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./play.it 2.12: API, GUI and video games

2020.09.28 14:55 vv224 ./play.it 2.12: API, GUI and video games

./play.it 2.12: API, GUI and video games

./play.it is a free/libre software that builds native packages for several Linux distributions from DRM-free installers for a collection of commercial games. These packages can then be installed using the standard distribution-provided tools (APT, pacman, emerge, etc.).
A more complete description of ./play.it has already been posted in linux_gaming a couple months ago: ./play.it, an easy way to install commercial games on GNU/Linux
It's already been one year since version 2.11 was released, in January 2019. We will only briefly review the changelog of version 2.12 and focus on the different points of ./play.it that kept us busy during all this time, and of which coding was only a small part.

What’s new with 2.12?

Though not the focus of this article, it would be a pity not to present all the added features of this brand new version. ;)
Compared to the usual updates, 2.12 is a major one, especially since for two years, we slowed down the addition of new features. Some patches took dust since the end of 2018 before finally be integrated in this update!
The list of changes for this 2.12 release can be found on our forge. Here is a full copy for convenience:
  • New options:
    • --output-dir: Set the output directory for generated packages
    • --overwrite: Replace packages if they already exist
    • --icons: Allow including icons only if dependencies are present
  • Wrapper changes:
    • Drop $XDG_RUNTIME_DIR from the candidates for temporary directories
    • Prevent scan of unneeded directories
    • Drop script identification by MD5 hash
  • Archive-related changes:
    • Only extract needed files when using unzip
    • Allow to use renamed installers
    • Add support for LHA archives extraction
  • Engines-related changes:
    • New engine: ResidualVM
    • New engine: System-provided Mono runtime
    • DOSBox: Use $PLAYIT_DOSBOX_BINARY in launchers if defined
  • Packages-related changes:
    • Add ability to set variables for package-specific postinst and prerm scripts
    • Arch Linux: Improve consistence of 32-bit packages naming
  • New helper functions:
    • version_target_is_older_than: Check if the game script target version is older than a given one
    • toupper: Convert files name to upper case
  • New generic dependency keywords:
    • libgdk_pixbuf-2.0.so.0
    • libglib-2.0.so.0 / libgobject-2.0.so.0
    • libmbedtls.so.12
    • libpng16.so.16
    • libopenal.so.1 (alias for openal)
    • libSDL2-2.0.so.0 (alias for sdl2)
    • libturbojpeg.so.0
    • libuv.so.1
    • libvorbisfile.so.3 (alias for vorbis)
    • libz.so.1
  • Codebase clean-up and improvements:
    • Massive rework of all message-related functions
    • Drop hardcoded paths for icons and .desktop launchers
    • Use system-specific default installation prefix for generated packages
    • Forcefully set errexit setting on library initialization
    • Use dirname/basename instead of built-in shell patterns

Development migration

History

As many free/libre projects, ./play.it development started on some random sector of a creaking hard drive, and unsurprisingly, a whole part of its history (everything predating version 1.13.15 released on Mars 30th, 2016) disappeared into the limbs because some unwise operation destroyed the only copy of the repository… Lesson learned, what's not shared don't stay long, and so was born the first public Git repository of the project. The easing of collaborative work was only accidentally achieved by this quest for eternity, but wasn't the original motivation for making the repository publicly available.
Following this decision, ./play.it source code has been hosted successively by many shared forge platforms:

Dedicated forge

As development progressed, ./play.it began to increase its need for resources, dividing its code into several repositories to improve the workflow of the different aspects of the projects, adding continuous integration tests and their constraints, etc. A furious desire to understand the nooks and crannies behind a forge platform was the last deciding factor towards hosting a dedicated forge.
So it happened, we deployed a forge platform on a dedicated server, hugely benefiting from the tremendous work achieved by the GitLab's package Debian Maintainers team. In return, we tried to contribute our findings in improving this software packaging.
That was not expected, but this migration happened just a little time before the announcement “Déframasoftisons Internet !” (French article) about the planned end of Framagit.
This dedicated instance used to be hosted on a VPS rented from Digital Ocean until the second half of July 2020, and since then has been moved to another VPS, rented from Hetzner. The specifications are similar, as well as the service, but thanks to this migration our hosting costs have been cut in half. Keeping in mind that this is paid by a single person, so any little donation helps a lot on this front. ;)
To the surprise of our system administrator, this last migration took only a couple hours with no service interruption reported by our users.

Forge access

This new forge can be found at forge.dotslashplay.it. Registrations are open to the public, but we ask you to not abuse this, the main restriction being that we do not wish to host projects unrelated to ./play.it. Of course exceptions are made for our active contributors, who are allowed to host some personal projects there.
So, if you wish to use this forge to host your own work, you first need to make some significant contributions to ./play.it.

API

The collection of supported games growing endlessly, we have started the development of a public API allowing access to lots of information related to ./play.it.
This API, which is not yet stabilized, is simply an interface to a versioned database containing all the ./play.it scripts, handled archives, games installable through the project. Relations are, of course, handled between those items, enabling its use for requests like : « What packages are required on my system to install Cæsar Ⅲ ? » or « What are the free (as in beer) games handled via DOSBox ? ».
Originally developed as support for the new, in-development, Web site (we'll talk about it later on), this API should facilitate the development of tools around ./play.it. For example, it'll be useful for whomever would like to build a complete video game handling software (downloading, installation, starting, etc.) using ./play.it as one of its building bricks.
For those curious about the technical side, it's an API based on Lumeneffectuant that makes requests on a MariaDB database, all self-hosted on a Debian Sid. Not only is the code of the API versioned on our forge, but also the structure and content of the databases, which will allow those who desired it to install a local version easily.

New website

Based on the aforementioned API, a new website is under development and will replace our current website based on DokuWiki.
Indeed, if the lack of database and the plain text files structure of DokuWiki seemed at first attractive, as ./play.it supported only a handful of games (link in French), this feature became more inconvenient as the library of ./play.it supported games grew.
We shall make an in-depth presentation of this website for the 2.13 release of ./play.it, but a public demo of the development version from our forge is already available.
If you feel like providing an helping hand on this task, some priority tasks have been identified to allow opening a new Web site able to replace the current one. And for those interested in technical details, this web Site was developed in PHP using the framework Laravel. The current in-development version is hosted for now on the same Debian Sid than the API.

GUI

A regular comment that is done about the project is that, if the purpose is to make installing games accessible to everyone without technical skills, having to run scripts in the terminal remains somewhat intimidating. Our answer until now has been that while the project itself doesn't aim to providing a graphical interface (KISS principle "Keep it simple, stupid"), still and always), but that it would be relatively easy to, later on, develop a graphical front-end to it.
Well, it happens that is now reality. Around the time of our latest publication, one of our contributors, using the API we just talked about, developed a small prototype that is usable enough to warrant a little shout out. :-)
In practice, it is some small Python 3 code (an HCI completely in POSIX shell is for a later date :-°), using GTK 3 (and still a VTE terminal to display the commands issued, but the user shouldn't have to input anything in it, except perhaps the root password to install some packages). This allowed to verify that, as we used to say, it would be relatively easy, since a script of less than 500 lines of code (written quickly over a week-end) was enough to do the job !
Of course, this graphical interface project stays independent from the main project, and is maintained in a specific repository. It seems interesting to us to promote it in order to ease the use of ./play.it, but this doesn't prevent any other similar projects to be born, for example using a different language or graphical toolkit (we, globally, don't have any particular affinity towards Python or GTK).
The use of this HCI needs three steps : first, a list of available games is displayed, coming directly from our API. You just need to select in the list (optionally using the search bar) the game you want to install. Then it switches to a second display, which list the required files. If several alternatives are available, the user can select the one he wants to use. All those files must be in the same directory, the address bar on the top enabling to select which one to use (click on the open button on the top opens a filesystem navigation window). Once all those files available (if they can be downloaded, the software will do it automatically), you can move ahead to the third step, which is just watching ./play.it do its job :-) Once done, a simple click on the button on the bottom will run the game (even if, from this step, the game is fully integrated on your system as usual, you no longer need this tool to run it).
To download potentially missing files, the HCI will use, depending on what's available on the system, either wget, curl or aria2c (this last one also handling torrents), of which the output will be displayed in the terminal of the third phase, just before running the scripts. For privilege escalation to install packages, sudo will be used preferentially if available (with the option to use a third-party application for password input, if the corresponding environment variable is set, which is more user-friendly), else su will be used.
Of course, any suggestion for an improvement will be received with pleasure.

New games

Of course, such an announcement would not be complete without a list of the games that got added to our collection since the 2.11 release… So here you go:
If your favourite game is not supported by ./play.it yet, you should ask for it in the dedicated tracker on our forge. The only requirement to be a valid request is that there exists a version of the game that is not burdened by DRM.

What’s next?

Our team being inexhaustible, work on the future 2.13 version has already begun…
A few major objectives of this next version are :
If your desired features aren't on this list, don't hesitate to signal it us, in the comments of this news release. ;)

Links

submitted by vv224 to linux_gaming [link] [comments]


2020.09.25 04:59 Erutious For Your Talent

I looked at the number written on the paper, and my eyes grew large.

That was way more money than I made in a year, more money than I'd made in my life, and this guy was offering it to me for…

"So, you want to pay me for...what, exactly?"

The man in the black suit stared at me, hollowly, from behind his mirrored glasses. He sat, nonchalantly, across the table at the small coffee shop I had written in for the last four years. I liked the ambiance here, as did many other local writers it seemed. It was a great place to read and write, and I had been coming here for the past year and a half. I could see many others around me, plinking away on their MacBooks or their off the shelf Walmart laptops, as they wrote the next great American novel or the next hit screenplay.

The longer the man sat there, the more I wished he had approached one of them instead.

"It's straightforward," he said, his voice and cadence reminding me of Agent Smith in The Matrix movies, "we want to pay you for your Talents. You come to our office, let us see your Talent, and pay you for your time and effort. Sound like something you might be interested in?"

Then he smiled, his lips sliding away from his perfectly artificial teeth, and I couldn't help but cringe all over.

It was like a dog who's been taught to smile, unsettling, and a little alarming.

But it was a lot of money.

"Let me think about it." I hedged, and the smile slid mechanically from the man's face.

He produced a business card, rising suddenly and holding it out.

"Let us know if you change your mind. The offer is valid whenever you're ready."

He left then, making his way for the door like a shark hunting his next meal.

I looked at the card and wrinkled my eyebrows.

It was a plain white business card, nothing fancy, with the words, "Libras Talent. Because your Talent should never go to waste." printed on it.

I stared at it for a while as my laptop screen went into sleep mode, darkening and allowing me to see myself as I sat in contemplation.

How very curious.

I've been writing in some form or another for my whole life.

When I was a child, I drew pictures and created games for my friends to play. My pictures, my mother swore, always told a story, and my games were never the haphazard mess that my friends often concocted. People who weren't even part of my friend circle often came to join our games, as they were both fun and engaging in a way that was hard for a child to explain. My teachers praised my creativity and expected they would see great things from me someday.

As I grew, so grew my stories. By the time I was in middle school, my works of fantasy were often entered into writing contests and local student works projects. My playground games had evolved into role play games and pieces of interactive fiction. When I was twelve, I discovered the world of Dungeons and Dragons. This began a lifelong love affair with the game, and I quickly took to the role of Game Master. My campaigns were immersive, my characters engaging, and my adventures never fell victim to the usual problems others seemed to encounter. I wrote well, and, again, the adults in my life often praised me, expecting great things from me in the future.

It was a no brainer for me to study writing after high school. I had soared through what is usually a very trying time for teens by channeling my churning emotions into my medium. I had gotten more than one scholarship for writing, and as college loomed, I put all my efforts into my work. I spent the next four years working on a BA in English and Literature. In the end, I felt I had the tools to begin plying my craft professionally.

Now, I was trying to figure out how to turn that Talent into a paycheck so that I could pay my bills. Magazines liked my work but wanted writers with more experience. There were people online who would pay for stories, but not enough to live off of. Agents were interested, but they didn't want to take a chance on someone so young. My writing was always well received, but there was always the ever-present But hanging at the end of all that praise. A few interested publishers had approached me, but it was always the sort that buried the line about price amidst all that talk. I was twenty-six, four years out of college, self-published, untried, and no one was willing to take a chance on me.

Everyone, except Libras Talent, that is.


I Googled them, of course. I had been burned too many times before and wanted to see what was in store if I decided to take their offer. Their website was professional but soulless. Their credentials were numerous but were presented without any real pride. This soulless corporation wanted another book for their accolades, another pet writer for their trophy case. If I signed on with them, I would be just another soulless shill who writes for nothing but a paycheck.

My phone buzzed, jarring me out of my contemplation. I looked down and sighed as I saw the message from the power company. My check had bounced again, and they were going to shut my power off at the end of the month without some kind of immediate action. That likely meant that Mr. Kapish, my boss at the gas station, had given out bad checks again. He would never admit it, and this likely meant that I wouldn't get paid until the end of the month.

I glanced at the card as it sat propped against my monitor.

Or maybe I'd be able to keep the lights on after all.


I nervously checked my phone to make sure I had come to the right place. I had come to a flat looking building, a two-story white stucco number that looked more like a distribution center than a publishing house. I had dressed in my best interview clothes, a polo, and a pair of slacks, and I already felt underdressed and unsure about the situation. The outer facade bore a simple sign, white and stark, just like the business card.

Libras Talent

I thought about leaving, but the call of the money was too much to resist.

I tried the door, and when it opened, it was almost too good to be true.

The woman behind the counter wore a broad smile as I stepped inside. She was looking at the door, as though expecting me. Her pants suit and quaffed hair made her look assembled rather than styled, but I was taken aback by her smiling regard. The waiting area was as stark as the facade, and the receptionist's regard made me feel like I was marked.

Had she been staring at the door the whole time, just waiting for someone to come in?

"Hi," I said shyly, "I'm looking for…"

"Welcome." she said cheerily, "Mr. Sereph is waiting for you in the back. Please go right ahead."

She pointed to a door to the left of the waiting room, and I walked hesitant towards it, a strange feeling growing with every step.

Beyond the door was a long hallway of offices, names neatly printed on the doors.

Mr. Sereph's office was the third in line.

I knocked, and a voice from the other side invited me in.

Mr. Sereph sat behind his desk, the too-wide smile stretching his lips painfully.

"I'm so glad you decided to accept my generous offer."

I sat across from the grinning man, feeling like Faust as he met with the Devil.

"It was too good a deal to pass up, I suppose," I offered lamely.

"Why yes, the money is a fine incentive, isn't it?"

I shuffled in my seat, not liking the man's regard.

"So, how does this work exactly? Do I have to write something for you or…"

I blinked, startled as looked back at Mr. Sereph, and found a contract had appeared on the desk. Mr. Sereph was leaning over the desk, that too wide smile stretching his face, as he handed me a weighty silver pen. Had that contract been there the whole time? I shrank back a little, the too-wide smile putting me off as the man leered at him.

"What's wrong? I thought you were ready to sign?"

"I am," I insisted, reaching shakily for the pen, "but I'm curious to know what this involves?"

"You show us your Talent, and we pay you for it. Couldn't be simpler."

I looked at the contract, unsure of whether to sign or not. I'd heard of writers getting sucked into these unfair contracts before, and I didn't fancy being kept as someone's pet writer. I looked down at the contract, but it wasn't particularly helpful either. They offered to pay me for my "Talent," but that was all it really said. It was very vague, not really saying anything other than that, with a lot of industry, speak in between.

I hesitated, reading over it again and again, as the money loomed up in my mind. That was a lot of money, enough to live comfortably for quite a while if I was careful. No matter what they had me do, that kind of money could change my life. And even if it were repetition or degrading, I'd still be doing what I loved, right?

I signed the contract and pushed it back to the smiling Mr. Sereph, my own smile looking lame next to his.

Mr. Sereph made it disappear before the ink seemed to be dry, and I was left holding the bulky silver pin in numb fingers.

"Excellent, now come with me so we can access your talent."

Mr. Sereph rose from the desk and led me out into the hall. I followed wordlessly, still not quite sure what was expected of me, as Mr. Sereph clacked along on his hard-soled boots. The long corridor slid past as we walked, the sameness a little disorienting. Mr. Sereph stopped outside another nondescript door and held it open for me to enter. Inside was a stark white room, cluttered only by a desk and a pen held in one of those ornate holders you often saw at weddings. Mr. Sereph nodded to the desk, indicating that I should sit.

"What do you want me to do?" I asked, hovering in the doorway.

I wasn't sure I wanted to enter that unblemished space.

"Just take up the pen; it will know what to do from there." Mr. Sereph said, still grinning that troubling smile.

I hesitated a moment longer before walking inside. I had nowhere else to go really, not unless I meant to break the contract. The room seemed to hum around me as I stepped in, and I could almost swear that the same fluorescent lights were present in the walls as well. The whole room seemed to glow softly around me, and when I turned back, I could see Mr. Sereph push the door shut.

The door slamming like a coffin lid behind me, and I was left alone in the room.

I walked to the desk and took a seat. A single piece of paper lay on it, unblemished and waiting for me. As I looked at it, I could swear that the surface moved. I didn't want to touch it, but it seemed to beckon to me none the less. I reached out for the pen, that instrument of creation, and it felt very right in my hand as I lifted it from the holder. I set the tip against the paper, and, again, I thought it moved almost hungrily beneath the tip. What was I meant to do here? What was I meant to write? Show them my Talent? How was I meant to do…

The pen came down on the paper, its tip blotting the surface as though through magnetism. As though some signal had been given, the pen began to move across the page. Suddenly, I was writing. I wrote words, crafted stories, spilled ideas as the paper drank them down before my eyes. I wrote days, weeks, years worth of stories onto the paper as I wrote. My hand cramped, and my wrist ached, but still, the merciless pen took my words. The paper drank greedily, swelling as I worked, growing as it gobbled my ideas. My vision swam as I felt my words dragged out of me. They were sucked from my body, and I felt sure that I must die.

The paper swelled as I wrote. The single-page became sheets, a novel, a towering juggernaut of pages. The room began to fill with pages, pressing against the ceiling and bulging against the walls. I was powerless to stop my hand from writing, and soon the pages began to block out the lights. I wrote in a state of darkness, my hand guided by its own insane engine. The pages pressed at me from all sides, entombing me in the written word. Still, I wrote.

