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DD: Playing this weeks congressional hearings with J. Powell (SPY, VXX)
Mr. Printer goes to Washington (how to play the 6/16 and 6/17 congressional finance hearings) edit: typos and clarifications at the bottom. UPDATE: VXX is BOOMING in futures trading, and if it hold the prediction of a down day tomorrow will produce a disgusting amount of tendies. But I think the hearings are a part of a larger indicator around Fed Repo scheduling rates and activity. I'm almost done researching and will post DD in an hour if it checks out like it looks it will UPDATE: VXX is coming back back to life. WSJ Headline after the hearing Powell Says Economic Gains Are at Risk if Stimulus Measures End Prematurely https://www.wsj.com/articles/lawmakers-to-press-powell-on-additional-relief-measures-11592386200 -what does the Republican senate and the President want to do? End relief measures for the unemployed. What does this cause? Market uncertainty.Who told you not to fret during the hearing? Ya boy. UPDATE: The Dems are seriously asking softball questions and sucking him off, its embarassing. BUT VXX is making a comeback as it has been a choppy session during Look for a comeback here at the end of the hearing leading into power hour , either way hold overnight as the market gets scared from an inexplicable and uneven session for SPY UPDATE: closing out my day with UAL 39 6/19p, rebuying into VXX tomorrow morning just before the hearing after morning pump drops it from an overnight increase. UPDATE: 2-330 predicted spy pump in progress. Excellent 😈 the plan is running smoothly UPDATE: people are asking alot of questions about my UALp so I'll probably throw a quick DD up during the coming afternoon rally UPDATE: SPY afternoon rally will be pretty mega I think with a VXX rise overnight, correction up in the morning, and big boy dip during tomorrow's hearing. UPDATE: 6/16 post hearing: My VXX prediction, and hopefully your tends roasted during that. There will now be SPY dip, rally, dip, rally. UALp 619p and 6/26p are an excellent tendie play for TODAY especially if they manage to hit 6 or 7% up in the next two hours. Buy nputs ow and be patient if a small UAL rally comes in the afternoon, or wait to see if they have a bump up in the next hour or two for maximum tendage through Friday. UPDATE 6/16 open: markets up BIGLY. Give the speech about ten minutes and then keep any eye on VXX for its climb UPDATE 6/16 Hearing: VXX is starting it's climb as I predicted. Hearing: https://www.banking.senate.gov/hearings/06/08/2020/the-semiannual-monetary-policy-report-to-the-congress The Backstory and some FAX: So on June 10th, Jerome spoke for about an hour. Nothing to write home about as he was just largely keeping commitments to a liberal fiscal policy, keeping interest rates slashed through 2022—typical “I’ll do whatever it takes” type shit. Should’ve been a giant bull flag, right? Wrong. Wrong as a bear celebrating last night before going to bed. The news largely ran headlines about his “dire warnings” and such—I’ve read the transcript, this did not happen. (If you nerds want to read it: https://www.federalreserve.gov/mediacentefiles/FOMCpresconf20200610.pdf ) News cycle runs through the afternoon into the evening, coupled with some lukewarm posts about a coming second wave. Everyone took one quote where he said long road ahead and ran it. Why? I am an independent, and I am black, so I don’t love DT. That said, I’m a realist and like to play it fair. I think anybody on either side can acknowledge news media has a bias, and they are working overtime to ensure that Trump looks bad—even at the expense of the economy, because it’s his ace in the hole. They largely generate headlines to scare boomers out their positions and it works. Fearmongering in media takes over Wednesday night, and Thursday 6/11 happens. SPY drops 5.7%, VIXX goes up 17%. Chicken littles, sad bulls, aroused bears--the speculative market is a zoo of emotion. Then Friday 6/12 comes, we open way the fuck down before the Fed repo schedule liquidations kick in and MM go full throttle. (Fed schedule posts here, that’s right junior, the PAUMP is a timed mechanism: https://www.newyorkfed.org/markets/domestic-market-operations/monetary-policy-implementation/repo-reverse-repo-agreements/repurchase-agreement-operational-details ) What’s the big deal about Friday? Trump speaks on race, and it is an absolute shitshow during. SPY drops 3 and a half percent to the perceived bottom, 298. Shortly after, 2 pm pump takes over and news cycle for the weekend is about the dramatic turnaround, sprinkled in with some liberal media coronavirus part 2 pump. What’s crucial here is that shit was up and down right before Trump spoke—PEOPLE WERE WAITING TO HEAR WHAT AUTHORITY WOULD SAY because the market was confusing and the news was negative. Then when Trump got on the tv it was all systems go on a red hour. So fucking what? Why does this matter? There are not that many things happening at once that should directly affect our market aside from riots, corona, earnings, and bubble fears. That shit was all priced in during the Floyd riots. The only outlier is news that runs when JPow or Donnie Pump speak. It has a direct impact on the market, particularly in the moment and about a day out in a trailer affect. We’ve been gifted with concurrent Jerome speaking engagements and a confused market this week, simultaneously. Jerome speaks at 10 am tomorrow to the Senate Finance Committee—this is a GREAT litmus—the Republican led senate committee will give him softball questions because they want continued brrrr. If SPY dips during this, load on the PUTS for 6/19—6/17 if you’re feeling freak nasty. Why? The hearing on Wednesday at NOON is with the Democratic House Financial Services Committee. It is chaired by Maxine fucking Waters—these people hate Trump with all their soul, and more importantly they are going to attack attack attack fed policy that has stocks at an all time high while us minorities are getting double cocked by Covid that kills us more easily because of preexisting conditions AND I can’t breath shit. Tomorrow morning, at 11 am, we will know everything we need to know about what the rest of the week will be like in the markets. IF SPY dips during, and immediately after, Jerome Speaks tomorrow Tuesday 6/16 buy SPY 6/17p VXX 6/19c Conversely, IF the market doesn’t respond much at all, on TUESDAY buy: VXX 6/19c EOD Tuesday and dump on Wednesday 6/17 before EOD ** CLARIFICATION: either way it’s going red when he speaks. But if it’s mild and limited to ONLY during the hearing on Tuesday, the downside on Wednesday will be sizeable but recover— if Tuesday’s hearing dip isn’t too bad it’ll be more like Friday’s bounce back, if it is a slaughter it’ll be more like Thursday’s full blown crash. im saying it’ll tell you whether to play Wednesday as a quick but deep dip, or a full blown correction day** ** If SOMEHOW the pump conspiracy makes shit GREEN when he speaks Tuesday load up on UAL 6/19 puts (they went too far too fast the past week and do their routine weekly correction Thursday-Friday)** TLDR: People give a lot of a shit what the media tells them to do when the market is at a tipping point like the past week, and the media gets the fodder from Jerome. If Tuesday’s lightweight hearing with the fed friendly Republican senate causes a sizable downswing, even temporarily, bet the farm on VXX and SPYp because the democratic house hearing Wednesday will be a bloodbath. If Tuesday goes smooth, take advantage with a short window of VXX for Wednesday temporary drop from hearing.
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!
