this herculean trash can is here to pick up todays garbage.
17:47 - When his eyes glow red, he means business. These newly learned attacks are proving to be more than a handful right now. He's barely been able to secure one successful hit during Gundyr's second phase onslaught. He's in trouble with this one. Will his first boss encounter with Gundyr also be his last?
18:50 - Round 13: With a quick left jab to the midsection, followed by a right uppercut to the big man's chin, Gundyr finds himself face down eating dirt. He'll have to hang up his gloves after this one.
18:55 - With four bosses remaining, he's decided to go on a Wyvern hunt in Archdragon peak. He wants to get this one out of the way so that he can soley focus on the remaining two areas. Seeing as he has absolutely no idea how to get here, I'll show him the way...of the Dragon.
19:16 - He traverses across the grey expanse of stoney peaks, breathing in lungfuls of crisp frigid air. Step by step, he meticulously picks out his footing placement amongst the coarse, uneven, rocky terrain. He sees a white marbled mausoleum in the distance, it's a welcomed sight indeed. The conception of a place to rest his beaten and broken body gives him purpose to push on. He forces his weary legs to take another step. Almost there. Suddenly his body is met with an icey chill as a great shadow looms above. A low hiss resonates, causing the ground around him to tremble. Enter: Ancient Wyvern.
19:40 - After quickly learning that his sword attacks only tickled the serpentines scaley hide, he navigated his way around the rafters and delivered a deadly plunging attack to the Wyvern's cranium, casuing instant death. Back to the Bonfire.
19:45 - My personal favourite area of the game that also happens to have my personal favourite boss encounter. Lothric Castle can be a fairly time consuming place for new players to navigate their way around, and time is something he is very short on right now. With little room for error and three difficult encounters remaining, this might come down to the wire.
20:30- Subsequent to being toasted like a marshmallow outside of the castle, he made his way to the right sided entrance where he fought his way through an ambush of Hollow Assasins and proceeded to free the corrupted parasitic Wyvern from eternal torment.
21:23 - His second meeting with the Boreal Outrider Knight went scantly better than the first. Much emphasis on the word scantly. He traded blows with charged up super Knights within the castle walls and found himself passage toward the Archives, only to be stopped in his tracks by a formidable foe.
21:35 - The sky shone bright with a brilliant ember red glow. The Pilgrim Butterflies glided amidst the clouds, as if swimming upstream like Salmon in the fall. The beauty of it all was short lived when pulsing waves began to emanate from their frail wings in the direction of a heaped metallic pile of dismantled armour below. One by one, the pieces began to build upon themselves, until there stood a ten foot hollow behemoth weilding a lightning infused Greataxe and a mammoth sized shield, almost as tall and wide as the hulking brute iself. It found itself at the mercy of its new masters. Obeying. Under submission. Ready to kill.
22:27 - 8 shield bashes to the face later, he got the upper hand and melted down that armour into a brand new teapot. With the clock against him, he's heading into the final area of the game.
22:39 - Thousands upon thousands of old paper creations, stacked upon one another. I doubt you could even imagine it. He stands in awe, marvelling at the vast repository of books surrounding him. So much wonder, and knowledge, and secrets... oh the secrets, hidden away between their covers, like two forbidden lovers. In the far off distance, he hears echoing, an old familiar cackling, resounding in his ears. It can't be. It can't... Two ice cold frostbolts to the side of his head quickly remind him that the Witch Bitch is still very much alive and kicking. Welcome to the Grand Archives, my man.
23:25 - After turning himself into a human candle, he proceeded to make his way through the Archives whilst being groped by Cursed Claws, pounced on by more Hollow Slaves, and impaled by lumbering Gargoyles. Harry, Ron and Hermione won't make his final hurdle towards the Twins an easy one.
23:47 - Incest is best. A motto held dearly by these two edgy teens. A brotherly love like no other, the Twin Princes. These guys gave me absolute hell on my first playthrough and I expect they will do the same here. While it is possible to take down two more bosses within this time 01:00am time frame, it's highly unlikely.
00:00 - One hour remaining.
00:10 - 7 deaths in quick succession has given him insight as to what to expect from this encounter. The unpredictability of Lorians instant teleportation and double horizontal slashes is proving difficult to read, with a follow up combo catching him off guard every so often, resulting in a quick death.
00:30 - "This spot marks our grave. You may rest here, too, if you like." He may have no choice but to take Lothric up on his kind invitation. 30 minutes to go with phase 2 only being reached once. He's accepted defeat at this point but is still giving his all for the remaining time left.
(Updated) 1:00 -And that brings us to the end of our journey, Unkindled ones. Sadly, the Princes could not be taken down but I'm sure with a few more attempts, that'll change. Although he's failed to meet the requirements for this bet, he can hold his head up high because that was a damn good valiant effort. He's experienced his first taste of Dark Souls and he isn't leaving dissapointed.
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To those who are wondering if he actually enjoyed playing the game or was doing it for the money? The cash was a big incentive in the beginning, there's no question about that, but he thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. He does plan on completing the rest of it within the next day or so, as well as attempting the Nameless King. He will then do a second playthrough, playing at his own pace. He may have lost the bet but the world of Dark Souls has won him over. As for the 100 Euro, well, I didn't accept it and I never planned on doing so, and I know he would have done the same thing. A pint will suffice when we're out some night. I just wanted to introduce my friend to this phenomenonal game and for him to experience how amazing it is, and I've done that. That's enough for me.
To you guys and girls, thank you for joining us on this journey these last few days. I hope that you enjoyed reading my commentary as much as I did writing it. It's been a blast. Being new to the Dark Souls community myself and Reddit in general, I've gotta say that I'm loving the highly entertaining posts and the community itself. I'm not sure if I'll do something to this extent again, as it's left me mentally broken, but I will stay active. So keep it up everyone, and most importantly, stay safe.
submitted by Seefy8 to darksouls3 [link] [comments]

No, you are NOT ugly.

