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The Current OP Meta is a Result of all of Valorant's Combined Flaws.
Hey guys, I'm a 10 year CS player here. Previously played at Level 9 Faceit and A - ESEA. Have probably 1000+ hours of watching pro games under my belt, and even more spent in KZ and HnS servers. I love Valorant, and I love a lot of what they're trying to do with this game in comparison to CS. But, I think the current OP meta is a result of almost every short coming the game has right now (for the most part). Firstly, I think it's important to preface this by saying that Valorant is 100% by design, made to be easier / more approachable than CS:GO. You can see this in almost every aspect of the game. If it's something that was intimidating to new players in CS, it's been massively simplified here. Spray patterns are far less aggressive. Lineups have been almost entirely eliminated, or completely streamlined. Movement speed has been reduced to allow for easier tracking and aiming. Counter-strafing has been forgotten and replaced by instant momentum. Even the slight advantage you got from good movement (brought along by thousands of hours of practice in CS:GO) has been entirely eliminated by a massive simplification of movement in general, as well as how severe tagging is. I'm not saying these are negative aspects of the game. I understand almost if not all of these changes. Tons of these choices succeed in their desired goal, and it's lead to tons of my friends enjoying this game despite never getting more than 4 games into CS. With all that said tho, lots of these choices indirectly feed into the current OP meta. I don't say this lightly either. If you were to directly compare the AWP and the OP, the AWP is hands down 3x more powerful than the OP currently is. It boasts :
More ammo overall, and more ammo per clip.
Instantaneous ADS, and instantaneous Accuracy after scoping in. (though this is more a trait of all scoped weapons in CS:GO)
Better hip-fire accuracy.
More forgiving movement accuracy
//Thanks to u/IAmNotOnRedditAtWork for pointing some of these out as they escaped me I have a shortish video on this, with some old community server / lower level faceit games. It's presented as more of a frag movie than anything so there's no need to watch it, but I do think it can offer some important context when talking about how insane the AWP actually is for high level players. I've edited it to have specific time stamps in the description so that you can jump between the clips that are actually relevant to this discussion. Turn down volume as there is music and I'm sure its obnoxious. Here you go Despite the obvious advantages the AWP has, we don't really see it being as prevalent and oppressive as we do in Valorant. We do not see double AWP and Triple AWP rounds being NEAR as viable as they are here, with triple AWP rounds being almost nonexistent. I chalk this up to quite a few things :
Movement speed. I think this is discounted quite a bit by nearly everyone. But people fail to realize how big of a deal this really is. I don't think I need to elaborate on this too much. But I think it's important to highlight "punishing" an AWPer. Typically, in CS you're only going to punish an AWPer if they miss their shot. Sure you can smoke them off or flash them, but typically at a high level they'll be playing in a position where it's easy to fall back and avoid being traded if they do get flashed off their angle, that is until you're on site. (Also important to note that not all AWPers play aggressive at lower levels). If it's mathematically easier to hit shots in Valorant, you bet your ass this is having an overall effect on how consistent this weapon can perform. It also (purposefully) eliminates the usefulness of jiggle peeking or baiting shots, which is a massive part of counter-play in CS. I'm not saying they should increase movement speed. I just think pointing this out is healthy for understanding and discussing this topic as a whole.
Movement Speed pt. 2. On top of movement speed in Valorant being much lower, many CS players will probably tell you that the way in which you move in Valorant is instantaneous. There is no counter strafing, and as a result, if you were to stand still, and then start running, you reach your max velocity almost immediately, if not immediately. This is the same in reverse. You lose your momentum the second you let go off WASD, your momentum being what brings about innaccuracy. This allows the OP to be hyper aggressive in situations where it shouldn't be. Period. You can hold an angle, whiff your shot, and then repeek that same angle aggressively all because you have no aim penalty within a time frame where your aggression should be punishable. In CS:GO the max velocity is higher, and the acceleration has a longer time between min and max. This makes it so that repeeking an angle has a window of innaccuracy that is PARAMOUNT in balancing for a weapon like this. The OP in Valorant currently has little counter-play outside of maybe DDoSing your opponent and hoping they miss shots.'
Utility. This isn't a secret. Most the player-base is probably aware in some form that this is having an effect on the meta. On top of there being very little vision limiting utility (smokes), I think the lack of counter play regarding flashes is also an issue. In CS, it's usually quite easy to see a flash coming, and depending on your weapon and/or position, either turn and avoid the flash, or to turn and run entirely. Sometimes if it's a pop flash you'll tank it and pray you don't die. But in Valorant, the flashes are very very quick to pop, and they last almost no time at all. You can't act off your own flash at all on most angles, and ton's of choke points require you to walk a distance where the flash is entirely negated anyway. For instance, Ascent A site. If you flash from main the distance between main and site is large enough that most people holding close aren't going to be flashed by the time you're pushed up. So maybe you get the AWPer off the long angle they're holding, and then you start pushing only for the person holding close to take contact and have the AWPer peek back out. This is why we see Phoenix being so viable in TSM's lineup. Flashing out smokes gives the entire team the biggest possible window in order to act on that utility. It's basically equivalent to a pop flash in CS, and also allows you to have more control over where you're flashing onto a site. So you can flash and pop out of the smoke much quicker than if you were around a corner, and you can also flash much deeper into a choke point then you'd normally be able to. That said, this is not a direct counter to OP meta. It's just an issue with flashes I've noticed, and a sort of "work around" I've seen take center stage.
And this kinda brings me to my next issue. And probably the one we all should have expected.
Map design. Outside of most the maps feeling incredibly linear, and despite them feeling like Hallway simulator 2020. I think there's another issue in relation to thoughtful map design. One of the things I mentioned above was how certain elements were streamlined, in relation to utility mainly. This, in my opinion, also relates to the map design.
CS has very tried and true bits of utility at play. Smokes, Mollies, and Flashes. When you play CS at a level where executes are necessary, it's actually quite fascinating to learn how each map has been designed with utility constantly in mind. Cache B site for instance, there's a window directly above site meant for throwing utility. Mirage A has a massive area above ramp for throwing util. Inferno Apts even has fucking windows on the opposite side of site, with a chimney adjacent to them in order for you to bank utility off of. Dust 2 recently underwent a change in B tuns to allow for more utility and site executes given how hard the site was too take control of. Whether it be on attacks or retakes. Valorant has streamlined "utility" so much, that they've forgotten the exact reason why it was implemented in the way that it was in CS:GO, and why it worked so well. Valorant has thrown thoughtful map design out the window in favor of meaningless gimmicks that fall flat after your 5th game on the map. Guess what Riot, I don't care about opening and closing destructible doors, or ropes that give you a surprising amount of velocity and accuracy while attached, and definitely not 3 fucking sites. I play ranked games where my opponents go 3-14 and then start fragging out when they decide to whip out the OP. The gun is too easy to use and it sports almost zero counter-play. IT IS AN ISSUE. I understand not jumping the gun and rushing towards some half ass balancing decision, but you've been so quick to address smaller issues that didn't actively suck the fun out of the game and reward players for using an obvious crutch. // People have pointed out some poor phrasing on my part here, would just like to iterate that I'm not against these kinds of gimmicks, they have a place and I don't mean to undermine anyone who enjoys them. I just think these gimmicks are being used in place of good map design. Sort of a "sure ascent is a terrible map but here are some doors you can open and close, this one has ropes!" Ascent is the closest map to CS design we currently have in Valorant in my opinion, and it still ignores most of what made those maps work in the first place. Scrap the gimmicks. Nobody wants this random shit. I want maps with intelligent design choices, meaningful spots for fair trades at the beginning of rounds, I want maps designed with rotates in mind and counter-play at heart. You can tell CS maps are designed with all the games utility in mind. I'm constantly reminded that I can't say the same about any of Valorant's maps. With that being said, what are some ways to fix these issues?