When I finally passed out, it was a blessing.

I saw the pages topple onto me and closed my eyes as I prepared to be crushed beneath them.

The next thing I knew, I was waking up in my bed in my one-bedroom apartment. My arm throbbed, the fingers and hand feeling like rubber. When I tried to move them, I found them asleep and attributed the feeling to that. I shook them, thinking about the weird dream I had just woken up from. I had written himself into a literal tomb, and as I looked at my arm, I almost thought I could see small blisters on my fingers. I sat down at my computer, looking through my emails for job offers to see how I might manage to keep the lights on this month. When I came across a new email from Libras Talent, I thought I had misread it. It was a strange coincidence that I'd been dreaming about them, and now they were sending me a message. Still, I figured they wanted to make me another offer for my Talent, whatever that meant.

I had to read the email a few times, going over its contents a few times before the meaning finally sank in.

Greetings

We would like to thank you again for your Talent. Please find enclosed the agreed-upon payment for your Talent. We hope you are satisfied with your transaction.

Regards
Mr. D Sereph

I read the email repeatedly, still not quite believing it, before opening the app on my phone linked to my bank account. My eyes went wide when I saw the amount that had been deposited there. I goggled at it in disbelief. It hadn't been a dream, after all. I had sold my Talent! I grinned as I thought of the possibilities. Mr. Sereph had been right.

This amount of money could be life-changing.


I sighed as hI stepped back through the door of my apartment. It had been a great two-week vacation to the Bahamas. I'd spent those weeks in the lap of luxury and still hadn't made a dent in the amount of money Mr. Sereph had put in my bank account. It was an exhilarating feeling, being able to do whatever I wanted, living a life few dreamed of.

Now that I was back, though I supposed it was time to get back to work.

The money was nice, but it wouldn't last forever.

The news feed on my computer pinged to let him know that I had a new alert. I smiled as I saw that one of my favorite authors had just released a new book. I opened the link to look at the article but felt a surge of confusion as I read over the synopsis. It was a new novel, not like anything he'd ever written before. A world of high fantasy, a tale of adventure set in the world of Erudar, where the lord of the hunt sought the princess of…

I stood, astonished at what I was reading. That was MY story! I had been fleshing that concept out for years, and my manuscript was almost ready for submission. I had been so close to sending it off...well, maybe in a couple of years, I would have. I just had to be sure that it was ready before I just sent it off like that. Maybe after a few more re-reads, it would be okay to send it. I didn't want to embarrass myself by sending off...

The manuscript.

I had the manuscript saved on Google docs! I flipped on my computer and banged the mouse on the desk. I furiously opened the browser as the screen came up, putting in my information as the log in screen flashed. It would be time-stamped, dated. I could take it to the proper people and prove that this work had been stolen. As I filled in the required fields, I couldn't believe that something like this would happen. You read about this sort of thing happening online, but I never dreamed that it would happen to me. It was unthinkable, it was impossible, it was…

My google doc profile was empty.

The screen was devoid of content. Someone had scuttled my entire account. Nothing was left but an old resume' that was years out of date. Not a short stories or half-finished works. There was nothing here to signify that I had ever done anything at all.

My hand flew to the drawer and pulled it open. The drawer next to my desk was full of thumb drives that I used as a backup. Should the internet ever fall, I wanted something to fall back on, something to begin anew. An odd worry to have, I know, but we writer are often worried about losing our work to unforeseen circumstances. I searched feverishly;y through the drawer, but I needn't have bothered.

The drawer was empty. My hand scraped the too clean bottom of the drawer as my hand scrabbled through it. No note, no thumb drives, no dust, no trash. Nothing! The drawer was maddeningly clean, and I found myself sobbing as I continued to find nothing.

I searched my computer for any trace of my manuscript, stories, and anything, but it had all been erased. I searched my desk for any notes or leavings of my work, but also found nothing. I looked for my drawings, my sketches, but it was as though they had all disappeared. There wasn't a shred of evidence that I had ever created anything. Even the books I had self-published had vanished from my Amazon account, the hard copies absent from my shelves.

That was when I began to panic. What was happening? Someone had been in my apartment. Someone had stolen my work. Someone had taken my whole life and left me with nothing but the fading memories. Someone had stolen...

My blood ran cold.

My Talent.

I combed through my emails, searching for the email from Sereph. If I could find it, I could prove that he had spoken with him, I could get some help finding my works. The police would find prints or evidence that someone had been there, and they could help me get my things back. Money or not, theft was still a serious crime and...

The email was gone, nowhere to be found.

It was as though I had never spoken with him at all.

That was the day I set about finding Mr. Sereph. It became my all-consuming desire, my only goal in life, and I went about it with surgical precision. I had gone down to the building that had been Libras Talent, but it had been abandoned. The doors were locked, the sign removed, and the building looked empty and forlorn. It had been too big an operation to simply close up overnight, and I had asked the people in the buildings around them if they had seen them packing up. All of them only shook their heads, saying they didn't know anything about a talent agency or a publishing house. I went to the internet, searching for the sites I had used to track them down before, but any email I sent them was either returned, the email address closed, or ignored. It seemed my search wouldn't be as easy as tracking down the company and getting my Talent back.

I don't know when I started thinking of my thumb drives and notes as my Talent, but eventually, that was the word I began to use as well.

That was when I had taken to staking out the coffee shop. The place was always packed, and if Sereph was looking for other writers to swindle, I thought he might come back here. I had brought my laptop the first few times but had stopped after the first week. I was too distracted to write these days, after finding out my life's work had been stolen, and all I thought about was having my work returned to me. I'd spent the last three weeks drinking coffee and keeping my eyes peeled as I held down the corner booth near the bar. I arrived when the place opened and didn't leave until the final customer had shuffled out.

I found Mr. Sereph after the third week of staking out the coffee shop.

Well, that's not really true.

It was just after sunset on a Tuesday when he found me.

I had been sitting in the corner, listening to the sound of keys clacking and drinks being slurped, when I heard his oily voice ooze through my consciousness.

"What we're looking for is your talent."

I swung my head around sharply. The man was at a nearby table, talking to a blond girl that I had seen hanging around lately. She was working on a screenplay it seemed, working hard it seemed, and she had gained the interest of Libras Talent, it seemed. She looked over the business card and told him she'd think about it before leaving in a hurry. As she passed, I saw her face and could tell that she was as put off by the smiling man as I was.

The man sat for a moment, watching her leave, before turning to look at directly at me, smiling his shark's smile.

"I hear you've been looking for me."

I jumped, not yet sure what I would say to him. Mr. Sereph came sauntering over to my table, taking the empty seat as that too wide smile still made me cringe. He took a sip of the cold cup of coffee I had been ignoring for the last hour and seemed to be waiting for me to speak. He had caught me flat-footed, though, and I was utterly incapable of speechless. In my head, I had always been indignant, downright angry, but now, as I stared into that too-wide smile, I felt unsure of what I was doing.

"I assume that you're here to talk about your Talent. I must say, when it hit the bestseller list, I was shocked. I suppose we could reassess your price if you're looking for more money."

That lit the fire in me.

"I want to know exactly what the hell you think you're doing. You break into my apartment, steal my work, clean out my hard drive, and just think you can bribe me with more…"

"I did none of those things." Mr. Sereph said with a roll of his eyes, "We paid you for your Talent. Your Talent was writing, and we took that which we paid for. You signed a contract and were compensated handsomely."

"Wait...you mean you paid me for my stories?"

Sereph scoffed, "Stories? You think we paid you for the rights to your stories?" He laughed, drawing a few looks from the people near us, "I must ask, have you tried to write since you woke up in your bed?"

I had to think about that. Had I written anything for the past two weeks? Felt compelled to write anything? I had signed my name to a few things, maybe written a text message or two. Other than that, I hadn't written so much as a sentence creatively. I had been having too much fun to think about writing. That should have been weird too. The writing was what I did. Without it, my life would be pointless.

"That's right." Sereph said, taking a long sip of the cold coffee, "You sold us your Talent, rather cheaply too, but your kind usually does. You cut your golden goose open too quickly and find nothing as valuable as what you had."

"So, what is Libres Talent? You sell ideas to other writers?"

Sereph scoffed, "Ideas? You're still thinking too small. Do you think that Talent is something that just lasts forever? Talent is a finite resource. It flows and ebbs. Some people are lucky enough to have a large tidal pool, but some people have to buy others Talents to supplement. Libres Talent finds those in need of Talent, literary, athletic, political, what have you, and we get Talent for them."

My blood ran cold.

"So...I'll never write again?"

Mr. Sereph looked a little sad, "Sorry, kiddo, it looks like you'll just have to live like all these other talentless shlubs. But, hey, if you ever decide you want to buy some talent, do keep in touch."

He left a business card on the table and made his way out.

He left me sitting there, my head in my hands, as the sound of raw creativity clicked and scribbled around me.

I had to stop myself from sobbing.

I didn't even write this story. I haven't written anything more than my name or a shopping list since that day. I haven't heard the call to create or thought about anything besides what to watch on tv or what to eat or dinner since that day I woke up in my bed. I told this story to a friend, and he transcribed it for me so I could post it here. I fear it will be the last thing I ever have a hand in creating. I tell you all of this as a warning. There are people out there who will take advantage of simple human greed to cheat you out of your highest calling. Do not do as I have done, do not trade your Talent for a fist full of silver.

And if you see that bastard with the shark's grin, tell him no.

Whatever he offers is not worth your Talent.
submitted by Erutious to u/Erutious [link] [comments]


2020.09.25 04:58 Erutious For Your Talent

Readers will note that i have already published this in the third person on wednesday. Having re-written it in the first person, i like how it reads better. So i invite you to be the judge and tell me what you think. Hope you enjoy.
J. Campbell

I looked at the number written on the paper, and my eyes grew large.

That was way more money than I made in a year, more money than I'd made in my life, and this guy was offering it to me for…

"So, you want to pay me for...what, exactly?"

The man in the black suit stared at me, hollowly, from behind his mirrored glasses. He sat, nonchalantly, across the table at the small coffee shop I had written in for the last four years. I liked the ambiance here, as did many other local writers it seemed. It was a great place to read and write, and I had been coming here for the past year and a half. I could see many others around me, plinking away on their MacBooks or their off the shelf Walmart laptops, as they wrote the next great American novel or the next hit screenplay.

The longer the man sat there, the more I wished he had approached one of them instead.

"It's straightforward," he said, his voice and cadence reminding me of Agent Smith in The Matrix movies, "we want to pay you for your Talents. You come to our office, let us see your Talent, and pay you for your time and effort. Sound like something you might be interested in?"

Then he smiled, his lips sliding away from his perfectly artificial teeth, and I couldn't help but cringe all over.

It was like a dog who's been taught to smile, unsettling, and a little alarming.

But it was a lot of money.

"Let me think about it." I hedged, and the smile slid mechanically from the man's face.

He produced a business card, rising suddenly and holding it out.

"Let us know if you change your mind. The offer is valid whenever you're ready."

He left then, making his way for the door like a shark hunting his next meal.

I looked at the card and wrinkled my eyebrows.

It was a plain white business card, nothing fancy, with the words, "Libras Talent. Because your Talent should never go to waste." printed on it.

I stared at it for a while as my laptop screen went into sleep mode, darkening and allowing me to see myself as I sat in contemplation.

How very curious.

I've been writing in some form or another for my whole life.

When I was a child, I drew pictures and created games for my friends to play. My pictures, my mother swore, always told a story, and my games were never the haphazard mess that my friends often concocted. People who weren't even part of my friend circle often came to join our games, as they were both fun and engaging in a way that was hard for a child to explain. My teachers praised my creativity and expected they would see great things from me someday.

As I grew, so grew my stories. By the time I was in middle school, my works of fantasy were often entered into writing contests and local student works projects. My playground games had evolved into role play games and pieces of interactive fiction. When I was twelve, I discovered the world of Dungeons and Dragons. This began a lifelong love affair with the game, and I quickly took to the role of Game Master. My campaigns were immersive, my characters engaging, and my adventures never fell victim to the usual problems others seemed to encounter. I wrote well, and, again, the adults in my life often praised me, expecting great things from me in the future.

It was a no brainer for me to study writing after high school. I had soared through what is usually a very trying time for teens by channeling my churning emotions into my medium. I had gotten more than one scholarship for writing, and as college loomed, I put all my efforts into my work. I spent the next four years working on a BA in English and Literature. In the end, I felt I had the tools to begin plying my craft professionally.

Now, I was trying to figure out how to turn that Talent into a paycheck so that I could pay my bills. Magazines liked my work but wanted writers with more experience. There were people online who would pay for stories, but not enough to live off of. Agents were interested, but they didn't want to take a chance on someone so young. My writing was always well received, but there was always the ever-present But hanging at the end of all that praise. A few interested publishers had approached me, but it was always the sort that buried the line about price amidst all that talk. I was twenty-six, four years out of college, self-published, untried, and no one was willing to take a chance on me.

Everyone, except Libras Talent, that is.


I Googled them, of course. I had been burned too many times before and wanted to see what was in store if I decided to take their offer. Their website was professional but soulless. Their credentials were numerous but were presented without any real pride. This soulless corporation wanted another book for their accolades, another pet writer for their trophy case. If I signed on with them, I would be just another soulless shill who writes for nothing but a paycheck.

My phone buzzed, jarring me out of my contemplation. I looked down and sighed as I saw the message from the power company. My check had bounced again, and they were going to shut my power off at the end of the month without some kind of immediate action. That likely meant that Mr. Kapish, my boss at the gas station, had given out bad checks again. He would never admit it, and this likely meant that I wouldn't get paid until the end of the month.

I glanced at the card as it sat propped against my monitor.

Or maybe I'd be able to keep the lights on after all.


I nervously checked my phone to make sure I had come to the right place. I had come to a flat looking building, a two-story white stucco number that looked more like a distribution center than a publishing house. I had dressed in my best interview clothes, a polo, and a pair of slacks, and I already felt underdressed and unsure about the situation. The outer facade bore a simple sign, white and stark, just like the business card.

Libras Talent

I thought about leaving, but the call of the money was too much to resist.

I tried the door, and when it opened, it was almost too good to be true.

The woman behind the counter wore a broad smile as I stepped inside. She was looking at the door, as though expecting me. Her pants suit and quaffed hair made her look assembled rather than styled, but I was taken aback by her smiling regard. The waiting area was as stark as the facade, and the receptionist's regard made me feel like I was marked.

Had she been staring at the door the whole time, just waiting for someone to come in?

"Hi," I said shyly, "I'm looking for…"

"Welcome." she said cheerily, "Mr. Sereph is waiting for you in the back. Please go right ahead."

She pointed to a door to the left of the waiting room, and I walked hesitant towards it, a strange feeling growing with every step.

Beyond the door was a long hallway of offices, names neatly printed on the doors.

Mr. Sereph's office was the third in line.

I knocked, and a voice from the other side invited me in.

Mr. Sereph sat behind his desk, the too-wide smile stretching his lips painfully.

"I'm so glad you decided to accept my generous offer."

I sat across from the grinning man, feeling like Faust as he met with the Devil.

"It was too good a deal to pass up, I suppose," I offered lamely.

"Why yes, the money is a fine incentive, isn't it?"

I shuffled in my seat, not liking the man's regard.

"So, how does this work exactly? Do I have to write something for you or…"

I blinked, startled as looked back at Mr. Sereph, and found a contract had appeared on the desk. Mr. Sereph was leaning over the desk, that too wide smile stretching his face, as he handed me a weighty silver pen. Had that contract been there the whole time? I shrank back a little, the too-wide smile putting me off as the man leered at him.

"What's wrong? I thought you were ready to sign?"

"I am," I insisted, reaching shakily for the pen, "but I'm curious to know what this involves?"

"You show us your Talent, and we pay you for it. Couldn't be simpler."

I looked at the contract, unsure of whether to sign or not. I'd heard of writers getting sucked into these unfair contracts before, and I didn't fancy being kept as someone's pet writer. I looked down at the contract, but it wasn't particularly helpful either. They offered to pay me for my "Talent," but that was all it really said. It was very vague, not really saying anything other than that, with a lot of industry, speak in between.

I hesitated, reading over it again and again, as the money loomed up in my mind. That was a lot of money, enough to live comfortably for quite a while if I was careful. No matter what they had me do, that kind of money could change my life. And even if it were repetition or degrading, I'd still be doing what I loved, right?

I signed the contract and pushed it back to the smiling Mr. Sereph, my own smile looking lame next to his.

Mr. Sereph made it disappear before the ink seemed to be dry, and I was left holding the bulky silver pin in numb fingers.

"Excellent, now come with me so we can access your talent."

Mr. Sereph rose from the desk and led me out into the hall. I followed wordlessly, still not quite sure what was expected of me, as Mr. Sereph clacked along on his hard-soled boots. The long corridor slid past as we walked, the sameness a little disorienting. Mr. Sereph stopped outside another nondescript door and held it open for me to enter. Inside was a stark white room, cluttered only by a desk and a pen held in one of those ornate holders you often saw at weddings. Mr. Sereph nodded to the desk, indicating that I should sit.

"What do you want me to do?" I asked, hovering in the doorway.

I wasn't sure I wanted to enter that unblemished space.

"Just take up the pen; it will know what to do from there." Mr. Sereph said, still grinning that troubling smile.

I hesitated a moment longer before walking inside. I had nowhere else to go really, not unless I meant to break the contract. The room seemed to hum around me as I stepped in, and I could almost swear that the same fluorescent lights were present in the walls as well. The whole room seemed to glow softly around me, and when I turned back, I could see Mr. Sereph push the door shut.

The door slamming like a coffin lid behind me, and I was left alone in the room.

I walked to the desk and took a seat. A single piece of paper lay on it, unblemished and waiting for me. As I looked at it, I could swear that the surface moved. I didn't want to touch it, but it seemed to beckon to me none the less. I reached out for the pen, that instrument of creation, and it felt very right in my hand as I lifted it from the holder. I set the tip against the paper, and, again, I thought it moved almost hungrily beneath the tip. What was I meant to do here? What was I meant to write? Show them my Talent? How was I meant to do…

The pen came down on the paper, its tip blotting the surface as though through magnetism. As though some signal had been given, the pen began to move across the page. Suddenly, I was writing. I wrote words, crafted stories, spilled ideas as the paper drank them down before my eyes. I wrote days, weeks, years worth of stories onto the paper as I wrote. My hand cramped, and my wrist ached, but still, the merciless pen took my words. The paper drank greedily, swelling as I worked, growing as it gobbled my ideas. My vision swam as I felt my words dragged out of me. They were sucked from my body, and I felt sure that I must die.