TLDR at the bottom, but I would strongly suggest reading the post in its entirety.
This is not some bullshit "feelsgoodman" post. I'm not here to tell you that I love you, nor am I here to tell you that I, without having seen you, think you're super cute. Those posts are nice, but do very little to actually help. This is what I'm here to tell you: no, the fuck, you are not ugly. I'm tired of seeing this self-deprecation everywhere; a user will make a comment "haha at least you don't look as bad as me", someone responds "wanna bet?", and the circlejerk of who can insult their appearance the most ensues. Sure, jokes and memes are great, but I think that we both know many commenters do genuinely feel that way about their appearance, and many others, even if "joking", are commenting from a place of deep-rooted insecurity-- an unfortunate fault of the human experience.
I'm going to start off with an anecdote, so that you have context about the individual telling you about this novel idea. This is not a flex, this is not me stroking my ego, and it is most certainly not anything beyond what I'm going to convince you is a beacon of hope applicable to pretty much everyone here. I got my first girlfriend due to some very simple advice-- advice that, at the time, I believed to be a steaming pile of bullshit: fake it 'til you make it. Sounds dumb, right? Some cliche saying that appeals to the masses and belongs only in some teenage romcom. Here's the thing, though-- it actually works. Confidence is very, very easy to fabricate. Stand straight. Speak with purpose and certainty. Being left on read (is that still the lingo?) is usually a genuine mistake. It's far more likely that they didn't hear you as opposed to genuinely ignoring you. The list goes on, and on, and on, but gist is this: displaying confidence will make you more confident. You may not notice it, but people will begin to treat you differently, and it will change your self-image.
Now that I have explained that, back to 15-year-old closbhren. You know how you're feeling about yourself right now? Lonely, depressed, hate what you see in the mirror, no self-confidence, etc? Yeah, him too. Really fucking shit feeling, right? I was very confident that I would commit suicide within the next year-- I'd begun considering how I'd do it, debating who to leave my note to, what it would say... you get the idea. I had nothing left to lose. I hated life. But it all changed one day... nah, it didn't, just kidding. What did change, though, was my solitude. I came semi-clean to an adult friend of mine, and she handled my confessions in about the best way possible: she listened the entire time, she expressed past related sentiments, and then she offered advice. Advice which included the above: fake it 'til you make it. Like I said, I had nothing left to lose. I didn't give a fuck. But she made it sound oh-so-convincing, so I decided to try it; if it did manage to change the monopoly that hatred had on my life, then maybe it'd be worth it. Maybe.
The process begun. I started standing straight; I started to let being left on read go (sure, I'd freak out about it, but no one needed to know that); I started to brush off jokes about myself and my appearance (didn't feel good about them, but no one needed to know that); I started to wait for convenient opportunities to speak in a group; I started to differently express my paralanguage (everything about speech but the words themselves); I started to smile more; I started to use people's names more; everything I could possibly think of that might convey confidence. And lo-and-behold, it worked. People became more obviously excited to talk to me, people were speaking to me more, I even started to get slightly popular (over the period of a few months, this didn't happen in a day). My self-image changed as a result. I started feeling better about my body and face. I realized that no, I am not some fucking ogre. I'm not some worthless pile of garbage. Generally... life might be worth a second chance. Then my year-long crush, who I was close friends with, started getting a little flirty (and yes, she is the girl I referenced above). Where the fuck was this coming from? What changed? She'd been single for awhile. We both know the answer: me. I'd changed.
So what the fuck does any of this matter to me you might ask? Here's the idea: confidence is attractive. Yeah, you've heard it a billion times, but what does that actually mean? It's rather simple: the better you show yourself, the better others feel about you, and the better you feel as a result. It's the opposite of a vicious cycle-- a loving cycle? When you aren't secure enough about yourself, human nature dictates that we turn to others' perceptions of us and use them to judge. The above is how you can take advantage of that.
Now to tie it all back to the title: what does this have to do specifically with me being ugly? I'm objectively ugly, you might say. For starters, no, the fuck, you are not. If you think you can judge yourself objectively you're delusional. We are always far more critical of ourselves than others. It's easy to find imperfections in your own features and focus on them, while ignoring the good things. I'm a straight guy, so I won't speak for my thoughts on other men, but the amount of gorgeous girls who feel that they are unattractive is unreal (I know you know these girls, and I know that you're jealous of them-- but you'd be surprised at how many are jealous of you). Of course everyone isn't a 10/10, but with that being said, the amount of just generally pretty and attractive girls who think that they're ugly is even more unreal. It is incredibly rare to come across an objectively ugly girl, and that can easily be made up for with her personality-- and of course, this all goes for guys as well. The vast, vast majority of people who think that they're ugly are not anywhere near ugly. Most are even attractive. What makes you think differently is your unfair evaluation of your own looks and your dependence on others' opinions about you. And that is something that you have the power to change. It may not feel natural, and it may feel weird as fuck, but the most challenging gauntlets oft yield the most meaningful of rewards.
And now I'm going to ask a few things of you.
  1. Look in the mirror and find one thing that you genuinely like. It doesn't matter how big, it doesn't matter how small. Maybe you do actually have a little bit of a jawline. Maybe your nose is perfectly sized. Maybe you have pretty eyes. Appreciate one, singular thing about the way that you look. Start there.
  2. Smile. This one is two-pronged. Firstly, smile at yourself. Smile whenever you see yourself. Smiling does actually make you happier (source), and you will begin to associate that feeling with seeing yourself. Secondly, challenge yourself to smile more. See something that makes you even mildly happy? It's okay to smile. You should smile. See something cute? Smile! Seriously, this will make a difference.
  3. Stop calling yourself ugly, and stop making so many damned self-deprecating jokes. They are usually both crutches to hopefully get other people to comfort you, begging a positive perception from them. You don't need that, and neither will help your confidence, or others' perception of your confidence. You are strong. You don't need either of them.
  4. Fake it 'til you make it. Yeah, you knew this shit was coming. Saving the best for last, baby. Start off small, look for opportunities to follow the advice I mentioned above. Show people that they want to be around you. The easiest, by far, is to walk with good posture. Straighten your back, keep your head up, you know the drill. Go from there.
What do you have to lose? It can't hurt to try any of this. The worst that could happen is that you don't notice any change (but believe me, you will). I'm nearing 19 now and have done a complete 180 on my perception of life, along with my experience of it. Being popular isn't that hard, nor is dating, nor is liking yourself. There's a lot to like about everyone, and yeah, I mean fucking everyone. You just aren't quite able to appreciate that... yet.
I could go on-and-on, but this post is long enough as is. Hopefully my boomer (yeah, at 18, I get called a boomer, crazy right?) advice gets through to a few of you. Please ask for any clarifications in the comments.
If anyone reading this needs personal advice, someone to vent to, or has any questions, my inbox is open. Hope this helps. Peace.
TLDR: You cannot objectively evaluate your own appearance. The vast majority of people are not at all ugly. Fake confidence until you find yourself to be confident; yeah, it works. Dating and popularity are not hard, you just aren't yet equipped to recognize that. Confidence will change that.
Edit: this got a little more attention than expected. I'm trying to take the time to give a genuine response to every comment and DM, but it's going to take awhile. Thanks for all the kind words, I'm glad that this has helped so many.
Edit 2: it's 5am for me so I'm going to bed but I'll continue responding to every comment when I wake up. Again, thanks for all the kind words.
Edit 3: just woke up to 300 comments and 40 DM’s. I’m going to prioritize the DM’s and unfortunately won’t have time to respond to every comment, but I’m going to read them all and try to help those with specific questions. Thanks for all the support, know that, even if I don’t respond, I have absolutely read your comment, and most definitely appreciate it.
submitted by closbhren to teenagers [link] [comments]

