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Nikolay Danilevsky

2023.11.29 07:36 geopolicraticus Nikolay Danilevsky

Nikolay Danilevsky

Part of a Series on the Philosophy of History
Today is the 201st anniversary of the birth of Nikolay Yakovlevich Danilevsky (Никола́й Я́ковлевич Даниле́вский—his name is transliterated from the Cyrillic script in various ways; 28 November 1822 – 07 November 1885), who was born in the village of Oberets on this date in 1822.
Happy Birthday Nikolay!
Nikolay Danilevsky is best known as a Slavophile philosopher of the 19th century. The Slavophiles rejected Peter The Great’s campaign of Westernization for Russia, and sought to delineate a specifically Slav identity and destiny, with Russia at the head of the Slav peoples as its spiritual and political leader. There is little information available on Danilevsky in English, but recently two of his books have been translated into English, Russia And Europe: The Slavic Worlds Political And Cultural Relations With The Germanic-Roman West (1869) and Woe To The Victors! The Russo-Turkish War, The Congress Of Berlin, And The Future Of Slavdom (1878).
Danilevsky is often compared to Spengler, as in Robert E. MacMaster’s paper, “Danilevsky and Spengler” (1954), in which MacMaster writes:
“Critics and admirers alike addressed themselves almost exclusively to the theory of cultural-historical types, to what they regarded as Danilevsky’s denial of the possibility of human progress, and to the sociological implications of his theories. Today the chief component of his historical reputation is that he was a forerunner of Oswald Spengler. The present discussion is no exception; for it is the purpose here to examine critically the latter view, now undoubtedly the most important and persistent line of interpretation of Danilevsky’s philosophy of history.”
In noting that Danilevsky is seen as a forerunner of Spengler, he implicitly acknowledges the differences between the two. MacMaster also wrote a book about Danilevsky, Danilevsky: A Russian Totalitarian Philosopher (1967). Calling Danilevsky a totalitarian seems like rather strong rhetoric for a scholarly book, but we have come to expect such things in the conflict between east and west, and the book was written during the Cold War. Much of the book is like this, but at least we know hwere MacMaster stands, which is helpful. In between the outbursts, and sometimes as part of an outburst, MacMaster comments on Danilevsky’s philosophy of history:
“There is a whole relatively consistent, finished Panslavist and utilitarian philosophy of history on the surface, as it were, of Russia and Europe. The completeness of this philosophy together with the presence in Danilevsky’s work of much more, indeed of things which are utterly contradictory, raises questions about his goals: whether he really wanted a Panslav Union for the merely political and cultural reasons he stated; or whether he had in mind higher aims, like spiritual fulfillment, the harmonization of man with God, nature, his fellows, and himself; and, if such was the case, why he did not say so more openly. The middle chapters of his book raise such questions particularly cogently, for one has to do very little probing beneath the surface to see that Danilevsky had a deep commitment to spiritual ends, to a theological-metaphysical view of history, and to the Russian traditions he so heartily decried in his typal, Panslavist theory.”
“Had Danilevsky lived on and extended his biological ideas into the philosophy of history, it seems quite probable that he would have developed an outlook similar to that of Herzen or, with a Christian bent, of Dostoevsky, whom he occasionally cited in these years. That is, he would have posited (in a mythopoetic but responsible, nontotalitarian fashion) an immanent, divinely instituted or at least objectively existent teleologica! principle in world history; and, on this basis, he would have viewed the developments, sequential or contemporaneous, of nations and civilizations as orderly steps in a progress toward an all-human, Christian (or Utopian) socialist civilization and an end of history, a sort of Joachite new dispensation. Russia would have been assigned a messianic role in the last stage of history. As his commentaries on Humboldt and Fourier suggest, Danilevsky had been groping for something like this since the forties. Behind the utilitarian, Darwinian facade, there is in Russia and Europe such a view of history. The evolutionary theory in Darwinism, though relating only to organic nature, is even similar in spirit to some of the less prominent historical theory in Russia and Europe. There was a marked consistency of sorts in Danilevsky's most fundamental philosophical convictions throughout his life.”
A review of MacMaster by Alfred A. Skerpan (The Historian, Vol. 30, No. 2, February, 1968, pp. 266-269; linked below) addresses MacMaster’s effort to cast Danilevsky in the totalitarian role:
“MacMaster’s argument is largely based on what Danilevsky wrote in the last chapters of Russia and Europe, in which he comes closest to playing the role of totalitarian philosopher that MacMaster assigns to him. But even in these chapters it is questionable whether Danilevsky is really the leftist and radical MacMaster would like to make of him. Furthermore, Danilevsky is supposed to have remained essentially a ‘totalitarian philosopher’ throughout the seventies and into the early eighties. Here MacMaster seems to be on especially shaky ground, for he adduces only a few passages from articles Danilevsky wrote concerning the Russo-Turkish War to illustrate Danilevsky’s continued ‘totalitarian’ tendencies during these years. MacMaster also mentions the book Darwinism and the articles Danilevsky then wrote about nihilism, tariffs, constitutionalism, and religion; and he even describes Darwinism as being ‘philosophic and humanistic in spirit’ and the nihilism article as an expression of ‘an incipient sense of responsibility.’ But he does not discuss the book and articles in their relationship to the spiritual and political crisis Russian society and autocracy were experiencing in the late 1870s and early 1880s. Danilevsky, as Darwinism and the articles (as well as the corrections he prepared for Russia and Europe around 1880 and shortly before his death in 1885) make clear, responded to this crisis in much the same conservative and humanistic spirit that his friend Strakhov and other neo-Slavophiles did. That Danilevsky did respond in this manner suggests that MacMaster’s classifying him as a leftist and radical totalitarian philosopher of the ‘Russian type’ does not (though it seems to be a useful concept in regard to the last chapters of Russia and Europe) help us very much to reach a better understanding of Danilevsky’s entire career as a Russian scientist and publicist.”
Russia and Europe is a remarkable work, comparing Russian civilization to the civilizations of the West, and while part of the purpose of the book is to discuss Slav identity and destiny in such a way as to provide an aspiration for Slavic peoples, part of the book is analytical and philosophical, and well worth reading. The impact of this book is yet to be fully felt in the Western world, if indeed Danilevsky’s distinctive arguments ever get a hearing, which they should. Russia and Europe is perhaps best known for Danilevsky’s schematism of “cultural-historical” types, which resembles in some ways the familiar lists of civilizations in Spengler, Toynbee, and others.
“These cultural-historical types or distinct civilizations, ranked in chronological order, are the following: 1) Egyptian; 2) Chinese; 3) Assyrian-Babylonian-Phoenician, Chaldean, or ancient Semite; 4) Indian; 5) Iranian; 6) Jewish; 7) Greek; 8) Roman; 9) neo-Semitic or Arab; 10) Germanic-Roman or European. To those can be added, perhaps, two American types: the Mexican and the Peruvian, which died a violent death and did not manage to complete their development.”
Danilevsky also propounded laws for the development of these cultural-historical types:
I will start right off by explaining some general conclusions or laws of historical development, derived from the grouping of historical phenomena into cultural-historical types.
Law 1. Any tribe or family of peoples characterized by a separate language or group of languages with similarities that can be readily detected without deep philological investigation constitutes a distinct cultural-historical type, if it has already grown out of its infancy and is inclined toward and generally capable of historical development.
Law 2. For the civilization of a distinct cultural-historical type to be born and develop, the peoples belonging to it must have political independence.
Law 3. The principles of civilization for one cultural-historical type are not transferable to the peoples of another type. Each type produces its own, influenced more or less by foreign civilizations preceding or contemporary to it.
Law 4. The civilization of each cultural-historical type only attains fullness, diversity, and richness when its diverse ethnographic elements, independent but not combined into a political whole, form a federation or political system of states.
Law 5. The course of development for cultural-historical types closely resembles that of perennial plants that bear fruit only once, whose period of growth is indefinitely long, but whose period of flowering and bearing fruit is relatively short and exhausts its vitality once and for all.
The first two conclusions cannot be doubted and do not require much explanation.
Much of the book is taken up with characterizing the nature of Western civilization, especially vis-à-vis Slavic civilization, and looking forward to the Slavic civilization that is yet to be. As a strongly ethnocentric work, I can understand why some, like MacMaster, have reacted against Danilevsky, but I found Danilevsky’s work not only valuable, but something that can still be taken up and built upon. I have cited Danilevsky in my my recent paper, “The Develes Engynnes: Technological Textures of Life on Earth and in Space,” essentially in relation to what could be called Danilevsky’s implicit philosophy of technology. There is much more in Danilevsky that remains interesting and useful to philosophy.

Further Resources
MacMaster, R. E. (1954). Danilevsky and Spengler: A New Interpretation. The Journal of Modern History, 26(2), 154–161. doi:10.1086/237685
Thaden, E. C. (1969). Danilevsky: A Russian Totalitarian Philosopher. By Robert E. MacMaster. Russian Research Center Studies, 53. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967. xiii, 368 pp. $7.95. Slavic Review, 28(03), 487–489. doi:10.2307/2494028
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2023.11.29 07:15 quiltsbeyondborders GAY FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD LOS ANGELES

Located in the very progressive city of Los Angeles, there are several neighborhoods that are particularly gay friendly and popular among the LGBTQ community. These neighborhoods tend to have large populations of gay residents, host LGBTQ organizations and events, and celebrate Pride month openly. Some of the top gay neighborhoods in LA include West Hollywood, Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Echo Park, and Long Beach.
West Hollywood: Often referred to as the “Gay Capital of Los Angeles”, West Hollywood is known nationwide as one of the most prominent gay communities. Situated just west of Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, West Hollywood was incorporated as a city in 1984 to prevent anti-gay discrimination and become a safe haven for the large gay population that calls it home. Rainbow flags line Santa Monica Boulevard, the city’s main drag, and many local businesses proudly display rainbow stickers in their storefront windows to indicate that they are LGBTQ-friendly. The annual LA Pride Parade also makes its way through West Hollywood every June. Beyond just its notable gay nightlife scene, West Hollywood is a diverse and progressive city that is committed to inclusivity and human rights for all.
Silver Lake: Located just north of Hollywood, Silver Lake is a charming and artsy neighborhood that has become quite popular among young gay men in recent decades. However, Silver Lake is not exclusively a gay neighborhood - it has a mix of gay and straight residents who live side by side peacefully. The neighborhood has a laidback, bohemian vibe and is filled with independent boutiques, cafes, vintage stores, and eclectic restaurants. On Sunday evenings during the warmer months, the neighborhood comes alive for “Tea Dance” - a social dance party held in the retro backyard of the Faultline Bar. Silver Lake is also home to the annual LA Pride Music Festival every June.
Los Feliz: Nestled at the base of Griffith Park, Los Feliz is a historic neighborhood known for its Spanish Colonial architecture and charming village atmosphere. While not as overtly gay as West Hollywood, Los Feliz has developed a significant LGBTQ population thanks to its inclusive and progressive sensibilities. Places like the dive bar The Drawing Room and the casual eatery Cafe Stella attract a mixed gay and straight clientele. Los Feliz is low-key yet vibrant, with great dining, shopping, and nightlife clustered along Hillhurst Avenue and Vermont Avenue. Nearby Atwater Village is also thriving with young LGBTQ residents and businesses.
Echo Park: Just south of Silver Lake, Echo Park is another neighborhood that has become increasingly gay friendly in recent years. Young creatives and activists have flocked to Echo Park, bringing with them a spirit of openness and acceptance towards all people. The neighborhood has a number of popular LGBTQ-owned bars and restaurants, including the Mexican restaurant and bar The Eagle LA, the bar The Red Lion Tavern, and the café The Green Building. On weekends, colorful locals and visitors gather for food trucks, live music and sports events at Echo Park Lake. The neighborhood's dive bars and indie aesthetic give it a funky, carefree vibe.
Long Beach: Located about 25 miles south of downtown LA, the coastal city of Long Beach boasts one of the largest and most established gay communities outside of West Hollywood. Along the Golden Shore corridor by the beach, visitors will find gay bars, nightclubs, bookstores and specialty shops catering to the LGBTQ audience. Known as the "Long Beach Gay Pride Capital", Long Beach holds one of the largest pride parades in Southern California each October that draws over 200,000 attendees. Beyond just the gay scene, Long Beach offers many outdoor activities like walking or biking along its scenic oceanfront Promenade. The recently renovated downtown also has great dining and culture.
In general, LGBTQ people in Los Angeles enjoy a high quality of life thanks to the city's overall progressive values around diversity and human rights. Beyond just these major neighborhoods, there are also active LGBTQ communities in other areas like Hollywood, Downtown LA, Koreatown, Culver City and Pasadena. LA has fought long and hard for equal rights protections and today openly celebrates its sizable gay populations annually during Pride month in June. Visitors will find that people of all orientations are accepted without prejudices throughout most of the progressive yet laidback city.
Find your perfect match on GAYDATING247 - the ultimate destination for gay love!
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2023.11.29 07:02 dice1899 Letter For My Wife Rebuttal, Part 25: Prophecies

Posts in this series (note: link will only work properly in new Reddit):
Okay, guys, the topic this week is on failed prophecies from the latter-day prophets, but only one of these four quotes he gives is actually a prophecy, and it didn’t fail.
The author, Thomas Faulk, also uses an incorrect word as the title, so I corrected it. I won’t correct his usage going forward in the portions I quote from him, but I will be using the correct word myself. So, just to clear up any confusion this flipping between spellings may cause for those who don’t know the difference, “prophecy” and “prophesy” are two completely different words. A “prophecy” is a prediction from an oracle of God that has already been given, such as those given by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. To “prophesy” is to give that prediction in the present tense. It’s an action, something somebody is currently doing. There’s only one letter’s difference between them, but they have different meanings and different pronunciations. I’m not trying to beat up on him for the error, because Heaven knows I’ve made my fair share of typos in this series. But in this case, I think the distinction is important. Also, I really don’t want to confuse anybody by constantly flipping back and forth between the two words.
This one gets into the weeds a bit, particularly on the first quote. There’s also a lot of misunderstanding on what a prophecy is, and what prophets are, from how it looks to me. I may take next week to discuss the role of prophets and our expectations about them, because a lot of people seem to misunderstand what a prophet actually is. They expect every word out of their mouths to be correct in every situation, and that just isn’t the case. I think a discussion about the nature of prophets and prophecy would be pretty beneficial, so right now, at least, I’m leaning in that direction.
Anyway, Faulk introduces this section like this:
While reading through History of the Church, Journal of Discourses, books by past prophets and historical Mormon periodicals, I would occasionally come across prophesies that didn’t quite make sense.
I know I hammer on the reliability issues with things like the Journal of Discourses and History of the Church, but it really is important to understand what these collections are and how they were created.
The History of the Church was collected from mostly second- and thirdhand account that were then rewritten into Joseph Smith’s voice, as if he was the one saying them. This was started under the direction and oversight of Joseph himself, though not finished until well after his death, and it is a pretty solid, reliable source overall. It was a common scribal practice of the day, and they weren’t doing anything without his permission and approval. There are many things in it that Joseph did not personally say, but if you know that going into it and you know how and where to source the original documents being paraphrased, this history collection is a fantastic starting point. It’s just not guaranteed to actually be Joseph’s words.
The Journal of Discourses is a bit different. Again, there is a lot of wonderful, true, beautiful doctrine contained inside. There is also a lot in it that isn’t accurate or true. The off-the-cuff sermons were transcribed word-for-word, then edited and altered according to the reporters’ wishes as they were prepared for publication. Sometimes, it was just a few sentences here and there that were reworded, removed, or added, but sometimes, it was lengthy passages. None of the sermons we still have the original transcripts for match 100% with what was published, and many of them have “significant” departures, to use the word of the woman who re-transcribed and compared all of them. Again, this was a common practice of the day, but the original speakers were often not given the chance to approve them before publication, and they did not always approve of the changes after reading the finished product, when it was too late to object. It’s a decent resource, but unless you have the original transcript to compare it to—and we don’t have many—you can’t assume that what you’re reading is actually the words of Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, or any of the other speakers. What you’re reading is often the words of the reporters instead.
Different time periods had different recording standards, and issues like these are common in historical documents. These people were using the common techniques from their day, and they didn’t do anything wrong according to what they were taught. But for us today, trying to look back on the past and cobble together an accurate understanding, it does create problems. Historians are trained on how to use sources like this and evaluate them for truthfulness and integrity. But the vast majority of us are not trained historians. I’m certainly not, so I had to learn all of this stuff as I went along.
I’m not saying these sources are wholly unreliable and untrustworthy. I think there’s real value in reading them. But when you do, understand going into it that you may not be reading actual words by actual prophets. You may be reading the inserted thoughts of someone you don’t know anything about, or you may be missing multiples paragraphs of context that would make it make more sense. It’s one of those instances when “caveat emptor” is sound advice.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at these quotes.
1. Joseph Smith
  • Reflecting on a revelation given to him in Sec. 130 of the Doctrine and Covenants:
“There are those of the rising generation who shall not taste death till Christ comes… I was once praying earnestly upon this subject, and a voice said unto me, "My son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years of age, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man." I prophesy in the name of the Lord God, and let it be written—the Son of Man will not come in the clouds of heaven till I am eighty-five years old. Then read the 14th chapter of Revelation, 6th and 7th verses—"And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come." And Hosea, 6th chapter, After two days, etc.,—2,520 years; which brings it to 1890.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol.5, p.336)
Joseph’s prophecy was mistaken in two ways: he did not live to be 85 years old and Jesus did not return in 1890.
There are a few different things being quoted and summarized, here. The first is D&C 130:14-17, which says:
14 I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following:
15 Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man; therefore let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter.
16 I was left thus, without being able to decide whether this coming referred to the beginning of the millennium or to some previous appearing, or whether I should die and thus see his face.
17 I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time.
So, right off the bat, before we even look at the other sources, there are a few things worth pointing out. The first is that this is a conditional prophecy: if Joseph lives until he’s 85, he’ll see the face of Christ. Joseph didn’t live until he was 85, so the prophecy is moot. The second is that even Joseph didn’t know exactly what it meant. Did it mean that the Second Coming would happen when or after Joseph was 85, was it referring to a previous appearance he’d already had, or would Joseph die and then see Christ’s face? He didn’t know. The prophecy could have meant several different things, and Joseph wasn’t sure which one it was.
The second thing being quoted is the History of the Church, volume 5, pages 336-337:
Were I going to prophesy, I would say the end [of the world] would not come in 1844, 5, or 6, or in forty years. There are those of the rising generation who shall not taste death till Christ comes.
I was once praying earnestly upon this subject, and a voice said unto me, “My son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years of age, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man.” I was left to draw my own conclusions concerning this; and I took the liberty to conclude that if I did live to that time, He would make His appearance. But I do not say whether He will make his appearance or I shall go where He is. I prophesy in the name of the Lord God, and let it be written—the Son of Man will not come in the clouds of heaven till I am eighty-five years old. Then read the 14th chapter of Revelation, 6th and 7th verses—”And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come.” And Hosea, 6th chapter, After two days, etc.,—2,520 years; which brings it to 1890. The coming of the Son of Man never will be—never can be till the judgments spoken of for this hour are poured out: which judgments are commenced. Paul says, “Ye are the children of the light, and not of the darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief in the night.” It is not the design of the Almighty to come upon the earth and crush it and grind it to powder, but he will reveal it to His servants the prophets.
Judah must return, Jerusalem must be rebuilt, and the temple, and water come out from under the temple, and the waters of the Dead Sea be healed. It will take some time to rebuild the walls of the city and the temple, &c.; and all this must be done before the Son of Man will make His appearance. There will be wars and rumors of wars, signs in the heavens above and on the earth beneath, the sun turned into darkness and the moon to blood, earthquakes in divers places, the seas heaving beyond their bounds; then will appear one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven. But what will the world do? They will say it is a planet, a comet, &c. But the Son of Man will come as the sign of the coming of the Son of Man, which will be as the light of the morning cometh out of the east.
Look at what Joseph is actually saying. He’s saying that, if he had to guess, it meant that the Second Coming would not happen before the year 1890, because there was too much still that needed to happen first. He also said that when it was coming, the prophets would be able to warn the valiant members of the Church to prepare for it, even if they didn’t know the exact hour. Well, he was right. The Second Coming didn’t happen before 1890. The signs haven’t all been fulfilled yet.
What did he mean when he said that some of the rising generation wouldn’t taste of death until Christ came? Well, we don’t know for sure. Maybe the Second Coming would have happened much sooner had Joseph actually lived until he was 85. Or maybe we don’t know what Joseph actually meant by “rising generation.” Did he mean the youth who were already alive at the time, or did he mean a coming generation? He didn’t specify. The idiom typically means those who are currently in their youth, but can we say with 100% certainty that’s how Joseph meant it? No. Can we say that this comment wasn’t also conditional on his surviving until he was 85? Nope.
The last thing quoted in Faulk’s comment was Hosea 6:1-3:
1 Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.
2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.
3 Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.
This seems to be about repenting before the Messiah comes. Joseph’s quote seems to be equating the three days mentioned with 1,000 years each, the way the scriptures say. He said that 2,520 years after that prophecy was given would be the year 1890.
I don’t know the significance of it being 2,520 years, unless it’s referring to a prophecy by a Baptist minister named William Miller which some more fringe Christians believe in. Most do not, with good reason, but for a while between 1840-1845, it was quite the national craze in the United States, similar to Y2K. So, it would make sense that is in fact what Joseph was referring to, since it was a common theory of the day.
Discussion of this prophecy opens a can of worms I don’t really want to get into. I don’t want any mention of it by me to be seen as an endorsement either by myself or by FAIR, because it’s some extreme stuff. I am going to give a brief overview of the idea, but I want to be clear that I do not put any stock into this theory and I’m actually kind of surprised to see Joseph Smith alluding to it.
The basic gist is that there is some Biblical numerology that points to the number 2,520 as being indicative of the date of the Second Coming. This math is based on obscure passages from the books of Leviticus and Daniel. It claims that every 2,520 years, there’s a major event in Jewish history, such as the destruction of Jerusalem, etc., and that the final 2,520 year will culminate in the Second Coming of Christ to the Earth.
In Leviticus 26, Jehovah threatens several times to curse the Israelites seven times. Since the prophetic year of the Israelites is 360 days rather than 365 days, 7 x 360 = 2,520.
In Daniel 5, King Belshazzar and his cronies stole the temple wine and got drunk off of it, and praised their false gods at the expense of the God of Israel. Belshazzar then saw the hand of God writing the words “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin” on the temple wall. Daniel interpreted that writing as basically meaning the end of the king’s reign, which happened immediately. The idiom “seeing the writing on the wall” for the moment you realize the inevitable end of something comes from this story. This is also where the phrase “you have been weighed, measured, and found wanting” comes from. That’s a rough translation of the phrase that over time, entered into colloquial speech.
However, the words are also a math equation. “Mene” is from “mina,” which is a weight of measurement equal to 50 shekels. So, “mene, mene” is 100 shekels. Tekel or “teqal” is another word for shekel, so it’s equal to 1 shekel. And upharsin means “to divide.” Half of 50 is 25. So, the total amount of this equation is 126 shekels (50+50+1+25). Ezekiel 45:12 tells us that 1 shekel is worth 20 gerahs, so 126 x 20 = 2,520.
These two instances combined together have been taken by some to indicate that in the Bible, the number 2,520 means the end of an era, or sometimes being a portent of doom and destruction. So, in fringe circles, this can be a prophecy of the end of times or the Apocalypse. This is not mainstream today by any means, though in the early 1840s, it was.
This minister, William Miller, used this equation to predict the end of the world in early 1843. People across the country freaked out over the idea. When the Apocalypse didn’t happen, people began using other equations to extend the deadline every few months until the end of 1844. When it still never came, most people largely abandoned the belief and there are not many at all who still hold to the idea today.
What Joseph seemed to be saying in this quote from History of the Church is that not only was Miller’s math wrong, but that Christ would definitely not come in 1843 or 1844, and would actually not come until at least 1890. To me, it’s clear he wasn’t saying he believed this 2,520 prophecy. I think he was actually saying, “No, he’s wrong. Don’t panic because it’s not happening. When it does happen, the prophets will know it and I’ve been told it won’t happen this quickly.”
So, that is not a failed prophecy by any means. Miller’s prophecy is failed, but Joseph’s was fulfilled. The Second Coming did not happen in 1843-44, just like he promised it wouldn’t. And because Joseph died well before he reached the age of 85, the conditions placed on the verses in D&C 130 could not be fulfilled. That prophecy was rendered void the moment Joseph was murdered.
Faulk continues:
Prominent early saint, Elder Oliver B. Huntington, lived with Joseph Smith in Kirtland, OH and served four missions for the Church. He wrote an article for The Young Woman’s Journal, the official magazine for the Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association of the Church, recounting a teaching by Joseph Smith.
Oliver B. Huntington is the brother of Dimick and Zina Huntington, two other prominent early Latter-day Saints. He’s also an interesting character in his own right, and his autobiography is kind of a cool read.
“Nearly all the discoveries of men in the last half century have… contributed to prove Joseph Smith to be a prophet. As far back as 1837, I know that he said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they live to a greater age than we do – that they live generally to near the age of a 1,000 years. He described the men as averaging near six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style.” (Joseph Smith - The Young Woman's Journal, vol. 03, no. 6, March 1892. YWJ/id/11651)
This is not a prophecy, and there’s way to attribute it to Joseph Smith. Huntington first wrote this down in his journal in 1881, and his source was not Joseph. It was Philo Dibble. So, not only was it first recorded 44 years after it was supposedly said, but he didn’t even hear it from the actual source. This article that Faulk cited is a thirdhand record that was given 55 years after the comment was supposedly originally made, and 11 years after Huntington first recorded mention of it in his journal. We have no idea whether Joseph actually said it or not.
If he did, it’s still not a prophecy. A prophecy, as we already discussed, is a prediction of a future event. This is just a statement of the possible present.
The article quoted goes on to mention that Huntington’s patriarchal blessing, which he says was given by Joseph Smith, Sr., said that one day he might serve a mission on the moon. The FAIR article cited above, however, quotes part of the blessing:
“[T]hou shalt have power with God even to translate thyself to Heaven, & preach to the inhabitants of the moon or planets, if it shall be expedient.”
We don’t know if that means literally that they were incorrectly talking about inhabitants of our moon or whether they were referring to an unnamed celestial body such as the spirit prison or the place where God dwells, or whether it was a metaphor of some kind, or what.
And according to Dan Vogel, who arrives at poor conclusions in my opinion but who is a solid researcher nonetheless, that blessing was given by Huntington’s father, not Joseph’s.
So, there’s at least one discrepancy in his recollections, which is to be expected half a century later. It’s entirely possible that Philo Dibble had discrepancies in his recollections too, when he passed them on to Oliver Huntington.
It was a fairly common belief at the time that the moon was inhabited. Hyrum Smith apparently believed the moon was inhabited, and Brigham Young apparently believed the sun was. So, it’s entirely possible that Joseph said it, and it’s entirely possible that he didn’t. Maybe he was talking about the inhabitants of the Celestial Kingdom or the city of Enoch. We don’t know enough about whatever prompted this memory of Dibble’s to say whether this was speculation on Joseph’s part, an actual vision that Dibble mistook for being the moon when it was really something else, or a false memory of Dibble’s that was distorted by time.
Either way, though, there is a very big difference between speculation and prophecy.
2. Brigham Young
  • “So it is with regard to the inhabitants of the sun. Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? No question of it; it was not made in vain. It was made to give light to those who dwell upon it, and to other planets' and so will this earth when it is celestialized.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol.13, p.271)
This one is just silly. The usual caveats about the Journal of Discourses aside, “Do you think it’s inhabited? I rather think it is,” is not prophecy. That is pure speculation. There’s no debating that. Brigham was giving an opinion, which he was allowed to do. He was not declaring a fact or making a future prediction under the mantle of prophethood. We all have opinions, and some of those opinions are objectively wrong. That happens to all of us occasionally.
This is the quote in context:
I will tell you who the real fanatics are: they are they who adopt false principles and ideas as facts, and try to establish a superstructure upon, a false foundation. They are the fanatics; and however ardent and zealous they may be, they may reason or argue on false premises till doomsday, and the result will be false. If our religion is of this character we want to know it; we would like to find a philosopher who can prove it to us. We are called ignorant; so we are: but what of it? Are not all ignorant? I rather think so. Who can tell us of the inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening, called the moon? When we view its face we may see what is termed "the man in the moon," and what some philosophers declare are the shadows of mountains. But these sayings are very vague, and amount to nothing; and when you inquire about the inhabitants of that sphere you find that the most learned are as ignorant in regard to them as the most ignorant of their fellows. So it is with regard to the inhabitants of the sun. Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? No question of it; it was not made in vain. It was made to give light to those who dwell upon it, and to other planets; and so will this earth when it is celestialized. Every planet in its first rude, organic state receives not the glory of God upon it, but is opaque; but when celestialized, every planet that God brings into existence is a body of light, but not till then. Christ is the light of this planet. God gives light to our eyes. Did you ever think who gave you the power of seeing? who organized these little globules in our heads, and formed the nerves running to the brain, and gave us the power of distinguishing a circle from a square, an upright from a level, large from small, white from black, brown from gray, and so on? Did you acquire this faculty by your own power? Did any of you impart this power to me or I to you? Not at all. Then where did we get it from? From a superior Being. When I think of these few little things with regard to the organization of the earth and the people of the earth, how curious and how singular it is! And yet how harmonious and beautiful are Nature's laws! And the work of God goes forward, and who can hinder it, or who can stay His hand now that He has commenced His kingdom?
He's pretty clearly saying that God created everything for a purpose and that it didn’t happen by chance. Those who refuse to see God’s hand in the universe and the way everything works together are blind to reality. But he never declared it was a fact that people lived on the sun or the moon. He just said he “rather thinks” so.
Personally, I “rather think” that Thomas Faulk is a dishonest actor stretching words far beyond their definitions in an attempt to discredit the prophets of God. But again, that’s just opinion, not a declaration of fact or a future prediction given under the mantle of prophethood.
3. Joseph Fielding Smith
  • “We will never get a man into space. This earth is man's sphere and it was never intended that he should get away from it. The moon is a superior planet to the earth and it was never intended that man should go there. You can write it down in your books that this will never happen.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1954, vol.3, p.203)
On July 20, 1969 U.S. Astronauts are the first men to walk on the moon.
Yep, he said that at a stake conference in Hawaii, although it’s not in Doctrines of Salvation, volume 3. That’s because volume 3 was published in 1956, not 1954, and the statement in question was given in 1961.
Again, though, sloppy sourcing aside, this was clearly opinion, not prophecy. He believed it would diminish faith if men were to ever reach the moon.
There are two other things worth noting about this opinion. First, it was given in 1961, as I said. Joseph Fielding Smith did not become the President of the Church until 1970, nine years later. He was an apostle in 1961, and was called as a prophet, seer, and revelator, but he was not the leader of the Church and was not authorized to give binding prophecies on behalf of the Church unless it was in agreement with the other members of the Quorum of the Twelve.
Second, when he was later asked about this after the moon landing, he reportedly said, “Well, I was wrong, wasn’t I?”
It is important to note that the report of his response came 40 years after it was supposedly given, and was a personal reminiscence of someone who was there. This reply is something we can’t definitively source, so take it with a grain of salt. He may well not have ever even said it. Just like with some of the other statements coming decades later as secondhand recollections, we do need to be cautious with accepting it as fact when we can’t confirm it. But, if true, it shows that he didn’t consider it a prophecy any more than I do.
So, of these four supposedly failed prophecies by prophets of the Church, only one was actually a prophecy, and it wasn’t failed. If taken to literally mean that the Second Coming would take place in 1890 if Joseph lived until that time, it was a conditional prophecy whose conditions were not met and was therefore not binding. If taken to mean that the Second Coming would not occur until after 1890, well, that’s a fulfilled prophecy because it hasn’t happened yet and we’re well beyond 1890. The other three quotes were opinion, and opinion, even when given by an apostle or prophet, is not binding on the members of the Church.
I know this post wandered off into some deep conspiracy theory content, and I know it got kind of weird. But I do think the context of the tangent was necessary to explain what Joseph was trying to say with that first quote. Otherwise, it’s easy to misunderstand the point the same way that Faulk did.
There are a lot of things that Heavenly Father and the Savior leave for us to work out on our own, after giving us the basics. This can naturally lead to speculation when we’re trying to fill in the gaps. Prophets and apostles are not immune to that tendency. In recent decades, our leaders have abandoned open speculation over the pulpit precisely because people were mistaking opinion for prophecy or settled fact. They’ve also taken great pains to clarify repeatedly what constitutes official doctrine and what does not.
Our critics constantly use that speculation by prior Church leaders as proof that our church is not true. Please do not fall into the same trap that our critics do and mistake their opinion for revelation. We have to remember that they’re fallen human beings just like we are, and sometimes, they make mistakes. If we don’t allow them the grace to make those mistakes, it can do real harm to our testimonies when those mistakes happen. But the Atonement of Christ is bigger than that. It applies to prophets just as much as to the rest of us. Don’t hold these men to impossible standards they can’t possibly live up to. That isn’t fair to them, and it isn’t fair to you.
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2023.11.29 06:27 AlphynKing Struggling with death anxiety and meaninglessness