Add a slight time frame with the OP that adds inaccuracy after moving, keep this outside of movement speed, have it be its own value. For instance, if you scope in with the OP, then strafe to the side and stop moving, add an extra .5 or whatever amount of time where there is still an innaccuracy debuff applied. OPs are meant for holding angles, they are already ridiculously good at that in this game. Punish them for playing aggressive.
Phoenix's flash needs a slight "rework" to come more into line with vision blocking utility in relation to cutting off angles. Phoenix's flash shouldn't pop so quickly. I think it sports niche usability with little counter-play. When throwing out Phoenix's flash, have it hover in air at the very end of it's duration while giving it an obvious "charge-up" animation, give a larger (but still small) window in order to either back off an angle, or to turn your back too it, and then have it pop, and increase the time frame in which you're flashed slightly. I also considered having Phoenix be invulnerable to his flash, as a way to give Phoenix a way to more reliably entry, while still forcing him to play slightly outside of his team in these situations, (or risk flashing them). This promotes playing anti flash and/or less predictable and maybe even more dangerous positions in order to deny Phoenix this ground when he attempts to entry. I think it adds a reasonable amount of counter play in a game that severely lacks it currently, I think it gives Phoenix some needed independence and room to make these types of solo plays, while also letting an agent specifically gain ground around OPers. I think a good way to envision this is Ascension A site. Instead of OPing heaven when you know Phoenix likes to flash in from main and push you off your angle, you can play on site to the left, and play anti flash in order to kill him when he attempts to entry. Diagram Here
LET YOUR COMMUNITY DESIGN MAPS FOR YOU. For the love of god the fact that I even have to say this makes me angry. Community interaction has lead to CS being the powerhouse of an E-sport it is today. Volcano's involvement is proof of this. No one is saying you have to add them as actual competitive maps, but acting like you can produce better content than your entire community is ridiculously naive when you've already shown that's NOT the case. Add some kind of community tool for your players to design maps, and have some kind of game mode that rotates these featured community maps every couple of months or something. Even if it's just to give the team at Riot ideas and inspiration. I was worried months ago when you said you weren't going to allow even the most basic of community creativity in this regard. It's okay to be wrong Riot. Valve was smart enough to realize the community could carry some of that workload, while also teaching them and giving them inspiration. Volcano is on your dev team because of this reality.
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
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 ()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()() 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 ()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()() 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. ()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()() 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.
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
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…
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.
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:
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.
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..
"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?
"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…
Check to see whether the person offering advice has children. How old are they?
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.
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
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
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!
[Discussion] Theory for why the SF1000 is this bad, and why Binotto does NOT deserve to be fired just yet
Hello everyone, I'm back This time instead of ranting shitting on Ferrari, I've had a week to think and I'm just going to write down some thoughts I have about the current Ferrari situation, and I'm curious to get everyone's opinions on this. What else can we do before the race weekend starts right? The question on hand is very simple. 'Why does this year's Ferrari suck this bad?' In the comment section of this post we discussed reasons for why Mercedes has dominated just about every regulation change, but we didn't talk in depth about Ferrari. Now, I'm not talking about the general "Why is Ferrari not winning titles?" question, because that question has been answered many times over. Ferrari is inefficient, don't have the best engineering talent (Merc poached just about the best from every team over the years), and arguably don't have the corporate desire to actually win in the same way Mercedes does. I'm more curious about the pace (rather lack thereof) of the SF1000. Yes, we know Ferrari as a team is not as well run and organized as Mercedes, but how could they have built a car this bad? A car that barely makes it into Q3. Right off the bat, let me fully and entirely acknowledge that yes, the size of the pace drop is purely due to the illegal as fuck engine being neutered by the new monitoring initiatives. According to some sources, the Ferrari engine is allegedly ~40-45HP down from the Mercs and ~10-15 down from Renault and Honda. There is absolutely zero doubt about that and anyone who's still stuck on the "high drag tho" reason is just fooling themselves. All Ferrari engine teams don't just suddenly eat crow over a winter. However, questions about the SF1000 popped up way before it ever hit the track. It seemed like the design team simply stuck some downforce generating bits on the SF90 and called it a day. And then the same car showed up to Austria, almost 6 months later than the car unveiling. Ferrari have a history of throwing the towel early to work on future regs. Take a look at the 2017 Ferrari. They did exactly that. They completely abandoned the 2016 car to focus entirely on the 2017 car. And they succeeded by any metric. It was a massive step up in performance, giving them a car capable of winning the title (Yes the TP was Arrivabene and we love attributing the entirety of the car's performance to the TP, but pretty much the entire team from 2017 is still at Ferrari today. Including Binotto himself. So the Ferrari aero team nailed that aero reg change. (You could make the argument that actually it was James Allison designing that car, but I'm not as sold, as he left very early. Either way, basically the rest of the team bar Allison remained) You're Ferrari. You lost 2019. Hell, you lost every single season during the hybrid Era. Internally, I'd bet Ferrari is convinced Mercedes is winning because they had a head start on 2014 (rather than due to org structure advantages) and have subsequently been 2 steps ahead of everyone else (and there's actually solid evidence this is indeed the case. Merc is known for starting development on future cars insanely early because it's clearly they're going to win by mid-late season usually). Considering all of the above, there's also one year of regulations left, in the final year of no budget cap spending. Wouldn't it make perfect sense to throw absolutely everything at the new aero regs? To get the kind of early Mercedes-style advantage which carries through multiple seasons? And there's some evidence Ferrari did exactly that. The SF1000 is literally the 2019 car with a few extra bits of downforce attached. I know Ferrari is a meme, but they're not that stupid. It would also explain why they seem so lost currently. Another key point is that engine development costs are NOT included in the future budget cap. Which means, in theory, Ferrari can go balls out on 2021 aero for one season, and have time to catch up with the engine later, as it's not affected by the budget cap. I know the staff and facilities are already in place so it's not like they pulled engine staff onto the aero team, but they may have received priority in other ways. (An aside question, I understand FIA is limiting the number of engine upgrades a team brings, but not the size of the upgrade right? How would this help save costs if a team can just spend the same amount of money on the engine and then bring a bigger update at season start?) Now, I have no idea if any of this is true. But logically speaking, this seems to fit the events that we know happened well. In chronological order-
Ferrari decides to throw absolutely everything at the new 2021 (at the time) regulation overhaul
They learn their engine will be castrated
They design the SF1000 by adding downforce (whether they knew their engine would be neutered doesn't really change anything). At this point Ferrari has no intention of allocating any resources towards the SF1000, as evidenced by the fact that they didn't bring any upgrades to Australia, and then brought the same car to Austria some 4 months later.