The paper swelled as I wrote. The single-page became sheets, a novel, a towering juggernaut of pages. The room began to fill with pages, pressing against the ceiling and bulging against the walls. I was powerless to stop my hand from writing, and soon the pages began to block out the lights. I wrote in a state of darkness, my hand guided by its own insane engine. The pages pressed at me from all sides, entombing me in the written word. Still, I wrote.

When I finally passed out, it was a blessing.

I saw the pages topple onto me and closed my eyes as I prepared to be crushed beneath them.

The next thing I knew, I was waking up in my bed in my one-bedroom apartment. My arm throbbed, the fingers and hand feeling like rubber. When I tried to move them, I found them asleep and attributed the feeling to that. I shook them, thinking about the weird dream I had just woken up from. I had written himself into a literal tomb, and as I looked at my arm, I almost thought I could see small blisters on my fingers. I sat down at my computer, looking through my emails for job offers to see how I might manage to keep the lights on this month. When I came across a new email from Libras Talent, I thought I had misread it. It was a strange coincidence that I'd been dreaming about them, and now they were sending me a message. Still, I figured they wanted to make me another offer for my Talent, whatever that meant.

I had to read the email a few times, going over its contents a few times before the meaning finally sank in.

Greetings

We would like to thank you again for your Talent. Please find enclosed the agreed-upon payment for your Talent. We hope you are satisfied with your transaction.

Regards
Mr. D Sereph

I read the email repeatedly, still not quite believing it, before opening the app on my phone linked to my bank account. My eyes went wide when I saw the amount that had been deposited there. I goggled at it in disbelief. It hadn't been a dream, after all. I had sold my Talent! I grinned as I thought of the possibilities. Mr. Sereph had been right.

This amount of money could be life-changing.


I sighed as hI stepped back through the door of my apartment. It had been a great two-week vacation to the Bahamas. I'd spent those weeks in the lap of luxury and still hadn't made a dent in the amount of money Mr. Sereph had put in my bank account. It was an exhilarating feeling, being able to do whatever I wanted, living a life few dreamed of.

Now that I was back, though I supposed it was time to get back to work.

The money was nice, but it wouldn't last forever.

The news feed on my computer pinged to let him know that I had a new alert. I smiled as I saw that one of my favorite authors had just released a new book. I opened the link to look at the article but felt a surge of confusion as I read over the synopsis. It was a new novel, not like anything he'd ever written before. A world of high fantasy, a tale of adventure set in the world of Erudar, where the lord of the hunt sought the princess of…

I stood, astonished at what I was reading. That was MY story! I had been fleshing that concept out for years, and my manuscript was almost ready for submission. I had been so close to sending it off...well, maybe in a couple of years, I would have. I just had to be sure that it was ready before I just sent it off like that. Maybe after a few more re-reads, it would be okay to send it. I didn't want to embarrass myself by sending off...

The manuscript.

I had the manuscript saved on Google docs! I flipped on my computer and banged the mouse on the desk. I furiously opened the browser as the screen came up, putting in my information as the log in screen flashed. It would be time-stamped, dated. I could take it to the proper people and prove that this work had been stolen. As I filled in the required fields, I couldn't believe that something like this would happen. You read about this sort of thing happening online, but I never dreamed that it would happen to me. It was unthinkable, it was impossible, it was…

My google doc profile was empty.

The screen was devoid of content. Someone had scuttled my entire account. Nothing was left but an old resume' that was years out of date. Not a short stories or half-finished works. There was nothing here to signify that I had ever done anything at all.

My hand flew to the drawer and pulled it open. The drawer next to my desk was full of thumb drives that I used as a backup. Should the internet ever fall, I wanted something to fall back on, something to begin anew. An odd worry to have, I know, but we writer are often worried about losing our work to unforeseen circumstances. I searched feverishly;y through the drawer, but I needn't have bothered.

The drawer was empty. My hand scraped the too clean bottom of the drawer as my hand scrabbled through it. No note, no thumb drives, no dust, no trash. Nothing! The drawer was maddeningly clean, and I found myself sobbing as I continued to find nothing.

I searched my computer for any trace of my manuscript, stories, and anything, but it had all been erased. I searched my desk for any notes or leavings of my work, but also found nothing. I looked for my drawings, my sketches, but it was as though they had all disappeared. There wasn't a shred of evidence that I had ever created anything. Even the books I had self-published had vanished from my Amazon account, the hard copies absent from my shelves.

That was when I began to panic. What was happening? Someone had been in my apartment. Someone had stolen my work. Someone had taken my whole life and left me with nothing but the fading memories. Someone had stolen...

My blood ran cold.

My Talent.

I combed through my emails, searching for the email from Sereph. If I could find it, I could prove that he had spoken with him, I could get some help finding my works. The police would find prints or evidence that someone had been there, and they could help me get my things back. Money or not, theft was still a serious crime and...

The email was gone, nowhere to be found.

It was as though I had never spoken with him at all.

That was the day I set about finding Mr. Sereph. It became my all-consuming desire, my only goal in life, and I went about it with surgical precision. I had gone down to the building that had been Libras Talent, but it had been abandoned. The doors were locked, the sign removed, and the building looked empty and forlorn. It had been too big an operation to simply close up overnight, and I had asked the people in the buildings around them if they had seen them packing up. All of them only shook their heads, saying they didn't know anything about a talent agency or a publishing house. I went to the internet, searching for the sites I had used to track them down before, but any email I sent them was either returned, the email address closed, or ignored. It seemed my search wouldn't be as easy as tracking down the company and getting my Talent back.

I don't know when I started thinking of my thumb drives and notes as my Talent, but eventually, that was the word I began to use as well.

That was when I had taken to staking out the coffee shop. The place was always packed, and if Sereph was looking for other writers to swindle, I thought he might come back here. I had brought my laptop the first few times but had stopped after the first week. I was too distracted to write these days, after finding out my life's work had been stolen, and all I thought about was having my work returned to me. I'd spent the last three weeks drinking coffee and keeping my eyes peeled as I held down the corner booth near the bar. I arrived when the place opened and didn't leave until the final customer had shuffled out.

I found Mr. Sereph after the third week of staking out the coffee shop.

Well, that's not really true.

It was just after sunset on a Tuesday when he found me.

I had been sitting in the corner, listening to the sound of keys clacking and drinks being slurped, when I heard his oily voice ooze through my consciousness.

"What we're looking for is your talent."

I swung my head around sharply. The man was at a nearby table, talking to a blond girl that I had seen hanging around lately. She was working on a screenplay it seemed, working hard it seemed, and she had gained the interest of Libras Talent, it seemed. She looked over the business card and told him she'd think about it before leaving in a hurry. As she passed, I saw her face and could tell that she was as put off by the smiling man as I was.

The man sat for a moment, watching her leave, before turning to look at directly at me, smiling his shark's smile.

"I hear you've been looking for me."

I jumped, not yet sure what I would say to him. Mr. Sereph came sauntering over to my table, taking the empty seat as that too wide smile still made me cringe. He took a sip of the cold cup of coffee I had been ignoring for the last hour and seemed to be waiting for me to speak. He had caught me flat-footed, though, and I was utterly incapable of speechless. In my head, I had always been indignant, downright angry, but now, as I stared into that too-wide smile, I felt unsure of what I was doing.

"I assume that you're here to talk about your Talent. I must say, when it hit the bestseller list, I was shocked. I suppose we could reassess your price if you're looking for more money."

That lit the fire in me.

"I want to know exactly what the hell you think you're doing. You break into my apartment, steal my work, clean out my hard drive, and just think you can bribe me with more…"

"I did none of those things." Mr. Sereph said with a roll of his eyes, "We paid you for your Talent. Your Talent was writing, and we took that which we paid for. You signed a contract and were compensated handsomely."

"Wait...you mean you paid me for my stories?"

Sereph scoffed, "Stories? You think we paid you for the rights to your stories?" He laughed, drawing a few looks from the people near us, "I must ask, have you tried to write since you woke up in your bed?"

I had to think about that. Had I written anything for the past two weeks? Felt compelled to write anything? I had signed my name to a few things, maybe written a text message or two. Other than that, I hadn't written so much as a sentence creatively. I had been having too much fun to think about writing. That should have been weird too. The writing was what I did. Without it, my life would be pointless.

"That's right." Sereph said, taking a long sip of the cold coffee, "You sold us your Talent, rather cheaply too, but your kind usually does. You cut your golden goose open too quickly and find nothing as valuable as what you had."

"So, what is Libres Talent? You sell ideas to other writers?"

Sereph scoffed, "Ideas? You're still thinking too small. Do you think that Talent is something that just lasts forever? Talent is a finite resource. It flows and ebbs. Some people are lucky enough to have a large tidal pool, but some people have to buy others Talents to supplement. Libres Talent finds those in need of Talent, literary, athletic, political, what have you, and we get Talent for them."

My blood ran cold.

"So...I'll never write again?"

Mr. Sereph looked a little sad, "Sorry, kiddo, it looks like you'll just have to live like all these other talentless shlubs. But, hey, if you ever decide you want to buy some talent, do keep in touch."

He left a business card on the table and made his way out.

He left me sitting there, my head in my hands, as the sound of raw creativity clicked and scribbled around me.

I had to stop myself from sobbing.

I didn't even write this story. I haven't written anything more than my name or a shopping list since that day. I haven't heard the call to create or thought about anything besides what to watch on tv or what to eat or dinner since that day I woke up in my bed. I told this story to a friend, and he transcribed it for me so I could post it here. I fear it will be the last thing I ever have a hand in creating. I tell you all of this as a warning. There are people out there who will take advantage of simple human greed to cheat you out of your highest calling. Do not do as I have done, do not trade your Talent for a fist full of silver.

And if you see that bastard with the shark's grin, tell him no.

Whatever he offers is not worth your Talent.
submitted by Erutious to Erutious [link] [comments]


2020.09.25 04:55 Erutious For Your Talent

I looked at the number written on the paper, and my eyes grew large.

That was way more money than I made in a year, more money than I'd made in my life, and this guy was offering it to me for…

"So, you want to pay me for...what, exactly?"

The man in the black suit stared at me, hollowly, from behind his mirrored glasses. He sat, nonchalantly, across the table at the small coffee shop I had written in for the last four years. I liked the ambiance here, as did many other local writers it seemed. It was a great place to read and write, and the coffee was an added bonus. I could see many others around me, plinking away on their MacBooks or their off the shelf Walmart laptops, as they wrote the next great American novel or the next hit screenplay.

The longer the man sat there, the more I wished he had approached one of them instead.

"It's straightforward," he said, his voice and cadence reminding me of Agent Smith in The Matrix movies, "we want to pay you for your Talents. You come to our office, let us see your Talent, and pay you for your time and effort. Sound like something you might be interested in?"

Then he smiled, his lips sliding away from his perfectly artificial teeth, and I couldn't help but cringe all over.

It was like a dog who's been taught to smile, unsettling, and a little alarming.

But it was a lot of money.

"Let me think about it." I hedged, and the smile slid mechanically from the man's face.

He produced a business card, rising suddenly and holding it out.

"Let us know if you change your mind. The offer is valid whenever you're ready."

He left then, making his way for the door like a shark hunting his next meal.

I looked at the card and wrinkled my eyebrows.

It was a plain white business card, nothing fancy, with the words, "Libras Talent. Because your Talent should never go to waste." printed on it.

I stared at it for a while as my laptop screen went into sleep mode, darkening and allowing me to see myself as I sat in contemplation.

How very curious.

I've been writing in some form or another for my whole life.

When I was a child, I drew pictures and created games for my friends to play. My pictures, my mother swore, always told a story, and my games were never the haphazard mess that my friends often concocted. People who weren't even part of my friend circle often came to join our games, as they were both fun and engaging in a way that was hard for a child to explain. My teachers praised my creativity and expected they would see great things from me someday.

As I grew, so grew my stories. By the time I was in middle school, my works of fantasy were often entered into writing contests and local student works projects. My playground games had evolved into role play games and pieces of interactive fiction. When I was twelve, I discovered the world of Dungeons and Dragons. This began a lifelong love affair with the game, and I quickly took to the role of Game Master. My campaigns were immersive, my characters engaging, and my adventures never fell victim to the usual problems others seemed to encounter. I wrote well, and, again, the adults in my life often praised me, expecting great things from me in the future.

It was a no brainer for me to study writing after high school. I had soared through what is usually a very trying time for teens by channeling my churning emotions into my medium. I had gotten more than one scholarship for writing, and as college loomed, I put all my efforts into my work. I spent the next four years working on a BA in English and Literature. In the end, I felt I had the tools to begin plying my craft professionally.

Now, I was trying to figure out how to turn that Talent into a paycheck so that I could pay my bills. Magazines liked my work but wanted writers with more experience. There were people online who would pay for stories, but not enough to live off of. Agents were interested, but they didn't want to take a chance on someone so young. My writing was always well received, but there was always the ever-present But hanging at the end of all that praise. A few interested publishers had approached me, but it was always the sort that buried the line about price amidst all that talk. I was twenty-six, four years out of college, self-published, untried, and no one was willing to take a chance on me.

Everyone, except Libras Talent, that is.


I Googled them, of course. I had been burned too many times before and wanted to see what was in store if I decided to take their offer. Their website was professional but soulless. Their credentials were numerous but were presented without any real pride. This soulless corporation wanted another book for their accolades, another pet writer for their trophy case. If I signed on with them, I would be just another soulless shill who writes for nothing but a paycheck.

My phone buzzed, jarring me out of my contemplation. I looked down and sighed as I saw the message from the power company. My check had bounced again, and they were going to shut my power off at the end of the month without some kind of immediate action. That likely meant that Mr. Kapish, my boss at the gas station, had given out bad checks again. He would never admit it, and this likely meant that I wouldn't get paid until the end of the month.

I glanced at the card as it sat propped against my monitor.

Or maybe I'd be able to keep the lights on after all.


I nervously checked my phone to make sure I had come to the right place. I had come to a flat looking building, a two-story white stucco number that looked more like a distribution center than a publishing house. I had dressed in my best interview clothes, a polo, and a pair of slacks, and I already felt underdressed and unsure about the situation. The outer facade bore a simple sign, white and stark, just like the business card.

Libras Talent

I thought about leaving, but the call of the money was too much to resist.

I tried the door, and when it opened, it was almost too good to be true.

The woman behind the counter wore a broad smile as I stepped inside. She was looking at the door, as though expecting me. Her pants suit and quaffed hair made her look assembled rather than styled, but I was taken aback by her smiling regard. The waiting area was as stark as the facade, and the receptionist's regard made me feel like I was marked.

Had she been staring at the door the whole time, just waiting for someone to come in?

"Hi," I said shyly, "I'm looking for…"

"Welcome." she said cheerily, "Mr. Sereph is waiting for you in the back. Please go right ahead."

She pointed to a door to the left of the waiting room, and I walked hesitant towards it, a strange feeling growing with every step.

Beyond the door was a long hallway of offices, names neatly printed on the doors.

Mr. Sereph's office was the third in line.

I knocked, and a voice from the other side invited me in.

Mr. Sereph sat behind his desk, the too-wide smile stretching his lips painfully.

"I'm so glad you decided to accept my generous offer."

I sat across from the grinning man, feeling like Faust as he met with the Devil.

"It was too good a deal to pass up, I suppose," I offered lamely.

"Why yes, the money is a fine incentive, isn't it?"

I shuffled in my seat, not liking the man's regard.

"So, how does this work exactly? Do I have to write something for you or…"

I blinked, startled as looked back at Mr. Sereph, and found a contract had appeared on the desk. Mr. Sereph was leaning over the desk, that too wide smile stretching his face, as he handed me a weighty silver pen. Had that contract been there the whole time? I shrank back a little, the too-wide smile putting me off as the man leered at him.

"What's wrong? I thought you were ready to sign?"

"I am," I insisted, reaching shakily for the pen, "but I'm curious to know what this involves?"

"You show us your Talent, and we pay you for it. Couldn't be simpler."

I looked at the contract, unsure of whether to sign or not. I'd heard of writers getting sucked into these unfair contracts before, and I didn't fancy being kept as someone's pet writer. I looked down at the contract, but it wasn't particularly helpful either. They offered to pay me for my "Talent," but that was all it really said. It was very vague, not really saying anything other than that, with a lot of industry, speak in between.

I hesitated, reading over it again and again, as the money loomed up in my mind. That was a lot of money, enough to live comfortably for quite a while if I was careful. No matter what they had me do, that kind of money could change my life. And even if it were repetition or degrading, I'd still be doing what I loved, right?

I signed the contract and pushed it back to the smiling Mr. Sereph, my own smile looking lame next to his.

Mr. Sereph made it disappear before the ink seemed to be dry, and I was left holding the bulky silver pin in numb fingers.

"Excellent, now come with me so we can access your talent."

Mr. Sereph rose from the desk and led me out into the hall. I followed wordlessly, still not quite sure what was expected of me, as Mr. Sereph clacked along on his hard-soled boots. The long corridor slid past as we walked, the sameness a little disorienting. Mr. Sereph stopped outside another nondescript door and held it open for me to enter. Inside was a stark white room, cluttered only by a desk and a pen held in one of those ornate holders you often saw at weddings. Mr. Sereph nodded to the desk, indicating that I should sit.

"What do you want me to do?" I asked, hovering in the doorway.

I wasn't sure I wanted to enter that unblemished space.

"Just take up the pen; it will know what to do from there." Mr. Sereph said, still grinning that troubling smile.

I hesitated a moment longer before walking inside. I had nowhere else to go really, not unless I meant to break the contract. The room seemed to hum around me as I stepped in, and I could almost swear that the same fluorescent lights were present in the walls as well. The whole room seemed to glow softly around me, and when I turned back, I could see Mr. Sereph push the door shut.

The door slamming like a coffin lid behind me, and I was left alone in the room.