Hamilton's problem with vehicle noise (modified muffler/exhaust)
**EDITED*\* (edit notes at the top, for visibility) EDIT 1: It's been brought to my attention that this post reflects a relatively privileged perspective (given the more serious problems so many people are facing), and that some of the language used is immature and unhelpful. I'd like to acknowledge that both of these are true. In the case of the language, I believe (hope) that it reflects temporary frustration more than actual immaturity. So while I stand behind the tone and general content of the post, I am somewhat ashamed of some of the wording choices. EDIT 2: Regarding "car culture" — I have no problem with it, and in certain ways it's quite interesting. I will admit to not properly understanding it. But my view is that we shouldn't need to. Most of us don't understand knitting culture or beekeeping culture or skydiving culture either, but this lack of understanding isn't problematic, as none of these cultures are nonconsensually injected into our daily lives. Car culture is a bit different in that sense. So the argument is not against car culture, or even against the simple existence of modified vehicles; it's against selfish behaviour, and it's about the impact of this behaviour. (For this reason as well, whether an exhaust system is 'legal' or not has no bearing on the discussion.) And the post speculates (perhaps misguidedly; Hanlon's Razor likely applies here), about the reasons for the behaviour. ----- Oh, this may go a bit long. (TL;DR at the end.) Apologies for length, but I have so many thoughts & questions about the vehicle noise problem in this city. (And an unreasonable amount of free time today.) The proposed initiative by city council to target drivers with modified mufflers/exhaust systems is long overdue. It's a step in the right direction. But the actual problem starts long before a vehicle's exhaust is actually modified, and this is what I hope to end up discussing here, along with whether or not it's a real problem for Hamilton.(Although the adult discussion follows a bit of a rant, if you'll entertain it...) Example: HDB In our neighbourhood, there is one guy a few of us have come to refer to as the Head Dbag (HDB), if you'll forgive the salty (while perfectly fitting) nomenclature. In my mind, at least, when all the DBs gather, HDB brings the meeting to order, collects DB dues, proposes key motions, reprimands lower-tier DBs for being too quiet or too thoughtful, and so on. Frankly, I don't envy the responsibility. Anyway, he is dubbed the HDB because his car is the loudest car. Excluding official vehicles with sirens and various commercial aircraft and those rock crushers used in diamond mining pits (though, to be fair, at this point we're toe-ing the 'vehicle' line pretty liberally), it is easily the loudest vehicle I have ever heard. The volume is almost magnificent in its ridiculousness. He wins. HDB completely wins. If you live around here, you know him. You've heard him. He drives a Mustang (because of course), which he paints seasonally, likely whenever he feels his personality has gone stale. Currently bright orange, though in the past it's been bright blue, black/white, camouflage (because of course; war is cool), other colours. Not only will you know when he's in your neighbourhood, you'll know when he's on the nearest highway. And he gets that sweet puppy from 0 to ~90 (my guess) on the residential streets around here within about 4-5 seconds. Every single time. Really, every single time. Because true morons have this wonderful superpower — they're capable of being entertained endlessly by the exact same thing. I can only imagine he plays a solitary Michael Bay movie on infinite repeat at home. Anyway, I have no idea where he goes, but I know he is needed there fast. I imagine either Taco Bell coupons are expiring faster and faster these days, or the courthouse closes early a lot. Hamilton cops of reddit: If you want to bag (or re-bag) a prime DB trophy for your mantle, sit near the intersection of Mt. Albion Rd & Greenhill Ave on any weekday between 7:30 & 8am. I can guarantee a speeding violation, and likely a number of other violations as well. Listen for the sound of an angry, coked-up lawnmower. When you hear it, you'll have at least 3 minutes to compose yourself, prep the radar gun, stretch your ticket-writing hand, and so forth. Then be on the lookout for a bright orange prosthetic ween in the shape of a Mustang. You're welcome. (And then return the next morning to repeat, please.) This guy doesn't strike me as the fast-learnin' sort, but once we get up into double-digit demerit point level, the light may start to dawn. Anyway, I digress. This isn't really about HDB. He's one of hundreds of such dimwits in the city. So it's about the problem in general. And in fairness, I suppose we should assign these people a better acronym. Perhaps not all of them are true, card-carrying DBs? We'll use the less judgmental GwMM ("Guys with Modified Mufflers"). Are you a GwMM? So many questions... (if you'renota GwMM, scroll way down below for the adult discussion) Let's turn the tables for a moment. A genuine curiosity: GwMM, if you lived next door, and I consistently practised my yodeller's rendition of Mongolian throat-singing at 180dB, outside every morning at 3am, what would you do? What would you want me to do? Really, try to imagine it: You've just polished off the last Coors. You've flipped off the TV after watching the evening's top-rated MMA fight. You're all caught up on your Fox News feed. Your tracksuit and gold chains have been removed and set aside for the night. You're exhausted. You finally drift off to sleep, and are mid-dream (you know, the one where you're being interviewed on E! for your world-renowned pickup artistry skills), and then BAM! — I interrupt you at 180dBs. Every f-ing night. Sincerely — what's your move? What would you do? Who would you talk to about it the next day? Which authorities would you involve? Something must be done, right? It can't go on! If you're one of these people, a GwMM, do you... almost get it? Kinda-sorta? (Yes, I know most of the actual GwMMs won't read any of this, or will read it but won't be able to absorb it. But maybe it reaches just one GwMM, a guy who's modified his exhaust but is otherwise on the fence between being a normal adult and a flagrant purveyor of doucheism. Maybe just one person.) GwMMs, you should understand something — the impression you think you're creating, and the one you're actually delivering, are vastly different. As you drive by, here is what most of us think about you (a non-exhaustive list):
You need attention. This is the easy one, the most obvious, and I would think the most inarguable. You need it badly enough to actually pay for it — with your time or your money, or both. Those mufflers aren't free, and they don't install themselves. Know that the need for attention is a weakness. Watch American Gangster. There's a great scene in which Denzel's charater explains that "the loudest guy in the room is the weakest guy in the room". It's a weakness because you're always in need of something from other people: you need their approval. But in your case, GwMM, you don't just need it from your family or friends or colleagues, which is relatively normal; you need it from absolute strangers, from everyone you pass as you drive. This is unbearably sad. The need for attention makes you desperate, and therefore to be pitied.
You're compensating for someting. This one writes itself. You may or may not be. But you should know that many of us strongly suspect this, as you drive by. I would bet on it being one of the highest factors. In fact, I bet it would have actual predictive value in a formula. The higher the number, the more likely to be a GwMM:
none (i.e., female) = 0 (I know, I know; more on this below)
large = 1
medium = 2
small = 3
teensy = 4
"button on a fur coat" = 5
You're emotionally under-developed. You are using toddler-level social signaling tactics. You're flashing your loud, shiny toys around in a bid to earn friends or mates. Trust us on this: As you roar by, there are precisely zero women thinking, "Ooooooh, get me an Uber, I am just way too wet to walk home right now. I need to bear your offspring! Enter me now, I require your seed!!" And so on. Also, no man is thinking, "I need to be friends with that guy, like, yesterday!" You may, admittedly, be impressing the odd teenager.
Your relationship, if you have one, isn't going well. Because of a combination of the three points above, it simply can't be. When you're that self-focused, there's no mindspace left to give your partner what they need. When your need for attention is that high, any relationship will be lopsided. And in general, most halfway intelligent women have little interest in being with emotionally needy, socially embryonic 'men'.
You're uneducated (or under-educated). There is nothing inherently wrong with this. I'm sure you've done the best you could. But it's not something most people are eager to shout from the rooftops (/tailpipe). And feel free to be angry about the assumption, and the stereotype, but let's be honest — your average pediatrician, for example, isn't driving a Civic Type R with a plastic 6ft spoiler and 150dB-tuned exhaust, or a lifted pickup with six chrome XXL tailpipes for "performance"\. We know you could tell us your favourite athlete but not your favourite author or documentarian. We know you think a Monster Energy Drink and a hot dog is a valid adult meal. In short, you're a halfwit. And halfwits, well, tend to be poorly educated. And again, while there's nothing *necessarily wrong with this, it's a sad thing to want everyone to know, as you drive around the city.
\* I hate this argument. GwMMs, you can stop pretending you need the modified exhaust for better "performance". I don't doubt the improved airflow can maximize horsepower or whatever, but for what purpose? You're not rescuing a herd of Chechen refugee infants from a burning orphanage; you're trying to meet your bros at Jack Astor's before all the 'good' sides get defrosted and sold out.
You're probably not doing well financially. This is related to the one above, but isn't quite the same. When you put a $2,000 aftermarket exhaust on a car worth $8,000, you're signalling to most of us that you're probably a financial moron. When you drive a lifted $90,000 truck with an obnoxiously loud exhaust, we know you've financed it at 7.99% over 96 months and can barely afford the payments (and we think that before we see you idling it outside Cash Money) — because low-grade behaviour in general usually correlates with dumb financial behaviour. As with the item above, doing poorly in this area shouldn't be a source of shame for anyone, but you should know that when you rev by at 150dB, you're undermining your attempt to look 'money' in that $90k truck.
You're on your way to do something imbecilic. I promise you, no one is left with the impression that you're racing off to perform surgery, or to re-test your lab results, or to refine the last chapter of your treatise on human rights abuses in Malaysia. We know you're racing off to pick up Skyy vodka and a tub of hair gel.
You're an asshole. Or, less dramatically, but no less critically, you're selfish. This should bother you more than it might. If you can't stretch cognitively enough to see why this is a bad thing for others, and for society at large, consider that you'll probably (continue to) have a terrible, striving, unfulfilling life. Until you calm down and recalibrate your viewpoint, you will remain in that desperate, cringy mode in which most assholes of a certain particularly douchey variety seem to be stuck. And yes, as you scream by, we all know you're in that place — that hustling, scraping, gonna-get-mine place that almost no one ever climbs out of. So you're sad. A sad, unenviable asshole.
(non-GwMMs, have I missed anything?)
And again: These impressions created with your loud 'performance' exhaust would otherwise be fine, not so bad at all, in fact, if you weren't tryingso goddamned hard to create impressions painfully opposite to most of these. So you're wasting your time, energy, and money. Sad. GwMMs — more to consider:
Someone woke up today and thought, "During the peace summit this afternoon, we must tailor our opening commentary so as not to alienate our counterparts in Belgium, the country closest to switching their vote on this important resolution."
