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(37M) Just finalized divorce yesterday, and it feels great AMA

I wish I had found this sub years ago. Reading through these posts is really eye-opening and I see so many similarities to my own marriage.
Long post ahead.
I married at 18 for all the wrong reasons. She was 21. We were high school sweethearts. We were in love, but, in retrospect, neither of us were ready to get married. I kind of knew it at the time, but I went against my gut and did it anyway. We were married for 19 years. No kids.
There were so many red flags over the years, but, in my eyes, none of them were worth ending the marriage.
I never cheated. To my knowledge, neither did she. It just became a never-ending cycle of her treating me like a man-child which got progressively worse over the years. I even have a text message thread from several months ago where she claimed I wanted her to be "my mommy" (this couldn't be further from what I wanted) and that's why she treated me like this.
She pushed me (not in a good way, but I'm glad she did) to advance my professional career. Any job I had was never good enough for her, and I never made enough money for her. Red flag. However, this caused me to rapidly climb the corporate ladder in my 20s. At 29 I was able to quit my FT 6-figure job and start my own business, doubling, then tripling, then quadrupling my income over the next couple of years. Certainly no regrets here.
We have also been able to buy several houses, become landlords for 6 years, and pretty much live where we wanted.
But she resented me for it. I was required to be at the office *a lot* and she hated that I wasn't home until 9 pm on any given weekday. Our last house was a solid 2-3 hour drive (depending on traffic) from the city center. So I often had to leave the house by 6:30 am and wasn't back until late in the evening. Yeah, she was lonely. She wanted me to watch TV with her every night (I became very disinterested in TV anyway) which just wasn't possible. I could have kept a somewhat cushy corporate job that wasn't demanding in terms of hours, making much less money, but that wasn't good enough for her.
Rewind back to 2001. I put her through college and sacrificed my own college education for her. I worked 2 jobs, 7 days a week, for years to support us when I was 18-21. We were living in a crappy apartment and barely making ends meet. But she was going to make something of herself, then I was going to go to college and do the same. Like you are supposed to do. I tried to go to college while working 2 jobs for 60-70 hours per week, but it was way too much. My grades made it unable for me to advance, so I dropped out.
She graduated in 2004... then never really tried to get a decent job. The 'best' job she ever had was a retail store manager for a small store (making like $15/hr) and she hated it. She was perfectly capable of making 6-figures at a corporate job, but she never even made an attempt. She hopped between entry-level and minimum wage jobs, never spending more than a couple of months at any of them. Don't take this to mean I ever really cared about how much money she made. What I cared about was the effort she put into being a responsible adult. We were still having trouble making ends meet.
In 2006 (married for 5 years) I got my first big pay jump when I switched companies. I increased my income by 70% overnight and I was starting to see light at the end of the work-till-you-die tunnel. It was finally going to be good with my new income and hers, right? Wrong.
A couple of months into my new job she brought up the idea of her quitting her job to be a 'full-time homemaker'. Remember, we didn't have kids and didn't want any, and she is the one with the degree and the college debt we would be paying down for the next 15 years.
It started as an idea, then over a couple of weeks, it turned into her begging me to let her quit her job for good. I resisted, explaining to her that it made no financial sense. Besides, how was she going to keep herself occupied throughout the day? Laundry only needed to be done once a week, dishes only take a few minutes a day.
So, against my wishes, she quit working for good and never looked back. She did take to cooking more, but she basically sat at home and watched TV.
This went on for years. She knew I was against it. Without her income, we were in a worse financial situation than before I got my new job. But, (her words) because I was the man, "I was supposed to support the family"
She was bored all the time. The free time gave her much more time to find things to get upset about and dwell on. For example, she would start a big fight if I left a single bowl in the sink for *me* to wash later. Or if I used the stove or microwave and she found a single spec of splattered food. Or if I turned a perfectly functional knob on the washing machine to wash my own laundry. She would absolutely blow up -- "I did [insert thing here] on purpose so I could get out of doing [the thing] in the future." Thank god we had our own bathrooms. She resented me for these things and I had no chance for retribution.
She did do most of the housework for a few years, but I always did 100% of the yardwork. And almost 5 years ago we bought and lived on a farm -- got several dozen animals from horses to sheep to donkeys to ducks and geese. Just like in her professional 'career', she helped take care of them for a little while. Until she decided it was too much work. Then I was the one left by myself rounding up the animals, fixing broken fence, thawing out frozen water pipes, etc at 2 am on a weeknight when I had an 8 am meeting the next morning.
As you would expect, the sex decreased significantly over the years. It was good when we were in our teens and early 20s. But she became less and less interested over the years. It went from several times per week, to several times per month, to every few months, to... almost never. She wanted sex to be very mundane. She didn't like it when I went down on her. She absolutely refused to go down on me, and never did. She didn't like it when I tried to use my hand to please her. She didn't like foreplay. She never wanted to do anything other than missionary. We talked about how to spice up our sex life for years. I brought all sorts of ideas from the table from roleplaying to toys to things on the kinkier side, but she never actually wanted to do anything about it. I had also been struggling with PE throughout my later 20s which made the situation worse. And the PE was "my fault" and "I needed to do something about it". I did see a urologist who diagnosed me as perfectly normal and sent me on my way. He suggested both of us see a sex therapist together, which she was not ok with -- because this was "my problem".
Until we separated and I put myself out there, I hadn't had sex in about 4 years.
Fast forward to 2018. I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer -- like fewer than 100 cases per year in the entire country. The physician knew very little about it -- the hospital hadn't seen a case of it in over 5 years -- and referred me to a specialist in a city a few hours away. It was a few months before I knew anything definitive or could get it treated.
When I told my ex about the diagnosis, she preceded to inform me how I don't "have cancer" (but I did) and made it clear it was my own problem. I had an all-day surgery with the specialist to remove it -- I told her it was going to be an all-day surgery in advance. A couple-hour drive each way. Did she offer to drive me there or support me in any way? Nope. I got to drive myself there and back. Did she help me clean the huge surgical wound (it was like 10 inches in diameter) I had for the next 3 months? I even asked for her help cleaning and dressing it. She refused. So I had to figure out how to do it by myself. Did she express the slightest interest in talking to the specialist about it to get her own answers and put her mind at ease? Nope. She already knew better.
This when it became painfully obvious she didn't care about me at all.
And I still financially supported her 100%. At this point, she hadn't had a job for over 10 years and spent most of any given day watching TV.
In 2017 she started an Etsy sewing shop -- which didn't take much of her time, but it gave her something to do. We were vendors at lots of local festivals together when those were still a thing. We were doing this almost every weekend from April through December. She didn't have more than 200 orders per year until 2020. When the lockdowns and mask shortages started in March she started sewing cloth masks. She did really well for a couple of months, doing 50-100 orders per day. I told her I was proud of her. I also tried to help her when she was having trouble keeping up.
I spent a whole day helping her get caught up on orders. I can't sew, so I was helping her pack envelopes, print shipping labels, and iron decals onto the masks. She showed me how to do the iron-on transfers. It's so easy a 10-year-old could do it. I did a couple hundred of them that afternoon.
She came to inspect them before they got shipped out. And she blew-the-fuck-up. I did it *exactly* how she showed me and they looked great. But she could still see a crease in the fabric where it was folded. It was "my fault" and, as usual, I had done it "on purpose" so I could get out of helping in the future. Sound familiar?
I immediately stopped helping and left. I was done with her acting like a child. She is 40 years old and still acts like she is 12. Did she ever thank me for helping? No. Did she still ship the orders? Yep, so they weren't bad were they? Did she apologize for blowing up again? Nope.
And I forgot to mention -- we have been basically separated for the better part of 4 years. Sleeping in different rooms in the house. I've been living in an 'apartment' in the basement of my own house. She kicked me out of the bedroom when she was throwing a fit about a short business trip I was going on. I needed to "tell them I wasn't going". She threw all of my stuff down the stairs and that was the end of that. I wasn't allowed to use the stove that I paid for. If I had food in the microwave and she wanted to use it, she would throw away whatever I had in there. She would throw away my dishes if I wasn't watching; I found them in the trash all the time.
I spent the next several months thinking about all of this and much more. One thing I came to realize: in the 19 years we had been married I couldn't think of a single instance where she apologized for blowing up about something meaningless or admitted she was wrong. Not a single one. I even challenged her about it. Could she think of a single time she did either one of those? She couldn't come up with one concrete example. BTW, I apologized thousands of times. I never once blew up about anything in our entire relationship -- that's not the kind of person I am -- but I have apologized for things I said that made her feel bad and admitted I was wrong many, many times. At her insistence, I even admitted to doing lots of meaningless things that I didn't actually do just to put a fight to bed and keep the relationship in-tact. There is no point in fighting over BS.
2020 also brought on a lot of financial stress. At the beginning of the year, I had signed contracts that would make this the biggest year since I started the business. Clients were in sports, restaurants, casinos, and live entertainment. I lost all of them, and most of them are unlikely to survive 2021 without a bankruptcy. I laid off my entire staff. Our income took a nosedive. We burnt through most of our savings because she couldn't control her spending habits, and she had zero interest in financially contributing to the household.
This was the straw that broke the camel's back. She made it abundantly clear she didn't care about me, and, at the same time, she expected me to financially support her do-whatever-she-wants consequences-be-damned lifestyle.
I prepared the divorce papers and presented them to her on a whim when she was blowing up about dishes in the sink or something like that. I just couldn't deal with it anymore.
I don't know why she acted surprised. She had told me she wanted a divorce plenty of times in recent years, and a couple of times in 2020. But she never had the balls to do it.
This was something I had been thinking about for a few years, but I was likely to be on the hook for $10k/month in alimony for the rest of my life if it weren't for COVID. We live in a midwest state with divorce case-law which strongly favors women, and I have lots of male friends/colleagues who got screwed royally in a divorce -- even if their spouse cheated. So it was kind of the perfect storm. Depleted savings and drastically reduced income meant there was nothing for the court to grant. All we really had left was retirement savings and home equity. The house sale is closing in 10 days and we already liquidated the 401k, which she used to buy her own house. That was everything.
Sorry for the long post, but I needed to rant to some strangers on the internet. There is obviously much more to tell over 19 years of marriage, but I'll leave it here for the sake of brevity.
This post may sound very one-sided, but I really tried to keep it together. I tried to be a good husband. To give my wife what she wanted. To be there for her when she needed me. To make her happy, at the expense of my own happiness. Happy wife, happy life, right?
As I put in the title, the court granted dissolution yesterday. It was very easy. No attorneys, we didn't fight about any remaining property. We each own our own vehicles free and clear and had no interest in the other's. She stole a few thousand more dollars from our joint account and sold some valuable things without my permission, but it wasn't worth fighting over. I just let it go.
I'm finally free and I feel better than I have in years.
Ask me anything.
submitted by VisualAd2408 to Divorce [link] [comments]

Greater London in Coronavirus Tier 3 (Very high alert) from Weds 16th Dec 00:01

Due to a sharp rise in Coronavirus cases, Greater London (32 boroughs + the City of London) will move in to Tier 3 (Very high alert) on Wednesday Dec 16th at 00:01.
Most surrounding counties including all of Kent, most of Surrey, and parts of Beds, Bucks, and Essex are (or will be - as of Saturday) in Tier 3 as well.

The Usual Stuff

Stay 2m (6ft) away from people that you don't live with where practical, and at least 1m (3ft) away at all times. Do your very best to maintain hygiene, washing your hands and shared surfaces at every opportunity. And of course, you should only do what you're comfortable with.
If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, even mild, stay home for at least 10 days until you no-longer have a temperature. Get a test through the gov.uk testing website or calling 119. Others in your household must stay home for 14 days source.
Most coronavirus cases are mild, but if you're very ill, call 111, or in an emergency, call 999 - DO NOT go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital with COVID-19. Continue to keep NHS appointments for other purposes unless your clinician tells you otherwise or the government changes the advice.

What are the restrictions?

Under Tier 3:
Single adult households can still form a (permanent) mutual support bubble with one other household.
There are various other exceptions for things like weddings (up to 15 people), funerals (30 people) and in a few other areas. You can read the full Tier 3 restrictions here.
You can leave your home to escape injury or harm.
If you break these rules you may be fined from £1000 or more, depending on the offence.

Making a Christmas Bubble

Between 23rd and 27th December the rules are being loosened so we can see close family and friends over the festive period. For these four days you can form an exclusive ‘Christmas bubble’ composed of people from no more than three households
Note that:

Can I visit London now?

Theoretically yes. Many of the typical tourist attractions will be closed during Tier 3 so make sure you check anything you want to do in advance and book the limited space available.
Many incoming foreign travellers from higher risk countries are subject to a mandatory two week quarantine. Check if your country is on the list.

Test to Release scheme

Starting on Dec 15th, you can reduce your time in isolation after arrival to 5 days (instead of 10 days) by paying for a coronavirus test.
This must be from a test provider participating in the government scheme and you have to opt in on your passenger locator form when you arrive in England from abroad. There are currently very few providers and the tests are quite expensive (£180) but this list will likely be expanded in the coming weeks. You will need to pre-book (there's considerable lead time).
The full guidance is here

Can I go somewhere else?

The government advises that you should not leave a Tier 3 area unless for work, education, or some other good reason, and if you normally live in a Tier 3 area you should not stay away from home overnight.

Face masks

Face coverings are compulsory on all forms of public transport and in all shops, takeaways, hospitals and care homes. This is a law and you can be fined if you do not comply. You don't need to buy a fancy respirator, instead think about buying or making your own from fabric, or use a scarf or bandana. As long as you wash them at a decent heat between uses this is much more environmentally friendly than disposable surgical masks.

The NHS App

The NHS COVID-19 app is now available. It uses Apple & Google's co-developed bluetooth protocol which does not transmit any of your personal details to anyone, including the government. It's been used as the basis for apps in privacy-conscious countries like Germany and Ireland, and is generally considered safe and secure.
The app is particularly effectively in dense urban areas, and NHS England's also includes features to help you check in to venues and get a test.
Download it!

Get help or give help

With the short days, the cold weather, and the lockdown restrictions, this is going to be a hard time for everyone.
This is not official advice - just our summary and might contain errors and omissions. Check gov.uk for the letter of the law. Please post any feedback or suggestions
submitted by ianjm to london [link] [comments]

@AFP: VIDEO: With their flaky pastry casing, creamy custard filling and brulee topping, Macau's Portuguese egg tarts are as much of a part of the Chinese enclave's fabric as its casinos -- but their origin is surprisingly British https://t.co/zxqdoOTZ40

submitted by -en- to newsbotbot [link] [comments]

Sunday, Nov 29: 1,608 new cases, 9 more deaths, hospitalizations up 20, ICU up 7.

Sunday, Nov 29: 1,608 new cases, 9 more deaths, hospitalizations up 20, ICU up 7. submitted by SauronOMordor to alberta [link] [comments]

Is card counting a lie, fabricated by the casino industry?