How to not get ruined with Options - Part 3a of 4 - Simple Strategies

Post 1: Basics: CALL, PUT, exercise, ITM, ATM, OTM
Post 2: Basics: Buying and Selling, the Greeks
Post 3a: Simple Strategies
Post 3b: Advanced Strategies
Post 4a: Example of trades (short puts, covered calls, and verticals)
Post 4b: Example of trades (calendars and hedges)
---
Ok. So I lied. This post was getting way too long, so I had to split in two (3a and 3b)
In the previous posts 1 and 2, I explained how to buy and sell options, and how their price is calculated and evolves over time depending on the share price, volatility, and days to expiration.
In this post 3a (and the next 3b), I am going to explain in more detail how and when you can use multiple contracts together to create more profitable trades in various market conditions.
Just a reminder of the building blocks:
You expect that, by expiration, the stock price will …
... go up more than the premium you paid → Buy a call
… go down more than the premium you paid → Buy a put
... not go up more than the premium you got paid → Sell a call
... not go down more than the premium you got paid → Sell a put
Buying Straight Calls:
But why would you buy calls to begin with? Why not just buy the underlying shares? Conversely, why would you buy puts? Why not just short the underlying shares?
Let’s take long shares and long calls as an example, but this applies with puts as well.
If you were to buy 100 shares of the company ABC currently trading at $20. You would have to spend $2000. Now imagine that the share price goes up to $25, you would now have $2500 worth of shares. Or a 25% profit.
If you were convinced that the price would go up, you could instead buy call options ATM or OTM. For example, an ATM call with a strike of $20 might be worth $2 per share, so $200 per contract. You buy 10 contracts for $2000, so the same cost as buying 100 shares. Except that this time, if the share price hits $25 at expiration, each contract is now worth $500, and you now have $5000, for a $3000 gain, or a 150% profit. You could even have bought an OTM call with a strike of $22.50 for a lower premium and an even higher profit.
But it is fairly obvious that this method of buying calls is a good way to lose money quickly. When you own shares, the price goes up and down, but as long as the company does not get bankrupt or never recovers, you will always have your shares. Sometimes you just have to be very patient for the shares to come back (buying an index ETF increases your chances there). But by buying $2000 worth of calls, if you are wrong on the direction, the amplitude, or the time, those options become worthless, and it’s a 100% loss, which rarely happens when you buy shares.
Now, you could buy only one contract for $200. Except for the premium that you paid, you would have a similar profit curve as buying the shares outright. You have the advantage though that if the stock price dropped to $15, instead of losing $500 by owning the shares, you would only lose the $200 you paid for the premium. However, if you lose these $200 the first month, what about the next month? Are you going to bet $200 again, and again… You can see that buying calls outright is not scalable long term. You need a very strong conviction over a specific period of time.
How to buy cheaper shares? Sell Cash Covered Put.
Let’s continue on the example above with the company ABC trading at $20. You may think that it is a bit expensive, and you consider that $18 is a more acceptable price for you to own that company.
You could sell a put ATM with a $20 strike, for $2. Your break-even point would be $18, i.e. you would start losing money if the share price dropped below $18. But also remember that if you did buy the shares outright, you would have lost more money in case of a price drop, because you did not get a premium to offset that loss. If the price stays above $20, your return for the month will be 11% ($200 / $1800).
Note that in this example, we picked the ATM strike of $20, but you could have picked a lower strike for your short put, like an OTM strike of $17.50. Sure, the premium would be lower, maybe $1 per share, but your break-even point would drop from $18 to $16.50 (only 6% return then per month, not too shabby).
The option trade will usually be written like this:
SELL -1 ABC 100 17 JUL 20 17.5 PUT @ 1.00
This means we sold 1 PUT on ABC, 100 shares per contract, the expiration date is July 17, 2020, and the strike is $17.5, and we sold it for $1 per share (so $100 credit minus fees).
With your $20 short put, you will get assigned the shares if the price drops below $20 and you keep it until expiration, however, you will have paid them the equivalent of $18 each (we’ll actually talk more about the assignment later). If your short put expires worthless, you keep the premium, and you may decide to redo the same trade again. The share price may have gone up so much that the new ATM strike does not make you comfortable, and that’s fine as you were not willing to spend more than $18 per share, to begin with, anyway. You will have to wait for some better conditions.
This strategy is called a cash covered put. In a taxable account, depending on your broker, you can have it on margin with no cash needed (you will need to have some other positions to provide the buying power). Beware that if you don’t have the cash to cover the shares, it is adding some leverage to your overall position. Make sure you account for all your potential risks at all times. The nice thing about this position is that as long as you are not assigned, you don’t actually need to borrow some money, it won’t cost you anything. In an IRA account, you will need to have the cash available for the assignment (remember in this example, you only need $1800, plus trading fees).
Let’s roll!
Now one month later, the share price is between $18 and $22, there are few days of expiration left, and you don’t want to be assigned, but you want to continue the same process for next month. You could close the current position, and reopen a new short put, or you could in one single transaction buy back your current short put, and sell another put for next month. Doing one trade instead of two is usually cheaper because you reduce the slippage cost. The closing of the old position and re-opening of a new short position for the next expiration is called rolling the short option (from month to month, but you can also do this with weekly options).
The croll can be done a week or even a few days before expiration. Remember to avoid expiration days, and be careful being short an option on ex-dividend dates. When you roll month to month with the same strike, for most cases, you will get some money out of it. However, the farther your strike is from the current share price, the less additional premium you will get (due to the lower extrinsic value on the new option), and it can end up being close to $0. At that point, given the risk incurred, you may prefer to close the trade altogether or just be assigned. During the roll, depending on if the share price moved a bit, you can adjust the roll up or down. For example, you buy back your short put at $18, and you sell a new short put at $17 or $19, or whatever value makes the most sense.
Assignment
Now, let’s say that the share price finally dropped below $20, and you decided not to roll, or it dropped so much that the roll would not make sense. You ended up getting your shares assigned at a strike price of $18 per share. Note that the assigned share may have a current price much lower than $18 though. If that’s the case, remember that you earned more money than if you bought the shares outright at $20 (at least, you got to keep the $2 premium). And if you rolled multiple times, every premium that you got is additional money in your account.
Want to sell at a premium? Sell Covered Calls.
You could decide to hold onto the shares that you got at a discount, or you may decide that the stock price is going to go sideways, and you are fine collecting more theta. For example, you could sell a call at a strike of $20, for example for $1 (as it is OTM now given the stock price dropped).
SELL -1 ABC 100 17 JUL 20 20 CALL @ 1.00
When close to the expiration time, you can either roll your calls again, the same way that you rolled your puts, as much as you can, or just get assigned if the share price went up. As you get assigned, your shares are called away, and you receive $2000 from the 100 shares at $20 each. Except that you accumulated more money due to all the premiums you got along the way.
This sequence of the short put, roll, roll, roll, assignment, the short call, roll, roll, roll, is called the wheel.
It is a great strategy to use when the market is trading sideways and volatility is high (like currently). It is a low-risk trade provided that the share you pick is not a risky one (pick a market ETF to start) perfect to get create some income with options. There are two drawbacks though:
You will have to be patient for the share to go back up, but often you can end up with many shares at a loss if the market has been tanking. As a rule of thumb, if I get assigned, I never ever sell a call below my assignment strike minus the premium. In case the market jumps back up, I can get back to my original position, with an additional premium on the way. Market and shares can drop like a stone and bounce back up very quickly (you remember this March and April?), and you really don’t want to lock a loss.
Here is a very quick example of something to not do: Assigned at $18, current price is $15, sell a call at $16 for $1, share goes back up to $22. I get assigned at $16. In summary, I bought a share at $18, and sold it at $17 ($16 + $1 premium), I lost $1 between the two assignments. That’s bad.
You will have to find some other companies to do the wheel on. If it softens the blow a bit, your retirement account may be purely long, so you’ll not have totally missed the upside anyway.
A short put is a bullish position. A short call is a bearish position. Alternating between the two gives you a strategy looking for a reversion to the mean. Both of these positions are positive theta, and negative vega (see part 2).
Now that I explained the advantage of the long calls and puts, and how to use short calls and puts, we can explore a combination of both.
Verticals
Most option beginners are going to use long calls (or even puts). They are going to gain some money here and there, but for most parts, they will lose money. It is worse if they profited a bit at the beginning, they became confident, bet a bigger amount, and ended up losing a lot. They either buy too much (50% of my account on this call trade that can’t fail), too high of a volatility (got to buy those NKLA calls or puts), or too short / too long of an expiration (I don’t want to lose theta, or I overspent on theta).
As we discussed earlier, a straight long call or put is one of the worst positions to be in. You are significantly negative theta and positive vega. But if you take a step back, you will realize that not accounting for the premium, buying a call gives you the upside of stock up to the infinity (and buying a put gives you the upside of the stock going to $0). But in reality, you rarely are betting that the stock will go to infinity (or to $0). You are often just betting that the stock will go up (or down) by X%. Although the stock could go up (or down) by more than X%, you intuitively understand that there is a smaller chance for this to happen. Options are giving you leverage already, you don’t need to target even more gain.
More importantly, you probably should not pay for a profit/risk profile that you don’t think is going to happen.
Enter verticals. It is a combination of long and short calls (or puts). Say, the company ABC trades at $20, you want to take a bullish position, and the ATM call is $2. You probably would be happy if the stock reaches $25, and you don’t think that it will go much higher than that.
You can buy a $20 call for $2, and sell a $25 call for $0.65. You will get the upside from $20 to $25, and you let someone else take the $25 to infinity range (highly improbable). The cost is $1.35 per share ($2.00 - $0.65).
BUY +1 VERTICAL ABC 100 17 JUL 20 20/25 CALL @ 1.35
This position is interesting for multiple reasons. First, you still get the most probable range for profitability ($20 to $25). Your cost is $1.35 so 33% cheaper than the long call, and your max profit is $5 - $1.35 = $3.65. So your max gain is 270% of the risked amount, and this is for only a 25% increase in the stock price. This is really good already. You reduced your dependency on theta and vega, because the short side of the vertical is reducing your long side’s. You let someone else pay for it.
Another advantage is that it limits your max profit, and it is not a bad thing. Why is it a good thing? Because it is too easy to be greedy and always wanting and hoping for more profit. The share reached $25. What about $30? It reached $30, what about $35? Dang it dropped back to $20, I should have sold everything at the top, now my call expires worthless. But with a vertical, you know the max gain, and you paid a premium for an exact profit/risk profile. As soon as you enter the vertical, you could enter a close order at 90% of the max value (buy at $1.35, sell at $4.50), good till to cancel, and you hope that the trade will eventually be executed. It can only hit 100% profit at expiration, so you have to target a bit less to get out as soon as you can once you have a good enough profit. This way you lock your profit, and you have no risk anymore in case the market drops afterwards.
These verticals (also called spreads) can be bullish or bearish and constructed as debit (you pay some money) or credit (you get paid some money). The debit or credit versions are equivalent, the credit version has a bit of a higher chance to get assigned sooner, but as long as you check the extrinsic value, ex-dividend date, and are not too deep ITM you will be fine. I personally prefer getting paid some money, I like having a bigger balance and never have to pay for margin. :)
Here are the 4 trades for a $20 share price:
CALL BUY 20 ATM / SELL 25 OTM - Bullish spread - Debit
CALL BUY 25 OTM / SELL 20 ATM - Bearish spread - Credit
PUT BUY 20 ATM / SELL 25 ITM - Bullish spread - Credit
PUT BUY 25 ITM / SELL 20 ATM - Bearish spread - Debit
Because both bullish trades are equivalent, you will notice that they both have the same profit/risk profile (despite having different debit and credit prices due to the OTM/ITM differences). Same for the bearish trades. Remember that the cost of an ITM option is greater than ATM, which in turn is greater than an OTM. And that relationship is what makes a vertical a credit or a debit.
I understand that it can be a lot to take in. Let’s take a step back here. I picked a $20/$25 vertical, but with the share price at $20, I could have a similar $5 spread with $15/$20 (with the same 4 constructs). Or instead of 1 vertical $20/$25, I could have bought 5 verticals $20/$21. This is a $5 range as well, except that it has a higher probability for the share to be above $21. However, it also means that the spread will be more expensive (you’ll have to play with your broker tool to understand this better), and it also increases the trading fees and potentially overall slippage, as you have 5 times more contracts. Or you could even decide to pick OTM $25/$30, which would be even cheaper. In this case, you don’t need the share to reach $30 to get a lot of profit. The contracts will be much cheaper (for example, like $0.40 per share), and if the share price goes up to $25 quickly long before expiration, the vertical could be worth $1.00, and you would have 150% of profit without the share having to reach $30.
If you decide to trade these verticals the first few times, look a lot at the numbers before you trade to make sure you are not making a mistake. With a debit vertical, the most you can lose per contract is the premium you paid. With a credit vertical, the most you can lose is the difference between your strikes, minus the premium you received.
One last but important note about verticals:
If your short side is too deep ITM, you may be assigned. It happens. If you bought some vertical with a high strike value, for example:
SELL +20 VERTICAL SPY 100 17 JUL 20 350/351 PUT @ 0.95
Here, not accounting for trading fees and slippage, you paid $0.95 per share for 20 contracts that will be worth $1 per share if SPY is less than $350 by mid-July, which is pretty certain. That’s a 5% return in 4 weeks (in reality, the trading fees are going to reduce most of that). Your actual risk on this trade is $1900 (20 contracts * 100 shares * $0.95) plus trading fees. That’s a small trade, however the underlying instrument you are controlling is much more than that.
Let’s see this in more detail: You enter the trade with a $1900 potential max loss, and you get assigned on the short put side (strike of $350) after a few weeks. Someone paid expensive puts and exercised 20 puts with a strike of $350 on their existing SPY shares (2000 of them, 20 contracts * 100 shares). You will suddenly receive 2000 shares on your account, that you paid $350 each. Thus your balance is going to show -$700,000 (you have 2000 shares to balance that).
If that happens to you: DON’T PANIC. BREATHE. YOU ARE FINE.
You owe $700k to your broker, but you have roughly the same amount in shares anyway. You are STILL protected by your long $351 puts. If the share price goes up by $1, you gain $2000 from the shares, but your long $351 put will lose $2000. Nothing changed. If the share price goes down by $1, you lose $2000 from the shares, but your long $350 put will gain $2000. Nothing changed. Just close your position nicely by selling your shares first, and just after selling your puts. Some brokers can do that in one single trade (put based covered stock). Don’t let the panic set in. Remember that you are hedged. Don’t forget about the slippage, don’t let the market makers take advantage of your panic. Worst case scenario, if you use a quality broker with good customer service, call them, and they will close your position for you, especially if this happens in an IRA.
The reason I am insisting so much on this is because of last week’s event. Yes, the RH platform may have shown incorrect numbers for a while, but before you trade options you need to understand the various edge cases. Again if this happens to you, don’t panic, breathe, and please be safe.
This concludes my post 3a. We talked about the trade-offs between buying shares, buying calls instead, selling puts to get some premium to buy some shares at a cheaper price, rolling your short puts, getting your puts assigned, selling calls to get some additional money in sideways markets, rolling your short calls, having your calls assigned too. We talked about the wheel, being this whole sequence spanning multiple months. After that, we discussed the concept of verticals, with bullish and bearish spreads that can be either built as a debit or a credit.
And if there is one thing you need to learn from this, avoid buying straight calls or puts but use verticals instead, especially if the volatility is very high. And do not ever sell naked calls, again use verticals.
The next post will explain more advanced and interesting option strategies.
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Post 1: Basics: CALL, PUT, exercise, ITM, ATM, OTM
Post 2: Basics: Buying and Selling, the greeks
Post 3a: Simple Strategies
Post 3b: Advanced Strategies
Post 4a: Example of trades (short puts, covered calls, and verticals)
Post 4b: Example of trades (calendars and hedges)
submitted by _WhatchaDoin_ to investing [link] [comments]