(This is a very long stream of consciousness rant with no cohesion whatsoever)
I’m 21 and in college and in the last few months have begun suffering from constant, pervasive death anxiety that has led to me becoming depressed, and seriously reckoning with mental health really for the first time in my life. I’m seeing therapy and trying out medications but so far have not found any meaningful relief.
I don’t say this to brag, but I am, and have always been a very philosophical, cerebral, intellectual-oriented person, and that’s what has driven me to my current situation. I read a lot about religious studies and mythology, because that stuff is extremely interesting to me, but a huge component of religious belief is beliefs about death, afterlife, soul, reasons for humanity’s existence, etc. I’ve been an atheist since middle school and previously found myself very comfortable with my views, but for some reason reading so much about the topic of religion - specifically with the thought that every one of them is wrong in mind - gave me what I would call an existential crisis, because it really impressed upon me in a way I’ve never felt before that holy shit, death is the end and we really aren’t here for any reason at all. And to me that’s horrifying.
The problem isn’t that death feels like an escape, as I see is posted a lot on this subreddit, but the exact opposite: I like being alive, that’s why I’m terrified of dying. I like the college I’m at, and am interested in the things I am learning. I have great friends who I like spending time with and can count on to be there for me. There are passions and pastimes I get enjoyment out of and want to keep doing. This just makes me feel like I have so much to lose by dying.
I had previously felt, quite securely, that many old adages about death were true: that there’s no reason to fear death because I was dead for 13.8 billion years and wasn’t bothered by it and since won’t be bothered by it after I’m dead either, that I’ll never really live if I’m afraid of dying, etc. Carpe diem. Memento Mori. In essence: that death is nothing to me because death is itself an imperceptible state of unconsciousness.
But now, that feels like a threat, a permanent and total annihilation of my self, which nullifies all meaning in life. If death is inevitable, and it is the end, then what’s the point of anything? It’s one thing to believe that I can make a mark on the world, that I can contribute in some way to the progress of humanity, but in academia they say, progress is a myth, and humanity itself is doomed anyway no matter what.
Nothing lasts, everyone who lives will die, humanity is a random cosmic fluke, the Sun will eventually blow up the earth if we don’t drive ourselves extinct first, the final end state of the universe is probably eternal nothingness in which literally nothing can ever happen again. The very notion that one’s brain can randomly suffer from a genetic chemical imbalance that alters their ability to think and feel is itself so absurd. The thought that the universe is indifferent to us is so crushing, like a cruel truth we were never meant to know, the most sick joke ever played.
Even if I do have a soul and there is something like a heaven, I don’t want to be a disembodied soul! I don’t want to spend eternity in endless bliss in union with God or something! I want to be here, in this fascinating world, with these people I love, without having to worry about our bodies crumbling away or our planet dying. Immortality isn’t an option we have, and even if we had that, unless we outline many precise conditions for it, it would also become unbearable. So there is no good option. Eternal life is bad and death is bad. The universe set us up to lose.
I know it’s pointless, but I can’t help but wonder about it: Why did I have to be born in the period of human history where we knew these harsh realities, when instead I could have been born somewhen, somewhere else with greater religiosity, and I would be able to indulge the wishful thinking of afterlives, divine cosmic purpose, a meaning for suffering? No, I have to live in “modernity”, when not only is capitalism making people miserable and killing the planet and I can’t do anything about it, but I have to reconcile with modern science’s bitter truths. I never asked to be born, let alone in this time and place, and so surely I never asked to deal with this wretched fucking human condition.
I know, on an intuitive level, that I don’t have to feel this way, that I can be happy even though I know I’m gonna die, which most other people, including other atheists, seem to be capable of. But even when I think of living the ideal of a long, happy, and successful life, in which I achieved my life goals, have no regrets, cultivated a lasting legacy, can die happy, even then, I will still have to age, and wither, and die, and there’s nothing I can do about it. We are all so utterly powerless.
And that assumes I even get that far; people say “you are so young! You have so much time!” And all I can feel is you don’t know that. Random chance, no matter how unlikely, can cut my life short at any time. I’m not even guaranteed 80 years of life! I could get cancer in my 50s or get hit by a car in a week. Even so, the notion that I’m young and therefore shouldn’t be worrying about death - indeed, wasting my finite time - isn’t particularly helpful either; punting the problem down the road to suffer over it later doesn’t exactly resolve it!
I had previously found myself believing in something akin to existentialism, that is, that none of us are born for any intrinsic purpose or divine plan and that we must find and make our own meaning in life. That felt freeing, self-determining. I make my own fate, I’m in charge of my destiny, it isn’t God just telling us what to do. But now I just feel like, isn’t that subjective meaning illusory, a product of our stupid animal brains connecting dots where there aren’t any to trick itself into feeling better? I have even been trying to look back into spirituality and faith to feel better, going back over modern arguments for God or the soul, but there’s always the voice in the back of my head that says, you know this is irrational, you know you cannot fool yourself into believing any of this, no matter how much you want to.
In school, I read all about theories in disciplines that claim that pretty much everything is arbitrary: one of the fundamental ideas of linguistics is that all language, all communication at all, is arbitrary; anthropological theory says, cultures are merely social constructions invented to serve biological functions; psychology says, evolutionary biology explains largely how our brains work, including our need for meaning, our drive to interpret signs and symbols that don’t exist, to find connection and patterns that aren’t there. Of course, postmodern theory even posits that there is no such thing as fixed, non-arbitrarily filtered or expressed truth at all! If you strip all of these things down, what am I left with that’s real? Nothing. How do I even know anything is real? Nothing means anything.
That’s all there is, evolution wants us to keep making babies over and over, we’re not here for any other reason and that’s all our bodies are designed to do. Science reduces everything down and removes all meaning, and we found that there is nothing special about our place in the universe, that our minds are not perfect souls but brains that can be deeply flawed or compromised because of its genetic makeup or physical experiences. God and gods are just overactive theories of mind attributing causation we don’t understand to agents we can’t see, the scientists think, God is just a psychological self-projection of ourselves and our own values, another theory goes. Religious experiences, mysticism, NDEs? Just certain activations of the brain by certain chemicals. “Mind opening” “spiritual” drugs just do similar things to the brain and thus produce similar effects.
Then there’s stuff like Terror Management Theory and the works of philosophical pessimism by writers like Thomas Ligotti or Peter Wessel Zapffe, who postulate that all of the subjective meaning we make, all culture (including religion), can be summed up as a system of symbols invented to distract and delude us from the existential horror of death, that our advanced consciousness is a curse because it is deeply hard-wired to reject or deny these horrible truths, which is maybe the most depressing idea I’ve ever read (and it doesn’t appear to be wrong to me). David Benatar sums it up: better never to have been at all.
People say, “well even so, if death is the end, you can be happy now” and in my head I just think why even be happy, why even value it? It’s just some behavioral mechanism evolution programmed our brains with to help us survive long enough to procreate. It’s literally just a chemical! “God is Love!” Love is just a different set of chemicals. There isn’t anything more to it than that. I’m a bunch of neurons firing in a slowly but surely decaying prison of flesh programmed by billions of years of mutation and death. I may be in control of my choices (or, fuck, who knows, some people think science proves hard determinism is true, wouldn’t that be worse…) but I can’t choose a different state of existence, I can’t be anything other than human, and to be human is to be mortal.
Something I keep going back to is the idea that this is all so inherently ridiculous that it must have been designed this way, like these circumstances are actually TOO cruel or TOO meaningless to not have been intentionally designed by God, or the aliens running the simulation, or whatever. Like, there’s no way we built all of this just to spin out and be reduced to nothing, right? Surely there’s no way the circumstances of the universe aligned so randomly to allow us to exist, to allow ME to exist, only to find out that we are nothing, at the precise time and place for all of these ideas to be exposed to and coalesce in me. Maybe this is all just for me, intricately designed for my journey - but even the small amount of solace I could take in the seduction of solipsism is followed by the horror that everyone else I care about would then turn out to be unreal, so that’s not a way out either. That’s just horrible in a slightly different way.
And I know, on some level, that I don’t really believe this, otherwise, why would I enjoy my life enough to not want it to end? There are still things I want to do, feel, accomplish: I want to write and find success as an author, learn so much more about the topics I’m interested in, consume more art and play more video games, spend more time with my loved ones, see more of the world, experience the love of finding a romantic life partner, fuck, I’m a virgin and I want to know what sex feels like! But I fear that all of these desires are insignificant to the universe, stupid programmed evolutionary instincts, arbitrary illusions I only value because of the culture I was raised in and therefore meaningless, and most of all, that I won’t have enough time to do them, enough time, in the most literal sense, being my Self.
And therein lies the paradox of it all, I do think life is worth living, but my fear of death and nihilism are destroying my will to live, and I don’t know how to claw my way out of this contradiction yet. I feel so hopeless and powerless.
I just needed to get all of this off my chest in a space outside of therapy. I don’t know what kind of responses I’m hoping to get from people by posting here.
submitted by AlphynKing to Existential_crisis [link] [comments]

2023.11.29 05:48 Accomplished_Stay337 My thesis: PDD has plateaued and falling while taobao is gaining ground. Consumer reversion in process underappreciated by analysts

My thesis: PDD has plateaued and falling while taobao is gaining ground. Consumer reversion in process underappreciated by analysts
Hi everyone,
TLDR: initial investor in both alibaba and pdd as part of diversification. sold PDD after earnings call and using capital+proceeds to buy alibaba.
why did i do such a foolish thing despite the high praise that PDD was given in the earnings call? I believe PDD has more room to run, but i'm fine in missing out on more gainz in PDD even if it were to materialise. do feel free to critique.
  1. PDD has plateaued with continuous falling DAU/MAU metric through the past 2 quarters while taobao has continued DAU/MAU appreciation along with jd.
  2. PDD removed DAU metric from their reports, and mentioned that their a large increase in revenue and profitability appreciation is due to their over 315% increase in financial services as well as maintaining above average monetization for each consumer on the platform. (doubt)
  3. Merchants retention and growth has reverted to positive in taobao while PDD has declined for the past 2 quarters.
  4. analysts are estimating PDD to continue the phenomenally high growth rate, while alibaba is expected to grow along with gdp of about 5% presently and 3% into the future. This therefore seems to me to overascribe PDD growth into the future while underappreciating the consumer mean reversion back to taobao in process.
PDD is undoubtedly the biggest winner of the government crackdown on alibaba. This can be seen in the large traction PDD gained both on DAU/MAU, revenue growth and margin expansion on PDD right after the crackdown.
margin expansion of PDD after crackdown
Also as background, i've been following PDD and it has a history of being as opaque as it gets in terms of its financial reporting. Their answers to opacity of their reports has always been: "our numbers go up, cash balance go up, FCF goes up, DAU? MAU? GMV? whats important is how we execute and make numbers go up, trust us bro, we aint gonna breakdown the numbers for u into segments, ai'nt nobody got time fo that."
so with these 2 background in mind lets get to my reasoning.
PDD has continuous Falling DAU/MAU since 2q2023 continuing to 3q2023 while taobao has gained. (fundamental)
falling 20% DAU since feb thru 2q2023, while taobao & jd has slightly gained
Mid year sales period. taobao new user acquisition has increased Yoy, while pdd new users has decreased 40% significantly yoy
MAU for pdd has fallen in the recent quarter. (i suspect DAU as well but there is no data found nor supplied by management, anybody find it pls give me a tip) while taobao has increased

taobao increasing its MAU for past 2 quarters
Double 11 event, taobao 46% drop vs 70% drop in new user DAU acquisition left, Taobao YOY 4% growth vs pdd -5.7% decline in DAU right.
Double 11 new customer growth has fallen in line with general trend and xiaohongshu(cosmetics) being biggest gainer. PDD has the largest YOY new user drop.
Opaque financial statements, inconsistencies in report, shady management behavior, poor auditor track record, causes my own personal doubt on statements. (fundamental)
How can it grow 40% in ecommerce revenue when they are consistently facing falling dau of over 20% and falling new dau/mau? This is a strict question that i have unless their conversion rate of exsiting customer is phenomenally growing? Though i got no data on conversion rate. Management does not disclose data on this as well. my suspicion on this is that PDD is plateauing.
Inconsistencies in financial transaction volume between wechat pay, shanghaifutong(Duoduopay) and their resulting financial services as highlighted by the grizzly research report.
financial services inconsistencies from grizzly report. i'm looking for an update on this amount for 2023 if possible given their 300% increase in the recent quarter. management is not gonna provide this and did not address this.
Additionally, this year they mention their payment growth is over 300%? numbers go up but...? This previous inconsistencies were not addressed.
Auditors for PDD has poor track record. all the history of the audited company by the same auditors proved to be worthless. rehashed point from grizzly research report.
Merchants retention and growth has reverted to positive in taobao while reversing in PDD. (fundamental)
This is another key metric that i think is interesting that merchants have stayed put in taobao while they have not in PDD. Merchants growth in taobao while pdd merchants decline.
Merchants growth in taobao qianniu, PDD falling active merchants. Looking for an update on this
My guess on this is that merchants loyalty and consumer loyalty is into question on PDD while this is an ongoing recovery in merchants/consumer loyalty.
Analyst estimate PDD to continue the growth trajectory to supersede alibaba, while alibaba is expected to grow at 5% within 3-5 years while only growing 3% after. (valuation)
I get the sense that all analyst estimates PDD is expected to grow and supersede taobao at the present growth rate even after accounting for its slowdown in the future.
on the other end of the spectrum, analyst are projecting 5% growth within 3-5 years while only subscribing 3% to alibaba thereafter.
In my mind, the dynamic reversal of consumer behavior in the last 2 quarters as well as double 11 is not taken into account. This leads to potentially larger upside for alibaba while larger downside for PDD.
Maybe i'm wrong and that my doubt on the shady management is purely unjustified. regardless, to each his own, and personally i'm fine with giving up the potential momentum gains as i believe PDD still has more room to run. you can read the full short research report in the source below.
Additionally, the impression that i get from most people is that this crackdown seem to permanently impair taobao while giving permanent rise to PDD to supersede taobao. Based on data from the sources that i got, the reverse is in fact happening and this is not being properly attributed.
There is no need for me to further mention of the undervaluation DCF on alibaba.
If you base solely on financial results, it seems that the crackdown has done permanent impairment on taobao while giving permanent dominance to PDD, But signs are showing the reverse is happening. Hence the bet.
lastly, personal anecdote is my wife, who blew my allowance to her on taobao and looked at pdd temu and ... yea nope. lots of shady reviews etc.
So there is my thesis on selling PDD to purchase alibaba. Investment is really hard, Wish me luck.
Aurora research
Grizlly research
PDD DAU Falling source
Financial reports of PDD and alibaba
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2023.11.29 04:50 the_hot_one83 I need validation so am writing a review of 6 weed perfume (be chill am dyslexic and kinda sad)

So I had a bad day today…. My teacher is transphobic and it a lot to deal with… at least I just have like 2-3 class left and then am done with him, I also called the directrice of my program to ask if it possible to never be in one of is class again, am telling you this guy is gross, he’s dating one of his past student type of gross, the I sexualize my current students type of gross, the I say slur and get mad when I get corrected type of gross… so I just need some happy thoughts and making perfume review always makes me happy, so even though I had A DAY I’ll add more to my day just cuz I can’t go to sleep just feeling like that it not healthy at all
Weed perfume
They all don’t smell like weed
Trust me
I use to smoke 28g a week (with bongs) for like 2 years, I did cut down and not am maybe at 10 if I smoke bongs (25 if I smoke joints) so good for me 😂😂😂😂😂😂 AND MY PARENT ARE STONERS (past stoner for one of them lol) I knooooooow and ADORE the smell of weed (I have chronic pain, insomnia and ptsd cannabis is the only thing that help! I was litterally raised in NA I don’t need your anti drug psa my childhood was one it chill I don’t drink I don’t smoke cig I don’t take drugs I juste smoke weed a plant weed have been using since the start of the world so shut up Karen ) (I do not need to justify myself anyway I should delete it but ugh am too lazy to)
notes: the narcotic sweetness of opium blended with the blackest amber, spilled coffee, a hint of bitter green cannabis
Thoughs: It smell like my dad, when he was still reconforting, when smelling is coffee, sawdust, cigarettes, beer and cannabis filled t-shirt brought me peace. It a sad sad perfume to me but very nostalgic, makes me think of a specific shirt, it was black with like a weird devil on it, I think he wore this until it had holes and so much caked on paint and wood glue he just couldn’t put on in anymore
Canabi-o-metre: not really there it very woody and bitter I mean it has a vibe close to a weed scents but it not weed 🍃🍃 out of 5
notes: crushed wild strawberries, rich golden honey, cannabis leaf, vintage amber
Thoughs: this is so interesting, it a friend that sended me a BUNCH of samples that was one of them so it fun I feel like the universe wanted me to have this perfume first I love poésie but second the strawberry juiciness, the honey, the amber and just a little amount of cannabis stickiness the name, potant magic, with the notes it just AMAZING (though I think raspberry would have been better) it smell great it makes me think of the bathroom incense type of perfume but it dosent turn bathroomy I love it
Cannabi-o-metre: 🍃 out of 5 yes so little cuz it dosent smell like weed at all I am annoyed that the only thing I don’t like about this perfume crank the cannabis and it a 10/10 perfume you know
Death and floral
notes: musky and deep vintage cannabis with notes of woody peppercorn and green musk
So am 22 so I don’t know the smell of vintage cannabis could have ask my mom but she lives far away and don’t like perfume. It gives me the vibe of crush velvet or corduroy particularly yellow one. Tbh it smell like what I think a stoner would smell like in the 70es but like not the smell of weed the smell of thier couch
Cannabis-o-metre: it smell dusty musky and citrusy 🍃🍃🍃 out of 5 it not like super weed forward but maybe don’t put this on it own at work maybe mixed but not alone just in case lol
notes: Fresh mango, grapefruit tea, cannabis, snake melon and myrrh (not sure about cannabis but it says so in my log)
Thoughts: it my best friend favorite perfume so I know it good but it not me it a tropical, I avent smelled my stereoplasm in a WHILE so it was a nice surprise it really interesting super bright, juicy, airy and a little metallic like a tropical forest with a crashed ✈️ left to rust (did I forgot to spell avion absolutely)
Cannabis-o-metre: 0 out of 5 it GREAT but it dosent smell like weed except maybe if for you weed smell like metal but I don’t think it dose
thin wild mercury
notes: Italian Cannabis, Wild Fire, Petitgrain swirling into Jasmine, a mysterious Patchouli Ambergris dry down.
Thoughts: do I have to say this again it the best this is the perfume of all perfume the cannabis isn’t too much but you feel it (it a texture more then a smell in my head) it smell like my essence, anyway I keep blabbering about this perfume so just buy it 😂 (please don’t spend you money)
Cannabi-o-metre: 🍃🍃🍃 out of 5 I do think it smell a bit but not the smoke the green the flower but the composition of this art piece is just so perfect that it just pass if I had just one perfume I could keep it would b this one (am almost out I need to buy a fs )
Stone and wit
notes: Pink limeade, cannabis leaf, plum, vetiver, cetalox
Thoughts: lets go ok that’s the closest of all of them to the true smell of weed…. I mean it dosent smell LIKE weed it smell like limeade with a background of grinding some Canada legal weed of higher quality that dosent really smell like weed itself it AMAZING
cannabis-o-metre: 🍃🍃🍃🍃 out 5 it not perfect not exactly what I am looking for but it great AND I BROKE IT IN MY DORMS I DID THIS REVIEW SMELLING THE BROKEN BOTTLE (I add to bring the perfume to my dorm attendant to tell them that it was going to smell like weed close to my apartment but I just broke my perfume. It’s been weeks but I just can’t trash a bottle. It’s smell amazing)
Sorry for the mistakes there’s probably more I was on my phone today. You know I have zero money right now like I haven’t spend money for so long. I want to buy some new perfume so bad but I have nothing. It makes me so mad I hate capitalism. It sucks so bad PS if you say anything bad about weed, I’m gonna block you good night.
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2023.11.29 04:24 Budget-Song2618 Non-profit trying to rebrand Jesus for Gen Z is main funder for US hate group. The Servant Foundation, known for its He Gets Us ad campaign, is the main funder for Alliance Defending Freedom
A US non-profit attempting to rebrand Jesus for Gen Z is also the main funder of a designated hate group opposing abortion and LGBTIQ rights, openDemocracy can reveal.
The Servant Foundation has invested a significant amount of money in its 'He Gets Us' ads, portraying Jesus as an influential figure who faced backlash for defending his beliefs. These controversial advertisements were featured during the Super Bowl and have been displayed on billboards throughout the United States for the past year.
The Servant Foundation has become the primary source of funding for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) over the past five years, according to financial account analysis by openDemocracy. ADF has been labeled as an anti-LGBTIQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC), although ADF denies this allegation. [ ]
In total Servant gave the group $65.9m from 2018 to 2021 – an average of more than $16m a year. As a result, ADF’s grant income rose from $55m in 2017 to $96.8m in 2021.
Servant’s boom coincides with its split from the National Christian Foundation (NCF), of which it was an affiliate from its launch in 2000 through to 2017. During this time, it would hand out an average $1.3m a year and receive around $4m. But after the split with NCF, Servant pocketed more than $1bn in contributions – a large chunk of which actually came from the NCF.
The NCF, a major US charity for Christian { } causes, has faced allegations of funding hate { } groups. Following its split with Servant, it gave the group $307m and an additional $11m in 2019. It also received over $222m from Servant between 2018 and 2021, creating a mutual flow of money that experts believe adds secrecy to their donations made on behalf of clients.
What is a DAF?
Both Servant and the NCF are operators of so-called ‘donor-advised funds’ (DAF), which enable typically wealthy customers to take advantage of tax breaks associated with charitable giving by handing over cash to be distributed on their behalf. A client can suggest where their DAF operators should distribute their money, but the operator has the final say on where the cash goes, and it may be passed between different funds before actually being donated. Clients that donate through DAF can remain anonymous, even to their beneficiaries and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Unlike for private foundations, there is no legal requirement for DAFs to give out a percentage of the donations they receive to charity.
According to a study by the Institute for Policy Studies, money transfers between different Donor-Advised Fund (DAF) operators increased by 409% between 2015 and 2019, reaching $1 billion in 2019. However, the study only examined the largest commercial DAF operators, excluding others like Servant and NCF.
Wealthy people often donate to intermediaries like private foundations and DAF operators, which received almost a third of all donations in 2021. { }
These intermediaries can add layers of secrecy, making it difficult for the public to know where the funds are going. { }
Stephanie Peng, a research manager with the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), expresses concern about the dangers of anonymity in philanthropy. She highlights the lack of transparency regarding the sources and control of large amounts of money, and the potential uncertainty about where the funding is being directed.
The Servant Foundation, founded by Bill High in Kansas, had a partnership with the NCF where the NCF handled accounting and other administrative tasks for Servant. However, High ended the relationship in 2017 to provide clients with lower fees and also rebranded Servant as The Signatry. { }
Servant made headlines with its Super Bowl ads, which were part of the $300m He Gets Us campaign hoping to fuel conservative evangelical goals. { }
An investigation by openDemocracy revealed that from 2017 to 2020, 12 Donor-Advised Fund (DAF) operators, including NCF and Servant Foundation, donated $272m to 36 American groups that aim to limit the rights of women and LGBTIQ individuals in the US and internationally. Servant Foundation contributed one-fifth of the total amount, while NCF donated almost half. { }
Hobby Lobby money
High developed a significant connection with David Green, a major client of NCF who owns Hobby Lobby, a company known for opposing sexual and reproductive rights. {David Green & The Signatry (3.55) }
In 2014, Hobby Lobby won a Supreme Court case allowing corporations to deny contraception coverage to employees based on religious beliefs. { }
The NCF { } has provided significant financial support to the law groups involved in this case, namely the ADF { } and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. The Becket Fund has been representing the Greens since 2012. { }
The analysis of donation flows suggests that cash from Green, previously channeled through the National Christian Foundation (NCF), may now be going through Servant. Since 2018, Servant has given significant amounts of money to two groups { } focused on international evangelism and { } distribution of Christian literature, which are also listed on the Hobby Lobby donation webpage }. These two groups, Every Home for Christ and OneHope, rank second and third in terms of money received from Servant between 2018 { } and 2021 { }. "Every Home for Christ ($181m) and OneHope ($107m)". The NCF, which had given "$47m to Every Home for Christ and $25m to OneHope in 2017", has significantly reduced its contributions to these organizations since 2017. Green was also reportedly a major donor for the He Gets Us campaign. { or}. Both Hobby Lobby and Green did *not respond to inquiries about whether they had ceased donating cash through the NCF and instead opted to donate through Servant.
The Museum of the Bible, which was founded {$500 million } by the Green family in 2017 and has been involved in scandals related to buying looted { } and smuggled artefacts and exhibiting '“modern forgeries” of Dead Sea Scroll fragments' { } has received over $3.2m in grants from the Servant Foundation between 2018 and 2021. It had also received hundreds of millions from the NCF since 2013. { Will money from conservative christians sway bible museums professed mission?}
Funding hate and misinformation
Among other beneficiaries of money channelled through Servant are at least seven US organisations well-known for their attacks against equal rights: ADF, the Fellowship Foundation, Focus on the Family, American Centre for Law and Justice, Family Research Council, Heartbeat International, and the Heritage Foundation.
ADF won a Supreme Court case this year that allows businesses to discriminate against gay couples on free speech grounds, and was one of the groups that masterminded the strategy to overturn the constitutionally protected right to abortion in the US. It has defended the sterilisation of trans people in Europe and fought the decriminalisation of gay sex in Belize. It also launched efforts to ban transgender students’ access to bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.
The Family Research Council, identified as a hate group by the SPLC, spreads misinformation about LGBTIQ individuals and supports harmful conversion therapies. They also oppose local bans on these practices in the United States.
A global model
The exchange of money between DAF operators, such as Servant and NCF, is a model that is expanding internationally. NCF has partnered with TrustBridge Global, a DAF operator that claims to be the first truly global one. "Registered in 2016 in Florida and Switzerland, its CEO is a former NCF employee." TrustBridge has set up affiliate foundations worldwide and has received millions of dollars from Servant. They have also vetted 70,000 non-profits to receive DAFs, including the ADF branch in the UK.
Servant presenting itself as a “global community” has provided $4bn in grants to non-profit organizations worldwide. It supports projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The fund has also given $2m in emergency relief grants for Ukraine and over $1m to support missionaries in 43 countries, with a focus on Africa.
The organization gave out $470m in grants in 2021 and received $899m in contributions. As a DAF operator, it can accept various assets like property, cryptocurrency, stocks, mutual funds, and life insurance payouts, in addition to cash.
Clients can donate assets other than money to donor-advised funds (DAFs) and receive a tax write-off for the value of the gifts. This allows them to avoid paying capital gains taxes that would be incurred if they converted the assets into cash. Additionally, certain DAF operators offer estate-planning options that enable donors to bypass estate taxes and continue making charitable contributions even after their death.
The NCRP is concerned about donors who put money into Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs) but do not distribute the funds to recipient organizations in a timely manner. They believe that donors should be held accountable for their commitments and that legislative efforts to establish timeframes for distributing assets have been unsuccessful.
The founder of Servant's, High, opposes making donor-advised funds (DAFs) more accountable, emphasizing the importance of privacy in American charity. He believes that DAFs have played a significant role in democratizing giving and attracting new donors. The foundation actively seeks new donors and provides a calculator on its website to help potential customers determine their potential tax savings through donations.
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2023.11.29 04:22 SsurebreC Expectations for Dune movies/shows