I was playing blackjack and trying to card count using a system I made that where you only count 3s and 9s. I lost my entire $200 bankroll which shouldn't have happened. I tried discussing my issue with the pit boss and he told me card counting was a sham. All the books were written by the casinos in order to trick people into thinking the game was beatable in order to attract more patron. Is this true?
submitted by youarewhatyoueat1 to blackjack [link] [comments]

Dec/29/2020 news: \\ political party law reformed: idea > individual; transparency; female % \\ Pashinyan responds to "not being enough pro-Russian" \\ who owns which business? \\ protests & snap elect. \\ burglary case & HHK MP \\ humanitarian aid for Artsakh \\ Vitalik flexes muscles \\ bills pass

Your 14-minute Tuesday report in 3589 words.

Pashinyan about pre-war negotiations and "avoiding" the war:

The idea that a flexible foreign policy could have avoided this war is being constantly circulated. Those [former officials] who believe in this thesis must answer at least one question: as a result of their "flexible" policy, why was it not possible to avoid the war of 2016, which was preceded by the unprecedented escalation of 2015 and 2014?
The "flexible" policy adopted by Armenia for many years led to the introduction of Russian proposals in January 2016, which proposed the return of 7 territories (5 + 2) without any legal status for Nagorno-Karabakh.
Why did Russia make such an offer? For one simple reason, as a result of Armenia's "flexible" policy, the Madrid process had come to a standstill because Artsakh could receive a Status outside Azerbaijan only with the consent of Azerbaijan.
It was obvious to Russia and everyone else that Azerbaijan would not agree to this, so it was necessary to find ways to break the deadlock.
And, by the way, if certain people claim that Armenia's foreign policy after 2018 was not sufficiently pro-Russian and this was the reason for the war, then why in the conditions of the "sufficiently pro-Russian" policy of 2016 were Russian proposals born and why did the April war take place?
There was only one way to prevent this war: return the regions and forget about Artsakh's legal status. Now, after the war is over and we know the outcome, the number of supporters of [giveaway of 7 regions] is growing. What they forget is that if we gave away the lands to avoid the war, we would have the same situation in Syunik borders. They used to accuse us of "selling lands" [he means the contradictory statements like Nikol sold the lands, and why didn't Nikol sell the lands earlier to avoid the war].
The biggest failure by the supporters of the "flexible policies" is that they spent years trying to avoid a war instead of preparing for it. Our biggest failure is that we weren't able to recover enough embezzled public property in the past 2.5 years to help us better prepare for the war.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039231.html

businesses owned by opposition leaders

What are the known businesses owned by some of the famous people you might have seen in the public square lately?

Vazgen Manukyan

20% share in Lorva Amrots Ltd which plans to operate two hydro-power plants on Dzoraget river. Manukyan purchased the shares in 2011 after being appointed by Serj as the head of the Public Council.
In 2015-2016, he owned 30% shares in Vanavka Group. In 2015-2017 he had 30% shares in Jermakunq Group. These companies extracted and bottled water. At the time, the director of these companies was charged with illegal bottling and causing ֏55 million in damages to the state. The corruption case was sent to the IRS, which terminated the investigation after "not finding a crime". The companies export the products mostly to Russia.
 

Arthur Vanetsyan

Vanetsyan is a poor boy, according to the public declarations database. But if you have time, take a look at the investigative report I covered in Ap29/2020 news, according to which Vanetsyan's family allegedly used offshore firms and owns mining shares. More on that here. Here is a Hetq investigative report.
Vanetsyan's father owns AV Group flower importing business. About a year ago, the police investigated several flower sellers near a stadium. An opposition outlet claimed that the sellers were "beaten and forced" to testify that Vanetsyan's father was running an underground business. This was never properly proven and the opposition's claim that Vanetsyan was about to be charged did not happen. The police confirmed that there was an investigation against several flower sellers. These flower sellers ended up hiring Vanetsyan's co-party-creator Arsen Babayan as a lawyer.
Vanetsyan's father owns 50% shares of A B Export oil import company that began operating in 2017. It was a minor player that quit the market in 2019. Vanetsyan's father also owns 60% of A B Trans transportation company.
In Nov/2019, CivilNet wrote about Arthur Vanetsyan's cousins' possible involvement with Zangezur Copper factory (massive business). The same offshore firm in Cyprus, which purchased Zangezur shares, was tied to Vanetsyan's cousins' another business in the same offshore.
Vanetsyan's cousins also own a Switzerland-based Exoil wholesale cooking oil and shipping company. In 2019 it had a revenue of $148 million (11 billion Rubles). The cousins don't do this business in Armenia.
Per 2019 registration, Arthur Vanetsyan himself owns one apartment, $10,000, and ֏1 million.
Media reported in May/2020 that Vanetsyan's cousin purchased a ֏300 million mansion in Yerevan, which was donated to then-new political party "Hayreniq", co-founded by Arthur Vanetsyan and Arsen Babayan (the guy who is accused of helping HHK to fabricate documents in 2018 to hijack the Constitutional Court by appointing HHK MP Hrayr Tovmasyan as a judge).
Arthur Vanetsyan's mother served as the chief of the personnel-management department in Serj and Pashinyan administrations, before quitting and working as Serj's aide.
Vanetsyan's wife owns Villa Montessori preschool in Yerevan. She also runs the Young Education Center Ltd.
 

ARF Ishkhan Saghatelyan

Pashinyan appointed Saghatelyan as Gegharquniq governor for a brief period after the 2018 revolution, when Pashinyan created a unity-government, represented by all political parties. The honeymoon soon ended and each party went their way.
Saghatelyan owns shares in i-mega Service Ltd. It's a tourism agency founded in 2006. It operates in Armenia, Artsakh, and Georgia.
Saghatelyan founded Navasar company and serves as director. It's owned by his father.
Saghatelyan family owns the Tsovasar hotel complex on Lake Sevan shores. It's 10,000 m2 (a hectare?).
As of 2018, Saghatelyan declared ownership of 8 pieces of land, 2 apartments, ֏18.5 million, $45,000, and €15,000.
Saghatelyan's father is the mayor of Gegharquniq's Geghamavan settlement. This municipality had recently sent a letter demanding Pashinyan's resignation.
Saghatelyan used to be a shareholder of Shiman Ltd which is no longer active.
 

BHK leader Gagik "dodi gago" Tsarukyan

BUCKLE UP, KIDS! Overall, Tsarukyan runs 54 companies. Студент, комсомолец, спортсмен, u наконец, он просто красавиц.
His business empire was covered in details here. Textile, gas stations, malls, Multi Group empire, Shangri-La Casino, Ararat Cognac & Wine Factory, BMW official office Euromotors (also Hyundai, Gazel, Niva), Multi Motors, Magas Invest, Multi Wellness, Olimpavan sports complex, Kotayk beer factory, TechnAlyumin door & window factory, Multi Rest House hotel chain, Paravon luxury restaurant, Onira Club, Zvartnot's airport's upper-level service company Avia Service, Farm Adama, Multi Pharm pharmacy, Multi Leon gas stations, Multi Solar solar panels.
He owns shares in Frank Mueller Yerevan watch company, Fortsa, Multi Gold, Multi Diamond jewelry firms, several fish-breeding businesses.
He also runs businesses in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Czechia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia.
Per official declaration, he owns $168 million, €29 million, ֏675 million, 14 pieces of land, 6 houses, 2 public buildings, 1 apartment.
 
Details for BHK MP Mikael Melkumyan and HHK Vahram Baghdasaryan in the link below.
 
https://fip.am/14388
https://hetq.am/hy/article/88755
https://www.reddit.com/armenia/comments/gagkyp/apr292020_wednesday_news_armenia_being_sued_fo?
www.civilnet.am/news/2019/11/01/Զանգեզուրի-պղնձամոլիբդենային-Մաքսիմ-Հակոբյանի-ու-նրա-որդու-փոխարեն-նոր-բաժնետերեր-Ժնևից-և-Աջափնյակից/369792
www.1lurer.am/hy/2020/01/29/Բենզինի-շուկա-Արթուր-Վանեցյանի-հայրը-դուրս-է-եկել-ոլորտից-Միքայել-Մինասյանի-մերձավորը՝-խոշորների-մա/182670

opposition continues the demonstrations

The street demonstrations, organized by the former regime and its allies, continue. They demand Pashinyan's resignation and the appointment of their candidate Vazgen Manukyan as the Prime Minister for the duration of a year, after which they agree to hold new elections.
ARF leader Artsvik Minasyan said they don't plan to discuss snap elections with Pashinyan. "Right now, our only demand is Pashinyan's resignation. We demand SIS to immediately hold every criminal accountable". The demonstrators gathered in front of the SIS building to present the demands.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039316.html

Pashinyan meets leaders of several opposition parties

QP leader Lilith: there is a possibility there will be a meeting between Pashinyan and the three Parliamentary political parties. They could discuss snap elections. The impression is that politicians who demand Pashinyan's resignation do not want snap elections in an attempt to bypass the citizen's right to form a government. Our political team reaffirms the position that none of us is clinging on seats. //
LHK MP Gorgisyan: we cannot hold snap elections now, under this chaotic situation. We will discuss snap elections if Pashinyan discusses his resignation and transfer of power. (LHK wants its leader Marukyan to be elected as Prime Minister by a Parliamentary vote) //
Pashinyan met BHK leader Tsarukyan. The latter is against holding snap elections unless Pashinyan resigns now, and presumably, he wants Vazgen Manukyan appointed as PM.
LHK leader Marukyan also wants Pashinyan to resign now so a new Prime Minister can form a new government cabinet "consisted of experts".
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039261.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039268.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039299.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039322.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039323.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039327.html

felony case: ex-HHK MP charged with armed attack on ex-IRS official

In August of this year, Russia extradited a former HHK MP Alraghatsi Lyovik to Armenia. He was wanted for allegedly burglarizing and shooting at a senior IRS official a decade ago. At the time, his case was "frozen". It was relaunched in 2018. (magic wand)
NSS says: suspect Lyovik, with the help of citizens AK and AN, organized an armed burglary against IRS Chief (?) Avetisyan in 2008.
AK was in the United States. In 2004, he stole $150,000 from jewelry shops in Los Angeles. He got caught but managed to flee to Armenia.
Once in Armenia, AK colluded with policeman AN to organize a similar criminal ring in Armenia.
[MP] Lyovik personally knew AK, and learned about their burglaries. Since Lyovik had bad relations with the IRS chief (victim), he decided to punish the victim by urging AK to burglarize his house. Lyovik revealed the plot to his brother-in-law, who happened to be the victim's personal aide. The latter gave all the personal habits and details about the victim to the burglars.
[read the article for the full story, or wait for a Hollywood movie in theaters near you]
The burglars and organizers are charged with felonies.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203835 , https://youtu.be/brdozVbwQ6A , https://factor.am/274836.html , https://armtimes.com/hy/article/183522 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203835 ,

Russian Orthodox chapel will be built

... in the Armenian settlement near Nakhijevan where Azerbaijan had earlier shut down a Russian helicopter, which killed and wounded Russian pilots. It'll be on a hill in Yeraskh. Construction starts on January 6th.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039259.html

Russian peacekeepers conducted training

... to stay in shape. A report by WarGonzo's Semyon Pegovn who returned to Artsakh to meet the New Year there.
https://youtu.be/-c1BSTkC-a8

Russia and Turkey comment

Russian MFA: The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh should not be used for the infiltration of foreign mercenaries into the region. Here we have exactly the same position as our Turkish partners.
Turkish MFA: we see that a ceasefire has been established. We hope to establish the joint RU-TR monitoring center soon.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039281.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039282.html

Vitalik Balasanyan will return the lands, kicks junkies, and restrict Facebook

Artsakh President Arayik earlier announced that he will allow his opponents to take jobs in the new coalition government. Kocharyan-ally Vitali Balasanyan became the Security Council chief.
Vitalik: we will return Hadrut and Askeran region with the help of Russian and Armenian military-political efforts. We are in a better situation now to solve territorial issues.
We will soon create border guard forces. It will report to MoD, which will report to the Security Council (his office).
Drugs have no place in Artsakh. Drug users must quit or leave Artsakh now.
We need to return to traditional values of giving women as wives after asking if the man had served in the army.
No public official will be allowed to use Facebook during work.
More: https://youtu.be/DceHyi4AB5g
https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/289056/

search operations are paused / the "welcome to Azerbaijan" sign

Azerbaijan received criticism for refusing to allow search teams to enter the Hadrut region yesterday. They also prevented UNESCO from checking the status of several Armenian cultural sights, after complaining that UNESCO was "biased" against Azerbaijan during the war.
HR Ombudsman: Any untrue information can not be a reason to disrupt the humanitarian process [referring to unconfirmed rumors on social media that Armenians opened fire at Azeris in Hadrut. An unofficial Iranian social media channel claims 3 Azeris were killed but due to an internal fight.]
The Human Rights Ombudsman also criticized the Azeri troops for installing a provocative "welcome to Azerbaijan" sign on part of a road that went under Azeri control near Syunik borders. The Ombudsman says it's meant to intimidate the locals.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039233.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039237.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039244.html , https://factor.am/325511.html

Parliament votes: BHK MP Naira Zohrabyan's chairmanship

Context: BHK MP Naira Zohrabyan referred to the majority of Armenian voters as human trash *(or as she says: impure), and called for the establishment of forced re-education camps so people won't vote for a "wrong party" again. The ruling QP party launched a process to terminate her chairmanship in Parliamentary Human Rights Committee. Read yesterday's thread for more details.*
QP MP Arthur: the law states that the Parliament can appoint and terminate the chairman. The termination of this seat does not require the same procedures as in the case of MPs and Judges. Armenian Constitution states that in Armenia, human beings are of the highest value, and inalienable human dignity is the inseparable basis of their rights and freedoms. MP Zohrabyan's public conduct is against it. //
The law gives the second-largest political party the mandate to appoint the chairman of this particular Committee. BHK, being the second-largest party, said they wouldn't appoint a replacement if Zohrabyan is voted out.
QP MP Arthur: per rules, if BHK refuses to appoint a new candidate, the largest (QP) party will receive the mandate. //
Parliament voted 78-4 to terminate Zohrabyan's chairmanship. BHK and LHK did not vote.
BHK MP Zohrabyan: this termination was a Constitutional crime.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039245.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039264.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039304.html , https://factor.am/325132.html

Parliament votes: registering parties becomes easier / ideology instead of person / financial transparency

The goal of this reform is to have political parties that are more about ideology and less about an individual. The reform will boost internal democracy within parties; it will expand the powers of the Party Assembly.
Parties will be required to add more anonymous voting mechanisms.
The law also requires more financial transparency.
The required membership to register a party is lowered from 800 to 300.
Some of the public funding given to political parties will depend on the % of female members in the administrative boards.
Parliament voted 99-1 to approve it.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039270.html , https://youtu.be/bPuZViCCCxo

Parliament votes: monthly fees towards soldiers' recovery are raised

Most workers pay a monthly 1000 Dram towards the Soldiers' Fund, which takes care of wounded soldiers and families of those who died. The govt found it necessary to raise the fee to cover thousands of new recipients. Here are the new fees and salary brackets:
֏1,500 for < ֏100k/month
֏3,000 for < ֏200k
֏5,500 for < ֏500k
֏8,500 for < ֏1 million
֏15,000 for > ֏1 million
Parliament voted 89-0 to approve it.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039296.html

Parliament votes: ban on public smoking is delayed until 2022

The govt had adopted a law to ban smoking in public cafes and the public display of cigarettes in grocery shops. The ruling party wanted to delay parts of the bill that were set to go into effect in January, citing possible financial issues for businesses caused by the pandemic.
QP MP: the cigarette industry pays $383 million to state coffers.
Healthcare Ministry: it will be a mistake if you delay this bill for the sake of $10 million in tax revenues.
Parliament voted 86-0 to delay the anti-smoking bill until 2022.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039295.html

Parliament votes: no tax on goods donated to Armenia

QP MP: When you donate a charitable product to the Republic of Armenia, you are exempt from customs duties and other tax payments, except for one payment, which we are trying to exempt with this bill as well. //
Parliament voted 80-0 to approve it.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039297.html

how is the Judicial Branch doing?