Equity bulls believe everything is fine. The bond markets know better

Global bond markets refuse to ratify a V-shaped economic recovery. Futures contracts in fixed income derivatives are even more bearish, signalling nothing less than a worldwide deflationary slump as far as the eye can see.
"If markets are pricing a 'V', they're going about it in an odd way," says Andrew Sheets from Morgan Stanley.
It is simply not true that investors are ignoring the massive economic shock of the pandemic. The picture is being distorted by equities, and within that by a clutch of US tech stocks in the grip of a parabolic spike all too like the final phase of the dotcom bubble in 2000. But debt markets are three times bigger and ultimately matter far more.
Yields on 10-year US Treasuries have not rebounded as you would expect if the economy is genuinely healing. They are trading at 0.62 per cent, close to their all-time low during the panic flight to safety in late March.
You can perhaps rationalise such low yields on the grounds that the Federal Reserve has repressed the Treasury market with its $US3 trillion ($4.3 trillion) blast of pandemic QE, although be aware that the Fed balance sheet peaked at $US7.2 trillion in early June and has since fallen by $US200 billion.
What you cannot so easily rationalise is the long-range pricing of futures contracts. They imply that yields will remain pinned to the floor until the mid-2030s and that the Fed will not come close to meeting its inflation target by the middle of the century.
Fixed income funds are telling us central banks will fail to generate more than a flicker of inflation despite heroic efforts. It is the portrait of a truncated recovery with corrosively high unemployment.
Swathes of the US stock market remain in distress. David Rosenberg, from Rosenberg Research & Associates, says the sectoral tally is: auto stocks (minus 23 per cent), advertising (minus 34 per cent), energy and regional banks (minus 37 per cent), hotels (minus 43 per cent), and airlines (minus 55 per cent).
I notice a growing unease among the equity gurus at the big US banks. JP Morgan says the risk no longer justifies the reward. Tobias Levkovich, from Citigroup, says his "panic/euphoria" model is now signalling an 80 per cent chance of an equity correction. He has cut his year-end target for the S&P 500 to 2900, a 10 per cent drop from current levels. Citigroup estimates that global profit forecasts for the next year are 30 per cent too high.
Wall Street is being held up by a diminishing handful of equities. Microsoft and the FAANGs (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google/Alphabet) added half a trillion dollars in capitalisation over the six trading days up to the end of last week. I can appreciate Tesla's first-mover advantage in electrification but I do not believe that it is worth more than VW, Daimler and BMW combined.
This tech surge has pushed Wall Street capitalisation to a record 152.2 per cent of GDP even as the pandemic spins out of control across the US Deep South, with a similar pattern building up in the Mid-West.
Total hospitalisations in the US are back near their peak in early May. "Not to be hyperbolic, it really is the perfect storm," says Anthony Fauci, the US pandemic tsar. And remember, he warns us, this is still only "wave one".
The FAANGs and Microsoft make up a quarter of the S&P 500 index by value, and 8 per cent of revenues, but employ just 1 per cent of the American workforce. Leaving aside the obvious point that a significant bloc of their customers is in difficulty, American society will not allow these companies to attain monopolistic supremacy for long. They will be broken on the democratic wheel.
The monetarist view is that the sheer scale of QE and money creation by central banks trumps all else.
We now have a perverse situation. The worldwide shock from COVID-19 is getting worse. The IMF has slashed its global growth forecast to minus 4.9 per cent for this year, from 3 per cent in April. The OECD has come in even lower. Its forecast for Europe is catastrophic, with figures ranging from minus 11.4 per cent to minus 14 per cent for France and Italy, and minus 11.5 per cent to minus 14 per cent for the UK, depending on the outcome of the pandemic.
Equity bulls are betting that the combined fiscal and monetary stimulus is large enough to overwhelm the damage of the pandemic with all its long-tail consequences. But is it actually big enough if the crisis drags on for months in a messy fashion with fresh lockdowns? Emergency relief in the US and Europe was designed on the assumption that COVID-19 would be done and dusted by now.
America has been running through the $US2 trillion injection of the Cares Act at a terrific pace. The Economic Policy Institute in Washington estimates a 10th of the US workforce will never regain their previous jobs. Nor have the job cuts ended.
I find it hard to believe that there will be a surge in pent-up spending in this atmosphere of pervasive angst. It is more likely that large numbers of people will save frantically in self-defence, and this will combine with efforts by thousands of over-leveraged companies to pay down loans taken out during the crisis to stave off collapse. It will take years to rebuild damaged balance sheets.
Nor is the European stimulus large enough or fast enough. The fiscal component of the recovery fund does not kick until next March at the earliest. Until then it is a patchwork of national plans, vastly differing in intensity.
The monetarist view is that the sheer scale of QE and money creation by central banks trumps all else and will drive an explosive surge in activity almost by mechanical effect, probably culminating in an inflationary boom in 2021. I do not rule that out.
But the monetarist premise, anchored on the theories of Milton Friedman, is that the velocity of circulation will return to normal over time and ignite this reservoir of monetary jet fuel. If they are wrong on that core point, the monetary expansion could prove to be inert.
Nobel economist Myron Scholes told me over the weekend that the monetarists were likely to lose their bet this time. I pay attention because he cut his teeth under Friedman in Chicago before going on to master the arcane world of financial derivatives.
His view is that the pandemic shock has broken large parts of the American economic system and accelerated the "death of Thatcherism" as dirigiste ideologies come back into favour. It will be a very long time before the process of creative destruction unleashes fresh growth.
Specifically, he predicts that velocity will keep falling and the extra money created by the Fed will accumulate in idle excess reserves. "Milton Friedman was wrong; velocity can keep on falling," he said.
"The banks cannot figure out how to lend in this environment and the multiplier only works if there is an opportunity to lend. You can bring a horse to water but you can't make it drink."
https://www.afr.com/markets/equity-markets/equity-bulls-believe-everything-is-fine-the-bond-markets-know-better-20200715-p55c4g
submitted by HugeCanoe to AusFinance [link] [comments]

I Read It So You Don't Have To: Little Kids, Big City (by Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen)