I walked to the desk and took a seat. A single piece of paper lay on it, unblemished and waiting for me. As I looked at it, I could swear that the surface moved. I didn't want to touch it, but it seemed to beckon to me none the less. I reached out for the pen, that instrument of creation, and it felt very right in my hand as I lifted it from the holder. I set the tip against the paper, and, again, I thought it moved almost hungrily beneath the tip. What was I meant to do here? What was I meant to write? Show them my Talent? How was I meant to do…

The pen came down on the paper, its tip blotting the surface as though through magnetism. As though some signal had been given, the pen began to move across the page. Suddenly, I was writing. I wrote words, crafted stories, spilled ideas as the paper drank them down before my eyes. I wrote days, weeks, years worth of stories onto the paper as I wrote. My hand cramped, and my wrist ached, but still, the merciless pen took my words. The paper drank greedily, swelling as I worked, growing as it gobbled my ideas. My vision swam as I felt my words dragged out of me. They were sucked from my body, and I felt sure that I must die.

The paper swelled as I wrote. The single-page became sheets, a novel, a towering juggernaut of pages. The room began to fill with pages, pressing against the ceiling and bulging against the walls. I was powerless to stop my hand from writing, and soon the pages began to block out the lights. I wrote in a state of darkness, my hand guided by its own insane engine. The pages pressed at me from all sides, entombing me in the written word. Still, I wrote.

When I finally passed out, it was a blessing.

I saw the pages topple onto me and closed my eyes as I prepared to be crushed beneath them.

The next thing I knew, I was waking up in my bed in my one-bedroom apartment. My arm throbbed, the fingers and hand feeling like rubber. When I tried to move them, I found them asleep and attributed the feeling to that. I shook them, thinking about the weird dream I had just woken up from. I had written himself into a literal tomb, and as I looked at my arm, I almost thought I could see small blisters on my fingers. I sat down at my computer, looking through my emails for job offers to see how I might manage to keep the lights on this month. When I came across a new email from Libras Talent, I thought I had misread it. It was a strange coincidence that I'd been dreaming about them, and now they were sending me a message. Still, I figured they wanted to make me another offer for my Talent, whatever that meant.

I had to read the email a few times, going over its contents a few times before the meaning finally sank in.

Greetings

We would like to thank you again for your Talent. Please find enclosed the agreed-upon payment for your Talent. We hope you are satisfied with your transaction.

Regards
Mr. D Sereph

I read the email repeatedly, still not quite believing it, before opening the app on my phone linked to my bank account. My eyes went wide when I saw the amount that had been deposited there. I goggled at it in disbelief. It hadn't been a dream, after all. I had sold my Talent! I grinned as I thought of the possibilities. Mr. Sereph had been right.

This amount of money could be life-changing.


I sighed as hI stepped back through the door of my apartment. It had been a great two-week vacation to the Bahamas. I'd spent those weeks in the lap of luxury and still hadn't made a dent in the amount of money Mr. Sereph had put in my bank account. It was an exhilarating feeling, being able to do whatever I wanted, living a life few dreamed of.

Now that I was back, though I supposed it was time to get back to work.

The money was nice, but it wouldn't last forever.

The news feed on my computer pinged to let him know that I had a new alert. I smiled as I saw that one of my favorite authors had just released a new book. I opened the link to look at the article but felt a surge of confusion as I read over the synopsis. It was a new novel, not like anything he'd ever written before. A world of high fantasy, a tale of adventure set in the world of Erudar, where the lord of the hunt sought the princess of…

I stood, astonished at what I was reading. That was MY story! I had been fleshing that concept out for years, and my manuscript was almost ready for submission. I had been so close to sending it off...well, maybe in a couple of years, I would have. I just had to be sure that it was ready before I just sent it off like that. Maybe after a few more re-reads, it would be okay to send it. I didn't want to embarrass myself by sending off...

The manuscript.

I had the manuscript saved on Google docs! I flipped on my computer and banged the mouse on the desk. I furiously opened the browser as the screen came up, putting in my information as the log in screen flashed. It would be time-stamped, dated. I could take it to the proper people and prove that this work had been stolen. As I filled in the required fields, I couldn't believe that something like this would happen. You read about this sort of thing happening online, but I never dreamed that it would happen to me. It was unthinkable, it was impossible, it was…

My google doc profile was empty.

The screen was devoid of content. Someone had scuttled my entire account. Nothing was left but an old resume' that was years out of date. Not a short stories or half-finished works. There was nothing here to signify that I had ever done anything at all.

My hand flew to the drawer and pulled it open. The drawer next to my desk was full of thumb drives that I used as a backup. Should the internet ever fall, I wanted something to fall back on, something to begin anew. An odd worry to have, I know, but we writer are often worried about losing our work to unforeseen circumstances. I searched feverishly through the drawer, but I needn't have bothered.

The drawer was empty. My hand scraped the too clean bottom of the drawer as my hand scrabbled through it. No note, no thumb drives, no dust, no trash. Nothing! The drawer was maddeningly clean, and I found myself sobbing as I continued to find nothing.

I searched my computer for any trace of my manuscript, stories, and anything, but it had all been erased. I searched my desk for any notes or leavings of my work, but also found nothing. I looked for my drawings, my sketches, but it was as though they had all disappeared. There wasn't a shred of evidence that I had ever created anything. Even the books I had self-published had vanished from my Amazon account, the hard copies absent from my shelves.

That was when I began to panic. What was happening? Someone had been in my apartment. Someone had stolen my work. Someone had taken my whole life and left me with nothing but the fading memories. Someone had stolen...

My blood ran cold.

My Talent.

I combed through my emails, searching for the email from Sereph. If I could find it, I could prove that he had spoken with him, I could get some help finding my works. The police would find prints or evidence that someone had been there, and they could help me get my things back. Money or not, theft was still a serious crime and...

The email was gone, nowhere to be found.

It was as though I had never spoken with him at all.

That was the day I set about finding Mr. Sereph. It became my all-consuming desire, my only goal in life, and I went about it with surgical precision. I had gone down to the building that had been Libras Talent, but it had been abandoned. The doors were locked, the sign removed, and the building looked empty and forlorn. It had been too big an operation to simply close up overnight, and I had asked the people in the buildings around them if they had seen them packing up. All of them only shook their heads, saying they didn't know anything about a talent agency or a publishing house. I went to the internet, searching for the sites I had used to track them down before, but any email I sent them was either returned, the email address closed, or ignored. It seemed my search wouldn't be as easy as tracking down the company and getting my Talent back.

I don't know when I started thinking of my thumb drives and notes as my Talent, but eventually, that was the word I began to use as well.

That was when I had taken to staking out the coffee shop. The place was always packed, and if Sereph was looking for other writers to swindle, I thought he might come back here. I had brought my laptop the first few times but had stopped after the first week. I was too distracted to write these days, after finding out my life's work had been stolen, and all I thought about was having my work returned to me. I'd spent the last three weeks drinking coffee and keeping my eyes peeled as I held down the corner booth near the bar. I arrived when the place opened and didn't leave until the final customer had shuffled out.

I found Mr. Sereph after the third week of staking out the coffee shop.

Well, that's not really true.

It was just after sunset on a Tuesday when he found me.

I had been sitting in the corner, listening to the sound of keys clacking and drinks being slurped, when I heard his oily voice ooze through my consciousness.

"What we're looking for is your talent."

I swung my head around sharply. The man was at a nearby table, talking to a blond girl that I had seen hanging around lately. She was working on a screenplay it seemed, working hard it seemed, and she had gained the interest of Libras Talent, it seemed. She looked over the business card and told him she'd think about it before leaving in a hurry. As she passed, I saw her face and could tell that she was as put off by the smiling man as I was.

The man sat for a moment, watching her leave, before turning to look at directly at me, smiling his shark's smile.

"I hear you've been looking for me."

I jumped, not yet sure what I would say to him. Mr. Sereph came sauntering over to my table, taking the empty seat as that too wide smile still made me cringe. He took a sip of the cold cup of coffee I had been ignoring for the last hour and seemed to be waiting for me to speak. He had caught me flat-footed, though, and I was utterly incapable of speechless. In my head, I had always been indignant, downright angry, but now, as I stared into that too-wide smile, I felt unsure of what I was doing.

"I assume that you're here to talk about your Talent. I must say, when it hit the bestseller list, I was shocked. I suppose we could reassess your price if you're looking for more money."

That lit the fire in me.

"I want to know exactly what the hell you think you're doing. You break into my apartment, steal my work, clean out my hard drive, and just think you can bribe me with more…"

"I did none of those things." Mr. Sereph said with a roll of his eyes, "We paid you for your Talent. Your Talent was writing, and we took that which we paid for. You signed a contract and thus the fruits of your talent became ours. We did not steal them, we merely repossessed our property."

"Wait...you mean you paid me for my stories?"

Sereph scoffed, "Stories? You think we paid you for the rights to your stories?" He laughed, drawing a few looks from the people near us, "I must ask, have you tried to write since you woke up in your bed?"

I had to think about that. Had I written anything for the past two weeks? Felt compelled to write anything? I had signed my name to a few things, maybe written a text message or two. Other than that, I hadn't written so much as a sentence creatively. I had been having too much fun to think about writing. That should have been weird too. The writing was what I did. Without it, my life would be pointless.

"That's right." Sereph said, taking a long sip of the cold coffee, "You sold us your Talent, rather cheaply too, but your kind usually does. You cut your golden goose open too quickly and find nothing as valuable as what you had."

"So, what is Libres Talent? You sell ideas to other writers?"

Sereph scoffed, "Ideas? You're still thinking too small. Do you think that Talent is something that just lasts forever? Talent is a finite resource. It flows and ebbs. Some people are lucky enough to have a large tidal pool, but some people have to buy others Talents to supplement. Libres Talent finds those in need of Talent, literary, athletic, political, what have you, and we get Talent for them."

My blood ran cold.

"So...I'll never write again?"

Mr. Sereph looked a little sad, "Sorry, kiddo, it looks like you'll just have to live like all these other talentless shlubs. But, hey, if you ever decide you want to buy some talent, do keep in touch."

He left a business card on the table and made his way out.

He left me sitting there, my head in my hands, as the sound of raw creativity clicked and scribbled around me.

I had to stop myself from sobbing.

I didn't even write this story. I haven't written anything more than my name or a shopping list since that day. I haven't heard the call to create or thought about anything besides what to watch on tv or what to eat or dinner since that day I woke up in my bed. I told this story to a friend, and he transcribed it for me so I could post it here. I fear it will be the last thing I ever have a hand in creating. I tell you all of this as a warning. There are people out there who will take advantage of simple human greed to cheat you out of your highest calling. Do not do as I have done, do not trade your Talent for a fist full of silver.

And if you see that bastard with the shark's grin, tell him no.

Whatever he offers is not worth your Talent.
submitted by Erutious to nosleep [link] [comments]


2020.09.24 16:57 Samk12345 Cant open word doc from one supplier

Recieved a ticket from a user that they cant open word documents from their largest supplier since Monday ( this has worked fine in the past ) the files are emailed to them , but when they try to open the .docx file in MS office they get the error "Word Experienced an error trying to open the file. Try these suggestions
Check the file permissions for the document or drive
Make sure there is sufficient free memory and disk space
open the file with the text recovery converter
I've disabled protected view, added to trusted locations and unblocked the file, but cannot open it in MS office - I can however open it in libreoffice and when I then save the file in libre office I can then open the saved file in MS office! I cant open them online aswell.
There are 20 + .docx files dating back to January from this supplier that cannot be opened, but the usre is adamant they have been able to open the previously.
This happens across multiple devices and different versions of office, I have a case open with microsoft at the moment but no joy so i've turned to reddit.
submitted by Samk12345 to sysadmin [link] [comments]