The Supreme Court protects or punishes judges. It also handles complaints. It's separate from the Constitutional Court.
bad boys
19 complaints against judges were heard, 14 of which were petitioned by Justice Ministry and 4 by Judicial Ethics Board. 10 judges ended up receiving disciplinary penalties, 3 received a warning, 3 were reprimanded, 2 were terminated, 4 were cleared.
the system is overloaded
61 judges are handling 6470 felony cases.
86 judges handle 175,940 civil cases.
24 judges handle 17,390 administrative cases.
The number of Arbitration cases rose from 3100 to 9900.
finances
This year, Supremes appointed 20 new judges. Supreme's budget remained the same this year. They returned ֏607 million in savings back to state coffers.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039249.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039284.html

anti-corruption: SIS busts an IRS agent

SIS says: IRS border inspector took a bribe from a citizen to help him avoid paying Millions of ֏ in import taxes by splitting a large load into smaller pieces, so each piece would fall below the taxable threshold.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039293.html

IRS wants you to file less paperwork

IRS says the latest reforms will help the exporters and simplify the process in which Armenia is used as a transit country for trade. Some tasks can be done online.
More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039247.html

update: electricity prices

...won't go up for low-income families or those using less than 400 kWh. That's 90% of consumers. The rest will pay 3 Drams more. The rates are presented (6-10¢):
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039285.html

police to guard Lake Sevan against poachers

Police and Nature Ministry have set up additional checkpoints as part of measures against whitefish poaching in Sevan. 24/7 monitoring on all alleys leading to the lake. They will also travel across markets to catch contraband whitefish.
Why? It's the egg-laying season. Fishing is banned for now. The legally-allowed fishing tools were temporarily removed from the lake.
https://youtu.be/8ZyRGpEazMQ
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039339.html

rare Caucasus Leopard is spotted by cameras again

https://youtu.be/2nidC5QJaIg

"only 10% of villagers should do agriculture"

...the rest should have access to other jobs. There is an opportunity now because many businesses operate remotely. Call Center workers don't have to visit an office. Businesses would rather pay less to hire a rural remote worker than more to hire someone in a Yerevan office.
The High Tech Ministry has an ongoing program to teach IT to 5,000 citizens. We must help workers to expand their skillset. We're working on a program to allow a worker to quit the job, not worry about the food on the table, and have enough time for education and learning new skills.
The villagers should ideally lease their smaller lands to large agricultural producers," said Economy Minister Qerobyan.
Full interview: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039319.html

State regulators bust another price-fixing ring: fruit mafia

Yesterday, the Economic Competition Committee busted the egg industry's alleged price-fixing and anti-competitive practices. Today they say a similar collision was observed in the orange, mandarin, kiwi, lemon industry.
The companies Best Fruits, Art-Fruits, and Promout were slapped with a ֏39 million in penalties for colluding to raise the prices for the products that had an increased demand during the pandemic period.
http://www.competition.am/.../resources/Vo370_17_12_2020.pdf
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039269.html

Lenovo slapped for "anti-competitive practice"

The Economic Competition Committee heard a petition filed by Oazis Computer company against Lenovo. The latter was issued a warning for anti-competitive behavior.
Public Regulator: "Lenovo" company had the ability to influence the process of importing Lenovo computers to Armenia from non-EAEU trade bloc countries. "Lenovo" took steps to reduce the import of Lenovo computers from non-EAEU states, by discriminating against Oazis Computer importer. Lenovo is given a month to correct the issue and fix the requirement and standards related paperwork.
(Facebook next?)
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039333.html

Artsakh will also increase childbirth benefits

First child: ֏300k instead of ֏100k
Second child: ֏300k instead of ֏200k
(or ֏500k if one parent is disabled)
As for monthly child care subsidy payments, it goes from ֏15k to ֏27k until the child turns 2.
https://factor.am/325487.html

year wrap-up: births in capital Yerevan

girls 2019: 10173
girls 2020: 10489
boys 2019: 11251
boys 2020: 11430
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039278.html

year wrap-up: tax revenues

2018: ֏1.257 trillion
2019: ֏1.458 trillion
2020: ֏1.379 trillion
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203846

COVID stats

+2483 tested. +348 infected. +22 deaths. +1267 healed. 13881 active.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039240.html

chess news

Levon Aronyan has advanced to the Airthings Masters quarter-finals where he will play against Hikaru Nakamura. He is 1pt behind the leaders. The winner receives a $60,000 prize.
https://www.chess.com/news/view/airthings-masters-chess-day-4
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039228.html

French city of Valence to name a street

... after Artsakh capital Stenapakert. It already had Ijevan Park, Armenia Street, and Yerevan Street. Stepanakert Street will be located in a newly built district. There will be Toros Street as well.
https://youtu.be/EuQV5bt4Ytc
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203833

Italian city of di Lovere has officially recognized the Artsakh Republic

https://www.facebook.com/HayastaniDespanutyun/posts/3499573803472410
https://factor.am/325379.html

Kapan Medical Center has a new CT scanner

... thanks to generous diasporan donors like you. The first one was installed during the war in Goris city.
https://factor.am/325090.html

Artsakh children receive New Years' gifts

Focus on Children Now charity organization distributed gifts to hundreds of Artsakh kids residing in Gegharquniq province. Backpacks, clothing, items of basic necessity, money, and postcards written by kids living in the United States.
https://www.focusonchildrennow.org/
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039302.html

Himnadram donates to refugee families

700 Artsakh families continue to live in 40 settlements of Gegharquniq province. The All Armenia Fund (HimnaDram.org) has provided food and household items to 241 families ahead of New Year.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039313.html

daily life in Syunik bordering villages Shurnukh and Vorotan

https://youtu.be/E1UJd4NtLLs
https://www.civilnet.am/news/2020/12/29/Շուռնուխ-Որոտան․-կյանքը-անկոչ-հարևանների-հետ/414772

donations for Artsakh & recovering soldiers

www.1000plus.am (recovering soldiers & their families)
www.HimnaDram.org (for Artsakh & Armenia)
www.ArmeniaFund.org (U.S. tax-deductible)

archive of older posts

Armeniapedia's archive of my daily news threads:
http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Daily_Anti-Corruption_Reports

disclaimer

All the accused are considered innocent unless proven guilty in the court of law, even if they "sound" guilty.
submitted by ar_david_hh to armenia [link] [comments]

Greater London under Tier 2 from tomorrow, Weds 2nd Dec

London (and the rest of England) will be returning to the Tier system. Initially we'll be under Tier 2 (High alert) along with most of the rest of England.
Notable Tier 3 areas near London include all of Kent* and Slough.
(*the administrative county, not Bromley and Bexley that still sometimes claim to be in it)

The Usual Stuff

Stay 2m (6ft) away from people that you don't live with where practical, and at least 1m (3ft) away at all times. Do your very best to maintain hygiene, washing your hands and shared surfaces at every opportunity. And of course, you should only do what you're comfortable with.
If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, even mild, stay home for at least 10 days until you no-longer have a temperature. Get a test through the gov.uk testing website or calling 119. Others in your household must stay home for 14 days source.
Most coronavirus cases are mild, but if you're very ill, call 111, or in an emergency, call 999 - DO NOT go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital with COVID-19. Continue to keep NHS appointments for other purposes unless your clinician tells you otherwise or the government changes the advice.

What are the restrictions?

Almost everything should now be reopening, except for nightclubs.
However there are restrictions under Tier 2:
Single adult households can still form a (permanent) mutual support bubble with one other household.
There are various other exceptions for things like weddings (up to 15 people), funerals (30 people) and in a few other areas. You can read the full Tier 2 restrictions here.
You can leave your home to escape injury or harm.
If you break these rules you may be fined from £1000 or more, depending on the offence.

Can I visit London now?

Theoretically yes. Many of the typical tourist attractions will have reduced capacity so make sure you book anything you want to do in advance. Many incoming foreign travellers from higher risk countries are subject to a mandatory two week quarantine. Check if your country is on the list.

Can I go somewhere else?

You can travel to Tier 1 or Tier 2 areas. When in a Tier 1 area, you must continue to obey Tier 2 rules. The government advises against travel to Tier 3 areas for all but essential purposes.
There are different rules for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. We will need to confirm what they are over the next few days.

Face masks

Face coverings are compulsory on all forms of public transport and in all shops, takeaways, hospitals and care homes. This is a law and you can be fined if you do not comply. You don't need to buy a fancy respirator, instead think about buying or making your own from fabric, or use a scarf or bandana. As long as you wash them at a decent heat between uses this is much more environmentally friendly than disposable surgical masks.

The NHS App

The NHS COVID-19 app is now available. It uses Apple & Google's co-developed bluetooth protocol which does not transmit any of your personal details to anyone, including the government. It's been used as the basis for apps in privacy-conscious countries like Germany and Ireland, and is generally considered safe and secure.
The app is particularly effectively in dense urban areas, and NHS England's also includes features to help you check in to venues and get a test.
Download it!

Get help or give help

With the short days, the cold weather, and the lockdown restrictions, this is going to be a hard time for everyone.
This is not official advice - just our summary and might contain errors and omissions. Check gov.uk for the letter of the law. Please post any feedback or suggestions
submitted by ianjm to london [link] [comments]

Another update on husband using my good supplies - this one beats them all

So, to recap what my husband has done so far: first he asked me for one of my handmade Christmas cards (which I only made a few of due to health issues) to use as a gift for ME. Then he doubled down and used my most expensive and limited Christmas Mickey Mouse washi tape to seal the envelope.
First off - let me tell y’all what was in the envelope. It sadly was not a gift card to a craft store but Instead was a gift card to the gas station ⛽️🚗. 😂 I guess that’s okay - then I don’t have to use my own cash to fill up my car. Also, he did not actually write on the card so I can send it to someone next year 😋 (which begs the question why he didn’t just ask for an envelope)
But then....then we get to opening presents on Christmas Eve. Hold on to your hats kids.....
So, he goes and gets something and puts down two envelope looking packages next to me. I look closer and slowly realize it is not wrapping paper he used 😯.......
y’all....a few months ago I had a baseball wager with my dear friend u/welshfancy which they lost. In the box of crafting supplies they sent me to settle our wager was some beautiful and EXPENSIVE hand made fabric/paper. Yes, that is indeed what he used. 😲😲😲 To make matters worse he stapled the shit out of each package - including right in the middle where the cash was (he said it was so I couldn’t shake it) so the paper is not even remotely salvageable. 🤦🏻‍♀️
On the plus side, each envelope/package included cash and a note that it was to be used for either crafting supplies or at the casino (when we can eventually go again) so I kept my mouth shut about the paper.
But really....why oh why does he always go for my best crafting supplies??? 🤷🏻‍♀️
submitted by feellikebeingajerk to RAoC_meta [link] [comments]

Second rebuild giveaway on main tower!

Hello all! I got back to playing after half a year and I got to the second rebuild! Any requests are welcomed. All bits are gold. More bits may be added depending on demand. Giveaway is also on Discord currently.
=====Food/Green=====
1 BBQ Place
1 Burrito Bar
1 Diner
2 Frozen Yogurt
3 Lotus House
1 Sub Shop
3 Warren Buffet
=====Service/Blue=====
2 Bank
2 Barber Shop
1 Doggy Daycare
1 Law Offices
1 Optometrist
1 Security Office
=====Recreation/Yellow=====
2 Billiard Hall
1 Boxing Gym
1 Casino
1 Comedy Club
3 Museum
1 Night Club
1 Paintball Arena
1 Rock Climbing
1 Video Rental
1 Wax Museum
=====Retail/Purple=====
2 Book Store
4 Comic Store
1 Fabric Shop
1 Hat Shop
1 Pet Shop
=====Creative/Orange=====
3 Chocolatier
2 Software Studio
I also appreciate friends. Feel free to add me at 6KXFB or use my GFarm at B8YXQ!
submitted by Enson_Chan to tinytower [link] [comments]

It was only a matter of time

Hello,
I am asking for this community of hater to cease mocking and trolling me the LAPD have been contacted in regards to this matter and they are surveying the issue! I am not a fake flexer, i own everything i say i own, the 6 houses, the 18 cars, the 12 Mercedes, the hotel and casino in Vegas (was bought by Virgin hotels). I did not steal money from my mom, (I borrowed $300,000 and paid her back $500,000) I did not shit in my ex's sink (blatant lie), I do not DM teens and i do not try to solicit sex from them (GROSS!!!), I have a private chef, he makes all of my meals and makes sure i am covered he comes 1 day a week and cooks bulk batches for me. I also am not gay i never was, I never harassed people online and am not the kind of guy to do things like that. I am worth $75,000,000 in cash and have a net worth of $350,000,000. All of my jewelry is real gold and platinum and the diamonds are not cubic zirconium, my wallet and Gucci, Louis Vuitton stuff is all genuine and was not bought at thrift stores! I am a rich good looking dude, many websites have my photos for use as beauty headshots and the ideal of beauty, i really do look better then 80% of male movie stars and i am an undeniably good looking dude i look better than my contemporaries that are 10 years younger. Another thing i don't fake flex the rooms in my house i don't got to my dentist's office and claim it as my playroom, i don't use the whatever the name of the apartment complex is as my living room. It is all lies don't believe what you read on the internet lots of people are fabricating documents and making up stories about me this is all false!!!
Be warned this group will cease to exist if these slanderous activities continue i will alert the authorities and i will make sure to see you in court!
You have been warned - Hard Rock Nick
submitted by NicholasJohannsen to HardRockNick [link] [comments]

When we were kids, my little brother died on Halloween. He's come back to visit me every year since his death.