Inspired by the overwhelmingly positive response to my previous 'book report' on Ramona Singer's Life on the Ramona Coaster (seriously, thank you all -- truly supporting other women 🙏🙏), I decided to try my hand at writing up yet another of the embarrassing number of Housewives books in my personal collection: Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen's Little Kids, Big City: Tales from a Real House in New York City with Lessons on Life and Love for Your Own Concrete Jungle.
After reading just the title of this book, I'm already exhausted. It's pretentiously long and awkwardly phrased while somehow still managing to be entirely devoid of meaning. In other words, a perfect encapsulation of Simon and Alex. The summary on the back cover describes the pair as the "breakout stars" of RHONY, an assessment that I would charitably call 'debatable,' before going on to inform me that I can look forward to "informative and often hair-raising stories of life in the urban jungle," and that "Alex and Simon use their own hard-won experience as a springboard to discuss a host of parenting topics." I anticipate that this content will be quite useful to me, the guardian of four cats that I spoil endlessly and treat like my actual children.
One of the pull-quotes on the back cover allegedly comes from our very own Bethenny Frankel. I say 'allegedly' because I refuse to believe that the following passage would ever come out of Bethenny's mouth (or keyboard or whatever):
Alex and Simon don't take themselves too seriously, which seems to be essential to parenting. Their fresh 'he said, she said' perspective on parenting is both humorous and insightful!
Please, take a moment and do your very best to picture mention-it-all, betting-on-horse-races-at-age-five Bethenny unironically using the phrase "fresh 'he said, she said' perspective." To describe Simon van Kempen and Alex McCord. Right, didn't think so.
My experience reading Little Kids, Big City started on an unexpected high note when I opened the front cover to find that my copy (purchased used through Better World Books for the low, low price of $5.31 with shipping) had been signed by Ms. you-are-in-high-school-while-I-am-in-Brooklyn herself, Alex McCord! Truly a gift I do not deserve. Samantha and Debbie (whoever and wherever you may be), thank you for your service. I am forever in your debt.
Unfortunately, as would soon become painfully clear to me, after starting off on such a promising note, I would have nowhere to go but down.
The book, which is written in alternating passages from Alex and Simon, begins its introduction with a chronicle of Alex's "fashionably nomadic" early adulthood. Ever the proto-edgelord, she recalls, "I did all those things our mothers warned us about and had fun doing them." We switch to Simon's perspective to hear the deeply embarrassing story of the couple meeting through a dating app while Simon was on a business trip in New York City. No, there is absolutely nothing embarrassing about meeting someone on a dating app. But there absolutely is something embarrassing about using the profile name "Yetisrule" to meet someone on a dating app. To clarify, this was apparently Alex's username, and I remain hopeful that we will get a more thorough explanation of her connection to the elusive Yeti as this book continues.
Alex tells us that, while she and Simon hadn't initially planned to have children, they eventually started to have "clucky feelings." I have never heard this phrase in my entire twenty-five years of life, but based on context clues and also a Google search, I learned that it means they wanted to have a baby. Don't worry, though! As Alex tells us, "You can be eight months pregnant and wear a leather miniskirt." Personally, this is life-changing news -- I had always believed that I couldn't have kids unless I was willing to compromise my 90s goth aesthetic! Maybe I'll rethink this child-free thing after all.
The next bit of advice seems like it actually could potentially be sort of helpful. "No one is a good parent all the time -- nor is anyone a bad parent all the time," they reassure the reader. "You can become a parent without losing yourself." Unfortunately, as soon as I catch myself nodding along, the modicum of goodwill I'd built up is promptly trashed by a gag-worthy line from Simon: "If you take nothing away but a wry smile after reading our little tome, then we've done our job." I immediately vow not to smile until I'm finished reading this book. Excuse me, this little tome.
The book starts in earnest with Chapter 1: "Does a German Shepherd Need a Birth Plan?" To be perfectly honest, I was not expecting a riddle at this juncture, but I am nevertheless excited to hear Simon and Alex tell us "why childbirth is not an intellectual activity." First, however, we get a passing reference to "Park Slope, home of the ParkSlopeParents.com message board made famous in 2007 with a so-ridiculous-it-got-headlines discussion on gender-specific baby hats and where feminism can be taken to extremes." And despite the lame alarmist allusion to ~*XTREME feminism*~, this line did manage to lead me down an interesting Internet rabbit hole, so thanks for that, I guess?
Jesus Christ, I am on PAGE 4 and I am already so done with Simon. Presented without comment:
With the Park Slope OB-GYN, we had the first sonogram and saw the little blip on the screen -- our child-to-be. They say seeing is believing and as nothing was happening inside me, seeing confirmation on the video monitor that indeed my spermatozoa had penetrated and infiltrated one of Alex's ova made me aware that my days as a footloose and fancy-free guy might be coming to an end.
Y'all, I am currently working on my PhD in Molecular Biology. Which, if you were not previously aware, gives me the authority to decree that Simon is never allowed to use the word "spermatozoa" ever again. And so it is.
I was about to say that Alex's passages are at least more tolerable, but it appears I spoke too soon.
The stats they quoted referenced a 40 percent cesarean section rate in the city, and I wonder how that can be acceptable? Are we heading toward Brave New World, where babies are scientifically created in petri dishes and gestated in artificial wombs? Oh wait, we're already there. Are we heading towards a Wall-E existence, where we ride around in carts everywhere and do nothing for ourselves so that our bodies break down and we're all fat, oozy blobs drinking protein from a straw? Somebody slap me, please!!
Truly, Alex, it would be my pleasure.
As a Type-A person, just reading the story of Alex's first pregnancy and delivery gave me anxiety. She says that she just never really "felt the need to establish a birth plan" and that she "gave in to any craving [she] felt." Don’t worry, though -- "If I had suddenly craved chalk, ecstasy or Elmer's Glue, I'd have thought twice." I feel like there is some symbolism here to unpack (Could the Elmer's Glue be a metaphor for the childlike spirit of connection and unity???). Simon describes himself as "a learn-on-the-job guy" and tells us that he and Alex "failed to attend the last couple of [birthing] classes as by then we both just wanted to let instinct take over when the time came." As someone who has never trusted my instincts even once in my entire life, I cannot relate.
Twelve days after his due date, baby François is born. Except it turns out that he actually was born right on time, but Alex "didn't keep regimented track of [her] periods" and miscalculated. What a bummer that modern medicine hasn't advanced to the point where doctors can guide you about that sort of thing.
I don't even know what to say about this next bit, but God help me, I still have 215 more pages of this book to go.
Although the final stages of labor were very, very painful, I [Alex] never used our code word (tin can) for "game over, give me drugs." I definitely recommend using a code word, because it was kind of fun to scream, "I want drugs, give me drugs" through a contraction and have the midwife, nurse and Simon all know I wasn't serious. Once he [François] was finally out of my body, I experienced a tsunami of endorphins that was almost orgasmic, and I understand completely the stories other women have written about ecstatic birth. Simon was sitting behind me at the point of birth, and later when we untangled ourselves he discovered he'd actually ejaculated though hadn't felt any of the normal lead-up to that. It may seem distasteful to some, and definitely neither of us was thinking of sex at the time, but with the rush of emotion and my lower nerve endings going crazy, it's not too far a stretch to say that it's a profound experience.
Johan is born two years later, although it's unclear from the text whether either parent reached orgasm during the event.
The chapter ends with a top-ten list entitled "10 Things We'll Remember That Happened During Pregnancy." These include useful tidbits like
  1. Best advice I heard: men's genitals grow and change shape regularly, then go back to the way they were before. Don't worry about your female delicate bits being able to retract.
Which is…a lovely sentiment. But one that is slightly undermined by phrasing the first part in the grossest way possible, as well as by the use of the phrase "female delicate bits." I do like the idea that they "retract," however, because I think it's very cool to imagine the vagina as an SUV sunroof. By the grace of God, Chapter 1 comes to a close.
In Chapter 2 (titled "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn, What's My Name Again? and Who is This Alien?" -- seriously, were they padding their word count with chapter titles?), we get more questionable parenting advice from the McCord-van Kempens. They glibly dismiss concerns about co-sleeping ("Simon and I both slept with cats and dogs our whole lives without squishing them"), which I honestly would be more annoyed about if I hadn't immediately gone on to read Simon's account of "the midnight race to the 24-hour pharmacy to buy a breast pump as Alex's breasts were seemingly engorged with too much milk and she thought they were about to explode and fly off her chest." As it stands, I'm truly too defeated to care. Again, just to be perfectly clear: no shade to having issues breastfeeding, all shade to using the word 'engorged.’ And also for giving me the mental image of Alex's breasts desperately struggling to flee from her body (though to be fair, who could blame them?).
Proving that she does not inhabit the same world as the rest of us mortals, Alex tells us that she expected that her state of sleep-deprivation as she raised two young children would "spur [her] creativity with graphic design." For some reason, this does not seem to be the case. Alex is puzzled.
Finally, we've come to this chapter's top ten list ("Top 10 Memories of Random Things We Did While in the Post-Birth Haze"). While these lists have so far been utterly irredeemable, they also mean the chapter is coming to a close, so I can at least take some solace in that. This particular list ranges from the irritating…
  1. We subversively took sleeping babies to as many non-child-friendly places as possible to prove the point that children can be seen, not heard and not bothersome, such as dinner at the Ritz in London, the Sahara Desert, shopping on Madison Avenue, Underbar in Union Square and film festivals.
…to the truly unnecessary.
  1. While changing François' diaper on day one or two, we both stood mesmerized by the changing pad as meconium oozed out of him. It was really the most bizarre and fascinating thing I'd seen to date.
With the couple's general backstory and credentials now under our belts, Chapter 3 ("The Screaming Kid on the Plane is NOT Mine! (This Time)") focuses on advice for traveling with children, which Alex admits "can be a complete pain in the you-know-what." I cannot describe the rage I feel at the fact that she has -- in no fewer than 50 pages -- forced me to read about both her newborn son's excrement and her husband's ejaculate, but cannot bring herself to use the word "ass." Alex, we're really far beyond that at this point, don't you think?
Not to be outdone, Simon shares a conversation he had with François that is remarkable not for its content, but for the fact that one of Simon's nicknames for his son is apparently "F-Boy." Thanks, I hate it.
This chapter's list ("Alex's Top 10 Travel Memories") includes the entry:
  1. Both boys charging down Saline Beach in St. Barths like something out of Lord of the Flies.
So, like a horde of primal sadists? I'm wondering if Alex and Simon have inadvertently confused Lord of the Flies with the hit 2007 reality show Kid Nation. I really hope that's what's going on here.
Chapter 4 ("'Mommy, Johan is Gone!'") promises to teach us how to handle accidents. I'm not sure how comfortable I feel taking emergency advice from the authors of this particular book, but (in large part due to the fact that I have slept since reading the previous chapter, giving the pain a chance to dull somewhat), I am willing to at least hear them out.
After relaying a story of François needing emergency surgery after a foot injury, Alex tells us that at one point, she and Simon realized they had spent "nearly $5000 on Indian takeout" in the past year. For the mathematically averse, this works out to a monthly budget of roughly $100 worth of Indian food per week, making my quarantine Uber Eats habit seem downright quaint by comparison. The chapter-ending list walks us through the "Top 10 Things We Do in a Crisis," and fortunately, the tips seem pretty benign.
  1. Knowing what calms the children down, such as making silly faces or reciting Shel Silverstein poetry backwards.
Wait, hang on. What?
reciting Shel Silverstein poetry backwards
I'm sorry, please forgive me if I have missed some recent, paradigm-shifting development in the field of early childhood education, but what?? As in, "ends sidewalk the where?" "Sdne klawedis eht erehw?" I am truly befuddled.
Maybe the next chapter ("'Is Today a Work Day or a Home Day, Mommy?'") will have some applicable wisdom for me, as I will, in fact, be working from home every other week for the foreseeable future. And, I cannot stress this enough, I am a psychotically overinvested cat mom. Alas, we are instead treated to an unnecessarily detailed breakdown of how important it is to delegate, and specifically that Simon cleans up vomit and Alex cleans up "feces in the various forms that come out of children's bottoms at appropriate and sometimes inappropriate times such as the middle of Thanksgiving festivities." As if we needed another reason to consider Thanksgiving problematic.
The chapter takes a brief commercial break…
When an everyday product can do double duty such as Dawn Hand Renewal with Olay Beauty, a dish soap that seals in moisture while I'm tackling cleanup, sure, I'll buy it.
…before closing out with a list of the "Top 10 Things We Do Because We Were Here First." I am happy to confirm your worst suspicions and tell you that item number one is indeed "Have passionate sex."
