Binary Options Trading Signals (BOTS) by Franco - Is it ...
Greed is Subtle
The morning alarm woke up Ghen. With an annoyed sigh, he stretched out his arm and silenced the foul-sounding chirps. Slowly sitting up in bed, he let out a deep yawn and got to his feet. Running a couple of chitinous fingers along his antennae to stimulate them to life, he made his bed and then went to his closet. Today was a work day, so he needed his suit. Once the pants were on, he stretched out his wings so that he could button up the shirt, then relaxing them once all the buttons were secured. Dressing for the day was done, now for the morning meal. Entering his kitchen, he took out the chilled leftovers of the evening meal last night and popped it into the radiator, first defrosting and then slightly cooking it. During that process, he also fished out a ceramic cup and placed it in his brewer, serving himself some synthesized caffeine. His idle thought led him to being amused that, when eaten directly off a plant, it has a concentration that could kill him three times over. But after going through some refinement and roasting, all it does is make him hyper. Once the meal was put together, his plate of heated leftovers and a cup of almost-piping-hot cup of Xia's, he took his time to enjoy it. His communicator vibrated. When he looked, he found it was from his boss. "Hello?" Ghen answered. "Ghen, the meeting's been moved up to a few minutes from now." His boss, Xkik, announced. "Apparently higher up has something important they want to say. We have a terminal ready for you, I'll message the login details." "Wha-, what's so important?" Ghen asked in bewilderment. "Did a water line rupture or something?" "No, nothing like that." Xkik replied with a slight chuckle. "It's actually about the rumors we've been hearing. That human corporation wanting to acquire us? That's what they're talking about." Ghen could feel everything inside his thorax drop to the floor. "That must mean it's true then, right? Did we get sold off by the Queen to this company then?" "Show up to the meeting and you'll get your answer." Xkik said simply. When he finished, Ghen got the notification on his communicator. There's the login details, allowing him to remotely attend the meeting. "They're about to start, hurry up." Once Xkik disconnected, Ghen worked fast to login and set up the remote viewing. Once everything was done, his screen started transmitting the meeting room. It was already packed. And off by the main board, he saw his answer. There was a human, resting against the wall on his two legs. Standing right in the center of everyone's view was the coordinator, Tizx, watching the clock periodically. As soon as the meeting's start time was reached, the coordinator began. "Alright everyone. I realize that this was rather short notice, so I want to say how appreciative I am that you made it. Now then, let's just get right to it. For some time now, many of you have been hearing rumors that a human corporation has been interested in us. Why? We never really knew. We're just an organization responsible for finding, extracting and providing water to the colony here all under the direction of the Queen herself. Well, as of now, I have the answer for you. Why don't I let Ryan say that?" Stepping back, Tizx motioned for the human, Ryan, to take over. With a nod, Ryan practically bounced over and then took the position. "Good morning to you all. I hope my Zazk is passable, heh. Anyways, the answer to those rumors, is yes. Terran Galactic Company is indeed interested in you all. Which now leads to me. I'm here to announce that, effective yesterday evening, this water company is now a subsidiary of Terran Galactic Company, under the name of Zilia Water Delivery." Many other sub-coordinators broke into hushed conversation, no doubt speaking their thoughts with each other about this move. Ghen could only wonder if this was even a good thing. What will the humans do? Will he still have his job? Will he have to learn how to deal with the ruthless humans? "Now, I am well aware this is quite the...uh, change." Ryan continued. "That's why I'm happy to inform you that, no, nothing negative or detrimental will happen to you. You just have new people to answer to. Operations will continue as normal, everybody here will still keep their jobs. The only real change any of you will personally experience is that Coordinator Tizx here will now report to someone else. On behalf of the Terran Galactic Company, we are extremely excited and are looking forward to working with you all. Thank you for your time." A week later. At least Ryan wasn't lying. After the initial shock wore off, things went back as they normally did. There were no terminations, no reductions in annual pay or anything. Nothing really changed. At least until this new meeting was called. Ghen was at the worksite this time, so he took his seat and watched as, once again, Ryan led the meeting. "Hello again, everyone!" He said cheerfully, his Zazk noticeably improved. "I hope I didn't end up looking like a liar, right? Everything's still normal, all that?" All the zazk in the room confirmed, providing comments to their pleasant surprise as well as lingering thoughts. "Awesome! Awesome." Ryan said jubilantly, his fleshy mouth revealing his bone-white teeth. "Now then, you're probably wondering why I'm here again, right? Well, I got another fantastic piece of news for you all! Two, actually. I'll start with the first: Zilia Water Delivery has just completed its IPO. The company is now publicly traded!" Ghen and the others voiced their confusion, having no idea what in the name of the Queen Ryan was talking about. What was Ryan talking about? What's an IPO? And why exactly is being publicly traded such a significant thing? "Oh, you guys don't know any of that?" Ryan asked in surprised confusion. After everybody confirmed, he let out a quick huff as he began his explanation. "Well, to begin, IPO is short for Initial Public Offering. Basically what that means is that, before today, Zilia was privately held. Only certain individuals could buy and sell shares here. But now that we're public? Literally anyone can buy and sell shares in the company, hence us being publicly traded." "Uh, what's a share?" Ghen asked, still completely lost. "Oh, boy..." Ryan muttered under his breath before returning to his peppy image. "To simply put it, a share is short for having a share of ownership in a company. When you buy a share, you're buying a piece of ownership, and when you sell, you're selling that amount." "So wait...if someone buys a share, they're a co-owner then?" One of the other team coordinators asked. "If they get enough, yeah." Ryan nodded. "You need a lot though, and that really depends on the company. If I had to give an answer though? I'd say usually you need to have a lot more shares than a lot of people combined to be officially a co-owner, but we call that being a majority shareholder." "And how do we do that?" Ghen asked, now growing curious but still not understanding why such a concept exists. "Simple. Buy shares." Ryan said simply. "And that leads into the second piece of awesome news. Zilia's corporate has a product in mind, a premium-package of water delivery. Instead of the usual water that you pump out, filter and ensure its potable before delivery, with the premium package, not only will you get that, but you'll also get all of the required nutrients and vitamins the zazk body requires! And they feel you guys have the best expertise and understanding to pull it off! So, here's what we're offering as a good-faith bonus: A 25% increase to your annual salary as well as being given stock options." Ghen wasn't sure about the second part, but the salary definitely got his attention, as well as everyone else's. Although his job was considered to have a good pay, Ghen isn't going to say no to a higher salary. In fact, he's been focusing his work on getting a promotion so he can come home with even more credits in pocket. "What do you mean by stock options?" Ghen asked after some time. Ryan let out that smile again, the one that revealed his teeth. "If you choose to transfer over to the new group, you'll be provided 50,000 shares in Zilia itself. Why's that awesome? Let me walk you through it. Right now, our last closing price per share was 3.02 credits. And if you have 50,000 shares during that time, you're sitting on 151,000 credits, if you cash it out immediately." "And why shouldn't we?" One of the coordinators demanded in an ambiguous tone. "Because the price per share changes a lot." Ryan explained promptly. "When we got done with the IPO? It closed at 2.73 a share. Right now? My money's on the closing price being 2.99 a share. However, we are extremely confident in this premium package being successful. If it does? Well, my bet is that the share price will skyrocket to 3.12 a share. If you hold those shares and the price gets to what my bet was? You'll instead get 156,000 credits. Just by holding onto them, you just made an additional 5,000 credits!" "And what if we have more shares?" Ghen questioned, now getting excited at the prospect of free money. "Even more money!" Ryan laughed a bit. "And don't forget about dividends, but that's for another time. The premium group is gearing up right now, we just need the workforce. If any of you wants in, I'll be back tomorrow with all the forms needed to make it official. Take the day and tonight to think it over, yeah?" Everything else melted into a blur. Ghen was practically on autopilot that whole day. Was this the secret to the humans' incredibly massive economy? How so many of them have amassed so much money out of nowhere? All you had to do was just buy this share out of a company and you get more money without even working? As soon as he got home, Ghen knew what he was going to do during the night. After feverishly looking through the galnet, now having the human race connected to it, he looked and gathered up as many books that were translated into zazk as he could find, all talking about the human economic system. The last time he undertook such an intensive study was during his primary education phase. And during his search, he even found forums on the galnet that were completely dedicated to the human's economy. All of them talking about strategies on what company, or stock, to pick. How to analyze a company's performance to determine if it was worth the money, or it had potential to grow over time. And that was when he discovered the humans found another method to the extremely simple buying and selling process. There were humans and some other immigrated aliens who made five times what Ghen could receive over a simple month just by watching the share prices during trading hours, and then buying and selling them at the proper times. Ghen's mind was just absolutely flabbergasted. He thought it was just some strange concept only aliens could make, but no, not with the humans. They've practically made their economy into an art or a science. No, not even their economy. Everything. If humans can see a way to make money off of it, they'll do it. And if there isn't, they'll look for a way. Healthcare was monetized. Galnet services, transportation, shopping at the store, they even made all of their utilities into profit-oriented companies. And it was there that Ghen paused, the realization slamming into him. Everything was monetized. Which means, if you don't have the money for it, you're not getting it. Right? Are the humans truly that ruthless? So obsessed with making money? To the point that they're willing to deprive their own people of the absolute necessities if it's a source of credits? Ghen let out a scoff. There's no way. Nobody is that cruel and callous. He's never been to the United Nations. He can't rely on what a bunch of random people on the galnet says. He decided that from here on out, he'll only go as far as saying that humans are a little obsessed with credits, nothing more. ... There he was. Ryan, sitting in the office provided to him. And there was a rather large line leading to him. Looks like word got around. Although, the line wasn't as large as he expected it to be. Maybe the others thought it was just a ruse? That there's no such thing as making free money by spending it on such a made-up concept? Ghen only knows that, if it is a ruse, it's an extremely elaborate one, where all of the humans are in on it. And he believes that's just extremely ridiculous. At the end, if he's unsure, he'll just take the transfer for the very real increase in his very real salary. And although he spent a very good chunk of the night reading up on how humans do things, he's still going to play it smart. He'll leave his 50,000 shares alone and see where it goes from there. "Good morning sir." Ryan greeted warmly once Ghen took his seat. "Now, name please?" "Ghen." He answered, barely keeping his nerves down. "Alright...and what's your position at this location?" Ryan questioned after scribbling on his form. "I monitor the pumping stations near the extraction sites." Ghen explained, staying on point. "To be more specific, I check to see if they're in need of maintenance, as well as reading the flow rate that's determined by the calculators installed there. If there's too little for what's needed, I pump out more. And if there's too much, I pull it back a little." "Nice...and how long have you been doing it for?" Ryan complimented with a nod. "As of tomorrow, ten years." Ghen replied, voice quickly changing to minor awe once he realized that fact. "Excellent. Do you have anyone in mind you'd like to replace you here?" Ryan questioned after another scribble. "If you don't have anyone, you're free to say so." Ghen took a moment to think it over. A bunch of names went through his mind, but one stuck with him. "Tilik. He's just been accepted here, but he's learned quickly. Very attentive and he always catches something subtle. I think he'll do really well in my position, even better actually." "Tilik, really?" Ryan questioned with a little shock, going through his completed forms. Ghen felt a short sense of panic in him. Did something happen, or was Tilik actually transferring? His answer didn't take long to reveal itself. "Right, Tilik was actually one of the first people to want to transfer here. He's actually requested to be part of the testing teams specifically. Do you have a second choice?" "Um...no, actually." Ghen replied, feeling a little ashamed. "Tilik was my only choice, to be honest." "Hey, don't worry." Ryan said assuringly with his hands raised. "Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, there's just nobody up to snuff, right? 'Kay, so, last question. Is there anything specific you'd like to do when given the transfer?" "If you need someone monitoring new pumps, I'd be happy to do that." Ghen stated. "So basically same job but with better payoff, am I right?" Ryan grinned. "I hear you. Sometimes, we're just not paid enough for what we're doing. I know I think that sometimes. Uh, our secret, yeah?" "Yeah, our secret." Ghen nodded, thinking it'd be better to have friendly relations with the human, just in case. "Awesome. Back on topic, that's it." Ryan announced, placing the form on his pile. "We'll give you a call when you're accepted." "Oh, uh, that's it?" Ghen questioned with a shrug in shocked surprise. "What, expecting a question like, why do you want to transfer?" Ryan chuckled a bit as he leaned in his seat. "You can bullshit all you want, but we both know the answer. Sweet money and stock options. Not saying that's a bad answer of course, just that it's pretty obvious." "I suppose it is." Ghen commented, realizing the point. "Also, you mentioned this...dividend? Is that for Zilia shares?" Ryan laughed a little bit before nodding. "Yep, announced before I came here. About 0.43 per share. Want to know why that's awesome? Instead of waiting for the proper price to cash out your shares, now? The company pays you for each share you hold." "A...Are you serious?" Ghen demanded, flabbergasted. Ryan nodded with his now-trademark grin. "Dead serious. If you get the transfer, and get those 50,000 shares? A little head math...right, if you hold onto those, in addition to your salary, you'll now annually be paid 21,500 credits, if you keep it at 50,000 shares. Only you can decide to sell or buy shares." Ghen just stood there silent and motionless, no idea of whether to believe it or not, to which Ryan just laughed. Once he walked out of the room, he managed to snap back to reality. Again, just focus on the very real pay-raise. He'll deal with the other parts later. After he returned to his spot, he spotted Tizx approaching by his desk. The coordinator seems to be as casual as always. "I saw you in that line a bit ago, Ghen." He said as he leaned on the desk. "Guess you're really taking that human's word?" "I mean, I don't know about all this share business or what not." Ghen began with a shrug, his tone sounding a little defensive. "But I mean, having a bigger salary? Course I'm going for it when I can. And if all this magic credits turn out to be real? You realize we can live like the royal servants, right? Get the best cars, the nicest food and all that?" "I'd be very careful, Ghen." Tizx warned in a sudden shift in tone. "Don't trust those humans. The way they just...obsess over money? Come up with more and more insane ways of getting credits? I don't know, it just makes my wings twitch." "You think this is a bad idea?" Ghen asked with a little surprise at the change-in-demeanor. "I think you should be careful, with the humans, and with what you're saying." Tizx replied, straightening his posture. "I wouldn't put it past those Earthmen to backstab you if it gets them a few more credits. And we all know how the royal servants get if any of us