Jimmy returned for the first time exactly one year after the accident. I was home alone. Dad was at the bar and Mom was dead. We’d crammed her into a pine box and shipped her off to the incinerator months ago.
I’d been sitting on the couch watching a plump cockroach scuttle across the coffee table, sipping whiskey that I’d liberated the previous night after Dad passed out. I wasn’t quite drunk yet. At eleven years old, my tolerance to alcohol was comparable to most local stumblebum drunks.
A knock came to the door, the gentle tap of brittle knuckles upon rotted wood. I paused with the rim of the bottle resting against my lips. Even the cockroach cocked its long antennae curiously toward the door.
The local trick-or-treaters knew better than to come here seeking candy. Our ramshackle abode was always one DHS visit away from being condemned, and the cobwebs and sundry creepy-crawlies in our front windows certainly weren’t decorative.
I reflexively choked out a sob when I opened the door and saw his ghostly form. The sheet draped over him was stained brown and soaked with stinking river water.
“Jimmy?” I asked, my voice croaking in disbelief.
As if to answer me, his jaw fell slack and I heard the tiniest groan emerge from under that sheet, like a whining door hinge in a quiet house. He raised his hand to me and I shrank back in fear, expecting him to thrust an accusatory finger and damn me as a liar and murderer. Instead, I realized that he was holding his hand open, expecting something. A dry, throaty sound whistled up from his slackened jaw and I suddenly understood what he wanted.
My little brother had come back for his favorite holiday.
I rushed up to my bedroom, reached under my bed, and grabbed Jimmy’s pumpkin-shaped Halloween bucket. I flicked off the roaches and shook out mouse shit then ran back to the front steps, where my little brother was waiting.
As Jimmy snatched his candy bucket from me, I saw them, watching us from the corner. It was the same group of older bullies that harassed us last year, on the night of the accident. Last time, they’d been wearing clown masks. They chose the Power Rangers this year.
Despite their masks, I could tell that those bullies didn’t quite believe what they were seeing. Jimmy had been presumed dead for a year, yet here he was, wearing the very same costume they’d seen him wearing on the night he went missing.
I’d had a growth spurt since that night. Rage and self-hatred did wonders for a growing boy’s physique.
Fueled by whiskey and a desperate urge to blame anyone other than myself for Jimmy’s death, I charged them. Outnumbered four-to-one, I took some shots, no doubt, but I routed them regardless, and I left one of them bleeding on the sidewalk, beaten nearly half-to-death.
Then I returned to Jimmy, smiling, and hooked my pinky around his before we set off to celebrate Halloween.
#
I sat on my couch, eyes trained on the flickering candle on my coffee table. The power had been out for a month and I hadn’t seen any good reason to turn it back on; I’d only be cutting into my meager booze budget and, besides, the city was kicking me out in a few days. The house had been bought and paid for by some long-dead relative then passed down to my parents as an act of pity. When Dad finally kicked the bucket, he left the house to me, but I was never quite able to stay ahead of the property taxes.
I wasn’t going to miss the place. It wasn’t exactly full of fond memories.
At this time of night, I’d normally be blackout drunk, but tonight was Halloween and I didn’t want to miss Jimmy. My entire life might have amounted to a hill of shit, but I’ve promised to never let my little brother down again.
I checked the time. Eight o’clock on the dot. I grabbed Jimmy’s Halloween bucket and headed out front.
Jimmy never did tell me why Halloween was his favorite holiday. He’d been a gentle kid, small for his age, fair-skinned and wispy. You wouldn’t have known it to look at him, but he preferred the schlock and gore of October grindhouse horror movie marathons to kiddie fare more appropriate to his age. He never flinched at the scary parts, when the reanimated undead wreaked havoc or dream demons emerged to slash open teenage throats.
I’d never attributed his love of Halloween to something so cliché as donning a mask to pretend to be someone else, though I wouldn’t have blamed him. No, I’d always suspected that Jimmy loved this time of year specifically because it was when the world went dim and happily embraced the horrific. Vampires and possessed dolls and werewolves made more sense than the more abstract horrors we faced at home.
Or, shit, maybe the kid just really liked candy.
I stepped outside and the riverwards were alive with grinning jack-o-lanterns, windows glowing orange and framed with fake spider webs, and scores of yuppie parents leading their kids door-to-door. I spotted him walking slowly toward the house. I swore, he got smaller every year.
I waved to him. He didn’t wave back, but he did cock his head slightly, as if he was struggling to remember who I was. As always, he was wearing the filthy sheet, soaked in river water. I felt a passing wave of revulsion and guilt when I glimpsed the faded bloodstains where the fabric hugged Jimmy’s misshapen occipital.
I smiled and offered him the bucket. Jimmy snatched it from my hand. Though there was only darkness within those crooked eye holes I’d cut into the sheet twenty-five years ago, somehow I knew that if he still had eyes, they’d have been gleaming.
I reached down to his hand, hooked my pinky around his, and I took my little brother trick-or-treating, like I’d done every year since he first returned.
This wasn’t our neighborhood anymore. Sure, the names of the streets were the same, but that was about it. The yuppie influx, with the ensuing rent increases and property tax hikes, had squashed out most of the old guard. The newbies didn’t care for the sturdy, century-old houses forged with brick and mortar. One by one, those stout homes were being flattened to make way for flimsier, but more stylish facades. Soon, our childhood home was going to suffer the same fate.
Jimmy must have sensed that something was amiss because he tightened his pinky around mine. Though I haven’t heard his voice since that night by the river, his pinky squeeze said enough.
It said, I’ve got you.
That was our private show of reassurance that helped sustain us through our childhood. When Mom wept at the dinner table as we split a dried hunk of welfare cheese for dinner, I’d give Jimmy a squeeze. When Dad staggered home drunk and started laying into Mom, I’d join Jimmy on his small twin mattress. We’d squeeze pinkies, eyes shut tight, with pillows over our ears so we wouldn’t have to hear Dad’s fist knocking against Mom’s head.
I’ve got you.
Tonight, we stopped at every house that still had its lights on. Our new neighbors smiled awkwardly, genuinely troubled by the sight of the neighborhood drunk escorting a child in a raggedy ghost costume. I didn’t give a shit what they thought as long as they tossed a few bite-sized Snickers bars into Jimmy’s bucket.
Soon, the streets began to empty and the trick-or-treaters went home. One by one, those grinning jack-o-lanterns went dark, those orange window lights dimmed, and it was just Jimmy and I wandering the lonely streets.
We headed back toward the house. This was where we would normally part ways, with Jimmy heading back on his own. Tonight, though, I remained at his side.
He cocked his head again, curious.
I squeezed his pinky.
#
Though I loved Jimmy, he was still my little brother and, often, I treated him as such. Just because I hated the neighborhood bullies didn’t mean I didn’t glean some pointers from their abuse. Sometimes, I’d slap Jimmy around or steal his toys because he’d annoyed me somehow. Other times, I just wanted to feel stronger than someone else.
The day of his death, Jimmy had put me in a particularly foul mood. Using the five-fingered discount, I’d gotten comic books from the drug store on York Street and I was looking forward to thumbing through them. Jimmy came rushing into our bedroom, crying because the rats had gotten to his hand-me-down Jason Voorhees costume. The critters had gnawed through the plastic hockey mask and left the (fake) blood-splattered overalls stinking like rat turds.
I told him to take it up with Mom and Dad, but he said Mom was passed out and Dad was at the bar, as usual.
My mood instantly turned black, not necessarily because of Jimmy, but because, once again, I’d have to pick up the slack for our parents. I cooked most of Jimmy’s meals. I scrubbed the stink off his clothes and got him ready for school every morning while Mom and Dad were off, drunk and doped. All I’d wanted was a night to myself, curled up in bed with some stolen comic books, but they couldn’t stay sober long enough to even give me that much.
Somehow, I kept my temper in check. I got him to stop sobbing by yanking the sheet off his bed, cutting out those mismatched eye holes, and draping it over him. “There,” I said. “You’re a ghost now.”
His green eyes were visible through the holes in the sheet. His cheeks perked up under the sheet and I could tell he was smiling.
“Can you take me trick-or-treating?” he asked.
No, I didn’t want to, but I also didn’t want him crying again and Mom would have beaten the shit out of me if I let Jimmy wander the neighborhood alone.
So we set out into the streets, amongst a legion of Ninja Turtles and Ghostbusters and Barbie dolls brought to life. Though it was simple, he enjoyed his makeshift costume. I was just hoping to get through the night without bumping into our enemies.
That was certainly naïve of me. It didn’t take long for them to zero in on us. There were four of them, all older boys. Even the smallest one towered over me.
They were wearing clown masks, thin plastic smiling red-nosed clowns that filled my stomach with dread. None of the parents milling about with their kids noticed the brewing confrontation, not with the dozens of trick-or-treaters clogging the sidewalk.
Jimmy clutched his candy bucket to his chest. One of the bullies reached for it, and that was when I snapped. I couldn’t help it. I might have been pissed off at him for dragging me out here, but this was Jimmy’s favorite night of the year. I couldn’t watch some assholes ruin it for him.
I swung, hard. My fist connected with the bully’s face and I heard a loud crunch right before blood trickled down from behind the clown’s visage.
I grabbed Jimmy by the wrist and we took off into the throngs of costumed kids. We rounded the next corner and disappeared into an alley.
We hid there, holding our breath as the bullies sped past. There was no way they were going to let this go. Two of them would likely roam the neighborhood looking for us, while the other two would lay in wait near our house.
“What are we going to do?” Jimmy asked, voice quivering in fear.
Every night, right before I blackout, I think about how I should have just squeezed his pinky.
But I didn’t. Instead, I blamed him. We wouldn’t have been in this trouble if he hadn’t been such a crybaby back home. That was why, of the dozens of places we could have gone to hide, I chose the river, because I knew he was terrified of the river.
#
Today, the Delaware riverfront was as gentrified as the rest of the neighborhood. A casino and towering condominiums loomed large and quaint pedestrian walkways were infested with pop-up beer gardens.
In our youth, the riverfront had been an industrial graveyard, dominated by long-shuttered factories with stretches of wilderness between them. Stinking sumac trees swayed overhead and plump river rats darted through the bushes.
This wasn’t the first time we had to hide back here. Jimmy always hated it. Although the neighborhood lay only a quarter-mile to the west, Jimmy thought the riverfront was too isolated. He feared that if our bullies ever caught us here, they could kill us and no one would ever know.
My mood hadn’t improved when we finally reached one of the piers, big gray concrete blocks jutting out fifty feet into the sloshing water, supported by a number of wood pilings underneath.
Jimmy remained a few feet behind me, still in his costume, nervously gripping his Halloween bucket. The tide was coming in and he jumped every time he felt a wave hit the pilings beneath us, as if the pier might collapse.
But what scared Jimmy the most was the possibility of falling into the water, that those rough green-brown waves might trap him under the pier, where he’d come up for air and smash his face against unyielding concrete instead.
“Can we just please try to go home?” he whined.
“No,” I snapped back. “Not unless you want those assholes to knock your teeth out.”
He lowered his head. “But I don’t like it back here.”
Looking at my whimpering little brother, I lost all sense of empathy. After running scared from our bullies, I was eager to assert myself as an alpha. I yanked him toward the edge of the pier.
“I’m so tired of you acting like a wimp,” I snarled. I shoved him closer to the edge, where the water sloshed violently ten feet below us. “There’s nothing to be afraid of back here.”
“I just want to go home,” he cried, the eye holes in the sheet now rimmed with tears.
“Stop being such a pussy!” I shouted then instinctively gave him a stiff right hook to the shoulder.
What happened next occurred within seconds, yet in my memory, it seems to play out for an eternity.
I’d hit him harder than I meant to. Jimmy dropped his candy bucket then staggered as his shoes got caught in the pool of fabric underfoot. I watched in muted disbelief as he flopped over the pier, arms waving, right before the back of his head cracked against the concrete edge.
There was a splash ten feet beneath me and my brother was gone, leaving behind nothing more than a red patch on the concrete and white bubbles breaking the water’s surface.
#
Pinkies locked, we maneuvered through condominium parking lots and empty beer garden stalls until we reached that old pier.
For a moment, my memories blended with the present and I saw myself, cold and shivering and soaked with river water, trudging back toward the neighborhood alone, clutching Jimmy’s candy bucket.
I remembered how cold and dark the river was when I dove in, fighting the waves, trying in vain to find my brother before finally giving up. I never told anyone what happened. That night, when I got home, Mom was still passed out and Dad hadn’t come back from the bar yet.
I hid my wet clothes then, later, told them that Jimmy had simply run away from me. I was terrified of what would happen if they knew the truth. There was a police search that amounted to nothing. Dad didn’t seem to care very much. Months later, Mom swallowed forty sleeping pills and never woke up.
I took to stealing swigs of Dad’s half-empty liquor bottles to soothe my guilt, a habit that had served me ever since. But even that relief has proved fleeting. As Jimmy and I walked along the pier, I tightened my pinky around his, content to die sober.
We stood at the edge of the pier. Though I couldn’t see his face, I could tell that he was no less afraid of the river now than he had been twenty-five years ago.
Jimmy stepped off the pier and disappeared into the water below. I wondered, once this pier was inevitably torn asunder to make way for a condo or another casino, would Jimmy still resurface on Halloween? If he did, and he ventured into the neighborhood, would he even recognize that the shiny new studio apartments were standing on the grave of our old house?
Either way, I was going to make sure that he didn’t go through it alone.
I stepped off the pier, just like Jimmy had that night. I cracked the base of my skull against that concrete lip. A lightning flash of pain shot across the world and I crashed hard into the water, pushed at once by the tide under the pier. A wave slammed me against one of the pilings and I felt something snap in my back and, when I tried to scream, filthy river water filled my mouth.
Yet, as I was thrashed about under the dock, my consciousness slowly fading, I felt Jimmy’s tiny pinky finger squeezing around my own.
I’ve got you.
#
That happened almost one year ago, last Halloween. Though I wanted nothing more than to slip into a watery slumber with my little brother, he must have felt otherwise. I woke up, weeks later, in a hospital. They removed patches of my skull to relieve the pressure from the brain bleed, courtesy of cracking my head on that concrete lip. My ribs had been shattered to splinters from the paramedics’ vigorous chest compressions.
They found me on the road, which meant Jimmy dragged me from the water, across the industrial wilderness, then out to the waiting blacktop. I asked the medics if there’d been a boy in a ratty ghost costume with me when they arrived. They said they hadn’t seen one.
Anyway, I’m writing this on the computer at the public library right off Girard Avenue, but I better finish up. The librarian is a real asshole. Doesn’t like it when street bums like me stink up the joint. It’s almost Halloween once again. Jimmy might not want me down in the water with him, but I’m going back to join him, regardless.
I’ve got his candy bucket, so we can hit the neighborhood one last time. I’ve also got a box cutter with the sharpest goddamn razors I could find. Once Jimmy slips back into the water, I’m going to open myself up – both wrists, then my carotid artery – and I’m jumping into that green-blue Delaware shitwater right along with him, because I’m Jimmy’s big brother, god damn it.
I won’t let him swim alone.
submitted by MackMoyerAuthor to nosleep [link] [comments]

Do you really like your beer, or are you just a victim of Capitalist Propaganda? How you can learn how the free market works while you guzzle some suds, and how beer can help you to understand the vast conspiracy that is slowly degrading America.