Coronavirus hits, everything gets shut down. Ferrari learns in the middle of lockdown that 2021 reulations are posponed until 2022.
They suddenly realize they will be racing with this car for two seasons, and scramble to understand why the car was bad during testing. Note that, Binotto said "our concept fundamentally sucks and our direction changed" very late, weeks before the Austrian GP. Why did they wait this long if they knew they had issues in Barcelona?
They scramble to come up with upgrades to the car, which they don't even have ready by Austria. Their pace turns out so bad, they realize they cant limp around as the 5th best team for two years, so switch back to working on the SF1000.
I'll add that this pattern did not appear in any of the other mid-large teams. Yes Corona hit Italy particularly early, but this would have only taken away 1-2 weeks at most from Ferrari relative to the other teams. We also saw that in testing, every other team seemed to make significant progress while Ferrari literally brought the SF90 with a few extra bits. Mercedes, RB, Mclaren brought (relatively) massive evolutions on their previous cars while Ferrari didn't. So to summarize, this is the current position of Ferrari (if this theory holds).
Ferrari have made a LOT of progress on their 2022 car design after dumping all of their resources into the reg change, just like they've done numerous times in the past.
Something fundamentally broken with the current aero design, and arguably the entire aero program. (Aka their CFD program sucks and their designs don't perform on the track like they do in CFD).
Worst engine on the grid
Now what Ferrari really needs to get out of this mess is a re-org to mimic the Mercedes structure. This is the highly political Ferrari we're talking about, so, let's face it, that has no chance of happening. Now, of course, without a doubt Binotto is responsible for this, and probably does deserve to be fired. However, if Ferrari want to turn this ship around their best chance out of this mess probably IS Binotto. CFD issues need to be solved before 2022. And the person/people who are the most likely to solve these issues are the very people who caused them in the first place, because they are the people who best understand them. Binotto is also an engine specialist by trade, so even though he's ultimately responsible for the dirty tricks of 2019, he's the cleanest dirty shirt in the hamper in terms of who might actually put the right pieces in place to fix the engine. Bringing in a brand new TP right now would be a nightmare, unless it's one of their own and no current Ferrari department heads fit the bill particularly well. It's also possible nobody at Ferrari knows what they're doing and they just suck. But to suck to such an extent that spending ~$450 million gets them an SF90 with a few bits of downforce seems extreme even for Ferrari. They've never sucked this bad in history IIRC. TL;DR- Ferrari probably already committed balls deep to the 2022 regs, and even though Binotto is ultimately responsible for Ferrari being as shit as they are now, he's likely their best bet of getting them out of this shithole. Ferrari needs stability. Especially now, with the entire team structure changing due to the budget cap, and this many fires that need to be put out.
Let's talk about the mind tricks and psychological warfare being waged by cheaters, hackers, and RMT vendors in Tarkov, and what we can do about it. This is a long post, but Tarkov is worth it, and a TL;DR is provided at the top.
Edit: There's obviously big money at stake as I started receiving death threats the moment this post hit the front page on hot. Be careful with your personal info and probably best to avoid commenting here if you have doxxable details on your reddit account. Stay safe, it's just a game and not worth it. TL;DR:
Tarkov is a crazy wild game with a bunch of people running around trying to do weird things. Remember that bizarre outcomes are just as likely (if not more) to be happenstance than suspicious behavior. Don't let others gaslight you into thinking every encounter is a hacker or cheater.
Cheat sellers, RMT vendors, and their customers, all want to push the narrative that rule-breaking is far more common than it actually is, and that the game developers are ruining the game so you may as well just hack/cheat yourself to level the playing field. It's great for business as a seller, and it helps rationalize malicious actions as a customer. Spreading paranoia, mass outrage, and undermining the developers are CIA-level tactics to sow chaos and anarchy that benefits bad actors at the cost of everyone else.
The best thing we can do is silence attempts by bad actors and focus on productive, positive discussions in Tarkov and let BSG (who are the only people who can do anything) do their jobs. They spend 65% of their resources on crushing bad actors and their profit margins, so this isn't an issue that's flying under their radar. As a community, the best voice we have against malicious behavior is deafening silence to starve it of attention and free publicity, minimizing the chances that they can sow enough fear and angst to radicalize players to get more customers.
--- First off, the point of this discussion is not to debate how prevalent cheating in Tarkov is. This sub already has more than enough speculation on that topic and as you read further along you'll see that letting fear and paranoia fester is exactly what bad faith agents in Tarkov want. Wherever you have competition, you're going to have cheating. Whether it's Tarkov, Olympic sports, or the stock market. As long as there is competition, there will always be someone who looks to gain an unfair edge, and it doesn't even matter if it's something as mundane and trivial as online chess, there's always going to be that guy who runs their opponents moves into a grandmaster-level AI because their enjoyment comes from that win at any cost. However, despite the fact that bad faith competition exists in nearly every facet of life, it seems like the Tarkov community is far more paralyzed by fear, anger, and suspicion than any other competitive forum. Why is this?
The game design makes it exceedingly difficult to discern bad faith actions from legitimate play. A naked level 1 with a TT pistol can accidentally get a lucky hipfire shot that instantly kills a fully kitted veteran who is highly skilled in the game. The incredibly punishing nature of the game also makes it so that deaths are highly impactful, which makes it difficult to "let go" of trying to figure out what went wrong. All put together, it means that players are forced to simply accept highly punishing deaths without being given any insight or explanation on how they were killed. 20 headshots with an R99 SMG in Apex Legends is incredibly obvious aimbotting. But in Tarkov, the fight is over with just 1, which leaves a lot of unanswered questions with no satisfying answers.
Because the shared raid map system that Tarkov uses, players have a wide variety of objectives that lead to very differing goals, resulting in bizarre interactions where the original intentions of other other players is unclear. Someone who's hiding in a raid to wait for the violence to die down could be stumbled upon by some other person who is completely lost trying to find a quest objective, or wandering around exploring an obscure area trying to find easter eggs. From the vantage point of the hider, it seems suspicious they were hunted down by someone who had no reason to legitimately to hunt in the location that they were. In other words, players will frequently run into other players acting in inexplicable ways that can be easily misattributed to malice when it was just as likely to be happenstance.
The lack of SBMM (skills-based matchmaking) means that all players are drawn from the same pool when forming raids. This means a complete new player to FPS genre entirely could be running face first into the most skilled players in the entire game. When the competition spans the entirety of the skill curve, it's incredibly difficult to know what is going on because player actions are often contrary to expectations of others. Chaos makes it easy to be suspicious about bad faith play because nobody is acting "logically" from each perspective. Naive players may charge in aggressively in silly ways that end up working by sheer luck that more experienced players will assume would only be as a result of unfair information. A very high skill player can take fights that they win with superior mechanics that most would assume you would only engage because of unfair aim.
The point is, this game is designed to breed suspicion, paranoia, and fear. Which is great in one way, because it's what makes it so exciting and fun to play. However, when channeled in the wrong way, is a serious problem because it's exactly what bad faith actors want. Let's think about various actors in Tarkov, and ask the question, "do they want people to believe that rule breaking is more or less prevalent than it actually is?"