In Chapter 6 ("I Saw Your Nanny…Being Normal?"), I find myself actually sympathizing with Alex for the first time in this book. Which is mostly just because the chapter starts by talking about all of the awful, catty parental competitions that seem endemic to a certain crew of white Manhattan moms, and it makes Alex come off at least slightly less irritating in comparison.
That is, at least until a few pages later, when she starts to complain about a previous au pair:
She was sullen, melodramatic and kept a blog about how she hated Americans, hated France, hated us and the children but loved New York. I think she must have thought we were idiots, and when she asked us to leave early we were only too happy to get her out of our home.
I would love to meet this woman. I think we could be great friends.
This chapter's list is even more difficult to parse than previous ones, because while it's titled "Top 10 Things Caregivers Have Inadvertently Done to Amuse, Annoy or Thrill Us," it's not at all clear which descriptors apply to which points. When a babysitter "accidentally used a household cleaning wipe when changing a diaper," were the McCord-Van Kempens amused? Annoyed? Thrilled? The world may never know.
In Chapter 7 ("'Putting To Death Is Not Nice,' a Duet for Two Boys and A Guitar"), Alex and Simon share some of their hard-earned childrearing wisdom with us. Which basically amounts to Alex telling us that, while normally misbehavior from the kids incurs a warning followed by a time-out, she has also developed an ingenious new strategy where she actually steps in to intervene when the stakes are higher. Let's listen in:
A third permutation is when there's a behavior that has to stop immediately, say if Johan has a big blue indelible marker and is running through a white hotel suite. I swoop in and grab the marker as to risk a three count [warning] would be to risk decoration of the sofa.
Take the marker from the toddler immediately instead of trying to reason with him? Groundbreaking.
Side Note: At this point in my reading, I am incredibly satisfied to report that I have discovered my first typo in the book, and in one of Simon's sections no less! ("These toads secret [sic] a poison…"). This is wildly pedantic of me and proof that I am a deeply sick person.
We run though a list of "Top 10 Things We Never Thought We Would Have To Explain" ("10. Why hot pizza stones do not like Legos.") before moving right along into Chapter 8, "Don't Listen to the Well-Meaning Morons." Strangely, I have a very vivid memory of Alex saying "I have a chapter in my book called, 'Don't Listen to the Well-Meaning Morons" in some distant RHONY episode or reunion. I guess she was telling the truth.
The chapter opens with a series of passages in which Alex and Simon respond to various comments that have been made about their parenting over the years. I think this device is supposed to be a bit of lighthearted snark on overbearing strangers, but instead just comes off as weirdly defensive and passive-aggressive. A few examples:
"My daughter is perfect. Her table manners are excellent, she never speaks unless spoken to and we've always had white sofas at home since she was a child, with no staining."
-A woman with one preteen daughter, no sons
Your daughter sounds boring. I wouldn't want my sons to date her..
Zing!
"Why are you outside?" - A bagel seller in Montreal, in February
I'm hungry and the stroller is well protected under the plastic cover. Johan is warm and cozy, the others are asleep in the hotel and I'm going stir-crazy. Is that enough, or should I buy my bagel from someone else?
Got 'em!
"Excuse me, your baby is crying." -- Someone said to Simon as they peered into the stroller to try and determine the cause of said noise.
You don't say! Do you think, you stupid idiot, that I don't hear that? Do you think I think it's just loud music? Do you think I don't want him to stop and that I like it???
Sorry, did I say 'passive-aggressive'? Let's change that to just 'aggressive.'
But despite bristling at being the recipient of unwanted advice, far be it from Alex to shy away from giving her opinions on the shortcomings of other parents.
There was a mom at another table who wore all black and told her hyperactive daughter that they had to have a family meeting to decide what to do next. The type of woman who might ask her daughter to "process her feelings" about which color to choose. The type of woman who wanted make [sic] a big huge hairy deal about including her daughter in the decision-making process and "negotiating" the next best step for the family to take in the pottery shop. Pardon me while I shoot myself.
I'm sorry, but I just cannot respect this take coming from a woman who calms her sons by reciting comedic children's poetry backwards.
We next learn that there are "many websites out in cyberspace," some of which offer child-rearing advice. Simon summarizes their useless "vitriol" as such:
They say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, whereas for the 21st century surely hell no longer hath fury, as it's all been hurled at the belittled and scorned Internet mom.
I'm honestly not entirely sure what this is supposed to mean, and my confusion continues all the way through this chapter's "Top 10 Ways We Make Ourselves Feel Better When It's All Getting To Be Too Much." We begin reasonably enough…
  1. Check to see whether the person offering advice has children. How old are they?
  2. Do they have a point? Are they right? It is entirely possible.
…before quickly losing all sense of self-awareness and flying completely off the rails.
  1. Will we ever see this person again? If not, can we get away with unleashing our fury on them? Note, if you're reading this and decide to try it for yourself, go big or go home.
The last few chapters have been a bit Alex-heavy, but never fear -- Simon pops back up in Chapter 9 ("If I Wouldn't Eat That, My Kid Won't Either") to tell us a charming story about how the family refers to his Bolognese sauce as "Dead Cow Sauce," and this is because his children are incredibly enlightened and understand the circle of life and where food comes from. Or something along those lines.
This chapter also provides a lot of really incontrovertible proof that, even though you may swear that your kids say the most hilarious things all the time, you are wrong. I love kids. I can play cool aunt with the best of them. But this "recipe" for "Johan's Concoction" tries so hard to be cute and funny ("whisk violently -- making sure to spill a little out of the top") that I could barely stifle my groans. For anyone who happens to frequent RebornDollCringe, I am strongly and inexplicably reminded of Britton.
A list of "Top 10 Things We Don't Like About Children's Restaurants" culminates with
  1. Where would you rather be? A bistro devoted to race-car driving, with 1950s toy cars on the walls, or T.G.I. Friday's?
Excuse me, ma'am, you must be unfamiliar with the concept of Endless Apps®.
The title of Chapter 10 is "You'll Give in Before I Do!" and although the subtitle lets me know this is referencing "the art and warfare of bedtime," it's hard not to take it as a personal taunt from the authors. Most of this chapter is just transcriptions of 'cute' things François and Johan have said to try to avoid going to bed, but we do get this gem:
Slaying the dragon is our family euphemism for using the toilet (drowning the dragons that live in the sewer) and is fun for the boys to talk about, though probably not forever.
Before giving us a chance to adequately process this revelation, Alex goes on to reflect:
Hmm, perhaps I should delete this -- I don’t want obnoxious classmates getting hold of this book in 10 years and asking the boys if they need to slay the dragon in the middle of geometry class.
Alex, I assure you, you truly have nothing to worry about. Any self-respecting bully will be far too focused on the fact that Simon ejaculated at the moment of his son's birth to pay this comparatively trivial factoid any attention.
The authors shake things up and end this chapter with lists of both "Top 20 Bedtime Stories" and "Top 10 Lullabies," both of which are thankfully inoffensive.
In Chapter 11 ("Children Like Shiny Objects"), we follow Alex and Simon as they purchase the townhouse we see them renovating on RHONY. Although other (read: lesser) parents might store breakables out of reach or limit children's toys to playrooms and bedrooms, Alex and Simon were blessed with two boys whose aesthetic sensibilities are already quite developed:
One kind of funny thing that I noticed recently is that the toys the boys tend to leave upstairs in our red and black living room often tend to be red and black as well. I'm not sure whether that's intentional, but it's funny that the room always seems to match regardless of its contents.
The list of "Top 10 Craziest Places We've Found Objects" is mercifully absent of any orifice-related discoveries.
After reading just the title of Chapter 12 ("Raising Baby Einsteins"), I'm bracing myself for the self-satisfied smugness to come. This preparation turns out to be duly warranted. Baby sign language is dismissed as "a scheme dreamed up by ASL experts who wanted to sell classes to easily influenced new parents," Mommy and Me classes are "not really for teaching anything," and we learn that Alex and Simon have instituted a bizarre family rule that "if a talking toy came into our house, it had to speak a foreign language or speak English in an accent other than American."
We learn that Simon apparently does not know what antonyms are (for the record, Simon, the word you're looking for is homophones) and that New York City is replete with "wailing, nocturnal, type-A obsessed harridans willing to sleep with persons not their spouse if they think it will help their child get into THE RIGHT SCHOOL." Uh, yikes. After a tediously long description of François' pre-school admissions process, Alex informs us:
As a former actor, I've always gotten into play-acting and dressing up with my children. Perhaps a little too much. But I've taken the opportunity to show off a few old monologues, complete with bounding around like a puppy. If you have knowledge, why not share it? If you happen to know Puck's speeches from a Midsummer Night's Dream by ear with tumbling and staged sword play, why the heck don’t you share that with your boisterous boys, who love it and run around shouting, "Thou speakest aright!"
I am suddenly compelled to call my mother and thank her profusely for never making me put up with anything like this. Maybe I'll also get her thoughts on one of the tips listed in "Top 10 Favorite 'Developmental' Things To Do": "if they want something that you want to delay giving them, make them ask in every language they can before giving in." To me, this seems like an effective way to encourage your children to learn how to say "Fuck you, mom" in French as early as possible.
In Chapter 13 ("Urban Wonderland"), Alex and Simon promise to share their unique perspective on "taking advantage of raising a child in the urban jungle." But mostly, we just get a rant about how everyone thinks their kids have weird names, and that makes Simon mad. This chapter's "Top 10 Reasons New York is the Center of the Universe to a Kid" list reminds us what truly matters: "there are more songs with NYC in their titles than any other city."
Immediately after telling us how great it is to live in a city (excuse me, urban jungle), Alex and Simon switch tack and spend Chapter 14 ("'Daddy, a Cow! And It's Not in a Zoo!") expounding on the importance of exposing kids to nature. Sounds great, I'm on board. Unfortunately, we almost immediately take a hard left turn into a story from Simon's childhood where he and his brother are "befriended by this old guy, Dick, who lived on the outskirts of town in a small tin shed." We hear that Dick "occasionally pulled out an early Playboy magazine back from the days when the lower regions were airbrushed out," and that "there had been pretty strong rumors of pedophilia," before promptly returning to the main narrative with no further explanation. I can only describe the transition as 'jarring.'
I can tell how exhausted I am at this point in the book by how hurriedly I skimmed the list of "Top 10 Differences We've Noticed Between City Kids and Country Kids." To be honest, I'm almost annoyed when a particularly bizarre quote manages to catch my attention, because that means I have to think about it for the full amount of time it takes me to transcribe from the page. I'm beginning to think that my initial hope that I could glean some useful cat-rearing advice from this experience may have been overzealous.
Chapter 15 ("You're Such a Great Parent, You Should Be on TV (LOL)") is the only chapter to directly address the family's time on RHONY. It starts with this (attempted) comedy bit in which Alex and Simon pretend to be hilariously self-aware and self-effacing (Alex: "Look up 'Mommylicious' in the dictionary and you will see a photo of me in a ball gown, breast-feeding an infant while making Osso Buco and directing carpenters to build a bookcase for my Dickens and Shakespeare."). This posture would be infinitely more believable if I hadn't spent the previous 205 pages watching these two take themselves deadly seriously.
But rather than share any juicy behind-the-scenes tidbits (or, indeed, convey anything of substance at all), Alex and Simon spend exactly 3.5 pages blustering about how it wasn't harmful for their children to be on TV before giving us a list of "Top 10 Hilarious Things The Boys Have Done While Filming or at Photo Shoots." Spoiler alert: none of them are 'hilarious.'
Chapter 16 is literally titled "The Light at the End of the Tunnel," which makes me feel like this whole experience may have just been Alex and Simon playing some sort of twisted game with me. Alex tells us this is "the chapter of hope," but given that she then tells us about a time when she "spent one full hour discussing why magic markers cannot be carried around with the caps off, particularly in a hotel suite with white couches and walls," I'm not sure exactly where this hope is coming from. Also it seems like this markers-in-a-hotel-room thing happens weirdly frequently. We are then treated to Alex and Simon's "Top 10 Moments of Getting It,'" which includes
  1. Apropos of nothing, Johan said, "You give us time-outs because you are teaching us to be good grown-ups."
This is a thing I'm sure Johan said completely organically and not in response to hearing his parents say "we're giving you a time-out so that you learn to be a good grown-up" approximately seven zillion times.
This brings us to the book's Epilogue (a mercifully short two pages) featuring the line "If you made it to the end of this book, we salute you." Honored to accept this hard-earned accolade, I can finally close the book and start figuring out a way to erase the memory of Simon busting a mid-childbirth nut from my aching brain. Wish me luck!
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Power ranking the 22 teams expected to return to play