TL;DR - I use the craft beer industry as a way to understand Capitalist Propaganda, how Capitalism and Socialism are inextricably linked to each other, and how through the use of propaganda, companies use the "illusion of choice" to coerce you into believing that you prefer the products that are most favorable to them. In order to change this into the consumer's favor, you need to be an informed consumer in the free market, and raise class consciousness to overthrow the tyranny of Capitalist Propaganda, that is called "Marketing".
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You can't understand Capitalist Propaganda unless you have a solid understanding of what Capitalism is beyond the literal definition of the word, which is just an abstract ideal. Propaganda plays off of the discrepancies between the ideals of Capitalism, like the free market, which is another abstract ideal, and the reality of Capitalism in practice in America, which can be characterized as Trickle Down Economics. Capitalism sought to be a pragmatic alternative to its economic predecessors, a fact which drives Capitalist Propaganda. However, through layers of abstraction throughout the years, it has become more of a religion, as critics refer to the increasingly ideological concept as "Supply Side Jesus", meaning you give all the money to the rich, it'll trickle down to the poor, and they can "vote" on the actions of the capitalists through monetary interactions in the free market.
Capitalist Propaganda is engrained in America, because at the time of our founding, Adam Smith wrote "Wealth of Nations", which is considered the Bible of the Free Market. This groundbreaking work utilized Newton's Laws of Physics, which were en vogue at the time, to describe how interactions in the marketplace would balance each other out, just as the laws of Newtonian Physics do.
The very noble purpose of Wealth of Nations was not create the oligarchy we have today, but to do the opposite. He wanted to describe a system that would protect individual freedoms and be truly democratic. Just as Lenin and Stalin bastardized the works of Marx, so too have capitalists in America bastardized the intentions of Adam Smith.
Capitalism and Socialism are best learned side by side, in my opinion, to avoid falling into the trappings of either ideology that our brains like to do. Which one is better? It depends on the market, but the answer is almost always somewhere in between.
Through learning how Socialist concepts can be applied to problems in Capitalism, you can cut through the propaganda and will see for yourself that these problems can be solved if we just drop the labels and do what's best for society and the individual. The problem is always finding the proper balance.
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WHAT? CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM ARE JOINED AT THE HIP?
Yep. You can never live in a pure economic system. Purity is always an illusion. If you want something to be pure, you have to put a lot of energy into making it that way. Nature likes to mix stuff up. This is why ideologies around racial purity and fascism always fail. There are people who want a "pure" economic system, but they are usually the people at the top and would only get richer from more purity while the rest of society loses freedom and slowly starves.
In a nutshell, Capitalism promotes laws that benefit those with money, while Socialism promotes a safety net that benefits everyone. Every single human is born into Socialism. As a baby, you need food, someone else works for it and gives it to you, but then at some point, you are expected to exchange labor for capital, and buy your own food. See? The two are forever bound as the yin and yang. You can also grow your own food, but for that you need land, which is capital.
These interactions are very tricky. I only want to tell you enough so that you can start to see Capitalist Propaganda, because right now, you're like a fish in water that can't see water. I often use this line to describe a person who can't see their own homegrown propaganda. The best way I found to study Capitalism is by relating it Socialism, the "air" above the "water" of Capitalism, if that makes sense.
I always find it best to look at a microcosm to understand these concepts. And today, that microcosm is beer.
Mmmm....Beeeeeeeeeerrrrrrr.....
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CONFLICT OF INTEREST AND THE ILLUSION OF CHOICE
Before I poison your mind with my own propaganda, picture you're on vacation and you walk into a bar and want to order a beer. If you really want to understand the power of propaganda in your own life, really think of this before we break this all down. Really think, what makes you decide which beer to order? Do you like to look at the labels on the tap or bottle? That's obvious propaganda. It has absolutely nothing to do with the taste or quality of the beer itself, but sways your opinion toward logos you've seen before, which is why you see so many beer advertisements, which means that money that could've gone into quality is instead going into propaganda, and you're already biased towards an inferior product. Interesting. You really can't help being swayed by marketing, but at least you can be conscious of that fact, and that's important in order to be an informed consumer.
Do you ask the bartender for a recommendation? Why would you do that? You don't know the bartender any better than the beers in front of you. How do you know they aren't paid more to offer you a beer that sucks and is 12 years old and the owner wants to get rid of it? Do you ask for a certain style of beer? Do you ask for a local beer? And once you finally narrow it down to a few choices, do you ask for samples so you can make up your own mind? You should always do this. Then we get into "flavor propaganda", which we'll discuss later. Jeez. Did you every realize there was so much complexity behind being an informed consumer and just ordering a simple beer? Maybe you'll give in and just tell the bartender to pour whatever. Choice is difficult sometimes.
If you really visualize this and take a minute to let this sink in, you'll start to understand how external forces hijack the processor in your mind to manufacture desire through the illusion of choice. However, your health and enjoyment of the beer is not the goal for these external forces, they only want you to purchase. The perfect example is fast food. They know their product sucks, but they know you'll keep buying it, but that doesn't keep them from lying about how delicious it is in their ads. There is far more at play behind the curtain. There is a science behind addicting you to things, this is reinforced by a corporate tax and subsidy system that contorts the free market pushing centralization of production through homogenization and use of chemicals to hide the homogenization, and simply because there is more than one option, they make you feel like you have choice. This, in a nutshell, is how the illusion of choice works in the free market. It's not about what YOU want. The producer manipulates you to think you want what they have. Through this, they deceive Americans into buying products with a list of ingredients that a person would never freely choose to consume. So if you want to order a beer with no shit in it, then you're shit out of luck in America. You could in Germany, but we'll discuss that later.
While you're standing at that bar, you aren't conscious of the fact that your interests are in direct opposition to those of the bar owner's. Capitalists hide this fact with their perfect smiles, but Marx described this in detail. You want the best beer for the cheapest price, and the bar owner wants to sell you the cheapest beer at the highest price you'll pay. It doesn't stop there. The bar owner flips roles in the same situation with the beer distributor, who does the same with maybe another level of distribution, and continues to the brewer, then goes to the brewer versus supplier, supplier to farmer, and even though you'd think it stops there, the farmer has to deal with suppliers of equipment and seeds, and on and on.
Add to this list their auxiliary staff of HR, drivers, managers, brewers, bottle/keg makers, and of course owners, none of them care whether you actually like the beer you're drinking as long as you keep buying more. That's the big driver here.
Did you ever realize that every time you buy a beer, your own capital is partially responsible for creating and sustaining all of these jobs involved? You, my dear beer drinker, are the true job creator. Budweiser can brew all they want, it means nothing without buyers, who are the true engines of capitalism. Instead, you're treated as a rube by suits in a boardroom somewhere.
Capitalist Propaganda tells us the billionaires are job creators, but this is a lie. Jeff Bezos can't drink enough beer to sustain all these jobs. So why do we let him hoard all the money? Wouldn't the economy do better if we spread out Jeff's money so more people could buy more beers and more jobs would be created? According to Socialist Economics, yes. That's actually, quite simply, a Socialist Free Market. Did you even know that existed? The power hungry greedy people who are too lazy for manual labor go to such great lengths to make sure you don't learn it. They want you to think that only Capitalism allows you choice in the market. I'm sure you can guess why they say that.
Capitalism maintains itself by exulting the wealthy who use their economic power to punch down. The only way this system won't fall into fascism and fail is if the consumers start to punch back. Where Marx envisioned the Dictatorship of the Proletariat as they usurped power from the Bourgeoisie, a modern alternative is just teaching people to understand the system we live in, so that we can just start making changes in the way we live and to whom we give our money.
See that? Capitalism and Socialism can get along nicely, so long as the consumers are informed.
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CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE ALIENATION OF LABOR CAUSING LONELINESS IN SOCIETY
What I described within the previous section is what Marx called "Alienation of Labor". Each step in the process of making your beer is isolated from the others, so no one feels ownership over the end product or a true connection to the consumer, or job creator. Even the bartender selling it is alienated from the profit of their labor in serving the beer, so they only focus on the service aspect of giving you the beer, because that is where they earn their tip. They can't really fix anything about a shitty beer other than to offer you a different brand. The capitalist owner is usually not there. Their only interaction is setting the rules for everyone in the bar to follow, and pay themselves more than everyone who has to follow those rules. This is part of the conflict between the classes. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, I'm just pointing it out. The bar owner themself has to spend money on propaganda to attract customers that could be spent in other places, so has to find ways to cut costs. Unfortunately, they buy cheaper beer...and this is why you end up with IPAs. No one is connected to the products, so they only look at prices and find the cheapest, passable product. This is the race to the bottom of Capitalism.
Compare this to when brewpubs were a new thing. The brewer would come out and talk to you about the beer, you would give feedback that could effect future batches and it connected everyone to each other through commerce. It makes business "social" and I think nearly everyone enjoys that, but it is losing out in competition with chain breweries that enforce isolation and make cookie cutter propaganda and cookie cutter business models so they can turn owners into managers and suck all the profit back their corporate headquarters and offshore accounts. They kill the experience and make everything transactional. And all the kitsch they hang around their cookie cutter chain bar is just to hide the fact that no one in that place cares about anything other than not getting fired. Everyone is effectually alienated from everyone else. It's worth a read to check out this page on Marx's Theory of Alienation.
This alienation is the root of a lot of misery in society. Humans are communal animals forced to live in a society of individuality and alienation. As they mope around, they seek an escape. And that is why advertising is so nefarious. It seeks to manipulate you in that state. Imagine driving home from your alienating job to you empty home, but looking up and see a billboard with bunch of actors laughing and drinking beer. They take pictures that make these actors look like friends. It's just for show. They aren't selling beer to those laughing people in the picture. They're tempting lonely people to drown their sorrows. Capitalist Propaganda is used so your brain doesn't understand what it wants. It wants friends, then sees the words Bud Light. So when the bartenders asks...Make it a Bud Light. Look at how much money they spend to manipulate and capitalize on people's suffering.
Propaganda in Communist countries is controlled by the government, so it's clear who the enemy of your freedom is. Capitalist Propaganda hides behind the layers of complexity of the same economy you rely on to survive, so you never know what's propaganda or where it's coming from. Marketers find every way imaginable to get their disinformation in front of your eyes, even enlisting your friends on Facebook in annoying MLM schemes. Propaganda invaded everything that can be legally monetized. It's in the media, and not just commercials anymore. There's product placement, stories injected into the news, and even movies and social media created an entire industry of "lifestyle propaganda", telling you how to live your life and indulge in overconsumption. It's REALLY hard to get away from Capitalist Propaganda. There is so much money and research behind it and so much depth, even this long post is only barely scratching the surface. I just want to open your eyes to it.
I can't make you see all this. No one can. I can only describe it as best as I can. What you will experience when you understand this is what I call "Economic Enlightenment", similar to what Marx called "Class Consciousness". Once it happened to me, the world looked amazing, and the shitty propagandists selling us false hope all look like clowns in a very odd circus of vanity, despair and mediocrity.
Once I understood this, I saw clearly how we are increasingly trapped in a form of Corporate Slavery, led by seriously ridiculous oligarchs like Mark Zuckerberg, who thinks he's the reincarnation of Augustus Caesar or something. That's why he has that haircut! This is a guy who stole a company and hired "screen psychologists" from Las Vegas to get you hooked on Facebook the same as casinos do with slot machines. He wants to be the funnel for propaganda throughout the world. He wants to be the kingmaker, decide what people buy, who they like, what views they hold. He can only do this because so many companies spend so much money to put their propaganda on that platform. They can only have this much money because the free market is not actually free. It's bought and paid for on platforms like Facebook and Amazon. The money that was supposed to "trickle down" is instead being spent on Capitalist Propaganda on these platforms, to get the proletariate to trickle their money up through endless, nonsensical online purchasing and local businesses who send the town's money to people who can't do anything with it but buy up properties that increase your rent and cost of living.
When people get drunk on the power of propaganda, they forget the lessons of the past. Propagandists always fall prey to their own delusions over time. In reality, your life is better without Facebook. There isn't anything on there that is healthy. Even if you just want to talk to a few friends, you are going to fall for the propaganda there. You can't help it. And if your bar advertises on Facebook, just think, that money could've gone into purchasing higher quality beer then sold at the same price, instead of going to Mark Zuckerberg so he can drop $30 million to buy the houses around him so no one can spy on him while he spies on you. You really gotta watch out for a guy who combines spying and propaganda all into a single app and thinks he's going to bring 200 years of peace to America. History is littered with knuckleheads like that. It's best to get off Facebook and encourage everyone else to do the same. Zuck only wants to lead himself to the Promised Land, and he's using your ignorance to fuel his own delusions by deluding you into thinking you want what he has to offer.
Let's get back to beer.
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IPAs AND THE FREE MARKET VS THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM
I like beer. When I worked in Germany, it was easy to walk into a bar and, like Farva, just order a liter o' beer. Often, there would only be two choices, light color or dark. As a matter of fact, even at the most famous beer festival in the world, Oktoberfest, people mostly drink the same standard type of beer, and no one complains about the lack of choice. It's quite easy. You can order with one finger. No need to see a menu or ask what's in it. It's simply beer. This worked for centuries. Consumers are fine with it. Prost! Have you ever shared a story like this and people say, "Oh, that would never work in America. Americans want choice." Yeah. Because we are flooded with Capitalist Propaganda.
So if consumer choice isn't pushing for a selection, why would a free market call for it? Imagine there are two bars and one of those bars says "30 beers on tap" and the other doesn't. You're more likely to choose it, and the other bar will have to compete in some way, often by copying. This forms trends, and people mistake this for something customers wanted. Trends are always marketing. Don't believe me? What happened to fidget spinners? So now you have a bunch of beers that no one asked for, yet will now demand. Competition creates more Capitalist Propaganda to create demand for something you never even wanted, but makes you think you do. And that's the best propaganda. You think you are thinking for yourself. This is the fallacy of consumer choice.
If you want to understand just how important that last paragraph is, consider this, "consumer choice" is the same propaganda they used to get you to carry around a device that spies on you 24/7 and sends that data to people you don't know, and you can't stop it, can you? You chose that. You wanted it. Not only that, but you paid $1,000 for the device to opt into their spying program, for the privilege of being mind controlled by the propaganda their AI selects for you. Did you read the Terms of Service? As bad as you may have thought Communist Propaganda was, Capitalist Propaganda is far better, and far stealthier. You believe you have freedom of choice. But your only choice is usually take it, or leave it. Oh, you need it for work? Maybe find a different job. Or just succumb to mass surveillance, and next year, you can drop another grand on a device with a marginally better camera.
There is a way to free yourself. You just have to understand the nature of propaganda. It took me a while, but I eventually broke free. Under Socialism, there would be laws against the exploitation of consumers. Capitalist Propaganda tells you that this takes away your freedom. This is a lie. Regulations give you the freedom to not have to worry whether the beer you're drinking has poison in it.
Germany has a lot of regulations on beer. It has the Reinheitsgebot (purity order), a law passed in 1516 that states that beer can only consist of water, hops and barley. Note, this is a different use of the word "purity" from earlier, as beer is itself a mixture of things. Historically there have also been regulations where beer could only be sold regionally, so no matter what part of Germany you were in, you only got a certain brand of beer at the bar, but it didn't matter because they all had the same ingredients. They could make wheat beers or unfiltered, but they were generally variations of pilsners and lagers. One meaning of the word "Lager" in German is "storage", meaning the beer was brewed in a way that it could be stored, allowing them to brew in bigger batches and store it.
Lagers use a more complex brewing process, so only larger breweries would make them, but this worked because of protected territories. America has a similar system, because each state has its own regulations on alcohol, but this is changing as corporate lawyers fight to homogenize the rules favorable to them, but the consumer loses control. Big brands tend to be lagers as they have general appeal to a wide audience. Did you notice this is the second time I pointed out that corporations create homogeneity? Without regulations, corporations create Fascism. That is why I tell people that we already live in the NWO but corporations rule the world instead of governments. Why do you think so few conspiracy theorists make this connection? Propagandists are paid a lot of money to keep even our small community confused about the reality of what's happening. Now, check out conspiracy and you'll see what I mean. They are spreading propaganda for the NWO over there and don't even know it. I tried to point that out and they finally banned me. Oh well. They'll figure it out in their own time.
In America, in 1978 it became legal to brew beer at home. This is what led to the explosion of new beers in the US decades later. Americans don't have purity laws, so could test new recipes. But people didn't generally like IPAs before, so how did they become so popular that they control 30% of the market? Marketing, of course. Create the market and tell people what they want.
IPA stands for India Pale Ale. It was invented by the British as an easy way to make a beer that they could drink in India. People only drank it out of necessity, as the other beers couldn't make the trip. IPAs are very easy to make and very forgiving, because if you mess it up, it already tasted bad anyway. As people started trying to get into microbrews, they often didn't have the capital to make lagers at small scale, and also wanted a simpler process so they didn't have to hire or train expert brewers, IPAs are cheap and easy to make at smaller scale.
In order to make it drinkable, brewers experimented with many different flavorings. This created a cult following of craft IPAs, where people would drive hours to stand in line for hours to try the newest concoction. The trendy nature of the craft beer world kept people training their palate to adapt to the taste of an IPA, making people start to actually like them. The flavorings made people think they were different, so even if they didn't like it, marketing tactics kept people coming back to try the latest blend. Your palate can adapt A LOT. Swedish people love Surströmming, but watch this video of Americans trying it for the first time. They tried to get me to eat it several times, but I would rather sit in a sauna until Tuesday to avoid smelling it while watching them eat it. It really smells that bad.
IPAs enticed people with popular, aromatic ingredients like bananas and pineapple. This is what I call "flavor propaganda". It's not bad in and of itself, but it can be easily misused to cover issues with quality or hide the taste of preservatives. Since we don'e have laws like Germany, you're left to rely on the knowledge and honesty of the bartender to find out. They don't make this info readily available, which is another form of Disinformation.
So if you think you actually like IPAs, just remember, you are just like a Swede eating rotten fish. A lot of propaganda went in to making IPAs popular, but it's the cheapest, easiest product to make that can be sold at the highest price, so they become popular. This is what business students call a business plan. To overcome the bad taste, IPAs were marketed as "classy" to shame you if you choose the more expensive to produce and more appealing pilsners and lagers, which were given a bad name due to being associated with major brands like Bud Light. This makes it harder to market microbrew lagers, which can only fetch a certain price due to association. And this is what is referred to as the "race to the bottom" in Capitalism.
Instead of trying to innovate ways to produce the beers you want, they just figure out how to get you to pay more for an inferior product, just like they do with BBQ. They make you think you want it. From this you can understand why "food" is full of junk that you wouldn't feed your dog. Whatever legal poison helps cheapen the product is considered "smart business", another propaganda term designed to hide the reality of doing immoral and harmful things to other humans for profit. If you make money on it, it's good. As if there aren't better choices we could come up with if there truly were a free market with an informed consumer.
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STRENGTHEN THE FREE MARKET BY BEING AN INFORMED CONSUMER
We don't need a Communist Revolution to make positive changes, so take off your ski masks and put your Antifa flags down. I like microbrew culture and still enjoy IPAs, but understanding the marketplace is how I do my part as an informed consumer and job creator to help create the world that I want to live in. I encourage you to do the same. Vote with your dollars. Don't let the Zuck-type sociopathic, corporate people in a distant land decide what you consume by looking at ads on his platform. Visit local breweries and talk to the brewmaster. Don't reinforce alienation from labor. Connect with the people who make the things you buy. Support independent entrepreneurship. These are the paths to a brighter future where we share in the abundance of wealth.
Discover Economic Enlightenment for yourself and realize that We The People are ultimately in control. Wealth inequality is greater than it was in France before the French Revolution. Don't let this train take us into the depths where another Lenin will arise and spend the night shooting people.
How you choose to spend your money today is what decides what will become the society of tomorrow. And remember, you always have the choice to buy nothing at all. I never saw a billboard that said that.
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LET THEM DRINK BEER!
I hope this gave you a glimpse behind the curtain of Capitalist Propaganda. Propaganda isn't just political, it has invaded everything and it's at full blast right now. I hope you can piece together how Capitalist Propaganda is actually designed to make you subservient by controlling what you want so they can maximize their own profit and teach you to accept whatever they offer, the homogenization of choice. However, your life is your own and you should remain in control of all aspects of it, including your desires.
Richard Wolff is an economist who studied at three elite universities in America and discusses how he was not able to even learn about Socialist Economics in the ivory tower, even though Capitalist Propaganda calls universities leftist. He found no department in America that is even willing to teach it or study it. Capitalist Propaganda censors these ideas, especially at the university. People in power don't want the serfs to learn about themselves. Check him out on YouTube. You'll realize that unchecked Capitalism leads to Fascism and Slavery, which is why they want to get rid of the minimum wage, so that we can return to sharecropping which is already increasingly happening in America under different names, like "student debt", "mortgages" and "insurance". Don't you think it's odd that a person has to go into debt so they can generate profits for corporations who really ought to be paying for this education themselves? If you have to go into debt before they'll hire you, it's much easier to negotiate against you.
If you want to see other examples of propaganda, check out this random tweet from one of America's Top Capitalist Propagandists. These are very odd pictures, and the only thing I can see in them is that they must be promoting those outfits, likely the blue dress, maybe those men's outfits as well. One thing you know is that she didn't become a billionaire by letting any single opportunity to enrich herself at the expense of others pass her by. I didn't look it up, but I am certain they sell that blue dress, or whoever does paid her to post this.
That's the main reason celebrities use social media. It's marketing. Their whole schtick is to sell garments made in a sweatshop in a foreign country by people who can't even afford a beer to Americans who are facing bankruptcy and homelessness themselves.
Read the replies of the tweet. These people have influence that vastly outsizes their understanding of their impact on the world. There are guillotines in the comments. There usually are. I'm seeing them a lot lately.
This type of propaganda is everywhere. And it's destroying America. Just like propaganda led to the demise of Nazi Germany, we could be looking at the same thing, but worse. It could start off as famine.
If you're having trouble deciding between the beers you are being offered, it's probably because you don't want anything at all, in which case the proper choice is: nothing. Or, try tap water. Maybe you're just thirsty. Now ask yourself, when you envisioned yourself at a bar, did you ever think to order water instead? Did you entertain the idea that you didn't even want a beer. That's the power of suggestion.
What if the rest of the world just cut America off from the means of production outsourced to areas with cheap labor? We would have our own famine and likely war. And if we have a revolution here, with the masses in the country being so disinformed about everything and not having any sort of class consciousness at the moment and instead stuck in alienation, the leader that rises here will likely lead to something horrifying. And we censor ourselves from pointing out the simple fact, that the only way America will survive is to tax the deluded royalty like Kim and Mark back to reality, so they can't indulge their reckless, childish delusions by selling off the very fabric of our nation to the highest bidder.
That doesn't make me a Socialist, that just makes me honest.
Enjoy your beer!
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Thanks for reading and I hope I helped you understand how you can empower yourself. I'm excited about the one I wrote for Election Day tomorrow to keep our NOPOL spirits up while all the politics clouds the airwaves. Cheers!
submitted by SchwarzerKaffee to conspiracyNOPOL [link] [comments]