CHEAT SELLERS: MORE
Because the narrative is, everyone is cheating, the game is unfair no matter what, every raid you load into has someone that is map-hacking, every fight you take is against someone who is aim-botting. Therefore, you should consider picking up some little helpers yourself to make it fair again, or be a naive idiot that willingly plays at a disadvantage while everyone else is using hacks. The idea that literally cheaters and hackers are infesting every single raid is probably the best possible sales pitch a cheat seller could have. The few instances of cheating leads to fear and paranoia festering, prompting more people on the fringe to consider cheating themselves, leading to more cheating, more fear, more paranoia, more business.
RMT VENDORS: MORE
Because the narrative is, this game is filled with cheaters anyway, half the lobby is people who bought stuff with mom's credit card, and Nikita is setting out to personally reduce your happiness in life and the game is unrewarding and unplayable for a normal legitimate player that doesn't hack or make a full-time job out of Tarkov. Why bother doing all the pointless stupid grinds while you're dying 50 raids in a row to hackers or someone who bought all their gear with their credit card, when you can just buy a few little cheeki Roubles from the side and get to having fun in the game? Negativity and toxicity toward both the existence of other bad faith players, as well as toward the game design itself, is inherently the best possible environment for a thriving RMT system. This is especially perfect for Tarkov because unlike other MMORPGs, it's much more likely that incremental changes will be more brutal rather than having power creep / loot creep / money creep, which fuels despair and more interest in RMT.
CHEAT/RMT USERS: MORE
This one is simple. If they can convince everyone that it's more common than it actually is, the more they can rationalize their own behavior. It's not that bad, everyone else is doing it anyway! Besides, it's not even that big of an advantage, some other cheaters cheat even harder! Some of you may have seen a recent thread where one individual texted "lmao I'm gonna turn off cheats for this group though, cuz these guys play legit." As if playing legit was actually the minority situation for a massively mainstream FPS game. Zzz.
THE AVERAGE PLAYER LIKE YOU AND ME: ?
It is human nature to rationalize defeat. When you face down failure with no explanation on why like in Tarkov, it's tempting to blame cheaters, hackers, etc. Different games often have different ways of rationalizing defeat. In team games like Overwatch or League of Legends, teammate-blaming is common to offload the burden onto random strangers. In solo matchup games like Starcraft II, race balance is often used by players who are frustrated that they lost. What's even more, these other games do an excellent job of explaining where you could have done better, but players will still look for ways to blame someone other than themselves. It's no surprise that in Tarkov, fear and suspicion of bad faith gameplay exists. The problem is, if we allow ourselves to be tempted to err toward the side of suspicion, to blame negative outcomes on the belief in rampant cheaters, hackers, etc., then we are aligning ourselves to the same narrative that bad faith actors like cheat sellers and RMT vendors want to push. We allow ourselves to be corrupted with the idea of "this game is bullshit, everyone else in the game is not playing fairly, why do I even bother trying?" This is a dangerous mindset because it fuels a toxic narrative that "this game is never going to be fair to me, the devs don't care, the game is becoming less and less fun for me, I should just quit if I'm not going to cheat myself." Let me be clear, I'm not saying that toxicity itself will convert an entire playerbase into cheaters. In fact, I think it has a minimal impact at a high level perspective because there just aren't that many people that are willing to traverse to the disreputable ends of the internet and take risks just to gain some internet points. However, even a 1% cheating rate to 3% cheating rate is a 300% proportional magnitude in the profitability of selling cheats or RMT vending. And more importantly, it significantly damages the enjoyment and integrity of the community at large. You can see clear evidence of bad faith actors in this subreddit. There have been several threads in this subreddit just in the past few days that have reached the front page claiming 1) false bans are rampant, Nikita should just let RMT be 2) hello I am bob, I am hacker all day, you should hack too because literally it's everywhere you don't even KNOW, btw PM me for cheap hacks 3) xyz devs are ruining the game, why stop RMT/hacks, just let it go, you're DESTROYING THE GAME, STOP DOING THAT BSG!. I'm not going to say any individual thread (even though many examples have been debunked) are complete bullshit. I'm just going to say that the narrative of these threads is completely aligned with individuals who are lobbying to protect their interests in making a profit out of bad faith play.
What can you do to stop this?
It starts with the self.
When you get an incredibly lucky clutch/kill, remember it for yourself, and use it as a reminder as to how fickle this game can be. Think about how your opponent must be so confused/suspicious about what you got away with.
When you yourself are on the receiving end of that ridiculous death, remind yourself of all the times where you were on the other side. Make your default reaction be "damn, Tarkov is crazy" rather than "I bet that was hacking 100%." Remember how easily flukes can occur, and how easily luck could be conflated with cheating.
Focus on learning and improving in a game where there is endless room to get better, something that is irrelevant to whether some minority of players chooses to play unfairly.
Encourage productive discussions, positive mentalities, and discourageDESTRUCTIVE SPECULATIONand toxic attitudes.
Upvote threads that discuss legitimate aspects of the game, whether it's discussions on strategies, advice on how to get better, or general productive discussions that are within our control as regular players.
Downvote threads that revolve around discussing cheating, hacking, or a bullshit "Reddit expert panel" of trying to speculate whether gameplay footage was legitimate or not, especially when there is a lack of context on user lag/latency, frames, system specs, server issues, date stamps, etc.
Upvote threads that explain technical nuances known to impact Tarkov gameplay, e.g. desync bullets resulting in apparently unkillable players, etc.
Downvote threads that attempt to sow paranoia in masses of players that have nothing to do with anti-cheating efforts. At best, they are attention-seeking threads made by users to profit infamy at the cost of community integrity. At worst, they are propagandized pieces designed to undermine faith in the developers and increase the temptation to use black market cheats/services and perpetuate a death spiral.
Downvote threads that attempt to induct mass outrage against developers. When someone says "they nerfed X, this is bullshit, we should all just RMT now," it could be from legitimate upset players, but keep in mind that it's also perfectly aligned with exactly the type of agenda that bad faith actors have. Remember that the best thing that malicious actors can do is to pit the player base against the developers so they can create a lawless wasteland to do business undisturbed.
BSG has shown an exemplary degree of interaction with this community. Always wait for an official response before jumping to conclusions.
Go try making a thread about cheating/hacking/boosting in Overwatch or Apex Legends and see how much official response you ever get from developers. This subreddit has been gifted with probably one of the best levels of community engagement from devs you could ask for.
When someone tries to hit the front page with a thread like "I've been falsely banned," track that thread carefully and wait 3-4 days for the official response. If it's anything like 90% of the threads we've seen in the past few days, you're going to see the truth hammer get dropped, providing the poster doesn't delete their own threads/accounts when they're exposed to be full of lies.
Upvote threads that make grandiose claims that are worthwhile for an official response. Then mercilessly scrutinize how events unfold, because 99% of the time, it's always liars that are hoping they can incite a riot as "punishment" for the developers interfering with them than anything else. This is a common occurrence in other communities that have high developer interaction like Old School Runescape, where banned players are known to make top-page threads about being falsely banned, before evidence is provided showing that they are completely full of shit and memes ensue when the truth hammer is dropped.