2020.09.24 01:19 Erutious For Your Talent

Ted looked at the number written on the paper, and his eyes grew large.
That was way more money than he made in a year, and this guy was offering it to him for…
"So, you want to pay me for...what, exactly?"
The man in the black suit stared at him, hollowly, from behind his mirrored glasses. He sat, nonchalantly, across the table at the small coffee shop Ted had written in for the last four years. Ted liked the ambiance here, and many other local writers seemed to think it was a great place to read as well. Tim could see many others around them, plinking away on their MacBooks or off the shelf Walmart laptops, as they wrote the next great American novel or the next hit screenplay.
The longer the man sat there, the more Ted wished he had approached one of them instead.
"It's straightforward," he said, his voice and cadence reminding Ted of Agent Smith in The Matrix movies, "we want to pay you for your talents. You come to our office, let us see your Talent, and pay you for your time and effort. Sound like something you might be interested in?"
Then he smiled, his lips sliding away from his perfectly artificial teeth, and Ted cringed all over.
It was like a dog who's been taught to smile, unsettling, and a little alarming.
But it was a lot of money.
"Let me think about it." Ted hedged, and the smile slid mechanically from the man's face.
He produced a business card, rising suddenly and holding it out.
"Let us know if you change your mind. The offer is valid whenever you're ready."
He left then, making his way for the door like a shark hunting his next meal.
Ted looked at the card and wrinkled his eyebrows.
It was a plain white business card, nothing fancy, with the words, "Libras Talent. Because your Talent should never go to waste."
Ted looked at it for a while as his laptop screen went into sleep mode, darkening and allowing him to see himself as he sat in contemplation.
How very curious.
Ted had been writing in some form or another for his whole life.
When he was a child, he drew pictures and created games for his friends to play. Ted's pictures, his mother swore, always told a story, and his games were never the haphazard mess that his friends often concocted. People who weren't even part of Ted's friend circle often came to join their games, as they were both fun and engaging in a way that was hard for a child to explain. His teachers praised his creativity and expected they would see great things from him someday.
As Ted grew, so grew his stories. By the time he was in middle school, Ted's works of fantasy were often entered into writing contests, and local student works projects. His playground games had evolved into role play games, and when Ted was twelve, he discovered the fantasy world of Dungeons and Dragons. This began a lifelong love affair with the game, and he took to the role of game master quickly. Ted's campaigns were immersive, his characters engaging, and his adventures never fell victim to the usual problems his friends seemed to encounter. Ted wrote well and, again, the adults in his life often praised him, expecting great things from him in the future.
It was a no brainer for Ted to study writing after high school. He had soared through what is normally a very trying time for teens by channeling his churning emotions into his medium. Ted had gotten more than one scholarship for his writing, and as college loomed, he put all his efforts into his work. Ted spent the next four years working on a BA in English and Literature, and in the end, he felt I had the expected tools to begin plying his craft professionally.
Now, Ted was trying to figure out how to turn that Talent into a paycheck so that he could pay his bills. Magazines liked his work but wanted writers with more experience. There were people online who would pay for stories, but not enough to live off of. Agents were interested, but they didn't want to take a chance on someone so young. Ted's writing was always well received, but there was always the ever-present But hanging at the end of all that praise. A few "Interested Publishers had approached him," but it was always the sort that buried the line of price amidst all that talk. Ted was twenty-six, four years out of college, self-published, untried, and no one was willing to take a chance on him.
Everyone, except Libras Talent, that is.
Ted Googled them, of course. He had been burned too many times before and wanted to see what was in store if he decided to take their offer. Their website was professional but soulless. Their credentials were numerous but were presented without any real pride. This soulless corporation wanted another book for their accolades, another pet writer for their trophy case. If Ted signed on with them, he would be just another soules shill who writes for nothing but a paycheck.
Ted's phone buzzed. He looked down and sighed as he saw a message from the power company. His check had bounced again, and they were going to shut his power off at the end of the month without some kind of immediate action. That likely meant that Mr. Kapish, his boss at the gas station, had given them bad checks again. He would never admit it, and this likely meant that Ted wouldn't get paid until the end of the month.
He looked at the card.
Or maybe he'd be able to keep the lights on after all.
He nervously checked his phone to make sure he had come to the right place. He had come to a flat looking building, a two-story white stucco building that looked more like a distribution center than a publishing house. Ted had worn his best interview clothes, a polo, and a pair of slacks, and he already felt underdressed and unsure about the situation. The outer facade bore a simple sign, white and stark, just like the business card.
Libras Talent
Ted thought about leaving, but the call of the money was too much to resist.
The woman behind the counter wore a similar smile as he walked inside. She was looking at the door, as though expecting him, and her pants suit and quaffed hair made her look assembled rather than styled. Ted was taken aback by her smiling regard, and he almost left. The waiting area was as stark as the facade, and the receptionist regard made him feel like he was marked.
Had she been staring at the door the whole time, just waiting for someone to come in?
"Hi," Ted said, "I'm looking for…"
"Welcome, Mr. Dreff. Mr. Sereph is waiting for you in the back. Please go right ahead.
She pointed to a door to the left of the waiting room, and Ted walked hesitant towards it, his strange feeling growing with every step.
Beyond the door was a long hallway of offices, names neatly printed on the doors. Mr. Sereph's office was the third in line.
Ted knocked, and a voice from the other side invited him in.
Mr. Sereph sat behind his desk, the too-wide smile stretching his lips painfully.
"Mr. Dreff, I'm so glad you decided to accept my generous offer."
Ted sat across from the grinning man, feeling like Faust as he met with the devil.
"It was too good a deal to pass up, I suppose," Ted said
"Why yes, the money is a fine incentive, isn't it?"
Ted shuffled in his seat, not liking the man's regard.
"So, how does this work exactly? Do I have to write something for you or…"
Ted blinked as a contract appeared on the desk. Mr. Sereph was leaning over the desk, that too wide smile stretching his face, as he handed Ted a heavy silver pen. Had that contract been there the whole time? Td sat back a little, the too-wide smile putting him off a little as the man leered at him.
"What's wrong? I thought you were ready to sign?"
"I am, but I'm curious to know what this involves?" Ted asked.
"You show us your Talent, and we pay you for you. Couldn't be simpler."
Ted looked at the contract, unsure of whether to sign or not. He'd heard of writers getting sucked into these unfair contracts before. He didn't fancy being kept as someone's pet writer; his Talent milked for god knew what. Ted looked down at the contract, but it wasn't particularly helpful either. They offered to pay him for his "Talent," but that was all it really said. It was very vague, not really saying anything other than that, with a lot of industry, speak in between.
As Ted hesitated, though, the money loomed up in his mind again. That was a lot of money, enough to live comfortably for quite a while if he was careful. No matter what they had him do, that kind of money could change his life. And even if it were repetition or degrading, he'd still be doing what he loved, right?
Ted signed the contract and pushed it back to the smiling man.
Mr. Sereph made it disappear before the ink seemed to be dry, and Ted was left holding the bulky silver pin in numb fingers.
"Excellent, now come with me so we can access your talent."
Mr. Sereph rose from the desk and led him out of the office. Ted followed wordlessly, still not quite sure what was expected of him. The long corridor slid past as they walked, the sameness a little disorienting.
Mr. Sereph stopped outside another nondescript door and held it open for Ted. Inside was a stark white room, cluttered only by a desk and a pen held in one of those ornate holders you often saw at weddings. Mr. Sereph nodded to the desk, indicating that he should sit.
"What do you want me to do?" Ted asked, still hovering in the doorway.
Ted wasn't sure he wanted to enter that unblemished space.
"Just take up the pen; it will know what to do from there." Mr. Sereph said, still grinning that troubling smile.
Ted hesitated a moment longer before walking inside, the door slamming like a coffin lif behind him.
Ted took a seat. On the desk was a single piece of paper, unblemished, and as he looked at it, he could swear that the surface moved. He didn't want to touch it, but it seemed to beckon him to none the less. He reached out for the pen, that instrument of creation, and it felt very right in his hand as he lifted it from the holder. He set the tip against the paper, and, again, he thought it moved. What was he meant to do here? What was he meant to write? Show them his Talent? How was he meant to do…
The pen came down on the paper, its tip blotting the surface as though through magnetism. Suddenly, Ted was writing. He was writing words, crafting stories, spilling ideas as the paper drank them down before his eyes. He spilled days, weeks, years worth of stories onto the pape as he wrote. His hand cramped, and his wrist ached, but still, the merciless pen took his words. The paper drank greedily, swelling as he worked. Ted's vision swam as he felt his words dragged out of him, sucked from his body, and he felt certain that he must die.
The paper swelled as he wrote, becoming sheets, a novel, a towering juggernaut of pages. The room began to fill with pages, pressing against the ceiling and bulging against the walls. Ted was powerless to stop his hand from writing, but soon the pages began to block out the lights, and he wrote in a state of darkness. The pages pressed at him from all sides, entombing him in the written word, but still, he wrote.
When he finally passed out, it was a blessing.
Ted woke up in his bed. His arm throbbed, the fingers and hand feeling like rubber, but when he tried to move it, he found it asleep. He shook at it, thinking about the weird dream he had just woken up from. He had written himself into a literal tomb, and as he looked at his arm, he almost thought he could see small blisters on his fingers. He sat down at his computer, looking through his emails for job offers when he came across a new email from Libras Talent. He thought it a strange coincidence that he had been dreaming about them, and now they were sending him a message, but he figured they wanted to make him another offer for his Talent, whatever that meant.
He opened it and read through the email, confused as he read over the contents.
Dear Mr. Dreff
We would like to thank you again for your Talent. Please find enclosed the payment for your Talent, and we hope you are satisfied with your transaction.
Regards Mr. D Sereph
Ted read the email repeatedly before opening the app on his phone linked to his bank account. Ted's eyes went wide when he saw the amount in his account. He goggled at it in disbelief. It hasn't been a dream, after all. He had sold his Talent he guessed. Ted grinned as he took thought of the possibilities. Mr. Sereph had been right.
This amount of money could be life-changing.
Ted sighed as he stepped back through the door of his apartment. He had been on a two-week vacation to the Bahamas, spent those weeks in the lap of luxury, and still hasn't made a dent in the amount of money Mr. Sereph had put in his bank account. It was a sobering feeling, being able to do whatever you wanted, living a life few even dreamed of.
Now he was back, though, and he supposed it was time to get back to work.
The money was nice, but it wouldn't last forever.
The news feed on his computer pinged to let him know that one of his favorite authors had just released a new book. Ted opened the link to look at the book but felt a surge of confusion as he read over the synopsis. It was a new novel, not like anything he'd ever written before. A world of high fantasy, a tale of adventure set in the world of Erudar, where the lord of the hunt sought the princess of…
Ted was astonished. That was his story! He had been fleshing that concept out for years, and his manuscript was almost ready for submission. He had been so close to sending it off...well, maybe in a couple of years, he would have. He just had to be sure that it was ready before he just sent it off like that.
The manuscript.
Ted had the manuscript saved on Google docs! Ted furiously opened the browser, putting in his information as he brought up his account. It would be time-stamped, dated. He could take it to the proper people and prove that his work had been stolen. He couldn't believe that something like this would happen to him. He had read about this sort of thing happening online, but he never dreamed that it would happen to him. It was unthinkable, it was impossible, it was…
His google doc profile was empty.
The screen was devoid of content.
He pulled open the drawer next to his desk, searching desperately for the thumb drives I kept as a backup.
The drawer was empty.
Ted searched his computer for traces of his manuscript, stories, and anything, but it had all been erased.
Ted had begun to panic then. What was happening? Someone had been in his apartment. Someone had stolen his work. Someone had taken his….
His Talent.
Ted combed through his emails, searching for the email from Sereph.
It, too, was gone, nowhere to be found.
It was as though he had never spoken with anyone.
He found Mr. Sereph after the third week of staking out the coffee shop. He had gone down to the building that had been Libras Talent, but the building had been abandoned. The doors were locked, the sign removed, and the building looked empty and forlorn. It had been too big an operation to simply close up overnight. He had asked the people in the buildings around them, but all of them only shook their heads, saying they didn't know anything about a talent agency or a publishing house. That was when he had taken to staking out the coffee shop. The place was always packed, and if Sereph was looking for other writers to swindle, he might come back here. He had brought his laptop the first few times but had stopped after the first week. He was too distracted to write these days, after finding out his life's work had been stolen, and all he thought about was having his work returned to him. He'd spent the last three weeks drinking coffee and keeping his eyes peeled. He arrived when the place opened and didn't leave until the final customer had shuffled out.
It was just after sunset on a Tuesday when he found him.
"What we're looking for is your talent."
Ted swung his head around sharply. The man was at an adjoining table, talking to a blond girl that Ted had seen hanging around lately. She was working on a screenplay it seemed, working hard it seemed, and it seemed she had gained the interest of Libras Talent. She looked over the business card and told him she'd think about it before leaving in a hurry. The man sat for a moment, watching her leave, before turning to look at Ted.
"Mr. Dreft, I hear you've been looking for me."
Ted jumped, not yet sure what he would say, as Mr. Sereph came sauntering over to his table. He sat in the empty seat that too wide smile still making Ted cringe. He took a sip of the cold cup of coffee Ted had left there and seemed to be waiting for Ted to speak, but Ted still wasn't sure how to begin this encounter. In his head, Ted had always been indignant, downright angry, but now, as he stared into that too-wide smile, he felt unsure of what he was doing.
"I assume that you're here to talk about your Talent. I must say, when it hit the bestseller list, I was shocked. I suppose we could reassess your price if you're looking for more money."
That lit the fire in Ted again.
"I want to know exactly what the hell you think you're doing. You break into my apartment, steal my work, clean out my hard drive, and just think you can bribe me with more…"
"I did none of those things." Mr. Sereph said with a roll of his eyes, "We paid you for your Talent. Your Talent was writing, and we paid you for it. You signed a contract and were compensated handsomely."
"Wait...you mean you paid me for my stories?"
Sereph scoffed, "Stories? Mr. Dreff, have you tried to write since you woke up in your bed?"
Ted thought about it. Had he written anything for the past two weeks? Felt compelled to write anything? He had signed his name to a few things, maybe written a text message or two, but other than that, he hasn't written so much as a sentence creatively. He had been having so much fun that the need hasn't arisen, and that should have been weird too. The writing was what Ted did. Without it, his life was…
"That's right. You sold us your Talent, rather cheaply too. But, your kind usually does. You cut your goose open too quickly and find nothing as valuable as what you had."
"So, what is Libres Talent? You sell ideas to other writers?"
Sereph scoffed, "Ideas? You're still thinking too small. Do you think that Talent is something that just lasts forever? Talent is a finite resource. It flows and ebbs. Some people are lucky enough to have a large tidal pool, but some people have to buy their Talent to supplement. Libres Talent finds those in need of Talent, literary, athletic, political, what have you, and we get Talent for them."
Ted's blood ran cold.
"So...I'll never write again?"
Mr. Sereph looked a little sad, "Sorry, kiddo, it looks like you'll just have to live like all these other talentless shlubs. But, hey, if you ever decide you want to buy some talent, do keep in touch."
He left a business card on the table and made his way out.
Ted just sat there, hearing the click of the keyboard and the creation of raw ideas, and put his head in his hands.
submitted by Erutious to u/Erutious [link] [comments]


2020.09.24 01:18 Erutious For Your Talent

Ted looked at the number written on the paper, and his eyes grew large.
That was way more money than he made in a year, and this guy was offering it to him for…
"So, you want to pay me for...what, exactly?"
The man in the black suit stared at him, hollowly, from behind his mirrored glasses. He sat, nonchalantly, across the table at the small coffee shop Ted had written in for the last four years. Ted liked the ambiance here, and many other local writers seemed to think it was a great place to read as well. Tim could see many others around them, plinking away on their MacBooks or off the shelf Walmart laptops, as they wrote the next great American novel or the next hit screenplay.
The longer the man sat there, the more Ted wished he had approached one of them instead.
"It's straightforward," he said, his voice and cadence reminding Ted of Agent Smith in The Matrix movies, "we want to pay you for your talents. You come to our office, let us see your Talent, and pay you for your time and effort. Sound like something you might be interested in?"
Then he smiled, his lips sliding away from his perfectly artificial teeth, and Ted cringed all over.
It was like a dog who's been taught to smile, unsettling, and a little alarming.
But it was a lot of money.
"Let me think about it." Ted hedged, and the smile slid mechanically from the man's face.
He produced a business card, rising suddenly and holding it out.
"Let us know if you change your mind. The offer is valid whenever you're ready."
He left then, making his way for the door like a shark hunting his next meal.
Ted looked at the card and wrinkled his eyebrows.
It was a plain white business card, nothing fancy, with the words, "Libras Talent. Because your Talent should never go to waste."
Ted looked at it for a while as his laptop screen went into sleep mode, darkening and allowing him to see himself as he sat in contemplation.
How very curious.
Ted had been writing in some form or another for his whole life.
When he was a child, he drew pictures and created games for his friends to play. Ted's pictures, his mother swore, always told a story, and his games were never the haphazard mess that his friends often concocted. People who weren't even part of Ted's friend circle often came to join their games, as they were both fun and engaging in a way that was hard for a child to explain. His teachers praised his creativity and expected they would see great things from him someday.
As Ted grew, so grew his stories. By the time he was in middle school, Ted's works of fantasy were often entered into writing contests, and local student works projects. His playground games had evolved into role play games, and when Ted was twelve, he discovered the fantasy world of Dungeons and Dragons. This began a lifelong love affair with the game, and he took to the role of game master quickly. Ted's campaigns were immersive, his characters engaging, and his adventures never fell victim to the usual problems his friends seemed to encounter. Ted wrote well and, again, the adults in his life often praised him, expecting great things from him in the future.
It was a no brainer for Ted to study writing after high school. He had soared through what is normally a very trying time for teens by channeling his churning emotions into his medium. Ted had gotten more than one scholarship for his writing, and as college loomed, he put all his efforts into his work. Ted spent the next four years working on a BA in English and Literature, and in the end, he felt I had the expected tools to begin plying his craft professionally.
Now, Ted was trying to figure out how to turn that Talent into a paycheck so that he could pay his bills. Magazines liked his work but wanted writers with more experience. There were people online who would pay for stories, but not enough to live off of. Agents were interested, but they didn't want to take a chance on someone so young. Ted's writing was always well received, but there was always the ever-present But hanging at the end of all that praise. A few "Interested Publishers had approached him," but it was always the sort that buried the line of price amidst all that talk. Ted was twenty-six, four years out of college, self-published, untried, and no one was willing to take a chance on him.
Everyone, except Libras Talent, that is.
Ted Googled them, of course. He had been burned too many times before and wanted to see what was in store if he decided to take their offer. Their website was professional but soulless. Their credentials were numerous but were presented without any real pride. This soulless corporation wanted another book for their accolades, another pet writer for their trophy case. If Ted signed on with them, he would be just another soules shill who writes for nothing but a paycheck.
Ted's phone buzzed. He looked down and sighed as he saw a message from the power company. His check had bounced again, and they were going to shut his power off at the end of the month without some kind of immediate action. That likely meant that Mr. Kapish, his boss at the gas station, had given them bad checks again. He would never admit it, and this likely meant that Ted wouldn't get paid until the end of the month.
He looked at the card.
Or maybe he'd be able to keep the lights on after all.
He nervously checked his phone to make sure he had come to the right place. He had come to a flat looking building, a two-story white stucco building that looked more like a distribution center than a publishing house. Ted had worn his best interview clothes, a polo, and a pair of slacks, and he already felt underdressed and unsure about the situation. The outer facade bore a simple sign, white and stark, just like the business card.
Libras Talent
Ted thought about leaving, but the call of the money was too much to resist.
The woman behind the counter wore a similar smile as he walked inside. She was looking at the door, as though expecting him, and her pants suit and quaffed hair made her look assembled rather than styled. Ted was taken aback by her smiling regard, and he almost left. The waiting area was as stark as the facade, and the receptionist regard made him feel like he was marked.
Had she been staring at the door the whole time, just waiting for someone to come in?
"Hi," Ted said, "I'm looking for…"
"Welcome, Mr. Dreff. Mr. Sereph is waiting for you in the back. Please go right ahead.
She pointed to a door to the left of the waiting room, and Ted walked hesitant towards it, his strange feeling growing with every step.
Beyond the door was a long hallway of offices, names neatly printed on the doors. Mr. Sereph's office was the third in line.
Ted knocked, and a voice from the other side invited him in.
Mr. Sereph sat behind his desk, the too-wide smile stretching his lips painfully.
"Mr. Dreff, I'm so glad you decided to accept my generous offer."
Ted sat across from the grinning man, feeling like Faust as he met with the devil.
"It was too good a deal to pass up, I suppose," Ted said
"Why yes, the money is a fine incentive, isn't it?"
Ted shuffled in his seat, not liking the man's regard.
"So, how does this work exactly? Do I have to write something for you or…"
Ted blinked as a contract appeared on the desk. Mr. Sereph was leaning over the desk, that too wide smile stretching his face, as he handed Ted a heavy silver pen. Had that contract been there the whole time? Td sat back a little, the too-wide smile putting him off a little as the man leered at him.
"What's wrong? I thought you were ready to sign?"
"I am, but I'm curious to know what this involves?" Ted asked.
"You show us your Talent, and we pay you for you. Couldn't be simpler."
Ted looked at the contract, unsure of whether to sign or not. He'd heard of writers getting sucked into these unfair contracts before. He didn't fancy being kept as someone's pet writer; his Talent milked for god knew what. Ted looked down at the contract, but it wasn't particularly helpful either. They offered to pay him for his "Talent," but that was all it really said. It was very vague, not really saying anything other than that, with a lot of industry, speak in between.
As Ted hesitated, though, the money loomed up in his mind again. That was a lot of money, enough to live comfortably for quite a while if he was careful. No matter what they had him do, that kind of money could change his life. And even if it were repetition or degrading, he'd still be doing what he loved, right?
Ted signed the contract and pushed it back to the smiling man.
Mr. Sereph made it disappear before the ink seemed to be dry, and Ted was left holding the bulky silver pin in numb fingers.
"Excellent, now come with me so we can access your talent."
Mr. Sereph rose from the desk and led him out of the office. Ted followed wordlessly, still not quite sure what was expected of him. The long corridor slid past as they walked, the sameness a little disorienting.
Mr. Sereph stopped outside another nondescript door and held it open for Ted. Inside was a stark white room, cluttered only by a desk and a pen held in one of those ornate holders you often saw at weddings. Mr. Sereph nodded to the desk, indicating that he should sit.
"What do you want me to do?" Ted asked, still hovering in the doorway.
Ted wasn't sure he wanted to enter that unblemished space.
"Just take up the pen; it will know what to do from there." Mr. Sereph said, still grinning that troubling smile.
Ted hesitated a moment longer before walking inside, the door slamming like a coffin lif behind him.
Ted took a seat. On the desk was a single piece of paper, unblemished, and as he looked at it, he could swear that the surface moved. He didn't want to touch it, but it seemed to beckon him to none the less. He reached out for the pen, that instrument of creation, and it felt very right in his hand as he lifted it from the holder. He set the tip against the paper, and, again, he thought it moved. What was he meant to do here? What was he meant to write? Show them his Talent? How was he meant to do…
The pen came down on the paper, its tip blotting the surface as though through magnetism. Suddenly, Ted was writing. He was writing words, crafting stories, spilling ideas as the paper drank them down before his eyes. He spilled days, weeks, years worth of stories onto the pape as he wrote. His hand cramped, and his wrist ached, but still, the merciless pen took his words. The paper drank greedily, swelling as he worked. Ted's vision swam as he felt his words dragged out of him, sucked from his body, and he felt certain that he must die.
The paper swelled as he wrote, becoming sheets, a novel, a towering juggernaut of pages. The room began to fill with pages, pressing against the ceiling and bulging against the walls. Ted was powerless to stop his hand from writing, but soon the pages began to block out the lights, and he wrote in a state of darkness. The pages pressed at him from all sides, entombing him in the written word, but still, he wrote.
When he finally passed out, it was a blessing.
Ted woke up in his bed. His arm throbbed, the fingers and hand feeling like rubber, but when he tried to move it, he found it asleep. He shook at it, thinking about the weird dream he had just woken up from. He had written himself into a literal tomb, and as he looked at his arm, he almost thought he could see small blisters on his fingers. He sat down at his computer, looking through his emails for job offers when he came across a new email from Libras Talent. He thought it a strange coincidence that he had been dreaming about them, and now they were sending him a message, but he figured they wanted to make him another offer for his Talent, whatever that meant.
He opened it and read through the email, confused as he read over the contents.
Dear Mr. Dreff
We would like to thank you again for your Talent. Please find enclosed the payment for your Talent, and we hope you are satisfied with your transaction.
Regards Mr. D Sereph
Ted read the email repeatedly before opening the app on his phone linked to his bank account. Ted's eyes went wide when he saw the amount in his account. He goggled at it in disbelief. It hasn't been a dream, after all. He had sold his Talent he guessed. Ted grinned as he took thought of the possibilities. Mr. Sereph had been right.
This amount of money could be life-changing.
Ted sighed as he stepped back through the door of his apartment. He had been on a two-week vacation to the Bahamas, spent those weeks in the lap of luxury, and still hasn't made a dent in the amount of money Mr. Sereph had put in his bank account. It was a sobering feeling, being able to do whatever you wanted, living a life few even dreamed of.
Now he was back, though, and he supposed it was time to get back to work.
The money was nice, but it wouldn't last forever.
The news feed on his computer pinged to let him know that one of his favorite authors had just released a new book. Ted opened the link to look at the book but felt a surge of confusion as he read over the synopsis. It was a new novel, not like anything he'd ever written before. A world of high fantasy, a tale of adventure set in the world of Erudar, where the lord of the hunt sought the princess of…
Ted was astonished. That was his story! He had been fleshing that concept out for years, and his manuscript was almost ready for submission. He had been so close to sending it off...well, maybe in a couple of years, he would have. He just had to be sure that it was ready before he just sent it off like that.
The manuscript.
Ted had the manuscript saved on Google docs! Ted furiously opened the browser, putting in his information as he brought up his account. It would be time-stamped, dated. He could take it to the proper people and prove that his work had been stolen. He couldn't believe that something like this would happen to him. He had read about this sort of thing happening online, but he never dreamed that it would happen to him. It was unthinkable, it was impossible, it was…
His google doc profile was empty.
The screen was devoid of content.
He pulled open the drawer next to his desk, searching desperately for the thumb drives I kept as a backup.
The drawer was empty.
Ted searched his computer for traces of his manuscript, stories, and anything, but it had all been erased.
Ted had begun to panic then. What was happening? Someone had been in his apartment. Someone had stolen his work. Someone had taken his….
His Talent.
Ted combed through his emails, searching for the email from Sereph.
It, too, was gone, nowhere to be found.
It was as though he had never spoken with anyone.
He found Mr. Sereph after the third week of staking out the coffee shop. He had gone down to the building that had been Libras Talent, but the building had been abandoned. The doors were locked, the sign removed, and the building looked empty and forlorn. It had been too big an operation to simply close up overnight. He had asked the people in the buildings around them, but all of them only shook their heads, saying they didn't know anything about a talent agency or a publishing house. That was when he had taken to staking out the coffee shop. The place was always packed, and if Sereph was looking for other writers to swindle, he might come back here. He had brought his laptop the first few times but had stopped after the first week. He was too distracted to write these days, after finding out his life's work had been stolen, and all he thought about was having his work returned to him. He'd spent the last three weeks drinking coffee and keeping his eyes peeled. He arrived when the place opened and didn't leave until the final customer had shuffled out.
It was just after sunset on a Tuesday when he found him.
"What we're looking for is your talent."
Ted swung his head around sharply. The man was at an adjoining table, talking to a blond girl that Ted had seen hanging around lately. She was working on a screenplay it seemed, working hard it seemed, and it seemed she had gained the interest of Libras Talent. She looked over the business card and told him she'd think about it before leaving in a hurry. The man sat for a moment, watching her leave, before turning to look at Ted.
"Mr. Dreft, I hear you've been looking for me."
Ted jumped, not yet sure what he would say, as Mr. Sereph came sauntering over to his table. He sat in the empty seat that too wide smile still making Ted cringe. He took a sip of the cold cup of coffee Ted had left there and seemed to be waiting for Ted to speak, but Ted still wasn't sure how to begin this encounter. In his head, Ted had always been indignant, downright angry, but now, as he stared into that too-wide smile, he felt unsure of what he was doing.
"I assume that you're here to talk about your Talent. I must say, when it hit the bestseller list, I was shocked. I suppose we could reassess your price if you're looking for more money."
That lit the fire in Ted again.
"I want to know exactly what the hell you think you're doing. You break into my apartment, steal my work, clean out my hard drive, and just think you can bribe me with more…"
"I did none of those things." Mr. Sereph said with a roll of his eyes, "We paid you for your Talent. Your Talent was writing, and we paid you for it. You signed a contract and were compensated handsomely."
"Wait...you mean you paid me for my stories?"
Sereph scoffed, "Stories? Mr. Dreff, have you tried to write since you woke up in your bed?"
Ted thought about it. Had he written anything for the past two weeks? Felt compelled to write anything? He had signed his name to a few things, maybe written a text message or two, but other than that, he hasn't written so much as a sentence creatively. He had been having so much fun that the need hasn't arisen, and that should have been weird too. The writing was what Ted did. Without it, his life was…
"That's right. You sold us your Talent, rather cheaply too. But, your kind usually does. You cut your goose open too quickly and find nothing as valuable as what you had."
"So, what is Libres Talent? You sell ideas to other writers?"
Sereph scoffed, "Ideas? You're still thinking too small. Do you think that Talent is something that just lasts forever? Talent is a finite resource. It flows and ebbs. Some people are lucky enough to have a large tidal pool, but some people have to buy their Talent to supplement. Libres Talent finds those in need of Talent, literary, athletic, political, what have you, and we get Talent for them."
Ted's blood ran cold.
"So...I'll never write again?"
Mr. Sereph looked a little sad, "Sorry, kiddo, it looks like you'll just have to live like all these other talentless shlubs. But, hey, if you ever decide you want to buy some talent, do keep in touch."
He left a business card on the table and made his way out.
Ted just sat there, hearing the click of the keyboard and the creation of raw ideas, and put his head in his hands.
submitted by Erutious to libraryofshadows [link] [comments]