lowly commoners start thinking we can break into their circle." "I hear you, I'll be on my guard, promise." Ghen stated with a nod. With a confirming nod of his own, Tizx returned back to his duty, walking past Ghen's desk. Several weeks later. Everything became so much better. Ghen got the transfer. He didn't need to relocate to a new residence either. And after he was walked through into learning how to manage his stock account, and seeing that new form of payment in his hands, he already felt as though he made the best decision. But it was only when he decided to take those shares more seriously that he became privy to what he was given. After receiving the dividend payment, and actually seeing it was real, valid credits after transferring it to his main bank account, all he could describe was the most powerful high he ever felt. While his first thoughts were to buy himself a royalty-class car, some nicer furnishings for his home, or even a better home entirely, he ended up going the smarter route. After going back to his stock account, he discovered that Zilia's shares rose to about 3.22 credits in price. Knowing that this was the easiest money he could ever make, he took all of his dividend earnings and bought more shares in Zilia, bringing him to owning 56,891. And from his new regional coordinator, a human named Dylan, tomorrow is the grand release of the premium package. For just a monthly rate of 14.99 credits, the tap water will now include a sizeable portion of all nutrients and vitamins required in the zazk physiology. Still, Ghen has to admit. He's not entirely sure why anybody would want such a thing, if they'd even go for it. But, as long as he's practically swimming in easy credits, he won't pay much attention to it. And just like when he was intensively studying the basics of how the human economy worked, he barely got any sleep. His mind was constantly thinking about the things he would buy. Or rather, what other stocks to put his credits into. Even now he can still hardly believe it. Just spend your money on some, make-believe thing and, if you wait long enough and picked the right stock, you'll get more than you spent back? His mind even wandered onto what human colonies, or even their homeworld, Earth, was like. If everybody was making so much money, what kind of things would they offer? What kind of ridiculous service or product or item can you get? He's even debating on joining some forum and just asking around. Explain how he's new to how humans do things and was wondering what he should expect if he's successful. By the time he felt like he can go to sleep, the binary-stars of the system were rising from the horizon. After getting out of his bed and changing to clean clothes, his mind returned onto what-ifs. What if he bought better clothes? He's had his eye on that human brand of luxury clothes, Tessuti di Venezia, that's been all the rage amongst the royal servants. Or maybe he can go on vacation and just check out Earth for real? It was a short ride to his workplace from his home. After getting stuff his stuff and preparing to walk through the doors, he heard the roar of a car grow louder. When he looked, he saw the sleekest and quite possibly the coolest looking car he's ever seen. Each time the engine revved it would startle him, both from how harsh it sounded as well as just how intense it sounded. And after it parked, he saw the doors pop out and then slide along the body back. And there, he saw Tilik, the seat literally turning and extending out a bit before he got off. As soon as he saw Ghen staring, he struck a rather prideful pose after putting on his lab coat and then sauntered over to Ghen. "What do you think?" Tilik said, without any doubt inviting praise or compliments. "D...Did you actually buy that?" Ghen asked, unable to tear his eyes away from the car. "You're Queens-damn right I did!" Tilik laughed happily. "Thing takes off like a starship, has temperature-controlled seating, all-in-one center console, barely any bouncing on rough roads. Hoof, best decision I've ever made!" "How much did that thing cost?" Ghen asked after letting out an incredulous laugh. "Five million credits." Tilik replied, earning an absolutely shocked stare from Ghen. "And thanks to the incredible salary I have, in addition to all these shares and dividends, I'll pay back the credits I borrowed in no time!" Ghen needed a few moments before he could speak again. "All I've been doing is buying more shares." Tilik laughed and then patted the now-envious monitor's back. "Smart man. I got a little carried away, yeah, but not anymore. Any spending credits I got, going right back to investing. That's what it's called right, investing?" "Yeah, it is." Ghen nodded, feeling a fire light up in his thorax. "And also? Today's the day that the premium water thing is being released. Here's hoping it starts out well, right?" "Oh it will, trust me." Tilik chuckled as they both began making their way inside the workplace. "Lots of research, lots of study. By the Queen, so much of it...it'll make your head spin." And after hearing that, Ghen had a moment of realization. "Hey, Tilik? How did you get such a nice position anyways? Weren't you just studying under me before the humans came along?" Tilik let out a sigh after opening the door. "I'll be honest, I never wanted your job. Not because it's boring or terrible, just...I didn't suffer so many sleepless nights in the science academy just to be a glorified button pusher. This is what I've always wanted. Doing science, solving problems rather than just applying the solution, you know?" "Wait, you got an academic certificate?" Ghen questioned, completely floored. "How did you end up beneath me then? I should've been answering to you!" "Simple." Tilik gave a heavier sigh. "A royal servant was asking for the same job I was. Take a guess at who got it." "Ouch. Good thing the humans came along when they did, yeah?" Ghen was taken aback. He never heard anything about a servant taking a job at his place. "Looks like you're proving yourself to be well suited." "By the Queen, of course I am." Tilik nodded. "Like I said, I nearly broke my wings through so many nights, got certified top of my class, all just to get pushed to the dirt because someone who was born into a particular family wanted the same thing I did? I know I'm smarter than any of those empty-skull servants back in the Center. I know that, whatever, uh...corporate? Yeah, whatever corporate wants out of science, I will xeek give it to them." "Well, let me know how things go in the lab." Ghen said, admiring his drive as they neared the main office floor. "Because this is where the button pusher needs to go." Tilik let out a laugh as he nodded. "Hey, how about we meet up at Queen's Fine Eatery tonight. I'll pay, yeah?" Ghen, at first, wanted to admonish him for choosing such an outrageously expensive place to go. But he quickly realized that, he truly is good for it, thanks to the humans. "Well, hey, if you're paying for it." ... It was a fantastic opening. After being told what news sites to keep in mind for stocks, he first heard it from Dylan, and then got more detail on Business Today. There was such a massive demand right from the start that Zilia needs to increase extraction just to meet it. But what really got his attention was the effect it had. Zilia Water Delivery's share price just blasted off. After seemingly holding steady at about 3.15, by the time he got home and logged onto his account, it already reached 7.04 a share. The calculator on his account told him that he got a value-gain of 54.26%. Never in his entire life had he felt such...joy. With all of the shares he currently has? He's sitting at 400,512.64 credits. He knows that it is woefully pathetic compared to what the royal servants have just in their pockets, but the fact that he has such money, just by owning some intangible concept? Why even work at Zilia? Why doesn't he just sit at home, figure out what companies to invest in and make his money that way? What's even the point in working a real job, getting a pathetic pay when you can just take the money you have, determine where to spend it, and get triple back? All just sitting on your wings at home, researching? He was so wrapped up in his excited high that he completely forgot he was going to meet Tilik at Queen's. After quickly and haphazardly putting on his nicer clothes, he got to the place only a few minutes late. Tilik was there by the guide, no doubt having been waiting for him. As soon as he strode up, Tilik's wings stiffned out some. No doubt he must've seen the numbers as well. "I can see your wings, Ghen." Tilik began with an excited chuckle. "Made some serious credits?" Ghen let out an incredulous scoff, struggling to find the words for a moment. "Incredible. All I'm going to say." "Likewise." Tilik chortled some before nodding to the table guide. "All here. Table please?" "Right this way, sir." The guide said politely. It was a short walk, travelling between round tables. The vast majority were populated by zazk, but Ghen was surprised at seeing a few humans here as well. No doubt corporate workers checking out the local food. He did spot them having bowls filled with some kind of mass. Some were brown, others white with what looks to be black specks on them. They arrived at their table. A rather nice one, affording a view out the windows into the busy colony streets. Once Tilik and Ghen settled in, the guide handed out the menus. "May I suggest our rather popular option for tonight?" The guide began. "Human ice-cream. Ingredients sourced from Earth itself. Very cold, but incredibly sweet, and coming in many flavors. The most popular amongst us is called vanilla-bean. The vanilla itself soaks in the cream for much of the process, and then the innards sprinkled on top of it near the end. Rumor has it that the Queen herself has demanded personal shipments of such a treat straight from the home of vanilla, an island on Earth named Madagascar." Ghen didn't even spare a single thought. "Vanilla bean ice cream then, please." "Same." Tilik seconded when the guide glanced to him. With a slight bow, the guide proceeded to ferry their orders to the kitchen. Thankfully it was just a short wait before the guide returned, carrying a large plate containing bowls of ice cream. Ghen could feel the saliva on his mandibles as the bowl was placed before them. He could just feel the cold air around that glistening mass of sugary goodness. The white snow decorated with the black dots of vanilla bean. Once the guide left them, Tilik and Ghen both dived in at the same time. As soon as the ice cream entered his mouth, touched his tongue, he exploded in incomprehensible bliss. The sweetness, the smooth and creamy mass, even the taste of vanilla he wasn't sure about was just absolutely delightful. It was so overwhelming that his entire body limped, slumping in his seat as he was forced to ride on the surging tide of joy and happiness sweeping over him. Tilik was no different. He too was taken completely by the effects of the ice cream, his wings fluttering some against the seat. Ghen could hear some noise. It was the humans they passed by. They were chuckling, grinning, and glancing over at them discreetly. Unlike the two zazk, the humans seemingly just enjoyed the ice cream as if it was just another nice dessert to them. Or perhaps they couldn't allow themselves to succumb to the high? And as soon as the wave of indescribable bliss and happiness subsided, Ghen knew. He just knew. This was the life. He wanted this. The ice cream was just the beginning. So many things denied because he didn't have the credits, or worse, not the blood. Because he was just a drone in the great Collective, even if he had the credits, he wasn't allowed because of what caste he was born in. That fire that sparked in him when he saw Tilik's new car? It exploded into a raging firestorm. And when looking into Tilik's eyes, Ghen could see the same. He was on the same page as Ghen was. Both of them were sold. They have the credits. And the humans? If you can pay for it, they'll never discriminate. All they cared about is if you have the money. And by the Queen, Ghen and Tilik will endeavor to amass as much credits as physically possible. The rest of the night faded into a blur. A blur that evokes only one thing. Bliss. It was only when he walked through the door of his pathetic hut that Ghen's mind snapped back to focus. His mandibles felt sticky. And he felt a weight in his stomach. How much ice cream did he eat? Whatever it was, he ate such volume that the lower-section of his throax extended and rounded out, visible even under his shirt. He felt something odd in his pocket. It was a receipt. 43,000 credits for ten bowls of vanilla bean ice cream. Was that ten bowls for both of them? Or individually? Ghen didn't care. He's good for it. Returning back to his calculator, he acted upon the decision that he had made at that eatery. He's acquiring as many books about investing and stock trading as he could find, frequent and study all the discussions and arguments presented by other like-minded individuals such as he, all to ensure he can live the good life. And he had a very good feeling Tilik was doing the exact same thing. Well, first, the gurgling in his stomach, as well as the feeling of something rising demanded his attention. Looks like he'll need to take the night off to let his stomach get back to normal. Three Years Later. Ghen looked out beyond the horizon, seeing the colony that he grew up in. On the far side was where his old house was. With only a simple robe on, made from the finest silk from Earth's nation-state of China, he relaxed in his seat. It was a long road. Stockpiling credits from pre-existing investments and from subsequent pays, he and Tilik made it. From having only half a million in assets and cash, now transformed to over eight-hundred million. And now, his call contracts on American Interstellar? They've just announced a breakthrough in their next generation of warp drives, reducing the speed coefficient even further, resulting in far faster travel. And with that, their stock price climbed sharply. Another hundred million credits in the bank. Soon, very soon, he and Tilik are about to become the galaxy's first zazk billionares. But that's not enough. There are many humans who are billionares. Only those he can count on one hand are considered trillionares. He's going to break into that circle. He and Tilik. Looking beyond the colony, he saw the abandoned building of the workplace he transferred to when the humans arrived. Turns out, the reason for such a high demand was that the humans also slipped in sugar to the tap water. As soon as that broke, many influential royal servants demanded investigations and outright banning of Terran Galactic Company's influence over the former government division. Zilia's stock price plummeted. But thanks to an advance tip from his human coordinator, Dylan, he and Tilik made a put contract. And that's where they struck gold, as the human saying goes. Dylan warned that if they were citizens of the United Nations, they'd be investigated and convicted for insider trading. But, since they weren't, and the Collective were only just introduced to capitalism, there's no risk at all. Now the colony is going through a withdrawal phase, Zilia has been dissolved and reformed back as a government division and are currently at work re-establishing the standard, plain water delivery. "Well, shit." Tilik muttered as he walked up to Ghen's side, taking well to human speech. "Looks like you win. American Interstellar's announcement really was a good thing. There goes a million credits. Ah well, the Royal Shipyards will make it back for me soon." "Oh? Did they just go corporate?" Ghen asked curiously, glancing to Tilik. "Hell yeah they did." Tilik chuckled, sitting down. "Queen and her retard servants fought it hard, but Royal Shipyards is now officially a human-style corporation. And, to a surprise to all the xenophobes in the galaxy, they're already being offered contracts for ship production. That'll raise the stock price pretty good." "What's that human word...?" Ghen muttered, already having a reply in mind. "Dick? Yeah, calls or suck my dick, Tilik." Tilik roared in laughter. "Already made them. Forty credits a share by this day next month." "I have half a mind to go thirty." Ghen chuckled. "Either way, until then, I heard from Dylan that he knows a guy who knows several prime human women who happen to be into zazk." "You're interested in women?" Tilik said as his wings fluttered. "With how often you tell me to suck you off, I'd have thought differently." "Oh, I always thought it was you who was into men." Ghen responded dryly. "Just wanted to be a good friend, you know? Considering how you never seem to make it past, Hey sweet thing, I'm rich you know." "Oh, go fuck yourself." Tilik countered with a little laugh. After he stopped, wings stiffened, he looked to Ghen. "So, know any royal servants we can put the squeeze on for more revenue streams?" "I got just the one." Ghen nodded, sitting up. "Fzik. He's been fighting to control the ice cream trade. Worried it's a corrupting influence. Got done talking with the human CEO of Nestle earlier. If we clear the way, he'll know how to squeeze a little more gains in stock price when he makes the announcement." Tilik's wings stiffened even more, signaling his approval. "Alright, time to throw some credits around, yeah?" AN: Sorry for the period of no updates. College is starting up, lots of stuff to clear and work out. Not sure why but I just got a bug up my butt about incorporating money and the stock market into a short. Here it is. Sorry if it seems abrupt, character limit fast approaching. Let me know how you guys think about it!