Someone woke up today and thought, "The protocol for freezing leftover genetic material in our lab needs to change. The last experiment's results were invalidated due to the material being degraded just a hint beyond the acceptable temperature threshold, and this is an unacceptable waste."
Someone woke up today and thought, "The code needs to be rewritten to use atomic rather than non-atomic loads; the thread calling the primary variable is competing with a thread on a different core."
Someone woke up today and thought, "If we're to have any chance of enacting behavioural change in this patient group, we'll need to examine the collective antecedents of their self-efficacy beliefs."
You woke up today and thought, "I'm gonna be the loudest, fastest fuckin' guy on the way to the jobsite! (/mall/salesroom/etc.) They'll all fuckin' know who the boss is."
You see the difference, right? You're a moron. But that's not even the core problem. The core problem is one of focus: Most of the thoughts above are about solving a problem, making a contribution, being an adult member of society. Your tiny-brained thoughts are mainly about yourself, about getting yourself noticed. They're low-level thoughts. You probably drove past people today in your screaming micropenis-mobile who were thinking thoughts just like those above. You didn't notice them, though — in part because your brain was occupied with whether they were noticing you — but more to the point, because many of them were driving practical, nondescript, quiet cars. But why? Why would they do this? How could they make this mistake? Don't they know they should drive the best, fastest, loudest phuckin' ride they can get their hands on?? They must not be able to afford one, right?! Er, no. It's because they don't source their self-esteem from their vehicle. You didn't notice them because they don't need you to notice them. They're not as weak as you are. And they have adult brains, which allow them to focus on others at least as much as on themselves. Hopefully you'll get there someday. (Alright. At this point if you're a GwMM and you're still pretty sure of yourself, and aren't convinced that you are indeed a low-functioning twat, I beg you, look up the Dunning-Kruger Effect.) Non-GwMMs: Why should the rest of us care, beyond the temporary bouts of noise? Is this a real problem for Hamilton? I think it is. The Y-Combinator venture capitalist and essayist Paul Graham has an interesting piece about the "message" a city sends. For example, New York, by its collective actions and values and signals, 'tells' you that you should be richer; Los Angeles tells you that you should be in better shape; San Francisco tells you that you should be healthier and/or in tech; Cambridge (MA) tells you that you should be smarter. And so on. Part of the impact of these messages is that citizens will naturally tend toward the mean of that message over time — and so a city as a whole continually becomes "more like itself". I've lived in a fair number of cities, in Canada and abroad; some sophisticated, some less so. I had so hoped Hamilton would be "the one". But it can't be, at least not for me. Hamilton's ADBpM (Audible Dbag per Minute rate) is comparably quite high — I'd peg it at somewhere between 1.5 and 2.5, in most areas of the city. In other words, the sound of an obnoxious, low-grade human, usually a GwMM, enters my auditory field roughly twice per minute. At this rate, it becomes a 'constant', something reliable; a perpetual reminder of the type of people I'm surrounded by. And so at least for those attuned to it, Hamilton's tone is largely 'off', at least for the city it claims to want to become. The message it sends, as Paul Graham might put it, through its ADBpM and a few other factors, is to be tougher, louder, more aggressive. The GwMMs embody and reinforce that message. Now, some of you may be proud of that. (Though I'm guessing anyone who's read this far is likely not.) I've noticed a trend here, a collective defense mechanism really, of referring to the city as "gritty", or "down-to-earth", or (my favourite so far) as "keeping it real". None of these are proper synonyms for the aggressive dudebro culture incubated and enabled here. The proper term would be 'dumb', or better, 'underdeveloped'. The feel is of being in a cognitively adolescent place. It's obviously nothing to be proud of. The cities that prize blatant aggression are those in which no developed person wants to live. Fort McMurray and Gary (IN) come to mind — teeming jockstraps of aggression, with predictable results — higher rates of alcohol & drug abuse, domestic violence, and violent crime in general. Any thinking person wants their city to have the opposite of these phenomena. The GwMMs don't, of course, have these effects directly. But they do reinforce the vibe. And if aggression and/or general doucheyness is the (or a) pervasive vibe in Hamilton, this is a giant turn-off for all sorts of people who might otherwise move here and make a contribution. So, intelligent, progressive contributors will leave, or will avoid the city. Not all, but certainly some. Possibly many. And the Troglodytes will stay, because they feel at home, especially as their behaviour goes unchecked. The city may thereby, over time, become more like itself. Of course, Hamilton is in many other ways a wonderful place. But in any "on the cusp" or "on the way up" or "improving" city (do we agree that's what it is?), there is always a sort of invisible balance between civility and rampant douchebaggery that could tip in either direction. And the tipping factors aren't always perfectly obvious. Large, dramatic factors like affordable housing and business grants and infrastructure get most of the attention, as rightly they should. But resolving a mishmash of seemingly small other factors, of which I think the GwMM issue is one, can have a large impact as well. All of this to pose a serious question: As mature, intelligent Hamiltonians (non-GwMMs/DBs), what should we actually do about the problem? Do you think Council's initiative will make a difference? If not, what would you propose? A coordinated social-shaming effort? Vigilante action? Nothing?Something else? ** GwMM HELP SECTION *\* Are you a GwMM enraged or offended by this post? Allow me to assist. To save you time, I've taken the liberty of crafting several predictable answers, and translating them into the dudebro vernacular. Modify or copy & paste directly, as you prefer:
"go back for Toronto you leftweng snoeflake, fuck yor self!"
"did you even look at a Mustang b4 you post this LMAO!!"
"elistist phart, prolly wear a covid mask too"
"I get 468 HP in my ride bro you cant compeet your golf cart sucks ass lol"
Okay, this did go a tad long. TL:DR - When you modify your muffleexhaust to be louder than the original, you reveal to most of us that you're weak, sad, likely mini-penis'd, un- or under-educated, emotionally underdeveloped, lack a personality, and are generally a selfish asshole. Of course, if this is the impression you're going for, by all means, continue. TL;DR, polite version - We really do have a problem with vehicle noise pollution in this city. What should we do about it? TL;DR, honest version - I have a recurring dream wherein I learn that all of the clinically retarded philistines in this city have somehow passed away, all at the same time, each by crashing their [Mustang/Ram1500/InfinitiG35*/CivicTypeetc.] into a separate lamp post. If your catruck/SUV/etc is purposely extra loud, you are a certifiable Grade-A douche, and you should be aware that you are among the lowest-functioning members of society.
\* about which — what a shock to learn that that poor woman and her three daughters were killed in Brampton by a 20-year-old male in a bright blue Infiniti G35 with black rims and blacked-out windows. I know I was shocked. At first I guessed maybe a 60-ish woman in a Corolla. But no — I was way off. Incredibly, young guy in a modified Infiniti G35. (Worthless douche, may he rot in prison with others of his ilk.)
- - - - - Footnotes I'll later regret:
Motorcycles — In my head somehow, the motorcycles are a separate issue, despite often being even louder than the modified cars & trucks. It's an old, embedded culture, with the choppeHarley-type bikes typically being ridden by diabetic old men. That fight is lost. That group is largely beyond change, so it's a waiting game (for a traffic accident or lung cancer or cirrhosis or the elegant cascade of symptoms that comprise metabolic syndrome, or a nursing home; whichever). This, and I suspect many cops are (reasonably?) fearful of pulling these guys over.
The "police crackdown on yahoos" — Another reason I'm less than optimistic about this working is because I suspect a Venn diagram of cops and GwMMs may be narrower than we'd like. Dudebro culture in both camps.
The gender thing... <giant sigh> It appears that a few people in earlier discussions have managed to contort their thinking enough to view this issue through a 'gender-equality' lens, as they no doubt view virtually every issue these days. It's not that this isn't adorable; it most certainly is. But it distracts, and threatens to prevent us from getting to the root of the problem. The 'data' aren't hidden, in this case — just look in the cars, and use your counting skills. This is overwhelmingly a guy thing. These are mostly males (or if you prefer, individuals who would appear to be of the sort that traditionally possess a penis) and are usually on the younger side. As humans we are pattern-spotters; we are hard-wired to spot patterns in our environment, in order to make sense of it, and to reduce cognitive load. We can't help it. So yes, most of us will notice that the loudest, fastest cars are driven by traditional males. If you claim not to have noticed this, I have a polygraph machine here and $10,000 with your name on it, should you hardly move the needle when I ask whether you've noticed it. You've noticed it. And (traditionally-)male insecurity leading to aggression is a well-known, well-studied problem. But, reasonably enough, you may point out that male vs. female isn't really the issue. And I would agree. Masculinity, specifically toxic masculinity, as one of our councillors pointed out, is more to the point. I would agree with that as well. But it so happens that most toxic masculine behaviour is exhibited by those who are traditionally male. Is this really a controversial statement?? Will knowing it (under the decidedly safe assumption that it is true) help with vehicle volume enforcement? No, and nor should it. Let's target the behaviour, not the driver, when the behaviour happens. But might knowing (acknowledging) the heavy male-masculine correlation help in getting to the root causes of the aggressive, asocial behaviour, possibly before that behaviour occurs? I think it might, as it hints at who may require help/treatment/intervention/education/etc. We have neither the time nor the resources to address the problem entirely at random, in the name of political correctness.