-- BSG spends 65% of its resources fighting cheaters and RMT and is a developer that has shown endless passion and commitment to its install base. As beta players that are trying to help them develop the best possible game, the best voice we have against bad faith actors in the Tarkov community is deafening silence. Starve them of attention, free marketing, free publicity. Demonstrate that just because they can infect one player, that will not tilt the hundreds of legitimate players into letting themselves surrender and be infected themselves.
General Election Polling Discussion Thread (June 2020)
Welcome to the /politics polling discussion thread for the general election. As the election nears, polling of both the national presidential popular vote and important swing states is ramping up, and with both parties effectively deciding on nominees, pollsters can get in the field to start assessing the state of the presidential race. Please use this thread to discuss polling and the general state of the presidential or congressional election. Below, you'll find some of the most recent polls, but this is by no means exhaustive, as well as some links to prognosticators sharing election models. As always though, polls don't vote, people do. Regardless of whether your candidate is doing well or poorly, democracy only works when people vote, and there are always at least a couple polling misses every cycle, some of which are pretty high profile. If you haven't yet done so, please take some time to register to vote or check your registration status.
Below is a collection of recent polling of the US Presidential election. This is likely incomplete and also omits the generic congressional ballot as well as Senate/House/Gubernatorial numbers that may accompany these polls. Please use the discussion space below to discuss any additional polls not covered. Additionally, not all polls are created equal. If this is your first time looking at polls, the FiveThirtyEight pollster ratings page is a helpful tool to assess historic partisan lean in certain pollsters, as well as their past performance.
Prognosticators are folks who make projected electoral maps, often on the strength of educated guesses as well as inside information in some cases from campaigns sharing internals with the teams involved. Below are a few of these prognosticators and their assessment of the state of the race:
Cook Political Reports - Charlie Cook's race ratings are well regarded in the political field, and he's been in the business for a while. Cook is known to incorporate both public and nonpublic (ie. internal polling) information in his projections. Also covers (and is perhaps better known for) Senate and House races.
Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball - Larry Sabato has also been in the political prediction business for a while now, and the team at the UVA Center for Politics has been fairly successful in past cycles. Towards the end of the election cycle, Sabato has a policy of making a call in each state, refusing to leave any race in the tossup category. Also covers Senate and House races.
Inside Elections - Inside Elections, run by Nathan Gonzales, is the successor to Stu Rothenberg's Rothenberg Political Reports, which used to be a part of Roll Call. This prognosticator did fairly well in 2018, though Rothenberg himself boldly (along with some other pundits) predicted in 2016 that Donald Trump's path to the presidency was nonexistent. Also covers Senate, House and Gubernatorial races.
Daily Kos Elections - Daily Kos Elections is the direct successor to the Swing State Project website, which merged with Daily Kos in 2010. Despite the liberal lean of the site as a whole, the Daily Kos Elections predictions tend to be fairly even-handed, if not even slightly bearish for Democrats. Presidential numbers aren't up yet but they have Senate, House and Gubernatorial races.
RRH Elections - Red Racing Horses Elections is a site founded by former conservative-leaning members of the Swing State Project community. Despite the conservative nature of the commentary, like DKE, the race predictions tend to be fairly neutral, if slightly bearish for Republicans. Like the Crystal Ball, RRH will call all races before the election so that none are left in the tossup category. The presidential rankings have not been published but they do cover Senate, House, Gubernatorial and Row Officer (statewide elected officials, such as state Attorney General, Secretary of State etc.) races.
Polling models are similar to prognosticators (and often the model authors will act like pundits as well), but tend to be about making "educated guesses" on the state of the election. Generally, the models are structured to take in data such as polls and electoral fundamentals, and make a guess based on research on prior elections as to the state of the race in each state. Below are a few of the more prominent models that are online or expected to be online soon:
FiveThirtyEight - this model isn't active yet, but it's the original model from Nate Silver that debuted in 2008 and really kicked off this genre of race prognostication. For now, here's the polling aggregates that they've set up in lieu of a now-cast (which is likely not returning to the model this year). Will likely also include Senate and House projections like in past years.
Princeton Election Consortium - this is the model run by Dr. Sam Wang, a neuroscience professor at Princeton University. This model has run in the past two cycles as well, though Sam Wang famously said he'd eat a bug if Donald Trump won the election because his model predicted no path to victory for the eventual winner of the 2016 election. Also includes projections for Senate and House.
JHK Forecasts - the earliest model on the scene this cycle. Jack Kersting's model is one of the newer ones this year and also includes projections for Senate and House.
The Economist - this is the model run by G. Elliott Morris, who previously had a midterm election model under The Crosstab.
Niskanen Center - Rachel Bitecofer's projection, which only seems to update a couple times a cycle. Part of this has to do with Bitecofer's central argument that there are generally no swing voters, and electoral fundamentals drive the outcome of the election. This was put to the test in the 2018 midterms, where Bitecofer very early on predicted a Democratic pickup of 40-45 seats in the House, which fell about where the election ended up.
Lean Tossup - a foreign model from Canada. This model did relatively well in the 2019 Canadian election, but this appears to be the first time they've tried forecasting the US Presidential election. Also includes Senate and House projections.
Prediction markets are betting markets where people put money on the line to estimate the likelihood of one party winning a seat or state. Most of these markets will also tend to move depending on polling and other socioeconomic factors in the same way that prognosticators and models will work. Predictit and Election Betting Odds are prominent in this space, although RealClearPolitics has an aggregate of other betting sites as well.