Hi everyone, this is my first ever post here. I run a little website called The Thought Experiment where I talk about various issues, some of them Singapore related. And one of my main interests is Singaporean politics. With the GE2020 election results, I thought I should pen down my take on what us as the electorate were trying to say. If you like what I wrote, I also wrote another article on the state of play for GE2020 during the campaigning period, as well as 2 other articles related to GE2015 back when it was taking place. If you don't like what I wrote, that's ok! I think the beauty of freedom of expression is that everyone is entitled to their opinion. I'm always happy to get feedback, because I do think that more public discourse about our local politics helps us to be more politically aware as a whole. Just thought I'll share my article here to see what you guys make of it :D Article Starts Here: During the campaigning period, both sides sought to portray an extreme scenario of what would happen if voters did not vote for them. The Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) warned that Singaporeans that their political opponents “might eventually replace the government after July 10”. Meanwhile, the Worker’s Party (WP) stated that “there was a real risk of a wipeout of elected opposition MPs at the July 10 polls”. Today is July 11th. As we all know, neither of these scenarios came to pass. The PAP comfortably retained its super-majority in Parliament, winning 83 out of 93 elected MP seats. But just as in GE2011, another Group Representation Constituency (GRC) has fallen to the WP. In addition, the PAP saw its vote share drop drastically, down almost 9% to 61.2% from 69.9% in GE2015. Singapore’s electorate is unique in that a significant proportion is comprised of swing voters: Voters who don’t hold any blind allegiance to any political party, but vote based on a variety of factors both micro and macro. The above extreme scenarios were clearly targeted at these swing voters. Well, the swing voters have made their choice, their roar sending 4 more elected opposition MPs into Parliament. This article aims to unpack that roar and what it means for the state of Singaporean politics going forward. 1. The PAP is still the preferred party to form Singapore’s Government Yes, this may come across as blindingly obvious, but it still needs to be said. The swing voter is by its very definition, liable to changes of opinion. And a large factor that determines how a swing voter votes is their perception of how their fellow swing voters are voting. If swing voters perceive that most swing voters are leaning towards voting for the opposition, they might feel compelled to vote for the incumbent. And if the reverse is true, swing voters might feel the need to shore up opposition support. Why is this so? This is because the swing voter is trying to push the vote result into a sweet spot – one that lies between the two extreme scenarios espoused by either side. They don’t want the PAP to sweep all 93 seats in a ‘white tsunami’. Neither do they want the opposition to claim so much territory that the PAP is too weak to form the Government on its own. But because each swing voter only has a binary choice: either they vote for one side or the other (I’m ignoring the third option where they simply spoil their vote), they can’t very well say “I want to vote 0.6 for the PAP and 0.4 for the Opposition with my vote”. And so we can expect the swing voter bloc to continue being a source of uncertainty for both sides in future elections, as long as swing voters are still convinced that the PAP should be the Government. 2. Voters no longer believe that the PAP needs a ‘strong mandate’ to govern. They also don’t buy into the NCMP scheme. Throughout the campaign period, the PAP repeatedly exhorted voters to vote for them alone. Granted, they couldn’t very well give any ground to the opposition without a fight. And therefore there was an attempt to equate voting for the PAP as voting for Singapore’s best interests. However, the main message that voters got was this: PAP will only be able to steer Singapore out of the Covid-19 pandemic if it has a strong mandate from the people. What is a strong mandate, you may ask? While no PAP candidate publicly confirmed it, their incessant harping on the Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) scheme as the PAP’s win-win solution for having the PAP in power and a largely de-fanged opposition presence in parliament shows that the PAP truly wanted a parliament where it held every single seat. Clearly, the electorate has different ideas, handing Sengkang GRC to the WP and slashing the PAP’s margins in previous strongholds such as West Coast, Choa Chu Kang and Tanjong Pagar by double digit percentages. There is no doubt from the results that swing voters are convinced that a PAP supermajority is not good for Singapore. They are no longer convinced that to vote for the opposition is a vote against Singapore. They have realized, as members of a maturing democracy surely must, that one can vote for the opposition, yet still be pro-Singapore. 3. Social Media and the Internet are rewriting the electorate’s perception. In the past, there was no way to have an easily accessible record of historical events. With the only information source available being biased mainstream media, Singaporeans could only rely on that to fill in the gaps in their memories. Therefore, Operation Coldstore became a myth of the past, and Chee Soon Juan became a crackpot in the eyes of the people, someone who should never be allowed into Parliament. Fast forward to today. Chee won 45.2% of the votes in Bukit Batok’s Single Member Constituency (SMC). His party-mate, Dr. Paul Tambyah did even better, winning 46.26% of the votes in Bukit Panjang SMC. For someone previously seen as unfit for public office, this is an extremely good result. Chee has been running for elections in Singapore for a long time, and only now is there a significant change in the way he is perceived (and supported) by the electorate. Why? Because of social media and the internet, two things which the PAP does not have absolute control over. With the ability to conduct interviews with social media personalities as well as upload party videos on Youtube, he has been able to display a side of himself to people that the PAP did not want them to see: someone who is merely human just like them, but who is standing up for what he believes in. 4. Reserved Election Shenanigans and Tan Cheng Block: The electorate has not forgotten. Tan Cheng Bock almost became our President in 2011. There are many who say that if Tan Kin Lian and Tan Jee Say had not run, Tony Tan would not have been elected. In March 2016, Tan Cheng Bock publicly declared his interest to run for the next Presidential Election that would be held in 2017. The close result of 2011 and Tan Cheng Bock’s imminent candidacy made the upcoming Presidential Election one that was eagerly anticipated. That is, until the PAP shut down his bid for the presidency just a few months later in September 2016, using its supermajority in Parliament to pass a “reserved election” in which only members of a particular race could take part. Under the new rules that they had drawn up for themselves, it was decreed that only Malays could take part. And not just any Malay. The candidate had to either be a senior executive managing a firm that had S$500 million in shareholders’ equity, or be the Speaker of Parliament or a similarly high post in the public sector (the exact criteria are a bit more in-depth than this, but this is the gist of it. You can find the full criteria here). And who was the Speaker of Parliament at the time? Mdm Halimah, who was conveniently of the right race (Although there was some hooha about her actually being Indian). With the extremely strict private sector criteria and the PAP being able to effectively control who the public sector candidate was, it came as no surprise that Mdm Halimah was declared the only eligible candidate on Nomination Day. A day later, she was Singapore’s President. And all without a single vote cast by any Singaporean. Of course, the PAP denied that this was a move specifically aimed at blocking Tan Cheng Bock’s bid for the presidency. Chan Chun Sing, Singapore’s current Minister of Trade and Industry, stated in 2017 that the Government was prepared to pay the political price over making these changes to the Constitution. We can clearly see from the GE2020 results that a price was indeed paid. A loss of almost 9% of vote share is very significant, although a combination of the first-past-the-post rule and the GRC system ensured that the PAP still won 89.2% of the seats in Parliament despite only garnering 61.2% of the votes. On the whole, it’s naught but a scratch to the PAP’s overwhelming dominance in Parliament. The PAP still retains its supermajority and can make changes to the Constitution anytime that it likes. But the swing voters have sent a clear signal that they have not been persuaded by the PAP’s rationale. 5. Swing Voters do not want Racial Politics. In 2019, Heng Swee Keat, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and the man who is next in line to be Prime Minister (PM) commented that Singapore was not ready to have a non-Chinese PM. He further added that race is an issue that always arises at election-time in Singapore. Let us now consider the GE2015 results. Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Singapore’s Senior Minister and someone whom many have expressed keenness to be Singapore’s next PM, obtained 79.28% of the vote share in Jurong GRC. This was above even the current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who scored 78.63% in Ang Mo Kio GRC. Tharman’s score was the highest in the entire election. And now let us consider the GE2020 results. Tharman scored 74.62% in Jurong, again the highest scorer of the entire election, while Hsien Loong scored 71.91%. So Tharman beat the current PM again, and by an even bigger margin than the last time. Furthermore, Swee Keat, who made the infamous comments above, scored just 53.41% in East Coast. Yes, I know I’m ignoring a lot of other factors that influenced these results. But don’t these results show conclusively that Heng’s comments were wrong? We have an Indian leading both the current and future PM in both elections, but yet PAP still feels the need to say that Singapore “hasn’t arrived” at a stage where we can vote without race in mind. In fact, this was the same rationale that supposedly led to the reserved presidency as mentioned in my earlier point. The swing voters have spoken, and it is exceedingly clear to me that the electorate does not care what our highest office-holders are in terms of race, whether it be the PM or the President. Our Singapore pledge firmly states “regardless of race”, and I think the results have shown that we as a people have taken it to heart. But has the PAP? 6. Voters will not be so easily manipulated. On one hand, Singaporeans were exhorted to stay home during the Covid-19 pandemic. Contact tracing became mandatory, and groups of more than 5 are prohibited. But on the other hand, we are also told that it’s absolutely necessary to hold an election during this same period, for Singaporeans to wait in long lines and in close proximity to each other as we congregate to cast our vote, all because the PAP needs a strong mandate. On one hand, Heng Swee Keat lambasted the Worker’s Party, claiming that it was “playing games with voters” over their refusal to confirm if they would accept NCMP seats. But on the other hand, Heng Swee Keat was moved to the East Coast GRC at the eleventh hour in a surprise move to secure the constituency. (As mentioned above, he was aptly rewarded for this with a razor-thin margin of just 53.41% of the votes.) On one hand, Masagos Zulkifli, PAP Vice-Chairman stated that “candidates should not be defined by a single moment in time or in their career, but judged instead by their growth throughout their life”. He said this in defense of Ivan Lim, who appears to be the very first candidate in Singaporean politics to have been pushed into retracting his candidacy by the power of non-mainstream media. But on the other hand, the PAP called on the WP to make clear its stand on Raeesah Khan, a WP candidate who ran (and won) in Sengkang GRC for this election, stating that the Police investigation into Raeesah’s comments made on social media was “a serious matter which goes to the fundamental principles on which our country has been built”. On one hand, Chan Chun Sing stated in 2015, referring to SingFirst’s policies about giving allowances to the young and the elderly, “Some of them promised you $300 per month. I say, please don’t insult my residents. You think…. they are here to be bribed?” On the other hand, the PAP Government has just given out several handouts under its many budgets to help Singaporeans cope with the Covid-19 situation. [To be clear, I totally approve of these handouts. What I don’t approve is that the PAP felt the need to lambast similar policies as bribery in the past. Comparing a policy with a crime is a political low blow in my book.] I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. And so did the electorate in this election, putting their vote where it counted to show their disdain for the heavy-handedness and double standards that the PAP has displayed for this election. Conclusion I don’t say the above to put down the PAP. The PAP would have you believe that to not support them is equivalent to not wanting what’s best for Singapore. This is a false dichotomy that must be stamped out, and I am glad to see our swing voters taking a real stand with this election. No, I say the above as a harsh but ultimately supportive letter to the PAP. As everyone can see from the results, we all still firmly believe that the PAP should be the Government. We still have faith that PAP has the leadership to take us forward and out of the Covid-19 crisis. But we also want to send the PAP a strong signal with this vote, to bring them down from their ivory towers and down to the ground. Enough with the double standards. Enough with the heavy-handedness. Singaporeans have clearly stated their desire for a more mature democracy, and that means more alternative voices in Parliament. The PAP needs to stop acting as the father who knows it all, and to start acting as the bigger brother who can work hand in hand with his alternative younger brother towards what’s best for the entire family: Singapore. There is a real chance that the PAP will not listen, though. As Lee Hsien Loong admitted in a rally in 2006, “if there are 10, 20… opposition members in Parliament… I have to spent my time thinking what is the right way to fix them”. Now, the PAP has POFMA at its disposal. It still has the supermajority in Parliament, making them able to change any law in Singapore, even the Constitution at will. We have already seen them put these tools to use for its own benefit. Let us see if the PAP will continue as it has always done, or will it take this opportunity to change itself for the better. Whatever the case, we will be watching, and we will be waiting to make our roar heard once again five years down the road. Majulah Singapura! Article Ends Here. Here's the link to the actual article: https://thethoughtexperiment.org/2020/07/11/ge2020-the-roar-of-the-swing-vote And here's the link to the other political articles I've written about Singapore: https://thethoughtexperiment.org/2020/07/07/ge2020-the-state-of-play/ https://thethoughtexperiment.org/2015/09/10/ge2015-voting-wisely/ https://thethoughtexperiment.org/2015/09/05/expectations-of-the-opposition/