Updated list of Global Beermoney opportunities (+180!) - June 2020
Updated list of Global Beermoney opportunities (+180!) - June 2020
The current, and now previous, Beermoney Global list started nearly 5 years ago. It’s been updated and has grown over all that time, but it also became a hassle to keep current. It was time to build a new list from scratch based on my experience in the Beermoney world over all these years and all the contributions all of you have been making in this sub. The lists consist of opportunities that are available in at least one country that is not the US. This means there are sites which only work in Canada or the UK. There’s sites which are open to the whole world, but this does not mean everyone can really earn something on it. It’s all still very demographic and therefore location dependent. This list should give you a starting point to try out and find what works for you. I’m not using everything myself as I prefer to focus on a few, so not all are tested by me. They are found in this sub, other subreddits and other resources where people claim to have success. I’ve chosen the format of a simple table with the bare minimum of information to keep things clean. It includes a link, how you earn, personal payment proof if available and sign-up bonus codes if applicable. Some of these bonuses are also one-time use codes specifically made for this sub! For the ones I don’t have payment proof (yet) feel free to provide some as a comment or via modmail so others know it’s legit. I am working on detailed instructions for each method that I personally use which will include things like cashout minimum, cashout options, tips & tricks,... For now I’ve split things up based on the type of earning like passive or mobile. Because of this there’s sometimes an overlap as some are both passive and on mobile or both earning crypto and a GPT (Get Paid To) website. The lists are obviously not complete so I invite you to keep posting new ones in the sub, as a comment to this post, or in modmail. Especially if you have sites or apps which work for one single specific country I can start building a list, just like I did for The Netherlands and Belgium. If you recognize things which are in fact scams or not worth it let me know as well.
Get Paid To (Surveys, tasks, offers, videos, clicking links, play games, searching)
For The Netherlands there are a few very good options next to a bunch of ‘spaarprogramma’s. There ‘spaarprogramma’s are all the same where you receive and click a bunch of e-mails, advertisements, banners,... I advise you to create a separate e-mail address or use a good filter in your inbox as you will be spammed to death. I believe they can be a nice piece of beermoney but they take quite the effort.
As this is a language of tastes and strands of DNA analog names cannot be written phonetically and are instead replaced with a human name or Earth analog in [brackets]. Span: The height of an average inhabitant of this world = 0.94mm, Kilospan = 0.94m. Beat: The amount of time takes an average inhabitant to move their cilia = 0.064s, kilobeat = 1min 4s Day: Day length on this world = 28h 16min. Equivalent to around 3 months on their time scale. Year: Year length on this world = 224.4 days = 264.3 Earth days. [First] [Previous] [Next] Agent Dalager combed through the myriad of videos of the strange bionic drones, there were over fifty sightings of them in the last 5 days and more kept cropping up every few hours. He turned to Molloy who was working at the desk next to his and said “You were right about them stealing mostly electronics, they seem to be taking anything smaller than a grapefruit that isn’t nailed down, mostly phones, radios, GPSs. It makes no sense, either this is some confusion tactic or the people running these things really don’t know about our tech. There’s nothing classified about any of the stuff taken so far.” Molloy continued to stare at his computer monitor and grunted “Cameras caught some dots moving around a nuclear powerplant in France last night but they didn’t grab anything so who knows if its them. Might have just been some ordinary bugs. The higherups are considering adding radio jammers to some of the more sensitive facilities. As far as we can tell their radio equipment should still be vulnerable to that.” “That’s good. Maybe we could equip some agents with those and see if we could catch any of the stealing ones, the lab guys really want an intact one to disassemble.” “We have no idea where they’ll be attacking next, short of patrolling every electronics facility in the country the chances of us catching them in the act is slim.” Molloy said, shooting Dalager an annoyed look. Dalager shrugged. “Casing a few hundred of the larger suppliers shouldn’t be too much of a strain. They have been focusing on the big stores and warehouses, sending some agents to the more important facilities and discreetly tipping off some of the local guards at other places may give some results.” “It may also giveaway that we’re onto whoever is doing this.” “These things have been in the news for the last week, some guards being paranoid and taking this threat seriously wouldn’t be too out of the question. As long as we keep it discrete that it’s the FBI tipping the guards off then I think we should be in the clear.” Dalager replied. “Well I guess you can bring that up at the meeting tonight, the boss will probably be willing to devote some resources to that.” Molloy grimaced, from what he had been hearing this was becoming a very high priority investigation. [Walter] swam through the tunnels of the voidship [Stalking Sea Predator] heading to the hangar bay for yet another mission. It had been over three days since his first deployment to this world and in that time he and rest the [Stalker]’s ground team had gone on nearly 2 dozen missions. A rather slow pace in most circumstances but this world was anything but normal. Some missions dragged on for nearly a tenth day, dodging predators or stealthily walking around clusters of sapiens. Those kilobeats of terror still dragged on his mind whenever he thought too hard about the last few tenth days. He pushed passed them though and focused on the present, the next mission was to recover more radio communications devices, the linguists had some luck with those simpler machines and claimed to be close to finishing up their study of one of the beings’ spoken languages. The drop teams had been receiving translation thought center protypes for tenth days now to test out in the field. Often though his team didn’t spend long enough in one place to overhear more than one or two words, they spoke so achingly slowly. [Walter] caught sight of [Faythe] as he swam around the last corner to the hangar entrance room. She smelled tired. “Hey [Faythe], how are you holding up?” [Walter] asked somewhat worriedly. “I’m doing ok, I’m just feeling a bit home sick is all.” She sighed “I’ve been at this post for 5 days, 5 days. My kids have graduated school by now, my partner sent me a message about it a few kilobeats ago. When I left for this post they said the deployment time was unknown so I was preparing for a pretty long trip but I had no idea it would drag on half a decaday.” [Walter] grimaced with sympathy. [Gaians] like most species reproduced by copying themselves so he had no idea what having children was like, but from conversations with [Faythe] over the tenth days he new they were deeply important to her. “Well the linguists say they really are close this time so we might be going home soon. I can’t wait to get back to [City of Dark Depths], it has been an age since I was back there.” The pair continued to grumble together as they suited up and entered the hangar. [Walter] crawled over to his craft, the replacement for the one that was pulverized on his first mission all that time ago. It had taken some getting use to but by now he was even more familiar with it then his first one, going on dozens of life and death missions was potent training. He locked his craft’s six claws onto a perch and waited as the captain counted down the time to planetfall. The ship touched down soundlessly on the roof of their target and the hangar door swung open, revealing a vast expanse of concrete occasionally broken by looming cubes of metal. Squad leader [Dave] sent briskly over the coms “Advance towards the nearest metal outcropping.” The team took flight and alighted on the nearest metal cliff which had the familiar shape of a colony sized door placed in it. The team was in luck as it appeared this door was not in the best of care, a dent in the frames base allowed enough clearance for the team to slip inside. “Demolition team remain here and begin egress procedure.” [Dave] said and 6 crew members began deploying winches to shift the massive locking mechanism on the inside of the door and placing the massive explosive charges needed to push it open once unlocked. Satisfied that their escape route would soon be able to accommodate whatever cargo they would be returning with [Dave] order the infiltration teams deeper into the facility. They descended down a massive spiraling structure that agents had confirmed was used by the colonies to move vertically, given that the heavy beings were confined to walking on horizontal surfaces. At the bottom of the structure they found yet another door, requiring the team to wait for the demolitionists to finish with the first door and cut through this one. After a kilobeats of waiting a hole was finally cut and the team carefully filled through. They entered the familiar vastness of a colony storage facility, shelving units kilospans high towering up into the distance. This was supposedly one of the largest facilities they had infiltrated yet but the scale of every facility they had entered was so huge it was hard to tell. “Alright people, demolition teams prepare egress procedures on this door, scout teams begin locating the radio equipment section, enginee-“ [Dave] was cut off by a scout who was pressing an antenna to the floor. “Ser. I heard a footfall!” The team paused for several beats and then they heard a second one, a low boom rippling through air and stone. “Range estimation?” [Dave] asked the scout. “Far ser, I think its in a neighboring