It's generally agreed upon that the Dune Universe exists in 4 expanding circles:
Let's face it though... the market doesn't lie. The financial success of the Dune Trilogy is really the engine pulling all of this together. Denis has capitalized on Dune which should further continue into the sequel next year. But let's be realistic, Dune - for all its beautiful glory - wasn't a huge blockbuster. $402 million in the box office on a $165m budget isn't exactly a smash hit (the typical formula is 2x budget is when the movie becomes profitable).
Dune Messiah and Children of Dune aren't as popular as Dune itself which won't put as many butts in seats. This is particularly when the audience finds out about the monster that is Paul and when it'll be revealed early on that Paul - one of the main reasons for the audience to be there - has caused so many deaths that would make Hitler blush. It's hard to root for that kind of a protagonist and the redemption arc - in Children of Dune - takes a long time. Chani - another heavy draw - is barely in it. It would be harder to expand her role like Denis has in Dune (by replacing Irulan with Chani as the narrator) but it's possible. Chani's death at the end means people aren't going to see Children of Dune if their primary reason to see it was those two when one dies and the other is presumed dead. This also presumes the actors would want to reprise their roles instead of moving on to other projects. Momoa will return... maybe... but Rebecca Ferguson and Josh Brolin are barely there too. Stellan Skarsgård won't be there either. None of the main cast that made Dune do well in the box office are going to be there. As a result, I don't think movie studios are going to shell out hundreds of millions on another two movies unless the sequel really blows everything out of the water.
I think a more interesting call - that's also relevant today - would be to film Butlerian Jihad as a miniseries. Considering the very recent rise of AI and the still-there fear of automation and machination, it'll make a compelling series even though the name isn't as palatable considering the term is frowned upon in Western culture. You could call it something different though and I think it'll be succesful.
I have high hopes for the sequel and I think it'll do well. Will Dune Messiah and Children of Dune be made? I want to say yes - with Denis directing - but considering market forces for both the books and Dune movies itself, I think it'll be a hard sell. I think they're making the right call to make a series and hopefully Dune: The Prophesy does well enough where more series are made (with more reasonable release breaks than Star Wars/Marvel shows). However, I think those looking ahead and speculating about the complications of God Emperor of Dune are going to be disappointed. I hope I'm wrong but, on the flip side, look at Marvel/DC where the oversaturation of content has devalued their IPs as a whole. Dune has a lot of content produced but, financially, only the first three books are by far the most valuable.
We all want more but we also love the movies and shows that ended on top rather than continue on as we witness their eventual downfall into mediocrity.
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2023.11.29 03:42 chronic-venting Rape, child abuse and Prince Charles's former school

Alex Renton April 12, 2015
It was the happiest time of the school year. Kate, which is not her real name, and her class of 12- and 13-year-olds would soon leave Aberlour House, their home for a third or more of their lives. Next term most of them would start at the senior school, Gordonstoun, a famously severe Scottish institution that Prince Charles had once described as "Colditz in kilts." Fifteen children, all boarders and fresh out of exams, set off into the Scottish mountains for a week's camping.
"Exped" is one of Gordonstoun's traditions, born of the unique vision of the school's founder, the educational innovator Kurt Hahn. A refugee from Nazi Germany, Hahn is most famous for founding the Outward Bound movement. But before that, in 1934, he set up a revolutionary new school in a dilapidated stately home in Moray, northeast Scotland. Schooling would include mountains, the sea, fresh air and soul-stiffening adventures.
Gordonstoun was a success, especially after Prince Philip of Greece, now the Duke of Edinburgh, arrived. Other royals followed: five of the Queen's children and grandchildren went there, despite Charles's complaints. By the 1970s it was touted as a place for spoilt or wealthy children who needed toughening up—Sean Connery and David Bowie's sons went, and so did Charlie Chaplin's granddaughter. Physical punishment, strict discipline and cold showers were key to Hahn's approach to keeping children in line.
The school was notorious not just for being tough, but for bullying. The novelist William Boyd, who started boarding there aged nine, described his nine-and-a-half years at Gordonstoun's junior and senior schools as "a type of penal servitude." Smaller children were at the mercy of older ones and violence, theft and extortion were common. As part of his initiation at Gordonstoun, Prince Charles, aged 13, is said to have been caged naked in a basket and left under a cold shower.
In 1936, Hahn founded a preparatory school for Gordonstoun, to cater for children as young as seven. The regime at Aberlour House was not much softer. In the 1970s there was no central heating. Windows were left open at night: in the winter, the children could wake up with snow on their blankets. The school was separate, situated half an hour away, though Gordonstoun helped manage it. The schools shared a uniform, school song and the motto Kurt Hahn had devised: "Plus est en vous," a contraction of a French phrase—there is more in you than you imagine.
Mutual respect, resilience and trust were the cornerstones of Hahn's notions of how to educate a child. His ideas have made Gordonstoun one of Britain's most famous public schools. But a series of complaints sent to me covering 40 years reveal a dark alternative history. Not all of the stories can be detailed here. But, too often to be excused, Gordonstoun and its junior school appear to have let down the trust of parents and failed to respect the rights and needs of children. [Sexual predators] are a part of the history of many celebrated schools in Britain. But Gordonstoun's story is particularly urgent because Scotland's archaic laws around proving sexual assault dissuade victims from coming forward. They can mean predators, who might be brought to trial, remain at large and free to offend.
Kate arrived at Aberlour House on a bursary in the 1980s. She was nine years old. Initially she was bullied by other pupils for being poor and having a Scottish accent. But by her last year at the junior school she was a prefect—a "colour bearer," in Hahn's militaristic system. She was, she says, a perfect, docile product of the educator's ethos. "I was a really good girl, I didn't misbehave, I got on with my work. I was a good citizen," she explains, a twist in her smile.
The lochside where the children camped saw the end of that Kate. What she says happened beside it has tarnished her life: an assault by a serial rapist, the trusted young teacher in charge of the expedition. Her most vivid memory of the subsequent summer days in the Highlands is of the moment when she went to a cliff-top, having decided to end her life. She was 12.
The exped was led by a male teacher. "He was young and everyone thought he was cool. We wanted to go," remembers Kate.
Mr X, as we must call him, was in sole charge of the trip. As the excited children got ready in their dormitories at Aberlour House, he supervised the packing. He told them—as other witnesses told the police—not to bother with bathing costumes. "As a kid, I suppose, you just think—skinny-dipping! As an adult, you go… What?"
The exped set off in high excitement. "We got there, the banks of a loch, somewhere in the middle of nowhere and he said there weren't enough tents. So, we were a tent short, which meant that somebody would have to sleep in his tent each night. We'd have to 'rotate.'"
"At dinner-time we all had coffee and, a few of the girls, he filled their mugs with alcohol. I think it was rum. I felt a bit giddy. In the tent, the first night, it was me and two other girls. I remember being cold, wearing a jumper. And he started touching me, when they were still in the tent. I didn't know what to do. I was totally frozen, scared. I pretended to be asleep thinking it might stop. They left the tent, they were embarrassed, they knew what was going on. So they went to sleep somewhere else and left me alone with him. They were just in another tent, they must have heard everything. So they all knew it had happened.
"I didn't know what to do. I didn't do anything. I was terrified. I don't remember much but the pain, on my cervix… He wore a condom. What kind of a man takes a packet of condoms on a school camping trip?"
She didn't confide in anyone. "It was awful. Five or six more nights. Nobody spoke to me. I didn't speak to anyone."
For the rest of the trip Mr X ignored her. One day, lonely and confused, Kate wandered away from the campsite, contemplating suicide. "I got to the edge of the cliff, completely on my own, in the middle of nowhere. I was going to do it, and then I just thought, 'No. Actually, maybe, I won't do this.'"
Kate then began to have an inkling that she was not the only girl targeted. "The girls who were bitchy to me already were more bitchy, led by Jane [which is not her real name]. She was, I realise now from what the police have told me, already in a relationship with him. And the other girls were her gang.
"Later on, X said he had to go down to the village for something. It was because one of the boys had to make a call to his parents. He said to this other girl, Jane, she had to come as well."
This boy remembers the event well. "He bought us two drinks each—half-pints or pints. I'd never had alcohol in my life. I remember giggling about it with Jane. I think now that I was there because it would have been weird for him to have gone just with her, in a pub buying a 13-year-old drinks. It's better if there are two of you."
The boy believes that X's relationship with Jane lasted a year or more. "Once I was with her in his bedsit in the school, chatting with him. I left the room, but I went back very quickly and the door was locked. When I knocked no one answered, but I knew they were in there." This was just one of several incidents when X and Jane were in rooms alone, often with doors locked. "You don't think much of it at the time, but something lodges, because you do remember them as something that wasn't right—an adult and a 13-year-old."
X continued for at least another year at Aberlour. He would occasionally see Kate in a corridor: "He was checking up on me. He used to say to me: 'You'll die before me.' I've no idea what he meant."
At Gordonstoun the following year, the bullying began. It was led by Jane and it was rooted in the rape at the campsite. Girls would sing a song in Kate's hearing about "That night in the tent." The rumours of what happened at the campsite spread. Both she and Jane subsequently changed their names by deed poll—not unusual for adults trying to rebuild themselves after childhood abuse.
Now, Kate can begin to understand the root of Jane's antagonism. "I always had a feeling there was something there—and now I realise the extent of what happened with her and the reason why she bullied me so much. In some ways, she had it worse than me. She considered herself in a relationship with him. I suppose she was in love with him."
When she was 16, Kate's father died in an accident. She had always been close to him. When she was 14 she had tried to tell him about X. "I started by saying a teacher made a pass at me and he freaked out. I didn't tell him any more, I didn't want to hurt him." His death hit her hard, and she ended up in hospital after overdosing on paracetamol.
"I was such a mess. Gordonstoun threatened to kick me out, after my father was killed, unless I had psychiatric help." After treatment, she returned to the school and found that one thing had changed. The bullying, the gossip and name-calling stopped. But now, in her 40s, with her own children, Kate is still dealing with X's assault.
"Just recently, I realised I've spent my whole life trying to prove I'm not his victim. I've always said it has not affected me. Not me, I'm absolutely fine. In actual fact it has given me some very unhealthy patterns of behaviour, and also feelings towards myself. I only realised this in the past year, on my own. I wanted to prove I wasn't scared, of men, of sex. All that stuff. I wasn't going to be the classic rape victim. I thought I had sorted it all out."
There are other stories, too. At the age of seven, John also started at the school one summer in the 1980s. Kate remembers him: "Just the sweetest little boy." He was following a family tradition: his father went to both Aberlour and Gordonstoun. John's father remains a believer in Kurt Hahn's philosophy of teaching trust and self-discipline. He is a member of the fundraising committee of the Kurt Hahn Foundation, which raises money for scholarships to the school.
Most of John's memories of Aberlour are of happiness and success. He wanted to board and did well. He excelled at sport and passed the exams to go on to the senior school with a commendation.
After a year or two, a new teacher arrived to take charge of English. "An eccentric," says another student from that time, "a know-it-all and a show off." Derek Jones was a keen photographer and ran the photography club. Pupils remember him wandering the school, a camera hanging down to his belly, his hands resting on top. His wanderings took him to the sports changing rooms. Supervision of this place was the matron's job. Nonetheless, "Jones would often spend prolonged periods around the changing rooms and in the shower room," says John.
John got to know Jones well after he was cast in the 1988 school panto. Late one night in his final year, 1990, John left the dormitory seeking help. Two of his toenails had been surgically removed after being broken in a rugby match that afternoon, and the painkillers had worn off. Jones found him, took him into his bedroom and said that he could provide some special, very strong painkillers so long as John promised to keep it secret. "He told me if I told anyone he would get into trouble, while he was only trying to do me a favour and help me."
Half an hour later, Jones assaulted John in his bed in the dormitory. After stroking and patting the boy, he reached under the covers, pulled down his boxer shorts and attempted to masturbate him. John, under the effect of the pills, tried to push the teacher off him. He found he could not speak. After minutes of panicky struggle, Jones stopped the fondling and put his head under the covers, turning on a torch. John heard a camera's shutter click and click again. He believes Jones took half a dozen photographs.
After Jones left the room, John struggled to get out of bed. It took a while, but eventually he woke his best friend, Michael. He told him what had happened and together the two 12-year-olds went to Jones's room to confront him.
The stand-off lasted an hour. Jones denied all. He said that John must have imagined it, as a result of the pills. John and Michael demanded the camera and the film rolls they could see on Jones's desk. If nothing had happened, then surely Jones wouldn't mind them getting the films developed. The teacher refused and eventually the boys, exhausted, went back to bed.
A few weeks after the assault, John was driving with his mother. They were both listening to a Radio 4 programme and a woman was talking of her abuse as a child. "I know just how she feels," said John.
The parents took their child to see the much-liked headmaster, David Hanson. "I went with John," his father told me. "It was obvious that the headmaster believed him. There was no reason not to. He referred the matter to Gordonstoun." The police were called and interviewed John and other pupils and members of staff. Jones was sacked. John's parents say that they were encouraged not to seek a prosecution. Going into a witness box might be damaging for their son.
The school promised that in return for co-operation over not insisting on prosecution, it would ensure that Jones never taught again. "We accepted that," says John's father. "It was adequate, because there was a categoric assurance, a cast-iron guarantee that under no circumstances would Jones ever again teach children in a school. He would be barred." He adds that this pledge was repeated in a letter from Gordonstoun's then bursar, George Barr.
When John returned to the school, Jones was gone, but things had changed. "There had naturally been a lot of gossip among the pupils. I felt eyes in the back of my head from other students. I remember being called a 'homo'. I suppose in the eyes of some children I must have been a 'homo' to have 'allowed' it to happen. There was a fight arranged in the senior boot-room during break time and after that I was no longer a 'homo'. The remaining time there was happy."
But as he went on to the senior school, the wider repercussions of Jones's assault became apparent. The head boy and sporting hero of the junior school now kept his head down. Crucially, his faith in adults was gone. "It changed me completely," he says today. "I was a model student until that evening. I became a nightmare. If I was bored, I made mischief. I left Gordonstoun having failed my A levels, I didn't go to university. My life since school has involved drug use, alcoholism and a distinct lack of belief and trust that those who say they will always be there, actually will."
John eventually got on with his life and became a successful businessman. But he was not at ease: his sense that justice was not done back in 1990 exacerbated with the worry that Jones might have preyed upon other children.
The stories told here are not the only ones to stain Aberlour House and Gordonstoun. A startling series of allegations, dating back to the 1960s, has emerged in recent years. They're not all ancient history. Kevin Lomas, a teacher at the senior school during Kate and John's time was jailed in 2008 for sexual offences against young girls at a tutoring school he ran in Oxfordshire.
During the 16 years Lomas worked at Gordonstoun he had a reputation for inappropriate sexual activity: he was known for his fumbling attempts to kiss the girl pupils—"with tongue." He, too, took children on exped. A Gordonstoun spokesperson told us: "There is no suggestion that Mr Lomas committed any criminal behaviour during his time at the school." If there were, then or now, the school would inform the police.
Such events and others, coupled with the stream of recent stories about sex scandals and cover-ups in celebrated public schools, sparked talk among Gordonstoun's ex-pupils. In 2013 some of them began a private Facebook group, discussing things that had happened at the school, "that you don't see in the brochures and the class photographs," as one of them put it. Rapes, of boys and girls, were mentioned. Kate started to receive messages from girls she had known, apologising for the gossip and rumours, for the bullying, and for not having done more to help.
The group eventually involved more than 100 ex-pupils. Acting in concert, they presented the school with a list of demands: it should do more to address bullying and sexual abuse, issue an apology to past victims and fund help for them and, notably, promise in future to report any incidents to the police.
John briefly joined the group, but left it, thinking the chatter was futile: "It was mainly about bullying, old classroom rows." But he had already decided that he had to act on Jones: "I had a duty to make sure this bastard was not still out there doing things to kids." So in February 2014 he went to the police. Their subsequent investigation stretched as far as New Zealand. Eventually, John was told Derek Jones could not be brought to trial or offend again. He had died in a car crash in Kenya, five years earlier.
But if that was any consolation for John, it was spoilt by the shock of the other information the officer—who has declined to comment—then handed over. Despite Gordonstoun's solemn assurances, Derek Jones had gone on to teach, and potentially abuse, elsewhere. He had been forced to leave a school in Essex and had then surfaced and taught in Kenya. It is unclear what happened in East Africa, but former colonies there have provided a home for several [sexual predators] sacked from English private schools—some of whom have gone on to offend again. Scottish police have identified both the Essex and Kenya school where Jones taught, but have refused to name them to the Observer.
John's parents were horrified at the news. John's father told me: "I trusted the school. They said they'd make absolutely sure he'd never teach again. They didn't. And, if he did teach, that tells me someone at Gordonstoun must have given him a reference."
The school told police that it could not find a copy of the letter the Gordonstoun bursar, George Barr, sent to John's father, promising Jones would not teach again, because paperwork had been lost. It says that during this period, Aberlour had separate ownership and management. But one ex-head teacher of Aberlour from the time says that Gordonstoun staff were often involved in the junior school and that the two shared governors. (Since 2002 Aberlour has been fully merged with Gordonstoun). The school says it has co-operated with the police in its investigations into Aberlour House, Jones and Mr X.
"When the Facebook thing kicked off, says Kate, "my daughter had just turned 12. And I thought: 'You know, she's still got gappy teeth!' And I actually started to see myself then differently, completely differently. For all these years I'd not seen myself really as a child. My daughter brought it home to me that that is what I was."
Kate made a formal complaint, which was dealt with by the same police team who addressed John's case. The subsequent investigation—again, Police Scotland won't discuss it—turned up impressive numbers of witnesses with evidence to support Kate's claim. Crucially, police also found Jane and interviewed her. She told Kate, indirectly, how grateful she was that Kate had come forward. An arrest was made and Mr X made his first appearance in court—a process which in Scotland is private—to face allegations spanning four years.
For nearly a year, Kate prepared herself for facing X in court. It was very hard: the prospect of seeing him again was anguishing. She'd already had to identify him in a police line-up. That had caused her near-collapse. A local policewoman was made her liaison officer and became an emotional support; one of the things she told her was that Jane had asked the police to pass on her thanks: "Getting X to justice was the best thing that ever happened to her."
"When [the Procurator Fiscal's office] rang me and said, 'It's all fallen apart," I could not believe it. They were so certain it was all going to happen, that it was a done deal. I'd hung my hopes on the fact that it was. I was looking forward to it even though it would be horrendous. I knew I'd be a blubbering mess in court, but I wanted it and now it was taken away. I thought, how do I move forward? I still don't know how to move forward. I'm angry I allowed the whole thing to dominate my life again. And now I know I haven't got anywhere." Unfortunately the case was dropped when it became clear that Jane would be unable to give evidence. Kate cannot help but feel bitter. "I want to have compassion for her and at times I do. I know she's been through an awful lot. But it's hard not to have dark thoughts."
In truth, what has dragged Kate back to the horrors of her school days is not Jane's inability to give evidence but an arcane piece of Scottish criminal law—the principle of corroboration. Under it two independent witnesses or pieces of evidence are needed to confirm the key facts of a crime—in this case the identity of the alleged rapist and the fact of the rape. This is far from easy with crimes that tend to take place in private, such as sexual assault and domestic violence—and as a result, Scotland's rates of reporting of rape and convictions are among the lowest in the world.
Without forensic or medical evidence, prosecuting Mr X demanded two victims—Kate and Jane. The loss of Jane's evidence was fatal to the case, because the offence was in Scotland. If the allegation against X had concerned an event in England, or almost anywhere else in the world, the case would, the Observer has been told, have gone ahead without the need for corroboration. In England, also, John, Kate and others who suffered at the school would be able to bring civil compensation cases if their allegations were proven.
No official is permitted to discuss the case of X, but we have established that a thorough investigation was carried out, involving many of the people who were present at the campsite as well as other teachers. Nothing other than the lack of a corroborating witness, after Jane's withdrawal, emerged that might have derailed the case coming to court. The only consolation for Kate and Jane is that there is no bar to the investigation being reopened.
There is a simpler question for Gordonstoun and the 160 or more private boarding schools currently facing allegations about sexual crimes committed against their pupils—can they protect their children properly now? The Observer passed Gordonstoun's lengthy manual of "Child Protection Policy and Procedures" to Mandate Now, a campaign group lobbying to make child-protection systems in British institutions effective.
It examined the document in the light of many others adopted by hospitals, schools, care homes and social services and gave it a score of 4 out of 10. "It is verbiage, containing a number of disturbing flaws, " Mandate Now says. Reflecting the point made by the Gordonstoun ex-pupils, the report fails, it says, to make it clear that abuse or allegations of abuse need to be reported to an outside authority. Without that safety net, in place now in most British schools, cover-up always remains a possibility.
Gordonstoun says this complaint is irrelevant because the analysis is based on English practice. Its policy is based on Scottish government guidelines. A spokesperson said: "Pastoral care at Gordonstoun is highly regulated and is at the heart of everything that we do… Child protection is something we take very seriously and we are committed to providing a safe and nurturing environment for all our students. We have rigorous child-protection policies that have been developed with guidance from expert agencies. The latest independent report into the school… made particular reference to 'the extremely positive health promotion and child-protection procedures' in place at Gordonstoun."
The response went on: "We want our students to take full advantage of all the opportunities available to them and they can only do that if they are happy." That seems an admirable ambition—and a change of philosophy for Gordonstoun. For all the talk of service, honour, compassion and self-sacrifice in Kurt Hahn's teachings, the great educationalist and his disciples seem to have put less weight on the notion that, to learn and grow, children need to be happy. And safe.
Some of the names in this article have been changed.
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2023.11.29 03:35 snoweric Does the Islamic Teaching of Jihad Less Muslim Nations Less Peaceful on Average?

The basic ideological/theological reason why Muslim societies engage in more violence on average than non-Muslim ones comes down to the ideology of jihad. The West/Christendom has rejected the notion of (military) crusades having any religious legitimacy, but many, many in the Muslim world uphold what’s some Muslims will also label the 6th pillar of Islam called "Holy War." Now if what the Quran itself has to say on the issue and various hadiths are consulted, the Khomeini interpretation of the term wins hands down upon any reasonable exegesis of the texts in question. It's the purest Muslim propaganda to maintain it only means the struggle against the self’s wrong desires, etc. As Sohail H. Hashmi notes in the “Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion,” by "the final years of the Prophet's life," it came to be that "jihad clearly meant the struggle to propagate the Islamic order worldwide." Even Stephen Swartz, a convert to Islam, in his book, “The Two Faces of Islam,” admitted that "military jihad cannot be written out of Islam. The prophet Mohammed himself led armies." Despite claiming things have changed, Noah Feldman in “After Jihad: America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy” still wrote: "For more than a decade after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, many Islamists sought to emulate the Iranian model by Islamizing their own countries through the revolutionary transformation of violent jihad." Hence, for Muslims to follow in Muhammad’s personal example, just as Christians walk in Jesus’ footsteps is no surprise, as Robert Spencer writes in “Onward Muslim Soldiers” (p. 276), "The Prophet's example invites legions of his imitators to take up arms themselves today." Ideas have consequences. So the ideology of jihad does when the primary sources themselves (Hadiths and the Quran) are examined, not merely what modern Muslim apologists and their multiculturalist, pluralist, liberal Western sympathizers have written.
The young American Muslim scholatheologian interviewed for the recent PBS series on Islam and America at the Crossroads, who wants to argue that jihad is about fighting one's personal evil desires (or some such other watered down definition), presents a whitewash. Such an interpretation of the Muslim ancient authorities (i.e., hadith, the Koran, the Sharia, early legal decisions/arguments of the four Islamic legal schools, etc.) is academically dishonest. It’s like Christian liberals’ interpretation of the Genesis flood as a local flood in the Middle East only, their claim the days of Genesis 1 aren't literal days, or deny the Gospel of John teaches the Deity of Christ. I bet the chief philosophical theorist of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sayyid Qutb, would have a much more convincing use of the primary sources than the moderate Muslims would have, for example.
Conservative Islam’s fundamental error has been to chain itself to seventh century Arab tribal values by not being able to seriously change the Sharia since the gates of ijtihad closed. By contrast, Western culture, because it didn't (say) tie itself to Catholic canon law and what was taught in the early Catholic writings, was able to innovate and adapt in ways that conservative Muslim culture intrinsically prevents itself from doing (i.e., "bida," the bias towards all innovation being assumed to be evil a priori).
The error of the moderate Muslims is that most of them don't want to publicly attack head-on the parts of the Sharia that are in error by modern Western values, such as equality under the law for religious minorities and the intrinsic evil of (non-defensive) religious warfare. The conservative Islamists, such as Qutb and Khomeini, will win any battle of citations from the Quran, the Hadith, and the rulings of the jurists found in the Sharia on the points in contention with the moderate and liberal Muslims. Hence, the moderate Muslims who claim these primary sources of religious authority don't teach violent imperialistic jihad, the oppression of women, and systematic discrimination against religious minorities (as dhimmis) are either ignorant or disingenuous. It would be like a modern liberal Christian claiming, "The Bible, the early Catholic writings, and Catholic canon law never teach that wives should obey husbands and never say that gay sex is evil." In this regard, the "modernist" Christian liberals are much more honest than these moderate Muslims who take advantage of Western ignorance about the Islamic texts to characterize them in ways which simply aren't true, as their Islamist opponents would willingly point out to them.
It's fine to say there are lots of moderate Muslims. But they may compose a "silent majority" because they know they are on ideologically shaky ground since the Islamists (not to be equated with terrorists overall) would get the better of the argument on textual grounds about what jihad means and the necessity of present Muslim governments to impose the Sharia in Allah's sight. Much like the liberal Christians, the moderate Muslims are letting modern Western Enlightenment thinking control their interpretation of their primary texts, which simply isn't honest, even if their views may be pragmatically sensible and humane compared to the Islamists'. Likewise, orthodox Muslims’ intolerance of differing religious views among other Muslims themselves differs little from the mentality of the Medieval Church concerning heretics in its midst. For example, the great Muslim theologian Al-Ghazali (1058-1128) asked about philosophical opponents in his culturally very influential work, “The Incoherence of the Philosophers”: “Do you then say conclusively that they are infidels and that killing of those who uphold their beliefs is obligatory?” He responded that they should be pronounced infidels for three reasons: 1. They said the world had eternally existed, rather than being created. 2. Allah doesn’t know particular things, only general universal terms/concepts. 3. There was no resurrection of the body. Thus, killing these heretical Muslims, the medieval Muslim philosophers who exalted ancient Greek philosophy’s ideas over the Quran’s revelation, was obligatory under Islamic law! (Robert Spencer, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades),” p. 95.) How different is this mentality from what drives jihads?
The Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz has a key insight here, that islamism as an ideology leads to terrorist attacks, even when many who believe it in don't engage in terrorism themselves. It serves the ideological foundation for (evil) action. Admittedly, what he is doing would violate the First Amendment here, but he has a crucial insight into the origin of Islamic terrorist attacks that liberals are simply blind to.
So then, it's now time to examine some theory and methodology. After all, ideas have consequences. Furthermore, facts without theory (or interpretative context) are useless. It's necessary to consider in advance what values and assumptions that are brought to bear when examining someone's claims to truth. Here are three key questions that liberal academics and intellectuals who like to whitewash Islam should be made to specifically answer:
1. Do you believe that people getting and upholding certain ideas will act upon them?
2. Do you believe that people with certain religious ideas will act upon them in this life?
3. Do you believe that the Bible and the standard and/or literal interpretations made of it (such as in the early Catholic writers) are as apt to produce violence and terrorism as the standard and/or literal interpretations of the Quran, the hadiths, and the early rulings of the four traditional Islamic legal schools (i.e., the Sharia)?
Point three can bear some more explanation. Evil human nature is found in all places at all times, true. But it's plainly worse in some political systems/civilizations compared to others: Compare totalitarian socialism with democratic capitalism, for example. Another interesting, if less airtight, historical political comparison to make would be to measure Protestantism up against Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Likewise, a straightforward interpretation of the primary standard religious texts of Islam are far more apt to produce violence from its believers on average compared to the founding documents of Christianity, given equal amounts of religious zeal and knowledge a priori on both sides. Moderate Muslims are like liberal Christians: The former have to ignore and deny the plain meanings of texts the conservative Islamists like Qutb and Khomeini cite for literal jihad, just as the latter ignore or deny the virgin birth, the miracles of Jesus, His actual resurrection, the literal meaning for the days of creation, etc. That is, as Warraq put it ever so cleverly, "There are moderate Muslims, but Islam itself is not moderate." The moderate Muslims who deny that the normal interpretation of their religious texts encourage violent jihad are either ignorant or dishonest. So allegedly moderate Muslims and Western liberal academics need to muster their available heavy duty academic artillery, using facts and logic, not ad hominem abuse and arguments from authority, against critics of Islam as Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, Irshad Manji, Bat Ye’or, Ibn Warraq, and Robert Morey, if they wish to refute them.
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2023.11.29 03:29 Storms_Wrath The Human Artificial Hivemind Part 442: More Ships!