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Dear Reader (including the poor Biden staffers who have to white-knuckle their armrests when not sucking down unfiltered Marlboros every time Joe Biden gives an interview), If you’ve never heard the Milton Friedman shovels and spoons story, you will (and I don’t just mean here). Because everyone on the right tells some version of it at some point. The other Uncle Miltie (i.e., not the epically endowed comedic genius) goes to Asia or Africa or South America and is taken on a tour of some public works project in a developing country. Hundreds of laborers are digging with shovels. Milton asks the official in charge something like, “Why use shovels when earth moving equipment would be so much more efficient?” The official replies that this is a jobs program and using shovels creates more jobs. Friedman guffaws and asks, “In that case: Why not use spoons?” The story might not be true, but the insight is timeless. Here’s another story: When I was in college, we were debating in intro to philosophy the differences between treating men and women “equally” versus treating them the “same.” At first blush, the two things sound synonymous, but they’re not (indeed the difference illuminates the chasm of difference between classical liberalism and socialism, but that’s a topic for another day). I pointed out that there were some firefighter programs that had different physical requirements for male applicants and female ones (this was before it was particularly controversial—outside discussions of Foucault—to assume there were clear differences between sexes). Female applicants had to complete an obstacle course carrying a 100-pound dummy, but men had to carry a 200-pound dummy, or something like that. A puckish freshperson named Jonah Goldberg said: “I don’t really care if a firefighter is a man, a woman, or a gorilla, I’d just like them to be able to rescue me from a fire.” A woman sitting in front of me wheeled around and womansplained to me that “you can always just hire two women.” I shot back something like, “You could also hire 17 midgets, that’s not the point.” (I apologize for using the word midget, which wasn’t on the proscribed terms list at the time.) But here’s the thing: Sometimes it is the point. Whether you’re talking about spoons or little people, the case for efficiency is just one case among many. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s an important one, but it’s not the only one. Sometimes older children are told to bring their little brothers or sisters along on some trip. They’ll complain, “But they’ll just slow us down!” or, “But they aren’t allowed on the big kid rides.” Parents understand the point, but they are not prioritizing efficiency over love. Or, they’re prioritizing a different efficiency: Not being stuck with a little kid who’s crying all day because he or she was left behind. One of my favorite scenes in the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer is when the chess tutor Bruce Pandolfini, played by Ben Kingsley, tells the chess prodigy’s parents that they have to forbid their son from playing pickup chess in the park because he learns bad chess habits there. The mom says “Not playing in the park would kill him. He loves it.” Kingsley replies, accurately, that it “just makes my job harder.” And the mom says, “Then your job is harder.” I love that. I love it precisely because it recognizes that good parents recognize that there are trade-offs in life and that the best option isn’t always the most efficient one. This is one of those places where you can see how wisdom and expertise can diverge from one another. The Unity of Goodness Efficiency can mean different things in different contexts. In business, it means profit maximization (or cost reduction, which is often the same thing). In sports, it means winning. Always giving the ball to the best player annoys the other players who want their own shot at glory, but so long as he can be counted on to score, most coaches will err on the side of winning. Starting one-legged players will wildly improve a basketball team’s diversity score, but it’s unlikely to improve the score that matters to coaches—or fans. I’ve long argued that there’s something in the progressive mind that dislikes this whole line of thinking. They often tend to find the idea of trade-offs to be immoral or offensive. I call it the “unity of goodness” worldview. Once you develop an ear for it, you can hear it everywhere. “I refuse to believe that economic growth has to come at the expense of the environment.” “There’s no downside to putting women in combat.” “I don’t want to live in a society where families have to choose between X and Y,” or “I for one reject the idea that we have to sacrifice security for freedom—or freedom for security.” Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were masters at declaring that all hard choices were “false choices”—as if only mean-spirited people would say you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Saint Greta Nowhere is this mindset more on display in environmentalism. Everyone hawking the Green New Deal insists that it’s win-win all the way down. It’s Bastiat’s broken window parable on an industrialized scale. Spending trillions to switch to less efficient forms of energy will boost economic growth and create jobs, they insist. I’d have much more respect for these arguments if they simply acknowledged that doing a fraction of what they want will come at considerable cost. Consider Greta Thunberg, the latest child redeemer of the climate change movement. She hates planes because they spew CO2. That’s why she sailed from Sweden to a conference in New York. As symbolism, it worked, at least for the people who already agree with her. But in economic terms, she might as well have raised the Spoon Banner off the main mast of her multi-million-dollar craft (that may have a minimal carbon footprint now, but required an enormous carbon down-payment to create). The organizers of this stunt had to fly two people to New York to bring the ship back across the Atlantic. And scores of reporters flew across the Atlantic to cover her heroic act of self-denial. Her nautical virtue signaling came at a price. The organizers insist that they will buy carbon offsets to compensate for the damage done. But that’s just clever accounting. The cost is still real. And that’s not the only cost. It took her fifteen days to get to America. In other words, she actually proved the point of many of her critics. Fossil fuels come with costs all their own—geopolitical, environmental, etc.—but the upside of those downsides is far greater efficiency. If you want to get across the Atlantic in seven hours instead of two weeks, you need fossil fuels. The efficiency of modern technology reduces costs by giving human beings more time to do other stuff. The Conservative Planners The unity of goodness mindset has been spreading to the right these days as well. The new conservative critics of the free market see the efficiency of the market as a threat to other good things. And they’re right, as Joseph Schumpeter explained decades ago. For instance, just as earth-moving equipment replaces ditch-diggers in the name of efficiency, robots replace crane operators, and the communities that depended on those jobs often suffer as a result. I have no quarrel with this observation. My problem is with the way they either sell their program as cost-free, or pretend that the right experts can run things better from Washington. They know which jobs or industries need the state to protect them from the market. They know how to run Facebook or Google to improve the Gross National Virtue Index. Many of the same people who once chuckled at the Spoons story now nod sagely. I don’t mean to say that there’s no room for government to regulate economic affairs. But I am at a loss as to why I should suspend my skepticism for right-wingers when they work from the same assumptions of the left-wingers I’ve been arguing with for decades. Embracing Trumpism to Own Trump Instead I want—or I guess need—to talk about another trade-off. I’ve been very reluctant to weigh in on the Joe Walsh project for a bunch of reasons. The biggest is that I am friends with some of the people cheering it on. But I think I have to offer my take. I don’t get it. Oh, I certainly understand the desire to see a primary challenger to Trump. I share that desire. And I understand the political calculation behind the effort. It’s like when one little league team brings in some dismayingly brawny and hirsute player from Costa Rica as a ringer. The other teams feel like they have to get their own 22-year-olds with photoshopped birth certificates in order to compete. My friend Bill Kristol is convinced that Trump must be defeated and that Walsh is just the mongoose to take on the Cobra-in-Chief. I try not to recycle metaphors or analogies too much, but this seems like another example of a Col. Nicholson move. As I’ve written before, Col. Nicholson was the Alec Guinness character in The Bridge Over the River Kwai. The commanding officer of a contingent of mostly British POWs being held by the Japanese, Nicholson at first follows the rules and refuses to cooperate with his captors in their effort to use British captives as slave labor for a bridge project. But then his pride kicks in and he decides he will show the Japanese what real soldiering is like, agreeing to build the bridge as a demonstration of British superiority in civil engineering. [Spoiler alert] It’s only at the end of the film that he realizes that building the bridge may have been a kind of short-sighted moral victory, but in reality he was helping the Japanese kill allied troops because the bridge was going to be used for shipping Japanese troops and ammunition. When this realization finally arrives, he exclaims, “My God, what have I done?” Walsh’s primary brief against Trump is that Trump is temperamentally unfit for office and a con man. Fair enough. But he has to focus his indictment on Trump’s erratic behavior. Why? Because he’s a terrible spokesman for much of the rest of the case against Trump. I may not call myself “Never Trump” any more, but I was in 2016. And back then, the argument against Trump wasn’t simply that he was erratic. It was also that he wasn’t a conservative, that he happily dabbled in racism and bigotry, and that he was crude, ill-informed, and narcissistically incapable of putting his personal interests and ego aside for the good of the country. I’m sure I’m leaving a few other things out. But you get the point. Walsh may be sincere in his remorse over all the racist and incendiary things he said in the very recent past. He may regret supporting his anti-Semitic friend Paul Nehlen, though I haven’t found evidence of that. But none of that history should be seen as qualifications for the presidency, the Republican nomination, or support from conservatives. And yet, it is precisely these things that make him attractive to his conservative supporters. Trump is an entertainer who trolls his enemies with offensive statements for attention, so let’s find someone who does the exact same thing! Walsh may have been a one-term congressman, but his true vocation was as a shock-jock trolling provocateur. It’s ironic. As I’ve argued countless times, much of Trump’s bigotry in 2016 stemmed less from any core convictions than from a deep belief that the GOP’s base voters were bigoted and he needed to feed them red meat. Trump's reluctance to repudiate David Duke derived primarily from his ridiculous assumption that Duke had a large constituency he didn’t want to offend. He may have believed the Birther stuff, but he peddled it because that’s what his fans wanted. And Joe Walsh was one of those fans. It may also be true that Walsh never really believed most of the bilge he was peddling and that he was doing the same thing Trump did—feeding the trolls—on a smaller scale. But if that’s the case, then he’s a con man, too. I don’t want to beat up on Walsh too much because, again, his epiphany may be sincere. There are lots of people who pushed certain arguments too far only to recognize that the payoff was Trump and the transformation of conservatism into a form of right-wing identity politics. There are a lot of Col. Nicholsons out there. And I have too much respect for Bill Kristol to believe that he would lend his support to someone he believed to be as bigoted as the man Walsh seemed to be a few years ago. But from where I sit, the prize we should keep our eyes on isn’t defeating Trump; it’s keeping conservatism from succumbing to Trumpism after he’s gone. This isn’t easy, and no tactic is guaranteed to be successful. We’ve never been here before. My own approach is to agree with Trump policies when I think they’re right—judges, buying Greenland, etc.—and disagreeing when they’re wrong. My own crutch is to simply tell the truth as I see it, regardless of whether it fits into some larger political agenda or strategy. Truth is always a legitimate defense of any statement. But for those who see themselves as political players as well as public intellectuals, I think this is a terrible mistake. Intellectually and morally, the case for continued opposition to—or skepticism about, Trump cannot—or rather must not—be reduced to simple Trump hatred. But by rallying around Walsh—instead of, say, Mark Sanford, or Justin Amash, or, heh, General Mattis—that’s what it looks like. Because you can’t say, “I’m standing on principle in my opposition to a bigoted troll and con man as the leader of my party and my country and that’s why I am supporting a less successful bigoted troll and con man for president.” Walsh isn’t a conservative alternative to Trump; he’s an alternative version of Trump. And his candidacy only makes sense if you take the “binary choice” and “Flight 93” logic of 2016 and cast Trump in the role of Hillary. Let’s imagine the Walsh gambit works beyond anyone’s dreams and Joe Walsh ends up getting the GOP nomination (a fairly ludicrous thought experiment, I know). If so, I have no doubt that my friend Bill Kristol will say, a la Col. Nicholson, “My God, what have I done.” Various & Sundry Canine Update: It’s good to be home. The beasts were delighted to see us. Everything is settling back to normal, except for one intriguing development. I think Zoë has finally had enough with Pippa’s tennis ball routine. The other day on the midday walk with the pack, Kirsten managed to film Zoë putting an end to the tennis ball shenanigans. She took the ball and buried it. It was, to use an inapt phrase, a baller move—and she was unapologetic about it. Maybe she just didn’t like all the commotion with the other dogs, because she’s tolerant of the tennis ball stuff again. Or maybe she was being protective of her sister given that many of the other dogs in the pack are known thieves. Regardless, they’re doing well and having fun. If you haven’t tuned into The Remnant lately, please give it another try. The first episode of the week was with Niall Ferguson and the feedback has been great. The latest episode is with my friend and AEI colleague Adam White on all things constitutional. Word of mouth is really important in building up audiences, so if you can spread the word about The Remnant or this “news”letter, I’d be grateful.
FULL Patch Notes Live transcript from PDXCon, featuring CK2, EU4, HoI4, and Stellaris!
TIDINGS FROM CRUSADER KINGS II, PATCHES 2.8.1 AND 2.8.2
AI realms spanning dozens of holdings with thousands of loyal warriors at their command will no longer put their hands up and agree to give you any tribute you want before any blood is spilled just because you rode up on them with your squad and demanded their lunch money in a gruff tone of voice.
Subsequent emperors of China will no longer take the excuse that you don’t have to travel to their court and prostrate yourselves before them because you, quote, “Already did that for the last guy and I’m pretty sure it still counts.”
No longer possible to behead Jiang for sleeping with your wife and then receive formal condolences from the Emperor of China for the death of your beloved mutual friend.
After six years, the AI now understands how holdings work.
We gave up on trying to teach vassals how the Byzantine administrative system because, let’s face it, even we don’t really have any clue - and decided to turn it off for everyone within an imperial administration except top-level rulers.
AI rulers should no longer revoke duchies, then see how upset it made their vassal and give it back, but then remember why they took it away in the first place and take it away again, but then they just can’t stand those sad puppy dog eyes Humbert is making and… hey, does this ale taste funny to you?
Eunuchs have been banned from Medieval Tinder.
The trade route tooltip will now tell you why your trade posts are making no money, such as if China is being a pain in the ass, everyone in the Tarim Basin has been killed by plague, everyone in the Tarim Basin has been killed by Mongols, or everyone in the Tarim Basin has killed one another.
The Imperial Court of China will no longer list all of the reasons the Emperor was thinking about granting your request, and only focus on the reasons he ultimately decided against it and sent your dumb ass packing back to Samarkand.