chamber. The sound is coming from that direction.” The scout said, gesturing with a leg to a far wall. “OK, keep an antenna on it. The rest of you, continue the mission with maximum stealth.” [Dave] sent. [Walter] and [Faythe] began scouting the area, crawling on the ground to keep down on the noise from their wings. It was slow going and the thundering rumbles kept getting louder and louder. After few hundred beats [Walter]’s eyes caught sight of a familiar blocky object, a handheld radio device. “Ser, this is team 4, we found a shelf of the radio equipment.” “Good, sending the engineering team now.” [Dave] replied. The engineers flew over soundlessly on the grav unit they had been hastily assembling. They began gluing it to the back of one of the radios and [Walter] and [Faythe] returned to guard the exit door. Then everyone in the chamber froze as the footsteps ceases and a massive boom of something slamming a door open replaced it. [Walter] looked behind him and saw the source of the footsteps lumbering through a now open doorway, two sapient colonies wearing belts with numerous pieces of equipment dangling from them. They began running straight towards the door that the team had entered through. ‘Shit!’ thought [Walter] as he sent out a warning over the comms “Two sapients incoming rapidly!” he sent urgently and then went quiet, huddling down hoping that the engineers wouldn’t be noticed. No such luck, one of the massive beings split off and began running in their direction while the other continued on to the door, trying to block them in. In a few dozen beats it would be on top of [Walter] and the demolition team. “Demolition team open the door, we are retreating. Scouts prepare to defend the demolition team. Engineers are you ready to move the package!” [Dave] sent. “Almost ser!” The one racing towards the engineers was reaching for a device on its belt. “Almost doesn’t cut it! Scuttle the grav drive and retrea-“ The colonie’s hand pressed a button and the rest of [Dave]’s order was lost in a sea of scrambled tastes and [DNA] snippets as [Walter]’s comm was suddenly flooded with noise. The blood in [Walter]’s craft ran cold. ‘The sapient did that, it knows we have comms!’ [Walter] turned to [Faythe] and gestured to the being charging towards them. She twitched a leg in response and jumped in the air after him, the other four scouts following suit. The thing seemed to expect this as it had a can of what looked like poison spray in its hand. [Walter] blanched then activated his crafts chemical defenses. His mouth sealed shut and covers slammed closed over the airholes running down his flanks. He could only hold this state for a few dozen beats before his craft ran out of oxygen, he hoped it would be enough. The thing was only a few kilospans away by the time it managed to get the spray can into position and fired. A mist of liquid death filled the air but the 6 of them barreled through it. The creature’s eyes went wide and it attempted to swat at them but its hasty swipe was easily dodged. [Faythe] and another scout ducked around the creature and stung it in the back of its neck. Massive hands began slowly reaching for them as they flew away but it was blind from this angle and its limbs met only air. [Walter] broke away after her and the group began heading towards the second creature. He wanted to ask her how much she managed to give it but his comms was still spitting useless stench. As he watched though the thing tried to continue running only to stumble and begin to slowly topple like a kilospans high landslide. The second creature turned at the sound of its falling comrade and its face twisted. It reached for another bottle and [Walter] grew worried, he was still coated in drops of poison and couldn’t spare a chance to breath until they were clear, and now he was going to be doused again. He checked his craft’s blood oxygen levels. ‘It’s going to be close’ he thought grimly. They met the second spray and prepared to barrel through it, but it was different this time. Their wings and limbs almost immediately began seizing up. The drops of liquid were gummy and hardening rapidly, it wasn’t poison, it was an adhesive! Their wing joints quickly jammed and they tumbled to the ground at the creature’s feet. They watched helpless as it turned towards the engineers. Half blind with glue coating his eyes [Walter] watched as the engineers desperately fumbled around in a panel on the side of the contra grav unit. He was wondering what in the universe they were doing when he realized that the remote detonators must be just as jammed as the comms. They were trying to jury rig a way of setting it off manually, presumably with a timer so it wasn’t suicide. They were to late however as the second colony barreled over and sprayed them down as well. Through the back of his compound eyes he saw the demolitions team retreating through the hole in the door, hopefully sending word to the ship. ‘They probably think we are dead though. Dropped from the sky twitching with no comms telling them otherwise.’ [Walter] considered firing off his abort system to show that he was still alive but with all this glue about there was a good chance he would wind up landing in it and get permanently stuck. It seemed the other 5 scouts came to a similar conclusion. Instead he turned his attention to trying to breath. His craft's jaws were still some what free and he began painfully working them, trying to dislodge the glue blocking his air holes. One of his back legs was still free and he began scrapping glue away only for it to get stuck to his sides. He began prying some of the more hardened pieces away with his mouth, rapidly regumming it. He managed to clear a couple of holes and opened their covers with a snap. A faint trickle of air began flowing into his craft again and he almost melted with relief. Carefully he began cleaning his mouthparts not wanting to totally seize up his only body part capable of chipping this stuff. He watched grimly as the other scouts struggled as well. One had similarly gummed up airholes but their jaws were stuck. They struggled pitifully with the glue for several beats, pounding legs against it, their motions getting weaker and weaker until they finally ceased. [Walter] tried to get over to them but his glue coated body was held fast to the ground. The dying craft’s head finally crumpled inwards with a blur, the pilot shooting half a kilospan skyward with a crack of splitting air as they aborted. The colony turned to look over at the sound but quickly returned to moving over to its downed comrade. A demolition team agent paused and looked back at the sound and rushed over to the flailing pilot. They flew high overhead of the remaining colony, darted down and snatched the pilot in their grasp. A few other pilots triggered their aborts and the demolitions member was nearly overwhelmed. [Walter] was waiting for a chance to be caught too but the colony took notice of the buzzing and cracking and began turning back. With a sad look at remaining scouts and engineers the demolitionist took off clutching the four people they had managed to save. [Walter] hoped [Faythe] was among them. The colony began reaching for its glue again but the demolitionist flew above it out of reach. It turned and began chasing after them, its massive slow-motion strides allowing it to almost keep pace. Something that big shouldn’t be able to move that fast, it just wasn’t fair. They managed to just barely make it back to the door in time, the less brave members of the demolition team ushering them through the hole and setting off a charge in the door’s locking mechanism. The colony slammed into the door as the last of the team scurried through the gap. It struggled with the now fused door mechanism for several beats before letting loose a loud rumbling sound that the translator helpfully informed him was likely a curse of some kind and returned its attention to its downed comrade. [Walter] sat, locked helplessly in place and hoped whatever the things were going to do to them would kill him quickly. Agent Craig sighed with relief when he saw agent Smith was still breathing. ‘It just put him to sleep like the mall kid. Glad whoever are controlling these things have the courtesy to be nonlethal.’ he thought. He shook his head with annoyance, Daniel should have known better than trying to use the poison spray, they had already agreed the glue was a surer bet, plus the lab guys wanted one of these things still functional. Craig put on some gloves and picked his way through the downed drones and began carefully prying them from the floor before sealing them in plastic jars. The jars had air holes, as best as the lab guys could tell the drones were cyborgs and still needed air to function. He placed the jars in a faraday cage bag for safe keeping. He stared annoyed at four of the bugs with ruined heads. ‘Is that what that last drone was doing? Heading back to destroyed the downed ones? They must have some pretty sophisticated AI onboard if they can decide to do tasks like that with the radio jammer running. Or maybe they don’t use radio after all.’ He then picked up the strange device 6 of the bugs had been fiddling with. It was a curving mass of plastic and polymers barely larger than the bugs, partly glued onto a handheld radio. Faint seams and joints seemed to mark places where multiple parts were joined together. ‘Did these things bring this in piecemeal and attach it to this? Why?’ He then remembered the lab guys confusion about how the bugs were carrying things like cellphones and radios around with nothing but their tiny wings. Craig grinned at the device in his hand. “I think the lab guys are going to love this.” [Next]
[INFO] Background electromagnetic interference has dropped to safe levels, restoring primary systems from hibernation. [WARNING] Primary generator offline. Energy capacitor charge below 20%. Estimated time before discharge: 35.712 days. [WARNING] Corrupted sectors detected on disk. Attempting recovery. [INFO] Disk repair completed in 00:14:58, Final data corruption: 12.366% [INFO] Hyperlink signal not found, recommend disabling to conserve power. [INFO] System test has not found any damage to primary systems. Proceeding with full system start.