First Previous Wiki
Ascendant Denali looked at the latest intelligence on the Alliance's fleets. So far, due to the war with the Republic, most of their ships weren't patrolling or actually defending their colonies but were grouped up in battlefleets and convoys meant to harass the Republic.
From a two-dimensional perspective, the territory of the Alliance nearest to the New Ascendancy would be easy for him to get to and take. He could have a ship there in less than a standard year, and the same was true for an entire fleet. The main route bypassed the majority of inhabited systems on the way to the core region of the Alliance, containing the Sol system and the Teegarden system of the Knowers.
The Knowers were a burden on the Alliance and would be until their uplifting was complete. The large project had likely drained wealth and expertise that could have gone to more deserving populations and potentially even the larger ones. The Alliance only loosely bordered the independent Acuarfar states, the Vinarii Empire, Sennes Hive Union, Guulin United Legions, and the occasional lower-level civilization that hadn't invented electric machines yet.
Theoretically, the Alliance's many burdens should have been easy to sever and cut to cause them severe damage. But they didn't use trade routes nearly as much as their size suggested, a fact that was why the Ratlatmil Republic was still having so much difficulty stopping their ship production.
Denali could ignore obvious propaganda like the hivemind supposedly stopping planet killer strikes on their worlds. Such a thing was nearly impossible without shields on the level of at least the greatest interstellar nations, and perhaps only the Sprilnav could protect every one of their worlds from such attacks.
The Alliance had no such capabilities, no matter what their artificial videos might say otherwise. With Phoebe, it would be easy for them to create footage that would withstand the scrutiny of VI falsehood scans. Denali did wonder why the Republic hadn't used planet crackers yet. Maybe the Alliance had gotten them to agree to certain rules of war? Or was it just the fear of mutually assured destruction?
As his New Ascendancy could attest, the destruction might be mutual but never total. The Trikkec could rise again and were doing so under his leadership. An offensive war would push many industries back into proper margins and increase internal prosperity. The Alliance seemed like a prime target for such plans. But it wasn't.
The main problem was Brey. She could respond to an attack before it fully arrived, dumping FTL suppressor satellites in their path to slow them long enough for the other war to end and the response to come. Phoebe likely could cut through his networks and take them down. The hivemind was a strange thing, but its applications in unified battle coordination and defense, especially in urban environments, were quite clear.
Denali hadn't drafted any resolutions to go to war and had vetoed the proposed ones by his limited legislature, but it was clear that a war with the Alliance could no longer be won. After the mutual destruction of the Ascendancy and the Westic Empire, the successor factions were far weaker. He believed that the New Ascendancy was stronger than the Holy Westic Empire, but only because the Alliance had stopped their funding amidst a souring of relations.
He could have what they'd had if only he was willing to curl his tail to the Alliance. The numbers on the screen updated, and his eyes widened in horror. 32 million ships. They were building them everywhere, above every planet they could. And their military had almost tripled in size within a year, even while actively at war. Worse still, their progress was showing signs of being exponential.
But he noticed that one planet produced nearly half of all their ships together. Mercury was the second most heavily defended planet in all of the Sol Alliance. Denali had no chance of defeating it, especially when it was powered by nearly 5 trillion solar collector satellites. He noted one particular aspect of why Mercury was such a production powerhouse. An orbital ring.
"What in Gar's name?"
Denali read more. He was starting to shake. The Alliance was going to pass his own military might in a year if it hadn't already. And his ships were too tied up to ever invade. He'd lost before he'd even begun the war. He had no choice but to ally with them. It was the only way to survive. They were building more ships right now than he had in his whole fleet, and that was just in areas that could be scanned. The orbital ring was armed with many tethered stations, most of which were either resource processors or defensive laser cannons.
On the ground, Mercury-class guns pointed up at the void, ready to rain, suffering down upon any invasion fleet. There was no chance of breaking through them while having a large enough fleet to finish the job. Each section of the ring was equipped with planetary-level shields. In their far smaller shapes and concentrations, they would be stupidly expensive to maintain in terms of power but would provide exponentially more protection than a normal planetary shield ever could. It was clear that the Alliance was aware of its current main weakness.
Now, he understood why none of his military officials were proposing invasion plans anymore. They were just no longer feasible. While the Sevvi were in play, the Alliance's fleets were actually more concentrated, making it all worse.
"A million battlecruisers," he sputtered. "A million!"
Denali's tail slapped against the carpet as his claws bunched it up. His guards eyed him warily but said nothing. Denali began thinking of ways to navigate this gulf in military power and to get agreements signed before things got too far from the teeth.
"Get me a call with the director of the Sakura corporation," Denali ordered. "I need to know some things."
He wondered exactly how the Alliance would use that many ships after the war. Humanity had attacked the Trikkec before, so would they do so again? Would billions die senselessly because of hatred? He needed to know how the next move of the Alliance. Their massive navy didn't need to secure their territory, since all their neighbors wre either weak or allies. And Brey was too massive of a deterrent.
Really, he needed to meet the hivemind. Denali needed to see how the whole of Humanity was supposedly represented. If he met unending hatred, then he'd ensure that his recovered planet crackers would be ordered to attack.
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"So, as outlined, we need more ships," the hivemind said, finishing its short report on various battles where the limited supply of ships was cited as a deciding factor in suboptimal results, whether they were pyrrhic victories or even losses. Luckily, Satoshi, Annabelle, and Maaruunaa were still highly talented Fleet Commanders and were both alive and winning their battles with relatively good ship loss ratios compared to the enemy. Their fleets were en route to Cradle and were busy destroying the large fleets of the Republic trapped in Brey's FTL suppression locks.
Their arrival was timed with that of Kawtyahtnakal's main allocated forces and even some ships from the Vinarii Empire, most of which were owned by the Dual Systems Trading Company. The slow, grueling crawl of the battle on Cradle was mainly a distraction to keep the enemy occupied and losing morale as the Alliance both attacked and regrouped. The costs were severe, however. Billions of Skira's drones were dead, as were tens of thousands of Phoebe's androids.
Unfortunately, there had been high civilian casualties as well, as the Sevvi unleashed massive artillery bombardments on Skira's advancing drones every hour of every day. The caliber of the rounds only continued to increase as Skira took more and more land. More psychic amplifiers in Sol were coming online every hour, driving Brey and the hivemind's power to new heights.
Skira was building them in secret all over the inner sections of both his own namesake planet and Venus. Ordinarily, that would have been impossible with the millions of Sevvi prisoners on Skira's world. They would have been too powerful. But the drones sat around the amplifiers, sucking up all their potency before they reached the prisoners thousands of kilometers away.
The war of attrition favored the Alliance, and it seemed that the God Emperor could do little to stop it. He hadn't been seen since his attack on Brey, but that gap of opportunity would not last forever. The hivemind sat down in an ethereal chair conjured from hard light holograms. It looked at the officers at the table expectantly, asking, "How are your expansion metrics looking?"
The DMO officers across from it pulled up several graphs and charts. Costs and resources in versus out, efficiency levels, and even a highly detailed diagram of a shipyard section of the Orbital Ring. They were standing on it now, in the middle of a shield bubble that could tank several Mercury-class gun strikes.
"We are on track to quintuple the profits of our organization, meaning that we can cycle wealth back to both our workers and the resources we produce. Specifically, we make 30 trillion Luna dollars per Earth month in net profit, even with our hefty expenses. We employ 2.03 billion workers with an MMP or monthly median pay of 9 thousand dollars, or 108 thousand per year. The average is 109 thousand per year. Our main problem is building new housing for our workers fast enough.
Luckily there's a lot of money flowing to us from our secondary and tertiary businesses. For the purposes of this company, we can show that the 220 trillion dollars per year that we pay out to our people goes to the workers and functions as a living wage in almost all of Mercury. We provide many sapient rights such as food, water, and education in our cities for free, and costs such as heating, air, and ventilation are low enough for someone to pay for a year's worth in their first week of work."
Another official smiled and brought up more diagrams, showing a precise budget breakdown. "We spend most of the remaining 192 trillion building new shipyards or on research and development. Nearly none of this is on buying materials, as Phoebe and the Breyyanik both have deals with us to provide materials for free from either massive mines or solar starlifting ships.
We process trillions of tons of metals, minerals, and alloys every month in constantly increasing amounts. From 500-ton frigates to 500,000-ton battlecruisers, we're doing our best to maximize production while minimizing inefficiency. We can simplify this into producing about 2 million ships per month, but we project our production to be 10 per month in about five months, with the new Guulin workers entering the workforce.
Our workforce will balloon to 4 billion in that time, and we're building huge cities and funding civilian migration ships to support this. I would note that Phoebe and Edu'frec have been immensely helpful in designing cities that maximize ease of building while not feeling like prisons or being immensely costly. We also have bought the two Arks and plan to adapt them to mobile production facilities that Alliance species will be able to lease should they require them."
"If you were to gain the ability to create cities containing 20 million people in a week, could you increase the pace of your expansion?"
"We do not believe we can, even if Penny is actually capable of this. The serious problem of organization links with that of housing. Creating new cities creates bureaucracy. Arguments over zoning, systems of electronics, earthquake-proofing, and so on all play into this. We're stretching the limits of bureaucracy and expansion.
Phoebe and Edu'frec have been very helpful, as have the numerous experts and advisors in the Alliance. But we just can't push the limits any further. Our maximum pace of expansion has been reached. We will be ramping up the ships we build, but there is nearly no more speed this process can have, especially when we are at war."
"I see," the hivemind replied. "Humanity thanks you for your continued explanations."
They continued to talk for a while about various changes in the DMO, as well as restructuring efforts, expansion efforts, and progress on permits. Humanity learned more about the various project ideas. It also learned more about the motivations of the Board of Directors. It was closely monitored to prevent nepotism and corruption since the DMO was the largest company that had ever existed in the Alliance. Even the massive Acuarfar trading and banking companies didn't come close to their size and sheer employment numbers.
It was also important to note that the DMO was making extreme profits. The hivemind knew it would have to watch the organization closely to ensure that the wealth continued to be actively reinvested in the Alliance. The DMO was actually interstellar already, as it also managed most of the budding Dyson swarms in other star systems.
Sometimes, it was planet-based, mining rocky worlds and shooting new satellites by the millions into orbit, but sometimes all it had were asteroids. With the hivemind's help, more agreements were outlined that would be preferable to both the DMO and the parties assigned to regulating it.
The agreements had to be reworked quite often, with more and more sectors gradually being entered or captured by the massive organization. It was buying many smaller companies for large sums, which Phoebe was in charge of watching. The DMO would never be allowed total control of any vital resource. To that end, every nation and Phoebe herself worked to ensure that air, water, electronics, and food weren't part of the DMO's exports. Phoebe sold things for as close to free as possible, running businesses at a loss since many of her expansion measures didn't actually require money, just resource allocation.
Phoebe didn't need to pay her androids. She could easily send them into hazardous situations for nothing at all besides the increased maintenance costs. Her latest joint project with the DMO involved moving the trillions of orbiting satellites to tighter orbits around Sol so they'd take up more relative portions of the star.
5.36 trillion satellites, each with an area of 2.5 square kilometers, could cover an equivalent area of Sol. Granted, most of the new ones were actually little more than thin reflective shield modules since those would cause far less orbital debris if they collided. That was the main reason why they were now being produced so quickly.
And for every 100 satellites, there was a shield satellite, serving as protection from solar flares and direct enemy attacks. Little could actually be done to protect the satellites when a solar flare was powerful enough or if there was a coronal mass ejection. The hivemind knew that the current distance of the satellites was roughly 7 million kilometers and was being decreased to 1 million.
That would mean that the satellites could potentially utilize 36.9% of Sol's sunlight, up from 1.8%. Of course, that level of power wasn't possible to all use at once. Not yet. The most likely metric was that the first 'layer' of satellites would have 10 million satellites, taking up 68.8% of Sol's light at maximum output.
Typically, the majority of the satellites were in GEM, or Gravity Equilibrium Mode, where their shields would angle themselves to only catch enough light to maintain their distance from Sol. However, with the orbital decrease, the satellites were in GDM, Gravity Descent Mode. They were descending at roughly 10 kilometers per second, with accounts made for orbital intersects with the other satellites. Phoebe had lent a computer to the DMO to help them model the sheer number of interactions occurring there.
The hivemind was planning on ending the war in the 8-day timeframe that equaled. Across from one of its avatars, Penny was currently meditating. While it didn't do much for her power, it did provide her clarity of mind so she, Nilnacrawla, and whatever Cardi was could devise new ways of using her power.
She'd likely be used to bludgeon the Sevvi stealth fleets in the rest of the Alliance's systems after her major success with Quish Palla and the Sol stealth fleet's destruction. She'd been quite sad about what had happened but agreed that it was the best outcome they had the time and resources to pursue.
The hivemind hoped that the Sevvi could be helped. Sentiments would prevent active aid for years, at least, perhaps decades. But the post-God Emperor government would need support. And it could never stomach the destruction of an entire species. Sadly, politics was slowly tilting that way, which was another reason to end the war as quickly and decisively as possible.
"Do you still wish for Earth companies to handle the cleanup of the Sevvi's attacks?"
"Yes," the hivemind said. "Chemical pollution is of little concern. We've made stuff about as bad and pumped it into the air and rivers for over two centuries, and we survived. And the biological problem is already being solved."
One of the Breyyanik looked nearly incredulous at the hivemind's words. He fidgeted with his mane, adjusting it nervously. "But how can you handle a billion tons of methane from the reactions?"
"A billion tons? We used to have nearly 1.2 billion cows on Earth at our peak of factory farming, each producing over 100 pounds of methane a year. A billion tons of methane is... laughably small, actually. We'd be mostly fine with the pollution even without the shields over every city and country."
"Oh. I... wow, that's a... I apologize for my conduct, hivemind," the Breyyan said, regaining his professionalism.
"It's fine. We know it can seem a little wild to other species how much damage we did."
The hivemind felt a bit of its focus fray at that and got visions of thousands of volunteers in PPE equipment already getting to work on several beaches. They were loading boats up with aerosol and aquatic scrubbers. Some of them were working alongside various Earth military forces, most of which were using Thermite Throwers leased from Phoebe to cut into the tough hulls of the terraformer ships to get in and shut them down.
The hivemind was also ferrying information from thousands of scientists with degrees in Atmospheric and Lithospheric Bio-Engineering, using their collective skills and education to learn more about how to potentially construct such devices for the Alliance.
Terraforming would not be a fast process at all. Even the version Skira was doing on Venus would take decades just to cool the place down. It would be an investment into the long-term of the Alliance, not the short-term. And in the meantime, it might be better to move some planets into better orbits.
And the hivemind was very excited at that prospect as well. Brey could open portals to high-gravity locations in precise locations. If Penny could actually create gravity, then that would be even better. But barring that capability, the Alliance could still use portals orbiting stellar black holes to change orbits precisely.
Phoebe had already done the necessary calculations for that. In fact, she'd done those calculations for every known planet within a 10,000-light-year radius of Sol in a little over 2 minutes. And then she'd smiled, looked Humanity in the eyes, and said,
"Oh, it wasn't hard. Just a bit of orbital dynamics calculations. Edu'frec and I had a race to see who could process the data the most accurately within the limit."
"How accurately?"
"Enough for any deviation in the orbit to account for a single nanometer at most."
The hivemind smiled at the memory. It was quite proud of how Phoebe and Edu'frec were turning out. It had built a shared sense of camaraderie with Phoebe over the years. The hivemind turned its current mind back to the DMO. It delegated more tasks to its 15 billion layers of subconscious mind and continued to talk with the officials about various proposals and newly discovered management techniques and studies. Some of their eyes glazed over, while others shined with interest.
The hivemind felt a small part of its consciousness giving Penny the go-ahead to start an operation near the Skandikan system. Hopefully she'd be able to neutralize the remaining threats there. The enemy commander had shown the wherewithal to retreat instead of facing absolute defeat. That intelligence might be useful for more information about the God Emperor's potential weaknesses or those of the Sevvi at large.
It wished Blistanna hadn't killed Quish Palla so quickly, but also understood her motivations. Sometimes, dangerous foes just needed to die.
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Chesica Palla was still on the edges of the Skandikan system when the largest Alliance fleet he'd seen so far arrived. Powerful waves of lasers sliced across the cosmos ahead of them. They were alien searchlights or something similar. More FTL suppression and psychic suppression satellites came flooding out of new portals on all sides of the system, slowly progressing inward.
In the mindscape, all of them were hiding down on the third layer, hidden by huge amounts of reflective shielding that should have kept them safe. After the death of Quish, it was clear that even stealth fleets weren't safe. There wasn't much more information from the scouts besides that due to the light lag. Chesica couldn't allow his fleet to remain in the holding pattern for long or-
"Sir, two dreadnaughts are on a skew approach!"
"What will their closest distance be?"
The officer linked the tablet to Chesica's helmet, allowing him to clearly see the estimates. The ships and their large escort forces were patrolling orbital areas, including the gravitational resonance points of the system. Luckily, Chesica hadn't placed his stealth fleet directly into one, but he did have cause for worry.
And then he realized something. "Why are we just now getting these results? We should have been seeing these ships for days now."
"Sir... they have stealth armor. It's about 76% as strong as our own weakest ships, but since our scanners weren't tuned for that, we missed them."
He restrained his anger, knowing that he couldn't afford many more losses. Chesica was in command and had to act like he had a real head on his shoulders. His exoskeleton's claws flexed a few times. The officer eyed them uneasily.
"I see. You will continue to watch."
He watched the mindscape. The Mind Assassins continued to stand guard, hiding amongst the crew and rooting out dissent and practices that were unwise. Chesica knew that the third layer was safe. But then, new readings made him pause. Explosions on the first and second levels. They were spreading out, detonating with overwhelming force as if from a bombing campaign. Did the Alliance invent psychic bombs? If they were dealing with that kind of force, the God Emperor was needed. There was no other way.
Worse still, Chesica couldn't reach him. It wasn't that he'd been blocked but that quantum link connections were being suppressed by the enemy. If he wanted to disable that, which he easily could, it would show his location like a beacon in the vast depths of space. With so many Alliance patrols in the system, he had no false impressions of what that would mean not only for him but his entire fleet. The Alliance's patrols were in more aggressive attack formations than the past ones had been.
In the mindscape, he walked closer to a Mind Assassin, who was now no longer slouching. The risks had grown, and so had their wariness. It was a sign of a competent guard, at least. Chesica had faith in the God Emperor's people but not in his species. Too many of them were stupid academics getting modifications on Cradle and expecting to be war heroes. Now that they finally had the chance, it meant he and other Admirals and Commanders were rooting them out and smashing down their ludicrous ambitions.
"What can you tell me?"
"We're almost under attack. The enemy is searching for us, but luckily we are on the third layer of them mindscape. Humans can't survive the psychic pressure down here, so we're safe."
"What about the hivemind?"
"Away from its constituents, it will be weaker," the Assassin assured.
"Good," he replied. "Thank you for the report."
"However, it would be best to take additional precautions. Oddly, the foe doesn't seem to be entirely destroying the consciousnesses it encounters. If a few-"
A sound broke against Chesica's fortified mind, and he saw a light flashing from above.
A single human was descending from the second layer, sliding out of the rock as if she was not a creature of bone and sinew. He could actually feel it as she sniffed the air and then fixed her eyes on one of the captains. In an instant, she was in front of him, her hands on his shoulders. Chesica growled in anger as all the weapons fired at her missed, impacting harmlessly against the ceiling of the layer.
Waves of psychic energy emanated from the woman. They were malicious but also calm. They carried a weight to them that seemed to promise something inevitable. The Mind Assassin next to him was already heading over to battle her.
And Chesica heard the human's alien language form words. He should not have understood them, but he did.
"Cardinality: Manipulation of Will. Domain of Zero. Energy reduction."
The sound of them was actually visible as a ripple in psychic energy emanating from the battle. The air blurred and darkened around the edges of the psychic energy shockwave as it passed. It blew back and parted against the shields of the Assassins, but not for long.
The Mind Assassins clutched their heads and screamed. Some unprotected soldiers dropped to their knees, falling to the ground, either dead or unconscious. Something seemed to twist in on itself, and Chesica felt a sudden stretching strain in his mind and eyes as if he was looking at something too large to fit within his imagination. It was like trying to fit a house in a cup. Some of the Mind Assassins near him cried out.
"It's gone!"
"I can't see!"
"Where's the mindscape!"
And Chesica could see a thin film surrounding them, reminiscent of strings of psychic energy. They were strings of psychic energy, he realized.
And they were all connected back to the singular human who had managed to reach them and wreak such destruction. She was a force of nature, beyond all hope of battling. Sevvi were floating in the air in an expanding radius centered on her. Flashes of energy always accompanied the surprised screams of the disorganized attempts to kill her.
In his heart, he knew the battle was lost. He'd waited too long and thought he'd had more time. His mistake would cost everyone's lives. He was no longer worthy of command.
On the bridge of the ship, the other officers were motionless, watching the carnage with dismay breaking through their discipline. Even the janitor who was sweeping the dust from the sides of the chairs was still. His eyes were unfocused, peering into the absolute destruction making its way through millions of Sevvi on its way to them.
He recalled verses of scripture from the God Emperor, and another realization struck him. He physically recoiled at the vicious weight and possibility befalling him. She couldn't have just been an actual demon with such overwhelming power. No. She was far worse. The one who would end their entire species. Seinyta Clana. The Final Foe.
Chesica fell down on his knees and began to pray. His exoskeleton clanked against the metal, drawing the eyes of his crew to him. But he no longer cared. Ego no longer mattered, nor did his rank and station. Only atonement could hope to forestall the doom falling against them. He would soon end up in the Land Of Dreams.
Two battlecruisers detonated despite no evidence of attacks. His widened eyes grew wider. His guards drew themselves up around him as he activated his personal shield.
"Oh God Emperor, please save your wayward child, for he has lost his way... Please deliver him from suffering, for he has been led astray..."
submitted by Storms_Wrath to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.11.29 02:54 ToErrDivine SCP-7445: "Saluting Jack"

Hi, everyone, it’s ToErrDivine again. Today I’m looking at SCP-7445, “Saluting Jack” by Abrethe/ROUNDABOUTS (no, not ROUNDHOUSE, he’s a totally different kind of yurt). First up, the usual disclaimer: I didn’t write this, it’s not my SCP and so this won’t be 100% accurate to the author’s vision. With that, let’s get started.