2020.09.24 01:18 Erutious For Your Talent

Ted looked at the number written on the paper, and his eyes grew large.
That was way more money than he made in a year, and this guy was offering it to him for…
"So, you want to pay me for...what, exactly?"
The man in the black suit stared at him, hollowly, from behind his mirrored glasses. He sat, nonchalantly, across the table at the small coffee shop Ted had written in for the last four years. Ted liked the ambiance here, and many other local writers seemed to think it was a great place to read as well. Tim could see many others around them, plinking away on their MacBooks or off the shelf Walmart laptops, as they wrote the next great American novel or the next hit screenplay.
The longer the man sat there, the more Ted wished he had approached one of them instead.
"It's straightforward," he said, his voice and cadence reminding Ted of Agent Smith in The Matrix movies, "we want to pay you for your talents. You come to our office, let us see your Talent, and pay you for your time and effort. Sound like something you might be interested in?"
Then he smiled, his lips sliding away from his perfectly artificial teeth, and Ted cringed all over.
It was like a dog who's been taught to smile, unsettling, and a little alarming.
But it was a lot of money.
"Let me think about it." Ted hedged, and the smile slid mechanically from the man's face.
He produced a business card, rising suddenly and holding it out.
"Let us know if you change your mind. The offer is valid whenever you're ready."
He left then, making his way for the door like a shark hunting his next meal.
Ted looked at the card and wrinkled his eyebrows.
It was a plain white business card, nothing fancy, with the words, "Libras Talent. Because your Talent should never go to waste."
Ted looked at it for a while as his laptop screen went into sleep mode, darkening and allowing him to see himself as he sat in contemplation.
How very curious.
Ted had been writing in some form or another for his whole life.
When he was a child, he drew pictures and created games for his friends to play. Ted's pictures, his mother swore, always told a story, and his games were never the haphazard mess that his friends often concocted. People who weren't even part of Ted's friend circle often came to join their games, as they were both fun and engaging in a way that was hard for a child to explain. His teachers praised his creativity and expected they would see great things from him someday.
As Ted grew, so grew his stories. By the time he was in middle school, Ted's works of fantasy were often entered into writing contests, and local student works projects. His playground games had evolved into role play games, and when Ted was twelve, he discovered the fantasy world of Dungeons and Dragons. This began a lifelong love affair with the game, and he took to the role of game master quickly. Ted's campaigns were immersive, his characters engaging, and his adventures never fell victim to the usual problems his friends seemed to encounter. Ted wrote well and, again, the adults in his life often praised him, expecting great things from him in the future.
It was a no brainer for Ted to study writing after high school. He had soared through what is normally a very trying time for teens by channeling his churning emotions into his medium. Ted had gotten more than one scholarship for his writing, and as college loomed, he put all his efforts into his work. Ted spent the next four years working on a BA in English and Literature, and in the end, he felt I had the expected tools to begin plying his craft professionally.
Now, Ted was trying to figure out how to turn that Talent into a paycheck so that he could pay his bills. Magazines liked his work but wanted writers with more experience. There were people online who would pay for stories, but not enough to live off of. Agents were interested, but they didn't want to take a chance on someone so young. Ted's writing was always well received, but there was always the ever-present But hanging at the end of all that praise. A few "Interested Publishers had approached him," but it was always the sort that buried the line of price amidst all that talk. Ted was twenty-six, four years out of college, self-published, untried, and no one was willing to take a chance on him.
Everyone, except Libras Talent, that is.
Ted Googled them, of course. He had been burned too many times before and wanted to see what was in store if he decided to take their offer. Their website was professional but soulless. Their credentials were numerous but were presented without any real pride. This soulless corporation wanted another book for their accolades, another pet writer for their trophy case. If Ted signed on with them, he would be just another soules shill who writes for nothing but a paycheck.
Ted's phone buzzed. He looked down and sighed as he saw a message from the power company. His check had bounced again, and they were going to shut his power off at the end of the month without some kind of immediate action. That likely meant that Mr. Kapish, his boss at the gas station, had given them bad checks again. He would never admit it, and this likely meant that Ted wouldn't get paid until the end of the month.
He looked at the card.
Or maybe he'd be able to keep the lights on after all.
He nervously checked his phone to make sure he had come to the right place. He had come to a flat looking building, a two-story white stucco building that looked more like a distribution center than a publishing house. Ted had worn his best interview clothes, a polo, and a pair of slacks, and he already felt underdressed and unsure about the situation. The outer facade bore a simple sign, white and stark, just like the business card.
Libras Talent
Ted thought about leaving, but the call of the money was too much to resist.
The woman behind the counter wore a similar smile as he walked inside. She was looking at the door, as though expecting him, and her pants suit and quaffed hair made her look assembled rather than styled. Ted was taken aback by her smiling regard, and he almost left. The waiting area was as stark as the facade, and the receptionist regard made him feel like he was marked.
Had she been staring at the door the whole time, just waiting for someone to come in?
"Hi," Ted said, "I'm looking for…"
"Welcome, Mr. Dreff. Mr. Sereph is waiting for you in the back. Please go right ahead.
She pointed to a door to the left of the waiting room, and Ted walked hesitant towards it, his strange feeling growing with every step.
Beyond the door was a long hallway of offices, names neatly printed on the doors. Mr. Sereph's office was the third in line.
Ted knocked, and a voice from the other side invited him in.
Mr. Sereph sat behind his desk, the too-wide smile stretching his lips painfully.
"Mr. Dreff, I'm so glad you decided to accept my generous offer."
Ted sat across from the grinning man, feeling like Faust as he met with the devil.
"It was too good a deal to pass up, I suppose," Ted said
"Why yes, the money is a fine incentive, isn't it?"
Ted shuffled in his seat, not liking the man's regard.
"So, how does this work exactly? Do I have to write something for you or…"
Ted blinked as a contract appeared on the desk. Mr. Sereph was leaning over the desk, that too wide smile stretching his face, as he handed Ted a heavy silver pen. Had that contract been there the whole time? Td sat back a little, the too-wide smile putting him off a little as the man leered at him.
"What's wrong? I thought you were ready to sign?"
"I am, but I'm curious to know what this involves?" Ted asked.
"You show us your Talent, and we pay you for you. Couldn't be simpler."
Ted looked at the contract, unsure of whether to sign or not. He'd heard of writers getting sucked into these unfair contracts before. He didn't fancy being kept as someone's pet writer; his Talent milked for god knew what. Ted looked down at the contract, but it wasn't particularly helpful either. They offered to pay him for his "Talent," but that was all it really said. It was very vague, not really saying anything other than that, with a lot of industry, speak in between.
As Ted hesitated, though, the money loomed up in his mind again. That was a lot of money, enough to live comfortably for quite a while if he was careful. No matter what they had him do, that kind of money could change his life. And even if it were repetition or degrading, he'd still be doing what he loved, right?
Ted signed the contract and pushed it back to the smiling man.
Mr. Sereph made it disappear before the ink seemed to be dry, and Ted was left holding the bulky silver pin in numb fingers.
"Excellent, now come with me so we can access your talent."
Mr. Sereph rose from the desk and led him out of the office. Ted followed wordlessly, still not quite sure what was expected of him. The long corridor slid past as they walked, the sameness a little disorienting.
Mr. Sereph stopped outside another nondescript door and held it open for Ted. Inside was a stark white room, cluttered only by a desk and a pen held in one of those ornate holders you often saw at weddings. Mr. Sereph nodded to the desk, indicating that he should sit.
"What do you want me to do?" Ted asked, still hovering in the doorway.
Ted wasn't sure he wanted to enter that unblemished space.
"Just take up the pen; it will know what to do from there." Mr. Sereph said, still grinning that troubling smile.
Ted hesitated a moment longer before walking inside, the door slamming like a coffin lif behind him.
Ted took a seat. On the desk was a single piece of paper, unblemished, and as he looked at it, he could swear that the surface moved. He didn't want to touch it, but it seemed to beckon him to none the less. He reached out for the pen, that instrument of creation, and it felt very right in his hand as he lifted it from the holder. He set the tip against the paper, and, again, he thought it moved. What was he meant to do here? What was he meant to write? Show them his Talent? How was he meant to do…
The pen came down on the paper, its tip blotting the surface as though through magnetism. Suddenly, Ted was writing. He was writing words, crafting stories, spilling ideas as the paper drank them down before his eyes. He spilled days, weeks, years worth of stories onto the pape as he wrote. His hand cramped, and his wrist ached, but still, the merciless pen took his words. The paper drank greedily, swelling as he worked. Ted's vision swam as he felt his words dragged out of him, sucked from his body, and he felt certain that he must die.
The paper swelled as he wrote, becoming sheets, a novel, a towering juggernaut of pages. The room began to fill with pages, pressing against the ceiling and bulging against the walls. Ted was powerless to stop his hand from writing, but soon the pages began to block out the lights, and he wrote in a state of darkness. The pages pressed at him from all sides, entombing him in the written word, but still, he wrote.
When he finally passed out, it was a blessing.
Ted woke up in his bed. His arm throbbed, the fingers and hand feeling like rubber, but when he tried to move it, he found it asleep. He shook at it, thinking about the weird dream he had just woken up from. He had written himself into a literal tomb, and as he looked at his arm, he almost thought he could see small blisters on his fingers. He sat down at his computer, looking through his emails for job offers when he came across a new email from Libras Talent. He thought it a strange coincidence that he had been dreaming about them, and now they were sending him a message, but he figured they wanted to make him another offer for his Talent, whatever that meant.
He opened it and read through the email, confused as he read over the contents.
Dear Mr. Dreff
We would like to thank you again for your Talent. Please find enclosed the payment for your Talent, and we hope you are satisfied with your transaction.
Regards Mr. D Sereph
Ted read the email repeatedly before opening the app on his phone linked to his bank account. Ted's eyes went wide when he saw the amount in his account. He goggled at it in disbelief. It hasn't been a dream, after all. He had sold his Talent he guessed. Ted grinned as he took thought of the possibilities. Mr. Sereph had been right.
This amount of money could be life-changing.
Ted sighed as he stepped back through the door of his apartment. He had been on a two-week vacation to the Bahamas, spent those weeks in the lap of luxury, and still hasn't made a dent in the amount of money Mr. Sereph had put in his bank account. It was a sobering feeling, being able to do whatever you wanted, living a life few even dreamed of.
Now he was back, though, and he supposed it was time to get back to work.
The money was nice, but it wouldn't last forever.
The news feed on his computer pinged to let him know that one of his favorite authors had just released a new book. Ted opened the link to look at the book but felt a surge of confusion as he read over the synopsis. It was a new novel, not like anything he'd ever written before. A world of high fantasy, a tale of adventure set in the world of Erudar, where the lord of the hunt sought the princess of…
Ted was astonished. That was his story! He had been fleshing that concept out for years, and his manuscript was almost ready for submission. He had been so close to sending it off...well, maybe in a couple of years, he would have. He just had to be sure that it was ready before he just sent it off like that.
The manuscript.
Ted had the manuscript saved on Google docs! Ted furiously opened the browser, putting in his information as he brought up his account. It would be time-stamped, dated. He could take it to the proper people and prove that his work had been stolen. He couldn't believe that something like this would happen to him. He had read about this sort of thing happening online, but he never dreamed that it would happen to him. It was unthinkable, it was impossible, it was…
His google doc profile was empty.
The screen was devoid of content.
He pulled open the drawer next to his desk, searching desperately for the thumb drives I kept as a backup.
The drawer was empty.
Ted searched his computer for traces of his manuscript, stories, and anything, but it had all been erased.
Ted had begun to panic then. What was happening? Someone had been in his apartment. Someone had stolen his work. Someone had taken his….
His Talent.
Ted combed through his emails, searching for the email from Sereph.
It, too, was gone, nowhere to be found.
It was as though he had never spoken with anyone.
He found Mr. Sereph after the third week of staking out the coffee shop. He had gone down to the building that had been Libras Talent, but the building had been abandoned. The doors were locked, the sign removed, and the building looked empty and forlorn. It had been too big an operation to simply close up overnight. He had asked the people in the buildings around them, but all of them only shook their heads, saying they didn't know anything about a talent agency or a publishing house. That was when he had taken to staking out the coffee shop. The place was always packed, and if Sereph was looking for other writers to swindle, he might come back here. He had brought his laptop the first few times but had stopped after the first week. He was too distracted to write these days, after finding out his life's work had been stolen, and all he thought about was having his work returned to him. He'd spent the last three weeks drinking coffee and keeping his eyes peeled. He arrived when the place opened and didn't leave until the final customer had shuffled out.
It was just after sunset on a Tuesday when he found him.
"What we're looking for is your talent."
Ted swung his head around sharply. The man was at an adjoining table, talking to a blond girl that Ted had seen hanging around lately. She was working on a screenplay it seemed, working hard it seemed, and it seemed she had gained the interest of Libras Talent. She looked over the business card and told him she'd think about it before leaving in a hurry. The man sat for a moment, watching her leave, before turning to look at Ted.
"Mr. Dreft, I hear you've been looking for me."
Ted jumped, not yet sure what he would say, as Mr. Sereph came sauntering over to his table. He sat in the empty seat that too wide smile still making Ted cringe. He took a sip of the cold cup of coffee Ted had left there and seemed to be waiting for Ted to speak, but Ted still wasn't sure how to begin this encounter. In his head, Ted had always been indignant, downright angry, but now, as he stared into that too-wide smile, he felt unsure of what he was doing.
"I assume that you're here to talk about your Talent. I must say, when it hit the bestseller list, I was shocked. I suppose we could reassess your price if you're looking for more money."
That lit the fire in Ted again.
"I want to know exactly what the hell you think you're doing. You break into my apartment, steal my work, clean out my hard drive, and just think you can bribe me with more…"
"I did none of those things." Mr. Sereph said with a roll of his eyes, "We paid you for your Talent. Your Talent was writing, and we paid you for it. You signed a contract and were compensated handsomely."
"Wait...you mean you paid me for my stories?"
Sereph scoffed, "Stories? Mr. Dreff, have you tried to write since you woke up in your bed?"
Ted thought about it. Had he written anything for the past two weeks? Felt compelled to write anything? He had signed his name to a few things, maybe written a text message or two, but other than that, he hasn't written so much as a sentence creatively. He had been having so much fun that the need hasn't arisen, and that should have been weird too. The writing was what Ted did. Without it, his life was…
"That's right. You sold us your Talent, rather cheaply too. But, your kind usually does. You cut your goose open too quickly and find nothing as valuable as what you had."
"So, what is Libres Talent? You sell ideas to other writers?"
Sereph scoffed, "Ideas? You're still thinking too small. Do you think that Talent is something that just lasts forever? Talent is a finite resource. It flows and ebbs. Some people are lucky enough to have a large tidal pool, but some people have to buy their Talent to supplement. Libres Talent finds those in need of Talent, literary, athletic, political, what have you, and we get Talent for them."
Ted's blood ran cold.
"So...I'll never write again?"
Mr. Sereph looked a little sad, "Sorry, kiddo, it looks like you'll just have to live like all these other talentless shlubs. But, hey, if you ever decide you want to buy some talent, do keep in touch."
He left a business card on the table and made his way out.
Ted just sat there, hearing the click of the keyboard and the creation of raw ideas, and put his head in his hands.
submitted by Erutious to Erutious [link] [comments]