When using the border dispute CB, your advisers should no longer assure you of the submission of barons who have not been consulted at all about the change in administration yet.
Added a tooltip to explain why Blacksmith-senpai won’t ever notice you
Added another way to deal with Secret Bears. You know, other than the existing, highly effective way of turning them off forever in the game options menu.
The herald in charge of telling you what will happen if you become a Tributary of China should no longer ramble on so long that you fall asleep.
Targets who surrender to the Shatter Realm CB who own no land whatsoever in the target de jure area can no longer go, “Jokes on you, I’m just going to keep calling myself Emperor of Carpathia anyway!”
Fixed it being possible to end up as your own lover. We’re keeping that feature on the back burner in case we do an Alexander expansion for Imperator Rome.
Fixed the AI investing more money than they had in purchasing weapons, jewelry and armor, as this made them too difficult to tell apart from the player.
Updated the Investigate Artifact Rumors chain, making it possible for anyone to complete it ever.
Counts who successfully sacrifice hundreds of lives and two young, strong sons to become independent from a wicked duke who tortures children can no longer have their vassalage sold immediately back to that duke by the apathetic king they both serve.
Removed the ability for kinslayers who murdered a grandparent or grandchild to sometimes convince everyone they weren’t that close so it’s not such a big deal.
Breaking free of a tributary contract will no longer allow your suzerain to seize one more month’s worth of resources from you as a cleaning fee even though you SPENT LIKE 20 HOURS DUSTING SCRUBBING EVERYTHING SHARON! THAT APARTMENT WAS SPOTLESS!
If you dedicate a book to your rival, they will still be grateful but also suspicious of what kind of devious shit you’re trying to pull, here.
Fixed an event that would essentially lead you to write, “And this is where I would put the dedication to my loyal chancellor - IF I HAD ONE!”
The Chinese Emperor no longer accepts gifts of one-eyed, one-legged, bedridden leppers with smallpox to serve as potential concubines.
Newly-minted noblemen are no longer allowed to abandon their families at the castle of their previous lord when granted a title. Laramie is your son, and that means he’s your problem.
Female Muslim adventurers will no longer accept the excuse, “You can’t invade us! You’re a woman!” from their enemies.
Fixed nations that adopted Chinese Imperialism having their entire government snapped away by the Infinity Gauntlet when converting to EU4, as even Thanos agreed this was a statistical aberration.
Characters will no longer be pissed at you if they were removed from the council because they were hauled off by vikings or something. Even though it was your job to protect them. I bet they wish they had been Duke Baldric’s steward. He wouldn’t have let the castle fall and watched everyone sacrificed to Odin or sold to a slave market in Cordoba because he spent too much money on a fancy crown and couldn’t afford the Danegeld for the ransom. Why couldn’t you be more like Duke Baldric?
Relatives of the Chinese Emperor should no longer travel thousands of miles to Provence just so they can hang around at parties waiting to whip out the old, “Hey, do you even KNOW who my UNCLE is?”
Fixed yet another way you degenerates figured out to get around the no incest rules in the marriage code.
If you’re in the Hermetic order and you brew someone a potion, you will now stick around and act all excited to make them feel obligation to actually drink it and not dump it into the chamberpot.
Fixed a way secret bears could crash the game. Still unable to fix their tendency to crash its historical credibility.
Fixed some quartermasters in desert areas showing up with a bunch of normal horses with blankets stacked up like a hump on their backs and insisting that they were, indeed, the camels you asked for.
Added a way to find the Ark of the Covenant other than that super specific way that was never going to happen unless you read the game files and went for it specifically.
Fixed Medieval Tinder refusing to show you any matches during the first month your account was active.
Increased minimum province supply from 100 to 1000 to better keep in line with EU4’s model of attrition not really mattering much, as having you lose more men to attrition than battle casualties as was often the case in real life was considered too historically accurate.
You will now be forced to break up with your concubines before offering them to someone else as a concubine. This is 1169, not 1969.
Realms that consider you a threat that see your realm split in gavelkind will go, “Oh, I see. He’s an idiot,” and not worry too much about being conquered by you anymore.
Tribal vassals who have converted to a reformed pagan religion will no longer balk at the idea of feudalism, admitting they only adopted the new faith because they thought the robes and chanting seemed cool.
In realms with full gender equality, pretenders with weak claims who want to declare a succession war against a legitimate female liege will be told to go home and polish their shortsword.
Fired Prince Arthas from our AI programming team, so characters should no longer ship troops overseas by boat and then disband the boats and leave the army there forever.
The AI will now consider how OP the Catholic religion is with its bajillion holy orders when determining whether or not it’s a good idea to declare war.
The AI will no longer all abandon the siege of Jerusalem at once, with Godfrey claiming he thought Tancred was supposed to be in charge, Tancred claiming he thought Robert was supposed to be in charge, and Robert claiming he thought the other Robert was supposed to be in charge.
CTRL+click on campaign funds for cardinals and patricians will now send someone out to determine just how many people you need to pay off to win so you don’t have to waste a pfennig more of your wealth than is necessary to subvert the political process.
When hovering over your twin, the tooltip now says "Your Twin" rather than "Your BrotheSister", so you can be sure you’re banging your twin and not just some rando sibling.
“Unmarried Heir” alert no longer shows up if your heir lives in a different realm and is no longer returning your calls.
You will now be warned if you decide to disband a fleet in the middle of the sea that this will negatively impact the people onboard. Your fleetmaster had originally assumed you would be able to deduce this using common sense, but here we are.
Characters sent to China will no longer say they "died" in the tooltip when hovering over their age, because the Emperor assures you they are quite fine. They dictated this letter to you in Chinese that says so, so you have no reason to doubt.
Fixed a case where you might click “Ransom Prisoner”, and their captor would wheel out Jareth, the stableboy from Devon, instead of your only daughter, insisting that this is who you asked for and they’re not willing to negotiate on the price..
Fixed doing pretty much anything in the character finder causing the sorting order to break.
Content characters will no longer be less likely to discover plots, because they’re quite content NOT having a deadly viper in their bed and will take steps to ensure that does not happen.
A court physician who is dying of plague and bedridden will no longer be available to shove bees up the anuses of other characters dying of plague and bedridden in an attempt to cure them
Someone who holds no land in Aragon but claims to be Duke of a bunch of shit in Aragon (in duchies where they also own no land) in addition to King of Aragon will no longer be protected from having the kingdom usurped by someone who does actually own land there.
When participating in a ritual to honor the dead during a visit to China, you should no longer be prompted to honor a character who moved to China. Because those guys are totally still alive. We swear. They went hiking this weekend and probably won’t be back until after you leave but we’ll let them know you said hi.
Fixed an extremely rare situation in which a child could go into a coma, miraculously recover from being incapable and wake up as an adult, and still have their childhood personality traits, even though that sounds like a kickass 80s movie kinda like Big set in the middle ages.
The events that grant the Viking and Sea King traits no longer care about your gender. Only how many monks you can slaughter and how much of their gold you can haul off. It’s very progressive!
If China has gone isolationist, it is no longer possible to stand below the emperor’s window with a boombox held over your head playing that song you both really like until they agree to see you.
We’re still updating and balancing the Aztec religion for the benefit of Terrence in Allentown, PA who still plays with Sunset Invasion turned on.
Added in a historical Pope who was Pope for such a short time that we totally forgot he existed.
It’s no longer possible to expose a scandal to your target’s liege if the liege is four years old, because the Queen Regent is not going to let you explain to him what buggery is.
The Chinese Emperor will no longer blame you for the death of one of his courtiers if they were hauled off by vikings. Even though Duke Baldric would have protected his guest. Maybe the emperor should bestow his grace on a real leader like Duke Baldric instead!
Fixed so setting Mongol and Aztec invasions to “Random” in the game rules actually mean “at a random time, no less than 50 years after the start of the game”, as opposed to “almost always exactly 50 years ON THE DOT from the start of the game”.
Monastic Orders will no longer accept that you came home covered in blood from your “Penance” because you saw a vision of Christ and the blood squirted out of his palms and got all over your tabard and this is a sign of his favor, surely! It definitely had nothing to do with you marching into battle and cutting people’s limbs off while you were meant to be sequestered in prayer.
Fixed the War of the two Eriks leaving the rightful Erik independent if he loses
Prisoners who are not sacrificed in the ancestor worship events will no longer be so grateful that they become your best friend, despite still being imprisoned. I know Paradox is based in Stockholm but that seemed odd.
Incapable councilors will no longer somehow be able to successfully perform their duties, though you probably didn’t even notice this was happening before and applaud their herculean efforts, did you, you self-absorbed diva?
Some Satanic events that would previously declare you openly as a witch will allow you to assert that you are merely an ALLEGED witch, and everyone should calm down until more convincing evidence arises than all the infants who have been impaled on swords identical to the one you are carrying with that very specific style of ornamental crossguard known to be a signature of your personal smith.
TIDINGS FROM EUROPA UNIVERSALIS IV, PATCH 1.25.1
It is now impossible to get harsh treatment cost below 5, because no matter how pathetic the rebels look you still need to at least send one mean-looking constable to throw rocks at them until they go away.
Fixed all religion icons being offset in the ledger, which T.J. thought was being caused by him fucking up his mod and he spent like two hours trying to fix it. Thanks guys.
Nerfed mercenaries again because Army Professionalism apparently wasn’t enough of an incentive to stop you from spamming them.
Fixed Cleves having an actual Angel of Death on their payroll who could turn heretics to ash with a single glance.
Fixed that the game thought Shihr in Arabia was the capital of the Netherlands. Probably because of all the hash.
The AI should no longer refuse to end a war at 99% warscore even after decades because they would rather watch both nations collapse from war exhaustion than not get that sixth province they really wanted.
Fixed that the AI would always procrastinate exploring the Atlantic until they were done binging the most recent season of New Girl and petting their cat for two and a half hours.
TIDINGS FROM HEARTS OF IRON IV, PATCH 1.5.1 and 1.5.2
Fixed a case in which a division in Desperate mode would decide to retreat into the one province where they’d be even more screwed than they already were.
Added a tooltip that explains increased capacity for garrison orders, because none of the dev diaries did and nothing in-game did so we pretty much left everyone super fucking confused for the first week of 1.5.
Danzig for Guarantees now mentions getting Poznan as well. Hitler was trying to sneak that one in under the radar.
Added icons for German carrier CAS tech level 3, with a flavour names for if you somehow make it to 1945 and the Allies haven’t sunk all of your carriers yet.
Added an icon the for Attack Switzerland focu-I mean, uh… the… give Switzerland a hug focus. We would never invade you guys. Promise. Just keep all that gold safe.
Puyi should no longer wax rhapsodic about the virtues of independence from Japan if the Qing empire has already been restored and Tokyo is completely on fire.
Communist Japan can no longer leave 35 voicemails for Stalin asking if he’s changed his mind about volunteers once he’s told them he won’t be sending volunteers.
Just because Hitler is in the process of being overthrown by his own army no longer means other countries can’t stick with Appeasement, just to be safe.
Thanos will no longer snap and make half of Germany’s equipment disappear at the start of the Oppose Hitler civil war.
Communist Chinese focus tree now gets some infantry equipment production bonuses to make them actually playable.
Chinese factions should no longer be able to relocate their industry to secret, underground bases in states they do not control.
If Mussolini restores the Roman Empire, he can no longer decide to hold multiple triumphs for every successful campaign. Take it easy, Benny Boy.
If Mao takes over China politically, he will only have to deal with the fallout of his own poor decisions and not inherit the fallout of the poor decisions made by the preceding regime.
Removed a quantum entanglement scenario in which air wings could be fighting in more than one region at once, even though that Einstein guy was really keen to study it.
Surprise Attack Plan for civil wars should now work, because Corporal Heller has been reminded that you’re not supposed to yell SURPRISE ATTACK! and run toward the enemy before the surprise attack commences.
Japan should no longer be able to send commandos to covertly lay pavement for airbases in Manchuria, in full view of the enemy, if Japan does not control Manchuria.
Adjusted minimum and average death dates for Wilhelm II and von Mackensen so they might, like, get to participate in the war.
Fixed a bug where Stalin could assume direct control of countries with generic leaders like Agent Smith in the Matrix.
AI should no longer assign a bunch of tanks to a defensive order, demonstrating that they don’t really understand what tanks are for.
Fixed a number of issues with Romania in base game without DLCs enabled, if you for some weird reason want to play Romania without the DLC that makes them worth playing.
Poland is now less likely to join the Allies if they’ve given Germany all of the land they wanted and now the Soviets are hungrily eyeing the rest.
Now possible to demand your industrial designers make a StuG that looks like a Tiger II by selecting unit models in the division designer.
Fixed an issue where if the AI didn’t need any equipment right this second, it would lay off thousands of factory workers instead of trying to build up a stockpile of things it had plenty of raw materials to make.
AI Chinese Warlords fighting Japan will no longer sometimes decide they can handle it on their own and don’t need to be a part of this United Front nonsense.
Finland and the Baltic Countries will no longer refuse to trust Germany even once they’ve overthrown the Nazis and explicitly pledged to protect Finland and the Baltic Countries from Soviet aggression.
AI Germany may now decide to build some additional military factories before 1940.
Added a confirmation pop up while assigning every unit in army to a different army's front orders to prevent you from flipping yet another computer desk because you just ruined your complex invasion plan AGAIN
The Soviet scorched earth tactics now has a tooltip letting you know exactly how many innocent peasants lost everything in the name of their own supposed liberation.
Scorched Earth decisions are now hidden if there are no peasant hovels left to destroy.
You can no longer infinitely appropriate land for industry in the same state until it’s basically a small pocket of a Forge World from Warhammer 40K in the middle of the Chinese countryside.