Part One: A Kyotska Wrapped In A Mystery Inside An Enigma

The article begins with the following notice:
BY ORDER OF PROVISIONAL SITE-338’S ADMINISTRATION The following file concerns an anomaly that is currently under investigation. Documentation may be inaccurate.
OK, so we need to take everything we read with a grain of salt. Good to know.
We get a big empty space, and then we get the usual heading: this SCP is level 4, secret, and it’s classed as Pending, which makes sense as it’s being investigated. There’s a black and white photo of a long hill with some trees on it, but there’s nothing else in the photo. The caption reads ‘Fig 1.1 — Tunturi in Savukoski, circa 1971. I’ll go to Wikipedia on this one.
In Finnish, the mountains characteristic of the region of Lapland are called tunturi (plural: tunturit), i.e. "fell". A tunturi is a hill high enough that its top is above the tree line and has alpine tundra.
Likewise, Savukoski is a municipality in Lapland, Finland. It’s one of the largest there, and also the most sparsely populated- in 2023, its population was 990 people. Not 9900 or 99,000, 990. So this looks like a really good place to do secret stuff, huh.
(Also, it’s not at all relevant… well, I assume… but Wikipedia also told me this, which I’m including simply because I want to:)
According to Finnish Folklore, the Korvatunturi Fell in Savukoski municipality is the location of Father Christmas's (Joulupukki) secret workshop, where toys, trinkets and gifts are made and eventually wrapped by gnomes.[6] The name Korvatunturi translates into English as "Ear Fell". Finnish children are told that from "Ear Fell" Father Christmas can hear what all the children are saying so he can find out if the children behave and obey their parents (and therefore may receive gifts next Christmas).
(I assume we won’t be dealing with Santa this time around, but hey, anyone who wants to take down 4666 might want to look at this fell. Or anyone who wants to knock over Santa’s workshop and/or convince the elves to unionize.)
All right, let’s get started with the article:
Special Containment Procedures: As SCP-7445 was recently discovered and little is known about the anomaly's nature, behavior and properties, a proper set of containment procedures cannot be established yet. Provisional Area-358 has been established in order to properly investigate the anomaly and have better access to LoI-NW/107.
That sounds pretty reasonable, which is how we know that it probably isn’t reasonable at all.
Description: SCP-7445 denotes an anomaly located beneath LoI-NW/107 ("Palavataivas Observatorio"), an observatory located in Savukoski, Finland. The only way to reach the anomaly is believed to be through the observatory's southernmost compartment, which leads to SCP-7445 through a steep spiral stairway. Additionally, a golden placard reading the words "Кëцka-1; Апрель 1959"1 can be seen on SCP-7445's door.
OK, so there’s an observatory in Savukoski (hence the aforementioned photo of the tunturi and the accompanying black and white photo of the observatory, though from what I can tell, there is no observatory in Savukoski in real life) and there’s an anomaly under it. Sounds good to me. The footnote tells me that the Russian words mean ‘"Kyotska-1; April 1959", which means absolutely nothing to me other than that someone who spoke Russian was there in April 1959. (If you’re wondering, I don’t speak Russian and I don’t know what ‘Kyotska’ means.) For now, we’ll refer to whatever SCP-7445 actually is as ‘The Kyotska’- keep it in mind for later.
SCP-7445's only anomalous property consists of its inaccessibility. Out of all the 19 attempts carried out by Foundation personnel in order to try and breach SCP-7445's entrance, none have proven successful. As such, SCP-7445's contents are currently unknown.
Ooh. So there’s a staircase leading to a door, and nobody can get inside. Yep, sounds pretty anomalous to me. And it makes sense that they’d class it as ‘Pending’- there could be anything in there from an empty room to a new kind of reality warper that wants to wipe out humanity, but they simply don’t know because they can’t get inside.
SCP-7445 was originally discovered by Provisional Area-358's Communications Department following the interception of a report detailing the discovery of a previously unknown room within LoI-NW/107, although no researchers could enter it. No blueprints of the observatory included SCP-7445.
OK, so they found out about this because they read a report about… wait a second.
SCP-7445 was originally discovered by Provisional Area-358's Communications Department following the interception of a report detailing the discovery of a previously unknown room within LoI-NW/107,
See, this timeline isn’t making sense to me. The article said that they set up the Provisional Area because of the anomaly. But this paragraph seems to imply that the Provisional Area was what discovered the anomaly. I’m confused.
Anyway, ‘somebody’ discovered an unknown room that didn’t show up on the blueprints. We now get an addendum, a containment log from 1971. A footnote tells me that it was ‘Uploaded onto DIRECTORY_7445/2 on March 7th, 1991 by Dr. Ilya Námachov.’
Keep Dr Ilya in mind, he’ll show up again later.
SCP-7445 was originally contained by the SCP Foundation on the morning of February 19th, 1971, following the anomaly's discovery. As SCP-7445 was occupied and heavily guarded by members of GoI-358 ("The Abnormal Interactions Command"), a field agent ("Operative бáвиерa / Bávyera") was dispatched to terminate the station's occupiers.
GoI-358 links to SCP-7255, which was also written by Abrethe and takes place in Finland. Most of it isn’t relevant to this article, but there’s a couple of things I’ll note: the first is that in 7255, Provisional Area-358 has become Site 358 (7255 takes place in 2017). The second is this comment by Abrethe from the discussion page:
The sauna is a property of the SETK, or AIC if you will, which is the Finnish Government's SCP Foundation. The Foundation was already aware of the sauna, as the SETK is essentially a 'vassal' of the Foundation (soon I'll be posting an article about this) and they have to tell them things by force if they don't want to feel threatened. However, the Foundation decided to leave it up to the SETK's hands to see if they could manage it well.
Now, that raises a lot of questions. The AIC/SETK are part of the Finnish Government, and yet here the Foundation is, sending in a field agent to kill their guys. There’s also that line about how the AIC/SETK are a ‘vassal’ of the Foundation, though since this article took place somewhere in the realm of 40 years before then, that may have happened in the decades afterwards. Even if we assume that the Foundation and the AIC/SETK had no working relationship at this point in time, the AIC/SETK are still part of the Finnish Government. Why would the Foundation go straight to ‘kill a government’s people’? That’s just going to result in all kinds of repercussions.
There’s one other thing I want to mention before we look at this addendum:
As SCP-7445 was occupied and heavily guarded by members of GoI-358 ("The Abnormal Interactions Command"), a field agent ("Operative бáвиерa / Bávyera") was dispatched to terminate the station's occupiers.
That doesn’t sound like the Foundation at all. Normally, they’d send in an MTF. But here they’re only sending in one person? Why would they do that?
Well, here’s some possible reasons:
1: They’re low on personnel, so they don’t have an MTF to send/enough other personnel to spare for this.
2: This GoI are rated so poorly that the Foundation doesn’t think they’re worth an MTF.
3: Inversely, this agent/these agents are rated so highly that one agent can take out a whole ton of people.
4: Someone’s trying to get this agent killed.
5: Someone’s trying to intentionally make this Site/these particular people look bad, so they’re hamstringing everything they do.
6: The Foundation were really cheap in the 70’s.
7: The correct answer, which I’m not saying because it’d be spoilers.
For now, we’ll just keep going.
We have two main characters here: our field agent, who we’re calling BV34, and the Command guy, who’s… hey, it’s Dr Ilya! Told you to keep him in mind. Anyway, BV34’s mission is…
Agent BV34's primary objective was to amnesticize all of the station's personnel and contain them within a single room for later termination or extraction by MTF Samekh-358 ("Stuck in the Sauna").
So they did have an MTF? Why not send them? Or at the very least give BV34 some help?
Also, the following log has been translated from Russian. Keep that in mind, too.
We start outside the Observatory (which isn’t the Provisional Site- that’s located under the town hall in Savukoski), with BV34 heading in. He asks what the demographic status of the place is and is told that there’s 11 people inside; it’s not known what they’re all up to, but the comms have been restricted and guarded so people can’t break into them.
I can maybe see how one agent could work against 11 people since it’s a stealth mission and not all of them are armed, but I can see a couple of problems: one, that’s still a lot of people and they don’t seem to have exact data (for all the Foundation knows, there could be 11 scientists and 50 guards), and two, the article said this place was ‘heavily guarded’. I don’t call 11 people, of whom only a fraction are guards, ‘heavily guarded’. Hmmm.
Command: Proceed to the closest entrance. If possible, try and breach any of the station's secondary access points. BV34: There's only one entrance. (Silence.) Command: …Right. Breach the entrance, then. And try not to make any noise. BV34: Got that.
…you’d think Ilya would have known that there was only one entrance, huh.
BV34 gets to the entrance and alerts Ilya that there’s two people inside, walking around the hallway. He breaks in and attacks; they’re both guards. BV34 fights them both, taking them out with amnestics after shooting one in the chest twice and the other in the leg. Ilya tells him that ‘The only thing that matters right now is that they're both down. If one of them dies, that's not our concern.’ Lovely.
BV34 keeps going…
Command: Alright. If you pop in one or two B2s, please close all entrances and squeeze out of the room just as soon as the smoke expands. Also, please remember that I'm not your daddy.
Just for that, I hereby rename you ‘Big Daddy Ilya’.
So, BV34 gets to the next room…
BV34: It's infested with SACKs. The Directorate's not gonna like this. Command: It's okay. I'll deal with it as soon as the mission's done.
I imagine that some of you just went ‘Ohhhhhh.’ For everyone else, keep this line in mind for later, it’s very important.
BV34 gets into the next room, which contains six researchers and no guards. This, on the face of it, looks like an easy hurdle to clear, but unfortunately, it’s not: two of the researchers take cover, but the others all pull out guns. One of the researchers manages to shoot him in the calf; despite that, BV34 takes them down, killing one and knocking the rest out.
BV34: They outdid my day again, huh? (Silence.) Command: Well, you outdid 8 people already. Wait, no. 6 people. BV34: Uh huh. If I were you, I'd begin detaching the whole team. My job's almost done here.
First off, yes, that was eight people counting the first two guards. Second, if you had a whole team, why the fuck didn’t you send more of them?
Anyway, BV34 starts heading to the actual anomaly…
BV34: There's, uh… Surveillance cameras in here. Command: Take your badges off. We don't want to get in a mess with these guys. Their task forces are damn tough. BV34: The badges are under my gear. Command: Okay, hm. (Silence.) Command: I guess you could just w-
See, this just raises more questions: assuming ‘badges’ refers to some kind of Foundation insignia, why didn’t Big Daddy Ilya already know where BV34 was wearing them? And if the Foundation didn’t want to get into a shitfight with the Finnish Government, why didn’t they try alternative methods to contain this thing, instead of sending in Solid Snake sans cardboard box?
So, BV34 shoots the cameras and then heads for the anomaly, which is in an area that’s completely dark. Grand Patriarch Ilya tells him that there’s three more guys, and BV34 should take care of them before they ask for ‘an E11 unit’. E11 stands for Epsilon-11, which probably made more of you go ‘Ohhhhh.’ For everyone else there’s Mastercard, just keep going, we’ll get to it later.
BV34 goes in, finds a guard using a night vision device, and gets in a fight with them that ends with the guard dead and BV34 with a broken leg and an injured head. Large Father Ilya tells him that the recovery team will do the rest of the work, and asks if ‘the Kyótska’ is there, but BV34 doesn’t know. BV34 is told to just sit there and wait for recovery, and that’s the end of the log.
After the log, we’re given a description of BV34’s injuries and are told that he made a full recovery, and then we’re told this:
All amnesticized personnel were extracted from the base and moved to Provisional Area-358, where each of them were administered a large dose of Class-B amnestics and discharged from their prior positions. The remaining pair of personnel was found to be outside the base, performing tests on the area's permafrost and soil. They were promptly amnesticized by the recovery team before they returned to the base.
LoI-NW/107 was successfully seized and a group of Foundation researchers was established in the base in order to contain SCP-7445.
Sounds OK… right?
Yeah, no. We now get an incident log, which was ‘Uploaded onto DIRECTORY_7445/2 on March 7th, 1971 by Dr. Ilya Námachov.’ Thanks, Maximum Papi Ilya.
On the morning of March 7th, 1971, 15 days following the containment of SCP-7445, several squads of the Global Occult Coalition were spotted patrolling through the streets of Savukoski, Savukoski Municipality, carrying heavy weaponry and explosive materials. All of the GOC officers were dressed as members of the local authorities and the Abnormal Interactions Command.
Well, that’s a great start.
So, the GOC storms the Savukoski Town Hall and takes… hold up.
At about 0640 hours, GMT+1, all GOC operatives stationed themselves in front of the Savukoski Town Hall, and breached its entrance using battering rams and siege engines.
Battering rams and siege engines for a town hall door? Either the Finns are fucking hardcore, or there’s some really weird shit going on here.
Anyway, the GOC went to the site and took the civilians hostage at gunpoint under the pretense that they were doing a nationwide drug investigation. They then found a vault door to the Provisional Site in the observatory’s basement, which they breached before storming the Provisional Site. They cut the power, which made everyone in the Provisional Site try to evacuate, and alerted the rest of the Foundation about what was happening.
Local security was heavily affected by the power cutoff, as the lack of power resulted in MTF responses being delayed. Additionally, the MTFs were not prepared to respond to such an incident.
I can buy the first, but I can see two possible meanings for the second: either A, there were so many GOC people that the resident MTFs were like ‘Dude, if we try to fight these guys we’ll get killed’ (and even then you’d think that there’d be something they could do, even if it was just ‘help everyone evacuate and protect them’), or B, the MTFs were a bunch of incompetent fucks who didn’t know what to do here. Either one seems unlikely.
Later during the incident, the Foundation personnel began evacuating through an emergency tunnel that would lead them to the Savukoski helipad, where they would be transported to the city of Rovaniemi until Epsilon-11 ("Nine-Tailed Fox") security teams could properly deal with the breach. As the breach went on, however, Foundation helicopters stationed at R3C Halcyon-36 were simultaneously hijacked by another group of assailants that damaged the helicopters' engines.
The footnote tells us that ‘Rapid Response Remote Camps are operated in remote areas to aid evacuating Foundation personnel during breaches and raids. The majority of the Foundation's R3Cs are located across the Arctic Circle, the Himalayas, and the Antarctic Circle.’
OK, so now this is looking really, really serious. The GOC had all the Foundation’s contingencies already worked out, and they made sure that the Foundation couldn’t use them. But we don’t even know what the anomaly is! What the hell could be so important that they’d go this far for it?
The camp was later declared as lost, as the assailants had destroyed all of the Foundation's properties and captured all personnel. As such, no evacuation routes were considered plausible at the time, requiring personnel to take alternatives and improvise.
As the GOC squads began wreaking havoc across the site, destroying large amounts of materials, seizing multiple anomalies and capturing as much personnel as possible, a series of operatives proceeded to leave the site and admonish all individuals wearing white coats and ushankas. This hindered the personnel's attempts to escape through the assigned evacuation routes, as a large amount of civilians joined the cause and helped the squads chasing the persecuted.
Notably, the admonition was first transmitted in Russian, but later in Finnish.
All the researchers in the second log were described as wearing white coats and ushankas. Otherwise, I am… very confused as to what’s happening here. Also, what multiple anomalies? Wasn’t this Site all about the Kyotska?
In total, only 3 of the 47 researchers stationed at Provisional Site-358 managed to escape. The rest were abducted by the intruders, and extracted from Savukoski towards an unknown location.
None of the escapees managed to retain any information about the incident, as their objectives were solely focused on escaping the Site safe and sound.
Provisional Site-358 was successfully recovered by a platoon of Foundation soldiers on that same day, and as of March 8th, 1971, the Site is officially secure.

Part Two: The Missing Pieces Of The Puzzle

Before we continue, I have two quick recaps for you, the first being of the log we just read:
  1. The Foundation took over the site from the Finnish Government, but they only used a field agent and an Engorged Progenitor instead of the usual MTF.
  2. Just over two weeks later, the GOC shows up out of nowhere, takes over the town, invades the Site, thoroughly wrecks the Foundation’s shit, and abducts almost all of the researchers there.
  3. The Foundation took the Site back the same day.
  4. There is literally no mention of what happened to those researchers, the anomalies the GOC took, any casualties, possible GOC motivations, what happened to the GOC people, why the log is in this article when there was no specific mention of this SCP in it, or anything else related to this incident in the log.
And here’s the recap of the full article:
  1. There’s a room containing something under an observatory in Finland. Nobody has been able to go into the room no matter how they try to do so, hence its anomalous status.
  2. This article is under ‘Pending’ because it’s under investigation, so we need to take everything in it with a grain of salt.
  3. The Foundation took control of this area by sending in a field agent to Corvo Attano that bitch.
  4. Just over two weeks later, the GOC showed up to take over and thoroughly wrecked the Foundation’s shit.
  5. The Foundation took the site back, and it’s been fine ever since March 8, 1971.
  6. There are a lot of weird inconsistencies and minor issues in this article that don’t seem to make any sense, like why the Foundation chose to shoot first and not try diplomacy with the Finnish Government when it came to taking control of the area, or why there’s so many Russian operatives when this is in Finland, or why there’s been almost nothing about the actual anomaly and it’s mostly been about the site.
So, with that, let’s keep going. We get another big empty space, and then we get this. It’s a notice from RAISA, and it reads as follows:
The previous file has been heavily modified by an unidentified intruder. Any contents included in this archive are to be disregarded immediately and all Foundation personnel assigned to Provisional Site-358 and the SCP-7445 containment project are to read the following addendum.
A recreation of the SCP-7445 file is currently being carried out by RAISA technicians and, as such, all research and containment projects in relation to the anomaly have been halted. Please stand by while the issue is being fixed.
— RAISA Technician Kekko Markkinen
Well, shit. So, it looks like the file we’ve been reading consists of large quantities of unadulterated bullshit. Guess that explains the ‘Pending’ classification.
We then get a third addendum: it’s a ‘changelog’, and was uploaded on the 15th of March, 1971 by Kekko Markkinen.
On March 13th, 1971, a pair of squads pertaining to MTF Samekh-358 ("Stuck in the Sauna") and MTF Epsilon-11 ("Nine-Tailed Fox") carrying anomalous weaponry and specialized gear breached an occupied Provisional Site-358 through the facility's evacuation system, attacking the Site at an unexpected time. In a matter of 12 minutes, all access routes for the Site were completely blocked, and the Site's occupiers were terminated without any Foundation casualties.
Despite the large amount of occupiers shown in Addendum 7445.2, there were only 7 intruders inside the facility at the time of its recovery. None of them carried any GOC identifiers, or any sort of identifying material for that matter.
So… it wasn’t the GOC who took over the Site, and the Foundation doesn’t know who they actually were. It wasn’t a huge number of people who did it, and it didn’t happen on March 8.
Following the recovery of Provisional Site-358, it was revealed that all terminals containing remote SCP files were hijacked and locked under a new password. However, the encrypting was noted to be weak and easy to crack, leading to the swift recovery of the terminals by Foundation technicians.
Notably, among the 34 files contained within the remote terminals, only 3 were edited by the intruders described in Addendum 7445-2:
· The SCP-7445 document; · A file containing information on Incident-████/1, an event that took place in November 1959 in the town of Kolari, Finland, and involved information regarding an anomaly under the GRU-P Division's jurisdiction; · And a dossier containing notorious information about LoI-NW/107, which was heavily guarded by Foundation personnel until a raid occurred on March 8, 1971, and terminated all of the Foundation's activities within SCP-7445 and the observatory.8
Whoever they were, they either sucked at encryption or they wanted the Foundation to know what they did. And they only went after three files: the one we’re reading, one about an Incident that took place at another place in Lapland and involves the GRU-P, and the dossier of… *checks the footnote* Addendum 1?!
…OK, what.
(We’ll come back to that.)
The second and third files were completely devoid of contents following their recovery by the technicians, and all attempts to perform a backup or a recovery of their previous contents were met with failure. SCP-7445's file, however, was heavily edited to:
· Contain an incomplete and shortened version of the original file;9 · Include a video log of LoI-NW/107's siege by a russophone intruder;10 · And include a summary of Provisional Site-358's seizure by several squads of intruders.11
They wiped the second and third files, and butchered the SCP-7445 article. They took out data and shortened it, added in Addendum 1, and then threw in Addendum 2 for good measure. Oh, and Addendum 1? That wasn’t the Foundation taking over the Site from the Finnish Government, that was the real bad guys here taking the Site from the Foundation. That’s why they only sent one guy in and didn’t try diplomacy, aka reason 7: they’re not the Foundation, so they’re not going to use Foundation methods.
(Also, this is a good place for me to explain the title: ‘Saluting Jack’ -> saying hi to Jack -> hijack, like how these guys hijacked the Site. *taps head knowingly*)
Following a complete analysis of the situation by RAISA Technician Kekko Markkinen, a series of inconsistencies and errata were discovered in the newly-edited SCP-7445 file. The following is a list of said incongruences:
· I. Although Provisional Site-358 was cited by its correct designation in the notice at the beginning of the new SCP-7445 file, the facility is cited as "Provisional Area-358" throughout the remainder of the document.
Yeah, those inconsistencies? They were all there for a good reason. So let’s look at them: first off, whoever wrote this new article mostly talked about Provisional Site-358 by the wrong name.
II. SCP-7445 had been under the Foundation's jurisdiction and containment since 1968, and as the anomaly was categorized as a Safe-Class object, a set of established containment procedures was already in place until LoI-NW/107 was sieged. SCP-7445's discovery, as such, is not recent.
So, this bit?
As SCP-7445 was recently discovered and little is known about the anomaly's nature, behavior and properties, a proper set of containment procedures cannot be established yet. Provisional Area-358 has been established in order to properly investigate the anomaly and have better access to LoI-NW/107.
Yeah, that entire paragraph was bullshit.
III. SCP-7445's properties were known to the Foundation, and the anomaly was completely accessible. Most information included in the new file was falsified by the assailants.
So… the Foundation know what the Kyotska is. They always knew what it was, and they could get inside the room, too. But the unknown enemies decided to lie about that for some reason.
IV. There is no Communications Department at Provisional Site-358, as the Site's only purpose is to monitor extraterrestrial, astronomical and astrophysical anomalies; and contains anomalous instruments that may relate to said fields.
And that explains why the timeline seemed messed up at the start: the Provisional Site already existed, but whoever rewrote this article wanted a convenient way of explaining how the Foundation supposedly found it.
V. The Global Occult Coalition has denied any involvement in the siege described in Addendum 7445.2. Additionally, the GOC has denied having any involvement in Savukoski as a whole.
OK, admittedly, this is the GOC, so I’m not inclined to take their word for it, but I guess there isn’t really a reason to say that they’re lying this time around. So we can also say that the GOC had sweet fuck all to do with this.
VI. There are no records of Soviet researchers being stationed at Provisional Site-358, with the entirety of the site being comprised by personnel of Finnish nationality and descent. As such, the individual known as Dr. Ilya Námachov is either an intruder pertaining to another organization, or doesn't exist.
…well, fuck. Looks like Enormous Sire Ilya was too good to be true.
Since the original SCP-7445 file was deleted along with all of its addenda and contents, a new recontainment operation needs to be carried out in order to recreate the old document. Excavation and extraction of SCP-7445 will begin on March 18th, 1971 in order to transport the anomaly to Provisional Site-358.
As a result of the recent raid on Provisional Site-358, the O5 Council has performed an unanimous vote, and officially declared that the facility will be moved to the municipality of Riihimäki along with SCP-7445 in order to avoid further breaches.
And because of all this, the Foundation is wisely moving the whole operation to Riihimäki, a town that’s fairly close to Helsinki and has a population of nearly 30000, so they can safely recontain everything in a better location and write up a new, accurate report. Good choice.
That’s the end of the article, so let me explain at least some of what the fuck just happened. See, I don’t actually know what 7445 is- Abrethe didn’t tell me, because a key part of this article is speculation. We’re supposed to be left pondering exactly what it is that these guys would go this far for. Now, I may not be able to tell you what it is, but I can give you a whole lot of context and a cleared-up version of the story, which will help you all make like a bunch of stockbrokers and get speculating.
First off: who were these guys? They were the GRU-P. Who are the GRU-P? Well, I’ll be honest- I don’t know much about them, and also, this part of history is not my forte. (I’m an ancient history person.) But I’ll do the best that I can to explain.
As I understand it, the GRU Division Psychotronics, or GRU-P, were originally founded by Stalin in 1935 as the Fourth Department Abnormal Occurrences Commission. During World War 2, they were absorbed into the GRU, the Russian military intelligence, with the aim of finding anomalies and using them for the benefit of the Soviet Union. They operated throughout the Cold War, but when the Iron Curtain fell, the GRU-P were dissolved. However, there’s a group of them still active in the present day, continuing their work. The Cold War went from 1947 to 1991, so everything in this article happened when the War was ongoing, the GRU-P were at the height of their power and they had the Soviet Union behind them.
So, here’s the cleaned-up, organised version of the story:
1: In 1959, the GRU-P went to a tiny village in buttfuck nowhere, Finland, a country that used to be a library a Soviet Union territory until the end of 1917. They make or place the Kyotska in the basement of the Observatory (it’s also possible that they built the Observatory to contain the Kyotska), and several months later, something happens with another anomaly in the town of Kolari, which is on the other side of Lapland (which sounds close, but it really isn’t- Lapland) is huge). The GRU-P then leave.
2: The Foundation turn up in 1968, contain the Observatory and the Kyotska and leave people there to guard and study them. Over time, they come to understand what the Kyotska is and what it does, but they don’t move it or lock it up or anything.
3: In February 1971, three years after the Foundation arrived and twelve years after they left, the GRU-P decide that they want the Kyotska back. They send in BV34, who takes out the people there, but in the process, they discover that the Foundation took the place over (hence the term ‘SACKs’, which is GRU-P slang for the Foundation) and their agent gets badly hurt. It doesn’t stop them from taking over the Observatory, but they don’t get the chance to do whatever it was they intended to do with the Kyotska.
4: A couple of days later, the GRU-P send a bunch of people to Savukoski in order to get as much information about the Kyotska as possible. They take over the Site while pretending to be the GOC, abduct most of the researchers there, and do a hack job on the files about the Kyotska. They try to doctor the article we were reading, but to be honest, whoever did it (probably Gigantic Padre Ilya) did a really shitty job.
5: The Foundation takes the Site back, but not the dozens of researchers who got abducted. They discover the sabotage to the files, but they don’t know who was responsible. In response, they decide to move everything to a larger, more accessible town.
6: End result: the GRU-P don’t have the Kyotska, but they do have all the information about it, most of the researchers who were studying it and whatever the other anomaly is. Meanwhile, the Foundation has the Kyotska, but because they lost most of the relevant researchers and the information about it, they don’t know exactly what it is or why it’s so important to the GRU-P, leaving the two groups at an impasse.
So, before I wrap this up, I’m going to go over what we know about the Kyotska to aid your speculations. I have my own theories, but I won’t put them here because mine are kind of like choose-your-own-adventure stories- just lists of possible reasons for the facts. Here’s what we know:
1: It was given the name/codename ‘Kyotska-1’, which Abrethe told me is rather like the names given to satellites. On a similar line of thought, it was placed under the Observatory in the late 1950’s, which was around the time when the Space Race began, and was during the Cold War. In addition, the Provisional Site was set up to look at ‘extraterrestrial, astronomical and astrophysical anomalies’.
2: Whatever it is, it’s significant enough to the GRU-P that they were willing to put it in a country that wasn’t an ally and that they had no control over for more than a decade, and when they came back for it, they were more than happy to kill for it. However, when the Foundation discovered what it is, they didn’t think it was significant enough to warrant more guards or a more secure location, and the GRU-P didn’t leave anyone in Finland to keep an eye on it.
3: The Foundation rated it Safe, so it doesn’t resist containment, and we’ve been told that it’s moveable. It also has some kind of connection to another anomaly that’s under GRU-P control and is also in Finland.
The one thing I will say about this is that I think the obvious answer- that it’s something to do with the Space Race- is too obvious. You have several really big factors here: the Soviet Union, a former Soviet territory, the Space Race, and the Cold War. The answer could be any mix of all of these, so don’t leap to the obvious conclusion.
So, what do you think it is? The floor is yours, people.
Thank you for reading this declass, I hope you like it. Remember to keep an eye on your mysterious anomalies after parking them in other countries.
tl;dr: Oh, those Russians.
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2023.11.29 01:58 JonDenningPowerScore ** LSAT Score Release Protocol: What to Expect on Release Day**

It's become something of a tradition at this point for me to post the information below on the eve of a score release—so if you've seen it before, I apologize—but given the number of questions I still get about the release process I'm hoping many still find it valuable. So in an effort to help clear up any confusion, what follows is a detailed rundown of what will occur tonight and tomorrow.
As always, do me a favor: even if you feel you've got a solid handle on release day or have seen people (possibly me) post some of this info before, read this through to the bottom.
Wishing everyone the best of luck tomorrow! Keep us posted on how things turn out, and if you find yourself with points left to gain don't lose hope: remind yourself that this is well worth the effort, re-invest in your prep and your future, and trust that you'll reach your full potential on your next attempt!
Feel free to share this with anyone else you know who might in some way benefit from the information :)
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2023.11.29 01:34 WilhelmB12 Consulta con respecto a las vialidades

Hola comunidad les vengo con una consulta, resulta que tengo una propiedad heredada (soy foráneo) ubicada en una calle pequeña que solo tiene un carril, para entrar y salir es problemático ya que los vecinos que habitan ahí usan la calle de estacionamiento y aunque mueven sus vehículos cuando se los pido es una perdida importante de tiempo, ya intenté dialogar con ellos para liberar la calle pero son renuentes ya que muchas casas no tiene cochera, ¿con que autoridad debería solicitar la liberación de la calle?, la propiedad se encuentra en Puebla Capital, muy cerca del centro comercial Parque Puebla.
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2023.11.29 01:29 FOREXcom AUD/USD threatening key level on slow progress in taming underlying inflation pressures. Nov 29th 2023

AUD/USD threatening key level on slow progress in taming underlying inflation pressures. Nov 29th 2023
Headline Australian CPI undershot market expectations in October, although progress on taming underlying price pressures was disappointing, helping to boost AUD/USD.
By : David Scutt, Market Analyst
  • AUD/USD is testing downtrend resistance running from early 2022
  • Australia’s latest inflation report revealed slow progress in lowering underlying price pressures
  • The data keeps the risk of another RBA rate hike early next year on the table
Headline Australian consumer price inflation (CPI) undershot market expectations in October, although progress on taming underlying price pressures was disappointing, helping to boost AUD/USD.

Headline CPI may not reflect true inflation trend

According to the ABS, headline CPI rose 4.9% from a year earlier, down from 5.6% in the year to September and three-tenths below the 5.2% median economist forecast. However, the ABSA pointed out rebates for rents and electricity charges impacted the overall result, giving somewhat of a false impression of the overall inflation trend.
Beyond the headline figure than markets initially reacted to, the news on underlying price pressures was not good with CPI ex volatile items such as fuel, fresh food and holiday travel lifting 5.1% over the year, down from 5.5% in September but hotter than the sub-5% levels some forecasters had been looking for.
That, along with the disclaimer the monthly inflation indicator does not contain significant amounts of information on services prices – which is the area of concern right now – explains why the initial knee-jerk reaction in AUD/USD has been faded, putting the pair within site of key downtrend resistance. With the US dollar remaining under pressure, there’s every chance it could go unless upcoming US economic data fails to make the case for more than 100 basis points of rate cuts being priced in the United States next year.