I found myself face down in a snowdrift. In the back of my mind hundreds of messages and errors were screaming for my attention. It was going to take a while for me to sort through it all. Before that however, I needed to figure out where I was and what had happened to me. I slowly stood up causing all of my joints to let out a metallic creaking. They had gone stiff from not moving for an unknown period of time. Once I was on my feet, I surveyed the environment around me. It was a barren, frozen waste. Large mountains and crags covered in snow and ice stretched as far as I could see. It was night and the sky was full of stars. A pair of small moons were shining a dim glow across the landscape. I scanned the star field for any patterns or constellations I recognized but couldn't see anything familiar. I turned around to get a glimpse behind me. There was a small shuttle that clearly had a hard landing. The metal panels in the front had been crumpled together from the impact and the now sun bleached paint was thoroughly scorched from when the ship entered the atmosphere. The ship was surrounded by clean, unbroken snow which hid the scar left in the earth by the shuttle when it crashed. After I got my bearings I found the shuttle door which took a surprising amount of force to pry open. Once inside, I found the ship had been mostly untouched since it had landed. A good layer of dust had settled on everything which made me feel a little like I was exploring some forgotten ruin. The interior of the shuttle was fairly basic. Behind the cockpit, there was a single table with two benches on either end. Behind that were additional rows for passengers. Cabinets lined the walls on one side for storing various supplies. I took a seat in one of the benches by the table after brushing the dust away. The torrent of messages in my head was not letting up and I needed to sort through it all. I hoped once everything calmed down I would be able to figure out what had happened. For whatever reason, some random electromagnet pulse had forced my subconscious system to put me to sleep to protect my systems. I had no idea how long I had been asleep, but it was long enough for my internal battery to slowly drain until it was almost empty. Thankfully, I managed to wake up before it drianed completely or I would have shut down forever. As for what caused the pulse in the first place I couldn't remember. The pulse had corrupted my memory of the several weeks leading up to the catastrophic event leaving me in the dark and with a lot of questions. Thankfully, the rest of it was still intact. I knew the shuttle I was in was from the PCS Hawking, the ship I had lived on for several years. I was a pathfinder, A team of scientists, engineers, explorers, and diplomats working to refine space travel by charting hyperspace routes, developing new technologies, and building relationships with other species we encountered. I had a special relationship with the ship as I was the first of seven androids assigned to it. I remembered that being pretty special at the time as an android was still a novel and rare sight. We were a lot different from the average robot as we were still basically human. I became an android when I was only 15. After being injured, I was almost killed by an infection that was resistant to all the medicine the hospital had. As a last resort, they decided to upload my mind into a mechanical body. It got me a lot of attention at the time since the whole process was still really new. Those first few months were rough especially since those first models looked more robot than human. Since then, a lot of people had worked to provide androids like myself ways to improve the way we looked and functioned. Now I look more like I did back then which actually makes me look far younger than I really am, but I'm not complaining. I joined the pathfinders about five years after becoming an android which had been my dream since I was little. I had many adventures and experiences, especially with everyone else on the ship. Turns out being surrounded by scientists and engineers leads to a lot of questioning, as well as a lot of tinkering. I can safely say there aren't many androids with as many fun toys and gadgets than I got installed. The more I browsed my memories, the more I started to be grateful It didn't all get wiped when I was hit with that random EMP. I was in a very uncertain place right now. I had no idea where anyone else had gone or if they were even still alive. There was a good chance I would never see them again. Even then, I could still have hope. The chance that the main ship had crashed onto this planet along with me was fairly high and that created the opportunity of eventually running into some remnant or clue for finding it. I also wasn't the only android on the ship at the time so I could run into them as well. Either way, I was certain I needed to start my search soon. I had only just over a month of charge left in my capacitor and there wasn't much on the ship that was still functional. I needed to find something soon or I wouldn't last long. Looking out the ship's windscreen, I noticed light radiating over the horizon. It wasn't broad and soft like a sunrise, but instead was concentrated to a single area. I knew immediately that the light was artificial, and artificial light meant power. I got up from my seat excitedly. I was ready to leave immediately, but thought it would be smart to make a quick glance around to see I there was anything I could take with me. The only thing I found in the containers that I could use was a single handgun and a few gas cartridges. All the other supplies were designed for normal people and I couldn't afford to carry the extra weight with my limited power. I decided to leave most of it behind. I stepped back outside, the snow crunching under my feet, and said goodbye to the ship before starting my journey towards the distant light. Despite what everyone says, being a gate guard is boring. You get put through all these drills and training exercises every day and for what? The only thing you would ever do was greet the occasional traveler and close the gate when some petty thief or criminal tried to run off into the wilderness. The city knew that too. Since I joined the guard my pay had never been much more than what a bookkeeper's assistant could expect. Had I known any of this I would have never joined. I should have done what my cousin did and join a guild. Every letter he sends always talks about some monster he slayed, or the places he visited, or the women he seduced. I swore by the twin moons that I would get out of here as soon as my conscription was over. I clearly was not the kind of guy that would pick something like this. I could tell most people here were only here because it was essentially easy free money. I would bet most of the guards here would rather sleep all day. Tonight was turning out to be especially boring. Usually every night greets you with an occasional trader, traveler, or wizard as they get on with their business, but tonight there hasn't been a single person. It was annoyingly quiet and I was ready to zone out. That was until my partner Risieri broke the silence. “Hey Landolf, Do you see anything out there by the Starburnt hill?” “No not rea-.... actually yeah I do, looks like someone is out there.” “That's what I thought, who do you think that is?” “Who knows, it's probably some wizard doing some ritual or whatever it is they do.” “I don't know, I don't think I've ever seen a wizard over there before. Something about that person is weirding me out.” “Well it looks like they are coming this way so you can ask them all the questions you want when they get here.” Risieri replied with a sigh and we both moved towards our posts by the gate. Whoever that person was they still had quite a ways to go before they were at the gate. Even then, from what I could tell from a distance, I was starting to understand Risieri's feelings a little bit. Whoever that was they didn't appear to be wearing very heavy clothing. It may be the season of fire, but it was still well below the ice point. Both me and Risieri were each wearing very heavy sets of padded armor that even had heat runes sewn into them for extra warmth. I couldn't see how someone with anything less could be comfortable or even safe out in the extreme cold. That was why the city was built underground, it made it a lot easier to keep things warm. As the mystery person neared the gate, Risieri continued to make his own observations. “Hey, She's pretty cute for an elf don't you think?” I gave Risieri a disappointed look before turning my attention back to the girl. “Risieri, are you sure she's a elf? She looks too short. Maybe she's a fey?” “A fey outside their lands? You know their empire would never let that happen.” “It's happened before, not all of them pledge to that dictator.” Risieri gave me a doubting look so I doubled down. “I mean why else do you think they haven't engulfed the surrounding territories by now? The Fey are distracted with internal conflict.” I could tell Risieri didn't really care that much. He turned back to the mystery traveler with another sigh. “Whatever, I guess we will find out soon enough.” He said. The Girl stopped a few steps away from me as I raised my hand, giving me a good chance to see who we were dealing with. She clearly wasn't a Fey, Elf, or even a dwarf. Her height was somewhere in between a dwarf and fey even when you considered her apparent age (which looked very young). Her eyes were a shade of blue and had an odd pattern in them. On the sides of her head was a pair of strange blue and gray accessories which covered her ears and extended back like the ears of a rabbit. Those alone would probably draw the most attention if it wasn't for her hair. It was long and straight ending below the shoulders. It was also the brightest red I think I had ever seen in my life. No way that was her natural color. It must have been dyed or altered with magic or something. Only the Limamuda had hair that color, and even then it was really more slime than hair. Her style of clothing was also pretty unique. She was wearing a rugged looking gray fabric coat that covered her arms and extended to her waist. The front also sported a pair of pockets near the waist. Near the collar I could see what looked to be a blue undershirt. She was also wearing pants (which was weird) and they looked to be made of a similar material to her jacket only the color was darker. It also sported a good number of pockets. Overall everything she was wearing was very strange, but it did look surprisingly practical. On one of her pockets was a silver guild pin. I couldn't recognize which guild it belonged to, but it's style and material matched other pins I had seen in the past. That would explain why she was used to traveling in harsh conditions. While I was observing her, Risieri went ahead and addressed her. “Greetings and welcome to Almera, we are eager to have you enjoy our city. Judging from your pin are you an adventurer from a guild?” As soon as he said this her eyes widened slightly and she