Adjusted Polish and German provinces and states to make historical German WW1 borders possible, so don’t say we never did anything just because some geographical particularists made a fuss about it on the forums.
A Chinese power struggle should no longer end with multiple tags calling themselves China and refusing to recognize the other Chinas, even though this is what happened historically.
France will not immediately become a bloodthirsty killing machine if the Kaiser is restored to power.
Added an option to Chinese provocation event that allows Japan to nope the fuck out if things are looking really dicey.
Winter War peace treaty now appropriately hands over NOT ONE INCH MORE FINNISH SOIL than is absolutely necessary.
Generals with the Reckless trait will still be incautious, but there should be fewer reports of them charging a pillbox with a saber. We already tried that and it was called World War 1.
Changed mobilization impact from positive war support to the point that it has any effect whatsoever (up from none whatsoever).
Reworked the Manchukuo focus tree to make them actually playable (up from completely unplayable)
Manchus can now recruit the bandits instead of trying to fight them because, after all, we all want the same thing and it’s the Japanese to get the fuck out.
Manchukuo can now take a decision to allow them to build a lot of guns very quickly out of rocks and tape. They’re just not going to be especially reliable.
Made some things that used to cost a negligible amount of command power cost an amount that you may actually notice when it’s gone.
Countries with low war support are now more likely to surrender. Apparently that wasn’t a thing before now for some reason.
It should no longer be possible to gain a significant air superiority bonus on the ground using exclusively strategic bombers flying at such an altitude that you have to point them out to the enemy and say, “Aha! See those specks up there? Tremble in fear for they are your doooooom!”
Planes in general should now be less good at scaring the enemy but more good at actually getting kills on ground targets.
High-level radar will now assist all static AA guns in the same state, instead of folding their arms and refusing to speak to each other.
Static AA is really good now by the way.
Canada and Australia will now be somewhat less fucked by the Great Depression than the US is in 1936.
The German War Economy focus now requires that the German people actually want to go to war.
Political Power cost of renewing German Monopoly Money bills have been decreased, and they are now accepted at many locations that used to make fun of them.
Prevented various exploits that allowed naval transfer convoys to pose as a party of old whale fishermen just out for a nice trip around the North Atlantic, nothing to worry about, no Nazis in here, thereby allowing them to escape combat with a much larger fleet.
You will no longer receive naval combat reports about how your boats saw some other boats but no fighting happened.
You will no longer receive port strike notifications when someone at one of your ports thinks they saw an aircraft carrier but it never deployed any aircraft and then went away.
The Dutch can no longer ship the Kaiser off to Borneo to prevent Germany from rescuing him when their mainland holdings are overrun.
Imperial Germany now needs to prove themselves a right and proper asshole before Britain will kick them out of a faction.
Navies on convoy escort will no longer interpret their orders excessively literally and outright refuse to join any battles unless there are convoys to protect.
An already restored Austro-Hungarian Empire led by a Habsburg can no longer decide, “You know what? Fuck our ancient homeland,” and form Greater Hungary.
Panzer leaders are no longer prevented from gaining experience if there is EVEN ONE infantryman in their division.
Reworked the AI pathfinding so it shouldn’t try to use naval transport through the Strait of Gibraltar to get from Hamburg to Genoa when there is a friendly land route available.
Nuking Long Island now gives the same reduction in war support as if you’d hit Manhattan directly, even though most Manhattanites would probably thank you for doing so in real life.
Took some steps to fix the absolute clusterfuck that is the Yalta Conference event.
If an oppose Hitler civil war breaks out, the anti-Nazi side will no longer have to worry about honoring nor dealing with the backlash of their magical fun money.
Fixed an issue where the newspapers reporting on nuclear strikes might not be entirely sure where they happened.
Fixed the Hungarian media’s tendency to pull a Weekend at Bernie’s and try to maintain the illusion that their king is still alive and in good health even if that is not necessarily the case.
Warlords that inherit incompetent officers from the Nationalist military upon taking power no longer have to go, “Fuck, I guess we’re stuck with these bozos forever.”
Added a tooltip to help players struggling with the incomprehensible idea that they can’t get a treaty with the USSR if they’ve already signed the Anti-Soviet Pact.
Multiple peace conferences firing at the same time should no longer break everything forever.
TIDINGS FROM STELLARIS PATCH 2.0.1 and 2.0.2
Fixed an issue in which lesser species set to processing, grid amalgamation, and livestock purge types were simply being dumped into a canyon by lazy drones and thus producing no usable resources.
Hive Minds and Machine Empires will no longer dedicate large sections of their starbases to commerce stalls and merchant shipping berths that go completely unused as they have evolved beyond the concept of trade between individuals.
Auto-generated ships will no longer always choose the most suicidal combat computer available.
War Overview no longer attempts to calculate a winner in battles, because the dark void that seeks to swallow us all is the only true winner in war.
Marauder raiding fleets will no longer feel the need to obliterate everything in their path to steal some minerals from the spooky tree people.
If your leader becomes the Chosen One, you can now opt to become a Divine Empire by decision and regardless of ethics, given that all other government types have basically been proven wrong before your eyes.
Titans no longer feel the need to get into a particle lance-measuring contest with every other ship in the fleet by rushing into the fray where they’re going to get shot to shit with torpedoes and guarantee the battle won’t be a resource trade in your favor.
Having anything for your science ships to do at all in the mid and late game is now locked behind a tradition instead of technology.
It is now possible to use food in trade details, whereas previously even an empire facing mass starvation would tell you your sickening xeno-fruit wasn’t worth a single damn thing to them!
The Plunder wargoal now does something.
It is no longer possible to declare a Stop Colossus war just because an empire knows how to make a Colossus if they haven’t built actually built one yet. The American delegates to the United Nations of Earth Congress are very upset about this.
Added some new events to make neighboring the Marauders not just absolutely suck ass 24/7.
Getting Ring Worlds no longer takes up, like, all of your ascension perk slots to the point that it doesn’t even make sense to get them unless you’re super stoked about ring worlds.
The Erudite trait now makes leaders smart, not just miners and farmers. Having only the leaders be idiots in an otherwise sharp society seemed like something better suited for our historical games.
Wide empires no longer take such a harsh penalty to tradition costs, further reinforcing the fact that in Stellaris, if you want to play tall, you can go choke on a Blorg appendage.
We’ve learned from the rather unfortunate incident at Arcology Gamma that orbital habitats should probably not be entirely defenseless against ground invasions. If anyone is looking for a fixer-upper in close proximity to a lovely gas giant, we’re told the blood should come out of the floors, walls, and ceilings with diligent scrubbing.
Buffed Egalitarian ethic in an probably futile attempt to get any of you sadistic fucks to play a nice empire once in a while.
Militarists are no longer way better at fighting. They just give way fewer fucks about how badly the war is going. War is, after all, its own reward.
Asteroids will now mysteriously vanish from the galaxy 50 years after the game starts because again we don’t want to make things too hard on wide empires. They have so little going for them, you know?
Increased time limits of all Special Projects requiring a ship in orbit because, again, it was unfair to the poor wide empires who might have had to do something excruciating like have more science ships in different parts of their space as a balance against the overwhelming power their expansiveness granted them, in a way modeling the increased difficulty of governing that large an area of space.
The citizens back home will now care a little less that you’re sending their friends and loved ones to die in the depths of space if you assure them it’s for a good cause like freeing some aliens who didn’t ask for your help from a regime your government specifically doesn’t agree with.
Marauders who just took a bunch of an empire’s best stuff will now insist they allow time for that empire to make more cool stuff before they go take it all again.
If the Wraith leviathan wakes up and sees no one around, it will go back to bed for another bazillion years.
Unrest and unhappiness no longer reduces food production, because most pops realize that eating is still pretty important no matter how much the government sucks.
Happy slaves will now gain authoritarian attraction instead of egalitarian, because at this point there aren’t a whole lot of opportunities to make this game more fucked up that we won’t take.
It’s no longer possible to hide all the treasure beneath the golden citadel in the golden city of your solid gold capital world and convince the raiding Marauders that this bag of trinkets is the only wealth you have to give.
Increased Jump Drive cooldown from Situational to Probably Just Not Viable At This Point
Slowed down Forced Migration to give you more incentive to simply kill everyone if you want them gone quickly.
Precursor home systems are now much more likely to spawn somewhere that you will be able to reach without conquering half the galaxy to complete one quest.
Reduced tech cost per system from 2% to 1% because, again, we wouldn’t want to make playing wide any kind of trade-off.
You will no longer be restricted from declaring war to stop the bloodthirsty purifiers just because they don’t directly threaten you yet, forcing you to sit by and watch as they devour every empire around you while the council just shrugs.
To Boldly Go tradition now makes your science ships more likely to hit the GTFO button sooner rather than giving them a better chance of surviving long enough to hit it.
We couldn’t nerf Planetary Survey Corps to the point that it wasn’t amazing, and alas, it was too amazing for this galaxy. So we killed it.
Purifiers may now take the Nihilistic Acquisition perk, allowing them to consolidate xenos into a smaller area for more efficient genocide.
Executive Vigor no longer breaks the entire game.
The AI will now make a slightly greater effort to get its shit together when being attacked by the Great Khan.
AI will no longer Jump Drive out at the first sign of a Prethoryn ship and leave you to get devoured by a fleet that would have been easily defeatable if they had just stayed with you, thereby dooming the entire damn galaxy.
The Deep State of your empire has determined it is probably not worth building an entire Black Site just to spy on some miners operating an asteroid drill in an otherwise uninhabited system.
Forbade multiple auto-exploring science ships from doubling up to explore a single system because we’re pretty sure the captains were just using it as an excuse to meet up and bang.
Science ship captains no longer have plot armor when their ship is destroyed.
Determined Exterminators no longer have a mysterious interest in gardening.
Hive Mind governors can no longer rule with an iron fist over drones that are already part of the same, single will as them.
Fixed pretty much every other empire in the galaxy being Slaving Despots
Starbase designers will no longer build elaborate trading hubs in a system with a primitive empire and wonder why they aren’t flying their biplanes up to shop there.
Fixed an issue where Militarists, upon defeating the Prethoryn, would find their celebrations felt empty as they had already vanquished the greatest foe they would ever have the pleasure of meeting in battle, thus leaving the rest of their empire’s existence to stretch out into eternity as merely a denouement to the epic saga that has now transpired and passed irrecoverably into the annals of a glorious past. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.
Synthetically-ascended empires who have discovered the Ghost Signal will no longer assume it’s probably nothing and continue copying the unpatched code into all new units.
Fixed Curators giving wrong advice about the Wraith, then having to explain how very, very sorry they were about the loss of your entire fleet later.
Fixed a bug where the people building the ion cannon would sometimes forget to put in… the cannon part.
Awakened Empires no longer have the privilege of pointing out that a border is just, like, an imaginary line, man!
Fixed armies refusing to land on planets that had been taken over by ents, mutants, or other non-sapients because they felt they were, quote, “Not gettin’ paid enough for this shit.”
Fixed no one checking the blueprints for the ringworld until an entire system’s resources had been exhausted only to discover someone was off by like one ten thousandth of a percent somewhere and now the two ends of the loop don’t meet up. And it’s too late to do anything about it. It’s just going to stay that way now. Great job, idiots.
Added back in Will to Power as a unity ambition. Space Hitler is no longer boycotting the game.
You may now test fire planet crackers on uninhabited ring world segments, which is definitely a better use for them than trying to understand the history, technology, and downfall of a rich, hyper-advanced alien civilization.
Reduced firing speed and charge time on the Colossus to the point that you probably don’t have a prayer of stopping it.
Trickster admirals will now focus on fleeing in fear at the right moment, not necessarily fleeing quickly.
Nerfed xenomorph armies because let’s face it, their entire hive got schooled by a freight worker with a flamethrower and a glorified walking forklift.
Master Builders now makes orbital habitats not a huge waste of time and resources.
Fixed AI using jump drive in some cases where it shouldn't do so due to Jump Drive being really bad at all times.
A civilization that figures out how to build their own gateways will no longer be too confused to figure out how to use them until they’ve glanced at one left behind by someone else.
Fixed Google StarMaps sending ships several systems away for upgrades because it assumed “Nearest Starbase” didn’t include the one they were already at.
Fixed an issue where the unbidden could spawn in a system with a fortress world and be completely baffled about why their hyperdrives were nonfunctional, thus giving up on conquering the galaxy until they can reach tech support back in their home dimension.
Marauders no longer care if you’re poor. They’re going to take whatever shit’s not nailed down regardless.
The Unbidden and Prethoryns should no longer sometimes decide to designate a world just as somewhere chill to hang out rather than their usual MO of wiping out all higher forms of life everywhere.
AND NOW, SOME NEVER BEFORE RELEASED PATCH NOTES FROM DISTANT STARS AND THE 2.1 “NIVEN” PATCH!
Purchased the rights to several more seasons of Star Trek, increasing the total anomaly count by almost half.
Added three new leviathans to befriend. Go ahead. Poke it. I’m sure it won’t mind.
Added the L-Cluster, a mysterious area of space beyond the rim of the galaxy where I’m sure nothing bad happens ever.
Added binary star systems for those who don’t mind living in an unstable orbit that could send your entire civilization hurtling into the side of an unimaginably large nuclear furnace at any time.
Anomalies can no longer fail, because that added too much drama and excitement to the exploration phase. Instead, higher level anomalies will now simply take longer for lower-level scientists to research, replacing the tension of possibly losing your science officer with compelling Wait A Long Time While Nothing Happens gameplay.
Added Experimental Subsace Navigation which allows science ships to try and make it through Voyager again even though they know it’s never going to live up to TNG and DS9.
The Situation Log will now list anomalies so you don’t have to panic and drop everything when you find one because you know you won’t remember to come back to it ever if you don’t investigate it right when you find it.