Near-term price action key for AUD/USD

For those considering taking a position in AUD/USD around these levels, it may pay to watch the near-term price action for clues as to where it may head next. A clean break and hold above downtrend resistance located currently around .6670 would be a bullish development, potentially opening the door to a push towards minor resistance at .6720 and even the double-top of .6900 seen earlier this year. A failure to cleanly break this level may result in a near-term pullback towards support at .6600 and the 200-day moving average at .6582.
-- Written by David Scutt
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2023.11.29 00:56 TheManIsNonStop [BATTLE] Korean War, 1953 to End

((First off, a big apology to all of the claimants involved in this war, who have spent so long waiting for it. This is the most ambitious war we have simulated on CWP to date in terms of scope and participants, and it taught us a great deal about what to do--and what not to do. I intend to do a thorough post-mortem at some point, and use these lessons to improve the speed with which we can resolve these sorts of things going forward.))
January 1953 to March 1954
Rest and Recuperation - January to February
As 1953 starts, [the harsh winter of 52-53 continues]((, leaving the frontlines from last year frozen, save some minor skirmishes and probing attacks by both sides. The freezing weather makes major offensive operations too difficult for both sides, and instead, both content themselves with taking the opportunity to rest, rearm, and shift units along the front in order to prepare for the fighting to resume in earnest come spring.
The US-led Coalition certainly came out better from this period of rest and recuperation. The intermission in the fighting allowed them to induct four new ROKA divisions (which had been in training for the better part of a year now) into service, then cycle them up to the front lines north of Seoul to replace battle-weary Coalition units on the frontlines--especially the Commonwealth troops, who were given much-needed R&R away from the front in Daejeon. The Coalition was bolstered also by the arrival of US National Guard’s 43rd Infantry Division, called up to service to replace the 1st Cavalry in the American order of battle.
The introduction of new ROKA units exacerbated the manpower shortage already facing the KPA. The accumulated losses of the previous year, particularly the losses caused by the heavy fighting in the defense of Wonju, required the KPA to cycle units off of the front line, but they just didn’t have the units to replace them with, meaning that if anyone left the line, it would give the Coalition local numerical superiority. Divisions cycled out their brigades to give them some rest, and in some instances, the most battered and bruised divisions were pulled off the line entirely, but the KPA couldn’t afford much else. In one particularly infamous incident, the IVA was forced to refuse KPA orders to cycle off the front to prepare for a spring offensive elsewhere, as doing so would leave the KPA eastern flank entirely exposed, as there were no other units available to replace them.
Operation Bluebell - Late February to Early March
The IVA’s refusal to redeploy soon seemed prescient. The first serious fighting started right at the tail end of winter on 20 February, a week or two before the spring thaw in March turned the ground into a muddy mess, when the Coalition launched Operation Bluebell. From their winter quarters at Icheon, the US 3rd and 40th Infantry Divisions, supported by the ROKA 9th and 13th Divisions, launched a shaping offensive south of the Han targeting the IVA 1st and 2nd Corps located east of Gwangju. They were supported in this by the US 1st Marine Division and ROKA 12th Infantry Division, who launched skirmishing attacks over the Han to harry the flanks of the IVA.
Less a full offensive and more an early combat maneuver to prepare for operations later in the year, the Coalition thrust lasted only a week. The IVA was forced off of its initial defensive lines, but was able to rally at a new line a few kilometers back, preventing the Coalition from achieving their objective of pushing all the way through to the river at Gwangju. As the spring thaw arrived and made future offensive operations in this area untenable, the Coalition ceased pushing, and allowed the IVA to dig in at its new position closer to Gwangju.
March Pause, Operation Thunderbolt and Operation Downpour - Late April to June
With Operation Bluebell concluded and the spring thaw arrived, the frontline once again ground to a halt through March as both sides waited for conditions to improve again. Both sides played a sort of cat and mouse game through this period, with the Coalition trying to conceal the exact axis of their coming spring offensive, and the KPA trying their best to deduce it. Air raids and long-range artillery fire from the mountains across the Bukhan pounded KPA supply staging areas in Seoul day and night, even despite improved air cover from IVA MiGs, making the supply situation south of the Han even more precarious.
The Coalition resumed major combat operations on 25 April with the beginning of Operation Thunderbolt. With several months of rest and rearmament behind them, the American I Corps (consisting of the 2nd, 25th, and 43rd Infantry Divisions) and the ROKA 16th Infantry Division launched a general offensive against the KPA forces stationed in Pyeongtaek (4th Corps “Proud Defender”), Osan (5th Corps), and Anseong (Pyongyang Red Guard Corps). Meanwhile, Coalition forces along the eastern edge of KPA salient south of the Han engaged in limited combat operations to keep the IVA units opposite them locked in place and unable to provide meaningful reinforcement to the KPA.
The American forces attacking Pyeongtaek and Anseong were in for a rude surprise. With no major offensive operations on the front for the better part of half a year, the defenders here had had ample time to dig in and prepare--even as those preparations were subjected to constant artillery and aerial bombardment. Fortunately, their orders weren’t to attack the cities directly, but rather to bypass them where feasible, encircling the KPA corps trapped in those cities in order to destroy them before they could retreat north of the Han. This they did adequately: with strict orders to “defend to the last man”, the KPA commanders in Pyeongtaek and Anseong elected to remain in their fortifications rather than retreat, even as the noose tightened around them. Once fully encircled, those same commanders found that their willingness to fight to the death was not matched by their troops. There were many instances of KPA commanders “dying under enemy fire” prior to their subordinates surrendering to the advancing Americans, whose propaganda promised hot meals, warm beds, and, most importantly, life. By the end of May, almost all resistance in Anseong and Pyeongtaek had been wiped out, with only scattered remnants of the KPA 4th Corps and Pyongyang Red Guard Corps continuing guerilla operations.
Faced with a rapidly collapsing frontline and overwhelming enemy numbers, the International Volunteer Army and the KPA 5th Corps--the only KPA formation remaining south of the Han--managed a difficult, but orderly, retreat into Seoul. Here they joined the Seoul Red Guards Corps (freshly redeployed from a mix of R&R and port guard duty in North Korea) and the KPA 1st Corps (which had pulled back into the city during the winter).
Concurrent with Operation Thunderbolt, the 38th Parallel, long a dormant component of the war, sprung to life. Following orders from Coalition command, the ROKA forces along the 38th--the 8th, 2nd, and Ongjin Divisions--began reconnaissance-in-force of opposition forces across the 38th. They found, much to their surprise, that a large section of the 38th--about 40 kilometers stretching from Sokcho to Inje--was guarded by only a single IVA division. Recognizing that the political goals of Korea (the reunification of the whole peninsula) might not necessarily be those of the Coalition (which had, until now, given orders to hold at the 38th), the local commander of the Korean forces, an enterprising young Major General named Lee Hyung-geun, bypassed the American-led chain of command to seek guidance from President Syngman Rhee. His orders were clear: cross the 38th. The ensuing offensive, launched in earnest on 1 May, was codenamed Operation Downpour.
The IVA 3rd Division put up a valiant effort defending Sokcho, but it was outnumbered almost four-to-one, and forced to beat a retreat up the coast, saved perhaps from total destruction due only to the fact that the ROKA’s surprise offensive was launched without coordination from Coalition naval assets that might have shelled them during their retreat up the coast. The South Korean forces spilled into the North Korean countryside, with the Ongjin Division pushing up the coast, the 8th holding the area between Yanggu and Goseong, the 2nd and 42nd Divisions wrapping around Hwacheon to threaten the KPA units in Chuncheon from the north. Word of the fait accompli only reached Allied (read: American) command about a week after Operation Downpour had begun, leaving the American brass livid, but with little recourse.
Operation Topeka and Operation Raging River - June to August
After the success of Operation Thunderbolt, which had pushed the KPA out of the Suwon Salient and north of the Han while destroyed two full KPA Corps, the Coalition launched Operation Topeka on 9 June. Aiming to circumvent a frontal assault on the heavily-fortified Han River, Operation Topeka intended to capture a bridgehead across the Bukhan River to the east of Seoul, using the 1st Marine Division of the US IX Corps as a spearhead, to be followed up by the US 24th Infantry Division and the ROKA 12th and 13th Divisions and, as needed, the Commonwealth Corps. They were opposed in this by the 1st Corps of the IVA and elements of the KPA 1st Corps, with other KPA units in reserve.
Operation Topeka was notable for the large-scale use of the H-19 Chickasaw multi-purpose helicopter for aerial assault. While the helicopter had been used in the conflict prior to Topeka--both for special forces insertions in the KPA’s rear area and for CASEVAC--this marked its first use as an integral part of combat operations, with Coalition forces using them to insert squads onto the commanding heights overlooking their beachhead and clear them of resistance. This new use of the technology was integral in the initial securing of the beachhead, pushing the IVA and KPA forces back off of the river itself and allowing Coalition forces to cross the river. However, as the weather in the region became progressively worse (July and August are the rainiest months of the year around Seoul), these helicopters became less useful. By mid-July, reinforcements from the 2nd IVA Corps, the Coalition had been contained to the beachhead.
Concurrent with Operation Topeka, the ROKA forces north of the 38th Parallel launched Operation Raging River. Building on the successes of Operation Downpour, Operation Raging River saw a general offensive by the ROKA units stationed along the northern stretch of the Bukhan. The ROKA 5th, 6th, and 9th Divisions launched an attack across the Bukhan targeting the KPA units in Chuncheon, Cheongpeong, and Daegok, with the goal of threatening an envelopment of the KPA and IVA units still stationed in Seoul. The attack against Chuncheon in particular was to be assisted by the ROKA units that had circled around the Bukhan from the north, leaving the KPA with the difficult predicament of defending both the river itself and the northern approach to the city.
The KPA were successful in beating back the attacks against Cheongpeong and Daegok, where a combination of local terrain and relative parity between the forces enable the KPA to inflict heavy casualties on their opponents. They were less successful in Chuncheon. Here, they found themselves heavily outnumbered and threatened on two fronts. Despite a valiant effort, the KPA was forced to cede the city and its environs by the end of July.
Independent of the ROKA attacks against the Bukhan, Operation Downpour’s northern thrust continued, with ROKA units continuing to push up through the central mountains and coastal highway north of the 38th. They were opposed by the battered and bloodied IVA 3rd Division, with support from two regiments of the KPA (who were supposed to be deployed as part of an airborne assault, but were diverted to try to support the defense of the Wonsan-Seoul supply line against Operation Raging River).
Dragon Rising - August to November
Syngman Rhee’s decision to cross the 38th Parallel did not go unnoticed. For the first two years of this war, the neighboring People’s Republic of China had been content to keep its involvement relatively limited. It was an open secret that the International Volunteer Army’s air corps operated, in part, from bases north of the Yalu River using Chinese pilots, and later, two divisions of Chinese troops volunteers had fought as part of the IVA at Wonju.
The ROKA’s crossing of the 38th shifted the calculus in the CPC’s Politburo. With almost all of the KPA’s fighting strength concentrated around Seoul and the Han River, ROKA’s Operations Downpour and Raging River were facing little to no resistance as they advanced up the peninsula’s eastern coast. Before long, they would capture Wonsan and cut off the railroad and roadway between Wonsan and Seoul, meaning that all KPA supplies would have to enter Seoul via Kaesong, under heavy aerial and naval bombardment from US naval forces. Seoul’s beleaguered defenders, already exhausted from months of fighting and scarcely resisting encirclement from the Coalition’s Operation Topeka, would almost surely be doomed then, and the way north to the Yalu River would lay undefended.
The CPC hoped to secure their goal--a buffer between the industrial heartland of China and American forces–without direct intervention in the conflict. Almost as soon as reports of Operation Downpour reached Beijing, the government issued public warnings to the Coalition that continued military actions north of the 38th would be met with the full force of China. The Supreme Commander of the Coalition, General Douglas MacArthur, ignored the warnings, either deeming it an empty threat or, worse, hoping to escalate the war against the communist menace even further.
Under the command of Marshal Peng Dehuai (recently recovered from a head tumor) with support from Deng Hua and Chen Geng, the first units of the People’s Volunteer Army--a “volunteer” force stood up separate from the command structure of the KPA and the IVA--crossed the Yalu River and entered Korea in early July. Traveling by night or under the cover of heavy rainfall, over terrain that Coalition forces thought impassible by such large formations, the PVA traversed the territory of the DPRK without any detection by Coalition forces. The first indication that additional Chinese forces had even entered Korea was when the advancing ROKA 8th and Ongjin Divisions ran headlong into them after taking Wonsan in late July.
The arrival of the PVA was a rude awakening for the advancing ROKA forces, who had so far enjoyed massive superiority in terms of men and firepower for most of their operations in the eastern theater. While they continued to enjoy that superiority of firepower, the difference in manpower was staggering, with the arrival of the Chinese meaning that the ROKA forces manning the eastern front were outnumbered somewhere between three and five to one. The PVA dealt rapid and crushing defeats to the ROKA units advanced north of the 38th, who were forced to retreat back south in hopes of overextending the PVA’s supply lines and finding more defensible positions closer to major Coalition supply hubs. The Ongjin and 8th Divisions were even forced to evacuate by sea from the port of Wonsan, lest they be completely destroyed by the PVA forces that had encircled them.
The rapid deterioration of the situation on the eastern front was deeply disturbing for the Coalition. With the ROKA proving more or less incapable of holding the PVA on its own, and with the rapid PVA advance down the eastern front threatening the flanks of the Coalition forces engaged in Operations Topeka and Raging River (or, God forbid, threatening to encircle the units entirely), continuing offensive operations was untenable in the short term. In early August, General MacArthur elected to create a general fallback line. In the east, this meant pulling back off of the Han river to instead dig in at a fortified line north of Wonju, cycling more capable American units off of the Seoul front in order to reinforce the overwhelmed ROKA units currently stationed in the east. In the west, this meant pulling off of the Han river to a new line between Gunpo and Gwangju--ceding ground in order to lure northern forces out of the fortifications of Seoul and into the open terrain south of the city, where American fire superiority could demolish them. If needed, American forces in the west were to use their superior mobility to cede more ground, falling back to progressive defensive lines with the ultimate goal of overextending the PVA before a repeat of Operation Thunderbolt could mop them up.
The first contact between American ground forces and the PVA occurred in mid- to late-August, as PVA forces launched a concentrated assault against the defensive lines at Wonju and Suwon. Despite thoroughly outnumbering Coalition forces and giving them a run for their money in the air, a combination of better training, better command infrastructure, and superior firepower on the ground meant that PVA attacks against the American positions were a bloody and brutal affair. In the east, where the terrain was more rugged and the Coalition orders were to avoid giving up ground, the PVA’s offensive was blunted entirely. It saw more success in the west, though, where a focus on casualties and overextending enemy supply lines meant that the front was more fluid.
Political Fallout and Armistice Talks
The direct intervention of China in Korea made a war that was already struggling to find public support in the United States even more unpopular. Contrary to the written letter of the Constitution, which vested Congress with the power to authorize military action, the Dewey Administration had not received Congressional authorization to fight a war in Korea. At first, this had been easy enough to stomach--no one much cared about the war halfway across the world when everyone fighting it was a volunteer, and even less so when the war was going well--but as the war went on, it became a tougher pill to swallow. The reinstitution of the draft in 1952 meant that suddenly the Korean War was everyone’s problem, but at least victory seemed to be in sight.
The arrival of the PVA, though, shifted that calculus. Suddenly, the end of the war was no longer in sight. In fact, the United States was now in a war that threatened to boil over into a Third World War. All without the consent of Congress. Even Republican stalwarts in Congress--the President’s own party--found this state of affairs unpalatable, with even noted China hawk (and noted advocate of legislative power) Senator William Knowland going on the record to say:
“Article I of the Constitution gives the power to declare war to the Congress and not to the Executive. We are apparently now drifting into a twilight constitutional zone where the executive can put us into war, the fourth largest in our history, without a Congressional declaration or a Congressional resolution recognizing that a state of war started by others already exists. When Congress acts under its constitutional power, every statement for or against the resolution is part of the Congressional Record, and the press and the public are fully informed. The roll-call vote shows how each Member voted. This is responsible and accountable government. If five or seven men can meet in a closed session in the Blair House or the White House, and put this nation into the fourth largest war from a casualty standpoint, in our history without their statements and recommendations being recorded or available, and without their positions on this matter being known, we have the war-making power transferred from the Congress, operating in the open, to the Executive, operating en camera. That is not, I submit, either responsible or accountable government.”
One of the greatest obstacles to peace was no President Dewey himself, but the Supreme Allied Commander Douglas MacArthur. The fact that the American people were raging against the war was of little consequence to him; his only focus was on winning the war. As winter fell over the Korean peninsula, MacArthur took a trip to Wake Island to meet with the President, having refused to travel all the way back to the United States to meet him there. Their meeting, which lasted the better part of two days, saw MacArthur not only justify the actions of the ROKA forces that had crossed the 38th (arguing that their crime was a matter of timing more than anything else), but also request--bordering on demand--that, as the commander in the field, he be given the authority to deploy atomic weapons at his prerogative, with plans to detonate upwards of forty devices to destroy PVA field formations and cut off their supply routes from Manchuria.
Dewey refused. This refusal was the last in a line of interpersonal spats between the two men (and between MacArthur and the Joint Chiefs) regarding the prosecution of the war. MacArthur had, throughout the whole conflict, advocated its expansion into Manchuria (at least) and the Siberian Soviet Union (at most), “unleashing Chiang” to retake southern China, and a litany of other escalations--all bitterly resisted by an American military establishment that still saw occupied and disarmed Germany as the most likely theater for conflict against Communism. When MacArthur lashed out at Dewey and the Joint Chiefs, blaming them for the “leash” that had kept him from winning the war a year ago, the President had no choice. General MacArthur was relieved of command three days after returning to Japan.
With MacArthur relieved of duty, the last major obstacle to armistice negotiations on either side was removed. To the North Koreans and their allies, peace now was desirable, as it would provide a respite to rebuild a country and military that had been devastated by the war (and, to China, allow them to refocus their attentions on the invasion of Kinmen and Matsu that had already been scheduled--unbeknownst to the Coalition--for later that year). To the Coalition, it placated the public opposition to the war rapidly mounting in their countries (South Korea notwithstanding). With no clear path to victory (or defeat, for that matter) in sight for either side, the Coalition and the KPA/IVA/PVA agreed to begin talks on a ceasefire. The parties met for the first time on 16 December in Sejong, Republic of Korea.
Winter Offensive - December to February
Of course, just because peace talks were ongoing did not mean that fighting stopped entirely. Compared to the last two years, where cold weather had more or less frozen fighting for the winter months, the winter of 1953-54 was a relatively mild one, allowing for continued (but limited) combat operations. Now that the Fall Offensive of the KPA/IVA/PVA had been stopped, and heavy casualties inflicted upon them, the new Allied Supreme Commander General Matthew B. Ridgway viewed the winter as an opportunity to launch a counteroffensive against the battered Communist forces, driving them back and regaining valuable ground lost through autumn.
Despite rougher terrain in the east, the counteroffensive enjoyed decent successes here, pushing back up towards the outskirts of Gangneung in the far east and building a healthy perimeter around the critical supply hub of Wonju. The Coalition in this sector enjoyed frequent air support, which enable the liberal use of helicopters to bypass PVA units in the valleys and seize control of critical high ground behind them, creating forward observation posts and fighting bases that could be resupplied by air. Superior Coalition logistics were critical to their success in this sector, where the high altitude meant that even the milder winter was enough to inflict substantial attrition on the poorly supplied and poorly dressed PVA units.
Success was less pronounced in the Suwon Salient. The Communist forces dedicated most of their air effort here, hoping that the reinforcements of the PVA would allow them to hold out where the KPA had failed a little under a year ago. Though the Coalition was able to reverse some Communist gains in this sector, pushing them back off of the outskirts of Icheon and Asan/Cheonan to a more defensible line stretching from Hwaseong to Yongjin (though not, notably, retaking the city of Osan), they were unable to repeat the smashing successes of Operation Thunderbolt. The men were simply too exhausted.
An early Spring thaw ground operations to a halt on 27 February. The Coalition’s Winter Counteroffensive would be the last major combat action of the war.
Armistice Talks Finalize
Throughout the Winter Counteroffensive, the officials meeting at Sejong made quick progress towards an armistice agreement to bring the bloody struggle to an end. The thorniest issues at hand proved to be the repatriation of prisoners of war and the size of the demilitarized zone separating the combatant factions. The Communists, aware that a sizable fraction of their captured soldiers had no desire to be repatriated (especially those who surrendered at Pyeongteok and Anseong, who feared court martial from the KPA should they return to the North), took a strong stance advocating for the mandatory return of all prisoners. The Coalition was unwilling to meet this demand, instead insisting that prisoners from both sides only be voluntarily repatriated. The Coalition also insisted on a much larger demilitarized zone than the Communists, measuring some ten miles across--a distance that would include much of the Communist-controlled area south of the Han and was therefore considered unacceptable by the North Korean leadership.
However, even these thorny issues were not enough to sabotage the armistice negotiations. After months of back-and-forth, the two sides finally came to an agreement on 25 March 1954. Uniquely, the armistice agreement was not signed by any political figures, and was a purely military document, signed by the commanding officers of each faction (with the notable exception of South Korea, who never signed the document due to the protests of President Rhee). The resulting document ((which is suspiciously similar in content to the OTL armistice agreement)) spanned 38 pages, with the important details called out below:
1) Both sides would pull their forces back 2,000 meters (1.2 miles) from the front line, creating a butter zone 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) wide.
2) Neither side would introduce new weapons into Korea, other than piece-for-piece replacement of existing equipment.
3) Sixty days after the signing of the agreement, both sides would repatriate the prisoners of war who insisted on repatriation to the side to which they belonged at the time of capture.
4) The terms of this armistice will be overseen by two organizations: the Military Armistice Commission (composed of five military officers appointed by the Coalition and five military officers appointed by the KPA, PLA/PVA, and IVA), which ensures open communication between the factions to maintain the terms of the Armistice; and the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (composed of representatives from Czechoslovakia, Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland), which ensures adherence to the ban on equipment discussed in Point 2.
5) Both sides agreed to hold a political conference within four years of the signing of the agreement in order to “ensure the peaceful settlement of the Korean question”.
1) Despite valiant efforts to contest the air war by the KPA, the IVA, and later the PVA, North Korea is decimated (though less so than OTL). The hardest hit cities are, in a cruel twist of fate, the cities in the center of the country, which were subjected to continuous Allied bombing campaigns, artillery barrages from both sides, and the general horrors of an almost two and a half year war. Seoul, Suwon, Osan, Pyeongtaek, Seongnam, Incheon, Anseong, and Chuncheon have been almost completely reduced to rubble. Wonju and Gangneung are less damaged, but still in horrible shape.
2) Exact figures are hard to come by, but estimates put the total civilian dead between 1.5 million and 3 million, roughly evenly split between the populations north and south of the 38th.
3) In total, the Coalition took about 700,000 casualties (About 600,000 were Korean followed by about 100,000 Americans, about 20,000 Commonwealth (disproportionately ANZACs due to their outsized contribution at the beginning of the war), and about 5,000 French.
4) In total, the Communists took about 1,000,000 casualties. The KPA and PVA make up about 90 percent of this figure combined (including casualties due to starvation, illness, or cold), with the remaining 10% of casualties coming from the IVA.
5) During the war, the USSR manages to capture a working H-19 helicopter and a working M-48 Patton, and a downed F-86 Sabre in (roughly) working condition. The Coalition manages to capture a working T-54/55 and a downed MiG-15 in (roughly) working condition.
6) Dewey’s popularity at the end of the Korean War is in the gutter, sitting around the low-30s. Later events bring it back up to the high-30s/low-40s, but he’s never really popular again.
7) About 15,000 KPA, IVA, and PVA POWs refuse repatriation. About 500 Coalition POWs (including 100 Americans) refuse repatriation.
8) With Seoul occupied by the north, the Rhee government has "temporarily" relocated the capital to Busan.


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2023.11.29 00:42 PlayPUBGMobile PUBG MOBILE - COMMUNITY EVENT - PUBG MOBILE Snowpals Challenge - FULL LEGAL RULES

PUBG MOBILE Snowpals Challenge
This PUBG MOBILE Snowpals Challenge (the “Sweepstakes”) is in connection with the video game PUBG MOBILE (the “Game”), and is governed by these official rules (“Official Rules”), the Game’s EULA available at (“EULA”), the Game’s privacy policy available at (“Privacy Policy”), and any additional rules on the applicable Sweepstakes webpage. By submitting an entry to the Sweepstakes, you are accepting the terms and conditions of participation on the applicable Sweepstakes webpage, the Official Rules, the EULA, and the Privacy Policy.
The sponsor of this Sweepstakes is ZAM Network, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company with an office at 12777 W. Jefferson Blvd – Building E, Los Angeles, CA 90066 (“ZAM” or “Sponsor”).
  1. Promotion Period
The Sweepstakes begins on November 28th at 6:00 am (PT, Pacific Time) and runs through December 8th 2023 at 6:00 am (PT, Pacific Time) (the “Promotion Period”).
  1. Eligibility
In order to be eligible, participants must be at least (whichever is higher): (i) 18 years old, or (ii) the age of majority in their state or country of their legal residence as of the date of entry, who have an active email account and Internet access. This Sweepstakes is not open to legal residents of Bangladesh, China, Colombia, Dubai, Egypt, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Quebec of Canada, Singapore, South Australia and QLD, South Korea, Turkey. Any additional eligibility requirements will be indicated in the additional terms found on the applicable Sweepstakes webpage. Persons identified as “Blocked Persons” or persons subject to applicable sanctions prohibitions, including, without limitation, those persons listed on the U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List are not eligible to participate in the Sweepstakes. Employees of ZAM, Proxima Beta Pte. Ltd., Krafton, and their respective parent company, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising, promotion, fulfillment or other coordinating agencies, individuals providing services to them through an outsourcer or temporary employment agency during the Promotion Period, and their respective immediate family members and persons living in the same household, are not eligible to participate in the Sweepstakes.
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To participate in the Sweepstakes and be eligible for a potential prize, participants must complete one of the entry methods indicated on the applicable Sweepstakes webpage during the Promotion Period. One entry per individual, household and/or email address is permitted, regardless of method of entry, unless expressly set forth to the contrary in the additional terms found on the applicable Sweepstakes webpage. Multiple participants are not permitted to share the same email or other account needed for participation. Any attempt by any participant to obtain more than the stated number of entries by using multiple/different email or addresses, accounts, identities, registrations and logins, or any other methods will void that participant’s entries and that participant may be disqualified. Use of any automated, programmed or robotic system or the like entry methods to participate is prohibited and will result in disqualification. Each potential winner may be required to show proof of being the authorized account holder. All entries become property of ZAM and none will be acknowledged or returned.
Social Media Entry: Collect your best PUBG MOBILE content; then upload your content to social media with the hashtag #SNOWPALSPOTLIGHT + #SWEEPSTAKES.
  1. Drawing; Notification of Winners
All Sweepstakes entries meeting the requirements of these Official Rules will be entered into the prize drawing. The number of winners will be indicated in the additional terms found on the applicable Sweepstakes webpage. Each winner will be selected by a random-chance drawing by independent persons or a computer program that randomly chooses the winner, from all eligible entries received and the random selection is final and binding, subject to the below. ZAM will notify winners by email, U.S. Mail at the address associated with the winner’s entry form, and/or by other means consistent with the Sweepstakes as soon as reasonably practicable following the drawing, but at least within seven (7) days of the drawing. ZAM is not responsible for any delay or failure to receive notification, including inactive account(s), technical difficulties associated therewith, or winner’s failure to adequately monitor any account. The winner must then respond to ZAM within fourteen (14) days or such other time frame as may be specified on the applicable Sweepstakes webpage. Winner, and any guest (if applicable), may be required to sign an affidavit of eligibility and liability and publicity release. Should the winner fail to respond to ZAM or cannot be contacted, is ineligible, fails to claim a prize and/or where applicable an affidavit of eligibility and liability and publicity release is not timely received, is incomplete or modified, the prize may be forfeited and ZAM reserves the right to disqualify that winner and select a new one in a second-chance random drawing from remaining valid, eligible entries timely submitted.
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Each winner will receive the prize below. No cash or other substitution, assignment or transfer of the prize is permitted, except at the sole option of ZAM, who has the right to substitute a prize with another of comparable or greater value. Winner is responsible for all income or other taxes and fees associated with the receipt and/or use of the prize. The odds of winning a prize depend on the total number of eligible entries received. ZAM will not replace any lost or stolen prizes. ZAM will use all reasonable efforts to deliver prizes in a timely fashion.
12 winners will each win a Frost Festival Scarf Pack (valued at 15 US dollars)
  1. Intellectual Property
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Each entrant warrants that the entry and materials and information provided do not contain information considered by entrant, its employees or personnel, or any other third party to be confidential, and that the entry, materials and information provided do not violate any laws or regulations. Entrant agrees that Sponsor has the right to verify the ownership and originality of all entries and that, upon Sponsor’s request, entrant must submit a written copy of any release or permission entrant has received from a third-party granting entrant the right to use such property. Entrant understands and acknowledges that in the event a submission is selected as a winning entry, and entrant’s ownership, rights and the originality of the entry cannot be verified to the satisfaction of Sponsor or is in any other way ineligible, Sponsor may select an alternate winner based on the same judging criteria.
  1. Except to the extent prohibited by law, entrants waive the benefit of any “moral rights” or “droit moral” or similar rights in any country to any content that they upload, submit or otherwise provide to Sponsor associated with the Sweepstakes (“Entrant Content”). In addition, when an entrant creates, appears in, uploads, or posts Entrant Content, that entrant grants Sponsor a non-exclusive, transferable, worldwide, royalty-free, unrestricted, perpetual, irrevocable, license, with the right to sublicense, to such entrant’s name, likeness, and voice, including in connection with commercial or sponsored content. This means, among other things, that such entrant will not be entitled to any compensation from Sponsor, its affiliates, or its business partners if such entrant’s name, likeness, or voice is conveyed through the game or any related services, or on one of Sponsor’s business partner’s platforms.
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In the event of a dispute as to any participant, the authorized account holder of the email address associated with the entry will be deemed to be the participant. The “authorized account holder” is the natural person assigned an email address by an Internet access provider, online service provider or other organization responsible for assigning email addresses for the domain associated with the submitted address. Each potential winner may be required to show proof of being the authorized account holder. ZAM will make final determination of identity of participants and timing of entries in its sole discretion.
  1. Additional Conditions
ZAM reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes in whole or in part, if in ZAM’s opinion (a) the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of the occurrence of any event beyond its control including, but not limited to, fire, flood, epidemic, pandemic, earthquake, explosion, labor dispute or strike, act of God or public enemy, communications, equipment failure, utility or service interruptions, riot or civil disturbance, terrorist threat or activity, war (declared or undeclared), interference with the Sweepstakes by any party, or any federal, state, local or provincial government law, order, or regulation, order of any court or jurisdiction, or other cause not reasonably within ZAM’s control, or (b) any other factors beyond ZAM’s reasonable control corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, in all instances without liability to the participants. ZAM also reserves the right to disqualify any participant or winner, as determined by ZAM, in its sole discretion.
  1. List of Winner(s)
Individuals may request the name of the winners by emailing Sponsor at [email protected] with the subject line: “PUBG MOBILE Snowpals Challenge Winners List”, within 90 days from the end of the Sweepstakes.
  1. Personal Information
ZAM may collect personal data about participants online, in accordance with its privacy policy and as may be more specifically set forth in these Official Rules and the Privacy Policy.
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  2. Indemnification
You agree to release, indemnify, defend and hold ZAM and its parent, affiliates, subsidiaries, directors, officers, employees, sponsors and agents, including advertising and promotion agencies, and assigns, and any other organizations related to the Sweepstakes, harmless, from any and all claims, injuries, damages, expenses or losses to person or property and/or liabilities of any nature that in any way arise from participation in the Sweepstakes or acceptance or use of a prize or parts thereof, including, without limitation, (a) any condition caused by events beyond ZAM’s control that may cause the Sweepstakes to be disrupted or corrupted; (b) the prize, or acceptance, possession, or use of the prize, or from participation in the Sweepstakes; and (c) any printing or typographical errors in any materials associated with the Sweepstakes.
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Except where prohibited, by participating in the Sweepstakes, you consent to the use of your name, photograph, likeness, voice, opinions, information, biographical information, entry and statements attributed to you (if true), hometown and jurisdiction of residence for advertising, publicity and promotional purposes, including without limitation, inclusion in ZAM’s newsletters, social media accounts and affiliated websites and the applicable Sweepstakes webpage, without further compensation.
  1. Governing Law
These Official Rules, and any action related thereto, will be governed by the Federal Arbitration Act, federal arbitration law and the laws of the State of California without regard to conflict of laws provisions. Except as otherwise expressly set forth in Section 15 “Dispute Resolution and Arbitration” the exclusive jurisdiction for all Disputes (defined below) that you and ZAM are not required to arbitrate will be the state and federal courts located in Los Angeles County, California and you and ZAM each waive any objection to jurisdiction and venue in such courts.
  1. Dispute Resolution and Arbitration
  2. Mandatory Arbitration of Disputes. We each agree that any dispute, claim or controversy arising out of or relating to these Official Rules or the breach, termination, enforcement, interpretation or validity thereof or participation in the Sweepstakes (collectively, “Disputes”) will be resolved solely by binding, individual arbitration and not in a class, representative or consolidated action or proceeding. You and ZAM agree that the U.S. Federal Arbitration Act governs the interpretation and enforcement of these Official Rules, and that you and ZAM are each waiving the right to a trial by jury or to participate in a class action. This arbitration provision shall survive termination of these Official Rules.
  3. Exceptions. As limited exceptions to Section 15(a) above: (i) we both may seek to resolve a Dispute in small claims court if it qualifies; and (ii) we each retain the right to seek injunctive or other equitable relief from a court to prevent (or enjoin) the infringement or misappropriation of our intellectual property rights.
  4. Conducting Arbitration and Arbitration Rules. The arbitration will be conducted by the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) under its Consumer Arbitration Rules (the “AAA Rules”) then in effect, except as modified by these Official Rules. The AAA Rules are available at or by calling 1-800-778-7879. A party who wishes to start arbitration must submit a written Demand for Arbitration to AAA and give notice to the other party as specified in the AAA Rules. The AAA provides a form Demand for Arbitration at Any arbitration hearings will take place in the county (or parish) where you live, unless we both agree to a different location. The parties agree that the arbitrator shall have exclusive authority to decide all issues relating to the interpretation, applicability, enforceability and scope of this arbitration agreement.
  5. Arbitration Costs. Payment of all filing, administration and arbitrator fees will be governed by the AAA Rules, and we won’t seek to recover the administration and arbitrator fees we are responsible for paying, unless the arbitrator finds your Dispute frivolous. If we prevail in arbitration we’ll pay all of our attorneys’ fees and costs and won’t seek to recover them from you. If you prevail in arbitration you will be entitled to an award of attorneys’ fees and expenses to the extent provided under applicable law.
  6. Injunctive and Declaratory Relief. Except as provided in 13(b) above, the arbitrator shall determine all issues of liability on the merits of any claim asserted by either party and may award declaratory or injunctive relief only in favor of the individual party seeking relief and only to the extent necessary to provide relief warranted by that party’s individual claim. To the extent that you or we prevail on a claim and seek public injunctive relief (that is, injunctive relief that has the primary purpose and effect of prohibiting unlawful acts that threaten future injury to the public), the entitlement to and extent of such relief must be litigated in a civil court of competent jurisdiction and not in arbitration. The parties agree that litigation of any issues of public injunctive relief shall be stayed pending the outcome of the merits of any individual claims in arbitration.
  7. Class Action Waiver. YOU AND ZAM AGREE THAT EACH MAY BRING CLAIMS AGAINST THE OTHER ONLY IN YOUR OR ITS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, AND NOT AS A PLAINTIFF OR CLASS MEMBER IN ANY PURPORTED CLASS OR REPRESENTATIVE PROCEEDING. Further, if the parties’ Dispute is resolved through arbitration, the arbitrator may not consolidate another person’s claims with your claims, and may not otherwise preside over any form of a representative or class proceeding. If this specific provision is found to be unenforceable, then the entirety of this Dispute Resolution and Arbitration section shall be null and void.
  8. Severability. With the exception of any of the provisions in Section 15(f) (“Class Action Waiver”), if an arbitrator or court of competent jurisdiction decides that any part of these Official Rules is invalid or unenforceable, the other parts of these Official Rules will still apply.
  9. Languages. These Official Rules may be made in multiple language versions. In the event of a dispute as to the terms of different language versions, the English version shall prevail.
  10. Country Specific Notices.
  11. If any provision of these Official Rules is invalid under the law, rules, or regulations of a particular country, it will only apply to the extent permitted.
  12. No Affiliation with Social Media Channels.
  13. This Sweepstakes is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by, or associated with, any of the social media channels used in connection with this Contest. Entrants understand that entrants are providing information to Sponsor and not to the social media channels. The information provided by entrants will only be used as described in these Official Rules and the Game’s Privacy Policy.
For any feedback or questions regarding these Official Rules, the Sweepstakes, winners, or prizes, you can contact Sponsor by sending an email to: [email protected]
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2023.11.29 00:19 Mrmander20 [Vell Harlan and the Doomsday Dorms] 3 - C31.2: A Once and Future Thing