Return of the NBA is on the horizon, and with it, we're sure to be getting post lock-out power rankings.
So I'm going to start the conversation a little early and bring out my rankings for discussion.
I'm looking at where things stand NOW. Obviously between the trade deadline and all the injuries that teams have put up with in the regular season, I don't hold much stock in the results that we see in the standings at present. A lot of this is just what my gut says is true. Feel free to try to CMV, but just know that relying on regular season stats probably won't do much for me... bring an argument with postseason teeth.

Tier 1 - Expected Champion tier

(everyone here is about 20% to win it all, imo)
1.Los Angeles Lakers - Barely ahead of the other contenders because: 1) Bron and 2) the NBA is thirsty for Lakers success. That's a big fan base to want to keep involved for as long as possible. (memories of 2002)
2.Milwaukee Bucks - Above the Clippers because they were so good (even against the teams in the West), but if I had to put money on these 2 teams in a series, I'd have a hard time betting against LAC. Really going to need Bledsoe to show up this year to stand a chance.
3.LA Clippers - They are well rested, but haven't had a ton of time playing together. And now the schedule is going to be pretty crazy... won't be a lot of time to manage loads between games. That keeps them from being as high as number 1.
4.Houston Rockets - Best backcourt by far. If their MVPs are hitting shots, other teams can not keep up. After a season of injuries, they are ready to get to the only part of the year they ever cared about, well aware that this is likely the last chance for this core (considering the owner refuses to pay tax).

Tier 2 - Gonna need a lucky series or 2

5.Boston Celtics - Great coach, great depth, and Tatum finally started to show out as a guy that could be the best player on the court in a number of series.
6.Miami Heat - Going out on a limb a bit to suggest that what they have now is significantly better than what they had all year. Jimmy, Iggy, and Bam will make a fearsome defense... and yes, even better defense than the Wall in the North.
7.Toronto Raptors - Yeah, yeah. Sue me. I think they have maxed out so far and doubt there is another level to hit in the playoffs unless FVV has another kid. I don't trust Siakam to be better than guys on the other top squads in the East. I wouldn't pick them in a series past the first round.
8.Dallas Mavericks - Best offense in the NBA and a playoff-proven coach that will have his team ready to play. LAC better hope that Utah or OKC slip down to 7 in the last few games, because Dallas could catch them napping if the Clips aren't in a groove after the shortened season is finished.
9.Denver Nuggets - How is Dallas ahead of them? It's close, but nothing about Denver last year in the playoffs was very impressive, so I'm not sure why this year should be different.
10.Philadelphia 76ers - This team is a total wild card and could even be borderline tier one if they are all healthy and everything breaks perfectly for them in their bracket. If they can get Disney Resort feeling like 'home' then things could get crazy in the East.

Tier 3 - Gonna need a miracle

11.Portland Trailblazers - this may be too high, but I just feel like the team can be better than everyone below them now that they are finally at full health. Too little, too late, but I'd like to see the series with the Lakers... I think they could take a game.
12.OKC Thunder - No depth. Been very lucky with their Pythagorean wins. Don't expect that to be enough to actually win a first round series in the West unless they catch Denver sleeping.
13.Indiana Pacers - Are they really going to beat any of the other top East teams? I don't see it... convince me otherwise, though. Maybe if they get lucky they can get past the first round, but no way they can get past the second.
  1. Utah Jazz - I just don't think they have anything left now with all they have been through and the Bojan injury on top. Maybe if they can find a way to match up with Denver or OKC in the first round they can get lucky for one series, though.
15.New Orleans Pelicans - this may be too high, but I just feel like the team can be better than everyone below them now that they are finally at full health. Too little, too late, but I'd like to see the series with the Lakers... I think they could take a game.

Tier 4 - Lucky to be here at all

(whether because of an easy schedule, an easy conference, or the grace of Silver... I'm not going to waste time writing about them and barely wanted to take the time to rank them)
16.Memphis Grizzlies
17.Orlando Magic
18.Brooklyn Nets
19.Sacramento Kings
20.San Antonio Spurs
21.Phoenix Suns

Tier 5 - Seriously?