The best polo shirts — 14 tested

Polo shirts are possibly the most ubiquitous clothing item of the 21st century, undergoing a long journey from aspirational 1930s sportswear to becoming the default smart-casual option for millions of men. We’ve researched and tested 14 of the best polo shirts and think that the best polo is the Sunspel Riviera with its great fit, unique fabric and strong range of over twenty colours. If you’re looking for an elevated take on the polo then the John Smedley Adrian Polo is incredibly soft and will smarten up your wardrobe. Finally, if you’re on a budget the H&M Cotton Polo Shirt is a good quality take on the classic item at an affordable price point.
The original garment as we know it was based on a design worn by French tennis star René Lacoste aka ​“the Crocodile” in the 1930s as a practical, flexible, comfortable sports shirt. Unfortunately, from the 1980s onwards, creeping ​“casual Friday” dress codes made the polo shirt with badly fitting chinos an American business-standard. Later, it was the uniform of golfers and delivery drivers, security guards, and coffee chain staff not to mention the sometime uniform of the American far-right, in almost a parody of conformity.
What saves the polo shirt from fashion irrelevance is its potential for reinvention. Its been reclaimed by subcultures ranging from punks to skinheads and mods. As the tie disappears and the suit becomes increasingly relaxed, the polo shirt has become a place to experiment with shirting alternatives and continues its long tradition of reinvention, molding itself to the zeitgeist. For our review we tried to cover this range, from semi-activewear to knit-fabric classics to find the best polo shirt overall, looking as always at specialists who’ve produced these styles year after year in an attempt to find an ideal.

Best overall

Sunspel Riviera Polo
With a smart fit, retro-inspired basket weave fabric, and a huge range of tasteful colours, the Riviera is on its way to becoming a contemporary classic.
$105
The Riveria was introduced by Sunspel in 2006 after a design by Linda Hemmings for the James Bond film Casino Royale. The Riviera became something of an instant classic for a brand which up until then had been known largely for its undergarments. The references here (as the name suggests) are much more Talented Mr.Ripley than contemporary sportswear but it doesn’t feel like a period piece either. There has been some clever thought put into taking the best of that golden era and updating it.
The fabric has a looser, wider weave than most piqué polos, and a nice spongy texture with none of the coarseness that some piqué can have. After researching I found that the brand created the fabric with a vintage lace making machine in Sunspel’s HQ in Nottingham, and none of the competition I tried have a similar quality.
The fit is trim but not overly slim. The sleeves fall flatteringly halfway down the bicep, the length is standard and it has the classic split tail. The sleeves didn’t pull up into my armpits and I still had movement through the body. The collar is a fairly small point collar that sits well when buttoned up but also folds down easily into a camp collar shape when undone which allowed it to be worn cleanly both ways. The buttons are a discreet tonal plastic and the placket is a simple 2‑button design. I’m a fan of the pocket design though in a practical sense it’s not good for much and makes the shirt much more of a casual style.
Colours are another area where Sunspel gets it just right. They always have a strong seasonal palette which this year covers 20 options including a deep chocolate brown (seen above) an intense Yves Klein blue and a great brick red. Compared to their competitor’s depressingly basic ranges of pastels and neons, this quiet tastefulness is refreshing and it means that season to season it will be easy to update your wardrobe with some new additions.
Through washing and wearing over a number of weeks, I noticed no noticeable shrinkage or discolouring and the fabric kept its softness (which wasn’t always the case, especially if a garment has been chemically softened). I also kept an eye out for loose threads and buttons but found no faults.
Which brings us to the final question of value. Polo shirts are an interesting category in this sense as they are so tied up to a certain idea of aspirational dressing — and priced accordingly. Our testing found that the general quality and feel of a £10 polo from H&M didn’t massively improve when compared to its £80 Lacoste equivalent. But that’s to ignore the fact that you are paying for what that £80 polo says about you, what it represents in our culture, and the semiotics of that logo — a francophile or a football causal, a preppy or a punk. That said, if you’re like me and the branded polos aren’t your niche but you want something that feels premium, then, for the cost, you will have a beautifully fabricated, European-made polo shirt of notably better quality than its competitors in the same price bracket and that’s enough for us to award it the top spot.

Downsides

The downsides for the Riviera really come down to preference. I could imagine if you want a more classic fitting polo you may find it too slim or if you want one without a pocket that could turn you off. But as for the construction of the shirt itself or its fabric I couldn’t find any faults. Even the plastic buttons which might in other brands seem like a cost-saving measure feels more like a thoughtful design choice. It’s also more sportswear-adjacent than actual sportswear, but that feels like a quibble and true of any of the major polo brands at this point.

Also good

John Smedley Adrian Polo
Made from incredibly soft sea island cotton, this knitted polo is perfect if you want a softer, more formal style of polo.
$298
The Adrian Polo from John Smedley comes a close second to the Sunspel Riviera. The main attraction is the sea island cotton fabric which is incredibly soft with the best hand feel of any polo I reviewed. The placket length and knitted collar means it feels much more like the elegant mid-century polo shirt than something that would be mistaken for a 21st-century corporate uniform, albeit with some nice updates that make it feel more contemporary than other knitted polos.
Smedley is to fine knitwear what Burberry is to trench coats, or John Lobb is to shoes and considered to be the best in the world in the category (it’s where the Queen gets her knitwear). The Adrian genuinely felt like a luxury. Everything from the feel of the fabric to the way it fitted just right with substantial ribbing on the waist and sleeves (near the bottom of the bicep) with just the right amount of tension spoke to the care and attention that had gone into making it. It’s also versatile, working just as well under the lapels of my suit when I got married a few weeks ago as it did in our 35 degree London heatwave when worn with a pair of shorts although, it is a bit too formal to work with tracksuit bottoms. Out of all the styles I reviewed it felt much more like a smart option.
What the Adrian definitely isn’t on the other hand is a piece of grab-and-go sportswear that can be washed and thrown on like a t‑shirt or folded up at the bottom of your bag for destination holiday. I found myself hand-washing the delicate fabric to avoid rips and the collar, though it stands well, needs shaping with an iron after washing. Like a lot of luxury items, it’s delicate and requires a bit more care and attention than most and at £145 it’s not quite affordable enough to be a staple. That’s not saying it’s bad value necessarily, you can see the care and attention that was put into it and it’s UK manufactured but it’s probably not what most people are looking for when it comes to an everyday polo shirt, and those not quite the all-rounder that could hold the top spot. If you’re more likely to wear smart trousers than jeans and prefer a knit jumper to a hoodie then this is the polo for you.

Budget pick

H&M Cotton Polo Shirt
A great price paired with good fabrication and quality, the H&M polo offers the best value for money with their straightforward take on the classic polo shirt.
$12.99
If you’re unconcerned with logos and just want a classic polo shirt as a wardrobe staple you could do a lot worse than the H&M Cotton Polo Shirt. The piqué is soft and drapes well, the fit is classic, and straight (though as is often the case with H&M group, a bit long for me). In a blind test, I’m not sure I could tell the difference easily between this polo and the Lacoste L.12 which it’s clearly based it’s detailing on. And at £9.99 it’s extremely good value. Ethical clothing site Good on You’s review gives the brand an ​“It’s a start” rating for it’s environmental and ethical credentials noting that it’s environmental record is consistently improving while some issues with it’s supply chain labor remain.