At the world’s top college of magic and technology, every day brings a new discovery -and a new disaster. The advanced experiments of the college students tend to be both ambitious and apocalyptic, with the end of the world only prevented by a mysterious time loop, and a small handful of students who retain their memories.
For the past two years, Vell Harlan has been caught in the loop alongside his best friends, Lee and Harley, and with their help he’s been able to survive every disaster the universe has thrown at him. But as Vell enters his third year, Lee and Harley are entering their fourth (and final) year at the Einstein-Odinson College. With a ticking clock counting down, the trio must cut through the chaos of killer crickets, haunted phones, and naked sorcerers to try and solve some of the mysteries plaguing their lives -including why all these butterflies keep following Vell around...
[Chapter 1 (Book Three)][Previous Chapter][Patreon][Cover Art]
Lee has claimed her freedom from her abusive parents -with a slight setback. The tumultuous change in lifestyle has thrown off Lee's magical balance, and she needs to recover her power in time to fight off an angry wizard...
“Okay, journey of rediscovery step one,” Harley said. “Consult beloved friends and allies. Specifically the ones who know how to do magic.”
Kim, Skye, and Goldie sat in Harley’s dorm, across the living room from Lee.
“We really need a backup magic expert, shit,” Harley said.
“I think maybe I should disqualify myself, also,” Kim said. “In retrospect, I sort of do the same thing Lee’s already doing.”
Kim had never been to concerned about the dichotomous balance of willpower and discipline. Since she had a metal body, she could use pyrokinesis without fear of burning herself. All the strength of willpower, none of the control from discipline.
“Well, maybe that’s good,” Harley said.
“I don’t think we can make Lee immune to explosions the way I’m immune to fire,” Kim said.
“Noted. You are dismissed, unless you wish to offer emotional support.”
“I would, but we still do have to have someone on hand for the thing,” Kim said. Skye and Goldie shared a look. This was not the first time ‘the thing’ had been referenced, but never explained. Kim excused herself to deal with ‘the thing”, but gave Lee a quick hug before she did so.
“Either of you two want to be excused?”
“I’m worried my understanding of magic might be a little academic, but I’m here to help,” Goldie said.
“I’ll do whatever I can too,” Skye agreed.
“Okay them, first step: Professor Yafeng said this sort of thing was pretty common, but it usually happens to young people,” Harley said, as Lee nodded in agreement. “How’d you handle the angsty teenage phase?”
“I started studying magic as an adult, actually,” Skye said. “Well, at nineteen, technically, but I was mostly done being hormonal by then.”
“What about that college party you told me-”
“I said mostly,” Skye snapped at Vell. He shut up while Skye went red in the face.
“Well, I will be burning with curiosity about that all day,” Harley said. “Goldie, what about you, you ever get any angst?”
“How’d you deal with it?”
“Methods that may not be repeatable,” Goldie mumbled. “Speaking of parties…”
Harley had been holding up a notebook to try and make this whole process look more official, but she discarded any pretenses in a second.
“Did you figure out your magic by getting banged at a party?”
“It wasn’t sexual,” Goldie insisted. “Mostly. Just a very intense kiss in a closet at a party.”
“And that helped you figure out your magic?”
“It helped me figure out a lot of things,” Goldie said. “Mostly being into girls, which then cascaded into a lot of revelations about my relationships with my parents, friends, and my plan for the future.”
“Noteworthy, but you’re right, maybe not repeatable,” Lee said. “I’m already quite confident in my lesbianism.”
“Something life-affirming might be a good idea, though,” Vell said. “You know, something that makes you feel like you definitely know what you’re doing.”
“I agree, but the question becomes what to do,” Lee said.
Skye crossed her legs thoughtfully and looked out the window, at the ocean.
“You ever gone surfing, Lee?”
Fifteen minutes of preparation and five seconds of actual surfing later, Lee washed up facedown on the beach.
“Maybe we should’ve worked on balance before we tried surfing,” Skye said.
“My fault,” Lee mumbled. She pulled herself out of the wet sand and brushed her face clean. “I vastly overestimated how good my balance had gotten.”
The inhumanly poised posture her parents had insisted upon had left Lee mostly unable to walk like a normal human being, and though she’d been correcting her posture over the years, she still tripped over her own feet from time to time. Her long record of improvement, and her newfound freedom, had led her to overestimate just how good her balance had become. A quick splash in the ocean had disavowed her of any such confidence.
“I should’ve gone for something a bit less physical,” Skye said.
“Nonsense, this was a good idea,” Lee said. “I do love the ocean, and this is something my parents never would’ve let me do. I’ll have to try again, some other time.”
“What’s the rush? I can make another wave whenever we want.”
“There’s a slight element of time-sensitivity,” Vell said. “And repeated failures won’t particularly help the situation.”
“Another thing you’re not going to be able to explain to me?”
“You’re lucky I like you guys so much, or this would all be very suspicious,” Skye said. She gave Vell a kiss on the cheek and then reclaimed her surfboard from Lee. “Good luck with your mysterious time sensitive thingy.”
After doubling back to Harley’s dorm to ditch Lee’s wetsuit for a fresh change of clothes and dry her off, the group had moved on to the next idea on the list: Vell’s. Lee sat in front of a stack of academic journals and perused her fifth one of the day. Harley perused her phone for the fifteen thousandth time.
“Feeling any more magical yet?”
“Not particularly, but some of these firsthand accounts are very illuminating,” Lee said. “I think I’m getting a handle on the broader philosophies at play.”
“Cool, can you do magic yet?”
“Be patient, Harley,” Vell said.
“I have been sitting here doing nothing while she silently reads books for two and a half hours,” Harley whined. “That is very patient by Harley standards.”
“And that’s impressive, but we have to understand the situation,” Vell said. “We can’t just bash Lee’s head against the problem until it gets fixed.”
“Bashing works most of the time,” Harley mumbled. “But yeah, fine. Can we at least do a progress check? Lee, snap your fingers again, see if you explode.”
“She’s not wrong,” Lee said. “We have a ticking clock to deal with, it might be a good time for a progress check.”
She snapped her fingers, trying to repeat the simple light spell she’d tried earlier. Once again, the spell fizzled into a shower of multicolored sparks rather than coalescing into the usual violet light.
“Nothing,” Lee said. She’d had the forethought to make the spell even weaker, at least, to avoid burning her fingers. “Let me think a moment and try again.”
“I think there was something about this in one of the books I was scanning, hold on,” Vell said. He’d been perusing a few of the same academic tomes as Lee, looking for any relevant info.
“In the meantime, can’t hurt to try again,” Harley said. “Maybe you can learn more about what’s going wrong.”
Lee snapped her fingers once more, to the same fizzling results. While repeating the spell with one hand, she clenched the other into a fist. A few days ago she’d been able to do spells as simple as this without thinking. She snapped her fingers again, and failed again. Yesterday, magic had come to her as easily as blinking or breathing. Lee snapped her fingers again, and failed again. Harley watched with idle curiosity as the sparks shooting out of Lee’s hands got a little brighter.
“Hey, uh, Lee-”
With one last snap, the sparks burst into a conflagration of red. Lee panicked at the burning and once again put her fingers into her mouth, just as before. It took a second for her to realize the situation might not be quite the same as before. She could taste blood.
The medical biology student pulled Lee’s hand out of the whirring device and removed some of the plastic shells they’d put on her fingertips. The healed wounds were slightly pink, but otherwise the small chunks of her fingertips that had been blown off were completely restored.
“There you go. Fingerprints might be slightly different than before, but otherwise, good as new,” the student said. “I wouldn’t do anything too rough with them, but you should be good to go for the day to day stuff. Writing, turning pages, picking your nose-”
“Thank you, sir.”
Harley poked the inactive machine and examined Lee’s new fingertips.
“Why do you have a dedicated finger regeneration device anyway?”
“Have you seen this school?” the med student scoffed. “This is the second time we’ve had to use this today.”
Having a device dedicated to all the scorched, slashed, and severed fingers the school had to offer was just pragmatic, given the daily routine of Einstein-Odinson students. A nearby student held up a small sign that read “It has been ‘00’ Hours since we had to fix a finger”.
“You measure it in hours, huh?”
“Once upon a time we made it all the way to thirty-six,” the med student sighed.
At this point, the trio decided it was time to get out of their hair, and left the med lab behind. Lee flexed her newly healed fingertips and found that she barely felt different at all.
“Feeling good, Lee?”
“The same as before, at least,” Lee said. She wasn’t quite sure she could describe it as “good”.
“Sorry,” Harley mumbled. “It was my dumb idea to keep trying the same stupid thing.”
“It’s not your fault, Harley,” Lee insisted. “I let myself get distracted. Aggravated. It’s my fault.”
“I’d like to say we should take a break,” Vell said. “But we’re down to about an hour before Merlin shows up.”
“I think perhaps you should join Kim and the others in exploring alternatives,” Lee said. “I’ll keep my distance.”
After a quick exchange of knowing glances, Vell and Harley huddled in close to either side of Lee.
“You know, magic or not, we still need you,” Vell said.
“Yeah, you’re in charge for a reason, and the fact that you can blast people with crazy magic ain’t it,” Harley said. “You’re still super smart and good at telling us what to do.”
“And right now I’m telling you that I’m more of a liability than an asset,” Lee said. “You can handle this without me. I’ll be better off not having a ticking clock on my mental health anyway.”
A quick and entirely nonverbal exchange happened between Vell and Harley, as they managed to have an entire debate in the form of concerned glances.
“Alright, sure,” Harley said. “I guess this will be a lot easier with the pressure off.”
“Take the rest of the day and relax,” Vell said. “We got this.”
“You know this means you’re in charge again, right?”
The burden of leadership weighed heavily on Vell’s shoulders as he shambled off with Harley in tow. Now that she was alone, Lee stood in silence and thought about what she wanted to do, and where she wanted to go.
Her feet trudged along familiar pathways on instinct, and she only realized where exactly she was headed when she saw the caution tape across the door. She’d wandered back to her old dorm out of habit. Lee turned back and headed for Harley’s dorm instead. There was nothing left in that room that mattered now.
Once she had found her way to the right place, Lee laid down on the couch that was now her bed, and tried to get comfortable. She had no complaints about staying in Harley’s dorm, but change of any kind always required adjustment. She kept repeating that to herself as she laid in silence. It was change. A big change. One she’d get used to over time. She knew people who’d gone through much worse.
Lee’s brow furrowed, and she sat up to dig through her purse and find her phone. She knew someone who’d gone through a much, much bigger change. And she needed someone to talk to anyway. Her hand briefly flitted over the call button, before twitching over to the video chat option instead, as Lee dialed up Joan Marsh. To Lee’s surprise, she answered almost instantly, filling the phone’s screen with a bright, excited smile.
“Lee! I’ve been wanting to talk to you all day,” Joan said. “I would’ve called, but I figured you’d be busy partying or burning your parents shit down, or something.”
Joan had been the recipient of a few informative texts –the first Lee had sent to anyone regarding her new life circumstances—but had yet to receive a proper rundown. Lee almost launched into the story, but got distracted by the eyes staring so intently at her.
“Your eyes are different.”
“Hm? Oh, yeah,” Joan said, as she brushed a finger near her own eyes for a second. The artificial eyes she wore, formerly a vibrant red, were now an equally bright shade of violet. “They’re pretty easy to change, and I just figured red wasn’t really my color anymore, you know?”
“I suppose,” Lee said. “It looks good on you.”
“Thanks. But come on, don’t hold out on me,” Joan said. “What’s the story? I heard you blew a hole in a wall, is that true?”
“Entirely. Launched my parents right out of it, too.”
Joan could not suppress a chuckle at the thought of Noel Burrows being hurled through the air, though she did suppress her curiosity at how badly he had gotten hurt. She was trying not to be sadistic, and doing a good job of it. Lee being happy was the focus, not Noel being hurt. With that focus in mind, Joan could not help but notice that Lee was not quite so enthusiastic as Joan had expected.
“Everything alright, Lee? Has being broke got you down?”
“I will admit the loss of money is unpleasant, but hardly heartbreaking,” Lee said. The pervasive evils of capitalism aside, having a lot of money had been very nice. “It’s nothing. Minor inconveniences, really.”
Joan knew Lee well enough to know she was lying when she said “minor”.
“What’s going on, Lee? Anything I can help with?”
Lee recapped the circumstances of her chaotic magic, and Professor Yafeng’s explanation of the willpowediscipline divide, once again. Joan nodded along with the drawn-out explanation.
“Sounds familiar,” Joan said. “Had to deal with some of the same problems when I stopped using...well, you know.”
Joan had once been a practitioner of black magic, using another living thing’s soul as a shortcut to magical power, but had given it up as part of her attempt at reformation. She’d had to relearn the basics, and still wasn’t anywhere close to where she had been, but she considered the effort worth it.
“How did you manage?”
“Well, I had a therapist, for starters,” Joan said. “She gave me some advice, and, I don’t know, I guess I could tell you? We are pretty similar.”
Though in very different ways, Joan and Lee’s lives had both been shaped by the evils of the Burrows dynasty. Their mutual hatred for Lee’s parents had been one of the building blocks of their friendship.
“It can’t hurt.”
“Right, okay, one second,” Joan said. “Wrote this all down in a journal somewhere, give me a second.”
Joan set her phone down and started scrounging around her room. Lee took the time to examine Joan’s far-flung bedroom.
“You really need to clean your room, dear.”
“Lee, I am working on a lot of things about myself, organizational skills are slightly lower on the list,” Joan said. “I promise I’ll clean it later. Just a sec.”
Joan scanned a bookshelf, and then scanned a dresser near the bookshelf, displacing a stack of academic textbooks as she did so. She triumphantly snatched a leather-bound journal out of the stack and started flipping through pages as she sat down in front of her phone again.
“Let’s see, intrusive thoughts, impulse control, respectful relationship, I know I got a lot of issues, but scanning through this whole thing really drives it home.”
“A diamond with rough edges is still a diamond, dear,” Lee said.
Joan held the journal in front of her face to hide an awkward grin and then continued flipping the pages.
“Alright, here we are, personal discipline,” Joan said. She scanned the pages to figure out how best to explain what she’d written down. Joan used some personal shorthand with her notes that didn’t exactly translate well to an outside observer. “What we talked about is how the perception of boundaries can be negatively affected by hostile circumstances.”
Lee cocked her head to the side. She didn’t quite know what to make of that.
“Everyone has barriers around themselves. The line between what they will or won’t do, what they want or don’t want. When you’re dealing with hatred, hostility, or fear, those boundaries are shaped to protect yourself,” Joan said. “They exist to give you something to hide behind. The concept of a boundary becomes like an electric fence, something you’re afraid to brush against. But personal boundaries and walls are necessary, even in happiness.”
Joan flipped the page and started decoding her own notes again.
“When we’re doing better, those boundaries stop being a shell to hide in and start being guidelines,” Joan said. “Not a cage we’re trapped in, but more like a mold to fill. A way to shape ourselves into the person we want to be.”
Joan snapped the book shut. There were a few more thoughts on the topic, but she didn’t exactly want Lee to hear those ones.
“And that’s all I wrote down on that topic, the next page is all relationship stuff,” Joan said. “Unless you want dating advice?”
“I probably need some, but let’s table that for later,” Lee said. “So...what did you do with that advice, Joan? What’s your ‘mold’ to fill?”
“Oh, I don’t probably wouldn’t apply for you.”
“Please, Joan. When it comes to this rage surrounding everything to do with my parents, you understand me better than anyone. I want your perspective.”
“Okay. Sure.”
The thoughts she’d left unspoken were still sitting in the diary, but Joan didn’t need to reopen it to call them to mind. This particular aspiration was something that lived in her head every day -though thinking about it did make Joan blush almost as red as her eyes had once been.
“What I’m trying to do is...I’m trying to be the person you think I am,” Joan said. She tried to lock violet eyes on Lee, but bashfully averted them. “I’m trying to earn the trust you give me.”
“ don’t have to-”
“I know I don’t. Or, at least I hope I don’t,” Joan said. She felt more doubt than she’d ever admit. “But I have to try.”
Lee almost spoke up, but the words caught in her throat. She paused and thought for a moment.
“I hope that helps,” Joan said. “And if it doesn’t, just say the word, and I’ll try something else.”
“I think,” Lee said. “That I need to go try something.”
Vell put the finishing touches on a rune and set in place while Hawke came running around the corner. For some reason he had a frog in his hand.
“Hawke, everything go alright? What’s with the frog?”
“Oh, that’s Samson,” Hawke said. “Merlin turned us into frogs.”
“Us? You’re not a frog,” Harley noted.
“It’s a temporary spell, I just got better faster” Hawke said. “Once you transition genders, transitioning between anything else gets a little easier too.”
“How’s that work?”
“You’re not trans, you wouldn’t get it.”
“Okay, uh, sure,” Vell said. “Samson, you good? One ribbit for yes, two ribbits for no.”
“Cool. Kim still doing her thing?”
“Yep, leading Merlin this way right now,” Hawke said. “Everything good here?”
“Should be,” Vell said. “It’s a bit jury-rigged, but it should work.”
Vell and Harley had worked together to harness the leftovers of the EMMP from the paintball game. The Electro-Magnetic Magical Pulse generator had been focused and contained to affect only a small area, which would hopefully fry Merlin’s magical abilities once he came through it. It would require a little bit of luck and some precise timing, but they’d pulled off crazier plans.
“We got this,” Harley said. “You get out of here and run Samson under a sink or something, frogs need water on their skin.”
“Ribbit ribbit.”
“Oh shit, on it!”
Hawke scampered off, and Vell and Harley took their positions around the magical trap. It was a narrow access way between two buildings, that was already low traffic even when two weirdos weren’t building an elaborate magical booby trap in it. Most students who came this way immediately turned around and headed the other direction when they saw Harley’s contraption. All except one.
“Harley? Vell?”
Both jumped out of their hiding places, and Lee made a beeline for them.
“Weren’t you supposed to be resting?”
“Yeah, we got this all set up,” Vell said. “If you need to, you can-”
Lee shut Vell up by grabbing him by the shoulder and yanking him into a tight hug, along with Harley. Both dropped whatever they had been doing or thinking to return the embrace. They could tell Lee needed this. She rested her head on their shoulders, and relaxed in the embrace of two people who were always willing to drop everything to give her the care and attention she needed. She squeezed them both a little tighter and focused on one idea.
All I want,” she thought to herself. “Is to be worthy of this love.”
The sounds of approaching chaos and violence did nothing to disrupt the hug, nor to stop Lee from following her desires to their only logical conclusion.
I already am.”
The chaotic clash reached a crescendo as a speeding cannonball of flaming fists and metal legs careened around the corner at top speed, followed shortly thereafter by a multicolored shower of unrestrained magical energy. Lee released both her friends and stepped between them, hands at the ready.
“Out of the way,” Kim shouted. “Angry wizard coming though!”
Kim stopped dead in her tracks as the magical storm of energy behind her was matched by an even larger storm ahead of her. She hit the ground and covered her head, but the oncoming surge arced over and around her anyway. Lee would never hurt a friend. She’d absolutely hurt an angry wizard, though, as Merlin soon found out.
The torrent of violet magical energy hit him like a truck, and thanks to an ostentatious and entirely unnecessary levitation spell he’d cast on himself, sent him careening through the air. Merlin slammed into a wall hard enough to crack it, marking the second time in as many days that Lee had caused structural damage. She didn’t much care. Violet energy was crackling around Lee’s fingertips, and she had an almost manic smile on her face.
“Cool! Magic’s back,” Harley said.
“Indeed,” Lee said. “On that note, I have to beat up an old man. Talk to you in a moment, dears.”
Merlin had already picked himself up off the ground and dusted off his tattered robe, setting the stage for a future thrashing. He brandished his reclaimed staff in Lee’s direction and postured threateningly.
“I was wondering where thou hadst gone, wench,” Merlin said. “With mine staff reclaimed, even you are no match for me!”
“Please decide whether you’re using ‘you’ or ‘thou’, that shakespearean nonsense is bad enough when it’s consistent,” Lee pleaded.
“Never! Energy blast!”
An explosive surge of bright red energy blasted in Lee’s direction. She swatted it away with the back of her hand, sending the bolt careening into the ocean.
“Shouting your spell names? Really?”
“Tis the way things are rightly done! Chain Lightning!”
Merlin pointed his staff in Lee’s direction, and blasted her with a ray of concentrated electrical power. Thanks to having advance warning on the attack, Lee held up a quick shield of magical energy and absorbed the lightning.
“It’s just a really bad idea, dear,” Lee said. She snapped her fingers, and an arcane spark appeared on her fingertips, to no obvious effect. “See? Now you have no idea what I just did.”
“Any spell you cast will be in vain, foul witch,” Merlin cried. “Reunited with my staff, my magic is all-powerful! Explosive Blast!”
Lee looked down at her feet just in time to see the massive explosion blossom and erupt, consuming her entirely. Some of the nearby students who had gathered to watch the spectacle gasped with shock. Harley and Vell didn’t even blink.
A few seconds later, Lee stepped out of the smoking crater, completely untouched. She kicked some ash off her heels and then turned to glare at Merlin.
“You- very well then! Hellfire Storm!”
Merlin raised his staff once more, and an arcane sigil appeared in the air above Lee’s head. The symbol exploded into a white-hot portal that shot down a beam of blindingly brilliant fire. The beam of incineration washed over Lee for a solid twenty seconds, after which she stepped out of the ray, completely unharmed.
“Your shielding is impressive, you vile wench,” Merlin snapped.
“Again, get more insults,” Harley said.
“But no shielding can save you from...Obagot’s All-Consuming Orb of Absolute Obliteration!”
Merlin raised his staff once more, and an orb of red light surrounded Lee. The sphere gave off a searing light and scalding heat, and was buzzing at a high frequency. When the sphere finally vanished, everything within it had been entirely obliterated -except for Lee, who was attempting to clean something out from under her fingernails.
“What? How? You- What have you done,” Merlin gasped. “What devilry have you unleashed? What forbidden powers have you tapped into? What have you done?’
“I cast an illusion spell.”
The voice came from behind Merlin -as did the purse swinging towards the back of his head. It impacted with a dull thud and bowled Merlin forward, knocking the staff from his hands. The illusory Lee waved goodbye and vanished as the real Lee snapped back into visibility.
“And an invisibility spell,” Lee said. She put her purse back on her shoulder and shrugged it slightly. “I also hit you with my purse.”
“I noticed,” Merlin mumbled, through a mouthful of grass. He tried to recover and stand just in time to see Lee snatch the staff away from him.
“Blast and damn it all,” Merlin said. “You’ve won again, foul wench. But when next-”
“No, Merlin,” Lee said. “There is no ‘next’ for us. I’ve stopped seeing the humor in humoring people like you. I’m going to make sure you never bother me again.”
Lee brandished the staff, and Merlin gasped in horror.
“You intend to kill me?”
“No, you imbecile,” Lee said. “I’m going to take away your reason to bother me again.”
Lee took the staff in both hands and held it in a firm grip, then started to bend it in the middle. The aged wood started to creak as the center gave out.
“You fool!” Merlin said. “My staff is an artifact of power beyond thine comprehension! The magical forces contained could destroy this entire island!”
Lee raised an eyebrow, flexed her grip, and snapped the staff in two.
As promised, an explosion of magical energy followed. It burst outwards with apocalyptic force for approximately half a second before Lee grabbed the expanding sphere of magic in both hands and closed her grip around it, compressing the massive explosion into a sphere of energy about the size of a baseball. The magical energy raged against containment, but Lee held it firmly in her hands and kept the destructive force in check. Merlin glanced at the orb of destructive power, looked down at his broken staff, and then started to sweat.
“Now, with your staff destroyed, I imagine you should have very little reason to bother me or my friends, but just in case,” Lee said. She held up the sphere of magical destruction and waved it in Merlin’s direction. “If I ever see you, or King Arthur, or hear that you have been harassing anyone I care about-”
Lee grabbed Merlin by the robe, pulled him close, and pressed the destructive sphere to his nose, letting him feel the heat contained within.
“-I’m going to shove this up your ass. Am I clear?”
Merlin never responded, but from the way he hiked up his robe and started running away at top speed, Lee assumed he got the picture. Satisfied, she bounced the orb from hand to hand and turned back to her friends, to see their smiling faces.
“Kickass job,” Harley said. “I liked the part where you said you’d shove it up his ass.”
“I’ll do it, too,” Lee said. She deposited the magic sphere in her purse for safekeeping and potential future ass-shoving. “He better not test me. On that note, where is Arthur?”
“Oh I kicked his butt already,” Kim said. “I can handle a dude with a sword, it’s the wizard that’s the problem.”
“Well, that’s why I’m here,” Lee said. “Anything else I missed?”
“Samson may or may not still be a frog,” Vell said.
“I can sort that out,” Lee said. Defrogification was a basic spell. “And after that, Harley, Vell, if you have the evening free, I do have an idea.”
“Well, come on, you’ve bragged enough,” Joan said. “Show me the goods.”
“Alright, alright,” Lee said. She turned her shoulder towards the camera and started to roll up her sleeve. The skin on her shoulder was still a bit sore, but the tattoo had mostly healed.
Though still a little red around the edges, the image of three suns arranged in a triangle was clear and vibrant. The bottom left sun on Lee’s shoulder was colored in a brilliant sapphire hue, while the other two were colorless.
“Harley has the right sun colored in, while Vell has the one on top,” Lee explained. “All randomly selected, of course. But we make a nice matching set.”
“Interesting. Why three suns, though?”
“It’s a long story,” Lee said. “You had to be there.”
That exclusivity was part of the reason Lee had thought of the three suns as a design. Their trio were likely the only humans who ever had or ever would see the three sapphire suns of the Butterfly Guy’s lair. It was a moment the three of them were privileged to share, and one that had played no small part in shaping Lee’s current path.
“Well, I’ll take your word for it,” Joan said. “So what do you think? Too much for you, or are you going to get another one?”
“I don’t think I’ll ever catch up to you, dear,” Lee said. Joan flexed and showed off some of the tattoos on her arms. “But I may get another, if inspiration strikes.”
“Well, feel free to borrow one of mine,” Joan said. “I wouldn’t mind having a matching set with you too.”
“I’ll keep it in mind,” Lee said. “For now, I think I’m keeping Harley awake.”
“No no, please continue, I’m doing just fine,” Harley snapped from her bedroom.
“She’s a little cranky because of the tattoo needle,” Lee whispered. “Good night, Joan.”
“Night, Lee.”
Lee hung up the call, wrapped her blankets around herself, and curled up on the couch for a long, peaceful night of sleep.
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2023.11.28 23:21 Correct_Answer_4918 Por qué nadie respeta las leyes de tránsito?