Richard Dobatse, a Navy medic in San Diego, dabbled infrequently in stock trading. But his behavior changed in 2017 when he signed up for Robinhood, a trading app that made buying and selling stocks simple and seemingly free. Mr. Dobatse, now 32, said he had been charmed by Robinhood’s one-click trading, easy access to complex investment products, and features like falling confetti and emoji-filled phone notifications that made it feel like a game. After funding his account with $15,000 in credit card advances, he began spending more time on the app. As he repeatedly lost money, Mr. Dobatse took out two $30,000 home equity loans so he could buy and sell more speculative stocks and options, hoping to pay off his debts. His account value shot above $1 million this year — but almost all of that recently disappeared. This week, his balance was $6,956. “When he is doing his trading, he won’t want to eat,” said his wife, Tashika Dobatse, with whom he has three children. “He would have nightmares.” Millions of young Americans have begun investing in recent years through Robinhood, which was founded in 2013 with a sales pitch of no trading fees or account minimums. The ease of trading has turned it into a cultural phenomenon and a Silicon Valley darling, with the start-up climbing to an $8.3 billion valuation. It has been one of the tech industry’s biggest growth stories in the recent market turmoil. But at least part of Robinhood’s success appears to have been built on a Silicon Valley playbook of behavioral nudges and push notifications, which has drawn inexperienced investors into the riskiest trading, according to an analysis of industry data and legal filings, as well as interviews with nine current and former Robinhood employees and more than a dozen customers. And the more that customers engaged in such behavior, the better it was for the company, the data shows. Thanks for reading The Times. Subscribe to The Times More than at any other retail brokerage firm, Robinhood’s users trade the riskiest products and at the fastest pace, according to an analysis of new filings from nine brokerage firms by the research firm Alphacution for The New York Times. In the first three months of 2020, Robinhood users traded nine times as many shares as E-Trade customers, and 40 times as many shares as Charles Schwab customers, per dollar in the average customer account in the most recent quarter. They also bought and sold 88 times as many risky options contracts as Schwab customers, relative to the average account size, according to the analysis. The more often small investors trade stocks, the worse their returns are likely to be, studies have shown. The returns are even worse when they get involved with options, research has found. This kind of trading, where a few minutes can mean the difference between winning and losing, was particularly hazardous on Robinhood because the firm has experienced an unusual number of technology issues, public records show. Some Robinhood employees, who declined to be identified for fear of retaliation, said the company failed to provide adequate guardrails and technology to support its customers. Those dangers came into focus last month when Alex Kearns, 20, a college student in Nebraska, killed himself after he logged into the app and saw that his balance had dropped to negative $730,000. The figure was high partly because of some incomplete trades. “There was no intention to be assigned this much and take this much risk,” Mr. Kearns wrote in his suicide note, which a family member posted on Twitter. Like Mr. Kearns, Robinhood’s average customer is young and lacks investing know-how. The average age is 31, the company said, and half of its customers had never invested before. Some have visited Robinhood’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., in recent years to confront the staff about their losses, said four employees who witnessed the incidents. This year, they said, the start-up installed bulletproof glass at the front entrance. “They encourage people to go from training wheels to driving motorcycles,” Scott Smith, who tracks brokerage firms at the financial consulting firm Cerulli, said of Robinhood. “Over the long term, it’s like trying to beat the casino.” At the core of Robinhood’s business is an incentive to encourage more trading. It does not charge fees for trading, but it is still paid more if its customers trade more. That’s because it makes money through a complex practice known as “payment for order flow.” Each time a Robinhood customer trades, Wall Street firms actually buy or sell the shares and determine what price the customer gets. These firms pay Robinhood for the right to do this, because they then engage in a form of arbitrage by trying to buy or sell the stock for a profit over what they give the Robinhood customer. This practice is not new, and retail brokers such as E-Trade and Schwab also do it. But Robinhood makes significantly more than they do for each stock share and options contract sent to the professional trading firms, the filings show. For each share of stock traded, Robinhood made four to 15 times more than Schwab in the most recent quarter, according to the filings. In total, Robinhood got $18,955 from the trading firms for every dollar in the average customer account, while Schwab made $195, the Alphacution analysis shows. Industry experts said this was most likely because the trading firms believed they could score the easiest profits from Robinhood customers. Vlad Tenev, a founder and co-chief executive of Robinhood, said in an interview that even with some of its customers losing money, young Americans risked greater losses by not investing in stocks at all. Not participating in the markets “ultimately contributed to the sort of the massive inequalities that we’re seeing in society,” he said. Mr. Tenev said only 12 percent of the traders active on Robinhood each month used options, which allow people to bet on where the price of a specific stock will be on a specific day and multiply that by 100. He said the company had added educational content on how to invest safely. He declined to comment on why Robinhood makes more than its competitors from the Wall Street firms. The company also declined to comment on Mr. Dobatse or provide data on its customers’ performance. Robinhood does not force people to trade, of course. But its success at getting them do so has been highlighted internally. In June, the actor Ashton Kutcher, who has invested in Robinhood, attended one of the company’s weekly staff meetings on Zoom and celebrated its success by comparing it to gambling websites, said three people who were on the call. Mr. Kutcher said in a statement that his comment “was not intended to be a comparison of business models nor the experience Robinhood provides its customers” and that it referred “to the current growth metrics.” He added that he was “absolutely not insinuating that Robinhood was a gambling platform.” ImageRobinhood’s co-founders and co-chief executives, Baiju Bhatt, left, and Vlad Tenev, created the company to make investing accessible to everyone. Robinhood’s co-founders and co-chief executives, Baiju Bhatt, left, and Vlad Tenev, created the company to make investing accessible to everyone.Credit...via Reuters Robinhood was founded by Mr. Tenev and Baiju Bhatt, two children of immigrants who met at Stanford University in 2005. After teaming up on several ventures, including a high-speed trading firm, they were inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement to create a company that would make finance more accessible, they said. They named the start-up Robinhood after the English outlaw who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Robinhood eliminated trading fees while most brokerage firms charged $10 or more for a trade. It also added features to make investing more like a game. New members were given a free share of stock, but only after they scratched off images that looked like a lottery ticket. The app is simple to use. The home screen has a list of trendy stocks. If a customer touches one of them, a green button pops up with the word “trade,” skipping many of the steps that other firms require. Robinhood initially offered only stock trading. Over time, it added options trading and margin loans, which make it possible to turbocharge investment gains — and to supersize losses. The app advertises options with the tagline “quick, straightforward & free.” Customers who want to trade options answer just a few multiple-choice questions. Beginners are legally barred from trading options, but those who click that they have no investing experience are coached by the app on how to change the answer to “not much” experience. Then people can immediately begin trading. Before Robinhood added options trading in 2017, Mr. Bhatt scoffed at the idea that the company was letting investors take uninformed risks. “The best thing we can say to those people is ‘Just do it,’” he told Business Insider at the time. In May, Robinhood said it had 13 million accounts, up from 10 million at the end of 2019. Schwab said it had 12.7 million brokerage accounts in its latest filings; E-Trade reported 5.5 million. That growth has kept the money flowing in from venture capitalists. Sequoia Capital and New Enterprise Associates are among those that have poured $1.3 billion into Robinhood. In May, the company received a fresh $280 million. “Robinhood has made the financial markets accessible to the masses and, in turn, revolutionized the decades-old brokerage industry,” Andrew Reed, a partner at Sequoia, said after last month’s fund-raising. Image Robinhood shows users that its options trading is free of commissions. Robinhood shows users that its options trading is free of commissions. Mr. Tenev has said Robinhood has invested in the best technology in the industry. But the risks of trading through the app have been compounded by its tech glitches. In 2018, Robinhood released software that accidentally reversed the direction of options trades, giving customers the opposite outcome from what they expected. Last year, it mistakenly allowed people to borrow infinite money to multiply their bets, leading to some enormous gains and losses. Robinhood’s website has also gone down more often than those of its rivals — 47 times since March for Robinhood and 10 times for Schwab — according to a Times analysis of data from Downdetector.com, which tracks website reliability. In March, the site was down for almost two days, just as stock prices were gyrating because of the coronavirus pandemic. Robinhood’s customers were unable to make trades to blunt the damage to their accounts. Four Robinhood employees, who declined to be identified, said the outage was rooted in issues with the company’s phone app and servers. They said the start-up had underinvested in technology and moved too quickly rather than carefully. Mr. Tenev said he could not talk about the outage beyond a company blog post that said it was “not acceptable.” Robinhood had recently made new technology investments, he said. Plaintiffs who have sued over the outage said Robinhood had done little to respond to their losses. Unlike other brokers, the company has no phone number for customers to call. Mr. Dobatse suffered his biggest losses in the March outage — $860,000, his records show. Robinhood did not respond to his emails, he said, adding that he planned to take his case to financial regulators for arbitration. “They make it so easy for people that don’t know anything about stocks,” he said. “Then you go there and you start to lose money.”