What to look for

Range of colours: More than most sportswear, polo shirts are about colour, and we wanted our staple pick to have a good range of quality seasonal colours.
Flexibility: We wanted a Polo that looked good with a range of clothing from the formal to the ultra-casual (a pair of shorts or sweats)
Fabric: Has to work well in the heat, for most people a polo is a summer item and anything too heavy or coarse wasn’t going to cut it for us, we tried a range of synthetics and cottons of different qualities.
Fit: Piqué and knitted cotton are unforgiving fabrics so having a good fit is key to making a polo shirt work.
Collar: Does it stand up well, does it look okay when unbuttoned? is it easy to fold down or does it look sloppy.
Length: Long enough to wear tucked in but not long enough to look sloppy on its own.
Sleeves: We wanted the sleeve length to flatter the bicep but not ride up too high into the armpits, we also wanted easy movement as you’d expect from sportswear.
Easy Care: The best polos, like all good sportswear, should be easy to wash and care for.
Aesthetics: We wanted a polo that was more than a billboard for logo’s or an anonymous boxy t‑shirt alternative, the best would have a strong aesthetic quality.

The competition

The Fred Perry M12 & M3's are the most solidly constructed of all the branded polos I tried, and I was particularly keen on the thick ribbing on the sleeves and collar and the wide, reinforced placket. The collar had a slightly wider spread than most and which I found more flattering. The fit is trimmer than Lacoste and the hem is square so overall it has a neater, less sporty look. It's also nice that it's been continuously made in the UK since its introduction in the 1950s. The M12's aesthetic with its twin tips on the collar and sleeves have deep roots in the mod, Britpop, punk and skinhead subcultures in the UK and it can be a bit overpowering if you're looking for something more casual, but I love the simplicity of the M3's laurel crest and it has the same fit. Our favourite if you're looking for a logo.
We ordered from Lacoste as they're the originators of the style. The Lacoste L.12.12 is their staple and comes in a huge range of colours. It's hard to judge it fairly as it seems to be the most duped of all polo styles—the Ralph Lauren polo is said to be a copy of their pre-60s model after the designer was disappointed with the synthetic blend polos they produced in the 70s. It has a straight fit, flattering sleeve and fairly flat collar. The fabric is softer than most piques and the split tail is nice but there is nothing particularly stand out, though the mother of pearl buttons are a nice touch. In terms of transparency, they were probably the most disappointing of the branded styles as there was absolutely no place of origin for manufacture, not even a "made in" on their label (though I believe they are produced in Peru).
The Lacoste Paris Polo Shirt is their more contemporary update to the classic style and it features a slightly smaller collar, a bit of elastane in the fabric (6%) and a longer, narrower hidden placket and tonal crocodile patch. It's an interesting update, but if you're going for something so subtle I'm not sure why you wouldn't go for something completely unbranded.
The Ralph Lauren Classic Fit Mesh Polo Shirt was an interesting variant. Its piqué was solid and soft feeling, It had a really thick placket and nice mother of pearl buttons, but it was largely indistinguishable from the Lacoste L.12 and its dupe status makes sense. It has a slightly lower stepped hem and a surpassingly slim fit for a "classic" style. It comes in a huge range of colours (some pretty dubious) and is the most expensive of the branded options we tried, coming in at £85. It's also shorter than most of the polos we tried so could be a good option for smaller guys.
Kent Wang is one of menswear's best-kept secrets and we're a big fan of the Kent Want polo shirt. It splits the difference nicely between the more casual sportswear elements and smarter styles like the Adrian with thick quality pique, mother of pearl buttons and a high spread collar designed to look good under a suit jacket or jumper. If you want something with the formality of the Smedley and the easy-care of a classic polo then this is probably your best option and it has some of the most tasteful colours of any brand we reviewed (as well as a wide range of long sleeve options). It should be noted that the fit is quite slim and it's worth sizing up.
The Uniqlo Airism Jersey Polo is sleek and technical without seeming dorky. It kept me from sticking to the sofa when the heat in London got to a high of 35°C (95°F). It would be the ideal choice for a warm-weather tech enthusiast and looked pretty cool and sleek worn with my black running shorts.
The other Uniqlo style I tried was the Uniqlo DRY PIQUE polo, which I was less of a fan of. It was fine but not particularly interesting fit wise and has a slightly coarse plastic-y feel to the fabric.
I tried ASKET's Pique Polo and while it has the brands great fit range (you can choose the length from small to large) was a disappointment overall. The piqué was soft and mercerized but also the most transparent of all the ones we tested which meant nipples showed through. The collar was strangely floppy and unstructured so looked messy when buttoned up but also had trouble sitting flat when opened and the placket looked visually off centre. As usual with the brand, the environmental and social tracing is excellent and I hope they can perfect the style.
Finally, I also gave the H&M COOLMAX Polo a try and while I might appreciate it if I lived in a much warmer country, the texture just suffered in comparison to the pure cotton pique of their standard polo.
This is a new guide from Typical Contents, the “wirecutter for clothes”. It’s by the team behind Epochs, a now defunct menswear blog.
*We’re reviewing categories of clothing in hopes of finding the best item(s) in that category. All items tested in this guide were purchased with our own money. This post does not contain affiliate links.
Check out our previous guides on boxer briefs, plain t-shirts, low top canvas trainers, and summer socks.
submitted by typical-contents to malefashionadvice [link] [comments]

Newt Gingrich - Why I will not accept Joe Biden as president

ANALYSIS/OPINION:
A smart friend of mine who is a moderate liberal asked why I was not recognizing Joe Biden’s victory.
The friend made the case that Mr. Biden had gotten more votes, and historically we recognize the person with the most votes. Normally, we accept the outcome of elections just as we accept the outcomes of sporting events.
So, my friend asked why was 2020 different?
Having spent more than four years watching the left #Resist President Donald Trump and focus entirely on undoing and undermining the 2016 election, it took me several days to understand the depth of my own feelings.
As I thought about it, I realized my anger and fear were not narrowly focused on votes. My unwillingness to relax and accept that the election grew out of a level of outrage and alienation unlike anything I had experienced in more than 60 years involvement in public affairs.
The challenge is that I — and other conservatives — are not disagreeing with the left within a commonly understood world. We live in alternative worlds.
The left’s world is mostly the established world of the forces who have been dominant for most of my life.
My world is the populist rebellion which believes we are being destroyed, our liberties are being cancelled and our religions are under assault. (Note the new Human Rights Campaign to decertify any religious school which does not accept secular sexual values — and that many Democrat governors have kept casinos open while closing churches though the COVID-19 pandemic.) We also believe other Democrat-led COVID-19 policies have enriched the wealthy while crushing middle class small business owners (some 160,000 restaurants may close).
In this context, let’s talk first about the recent past and the presidency.
In 2016, I supported an outsider candidate, who was rough around the edges and in the Andrew Jackson school of controversial assaults on the old order. When my candidate won, it was blamed on the Russians. We now know (four years later) Hillary Clinton’s own team financed the total lie that fueled this attack.
Members of the FBI twice engaged in criminal acts to help it along — once in avoiding prosecution of someone who had deleted 33,000 emails and had a subordinate use a hammer to physically destroy hard drives, and a second time by lying to FISA judges to destroy Gen. Michael Flynn and spy on then-candidate Donald Trump and his team. The national liberal media aided and abetted every step of the way. All this was purely an attempt to cripple the new president and lead to the appointment of a special counsel — who ultimately produced nothing.
Now, people in my world are told it is time to stop resisting and cooperate with the new president. But we remember that the Democrats wanted to cooperate with Mr. Trump so much that they began talking about his impeachment before he even took office. The Washington Post ran a story on Democrat impeachment plots the day of the inauguration.
In fact, nearly 70 Democratic lawmakers boycotted his inauguration. A massive left-wing demonstration was staged in Washington the day after, where Madonna announced she dreamed of blowing up the White House to widespread applause. These same forces want me to cooperate with their new president. I find myself adopting the Nancy Pelosi model of constant resistance. Nothing I have seen from Mr. Biden since the election offers me any hope that he will reach out to the more than 74 million Americans who voted for President Trump.
So, I am not reacting to the votes so much as to the whole election environment.
When Twitter and Facebook censored the oldest and fourth largest newspaper (founded by Alexander Hamilton) because it accurately reported news that could hurt Mr. Biden’s chances — where were The New York Times and The Washington Post?
The truth of the Hunter Biden story is now becoming impossible to avoid or conceal. The family of the Democrat nominee for president received at least $5 million from an entity controlled by our greatest adversary. It was a blatant payoff, and most Americans who voted for Mr. Biden never heard of it — or were told before the election it was Russian disinformation. Once they did hear of it, 17% said they would have switched their votes, according to a poll by the Media Research Center. That’s the entire election. The censorship worked exactly as intended.
Typically, newspapers and media outlets band together when press freedom is threatened by censorship. Where was the sanctimonious “democracy dies in darkness?” Tragically, The Washington Post is now part of the darkness.
But this is just a start. When Twitter censors four of five Rush Limbaugh tweets in one day, I fear for the country.
When these monolithic Internet giants censor the president of the United States, I fear for the country.
When I see elite billionaires like Mark Zuckerburg are able to spend $400 million to hire city governments to maximize turnout in specifically Democratic districts — without any regard to election spending laws or good governance standards — I fear for the country.
When I read that Apple has a firm rule of never irritating China — and I watch the NBA kowtow to Beijing, I fear for our country.
When I watch story after story about election fraud being spiked — without even the appearance of journalistic due diligence or curiosity — I know something is sick.
The election process itself was the final straw in creating the crisis of confidence which is accelerating and deepening for many millions of Americans.
Aside from a constant stream of allegations of outright fraud, there are some specific outrages — any one of which was likely enough to swing the entire election.
Officials in virtually every swing state broke their states’ own laws to send out millions of ballots or ballot applications to every registered voter. It was all clearly documented in the Texas lawsuit, which was declined by the U.S. Supreme Court based on Texas’ procedural standing — not the merits of the case. That’s the election.
In addition, it’s clear that virtually every swing state essentially suspended normal requirements for verifying absentee ballots. Rejection rates were an order of magnitude lower than in a normal year. In Georgia, rejection rates dropped from 6.5% in 2016 to 0.2% in 2020. In Pennsylvania, it went from 1% in 2016 to .003% in 2020. Nevada fell from 1.6% to .75%. There is no plausible explanation other than that they were counting a huge number of ballots — disproportionately for Mr. Biden — that normally would not have passed muster. That’s the election.
The entire elite liberal media lied about the timeline of the COVID-19 vaccine. They blamed President Trump for the global pandemic even as he did literally everything top scientists instructed. In multiple debates, the moderators outright stated that he was lying about the U.S. having a vaccine before the end of the year (note Vice President Mike Pence received it this week). If Americans had known the pandemic was almost over, that too was likely the difference in the election.
The unanimously never-Trump debate commission spiked the second debate at a critical time in order to hurt President Trump. If there had been one more debate like the final one, it likely would have been pivotal.
This is just the beginning. But any one of those things alone is enough for Trump supporters to think we have been robbed by a ruthless establishment — which is likely to only get more corrupt and aggressive if it gets away with these blatant acts.
For more than four years, the entire establishment mobilized against the elected president of the United States as though they were an immune system trying to kill a virus. Now, they are telling us we are undermining democracy.
You have more than 74 million voters who supported President Trump despite everything — and given the election mess, the number could easily be significantly higher. The truth is tens of millions of Americans are deeply alienated and angry.
If Mr. Biden governs from the left — and he will almost certainly be forced to — that number will grow rapidly, and we will win a massive election in 2022.
Given this environment, I have no interest in legitimizing the father of a son who Chinese Communist Party members boast about buying. Nor do I have any interest in pretending that the current result is legitimate or honorable. It is simply the final stroke of a four-year establishment-media power grab. It has been perpetrated by people who have broken the law, cheated the country of information, and smeared those of us who believe in America over China, history over revisionism, and the liberal ideal of free expression over cancel culture.
I write this in genuine sorrow, because I think we are headed toward a serious, bitter struggle in America. This extraordinary, coordinated four-year power grab threatens the fabric of our country and the freedom of every American. - Newt Gingrich
Source: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/dec/21/why-i-will-not-accept-joe-biden-as-president/
submitted by Ford_Martin to ConservativeKiwi [link] [comments]

Working Wise or Wizardly Working: how magic items affect the world

Magic items. Objects imbued with magic in order to make them better, or even gain a completely different function. But apparently the only places they exist are in monster hoards and adventurers' backpacks.
Realistically however, everyone wants things that are better at what they do. And eventually, people get what they want.
Today i will go over some objects that are useful outside of the context of adventuring, as well as how they might change the world around them. I will not mention artifacts, since those are one-of-a-kind objects with pre-established locations, usage, etc.
While the topic has always existed, Tasha's Cauldron has added a few interesting toys to our proverbial tool box, which makes this as good a time as any to take a look and
Much like in the Spells and Society post, the rarer an item the more amazingly powerful it must be to be worthy of mention. Actually i recommend reading that post before this one. Since a lot of magic items just allow you to cast spells for free, knowing which spells alter the world gives a good idea of which items can do the same.

Uncommon

+1 tools.
That's right, +1 tools. Not +1 weapons.
Consider a guard. How much of his time is actually spent fighting? A minute every other day? That's not getting a lot of use out of his sword. Even a soldier spends weeks marching, or months guarding a fort, and then only fights for a few minutes or hours. Even if a guard has a superb weapon that doubles his combat effectiveness, it only makes him 1% or 2% better at being a guard[1]. Given a choice of uncommon item, any guard and most soldiers would rather have a Weapon of Warning to prevent being backstabbed, ambushed or caught off-guard.
Now consider a lumberjack or miner. They spend several hours a day hitting trees and rocks. An enchanted axe, saw or pickaxe would see continuous use in their hands. Not only that, magic items are also described as being "at least as durable as a nonmagical item of its kind. Most magic items, other than potions and scrolls, have resistance to all damage". This means the +1 pickaxe would be far, far more resilient to wear and tear than a mundane one, potentially being passed down for generations. And with your miners and lumberjacks being more efficient, you need less of them. Which in turn means you get to have more guards.
Another noteworthy thing here is adamantine items. They deal automatic critical damage to objects and are much harder to destroy. In other words, they're great at chopping trees and ores, bending hot metal, cutting cloth, plowing a field, etc. All while having a fraction of the wear and tear.