Al menos en Capital Federal. Sé que es una pregunta que da para el boludeo, pero no hay una sola esquina pintada de amarillo en la que no haya un auto estacionado. Cada vez que querés cruzar la calle como peatón, tenés que asomar la cabeza como una suricata rezando que un bondi a 100 km/h no te la arranque.
En cuanto a cuestiones vinculadas al manejo en sí, la distancia con otros autos, la velocidad, doblar donde corresponde, poner el guiño, etc, son todas cuestiones que no se cumplen ni un poco.
¿A qué se debe esto? Para mí es un mix entre la falta de controles apropiados antes de otorgar licencias de conducir, nuestra cultura y la falta de pago / emisión de multas. Pero es que hay cosas re boludas que serían una pavada de castigar. Por ejemplo, algún sistema automatizado que haga algo en contra del tipo que anda a 200 km/h en una RAM mientras esquiva autos. Estas cosas son un chiste a veces, pero después pasan tragedias y salimos todos a pedir que vayan todos presos.
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2023.11.28 23:05 Still_Performance_39 An Introduction to Terran Zoology – Chapter 28

Credit to u/SpacePaladin15 for the NOP Universe.
Apologies for the unintended break. I was a bit under the weather, I’m fine now, but my motivation for writing tanked a fair bit. No particular reason, just one of those things.
I’m definitely continuing with the story, it’s something I really enjoy doing and telling when I have the motivation.
This final part of the snake lecture ended up being so long it passed the character limit so I’ll post it as two chapters. The 2nd part will be up as soon as the proofread and final editing is completed. I hope you enjoy what’s here for now!
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Memory transcription subject: Kailo, Venlil Exterminator
Date [standardised human time]: 5th September 2136
Okay, just breathe. In for one… out for two… whew.
By Inatala, that was disgusting! Ugh I feel like I’m going to throw up!
No, I’m not! I just need a moment to get a hold of myself. I’m an exterminator for Inatala’s sake, dealing with gruesome things is my strayu and jam.
Sandi just looked my way, but judging by her expression it seems like I’ve not let my composure slip. That’s a relief.
But ew! That was so gross! Do all reptiles do that!?
…Do Harchen?
A shiver coursed up my spine as another wave of revulsion hit me courtesy of the ghastly mental image of a Harchen stepping out of its skin like it was the most natural thing in the world, leaving behind a crispy doppelganger of dead cells in its place.
Oh brahk, I might need to scrub my brain with bleach after this lesson’s over.
As subtly as possible, I traced a claw in circles through the wool of my left knee in the hopes that the repetitive motion might help me focus and quiet the sickening imaginings currently dancing morbidly across my mind. After all, there were far more important things to be thinking about right now, because finally, finally, my reason for coming here had been vindicated.
Disguised predators!
Earth was as alien as it got, nothing I’d seen so far had ever made sense! Humans, as I was coming to realise, were a baffling mystery in their own right. However, the animals that shared their world seemed to one up their peculiarities at every turn. Prey animals presented familiar herd like behaviours while also doing things that I could only see as predatory, such as competing, often violently, for food, shelter, and mates.
Meanwhile, the scant few creatures that were easily identifiable as predators defied all of my expectations. Giant Panda’s for instance, despite possessing knife like teeth and claws that could effortlessly slice a person open with a lazy swing, feasted upon forests worth of vegetation instead; their weapons only being used to break bamboo into more easily chewable chunks for the lethargic bears to consume.
At least they still look the part. I’d never have guessed that Snakes and Pangolins were predators at a glance.
That’s because they’re not! How could they be? They’ve got eyes like us!
But they are! I just saw the video of the Pangolin eating for Inatala’s sake, not to mention the snakes teeth are razor sharp!
LIES! FABRICATIONS! There’s no other explanation! He’s waited patiently to gain the herds trust and now he’s feeding us all spehing predator propaganda! Challenge him. Now! Do it before he can taint us further with-
The din of clashing thoughts vanished, replaced by an uncomfortable nipping sensation that drew my attention back to my knee. Glancing down I realised that, in my moment of stress, my paw had ceased drawing circles and had instead gripped my leg with rather forceful intensity, causing a miniscule speck of orange to bead out from beneath one of its claws.
It was barely a cut; a thorn would’ve done more damage. Nevertheless, the sight sent a spasm of pain through my still healing ear, an unpleasant reminder of the consequences of unrestrained impulsivity. I hurriedly rubbed the orange away, the single droplet easily blending into my tan coat without leaving a trace.
I won’t question it. Not yet. Not for such a brick headed reason. Not like before.
I took in a long steadying breath, panning an eye over to the doctor who was currently tapping away at his podium in preparation for the next segment of the lecture. A part of me still struggled to accept that he’d helped me rather than attack in my moment of weakness. However, paw by paw, and with no small amount of help from Roisin, I was starting to feel more comfortable around humans. Or, perhaps more accurately, I wasn’t compelled to snap at them in an attempt to assert a position of strength anymore.
I still don’t trust them… but I suppose I can make an exception for the two humans I know, and after what they’ve done for me it’s the least I can do to hear them out before challenging them. Plus, the doctor already said he was impressed with me! If I keep this up and get into his good graces he might reveal more information without me even having to lift a claw!
I wouldn’t mind being praised more either.
A jolt passed through my head at the intrusive thought that forced its way to the forefront of my mind. It was like being shocked awake or walking snout first into a post in the way it made my brain stall. My snout warmed with the telltale signs of an incoming bloom, though I was quick to stifle it before it became noticeable.
What the- No! I don’t want praise! I’m just being more restrained for the sake of information gathering. That’s all there is to it.
Mmhm, sure it is.
I fell back into my makeshift bedded chair, my paws swinging up to massage my temples in an effort to silence the subconscious intrusion. Sure, it might be nice to be appreciated for my efforts but that wasn’t why I’d decided to go down the nice route! The mission was what mattered and I had to be laser focused if I was to make any progress on routing out the dangerous truths about Earth.
I just need to focus. Focus.
Listen. Learn. Ask and challenge if necessary and then report back when we’re finally allowed to share what we’ve learned outside of the programme. That’s it.
A soft giddy beep interrupted my centering mantra, its predictable source sitting so far forward in his chair that, even in my currently reclined position, I could easily make out the goofy look of eager excitement splayed across his face.
Ugh… Rysel. How can he be so enamoured with this stuff? I’d understand seeing a few animals as cool or interesting, I quite like Voidpins despite the fact they’re pests, but he keeps the same level of enthusiasm for every animal that pops up! It makes no sense!
Rolling my ears in exasperation and accepting the fact I’d likely never understand what made Rysel tick, I propped myself up well enough so that I could see the screen, mildly curious to see what had elicited his glee. I wasn’t surprised in the slightest to find that the source of his interest was a new slide on the monitor entitled, “The Distribution and Habitats of Snakes”.
Anticipating the doctors call to attention I sat up properly, leaning forward just enough to show that my attention was fixed to the lesson but not so much that I was at risk of falling off my seat like Rysel so often was.
Right on cue the doctor cleared his throat to signal the continuation of the lecture, twenty three and a half pairs of ears turning his way to listen.
“Next on the docket is the habitats and distribution of snakes. Just give me a second to put a map on screen to illustrate exactly where they live.”, with a flourishing swipe across the podium the doctor changed the slide to display a simple 2D image of Earth.
The map was rather nondescript, with the only notable features being grey shapes upon a white background that served to outline the planets landmasses; the blank spaces in between clearly representing the Earth’s oceans and seas.
Overlaid across the otherwise minimalist map were two additional colours, a brick red that covered vast swathes of the Earth’s landmass and a bright pink that dotted the coastlines. Thanks to a handy key, I could see that they represented the habitats of terrestrial and sea snakes respectively. The only regions not home to the reptiles were a pawful of islands, and territories closer to the planets poles.
After giving the class a moment to inspect the map the doctor carried on, “As you can see, snakes have made a home for themselves in almost every region of Earth. So much so that it’s a far easier task to ask where they don’t live. Antarctica, here on the southern pole, is the only continent where they do not have a presence. Additionally, numerous islands across the world are also devoid of snakes for one reason or another. Tell me, with what I’ve already told you about snakes, why do you think this could be?”
Almost immediately paws and tails shot up from the usual suspects to my right and a pawful of equally attentive classmates across the herd. I didn’t consider myself a slouch when it came to answering questions in my paw to paw life, but the speed at which people in this room could recall information, come up with answers, and then offer them with such confidence was astonishing!
I guess this is what you get when you cram a group of scientists together. Meiq once told me the rest of his family are all historians with a serious competitive streak.
Pointing to someone a few rows behind me, the doctor motioned enthusiastically for an answer, “Yes Rova! What do you think the reason is?”
Somewhat curious myself I angled an ear back towards my classmate, interested to hear what explanation they’d come up with to explain why these particular territories weren’t home to snakes in the same way the rest of the planet was.
A gentle whistling voice replied, confidence thrumming through it despite its softness, “I believe that the reason is twofold. First, the climate in the poles is too cold for ectothermic reptiles to survive. Second, the islands are too inaccessible for terrestrial snakes to reach from their continental habitats.”
A brief pause followed her answer, giving the class enough time to digest her reasoning against the information we had available to us. While I couldn’t exactly be called a scientific peer in this particular herd, I was hardly stupid. I might not have come to the same conclusion as quickly as the rest of them but it didn’t take long for me to understand what Rova was getting at.
Presuming Earth’s geographical poles were frozen in the same way many other planets were, it didn’t take much of a leap to assume that cold blooded reptiles would steer clear of such environments. Furthermore, while sea snakes appeared to dot the coastlines of many uninhabited islands, that didn’t mean they could simply wash ashore and live on the land or that terrestrial bound snakes from far away landmasses could just swim vast distances and set up a home for themselves in new places so easily.
I cast an eye towards the doctor, just in time to see a beaming smile spread across his face as he wagged a finger in Rova’s direction, “Ten out of ten Rova, you’re absolutely correct! Excellent deductive reasoning.”
While I couldn’t see Rova from where I was sitting I still had an ear pointed her way, letting me hear what I swore was a trill of cheery satisfaction in response to the doctors praise.
Ugh, be more professional.
Yeah like you’re one to talk.
Shut it!
Thankfully my conflicting intrusive thoughts were promptly swept away as the doctor continued with the lecture, his delight from Rova’s answer evident from the toothy grin creasing his face.
“As Rova has correctly deduced, snakes prefer warmer climates due to their cold-blooded physiology. Now, warm is of course relative to the species we’re talking about, with some being more tolerant of the colder temperatures of northern Europe while others live in the burning heats of the Sahara. As for sea snakes, they are mostly confined to the warmer tropical waters along the coastlines of Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific Ocean.”
To illustrate his point the doctor moved to the next slide, replacing the distribution map with a thermal map showing average temperature across Earth.
“Wide ranging temperature aren’t the only difference in habitat, they do live everywhere after all. Grasslands, woodlands, deserts, wetlands, and rainforests to name a few, with the latter being the habitat where you’ll find the most snakes. There’s even a species that thrives upon the tallest mountain range of the world. The Himalayan pit viper can be found living 4.9 kilometres above sea level! Rather predictably, this has led snakes to adapt to their broad ranging habitats in innumerable ways. You’ve already seen their most visible adaptation, their pigmentation.”
With a tap on his pad the collage of snakes from earlier was returned to the screen but this time the images were arranged so that snakes of similar hues were kept together in vertical lines, giving the visual impression of looking at a weird, miscoloured rainbow.
The doctor turned from the class to look up the monitor, raising his cane to point out several segments of the screen as he spoke, “Like many other animals snakes employ camouflage through the pigmentation of their scales. They use this to hunt, as well as hide from their own predators. Forest and jungle dwelling snakes for example are typically green and brown, blending in with plant life and the detritus that falls from it. Those that live in sandy habitats, such as deserts, tend to be equally well adapted to hide within sand dunes and dirt.”
It was unsurprising to hear that an already disguised predator would develop additional traits to make itself better at sneaking around after its prey. My suspicions had already begun to mount as to what kind of predator it was despite the shallow amount of information currently available to me.
I’d bet my tail that this ends up being an ambush predator of some type.
My musings were interrupted by the doctor, who had barely stopped to take a breath as he ploughed on with the presentation.
“Some snakes, however, forgo camouflaging colours in favour of ones that make them appear dangerous. This is an example of a phenomenon known as Aposematism, where an animal indicates to potential predators that it isn’t worth attacking. In the case of snakes, they may be advertising to other animals that they are extremely venomous. Oh! Check out these two snakes, they’re prime examples!”
The collage of snakes disappeared once again, leaving only two vaguely similar snakes on screen. While the two did share a few similar colours that was where the resemblances ended. For one, the head shapes of each were completely different with one having a much rounder head while the other was far more angular.
Aside from the obvious fact that they’re predators I can’t see how these colours make it more frightening? They feel pretty plain to me.
Almost like he was reading my mind, a reoccurring trend I couldn’t get used to in the slightest, the doctor clarified my confusion without prompting, a bubbly excitement bouncing throughout his voice, “Now, if I’m honest, this isn’t really an example of Aposematism, more of a defensive illusion. You can clearly see that the only thing these snakes share is a colour palette, and even then it’s a pretty slim likeness. However, remember what I said about the Coral and Milk snakes, how slight similarities can sometimes be enough to confuse which is which? Well the Cornsnake uses this smidgeon of resemblance to great effect to defend itself from threats! As well as resembling their appearance, they have been observed mimicking the behaviours of the far more dangerous venomous Copperhead to ward off their own would-be predators. It’s an ingenious defence mechanism!
My tail twisted in discomfort at the level of passion in the doctors tone as he heaped praise upon the snakes act of deception. Honestly I shouldn’t have been shocked that a human would find such devious traits worthy of praise, even if it wasn’t for outwardly offensive purposes.
They are predators at the end of the day, it’s only natural that they’d have a soft spot for such things. At least he’s just admiring a survival method. I don’t think I’d handle it well if he started hailing their hunting methods with the same amount of gusto.
I had no idea if the doctor happened to notice mine or anyone else’s unease at his favourable remarks towards something predatory, but for some reason he suddenly stopped talking. Curious about the sudden pause I inspected him, noting a half-smile that seemed to stretch across his face in apparent discomfort, though I couldn’t place the exact emotion splayed across his expression.
Damn, I’m still no good with human facial expressions. Getting a better grip on them will help me with my mission. I’ll ask Roisin to help me later.
Making a mental note to message Roisin the next spare moment I had, I turned my attention back towards the doctor, wondering just why he seemed so… amused? Embarrassed?
Speh, what a pain. Evolve ears and tails for Inatala’s sake!
Finally collecting himself from whatever was going on in his head he cleared his throat, a twang of what was most certainly bashfulness in his baritone voice, “My apologies, I got a bit carried away there. Cornsnakes and Copperheads weren’t part of the lesson plan but intrusive thoughts won out. But hey, you learned something about these wonderful creatures so I hope you’ll overlook my impulsiveness. I’ll do my best to keep on track for the rest of the lesson.”
Despite his apparent embarrassment, the doctor rounded out his abrupt apology with a wink and wry smile. I glanced around to gauge the reactions of the herd but they seemed nonplussed by the doctors interruption to his own lesson. Honestly they looked more empathetic than anything else, an assumption that was solidified when the familiar voice of the class jokester called out across the room.
“No worries doctor, we know how it feels. I imagine most of us have an animal that we just love to talk about any chance we get. Or in the case of some of us any animal. Isn’t that right Rysel?”
Lokki’s mischievous goading was accompanied by a few whistles of laughter, all aimed down towards Rysel, his enthusiasm now replaced with a look of wall eyed exasperation, though I could spy a glimmer of amusement twirling through his tail.
Turning to look up in Lokki’s direction he smacked back with his own playful retort, “Poke fun all you want Lokki, but if we ever get tested on what we’ve learned here don’t come crying to me for notes because you were too busy telling jokes to take your own.”
The response elicited a faux look of shock from its target before he broke into laughter along with Rysel, about half the class including Sandi, and the doctor himself, whose earlier awkwardness had been long since replaced by his typically jolly disposition.
As much as I was loath to admit it I did find myself enjoying the atmosphere their nonsense had created. It was reminiscent of the good-humoured jibes my coworkers would often bounce around the office, as well as the jokes that were often shared among the pups back home.
Stars, I should really call. It’s been too long…
I’ll think about it later. I need to concentrate on the here and now.
My thoughts were interrupted yet again as the doctor got a hold of his laughter, calling for the rest of the room to settle down with a wave of his hand, “Okay, okay. Very good, thank you for your understanding. So then, now that we’ve all had a good laugh let’s get back into it. We still have to go over behaviours and unique traits based on different environments and what better way to do that than by looking at specific examples!”
Clicking the podiums controls the image of the Cornsnake and Copperhead dissolved, replaced by the images of seven others, their distinctive differences far more apparent now that their pictures were blown up and placed next to one another rather than be lost in the sea of snakes from the earlier collage.
In preparation for what would surely be a gauntlet of discomfort I steeled my nerves, ready to take on whatever the doctor could throw at me.
Okay then snakes. Let’s see how dangerous you actually are.
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2023.11.28 23:05 bigjohn14325 IWF Brass Tax

IWF Brass Tax
JOHN vs Sebastian King: Brass Knuckles Tournament Quarterfinals
This PPV starts off hot as we have the third ever outing between the two men who started IWF. It was over 18 months ago that these two first faced off in The Heatseekers Tournament, their second time squaring off earlier this year at Baptism by Blood. Both times, JOHN came out on top, but this time, Sebastian King looks for redemption, and has a golden opportunity to knock off one of the best in the game today. But JOHN is alos looking for his redemption story, for well over a year, JOHN has been scratching & clawing his way towards his first championship since leaving FBE's Junior Division well over a year ago. A lot is at stake in our opening contest.
Prompt: Rebook One Night Stand 2006 (750 words min/max)
Victor Williams vs Tyrnt King: Brass Knuckles Tournament Quarterfinals
Last month, these two individuals made their IWF debut, both men advanced in the IWF Brass Knuckles Championship Tournament. Victor Williams TCA leader Mark Steel while King unseated fellow RISE stablemate and tag team partner, John LaGuardia. Both men will enter this match with a 1-0 record. But tonight, someone will take their first loss in IWF while the other will advance to the Semifinals of this tournament.
Prompt: Book an Ivar single's run (750 words min/max)
Jason Beggs vs Paddy Murphy: Brass Knuckles Tournament Quarterfinals
The RISE's newest acquisition Jason Beggs has been proven to have paid dividends as Beggs just ripped the FBE Pure Championship from the grasp of Dr. Logan Wright. Here in IWF, Beggs has a chance to become a double champion, by becoming the inaugural IWF Brass Knuckles Champion, an idea that many would have scoffed at six months ago. Paddy Murphy is no pushover however, the record breaking Junior Heavyweight Champion has just as good of a chance as anybody to win this whole thing.
Prompt: Book Brian Kendrick if he won the WWE Championship at Unforgiven 2008 (750 words min/max)
Misery vs Erick Koeman: Brass Knuckles Tournament Quarterfinals
Erick Koeman has been on a roll in FBE, nearly taking the Television Championship off of Cactus Mike. He defeated Dojo member Michael Menzies, to get to this point. The man who was born to win looks to claim his first piece of gold by becoming the first IWF Brass Knuckles Champion. But Misery is no stranger to big wins herself, in IWF alone, she has defeated Cactus Mike in singles competition and his tag team partner Lumberjack Lawrence just last month in the first round of the IWF Brass Knuckles Championship Tournament.
Prompt: Rebook Summerslam 2021 (750 words min/max)
Shamrock 'n' Scot Connection vs FTP(c): IWF Tag Team Championships (2nd Defense)
Tonight, one of FBE's most exciting tag teams makes their tag team debut in IWF in a big way. Despite recently failing to win the FBE World Tag Team Championships, the underdog duo remains one of the most popular tag teams in this industry today, and they certainly have the best name. Their opponents, the record breaking IWF Tag Team Champions, since March, the rough 'n' tumble team of Cactus Mike & Lumberjack Lawrence have defeated the likes of Tequila Inc. and JOHN & Happy the Clown. Tonight, four of the best tag team competitors in the game today will do battle, but only one team can be considered the best here in IWF.
Prompt: Book MJF's 2024 (Max One Part Per Person)
Charles Peirce vs Lucky Ali
Tonight's show will see the debut of two brand new competitors who also happen to be polar opposites. "Classic" Charles Pierce hails from the UK and is a staunch believer of the more grounded mat based style of old-school British Wrestling. Pierce is also a man with a superiority complex and he wants everyone to know it. His opponent, also making his debut, couldn't be anymore different. Lucky Ali, hence the name feels lucky just to be here, his whole life, he was told he wasn't good enough, he was told that he was too small, but here he is in IWF with the opportunity of a lifetime to show the world exactly what he his made of. Can Lucky Ali use his in your face, balls to the wall, high flying ability to catch "Classic" off guard, or will Pierce keep 'The Luckiest Man in Wrestling" grounded long enough for the three count?
Prompt: Book Austin Theory after WrestleMania 38 (Max One Part)
JOHN vs Mark Steel: Dog Collar Match
In what is the semi-main event of the evening as two men who are from strangers to each other in just the second ever Dog Collar Match in IWF's short history. At Firestorm 129, Mark Steel cost JOHN his FBE Intercontinental Championship Match against Joshua Epps and you better believe that JOHN is out for blood. No one owns more victories over Mark Steel than JOHN, but this time things have gotten personal as TCA's leader has interfered with JOHN's quest for another championship, all JOHN wants is to rip Mark Steel limb for limb in an environment where he'll have no where to run, hence the Dog Collar stipulation. But nobody can call Mark Steel out, he's the same man who assembled one of the best factions in FBE today, he's defeated Capital STEEZ in Pure Rules, and he even helped end the career of former Intercontinental Champion, Brian Hill. Can Mark Steel pull off yet another upset in his career, or will the man who's black waist down be able to paint the ring in Mark Steel's blood en-route to another victory?
Prompt: Rebook WrestleMania 25 (Max Three Parts)
Dog Collar Restrictions: No Shawn Michaels vs Undertaker, CM Punk cannot win Money in the Bank, and there must be a legends match
Joshua Epps vs Conor Maguire: IWF Soul of Iron Championship Eliminator
Imagine a world where the wrestling ring is a battleground for not just strength, but also for prestige and legacy. In the world of the IWF, a story of unyielding ambition unfolds. Joshua Epps, hailed as God's Greatest Athlete, despite his celestial moniker, has yet to win a match in IWF, his glory overshadowed by his endeavors in the FBE. His team, TCA, transformed from the once-known DTJ, burns with the desire to seize the IWF Soul of Iron Championship from the grasp of Conor Maguire, the brother of Epps' stablemate, Hunter Maguire.
Conor Maguire, a colossus in the ring, remains undefeated. His victories have been no small feat either - conquering the likes of Mark Steel, Misery, and even the recent BTE main event sensation, JOHN. Epps faces an uphill battle against this wrestling juggernaut, but the stakes are monumental. If he can shatter Conor Maguire's winning streak, he’ll earn a shot at the coveted Soul of Iron Championship just next month. Will “Main Event” Epps rise to the challenge and reignite his faded glory, or will Conor Maguire's dominance continue unchallenged? The wrestling world watches with bated breath as these titans prepare to collide in the ring.
Prompt: Book Edge going to TNA in 2005 instead of Christian (Max Two Parts)
Bookings are due Tuesday December 12th, 2023 at 11 PM EST. I can give up to a one week extension just FYI.
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2023.11.28 22:49 StillChillTrill Who Else is Talking About NHI/UAPs?

Who Else is Talking About NHI/UAPs?
Hello, thanks for reading. This is part 15 of 15.
  1. The Hearings
  2. The Whistleblower Investigations
  3. The Pilots
  4. The UAP Disclosure Act/NDAA and The Potential Authors
  5. The Tic Tac
  6. The Political Representatives
  7. The US Government Can't Solve These Six UAP Cases
  8. The Sol Symposium - Overview
  9. The Forgotten Legislation and AARO Director's Importance
  10. The Infringement of States' Rights
  11. The Architects of The Legacy Crash Retrieval Program
  12. The Reason that AARO Must be Funded
  13. The Beginning of the Dismantling of 80 Years of Secrecy
  14. The Next AARO Director Appointment is Key
  15. The Other Credible People Talking About NHI/UAP
I've been pretty blown away by the bipartisan nature of this UAPDA push. It's awesome to see. AOC and Burchett are talking and that's pretty cool. Here are some of the important snippets we've seen from extremely serious and credible people in recent times. I know I'm missing alot! Enjoy the list:
Here is John Kirby, the National Security Council Coordinator, aka the White House's voice on Intel and defense, perplexed as to why people question whether or not UAPs are real. Here he is the week prior saying, "Some of the phenomena we know have already had an impact on our training ranges." Here is American Military News on it.
Barrack Obama has been open about UAP as of late. Some say this is because he was briefed after his terms. Obama tried to overhaul our classification system but didn't accomplish all that he wanted too. Other users have put together ideas on what the longer-term implications of potential classification changes. His administration is known for doing a lot of Pro-Disclosure preliminary work.
There's been articles on some of the well known reports by other presidents. Jimmy Carter is well known in the community because he is an experiencer. Reagan and several others saw a UFO. Truman authorized Einstein and Oppenheimer to go investigate Roswell. This isn't a new thing at all.
The people on our training ranges say the UAPs defy our understanding of material science and physics. If a human was inside, they would pulverize to dust, because of the force caused by the movement of the craft. But what if it's unmanned? We don't have a material that could handle the movement speed without crumpling.
Tim Gallaudet is a retired Navy Rear Admiral and the former Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). With a notable career in both military and scientific fields, Gallaudet has made significant contributions to oceanography and environmental science. His expertise has made him a respected figure in the scientific community, particularly in discussions around oceanography and environmental policy.
USS Nimitz, David Fravor, Alex Dietrich, and the Tic Tac
Chuck Schumer, Adam Schiff, and Marco Rubio have been vocal with pro-Disclosure sentiment. Mark Warner is the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and he’s been vocal about the Pentagon not upholding their end of the deal, specifically related to UAPs. Jim Himes is another important figure but may not be pro-Disclosure. Hakeem Jeffries appears to be a friend on this matter.
Mike Turner has been popular as of late. He is the current Chair of the House Intelligence Committee. He took that role on January 9th of this year. HPSCI is the primary committee in the U.S. House of Reps entrusted with oversight of the Intelligence Community. He is not a big fan of David Grusch. He's being labeled as the primary reason there are no more planned UAP hearings. Other congress members have threatened to hold field hearings if they continue to be blocked.
Mike turner is interesting but, so is that role. The person who had that role before him is Adam Schiff. As mentioned earlier, Adam Schiff has been open about efforts toward Disclosure (My favorite link in this whole post). So has representative Andre Carson who appears in the picture on that article with Schiff. Andre Carson is part of the HPSCI. How come Mike Turner isn’t pro-Disclosure while many of his colleagues are, including the representative that previously had his role?
Pro-Disclosure Representatives want to form a Select Committee) allowing special authority and subpoena power to get around this. This committee would be formed to investigate the whistleblowers' claims without running into red tape or gatekeepers. During the hearings, David Grusch could not share classified info for obvious reasons.
The Congress members responsible for conducting the UAP hearings on July 26th have been unable to talk to the whistleblower in a SCIF, even though David Grusch was ready to do this immediately after the hearings. For him to be able to share the classified info, they have to do it in a secured info facility. Rep Luna said that Grusch's clearance isn't active, so the DoD won't allow him to divulge classified information without being in a SCIF. The DoD also won't allow them to be in a SCIF because he doesn't have security clearance.
Here is The Guardian reporting on the Pentagon's inability to identify UAPs. In June of 2021, ABC reported 143 incidents. By May of 2022 there were more than 400 encounters reported by military personnel. Here is the top brass for the Intelligence apparatus admitting we don't know what these things are on congressional record.
I don't know. But based on everything happening, I feel confident in saying we are in Disclosure and have been for quite some time. There is a long story that will be unraveling over the coming months. Some of it is not so great. But, if we can get past some of our self-imposed obstacles, it will lead to greatness. We need to talk about stuff and have empathy/love for one another. We need to connect on things and move past petty differences. If aliens exist, what does race/sex/etc matter?
We aren't alone here. Humans have to unite under our commonality as a species, so we can face that truth, together.
We need to unify and focus on growing, growth has been purposefully stifled for 80 years. There are many people advocating for transparency, remember who the allies were in this. They are working toward the betterment of humanity. Those that stand in the way of it now are not friends. They are doing irreparable harm to the entire planet. Some terrible things have been done to keep this secret. We need to bring the truth to light so we can begin to heal.
  1. Write your Governors
  2. Write your Reps (Create an effective template,
  3. Declassify UAP
  4. UAP Caucus
  5. Disclosure Diaries
  6. The Disclosure Party
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