(these guys should not be here, but it will make life a little more interesting for whichever team loses more games between the Nets and Magic)
22.Washington Wizards
Edit: it seems as if a lot of people don't really understand what power rankings are. They are one person or committee's personal opinions of teams' strengths. If one wants to organize them by metric, there is a thing called 'the standings' which is helpful for attaining those ends. This is not based on regular season results, but merely my opinion of where teams currently stand. Power rankings are subjective by the very nature.
And for the many many Raptors fans specifically who believe I don't have faith in their current squad based off their rank let me link you to this to assure you that I am not biased against your team... I just don't think your top-end talent is quite as good as Boston's or Miami's. And that's okay. You're still close - just a notch below.
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[Undertale Fan Art/Fandom] Sans is MINE!!1! and the tale of the tainted cookies

Welcome, one and all. I’ve been a lurker on this sub for a while, and I’ve decided it was time I contribute. This is my first shot with a story post on the snoo snoo site, so go easy on me. A warning for Undertale spoilers. Also, this write-up will make mention of pedophilia, incest, needles, tongue injuries, and food that has been tampered with. Yeah, the fandom gets kind of fucked up at points, but if that didn’t happen, I wouldn’t be writing this, now would I?
Unless you make your residence under a rock, you’re aware of the 2015 indie game Undertale, developed by Toby Fox and Temmie Chang. You also probably know about its 2018 sort-of-sequel, Deltarune. But we’re not talking about Deltarune here. In a shellnut, the plot of Undertale is about a human child who falls into an underground world full of monsters. The monsters have been trapped there for centuries by magic, and the child’s soul is the key to their escape. The gimmick of Undertale is that the player can do a full “pacifist” run of the game in which they don’t kill a single NPC or random encounter creature. Doing this unlocks the Golden Ending. The player can also go out of their way to slaughter every NPC and creature in the Underground, in what’s called the “Genocide” or “No Mercy” run. The game will be sure to punish you for your pointless virtual cruelty if you do that (more on that later.)
Undertale exploded in popularity because it is indeed a very well-made game. It’s been greatly praised for its themes, storytelling, music, humor, and atmosphere. Special mention goes to the characters; all the main characters and even some minor encounters are extremely well-developed and complex. Of these, fans are most obsessed with Sans the Skeleton. He’s a lazy but good-natured skeleton monster who loves cracking puns, drinking ketchup, and his brother Papyrus. In a pacifist run, he’s a fun jokester type and promises to look after you, but there are hints that he knows more about you and the game’s mechanics than he lets on. In a genocide run, all bets are off, since you killed his brother and everyone else. He subjects you to a ridiculously hard boss battle (you don’t fight him in a pacifist run at all) at the end of the run. Said boss battle is set to “Megalovania,” which Toby Fox composed for earlier games of his and then adapted for Undertale. Sans is a cool character. His boss battle is kickass. “Megalovania” is a banger. You can see where this is going.
I don’t know why people are thirsty for Sans, though. Being obsessed with him for being cool, I understand. But the thirst, I don’t. He’s not hot and he wasn’t supposed to be, either. He’s short, implied to be chubby, always sports a shit-eating grin, and walks around in a hoodie, shorts, and silly bedroom slippers*. If you ask me, he’s more huggable than hot. But fans will be fans, I guess. It wasn’t long before there were scores of thirsty fans (mostly female, for usual reasons) all over this goofy skeleton. I don’t think I need to link fanart to prove it. Use your imagination. Insert pun about wanting to bone him. Sans would approve. What he wouldn’t approve, though, were some of their choices of who to ship him with. There are three Sans ships that are most popular in the fandom, and only one of them isn’t flagrantly creepy. Enter the stinkies, Frans and Fontcest, and the maybe-not-creepy Soriel.
*There was a debate whether he wore slippers or sneakers. Undertale has simple pixel graphics and all battle sprites are in black and white, so it’s hard to tell going off the game alone. But the official merch shows him wearing slippers, so that’s what I’m going with.
Frans refers to Frisk x Sans. If you didn’t know, Frisk is the canon name for the playable character in Undertale. Normally shipping the player character with an NPC would be fine, if not a bit wish fulfilly, since the PC is usually a stand in for you, the geek at the controls. Problem is, Frisk is a child, unambiguously so. They’re repeatedly called “kid,” “my child,” “kiddo,” etc. Based on the in-game sprite and official artwork, Frisk doesn’t look any older than 10. Sans, on the other hand, is clearly an adult. Cue the accusations of it being pedoriffic, and I can’t say as if I disagree.
You most likely know the issue with Fontcest just by looking at the name. Yeah, it’s shipping Sans with Papyrus. His brother. Yuck. What is with fans and shipping incest? Anyway, Fontcest was also virulently hated in the fandom. Maybe even more so than Frans, since you can age up Frisk to make it less creepy, whereas explaining away Sans and Papyrus’s relationship is more difficult. Some people ship Fontcest shamelessly, while others try to find a workaround. Usually, they’ll bring in a Sans or Papyrus from one of the copious alternate universes in the fandom. (Most of which are just Sans and Papy in various hats.) Is it incest if they’re from different universes? I dunno, you make that judgment call. I’m just the reporter guy.
That leaves us with Soriel – Sans shipped with Toriel, a character who is, thankfully, neither underage nor related to him. Toriel is an early-game NPC who rescues you from a flower trying to murder you (it makes sense in context) and escorts you through the tutorial level. (Toriel? Tu-torial? Get it? Yeah, I thought it was a little cheesy, too.) She’s a goat woman who loves humankind, despite what they’ve done to her race, and adores being a mom. She’s obsessively protective of you, to the point where she literally fights you when you try to leave her home. Her connection to Sans is that she befriended him through corny jokes and asked him to look after you. According to Sans, she’s the reason you aren’t “D E A D W H E R E Y O U S T A N D.” Okay, so Toriel isn’t underage, isn’t related to Sans, and has a meaningful connection to him, to boot.
So where’s the problem? Why do fans get pissy over Soriel shipping? Well, to be honest...I have no idea. Sure, Toby Fox confirmed that Sans is too lazy for a relationship, but if you’re going to take that as gospel, then you shouldn’t ship him with anyone. And since when has the fandom listened to creators’ requests to not do the hippy dippy super shippy? Some people pulled out the “pedo” argument since Toriel is noticeably older than Sans (he even calls her “old lady” at one point), but an older woman and a younger man is different than an adult and a literal child if you ask me. Consenting adults and all that. Maybe the goat woman is a cougar, but I’d rather have that than skeletons being pedos and/or incest partakers.
Of course, there’s always the tried-and-true “I’ll ship them with my OC.” Okay, fair enough, I guess. You do you. But you know how fandoms are, and naturally a lot of the Sans fangirls got slapped with “Sans is MINE!!1!” jokes. And who’s likely to root for Sans hooking up with some random chick instead of a well-known character, especially if said random chick stinks of Mary Sueishness and self-insert. I won’t cheer for Mary Sue x Sans, but it is better than those god-awful stories of him banging his sibling or creeping on a kid.
So this probably just seems like normal fandom dumbfuckery, right? Well, I’m sorry to say that it goes beyond that. Our investigation into drama over who Sans should date leads us to the big incident that forms the real drama. Someone almost got killed because of Undertale shipping drama. Here’s the sordid story. This is where the part about the needles and tampered food comes in, so if that’s a trigger for you, this is your last chance to turn back.
Apparently someone missed the core theme of the game – all that hoopla about mercy and love. A popular Undertale fan artist, Avimedes, attended a convention in Taiwan in 2017. While at the convention, a person, who has not yet been identified, approached Avimedes and offered her a box of homemade cookies. The artist, thinking it was a gesture of goodwill, accepted the treat and tried a cookie. Except this wasn’t a random act of kindness from a fan of her artwork; it was an attempt to get her hospitalized or worse. The cookies had needles in them – large sewing needles, to be exact. As Avimedes wasn’t aware of the adulteration before trying one, she ended up piercing her tongue on the needle and needed medical attention. Shortly thereafter, she posted a picture of the blood and needle on her Plurk (a Taiwanese social media site) with a morose comment about how she now has an extra piercing and can’t track down the person who did this to her.
Despite the inability to catch the miscreant, fans suspect a particular motivation for the crime. Avimedes is a Frans shipper and often does artwork of it. Frisk is aged up in her artwork to avoid the whole deal seeming creepy. Despite the aging up, her behavior supposedly pissed off an “anti,” -- that is, a person who is opposed to shipping incest, pedo-ish stuff, and so on. The anti then concocted the tainted cookies and gave them to Avimedes with the hopes of injuring or even killing her. Fans have since been holding up the incident as an example of toxic anti culture (see the last two links in the references section), where moral ideology gets so fevered that it turns murderous. If that was indeed the cookie criminal’s intent, then those people have a point. As you’re probably well aware if you’ve spent five minutes in a fandom on Tumblr dot hell, shit really hits the fan when the antis and proshippers clash. But we don’t know the con criminal’s motives, and we never really will.
Just don’t accept food from strangers at a con. And maybe don’t ship adults with children.
References
WARNING: Some links contain images of needles, blood, and chewed up food. DO NOT click on a link if those are a trigger for you.
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If ATS data really is meaningful, those 50 best teams (average first-half ATS winning percentage: .782) should perform much better against the spread in the second half than the 50 worst ones (average first-half ATS winning percentage: .208). They don’t. In fact, they’re a lot worse. Those great ATS teams in the first half have an average Those odds translate into a 65.52 percent chance the Bucks win the East. While that may appear to be pretty convincing, they had a 72.97 percent chance (-270) of winning the East last season only to lose to the Raptors in six. However, it is worth noting that the Raptors didn’t have bad odds at +230 (30.3 percent chance). Based on the odds of -110 for a straight football or basketball bet a handicapper only need to be right 52.38 percent of the time to break even however many sports bettors cannot achieve that percentage of winning over the long run. The chart below shows the break-even points for the various odds you will encounter when you make a bet on the Busch was last year’s winner with the highest average speed in race history. There were only three cautions last year for a total of 15 laps. Busch obviously excels here, as he does at just about every 1.5-mile track. He is a two-time winner here and has five top-five finishes since 2012. Despite his record of success, Truex may be a better bet. According to the spread, an even game means a 3-point win for the Patriots. So in order to be better than just breaking even, the Patriots have to win the game by more than 3. Alternatively, in order for the Falcons to do better than breaking even, they have to win the game or lose by less than 3 points.

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