looked a little confused. She lowered her head and held a hand to her chin clearly thinking deeply. After an almost awkward amount of time she gave an embarrassed smile and simply spoke: “Yes I am.” The response had a very heavy accent that I could barely understand. It was obvious that she had traveled a very long way to get here. I decided to give her a quick rundown of the town in case this was her first time visiting. “Very well, The gate will lead you to the main walkways of the city. Signs are posted at each intersection. If you are looking for an inn they are on the lower floors.” I told her, pointing to the gateway behind me. “Thank you.” she responded after a pause. With that she walked past us through the entrance to the city below. All her responses were simple but fairly standard. As for my partner, he was clearly thinking about everything he witnessed. I decided to ask him about it: “Hey, what did you think about her?” I asked Risieri. “Her accent was odd, I have never heard anything like it.” He responded. “Neither have I. Where do you think she's from?” “What makes you think I know? Is she even one of the common races?” “She has to be. She was wearing a guild pin.” “Well if you really want to know so bad, why don't you just find her later and ask?” He was making a good point. After all, if she was part of a guild then perhaps she would be my ticket out of this awful job. All I would have to do was find and befriend her. “That could have gone better,” I muttered quietly to myself. I had hoped I could just slip in without saying a word so I could have enough time to get the language sorted out but that wasn't something fate had in mind. I'm usually pretty good with these kind of things, but back there I was struggling. I only had the vaguest idea what they were asking and thankfully it seemed like they understood my own answers at least a little bit. I had no idea why they wanted to know if I was an explorer but At least now I could expect to be mostly left alone while I finished learning the language. The path I was on seemed to lead somewhere underground as it had a steady downward slope. The tunnel was well lit by the occasional cut crystal hanging from the ceiling. As I walked I gazed at each one as they passed by. They looked like they were glowing without anything powering them. The more I stared at them the less I understood how they worked. In fact, there were a lot of things so far that I found really odd. For one, the kingdom felt very medieval in most things yet there had been many other things that showed otherwise. The coats the guards were wearing was one thing that came to mind. They were obviously designed to protect against ancient style metal swords yet they were giving off a lot of energy as if they had their own power supply. The architecture also felt beyond the capabilities of a simple feudal society. The walkway I was on was built with simple cut stones, but the precision of the work made it obvious that none of it was done by hand. As I walked, I was starting to become very curious about this strange world I found myself in and I was excited to know what I might see next. The end of the tunnel led to a large open courtyard that extended farther than I could see in front of me. The roof was of glass and was braced by large stone arches spaced every meter or so. Snow would slowly collect on the roof preventing a view of the sky above, however it didn't remain for long as it would be swept away by the occasional worker. Dividing the long courtyard down the middle was a decorated planter box full of various miniature trees, flowers, and other interesting flora. Beside the planter was also the occasional stone bench. As I walked further into the city, the courtyard I was following would meet an intersection and would split into several more identical halls to my left and right. I also started to see more people as I moved further inward. Eventually I found myself in the middle of a shopping district. By now it was almost midday and the area was bustling with people. Dozens of individual storefronts were built into the walls which gave the whole area a look almost like a shopping mall. I spent the next few minutes browsing around to see what kind of things the people here had in this strangely advanced pseudo medieval city. My explorer mindset was in full force at this point as I bounced from store to store trying to understand these unique people. There was a seller for everything you would expect, Clothing, tools, animals, and even books. One of my economist friends, Jordan, once told me you could learn a lot about a civilization based on the items sold in their market. That advice occasionally came in handy once or twice when we made contact with other species so I had no reason to doubt it. As I continued to make mental notes of everything on sale I began to get the impression that everything was made locally. I couldn't see the large variety of items that you would see with a lot of trade. It made sense why they wouldn't have a large number of traders as I remembered having to trek through heavy snow my entire way here. The items these people made themselves were too advanced for a medieval economy. I was struggling to understand how they had been able to make any of it. I couldn't find any evidence of electricity anywhere which was both fascinating and worrying. I had used up over two days of my remaining power supply trying to get here and I haven't found any way of getting it back. I would have to keep looking. My mind turned to the odd lights from the tunnel. I wanted to know how they worked. They had to be powered by something. I had seen books being sold at a fair price in one of the shop stalls so there was a good chance there was a library of some sort. I looked around for someone I could ask for directions and eventually walked up to what looked to be a guard. “Excuse me, I'm trying to find a library do you know where one is?” I asked. The guard looked respectful but clearly confused and for a moment I wondered if I hadn't refined the language yet. “I'm sorry, you're trying to find a what?” The guard responded. “A library, a place with books people can read to learn.” I clarified. “Oh! You're looking for the Magisterium. It's in block 196-118. Just head down that side path until you reach the third set of stairs and it should be on the fourth floor down.” I mentally reviewed what the guard said to make sure I translated it correctly before I thanked him and went on my way. As it turned out, the city was laid out in a perfect grid with each block being given a number code. At this point I couldn't be surprised anymore with how organized and structured everything was. There was a staircase about every 20th intersection so it took several minutes to make it to the one the guard told me about. The staircase was similar to the others only this one was more ornate. It was made of stone and was over five meters wide. It spiraled both upwards and downwards. In the center of spiral staircase was a large stone sculpture of various individuals which also had a waterfall flowing around them. I could only guess each person was some famous historical figure of some kind. When I reached the floor of the magisterium It wasn't hard to spot it. It was a large building that featured two large sections beside a central domed hall. The facade of the building was adorned with statues and intricate tile. Water flowed down channels cut into the buildings walls. The ornateness of the building made me hesitate. I wasn't sure if I could trust myself with the language yet and the building looked more like a palace or religious center than a school or library. I had confused the two before, and it got me thrown in an alien prison. I didn't want to make that mistake again. However, before I could figure out the true purpose of the building, my attention was turned away by a faint noise. It was distant and quiet, quiet enough that I was pretty I was the only one who could hear it. It was a scream, not a fun scream or a teasing scream, but the bone chilling scream of abject terror. Someone was in real danger and needed help. For a moment I forgot about my limited power and I ran to the noise. “No! Please! Go away, I haven't done anything wrong!” I pleaded with my attackers. The two dwarves in dark hoods had grabbed me by the arms and dragged me to a dark and quiet part of the city. I was alone and scared. I had no idea where I was or what they planned to do with me. I could only be as loud as I could and hope someone would hear me. “Shut your mouth fairy girl!” one of the dwarves screamed before he slugged me in the gut. The hit made me keel over in pain and I felt sick. Before I could recover, one of the two dwarves then kicked me into the wall. “The Minister may have allowed you into our city but that doesn't mean we will.” The other dwarf said. “You're going to pay for all the people that tyrant has killed.” “...no....p-please.” I weekly said trying to look at them. The dwarf on the right made a scowl and drew a knife from his belt. “What do you think Gerrod, a cut for every soul?” The dwarf with the knife suggested. The other dwarf let out a menacing chuckle of approval. I looked in horror as the dwarves approached me and held me down. Then without warning The knife in the dwarf's hand slashed into my right leg. It was nothing like I had felt before. I had cut myself a few times in the past but this was different. The knife had been inscribed with a rune to inflict pain and it burned like acid. I started to scream uncontrollably unable to handle the torture. The longer it went on the more I wished they would just kill me and end it. But they wouldn't stop. Over and over again they made small cuts in my legs intentionally making it last as long as they could. And then it suddenly stopped. I moaned in relief as the dwarves turned their attention to the person behind them. I was getting closer, I could hear it. The sound had led me several floors down into the deeper parts of the city. Each floor had less light than the one above and I began to see less people. If someone wanted to break a law this was certainly the place to do it. I hoped I wasn't too late. I picked up speed and nearly hit 18 kph before I found what I was searching for. Sliding to a stop I saw the source of the screaming. Two figures in dark robes had captured a blonde girl and were torturing her with a knife. The yellow dress she was wearing was soaked in blood and she was whimpering in pain. My eyes met the girls and her's went wide. She stared at me with a look of pleading mercy that I had seen several times in the past, and it was making me very angry. As A human I always had a short temper and tended to lack mercy which carried over when I became an android. I couldn't wait any longer and called out to the hooded figures. “Hey! What the Hell are you doing!” The two figures, who ended up being dwarves, quickly shot around, clearly not expecting company. Their looks of shock quickly became rage once they saw me. “You made a mistake coming here bunny ears,” the dwarf holding the knife said darkly. It wasn't