Bags of Holding, Handy Haversacks and Portable Holes.
AKA your transporty boyes.
The bag of holding is an old favorite among players, and the reason is obvious: it has a million uses.
Most adventurers use it for carrying all their junk. The bad guys in the original Baldurs Gate game used bags of holding to smuggle whole shipments to and from their iron mine base with just one guy. One of my players once put a huge boulder in it, then flew up and dropped the boulder on an enemy transport ship. And let us not forget the classic Arrowhead of Total Destruction.
All of these are perfectly valid uses. Smuggling a small object is easier than smuggling a large object. Dropping huge objects from a high place turns anything that flies into a siege weapon. And the Arrowhead, while expensive, can deal with very large threats that could level a city.
But honestly, every merchant is a smuggler at heart. After all, as long as brigands roam the roads, there will always be a need to hide your valuables in an extraplanar space small enough to fit any orifice. Not only that, the bag allows you to dump a cart entirely and just ride to your destination much faster (and therefore, more safely).
Of course not every merchant can afford a bag of holding, so this brings about an interesting topic of inequality in your campaign. Some merchants can go from A to B faster and more safely on a horse, while the majority must go with a bull-drawn cart that is slow and vulnerable. And bags of holding don't even require attunement, so once you have one and your income soars you can get another, and another... Its a serious rich-get-richer situation, and you risk running all the mundane merchants out of business.

Broom of Flying.
I'm gonna start this one with saying that brooms of flying and carpets of flying are overpowered. They are consistently better than items of similar rarity that provide the same benefit, like boots and wings of flying. The reason here is, in my humble opinion, the same reason why Fireball deals more damage than any 3rd level spell and most 5th level ones: its iconic.
As for the item itself, its pretty much a permanent flying speed of 50 while carrying up to 200lbs, or 30ft. speed while carrying 201-400lbs. Its a deliveryboy's dream... except not.
You see, the broom of flying isn't just a hoverbike, its also a drone. You say the command word, and it flies up to a mile a way. Say it again, it comes back. In other words, the crazy wizard in his tower can just tie some money and a note on the broom and send it to a shop, then call it back once the shopkeeper has tied the groceries to it. Poor delivery boy just lost his job.
But wait, there's more! If the broom can fly on its own, can it plow a field? Can it spin an "animal" traction mill? The answer is: yes. But there's no reason to use magic where a common animal would do, unless its a crazy high magic setting or something.

Decanter of Endless Water
I think anyone can see how infinite water is broken as fuck[2]. But that's not all. By speaking the command word and pulling the lid, you can cause 30 gallons (136.4 litres) of water to pour out with enough force to push a 200 pound object 15 feet. This action can be repeated every turn (6 seconds), since a decanter of endless water has no limit on how often it can be used.
So a decanter is not just infinite water, but also infinite energy provided you have enough technology to build a mill. Even more energy if you activate the decanter in a high place and use gravity to give those 30 gallons even more potential.
Do keep in mind however that in 5e there must be someone using their action to activate it every turn. In previous editions however one could leave the decanter open and it would pour water constantly.

Hat of Disguise
This wee cap is not game-breaking for its great usefulness, but rather for its ability to fuck the world up. Any charlatan with a Hat of Disguise can walk into a bank, guild, ship, etc. and pretend to be anyone. Sure it doesn't happen often, but when it happens the crime spree is enormous. And while there are ways to work around disguised criminals, the fact people have to work around it is an issue in and of itself.
Societies based on trust pretty much can't function. Does everyone sign everything? Do people start using IDs? Do organizations start using items or employing animals that can see through illusions? Is there an industry for door frames that detect illusions?
Even without the hat, Disguise Self is still a 1st level spell. Yet somehow the sourcebooks have no mention of how the world might adapt to the idea that you can't trust people to be who they seem to be. And if anyone with access to 1st-level spells can walk up to the king without difficulties, you wont have kings for long.

Ring of Mind Shielding
A great item, if you're an asshole. Keeps people from sensing your evil alignment, keeps them from reading your evil thoughts, keeps pesky zones of truth from sensing your lies, and it even makes itself invisible so nobody can notice you're wearing the "i am evil" ring. It even keeps your immortal soul from going into eternal damnation!
One thing i always think of soul-trapping items is that they're a good way for evil people to avoid the afterlife. If you're good, you want to go to Celestia, Elysium, Arborea or Ysgard. Yet if you're evil, being stuck in a ring and talking to its wearer might be better than Baator, Carceri or the Abyss.

Sending Stones
Another classic, unfortunately the stones were nerfed and now can only Send to each other once a day.
Still, long range communication is nothing to scoff at. And while hiring someone to Send for you is cheaper, the stones provide more privacy and can be sent to far off corners of the world where you can't afford to station a caster full time.
Expect each mayor or baron to have one of these, while someone in the capital answers their "calls". Something of a royal secretary if you will. While magic items are expensive, shaving days off of your disaster response time can be the difference between having a kingdom and having ruins.

Rare

Bag of Beans
An often overlooked item, the BoB is crazy powerful. It has 3d4 beans, each of which can trigger a random effect. Notably they have a 10% chance of creating a random potion that lasts 30 days, a 10% chance of creating 1d4+3 eggs that can permanently raise an attribute by 1[3], a 9% chance of spawning a full on pyramid with a mummy lord and appropriate loot[4], and a 1% chance of leading anywhere.
Why bother with tomes when you can get twice as many stats from a bag of beans?

Helm of Teleportation.
1d3 castings of Teleport every day, plain and simple. That means 9 people can travel about 14 times in a week[5].
That's a lot of potential trading to be had for sure, but why stop there?
Say your kingdom spent tons of time and money training and equipping an elite unit. You wouldn't want them to spend 80% of their time on the road and 20% solving issues right? One rare item can make your 9-men unit five times more efficient.
Adventurers are in much the same boat: small group, lots of capital invested into their gear and training, yet they somehow spend most of their time going back and forth between adventures (until level 9 if they have a bard, sorcerer or wizard in the party, past 9 if they don't). It honestly amazes me that the Helm of Teleportation is not listed more often as a must-have party item.

Manuals/Tomes
For those unaware: there are 3 manuals and 3 tomes in the game, each increases an attribute by 2 when used and then loses its magic for 100 years.
The #1 item on any adventurer's to-get list, the existence of the tomes raises far more questions than answers. Who makes these? Why are they not mass produced? Can i get a magically accelerated demiplane, throw the books in and recharge them in a fraction of the time? Why do people not abuse the f*** out of them?
And when i mean abuse, i mean make smart use of them. Say a kingdom has, over the course of generations, acquired 5 or so tomes. Then the ruler reads them and becomes super smart/wise/popular. That sounds like the sort of thing that would make the whole realm prosper. Do it on an elven/dwarven kingdom and the ruler can read his tomes multiple times, granting him a godlike mind.
And that's without considering the idea of immortals. Or even high level druids. Any lich or vampire could become insanely powerful, not only from being able to use each tome a dozen times, but also from having eons to look for more or even craft them[6].
One thing i really like about tomes is watching the party decide what to do with them after spending the magic. Do they auction the books? Trade with some elf for favors? Give it to a friendly vampire?

Very rare

Candle of Invocation
For 4 hours clerics and druid of the proper alignment within 30ft can cast 1st level spells without using spell slots. In other words, crazy amounts of healing. Pop one after a battle and in a few minutes your whole army will be ready for more. Or pop it during a battle, and have the Healing Word the crap out of your troops from a safe-ish distance.

Carpet of flying, Peregrine Mask
Carpets of flying function much like brooms of flying, except they are faster or carry more weight (depending on size). They would be a strict upgrade, except they lack the drone function the broom has.
A peregrine mask provides a flying speed of 60, but has no carrying capacity. That means if you have a Powerful Build or a similar feature it can actually carry more than the carpets.

Cauldron of Rebirth
If there's one thing Tasha's Cauldron has brought us, its this cauldron.
It has some minor uses for scrying making potions, but here's the deal breaker: you put a corpse in the cauldron, fill it with 10gp worth of salt (200lbs.) and it casts Raise Dead on the creature.
Resurrection normally costs 500gp. worth of diamonds. With the cauldron it costs 10gp worth of salt. Sure there's a one week cooldown, but who cares? I see two scenarios here: either a resurrection every week is more than the local demand, or less than the local demand.
If its more than the demand, that means everyone who dies of unnatural causes and has 10gp to spare gets resurrected.
If its less than the demand, that means you're raising one person every 7 days. Depending on how high the demand is you could be making as much as 500gp a week, or 26k a year. Considering that the DMG says a Very Rare magic item costs 10.000-50.000 gold, the cauldron can pay for itself in under two years. Even if the math is way off for some reason, it is still crazy strong.
Honestly, this should be an artifact. Or at least have some heavy downside. The idea that someone over at Wizards of the Coast read this and said "Ah yes, 10gp resurrection, perfectly fine" simply boggles the mind.

Crystalline Chronicle
Speaking of items that make things cheap, 1d3 times a day this spellbook allows you to cast a wizard spell without material components of up to 100gp.
That means two spells on average, so let's take a look at a few good options: Continual Flame[7], Magic Circle (exactly 100!), Stoneskin (100!), Teleportation Circle and Astral Projection.
The ones that stand out here are Continual Flame and Teleportation Circle. Both cost 50 and have a huge demand in the world. Where a permanent TP circle would normally consume 18.250gp worth of materials over a year, it will now cost nothing[8].

Legendary

Staff of the Magi
This is, i think, the most powerful item in the game.
Has a bunch of charges, yadda yadda, here's the important part:
  1. When someone else casts a spell on you, you can use a reaction to absorb the spell. The staff then gains charges equal to the level of the spell it just ate.
  2. It can cast Plane Shift for 7 charges.
This means on an average day you get 16 charges, or two Plane Shifts, from the natural charge generation. But what if you could have someone cast spells on you without spending spell slots?
There are several monsters who can cast spells at will, too many to list. But there are also a few ways for players to do it. The first that comes to mind is the level 18 Wizard feature Spell Mastery, allowing any 2nd level spell. There's also the level 15 invocation Shroud of Shadow that allows infinite casts of Invisibility. Either case allows a duo to have infinite Plane Shifts a day, which is really powerful.
As usual, trade comes to mind. But with infinite charges you might as well start a tourism agency or a hotel and/or casino that brings in people from all planes. Yet what few people realize is that Plane Shift can be used offensively in order to permanently banish anyone to any plane. Infinite save-or-die effects.
You could also just settle for a fuckton of Shifts instead of infinite, and use a warlock or four-elements monk to convert their short rest resources into charges for the staff.
Now think of the possibilities and plot hooks. Mad king banishing dissidents, Red Queen style. Alternative death sentence. A high level wizard/warlock stranded somewhere because the guy who was attuned to the staff died or got separated from him. Random archdemon bringing an army to the Material Plane a couple demons a minute.

Notable mentions

These are items i left out, but which i will get yelled at in the comments if i "forget" about them.

Anything that creates energy
The truth is that a lot of magic items can do that. Fire for heating things, wind or water for pushing things, etc. For an energy source to be noteworthy it has to provide a considerable amount of continuous energy, without charges or daily limitations. Otherwise you might as well just use a regular water mill or a bull.

Alchemy Jug (uncommon)
It creates an amount of a liquid (beer, honey, etc) every day. It does nothing that cannot be done by an amount of workers, and for it to be world-altering we'd have to go into a lengthy math argument of how many labor hours of a bee farmer are needed to make a gallon of honey, and how that compares to the initial investment of hiring a wizard to make the item.
As a general rule, if something can be done mundanely it will be done mundanely. Let the casters focus on stuff where they have an infinite comparative advantage, like flying stuff, teleportation, resurrection, etc.

Cap of Water Breathing (uncommon)
It allows you to breathe underwater indefinitely. Can be great if you have important stuff to do underwater, and might enable interaction with sentient water folk. But in and of itself, not a world-altering item.

Horseshoes of Speed (rare)
Essentially +30 speed for hooved creatures, without requiring attunement. Honestly this item does not really fit this list, but i just thought the idea of pegasi flying real fast with these was worth mentioning. Sure a helm of teleportation outclasses it entirely for travel, but that's not useful in combat.
And i really want to play a centaur monk with these some day. Unfortunately the item description specifically says you have to have four equipped to benefit, so don't even think about it you satyrs and tieflings out there.

Lyre of Building (rare)
At a glance this looks like a regular magic items, with nothing too weird about it. Until you look at its spell selection and notice you can cast them as an action.
Mending normally takes a minute to cast, with the lyre its an action, and you can do it at will even without knowing the spell.
Fabricate takes ten minutes to cast, with the lyre its an action. That means once a day you can turn the ground under an enemy into a spiky cage, his sword into sword parts, etc. Until the lyre came about the only way to instantly cast fabricate was with a Wish, and that is a pretty good combat use of the 9th level spell.

Conclusion

To be quite frank, a lot of these item uses are a little niche and wont work in every setting. Then again, that that is never the goal with these posts. I hope i have provided you with at least a few interesting plot hooks and other crazy ideas, whether to amaze your players or ruin your DM's plans.

Notes

[1] There is a notable exception however. If your kingdom has a group dedicated to fighting monsters, some of which are resistant to nonmagic damage, then those guys should be prioritized. Not only does the +1 weapon double their damage output in this scenario, it also prevents your kingdom from losing special soldiers that are very expensive to train and replace.
[2] Stuff like constant abuse of Decanters of Endless Water are why in my setting there is a doomsayer cult that believes the world will be flooded some day. As they say it, every time someone activates a decanter, magically creates water, creates food and water, opens a portal to the Plane of Water, etc; the amount of water in the world rises just a bit. Given enough time, everything will be flooded by it. Unless someone like, puts a Sphere of Annihilation by the shore or something. But nobody said the cult has to be right.
[3] The bag has 3d4 beans. Each bean has a 10% chance of spawning 1d4+3 eggs. That means 7.5*0.1*5.5 = 4.125 raised stats, on average. Sure I'm assuming you'll pass the DC20 save every time, but with proper preparation its quite doable. Be near a paladin, get bardicly inspired, have someone cast Resistance, find ways to reroll a failed save, etc. Since the eggs last forever, you have all the time in the world to stack the saving throw in your favor. Or just use Portents.
[4] The mummy lord could have anything, even another bag of beans!
[5] Someone will say "but what about the chance of going off target? What if nobody has teleportation circles?" To that person i say: associated object. Get a pebble every time you're in a region, and you wont need a circle. Buy a bit of silk and you can teleport to any place along the silk road. Buy a used horseshoe and you can go all over the country. Now I'm just imagining this badass-looking special-ops soldier, clad in the finest plate, wielding a blazing blade, his cloak cackling thunder... and with a rusty-ass horseshoe tied to his helmet.
[6] And thus is born the legend of Swolomon the Buff. He was once a base vampire, who got stuck in a tomb for 4000 years with nothing but a Manual of Bodily Health and a Manual of Gainly Exercise. Now he's... selling supplements or something.
[7] See On Spells and Society linked at the top for why there's a near infinite demand for Continual Flame.
[8] You can even make two circles at a time, but there's some math about it. You have 3 charges, use 2, so you should always be with one to spare. Until you roll a 1 on the d3, and then its gone. After that whenever you roll a 1 without first rolling a 3 you'll have to pay the 50gp or let the circle go to waste. In other words, you'd be paying roughly 1/6 of the regular cost.
submitted by DungeonMercenary to DnDBehindTheScreen [link] [comments]

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