2020.09.20 19:49 TAHaywood Richard "Quickdraw" McCallister: A Eulogy - Chapter 16

When the Tamani blew a hole in his ship, his friend, and his career, Richard McCallister called it quits. But when he gets word of another alien incursion, with his friend's family in the line of fire, he charges back into danger on the outskirts of settled space to yank them out of the maw.
That was his plan, anyway. But things don't usually go according to plan.
Cover Art
First Part
----------
I sat down.
The bar on Terra Prime was darkened, with the lights turned all the way down to what some would probably refer to charitably as ‘mood lighting’. Me, I would have been happy to be able to see my drink, but that was neither here nor there.
Clay seemed happy. That was my first thought as I glanced up to him, across the table. He had a glass of….something. He clutched it like a lifeline, his cheeks flushed red and a wide grin sprawling across his face.
“C’mon, kid,” he said, reaching across the table to slap my arm. “Cheer the fuck up, will you?”
I forced a smile. “I’m plenty cheery.”
“Don’t give me that shit. You look like someone just pissed in your rations. Stop actin’ all glum.” He lifted his drink—the drink I was suddenly quite sure was not his first. “We’re on leave! It’ll be over soon enough, so enjoy y’self a little. Got no reason to be all down, eh?”
I forced myself to smile back at him, but behind the pleasant veneer, my thoughts were a turbulent mess. Sure, we were on leave. We’d been stuck inside Terra Prime for far longer than I’d expected, given we were supposedly just dropping off the wreck of the stricken Libre courier—but TerraCorp had taken the opportunity to give the Rheasilvia a retrofit, ahead of a convoy escort job in a few days.
Which was good, of course. Upgrades were good. But being stuck in close quarters with a mess of sailors, in the height of Solaran luxury, with a pile of money that many of us couldn’t spend while in the black, made for an interesting time.
And above all else, the memory of the communication I’d received that very morning hung in my hand.
It’d been addressed to me, of course. To my full name, which was fairly unusual. Most of the internal communications on the Rheasilvia were more informal than that. And it’d come from TerraCorp Resources, which had been enough to put a knot in my stomach.
They’d processed my inquiry about a transfer, it said. They found the idea most suitable, it said—and they’d sent along a smattering of ships with openings for mechanics of my skill and rank. No guarantees, it said.
But I’d looked at the lists. Larger ships, all of them, with many acting as the in-between for the Dust and the Heartland loop. Compared to the Rheasilvia, which spent the vast majority of its time servicing Dustworlds and ferrying colonists to and fro, it sounded...well, it sounded like a step up.
Clay’s booming laugh pulled me out of my thoughts. I put the smile back on my face, lifting my cup for another sip.
I needed to tell him.
But how the hell was I supposed to do that, my thoughts shrieked back in the next moment. How was I supposed to break that news to him?
Just come out and say it. Don’t be a coward. I sucked down a deep breath. “Hey. So-”
“Lissen.” Clay’s hand slapped the flat of the table between us with a crack loud enough some of the other patrons jumped. He tended to have that effect on people. “Kara’s pesterin’ me to come back for another stint. Spend some time with Ada and Quinn.”
“Well, she is your wife,” I managed weakly. “It’s not unreasonable.”
He nodded, making a face. “Right, right. Only, how’s I’m supposed to leave the Rhea alone that long? I can’t-”
“You’ve got enough leave saved up,” I said. “Plenty of time. Take a month. Go back and-”
“Yeah,” Clay mumbled, still nodding. “Yeah, yeah. Think the captain would let me do that. Prob’ly.”
“I’m sure he would,” I said. “And-”
I clamped down hard. I’d been able to tell him that I could manage the Rheasilvia on my own. I could look after the ship while he went and enjoyed his leave. But how could I promise something like that when I wasn’t even sure what the next few months would hold?
“Ahhh, you’re right,” Clay said with a grin. “It’d be damn nice to see them again. Even if it means gettin’ dirtside for a while.”
I chuckled sourly. “You going to quit on me? Become a farmer?”
He shook his head, then, violently. “Nah. Hell no. I like where I’m at, just…” He frowned, tightening his hands around his cup. “It’d be nice to see ‘em more’n a couple times a year, y’know?”
I didn’t know, not really. What he had with Kara seemed wonderful, but...it’d never been my priority. And, hell, the thought of raising kids from afar seemed like an absolute nightmare. “Whatever you say,” I said, grinning down at my drink.
His hand balled up into a fist, still lurking between him and I—and then he leaned forward, grabbing my wrist before I could pull away. “Lissen,” he said, his dark eyes intense. “It’s worth it.”
“I-I know,” I stammered. “Really, Clay, I wasn’t-”
“Dint seem like much,” he said, not budging. “Not at first. Was’n so sure about it, m’self.”
I stopped. The words he’d left unsaid burned between us. “But?”
“But, then, when I looked into those brown eyes, well.” His face split into a smile, without even an ounce of shame in it. “That was it, kid. I knew. Thas’ what I was s’pposed to be doin’. Right there.”
Heat climbed my cheeks. “Yeah, I get it. But-”
“You don’t get nothin’,” he muttered, shaking my arm like a doll’s. “Shit, son.”
His fingers tightened about my wrist, digging in until it verged on painful. “We ain’t gonna fly these systems forever.”
“I-I know, but-”
“We’ve all got an expiration date.” He smiled, his fingers loosening ever so slightly. “It’s all about what y’get done with the time you’re given. What you build your life around.”
The two of us were like an island, a quiet patch amidst the steady roar of the bar. He was wobbling in his seat, sure, and I was getting the feeling that he was clinging to my arm as much for stability as any sort of impact, but his eyes were dead serious. I just nodded. It didn’t seem like he wanted words, right then. He just wanted me to listen. Old coot.
He grinned toothily, as though recognizing I’d given up my protests. “Thas’ it, though. You gotta be thinkin’ bout your eulogy, Ricky.”
That was a new one. “Fucking what?” I said, stifling a laugh. “Damn it, Clay, go easy on the drinks. You’re-”
“Let a man finish!” he said, verging on bellowing. The smile on his lips never faded, though. “What I’m sayin’, is, you gotta keep in mind what comes after. When folks look at your life, what the hell’re they goin’ to think? Will anyone even remember?”
“Don’t think anyone’s going to be forgetting you anytime soon, if you keep yelling like that.”
“Aw, shaddup,” he said, letting go of my arm with a laugh. “Those kids, though.” He smiled, with all of the smugness and the sarcasm fading away until genuine joy remained behind. “If they’re the one thing I’ve done with my sorry-ass life, that ain’t so bad.” He nodded—then turned on me with a flash. His hand plunged into his pocket. “Look. Jus’ this last week, Quinn done started-”
I winced, seeing the familiar holodeck emerge. That did it, I knew. Clay loved to corner a conversation, and once he’d pulled out the pictures, he’d keep at it all goddamn night.
I’d never get a word in edgewise from here. My mind still whirled with the names of ships and the thousand lines of paperwork that went along with a transfer, but...I let it slide, let it fall away. There’d be a better time, I told myself. It wouldn’t do to interrupt Clay when he was so happy. When he’d gotten himself all worked up like this. Besides, with his current inebriation, he’d probably forget it all anyway.
Another time. I filed the announcement away, leaning on the table more heavily. I’d bring it up...later. Yeah.
We’d ship out two days after that, it turned out. A simple job, or so I’d thought. Of course, it’d be anything but.
And if I’d have known I would never get another chance, I’d have told him everything. I’d have stayed there with him for hours and hours, letting him talk himself dry. I’d have drunk it all in, listened to every word he said and etched it all into my memory. I’d have told him the truth.
I don’t regret much in my life. But I do regret that.
—————
Too many people. There were so damn many people.
McCallister shoved his way through the crowd, his mood turning sour in an instant. A part hung from his hand—an element for the ship’s water storage and filtration system, fresh-fabricated down at the colony’s mine-attached foundry. He grimaced. Jason had been all too eager to help, after their face-to-face meeting.
Oh, he knew better than to think it was any sort of true charity on the man’s part. Jason was jockeying for a better status on the ship, along with every other damn family in the colony. On a logical level, he didn’t mind. It meant the ship was swarming with mechanics, all ready and eager to leap to his bidding.
On a practical level, that meant he needed to have a bidding for them to do—and he’d never signed up to be the colony’s engineering lead. “Out of the way,” he muttered, shouldering past a tall, gangly colonist.
The center of Solovei was starting to look more like a hubworld market than the isolated colony it was. This, too, was ostensibly a good thing. People were taking the evacuation notice seriously, and starting to filter in from the outside homesteads. But damn it, he could hardly walk.
It was fine. He’d hitch a ride back out to the ship, away from the town’s heart, and-
“McCallister!”
He groaned. Another one? He twisted, glaring back over his shoulder.
Lily pushed her way through after him, squeaking past in the gap he’d left. A grin stretched from ear to ear across her tanned, freckled face. “Slow down,” she said, only gasping a little. “Good God, I thought I’d get crushed in there.”
“It’s...a bit much,” McCallister said. He hefted the part, waggling it meaningfully in her direction. “Can’t really hang around, though. I’ve got to get this back to Reid and-”
“I know, I know, you’re a busy man.” Lily sucked down air, reaching up to smooth her ponytail. “You’ll get there faster with some wheels.”
McCallister paused, eyeing her. He did need a lift, but…”If you’re offering,” he said at last. “I know you’re busy coordinating the masses here.”
She rolled her eyes, casting a hand back toward the milling colonists. “Aw, well, I set Clark to it.” Her grin turned vicious. “Boy’s needin’ a bit of practice. His yellin’ voice is a bit weak.”
If McCallister listened, straining his ears over the noise of the crowd….he could hear a single voice bellowing over the rest. A familiar one. He winced. “That’s just not nice.”
“Nonsense. Builds character. Come on.”
She turned away, still grinning, and started picking her way around the edge of the crowd in the direction of the security station. McCallister followed on her heels. If she was offering ,and she was serious, well, it saved him having to flag someone else down.
“Reid’s been workin’ well for you, then?” Lily said, glancing back to him.
He nodded, a tiny smile curling at his lips. “It’s...yeah.” He shrugged. “He’s a quick learner. Picks it up fast. I’ve got him handling the teams in the lower decks, right now.”
“I’m glad.” Lily bobbed her head in a nod, emphasizing the words. “Boy’s got a good head for that sort of thing. Sees all the little movin’ parts. That’s hard to teach.”
McCallister snorted. “Yeah, he’s getting along pretty well.” It’d...taken a bit of working, to get him that far. At first, he’d just turned ghost-white when McCallister had turned him loose among the teams sent from various colony-based companies. He’d locked up completely.
But, well, McCallister could be convincing when he needed to be. It’d taken a bit of cajoling and a few sharp words, but he’d gotten the security-officer-turned-mechanic back on track.
Lily chuckled. “That’s cute. You’ve got yourself a liddle apprentice, eh?”
An apprentice. He turned, shooting an irritated look her way, and found her smiling smugly up at him. “Don’t you-” he began, but stopped. He recognized that look. Protesting would only encourage her. “Whatever,” he mumbled. “It’s just for a bit. We’ll be off the ground soon.”
A wall dropped behind her eyes, wiping her smile away and turning her expression cold. “Right,” she said.
Inwardly, McCallister kicked himself. He was an idiot. Lily might be a bit of a bitch at times, however playfully, but at the end of the day she was just like the rest—a person trying to cope with the impending destruction of their home and all they’d ever known. “Sorry,” he mumbled. “I know...I can’t imagine how hard this is.”
“Yeah, it’s a real shame,” Lily said, more quietly. She snagged his sleeve in the next instant, tugging him away from a rapidly-swelling crowd and leading him deeper into an alley. “I’m not sure what to tell people. How to let ‘em know it’s all goin’ to work out.” She chuckled softly. “Not really sure it all will, truth be told.”
“It’ll work. We’ll make it work.”
“Maybe.” She shook her head slowly, still working them deeper into the colony. Every twist and turn they made, something seemed to stand in their way—a hauler, a crowd, a stack of crates waiting to be ferried to the ship. It was like the whole town had been turned into a dockyard. “I...I dunno. Solovei’s...it’s our home. The thought of findin’ another place like it is a bit unnervin’.” She snorted. “Hell, the thought of findin’ another world we can breathe on is bad enough.”
“We’ll find one,” McCallister said, casting his eyes ahead. Damn it, there had to be a clear path somewhere. “The galaxy is full of planets. Might have to look a while, but...we’ll find one.” His gut churned. They might be aloft for a long time. Months. Maybe even years. How would they keep going? How would they sustain themselves? Somehow, he didn’t think TerraCorp would be helping them any. Not unless they got their arm twisted hard.
Lily only sighed. “Seen a lot of worlds, then, have you?”
He grimaced. “I...a fair few.” Snagging her wrist, he pulled them down another route as a hauler whipped from a side alley and plunked down in the middle of the road. “The corp kept me running around while I was in the service.”
“What’re they like?”
“Pretty much like this,” he muttered.
“Come on. Just-”
“I spent most of my time in the Dust,” McCallister said, shooting her a sidelong look. “Most of the Dustworlds are, well, pretty similar to Solovei.” He grimaced. “Dry. Questionably habitable for humans.”
Lily frowned, hurrying forward through a gap in traffic. “I don’t get it. There’ve got to be some decent worlds out there.”
McCallister snorted. “Sure. Of course there are. And they’re snapped up for the bigwigs, or the rich folk looking for an escape. Precious few of those worlds are ever true Dustworlds.
“Oh.” She fell quiet for a moment, then, chewing on what he’d said. “Well. I guess.”
“Right. So-”
“What about you, then?”
He blinked. “What?”
She lurched closer, skittering back from a surge in the gathered masses. “You sound so down on most’ve those places. Ain’t there nowhere you do like?”
“Not really,” he muttered.
“What’s that?”
“I prefer space,” he said, rolling his eyes. “There’s more room. Less dirt. And-”
“What?” Lily said, furrowing her brow and glancing back to him. “That’s so...depressin’.”
“Hey.”
“An’ you’re that way ‘bout everywhere? There’s no planet out there that strikes your fancy?”
He shrugged. “Not really. I’ve never really-”
“Shit. Not even your stompin’ grounds? Everyone’s got a home. ”
That got a chuckle out of him. “I guess. That doesn’t mean I liked it, though. Why do you think I joined the corp?”
Her expression turned crafty. “Another Dustworld? Maybe a desert. Or a swamp planet? You do have a damp look about you. Maybe-”
He sighed. “I’m Terran.”
Lily stopped. For a moment, she just blinked. “Oh.”
Oh, indeed. “I left for a reason, and I’ve never really wanted to go back. Space is plenty.”
She nodded, but didn’t seem to have a lot to say to that. McCallister watched for a moment, mulling her reaction over. ‘Home’ wasn’t something he tended to bring up much, even when he had people around to bring it up with. Would she get pushy about it? Would she try and win him over to the colonial lifestyle? He’d seen a few of those, in his day—the sorts that’d try and convince you to stay dirtside, giving up the spacefaring way for some stability. Especially after they’d seen him piece back together whatever critical system they’d royally fucked up.
Lily just glanced to him, though, her eyes a bit sad but her expression neutral. “Well. I s’ppose. Come on, then.”
McCallister glanced up—and there, at the end of the block, he saw the familiar peaks of the spaceport, together with the security building. The part in his hand hung heavier with every step. “Right.”
“Even still,” she said as they stepped forward on the final leg of the walk. “Careful. I’m thinkin’ Wyatt likes havin’ another fellow with some know-how around the colony.”
Ah, there it was. “No.”
“And Julian’s grateful for you takin’ the lead on the coordination, here.”
“Julian should do his own damn job once in a while.”
Lily chuckled, brushing back a strand of strawberry hair. “Yeah, yeah. Anyway-”
“Like I said. No.”
She winked up at him. “We’ll see.”
McCallister groaned. There was no winning. She was as bad as Kara. He just had to stick to his guns. He was delivering Kara and the kids to somewhere safe. That was all. He’d have done his duty after that, and he could go back to his own business. He just had to keep his eyes on the target.
And keep a step ahead of the scheming colonists he ferried.
Shooting a tolerant, amused look Lily’s way, he stepped out in front as the security building loomed ahead. One hand grabbed the handle, pulling the door open even as he took his hat off with the other. “After you.”
Lily traded his look for one of her own, an eyebrow cocked. “Just think about it, that’s all I’m sayin’.”
“Go.”
She laughed, skittering inside. He sighed, then stepped around the door and-
Noise. It filled his ears, screaming down like a deafening wail. McCallister flinched, clinging to the glass-and-metal frame of the door as his world wobbled.
His mind raced, fighting to catch up as the horrible shock of it ran through him. What was it? Where? Was it danger? Was he-
His chin snapped up. The noise—it was coming from overhead. There. A speaker unit sat perched atop a pole set just inside the spaceport. The wail was coming from there, echoed by similar screeches from across Solovei.
The alarm. Realization settled home like a hammer, smacking him straight upside the head. He was frozen, his mind perfectly blank. There was only one thing it could be—and if he thought back through the chaos of the reconstruction process, he’d heard this noise before.
Through all of it, one singular truth shone clear in his mind, unbothered by the chaos and the adrenaline and the thought-destroying noise of it all.
Whatever time they’d had left, it’d just run out.
Next Part
submitted by TAHaywood to HFY [link] [comments]