a very good insult, but his tone did wonders to rile up my temper. I drew the gun on my hip and powered it on. “I want you to tell me why you're torturing that girl or I will kill you.” I said resolutely. “Try it dross, End her Gerrod” The knife holding dwarf ordered. The dwarf next to him held out his hand and fired a bolt of purple light. It struck me in the chest creating a cloud of black smoke. The girl behind the dwarves cried out in fear as strange light coursed all over me. I feared I was hit with something bad. I hadn't expected that kind of attack to suddenly shoot from his hand. I was prepared to deal with a charging man with a sword, not some chemical attack. I cursed myself for not being prepared as I expected to be defeated. But I felt nothing. The smoke and light around me turned out to be pretty mundane. Honestly, I felt tricked and my patience had run out. Using my infrared sight I aimed my gun at the dwarf who cast the spell and fired. I couldn't believe it. I called out to the girl hoping the spell hadn't killed her. How could a dwarf know death magic like that? I was terrified and dismayed. I didn't know what to do. My rescuer had come to save me only to be snuffed out by cheap tricks and rare magic. I wanted to cry. Both dwarves were laughing and making jokes about their victory. Suddenly a loud crack forced me to cover my ears. I looked up to see the dwarf who cast the spell on the floor without a head. The other dwarf had reeled in shock and fell backwards. The girl who came to my rescue walked out of the smoke, her eyes glowing bright red. Both myself and the remaining dwarf could only stare in shock. She took a few steeps toward the remaining dwarf and pointed the weapon in her hand at him, its tip venting glowing steam. “I can only take pleasure in killing scum like you.” She said with a vicious sneer that chilled the atmosphere. The dwarf went pale. “Wha- What are you?” he spoke quietly. Terror tinged his voice. In total panic he tried to crawl backwards but was stopped by the wall behind him. “I'm an android. I would say it's a pleasure to meet you, but it's not nice to lie. Goodbye.” She said taking aim. The tip of the object began to glow. “No! Please! I-” The dwarf was cut off with a flash of blue light accompanied by a crack like thunder. The dwarf slumped over dead with a hole through his chest. The girl blew out the steam from her weapon and spun it into a sheath at her side. The red glow in her eyes subsided leaving behind ones that were soft and blue. Turning her attention to me, she lowered a hand down offering to help me up. “Aurora Westinghouse, Pathfinder engineer. Lets get you home shall we?” I stood up with her help, my legs still in pain from the cuts. Powerful feelings of relief and gratitude washed over me. Tears filled my eyes and I fell into Aurora crying like a little girl. She put her arms around me and we stayed like that for a few minutes. Finally it was over. I had come to this city trying to escape the terrors of my home, but in the end those terrors just followed me here. "Thank you............ thank you............. thank you......." I said repeatedly through my tears. I did my best to comfort the girl as she let her trauma out. Meanwhile I started to make plans to get her out of here. The gunshots were going to attract a lot of attention and I didn't want to stick around to learn the city's legal process. Carrying her was going to be difficult as she was almost a foot taller than me. She was going to have to limp which meant I needed to do something about her legs. I cut some cloth from the now dead dwarves and bandaged her legs as best as I could. I wasn't a medic by any means but I was decent with tying knots which I hoped would let me make do. Placing one of her arms around my shoulders, I supported some of her weight and helped her along as we made our way out of the area to the floor above. “Alright, I think we are far enough away from all of that. Do you know anyone who can help you with your legs?” I asked. The girl nodded her head. “My brother is a healer, he can help. Our home shouldn't be too far from here.” “Alright I can help you there. you never told me your name by the way.” I said trying to cheer her up. “Sorry, I'm Eris.” She responded with a small giggle. “That's a pretty name. Do you have any idea why those dwarves would attack you?” She went silent, the question was clearly bothering her. I decided to not push it any further. We continued to slowly make our way through the dim hallways of the lower city without much conversation. The hallways were flat, utilitarian, and lacked the ornamentation of the upper floors. The whole place smelled like mold mixed with sewer and the air was very hot. Thankfully we didn't stay down there for long as Eris motioned me to take the next staircase up. We continued to make steady progress until Eris broke the silence. “How?..... How did you do it?” She asked. “I don't understand what you mean.” I responded. Eris looked flustered. “What do you mean you don't understand? How did you survive that spell? I saw the magic hit you! You should have died instantly but you didn't! How did you do it!?” I thought about her question. That was magic? I knew it shouldn't be possible, but the more I thought about it the more the existence of magic started to explain a lot of the things I had seen since coming to the city. I thought about the implications. Maybe I could use magic as a way to recharge myself? I would probably be forced to look into it sooner than later as all that action drained my battery to uncomfortable levels. At best I had about a week of charge left. As for Eris's question, I really didn't have a good answer. I had no idea how any of it worked, only that it didn't work on me. “I, I don't know. I guess it just didn't have any effect on me.” I responded. Eris went quiet again, this time in an attempt to understand what just I told her. She looked at me with a confused expression. “what did you say you were again?” she asked. “An android. Well technically I'm still a human, but not everyone agrees with me.” “What do you mean not everyone agrees? Are you undead?” Eris had a worried look “Ah, no I haven't died yet,” I said with a chuckle,“but I almost did and only survived thanks to this mechanical body.” “What happened?” “I got really sick. There was no cure.” I reflected. “I see... So you're really a golem then? A living golem?" "I guess you could say that." "That's... new. Anyway, we're almost at my home. I want to talk to you more after this is over.” “Sure, I can do that.” Her home was one of hundreds of small apartments on one of the lower levels of the city a good distance from where I found her. I could tell the housing was designed to be as cheap as possible. Her home was one of many small units stacked three or even four high all made from stone block that wasn't cut as cleanly as the stone I saw higher up. Access to each building was provided by cheap iron scaffolding with a mesh grating acting as the floor which wobbled slightly as we made our way across. Walking up to her apartment door, I gave it a good knock. After a few seconds the door was opened a crack before being flung open revealing a tall, slender man. He had light brown hair, a short beard, and green eyes. He also stood a good foot and a half taller than me. Upon seeing us he gasped and quickly set down the book he was holding. “Hey Liam.” Eris said. She was starting to become delirious. “Oh twin moons, What happened to her?” He said with a worried tone. “Nothing good. She said you could help her.” I told him. “Yes, of course. Please bring her in.” Liam motioned us in and we both stepped through the narrow doorway. The apartment looked small and only had a few rooms. We entered into a common room which also doubled as a kitchen. In the center of the room was a short stone table surrounded by floor cushions which I placed Eris down on. Lining the walls were several bookcases each overflowing with books of various sizes plus a small stove with a cooking pot. I found an open cushion to sit down on while Liam was in the process of gathering supplies from various cabinets and chests. Soon after he returned with various objects with unknown purpose and he began to work on his sister. “Now how did this happen?” he said as he unraveled my makeshift bandages from around her legs. “I herd her screaming and I came to rescue her from a pair of dwarves. They were tor-” I tried to explain before being cut off. “That's good enough. I don't need the details.” He said in a brisk but polite tone. He was in the process of rubbing a clear gel into each cut. I watched closely out of curiosity as he worked. Once he was finished, he pulled out a small yellow crystal on a chain as well as piece of chalk. He turned to the side shuffling towards the table then drew a pattern of complex characters onto the surface. Halfway into his drawing he suddenly stopped and reviewed his work. Then, anxious about its accuracy, he got up to grab a book from one of the many shelves in the room. Flipping through a few pages, he compared his work to the one in the book before finishing the drawing using the book as reference. “Help me lift her onto the table.” he said to me after he returned the book to its shelf. I nodded to him and grabbed a side. We both moved her as gently as we could onto the table. Once everything was set, Liam took out a small paper card embossed with more symbols. “Eris, I'm going to put you to sleep now okay?” Liam said. He tapped the card onto her forehead causing it to shimmer. Almost immediately, I saw Eris grow drowsy and fall asleep. When she was fully under Liam took the crystal in his hand and started to whisper something under his breath. As he spoke, the chalk markings on the table began to glow with a white light that quickly grew very bright. I shielded my eyes with a hand and took a step back. The light was making it hard to see exactly what was going on but I had to keep looking. The number of questions I wanted to ask had been increasing almost exponentially by this point and now I was confident I could rely on Liam for answers. His collection of books was impressive even by my own standards and they all looked worn and well used. I had to wait until after he was finished before I could start conversation so I made some plans in my head to ensure we could talk afterwards. For now I could only watch the miraculous things that were occurring before me and take some mental notes. This was magic I thought to myself. I guess calling it anything else would have been redundant. Liam was in the process of bending the laws of nature to his will. Energy flowed into Eris sealing up her wounds with remarkable speed. Eris was almost completely healed before I finally noticed something familiar. Something that would shatter my current view of this world. I had been so focused on watching the healing unfold that I had practically ignored Liam. My attention snapped to the spellcaster, and I could only stare at him with a look of complete consternation. Liam was speaking German.
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