How to Survive Camping: Senior Camp Rule #8 - don't make us throw you down the hill
I run a private campground. While I’m not safe, life has at least been better now that Jessie is dead. Again. The horse-eater has been quiet so I’m not too worried about its presence on my land yet. I mean, it’s a problem, but it’s not an urgent problem. I’ve been able to relax a little and enjoy the holiday weekend. The old sheriff even invited me out to his place to shoot off some confiscated fireworks and if you're like wow, dick move there, yes, that's the sort of company I keep. Anyway, if you’re new here, you should really start at the beginning, and if you’re totally lost, this might help. We have people that have been camping here for a long time, especially for our big events. I’m not sure where the senior camp stands in relation to the entire campsite during these events, but I believe they are one of the oldest in their area. Their seniority isn’t just age, however. Some of our problematic camps have been here for a while, after all, and that’s resulted in an unfortunate tendency to think they’re above the rules. Not the rules. The other rules, like digging a proper fire pit or what time we close check-in for the evening. You know, the ones that just annoy me instead of anything supernatural. The senior camp may argue with me every year about the incline at the front of their camp, but for a long time that was about it. Not causing trouble and following the rules is not enough to warrant being placed next to the thing in the dark, however. That sort of proximity to something so dangerous requires an understanding of the unnatural, a sense of the larger patterns, more than what I lay out in my rules. I moved them to their current location shortly after I took over as the manager. Their area was growing crowded as camp sizes grew and I needed to either move someone out (which would make people unhappy) or move a camp into the area next to the thing in the dark’s lair. It’s a nice spot. There’s shade from the trees for most of the day, but it’s still open enough for a breeze and close enough to the road for easy unloading. We’ve had people try to move into that space without permission in the past, with predictable results. Most of the nearby camps were content to stay in their assigned land as a result, but I knew it would be an issue if I started moving people around without utilizing that land at all. We get enough new campers in a season that someone would cause trouble. I contacted the senior camp’s land representative and asked if they’d be interested in moving to a better location. Still in the same area, I said, just a bit over. Next to where rule #10 lived. Their representative was quiet for a bit and then said they’d talk it over. A few days later they got back to me and said they’d agreed. It’d keep other people out of that space and besides, it was a really nice spot. And it wasn’t like they had no experience with unnatural things. For a long time, they were unremarkable from any other returning camp. Then, during my freshman year of college, something happened to change that. We have transient things pass through our land. The ancient creatures come and go as they please, of course. There are lesser creatures that are able to leave, however. I think there is something about their nature that allows this. Perhaps they roam as a rule and thus cannot be bound to one location. Or perhaps their hunting grounds are larger than my campsite and they can pass through boundaries easier. The one in particular that came to the campground that year was the sort that attached itself to one person in particular, until they were dead, and then moved on to another. I think that is why it could come and go. It didn’t hunt in a particular area. It hunted people with no regard to where they were located. To merely call it an incubus would be inaccurate, but that is a good starting place. It is called a lidérc. It is drawn to those who have recently lost their spouse or lover, a devil taking on the form of the lost beloved. It sneaks into the victim’s room while they sleep, removes the one boot that it wears on its human foot and sets it by the door, and then sits on the person’s chest and drinks their life away. They do this until their victim is wasted away to death and then find another. Similar to an incubus then, in that it causes nightmares and the feeling of suffocation at night. Different in its powers, in the victims it seeks, and its appearance. Keen readers may notice that I specified singular when I said it removed its boot from its human foot. What, then, is the other? Lidérc are shapeshifters. They have association with one animal in particular. The chicken. Their other foot is a chicken foot. The inhuman world has always been a little weird. This is only one form of the lidérc. The other can be created. Don’t try this. It is a useful thing but… it will destroy you unless you are clever enough to escape doom, and in my experience, none of us are nearly as clever as we believe we are. The summer of my freshman year was when the lidérc came to our land. Someone in the senior camp broke up with her boyfriend within the first two days of their two-week trip. Bad timing, I know, but I guess when you’re done, you’re done. Now, at the time the senior camp was up against the hill. They’re still close to the hill, but it wasn’t as handy as it was at their old spot. My campground isn’t in a mountainous location, but we’ve got some variable terrain and there’s a few areas where the hills are especially steep. The children with ice wagons will rope themselves to the wagon like oxen with two pulling in front, two pushing from the back, and two stabilizing on either side to get up this hill. Seriously, tip them, they work hard. One of my parent’s staff at the time responded to reports of a commotion in the area one night. They took a golf cart (we only had a handful of four-wheelers at the time and the family used them) down that way to see what the problem was. They arrived just in time to find the boyfriend being forcibly ejected from the campsite. Her campmates were carrying his stuff out of the camp and dumping it on the road. When he tried to re-enter their area despite this subtle clue that he wasn’t welcome, they threw his belongings down the hill. The camp employee decided not to intervene in what was clearly a properly handled domestic dispute and left. Near the end of their trip, the camp representative stopped in to drop off their “yes we cleaned up after ourselves and filled the fire pit back in” paperwork. (I only require it for the big events where we have a lot of people) They told us about what had happened after that break-up, thinking it was best if my parents knew about it in case the thing came back. They didn’t know what it was, but my father was able to identify it later once he had his books and notes. The senior camp has perfected this particular story. I do not think they’ve embellished it as much as my uncle did to his stories. I think they just have a flair for telling it that they’ve honed through repetition. It’s a useful story, after all. It teaches camp newcomers one of their own, internal, rules. I don’t remember the full text of the rule. Some stuff about trying to get along and resolving arguments, getting an intermediary if you have to, and not being a “flaming asshole”. I know how it ends, however. Senior camp rule #8: Don’t make us throw you down the hill. I’ll tell the story as I heard it when I was a freshman. The boyfriend didn’t try to come back after spending most of the night picking his socks and underwear off of tree branches. Some other camp was dumb enough to take him in and the senior camp lost track of him after that, because who really cared? But a few days later, the lidérc showed up. No one realized anything was amiss, as it came late at night after everyone was asleep. The young lady was exhausted during the day and attributed it to not sleeping well at night. She had nightmares, she said, and it felt like she was suffocating. She hadn’t suffered from sleep paralysis in the past, so while this was worrisome, she wrote it off as being a result of a nasty break-up. As the days passed, she grew steadily weaker. Her campmates noticed and began to theorize what the problem could be. Stress, perhaps, and suggested she take more naps. Maybe she was having a bout of anemia and someone drove into town to buy red meat and vitamins. Finally, near the end of the trip, she was so lethargic she could barely rouse herself during the day and fell asleep in the middle of dinner. Her campmates decided she should go home early and contact her doctor. They’d break down her tent and pack up for her in the morning. She’d go to bed early that night and get enough sleep to make the long drive home. Then, once she was out of earshot, the camp agreed to take turns periodically checking in on her through the night. They didn’t know what was happening. They just felt that something was amiss. Some of the people in the nearby tents were having nightmares too, after all, of a dark presence that settled over them and made it feel like they were being crushed under the weight of their own blankets. They didn’t have the sort of knowledge my family does, but we have all heard stories, and the sense of being prey for something dark and terrible is etched into the human subconscious. None of them wanted to admit it