It is no longer possible to take a species off of chemical bliss cold turkey and make all of their horrible withdrawal symptoms go away by offering them pamphlets about officer training school.
Enlightened primitives should no longer go, “Oh, you know what? You’re not the first spacefarers we’ve met. There was also that one time when we encountered- [proceeds to list every single empire in the entire galaxy.]”
I came out to most almost a year after starting HRT over the course of several months. These are my notes about how I decided that it was the right time for me, how I did it, lessons learned, tips I wish I had known when I started, and what I wish I could have told myself at the start. This is one entry in a series of posts drawn out of notes and journal entries. A link to all of the posts can be found in my transition journey. As with all my posts, this is comprised of notes from my journey, from someone that knew something was off since childhood and transitioned well past puberty had done its thing. Your journey will be different, YMMV applies to this community more than most, and there is no right or wrong way. There are many different ways to come out, this was just my experience and yours can and will be very different.
There is no rule that says you have to come out to anyone or that you have to come out to everyone. Alternatively, you can pick and choose who you come out to. You might tell friends and family, but not tell your work and just start a new job as the new you. It is up to you to decide who needs to know. If and when you do come out you are not asking their opinion, you are letting them know what is going on. If coming out feels like a confession and you are seeking acceptance and understanding you want to shift away from that to one where you are just letting them know what is going on. They will or won't be accepting and you have no say in that. Coming out is not about gaining acceptance. You might lose some friends, but you will probably be gaining some new ones like any transition in life such as when you move, change school/jobs, have kids, etc. Some will be accepting, some won't be, some will take time. Some will go through the seven stages of grief. Some might be open and happy for you, but months later they will stop inviting you to events. Some might hit on you.
From the start my plan was delay telling others until after I was male failing. To be clear male failing is one person on the street seeing a woman from just a glance at me, not everyone, not all the time. This started happening occasionally between month 9 and 11. Around month 10 even those that saw me frequently started noticing and would ask what's up. That occurring is what caused me to create a more firm schedule for coming out socially. Of course, this plan makes for an annoying catch 22
I want to come out socially when others see me as a woman.
Until others see me as a woman I present like a man and hide or downplay aspects that don't match when I go places I need to be seen as a guy.
The bell curve of when others notice
There was no magic day where everyone's brain flip how they gender you. Some flip early, some flip late, some you have to explicitly tell as they will never figure it out. Unfortunately the time span of this bell curve isn't measured in days or weeks, but months from my experience. Another woman I work with that had transitioned years before (and was open about the fact) figured it out crazy early, but was incredibly polite and didn't say a thing until I approached her for advice. Those that have seen other individuals transition were able to spot my transition. Lack of facial hair and early changes to my voice stand out to them. The first unexpected person to figure it out that I came out to was one of these individuals. Later I found out there were several more that knew for over a year, but were all polite until I formally came out. Those I interacted with the most were the last to notice my changes and they were not the first to gender me correctly. I call this boiling the frog or gender warping and the result is that they had the hardest time. On the flip side, those that have never seen me before at shops and restaurants consistently would see me as a woman even when those at work that saw me every day had "no clue". Different people gender individuals differently, placing different importance on different things from appearance to voice to smell. With the face it might be the skin tone, nose shape, or brow ridge that is the most important, you just don't know how any one's brain genders. When a few people started noticing I was all excited to come out, but really the lesson I learned the hard way was that I needed to slow down. I was at the beginning of the curve. Just because a few figured it out doesn't mean most would and being told that 'they never would have guessed' because they still see a guy hurts. The longer I waited the less common that reaction was. To further highlight the "speed" here are some dates to show how long I waited to come out at work compared to when I first started to be seen as a woman in public.
Month 8 - The first male fail in public
Month 10 - Those that knew what to look for started noticing
Month 12 - Regularly called miss/she in public by those that had never seen me before
Month 14 - Came out at work
Deciding when to come out
Originally I was going to wait to tell most until after I had FFS which was scheduled for month 16, but a few were figuring it out at month 10 and I really didn’t want to wait. In the end, I told very close friends first, immediate family, and worked my way out in my social circle saving coming out formally at work for last and so there wasn't a specific day I told everyone, but it happened many times over the course of around three months. Because I wanted to tell people in person there was a time period where some knew, but others did not which gets annoying and was a little depressing at times.
Switching pronouns and name
I held off asking those that knew really early on to switch to use my new name and female pronouns until I was male failing and told a wider circle of friends. I did not want to live through others trying when I was clearly still presenting male which would result in me getting constantly misgendered not to mention someone slipping up around someone that did not know. It was just too messy and this was easier socially even if it was sad for me. I did ask those that never interact with others to switch my name and pronouns immediately such as the woman that I went to for laser, which made my visits amazing. In fact, she never knew me by my deadname and one day I left smiling when I told her my deadname in a conversation and she said it was weird. I never "came out" to those individuals, they only ever knew me as the new me which was great.
1 minute coming out speech
Before I came out officially at work a handful of people figured it out. One even asked me my name/pronouns and told me later they assumed they had missed the announcement. I realized that I needed something for these cases where someone approaches unexpectedly. I put together a little speech that I can say in a minute that hits all the bullet points that I kept on my phone.
My new name and pronouns
This is not a choice, something I have struggled with for a long time and am 100% sure I am making the right choice.
I am still me and like the things I liked before
Transition is slow, but I will change how I present when I feel safe.
Don't tell anyone. It is a personal and safety issue. If someone must know let me tell them. After I am out still don't tell new people.
Don't beat around the bush
Early on (month 10-11) there were a few people that figured out what was going on, but didn't say anything. If you realize this is happening don't beat around the bush or play coy games to see if they can figure it out. It is much better all around to just be upfront and tell them that you are transgender, transitioning, and give the above 1 minute coming out speech. Don't turn it into a long awkward thing. My apologies to the person that I did this to before I had the 1 minute coming out speech and was still terrified of telling people and really wanted them to figure it out and say something first. If you are really sure they know, just tell them.
Shorter is better
It is tempting when coming out to want to sit down and share everything that you have been keeping quiet about. Further, there can be a desire to convince them and seek validation. Long term though you want to try to stick more to the 1 minute speech and less the 1 hour discussion. Many of the things you share you will later wish you never had.
A one liner is also okay
One person I came out to really early on I did it in an off handed way. They overheard something with my new name and so I told them that I will be going by a new name in a month or two and that I am transgender. That was it, no further conversation was had. I simply told them of a change in my life, like it was exciting as buying a new winter coat or something. In a way, I think I liked this way of coming out more than anything else because they immediately switched and life moved on without a big drawn out event.
Coming out lessons
Guidelines I have learned the hard way.
Don't show old photos, they then try to see your old face in your new face
Don't use your old voice no matter how proud you are of your progress. It can further re-enforce the idea that they might have that you might be faking it, are still a guy, or they will start trying to pick apart your voice which is probably not perfect yet.
Do share one or two light and amusing things that many that transition have is a good way to break the seriousness of the conversation. Examples include that your hands and feet are smaller, smoother skin, and you might shrink in height.
Don't share incredibly personal information such as the fact that woman’s orgasms are so much better than mens.
It is always amusing when after coming out to someone they would then tell me that they already knew it or figured it long ago. It is really hard to believe that, but I am polite and ask them what they noticed. Many told me that I started looking more feminine which was nice to hear.
If someone asks you about "the surgery" you can gently answer by saying that you will fully look and present feminine in due time which is usually what people are actually asking. If they actually want to know and press, tell them that is personal, you don't have to answer.
Many individuals will be looking to answer the question: what does this mean for me. If you can help them find that answer it makes them happy.
The majority of individuals will share some personal struggle, shut up listen and let them tell you as much as they want so when they leave the conversation they will feel like it was a really positive conversation. If they feel it was a good conversation they will feel much better about your transition. They will share how they are working through or overcame their struggle and try to apply it to your situation. It might be completely irrelevant, but listen and give them time to share. This happened so often that I even started looking for the signals that they were going to share their story and would help them along.
Do not under any circumstances assume that the person you are coming out to is supportive. There are countless stories of being surprised at how others react. They might call you by your new name to your face, but never anyone else. They might be supportive say you are brave, but gossip about you negatively to their friends. Be especially watchful of those that might be openly hostile to you. With each coming out the overall lesson I learned was to tell less.
Who needs science
Before I came out I had a list of scientific articles and was ready and happy to discuss it in greater detail with anyone that wanted to. To my surprise, everyone either was just happy that I was happy or had already made up their mind and wasn't really interested in that sort of discussion.
My parents lived nearby and so I made sure to regularly see them so it wouldn't be a jarring visit with me looking different. I had spent months crafting a letter to give to them. The letter served several roles. First and foremost it was to articulate what is going on in as clear of a way as possible as well as answer the most common questions they might have. Beyond that, I knew that when I left their house they would still have this letter and use it as a FAQ of sorts to be able to go back and see what I had written. When the day actually came they told me that while they didn't really understand they still loved me. I regularly went back and hung out with them so they could see that I am still me. On the second visit it there was a lot more questions and push back to the point that they were trying to debate how I felt when I was a child as though they might know better than me. No matter what I felt about that, I calmly let them talk because I could see what they were doing and I know that this is all new for them and it will take some time. I kept going back, each time being calm and as time went and they learned more they seemed to became more accepting and supportive. Family is family and giving them time to adjust and not giving up I felt was the right thing to do. When I came out I wasn’t wearing a dress and was still presenting androgynous, but each time they saw me after I slowly changed my presentation. Not only could they adjust to my presentation, but HRT continued to do its slow magic, and each time I was more feminine. I don't have a magic solution for dealing with parents, but I am being much more patient than I am with anyone else. If I have to cut a family member out of my life I want to know that I first did everything possible to maintain our relationship.
Acceptance and Support
When asked how others are responding to me coming out I like to describe in terms of acceptance and support as two separate axis on a graph. I have those that are supportive, but not accepting, those that are not accepting and not supportive, and those that are supportive and accepting and everything in the middle. For many that are not accepting it is because they are not informed. They make a million assumptions based on what little information they have seen in the media. Simply talking to them helps bring to light a lot of these misconceptions and can move that axis.
Its all about sexuality right???
Some individuals have a really really hard time separating sexuality from gender. They will bring the conversations constantly back to that topic and they just can't conceive that I am not doing this for sexual reasons. When I discuss my transition it is almost never about sexuality and every time they bring it up I clarify and move the conversation elsewhere. I try to discuss sexuality as little as possible because I want to send a clear message that it is not part of the conversation. Sometimes I have to be as blunt as I am willing about this topic as they might have just insane ideas.
Do not trust that people won't talk. Assume if you tell someone they will tell someone else. Someone at my work figured it out and told his wife (via chat on his phone) before we even finished my coming out conversation. Within the world of gossip, this ranks insanely high. If someone asks if you are going through something early on you can just say 'personal stuff' and leave it at that, you do not have to tell anyone before you are ready. There are plenty of stories where someone came out to a friend or supposed ally only to find out that they told everyone. Even though I was prepared for it when it happened to me it took me by surprise. Even telling another trans individual doesn't guarantee they won't talk. The safest thing is to not tell anyone until you are ready for everyone to know. On the flip side, this can be used for coming out at work, the neighborhood, etc. Tell the person that gossips and just stand back. Or tell a close group and let them know it is not a secret and you plan on formally coming out in a few weeks. They will talk and when you "come out" it won't surprise many. It will be news for a few weeks and then people will hopefully move on. Cis individuals by and large don't understand how serious outing you is. As for myself those that are closest to me would almost always tell their spouses shortly after I told them. Friends, family, boss, acquaintances, at each level of the circle, the possibility of someone telling everyone grows. It is really juicy gossip from their perspective and not a medical or safety issue like it is to us.
Delay until next week
When going through the process of telling everyone if you delay telling an individual a week it is only better. As I started coming out more and more events were conspiring as they do, to delay things. That might have been telling a neighbor or getting my name changed or telling an extended family member. In each case I really wanted to do it yesterday, but also took a breath and didn't worry about it. The important thing was that it was going to happen. And in fact, the extra week or month was actually a positive thing. A few more weeks for HRT to do its thing, for me to work on my voice, wardrobe, facial hair, everything. So I didn't stress when I realized something I originally was hoping to do at month 11 would happen at month 13. This happened a number of times and in each case, I was simply more prepared in the end. I started not trying to cram everything as close together as possible, but just tell those when the time is best.
And then ... nothing
I told the majority of individuals over the course of two months. Not too surprisingly very quickly it became yesterday's news, but what was more interesting was how the news wasn't timely. I wasn't going to a family wedding, high school reunion, or similar. If I had waited another month or three to start telling everyone it would have been okay.
I told my boss when a few early individuals started to figure it out just in case something happened and I wanted him to be in my corner, but this was months before actually coming out at work. At the same time I reached out to HR so that they would be in the loop both for my own documentation/legal purposes and if they wanted to help. I am not sure if they were unprepared or if I live in a more liberal state than I realized because the response was only a link to the documentation on how to change my name in the various corporate systems. I delayed the general announcement until almost 14 months. I was full time everywhere except work and itching to be me at work too, but given that it is my income, how I pay for food and housing I played it very safe. It was only once I had my legal name change and needed to update my name for payroll that I decided to come out at work. My face had changed enough that after I came out I was told one person said: "about time". I crafted a simple email that my director sent out. It was in the style of a new hire email just a photo and an introduction. Not only did having them send it out give it authority behind the announcement, but they got to use the female pronouns in the email when referring to me. I also had a long legal type HR email ready in case we needed to send it to anyone in specific if there was trouble. The email that went out was very short, just a few paragraphs that covered the following points:
I was [deadname] but will now be [new name] and using female pronouns
This isn't new for me, but something I have known a long time
Transition is slow and while I have changed a lot I will continue changing.