out-loud, but they felt the unease of being hunted. The lidérc didn’t come until the 2 AM shift. The person that took that shift usually got back to camp around that time, so it was no issue for her to check in on their campmate before going to bed herself. She arrived back to their camp just in time to see a large black chicken approaching the tent. She paused where she was, bemused by the absurdity of the situation. A chicken. There was farmland nearby, so perhaps it’d wandered off and made its way here. Should she catch it? Try to get it home in the morning? Then the chicken stopped at the front of her campmates tent and its body began to grow. Its torso swelled, its head inflated like a balloon, and the feathers rippled and melted together and became clothing. Its skin grew pale and smooth and its comb deepened to crimson-black and became hair. It was a man, dressed in plain clothing and wearing a single cowboy boot on one foot. Its other foot was still that of a chicken. The claws gleamed in the moonlight. The camper crouched down between the tents. She was well hidden from view, but still she trembled in fear, for even where she stood she could feel the malice coming off this creature. An aura that gripped at her throat and made her blood run cold, nearly paralyzing her in fear. She felt her heart would simply stop if it turned its gaze on her, so she could only watch helplessly as it quietly unzipped the tent and crawled inside, pausing only to remove its one human boot and set it just outside the tent. The camper had read the rules. This was not on them. She didn’t know what it was, other than it was something unnatural, and surely to blame for her friend’s growing weakness. This was before smartphones. There was no way for her to quickly google “chicken footed monster” and hope the search results provided a solution for her predicament. She didn’t dare wait until morning to go searching for answers, either, as her campmate’s growing weakness suddenly had an explanation and she wasn’t sure if the young woman would survive until the dawn. She decided to create a distraction and then hopefully wake her friend up and get her out of there before the lidérc came back. Carefully, she stole over to the tent. The tent flap had been only half-zipped back up, leaving a slit barely wide enough for her to see the lidérc kneeling on the young woman’s chest. His hands were around her neck and her skin was pale and sweat beaded on her forehead as she tossed and turned weakly, struggling to breathe. The sight of her friend’s suffering strengthened her resolve. She crept close, trembling with fear. It felt like she was pushing through a cold fog, one that repulsed her and crawled along her skin, making her nerves scream that she should run, she should flee, she should abandon her friend to her fate and save herself. Then, she stretched out one hand, and carefully grabbed hold of the cowboy boot and dragged it towards her. If an unnatural thing leaves behind anything, assume it’s important to them. That’s just how these things work. She retreated as quickly as she dared and hurried over to the edge of the hill. The road was close by and to either side were trees, the underbrush rife with thickets and poison ivy. “Hey asshole!” she yelled at the top of her lungs, waking up most of her nearby campmates. “I got your fucking boot!” Then she yeeted the boot down the hill. God I love that word. The lidérc burst out of the tent and his eyes blazed like fire in the darkness. His hands were curled like claws and he dug his chicken foot into the earth, scoring it deep. Then his gaze fixed first on the hill where his boot had been thrown and then snapped to the camper. She realized she’d miscalculated. As her fellow campers stirred, sleepy and confused, she realized that the creature wasn’t going to go after his boot first. It was going to go after her. She turned and ran. Down the road, veering off at the bottom and into the woods, aiming for some thick trees that grew in a cluster. She dove behind them as the lidérc came stalking down the hill, walking with a limp as it dragged its human foot behind it. The gravel cracked under its claws as it clutched at the dirt and stones. “Where are you?” it hissed. “Come out and help me find my boot. And then once it is found, I’ll tear your heart out and eat it.” Its words were spoken in a low voice, beguiling. The camper’s legs stirred before her mind could realize what was happening, stretching to rise, to bring her out of her hiding spot. Entranced by the lidérc’s request. She clasped her hands onto the tree she hid behind, digging her fingers into the rough bark, the muscles in her arms straining to hold the rest of her body still. The lidérc paused. Only a few feet away now, his back half-turned towards her. There was a soft sound, the inhalation of air. He was trying to catch her scent. Hunting her out. She remained where she was, heart pounding so loudly she felt he’d be able to hear it soon enough. Then the sound of a vehicle’s engine hummed from the top of the hill. Headlights flooded the road, painfully bright in the darkness, and one of the camp staff golf carts turned down the nearby road. The lidérc let out a soft cry of surprise - and anger - and his body collapsed in on itself in an instant. Gone was the human frame, gone was the clothing, and gone was the bare human foot. In its place stood a small black chicken that quickly trotted away through the underbrush, flapping its wings and squawking with dismay. The golf cart drew to a stop. “Did I hear… a chicken?” the driver said to himself in confusion. Only then did the camper rise from her camping spot. She waved to get his attention. “Sure was,” she said. “It went that way. I was trying to catch it as I thought it belonged to a local farm.” “Well damn. Probably does. I’ll see if I can round it up.” The camper didn’t know what became of the lidérc after the camp employee left, but they like to tell the story that it spent the entire night being chased by people on golf carts, intent on corralling and dragging it back to some random farm, until they finally cornered it near dawn and carry it off by its legs to dump in a random chicken coop. The truth is that the employee radioed in to keep an eye out for a chicken and no one saw it and assumed it eventually found its way home on its own. Or was eaten by something unnatural. It’s awfully hard to see a black chicken in the dark. The camp stayed up the rest of the night, after their campmate told them what had happened. A handful took flashlights and went searching along the hill until they found the boot. The lidérc thankfully wasn’t willing to confront a group of people. The young lady was able to get a full night’s rest and went home the next morning. When she came back the next year, they set watch for the first few nights until they were convinced that the lidérc wasn’t coming back. My father stopped by as well, to tell them what he’d found out from his research and assure them that the theft of its boot was enough to keep it from ever returning. Then, after my parents died and I took over, I realized that they had the instincts, the cooperation, and the willingness to deal with these unnatural things. I offered them the campsite closest to the thing in the dark and they accepted. I wouldn’t say I’m friends with them. I check in periodically to make sure everything is okay and then I have to hear about how the incline at the front of their camp isn’t actually campable (it is) or complaints about their neighbors, but honestly, that’s a small price to pay for having someone competent taking up that plot of land and keeping people out of it. As for the lidérc… I think it’s still out there. It’s never been seen again on our land. There were a few sightings from the locals after it vanished, but it didn’t seem to be hunting anyone. It was searching. Trying to find its boot, limping through the fields, leaving behind a trail of footprints with one bare foot and one foot being the imprint of a chicken. I know where the boot is hidden. One of the senior campers took the boot home with them and buried it in the backyard. My campground is an eight hour drive for him. I don’t think the lidérc is going to be finding his boot anytime soon. I’m a campground manager. I feel it’s important to elaborate on the senior campers this time because I’ve asked for their help. You see, if I’m going to rescue and/or stop the lady in chains, I need to know how. Cutting off the chains is a risky endeavor and I’d like to know it’ll even work before I try. For a while I’ve been at a loss, but then I thought back on my previous rescue attempts and realized there was a source of help I haven’t consulted yet. The dancers. The senior camp is going to help secure their aid. It’s not without a price, however. They demanded that I mark that damn incline at the front of their camp as ‘uncampable land’ and I grudgingly had to agree. I’m sure it’ll cause problems when I tell their neighboring camp that they’re getting shifted a handful of yards, but the senior camp really is my best bet for this. They’ve got a great cook who also brews and she’s “got 10 kegs and can run 4 taps” and they’ve got enough manpower to man the bar and then some. That’s right. I’ve asked the senior camp to throw the dancers a party. [x] Read the full list of rules. Visit the campground’s website.
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