I am still me with the same hobbies, staying here at this job, etc
On misgendering: "At times just out of habit you might use my old name or pronouns. That is understandable, a simple correction will really show support."
I would be happy to talk to anyone with a genuine desire to be educated more on the topic as long as it doesn’t cross any usual work personal boundaries (this mostly applies to questions about surgeries)
I told my immediate colleagues before the mass email went out because I consider them my friends and because they saw me almost every day they didn't realize I had been changing and were surprised. After the announcement I got to go around changing my name and photo in various systems and got a new badge all on the same day. I received a lot of congratulatory emails and then after a few hours I was just back to doing work. It took a few days for the news to filter out and over the next few days others kept finding out and either stopping by and saying hi or sending me an email. I work in a casual environment and the day after coming out I switched my wardrobe, but to help others adjust kept it more on the androgynous style with jeans and t-shirts to start. I had been hiding my chest fairly well so trading my compression bras and large sweaters for tops that fit and a regular bra resulted in a fair number of stares for a few days. As the weeks went by I slowly started introducing more femme pieces and wearing jewelry. In the end coming out at work went better than I expected. There were a few name and pronoun mistakes, but as time went on that decreased and work continued on as it had before. Seeking feedback on how it went someone told me that when I am not around they switched to my new name which made my day to hear.
Work and sexual discussions
Discussing what it means to be transgender has a lot of topics that are sexual in nature. Be extraordinarily careful about what you say or do as you might actually be reported to HR because it makes someone uncomfortable. Have conversations in private areas because individuals that eavesdrop in publicly held conversations area might also report you. Because the nature of coming out, stuff normally not discussed day to day at work is. Extra care should be taken to not put your job in jeopardy as you navigate answering those that have questions.
There are a number of individuals that I would classify as on the outer circle. They know me from before, but I infrequently interact with them. These include places like my dentist, hairdresser, eye doctor, library. An option you have at any time is to just go somewhere else. The new place won't have that baggage of you having to come out to them or the possibility of being misgendered like those that need to adjust. I kept going to many of the same places, but if I had to do it over this might choose differently both to get the validation and have one less thing to stress over.
Account and Names
Working in software I know just how dangerous it can be to ask to have a name updated. It is very common that the old name isn't deleted or changed, but there is just some note saying the new name is X, but the original name is still there or the name is just copied from one system to the next. Even if you think you updated everything eventually something screws up and the first name in the account is used. So even if it was a bit more work whenever possible I created a new account and then deleted the old account so there would be no chance for the old name to be accidentally used down the road. This applied for big things like Facebook, but also to little things like online purchases from places like Etsy and even my library card. A good example is Amazon.com where your name is copied all over the place rather than having a single account holder and so you will be playing whack a mole trying to find all the places your old name is used if you continue using your old account. As I would come out to others when it applied I would tell them about my new accounts and switch communicating with them exclusively there. I highly recommend when possible creating new accounts and deleting the old ones.
Telling others your deadname
When you first come out, everyone knows your deadname, but from then on you will start meeting people who don't know your deadname but might know you are trans. The moment these individuals learn what your deadname is they often will feel compelled to say it out loud, almost like they are trying it on to see how it fit you. This experience never once has felt good. Like coming out, you can never undo telling someone your deadname. Worst of all they can (and sometimes will) tell others what it was. But overall after experiencing this a few too many times I no longer tell someone my deadname even when asked saying I wouldn't be comfortable telling them and dropping it. If they find out through some other means that is okay, but there is no reason for me to volunteer that.
Coming out on Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit and similar places was the very last major thing I was planning on doing. In preparation for that, I had scrubbed photos of myself from the internet, created new email addresses, and took a new "stock" photo of myself to use as a profile photo everywhere.
I always assumed I would have a big coming out message on Facebook. But as it got closer and closer to when I thought I might do that I realized I didn't really need to do that. Facebook just has a collection of individuals I knew over the last decade, not my close friends. And what did I really have to gain by posting there? Anyone I wanted to tell I told in person and they were now friends on my new account. And then I looked over my friend's list and realized that a number had actually deleted their account. Facebook isn't used like it once was. I could just delete my old Facebook account without an announcement and it wouldn't be a big deal.
Accepting at first, but...
Some individuals are very accepting at first, but on the second or third time, you see them they are less so even to the point of being hostile. Unfortunately, those same individuals can come off as extremely supportive at first and it is very tempting to open up to them. Because of this, I switched to holding back initially and only open up over time as I learned I could trust them.
For some I have been transitioning for only a few months ...
I came out to most people between months 9 and 14. Some told me they started noticing and suspected something was up as early as month 8. While I might have been living with this since I was a child, seriously dealing with it for several years and I have been on HRT for more than a year to them it is very new. I would even go as far as saying some think I have been transitioning for only a few months.
Ways that I outed my transition before coming out
Some of the things I did before coming out made it much more obvious I was transitioning. I wrote down what other people told me they noticed. If I had ever seriously worried about my job as income or wanted to go stealth by quitting my job and starting over in a new city these are things I should not have done.
Multiple people commented that they did notice my long nails with clear nail polish. Shiny nails are not at all inconspicuous and very noticeable evidently.
Rather than keeping it in a low male ponytail I was playing around with feminine hair styles and cuts.
Near the end I hated hiding my chest during the summer and started getting more lax about it. Again it isn’t really moobs when you are really skinny and they are perky as fuck. People (especially guys) are really bad at pretending not to look.
I was eager to come out so if they showed a hint of knowing I told them when I could have just let it slide or denied it or said it was personal if anyone bothered to ask.
I never dualed my voice and moved to a female voice before even starting HRT, I love my voice and it is me and the idea of using a male voice at work would have been very hard emotionally for me, but having a female voice did cause a few individuals to clock me as transitioning incredibly early.
In summary, if you want a group of people to not know you are transitioning don’t be stupid, just don’t start socially transitioning in front of them.
Before coming out at work I admit that I submitted way to many photos to how-old.net to see how I was being gendered. It had the addictive nature that initially only occasionally would it rewarded me by saying I looked female, but as time went on more and more were being marked as female. A big reason I was using it was as a gauge for when I could come out. But after coming out I found myself no longer using it because it didn't matter. If the site saw me as male or female it didn't help me at all because I was now out.
That photo where I am fat
I lived a life before I transitioned and pretending I didn't is silly. Within that lifetime I took photos and videos, wrote articles for publications, gave talks and much more. I don't want to pretend that this never happened. Someone told me it is like I have an old vacation photo that I love, but I happened to be fat during that time. I loved that experience, don't want to pretend it never happened, but just don't care to show anyone the photo because of how I looked. I have used this allegory a few times to good success to explain to others how I feel about old photos or places that still have my old name.
Being screwed over
Someone will screw you over. You just don't know who it will be. Perhaps they will decide that it is their business to tell everyone sooner than you were planning. Maybe they will find you offensive and cause you problems on social media or at work. Maybe they will stir the pot on purpose to cause issues in your relationship. Maybe they will call you sir or deadname and misgender you in every single sentence just to voice their opinion. You don't know who it will be, but be prepared and try not to engage with them and be defensive in every single person you come out to. And just to make it extra challenging they might be accepting and supportive in the first conversation, but only in the second conversation does it becomes clear that they are not an ally. Most of the people I told were very supportive and accepting, but there were those few that I surprised me at their behavior and if I had to guess at the start I never would have said it would have been them. You just don't know who it will be.
The best advice seems to be for those that know you have changed, but are misgendering you is to be firm, calm and consistent in correcting people from the very start. Correcting with a single word, completely neutrally in tone with no explanation and move one without waiting for a response. I practiced with a close friend when the day came for them to switch. Explicitly telling them I needed to practice worked out great for both of us because they would still use the old name and pronouns from habit and I needed to build up the reflex of calling it out while knowing that they wont attack me. For those that don't know you the best advice I have heard is to act confused and be confident in your gender like any cis individual would behave. At work record down on paper when it happens in case you need to give it to HR down the road. A pattern I have seen happen is that many individuals are very good with names and pronouns for a short while (the first or second time after I tell them), but later on when it was not on the forefront of their mind that they made mistakes. At first I was excited at how easy it seem to be for everyone to switch, but they all started accidentally using my deadname. Now I realize that when it was less at the front of their mind they were much more likely to make mistakes until the new name became habit. I never thought that they were being malicious (usually that is very obvious) but realized that it will just take some time to switch their automatic behavior.
Pronouns for before
When asked what pronouns should be used when telling old stories I didn't have a good answer and initially let the question slide. When thinking about myself in the past I would see someone presenting male and it was a bit confusing. By not clarify an answer to this question I noticed a few things: Switching back and forth just makes it harder for everyone, especially parents to retrain themselves. As time went on and as I looked more feminine, was read and treated as a woman day in and day out, having other people use my deadname and use male pronouns hurt more each time. While they often ask about talking about stories when you were six it hurts way more when they are talking about you from just a few years ago while using your deadname and male pronouns. Something I couldn't articulate at the time, but u/nubivagance did very well with this comment:
I've always looked at this from a linguistic perspective. Pronouns and names serve the purpose of designating who you are referring to right now in the moment. Even when talking about the past, you are still indicating "there, that person. This is about them" linguistically. In that way, using a person's old name doesn't make sense. You are referring to a person who goes by X so using Y to refer to them doesn't make sense and will only serve to confuse the message you are trying to convey with words.
What I should have said from the start was that unless the fact that I was presenting male is relevant to the story to not mention it otherwise they should say "when [name|our daughter] was pre transition" and keep on using female pronouns. While I understood how much harder switching pronouns when talking about memories, over time I expect everyone to switch.
Overall coming out went way better than I was expecting it would. I had really low expectations and many individuals surprised me. There were a number of cases where those that I was sure would be a problem were a strong ally in the end and those that I assumed would be an ally were unexpectedly nasty. You just don't know until you tell them. The vast majority of individuals switched to my new name and life moved on. In every coming out conversation the topic of me becoming a "completely different person" would come up. It didn’t see to matter what I said and it seems like it was only once they got to see with their own eyes that I was pretty much the same person after going full time did they believe me. I had a fair amount of anxiety around not knowing how it would turn out was and it was a big relief once everyone knew. While I initially wanted to do it in one big moment spreading it out and delaying a week or month here and there was not a big deal and I don’t regret a single instance where I had to wait to tell someone. The same goes for clothes, rather than switching in a big bang, slowly shifting what I wore of the course of several months worked very well, both to help make everyone comfortable, but also to help give myself more time to build up a wardrobe. Would I have had the same experience if I had come out earlier or later? That is something I can never know and I could probably make arguments for and against coming out at a different time, but at the end of the day, this is what I was comfortable with and worked well for me. I know there are others that come out pre-HRT or never and that is cool too, the point being that they came out when they wanted and felt ready.
One year later (At 2+ years HRT) one evening I went to my parent's house for the first time in a long time and they misgendered me and deadnamed me all evening. It didn't seem malicious, just habitual and I corrected them each time. They had been good in the past so the behavior was a little surprising, but what was truly surprising was how I felt about it. When I first came out the approval and validation of others (including my parents) meant a lot to me. Transitioning is a big scary choice and I was looking for support. When someone would disapprove or misgender me it would hurt. As time marched on I gained a lot of self confidence in who I am and I discovered that their behavior didn't phase me because I no longer needed that validation. It was disappointing, but I didn't go home and cry or anything. What it really taught me was just how much validation was tied up in my coming out. As you come out to others be aware of your own confidence and how that can play into the situation. Over explaining, trying to convince with science, and being hurt and distraught when they just don't understand. (Cis individuals not understanding what it feels like to be trans? shocker!) No matter how sure I was about being trans at the time I was still insecure and that made coming out much harder than it needed to be.
Reflecting on how I came out 2 years later
On the internet people like to obsess over the question: "what is a woman". I might know I am a woman in the same way I know I am right handed, but in the eyes of other people, I am only a woman because they now see a woman and treat me like other women. Once I realized this had happened I become very bitter because it just further reinforces that you only are what you look like. This caused me to question everything I did when I came out because clearly very little of what I said actually mattered, all that mattered what how I looked to them. When I came out I was itching to be me full time and tell everyone everything, so I might have ignored any advice, and I still can't say it it is any better than what I did, but if I could go back I would tell myself the following:
What to tell
As little as possible I told people so much personal and private stuff that they had no need to know and I can't take back. If I tried to justify it by saying I was convincing them, I now know that was pointless and just waited would accomplish that better. And it didn't matter! Coming out isn't about validation or acceptance or any of that, but about telling them what is going on and nothing more. I knew who I was, that is the reason I was doing this. A few conversations could have been in-depth, but the vast, vast majority of conversations only needed the bullet points I listed in my work email, and in some cases I could have done even less.
Who to tell
Fewer people When I started I was under the impression I had two choices, go stealth like those in the 80's/90's and reset my life or alternatively because it is 2020 and people are more accepting, tell everyone, post it all over social media and more. It isn't so binary, you can tell all your friends personally, but you don't have to come out on social media. You can also wait to switch your name at work until you start a new job. A few key choices can result in needing to come out to dramatically fewer people. No, every neighbor didn't need to be personally told. No, I didn't have to tell my hairdresser. No, the friend at work who was leaving shortly before I came out didn't need to know.
When to tell
Later is better I know waiting is really hard. I remember crying in bed at only 3 months on HRT knowing I could not socially transition yet when I knew to my core this was right. I stick by my choice of waiting until I male failed, but I would say to wait another 6-9 months after that to get through as much of the androgynous phase as possible. Then again maybe if I had simply told less I would be happier with when came out.
After a lifetime of imagining what it would be like, preparing, waiting, and finally coming out I finally start living full time as a woman and starting to experience the trials and tribulations that entails.
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