2020.09.16 13:44 TAHaywood [Richard "Quickdraw" McCallister: A Eulogy][Derby] Chapter 16 - Why Me

When the Tamani blew a hole in his ship, his friend, and his career, Richard McCallister called it quits. But when he gets word of another alien incursion, with his friend's family in the line of fire, he charges back into danger on the outskirts of settled space to yank them out of the maw.
That was his plan, anyway. But things don't usually go according to plan.
Cover Art
First Part
----------
I sat down.
The bar on Terra Prime was darkened, with the lights turned all the way down to what some would probably refer to charitably as ‘mood lighting’. Me, I would have been happy to be able to see my drink, but that was neither here nor there.
Clay seemed happy. That was my first thought as I glanced up to him, across the table. He had a glass of….something. He clutched it like a lifeline, his cheeks flushed red and a wide grin sprawling across his face.
“C’mon, kid,” he said, reaching across the table to slap my arm. “Cheer the fuck up, will you?”
I forced a smile. “I’m plenty cheery.”
“Don’t give me that shit. You look like someone just pissed in your rations. Stop actin’ all glum.” He lifted his drink—the drink I was suddenly quite sure was not his first. “We’re on leave! It’ll be over soon enough, so enjoy y’self a little. Got no reason to be all down, eh?”
I forced myself to smile back at him, but behind the pleasant veneer, my thoughts were a turbulent mess. Sure, we were on leave. We’d been stuck inside Terra Prime for far longer than I’d expected, given we were supposedly just dropping off the wreck of the stricken Libre courier—but TerraCorp had taken the opportunity to give the Rheasilvia a retrofit, ahead of a convoy escort job in a few days.
Which was good, of course. Upgrades were good. But being stuck in close quarters with a mess of sailors, in the height of Solaran luxury, with a pile of money that many of us couldn’t spend while in the black, made for an interesting time.
And above all else, the memory of the communication I’d received that very morning hung in my hand.
It’d been addressed to me, of course. To my full name, which was fairly unusual. Most of the internal communications on the Rheasilvia were more informal than that. And it’d come from TerraCorp Resources, which had been enough to put a knot in my stomach.
They’d processed my inquiry about a transfer, it said. They found the idea most suitable, it said—and they’d sent along a smattering of ships with openings for mechanics of my skill and rank. No guarantees, it said.
But I’d looked at the lists. Larger ships, all of them, with many acting as the in-between for the Dust and the Heartland loop. Compared to the Rheasilvia, which spent the vast majority of its time servicing Dustworlds and ferrying colonists to and fro, it sounded...well, it sounded like a step up.
Clay’s booming laugh pulled me out of my thoughts. I put the smile back on my face, lifting my cup for another sip.
I needed to tell him.
But how the hell was I supposed to do that, my thoughts shrieked back in the next moment. How was I supposed to break that news to him?
Just come out and say it. Don’t be a coward. I sucked down a deep breath. “Hey. So-”
“Lissen.” Clay’s hand slapped the flat of the table between us with a crack loud enough some of the other patrons jumped. He tended to have that effect on people. “Kara’s pesterin’ me to come back for another stint. Spend some time with Ada and Quinn.”
“Well, she is your wife,” I managed weakly. “It’s not unreasonable.”
He nodded, making a face. “Right, right. Only, how’s I’m supposed to leave the Rhea alone that long? I can’t-”
“You’ve got enough leave saved up,” I said. “Plenty of time. Take a month. Go back and-”
“Yeah,” Clay mumbled, still nodding. “Yeah, yeah. Think the captain would let me do that. Prob’ly.”
“I’m sure he would,” I said. “And-”
I clamped down hard. I’d been able to tell him that I could manage the Rheasilvia on my own. I could look after the ship while he went and enjoyed his leave. But how could I promise something like that when I wasn’t even sure what the next few months would hold?
“Ahhh, you’re right,” Clay said with a grin. “It’d be damn nice to see them again. Even if it means gettin’ dirtside for a while.”
I chuckled sourly. “You going to quit on me? Become a farmer?”
He shook his head, then, violently. “Nah. Hell no. I like where I’m at, just…” He frowned, tightening his hands around his cup. “It’d be nice to see ‘em more’n a couple times a year, y’know?”
I didn’t know, not really. What he had with Kara seemed wonderful, but...it’d never been my priority. And, hell, the thought of raising kids from afar seemed like an absolute nightmare. “Whatever you say,” I said, grinning down at my drink.
His hand balled up into a fist, still lurking between him and I—and then he leaned forward, grabbing my wrist before I could pull away. “Lissen,” he said, his dark eyes intense. “It’s worth it.”
“I-I know,” I stammered. “Really, Clay, I wasn’t-”
“Dint seem like much,” he said, not budging. “Not at first. Was’n so sure about it, m’self.”
I stopped. The words he’d left unsaid burned between us. “But?”
“But, then, when I looked into those brown eyes, well.” His face split into a smile, without even an ounce of shame in it. “That was it, kid. I knew. Thas’ what I was s’pposed to be doin’. Right there.”
Heat climbed my cheeks. “Yeah, I get it. But-”
“You don’t get nothin’,” he muttered, shaking my arm like a doll’s. “Shit, son.”
His fingers tightened about my wrist, digging in until it verged on painful. “We ain’t gonna fly these systems forever.”
“I-I know, but-”
“We’ve all got an expiration date.” He smiled, his fingers loosening ever so slightly. “It’s all about what y’get done with the time you’re given. What you build your life around.”
The two of us were like an island, a quiet patch amidst the steady roar of the bar. He was wobbling in his seat, sure, and I was getting the feeling that he was clinging to my arm as much for stability as any sort of impact, but his eyes were dead serious. I just nodded. It didn’t seem like he wanted words, right then. He just wanted me to listen. Old coot.
He grinned toothily, as though recognizing I’d given up my protests. “Thas’ it, though. You gotta be thinkin’ bout your eulogy, Ricky.”
That was a new one. “Fucking what?” I said, stifling a laugh. “Damn it, Clay, go easy on the drinks. You’re-”
“Let a man finish!” he said, verging on bellowing. The smile on his lips never faded, though. “What I’m sayin’, is, you gotta keep in mind what comes after. When folks look at your life, what the hell’re they goin’ to think? Will anyone even remember?”
“Don’t think anyone’s going to be forgetting you anytime soon, if you keep yelling like that.”
“Aw, shaddup,” he said, letting go of my arm with a laugh. “Those kids, though.” He smiled, with all of the smugness and the sarcasm fading away until genuine joy remained behind. “If they’re the one thing I’ve done with my sorry-ass life, that ain’t so bad.” He nodded—then turned on me with a flash. His hand plunged into his pocket. “Look. Jus’ this last week, Quinn done started-”
I winced, seeing the familiar holodeck emerge. That did it, I knew. Clay loved to corner a conversation, and once he’d pulled out the pictures, he’d keep at it all goddamn night.
I’d never get a word in edgewise from here. My mind still whirled with the names of ships and the thousand lines of paperwork that went along with a transfer, but...I let it slide, let it fall away. There’d be a better time, I told myself. It wouldn’t do to interrupt Clay when he was so happy. When he’d gotten himself all worked up like this. Besides, with his current inebriation, he’d probably forget it all anyway.
Another time. I filed the announcement away, leaning on the table more heavily. I’d bring it up...later. Yeah.
We’d ship out two days after that, it turned out. A simple job, or so I’d thought. Of course, it’d be anything but.
And if I’d have known I would never get another chance, I’d have told him everything. I’d have stayed there with him for hours and hours, letting him talk himself dry. I’d have drunk it all in, listened to every word he said and etched it all into my memory. I’d have told him the truth.
I don’t regret much in my life. But I do regret that.
—————
Too many people. There were so damn many people.
McCallister shoved his way through the crowd, his mood turning sour in an instant. A part hung from his hand—an element for the ship’s water storage and filtration system, fresh-fabricated down at the colony’s mine-attached foundry. He grimaced. Jason had been all too eager to help, after their face-to-face meeting.
Oh, he knew better than to think it was any sort of true charity on the man’s part. Jason was jockeying for a better status on the ship, along with every other damn family in the colony. On a logical level, he didn’t mind. It meant the ship was swarming with mechanics, all ready and eager to leap to his bidding.
On a practical level, that meant he needed to have a bidding for them to do—and he’d never signed up to be the colony’s engineering lead. “Out of the way,” he muttered, shouldering past a tall, gangly colonist.
The center of Solovei was starting to look more like a hubworld market than the isolated colony it was. This, too, was ostensibly a good thing. People were taking the evacuation notice seriously, and starting to filter in from the outside homesteads. But damn it, he could hardly walk.
It was fine. He’d hitch a ride back out to the ship, away from the town’s heart, and-
“McCallister!”
He groaned. Another one? He twisted, glaring back over his shoulder.
Lily pushed her way through after him, squeaking past in the gap he’d left. A grin stretched from ear to ear across her tanned, freckled face. “Slow down,” she said, only gasping a little. “Good God, I thought I’d get crushed in there.”
“It’s...a bit much,” McCallister said. He hefted the part, waggling it meaningfully in her direction. “Can’t really hang around, though. I’ve got to get this back to Reid and-”
“I know, I know, you’re a busy man.” Lily sucked down air, reaching up to smooth her ponytail. “You’ll get there faster with some wheels.”
McCallister paused, eyeing her. He did need a lift, but…”If you’re offering,” he said at last. “I know you’re busy coordinating the masses here.”
She rolled her eyes, casting a hand back toward the milling colonists. “Aw, well, I set Clark to it.” Her grin turned vicious. “Boy’s needin’ a bit of practice. His yellin’ voice is a bit weak.”
If McCallister listened, straining his ears over the noise of the crowd….he could hear a single voice bellowing over the rest. A familiar one. He winced. “That’s just not nice.”
“Nonsense. Builds character. Come on.”
She turned away, still grinning, and started picking her way around the edge of the crowd in the direction of the security station. McCallister followed on her heels. If she was offering ,and she was serious, well, it saved him having to flag someone else down.
“Reid’s been workin’ well for you, then?” Lily said, glancing back to him.
He nodded, a tiny smile curling at his lips. “It’s...yeah.” He shrugged. “He’s a quick learner. Picks it up fast. I’ve got him handling the teams in the lower decks, right now.”
“I’m glad.” Lily bobbed her head in a nod, emphasizing the words. “Boy’s got a good head for that sort of thing. Sees all the little movin’ parts. That’s hard to teach.”
McCallister snorted. “Yeah, he’s getting along pretty well.” It’d...taken a bit of working, to get him that far. At first, he’d just turned ghost-white when McCallister had turned him loose among the teams sent from various colony-based companies. He’d locked up completely.
But, well, McCallister could be convincing when he needed to be. It’d taken a bit of cajoling and a few sharp words, but he’d gotten the security-officer-turned-mechanic back on track.
Lily chuckled. “That’s cute. You’ve got yourself a liddle apprentice, eh?”
An apprentice. He turned, shooting an irritated look her way, and found her smiling smugly up at him. “Don’t you-” he began, but stopped. He recognized that look. Protesting would only encourage her. “Whatever,” he mumbled. “It’s just for a bit. We’ll be off the ground soon.”
A wall dropped behind her eyes, wiping her smile away and turning her expression cold. “Right,” she said.
Inwardly, McCallister kicked himself. He was an idiot. Lily might be a bit of a bitch at times, however playfully, but at the end of the day she was just like the rest—a person trying to cope with the impending destruction of their home and all they’d ever known. “Sorry,” he mumbled. “I know...I can’t imagine how hard this is.”
“Yeah, it’s a real shame,” Lily said, more quietly. She snagged his sleeve in the next instant, tugging him away from a rapidly-swelling crowd and leading him deeper into an alley. “I’m not sure what to tell people. How to let ‘em know it’s all goin’ to work out.” She chuckled softly. “Not really sure it all will, truth be told.”
“It’ll work. We’ll make it work.”
“Maybe.” She shook her head slowly, still working them deeper into the colony. Every twist and turn they made, something seemed to stand in their way—a hauler, a crowd, a stack of crates waiting to be ferried to the ship. It was like the whole town had been turned into a dockyard. “I...I dunno. Solovei’s...it’s our home. The thought of findin’ another place like it is a bit unnervin’.” She snorted. “Hell, the thought of findin’ another world we can breathe on is bad enough.”
“We’ll find one,” McCallister said, casting his eyes ahead. Damn it, there had to be a clear path somewhere. “The galaxy is full of planets. Might have to look a while, but...we’ll find one.” His gut churned. They might be aloft for a long time. Months. Maybe even years. How would they keep going? How would they sustain themselves? Somehow, he didn’t think TerraCorp would be helping them any. Not unless they got their arm twisted hard.
Lily only sighed. “Seen a lot of worlds, then, have you?”
He grimaced. “I...a fair few.” Snagging her wrist, he pulled them down another route as a hauler whipped from a side alley and plunked down in the middle of the road. “The corp kept me running around while I was in the service.”
“What’re they like?”
“Pretty much like this,” he muttered.
“Come on. Just-”
“I spent most of my time in the Dust,” McCallister said, shooting her a sidelong look. “Most of the Dustworlds are, well, pretty similar to Solovei.” He grimaced. “Dry. Questionably habitable for humans.”
Lily frowned, hurrying forward through a gap in traffic. “I don’t get it. There’ve got to be some decent worlds out there.”
McCallister snorted. “Sure. Of course there are. And they’re snapped up for the bigwigs, or the rich folk looking for an escape. Precious few of those worlds are ever true Dustworlds.
“Oh.” She fell quiet for a moment, then, chewing on what he’d said. “Well. I guess.”
“Right. So-”
“What about you, then?”
He blinked. “What?”
She lurched closer, skittering back from a surge in the gathered masses. “You sound so down on most’ve those places. Ain’t there nowhere you do like?”
“Not really,” he muttered.
“What’s that?”
“I prefer space,” he said, rolling his eyes. “There’s more room. Less dirt. And-”
“What?” Lily said, furrowing her brow and glancing back to him. “That’s so...depressin’.”
“Hey.”
“An’ you’re that way ‘bout everywhere? There’s no planet out there that strikes your fancy?”
He shrugged. “Not really. I’ve never really-”
“Shit. Not even your stompin’ grounds? Everyone’s got a home. ”
That got a chuckle out of him. “I guess. That doesn’t mean I liked it, though. Why do you think I joined the corp?”
Her expression turned crafty. “Another Dustworld? Maybe a desert. Or a swamp planet? You do have a damp look about you. Maybe-”
He sighed. “I’m Terran.”
Lily stopped. For a moment, she just blinked. “Oh.”
Oh, indeed. “I left for a reason, and I’ve never really wanted to go back. Space is plenty.”
She nodded, but didn’t seem to have a lot to say to that. McCallister watched for a moment, mulling her reaction over. ‘Home’ wasn’t something he tended to bring up much, even when he had people around to bring it up with. Would she get pushy about it? Would she try and win him over to the colonial lifestyle? He’d seen a few of those, in his day—the sorts that’d try and convince you to stay dirtside, giving up the spacefaring way for some stability. Especially after they’d seen him piece back together whatever critical system they’d royally fucked up.
Lily just glanced to him, though, her eyes a bit sad but her expression neutral. “Well. I s’ppose. Come on, then.”
McCallister glanced up—and there, at the end of the block, he saw the familiar peaks of the spaceport, together with the security building. The part in his hand hung heavier with every step. “Right.”
“Even still,” she said as they stepped forward on the final leg of the walk. “Careful. I’m thinkin’ Wyatt likes havin’ another fellow with some know-how around the colony.”
Ah, there it was. “No.”
“And Julian’s grateful for you takin’ the lead on the coordination, here.”
“Julian should do his own damn job once in a while.”
Lily chuckled, brushing back a strand of strawberry hair. “Yeah, yeah. Anyway-”
“Like I said. No.”
She winked up at him. “We’ll see.”
McCallister groaned. There was no winning. She was as bad as Kara. He just had to stick to his guns. He was delivering Kara and the kids to somewhere safe. That was all. He’d have done his duty after that, and he could go back to his own business. He just had to keep his eyes on the target.
And keep a step ahead of the scheming colonists he ferried.
Shooting a tolerant, amused look Lily’s way, he stepped out in front as the security building loomed ahead. One hand grabbed the handle, pulling the door open even as he took his hat off with the other. “After you.”
Lily traded his look for one of her own, an eyebrow cocked. “Just think about it, that’s all I’m sayin’.”
“Go.”
She laughed, skittering inside. He sighed, then stepped around the door and-
Noise. It filled his ears, screaming down like a deafening wail. McCallister flinched, clinging to the glass-and-metal frame of the door as his world wobbled.
His mind raced, fighting to catch up as the horrible shock of it ran through him. What was it? Where? Was it danger? Was he-
His chin snapped up. The noise—it was coming from overhead. There. A speaker unit sat perched atop a pole set just inside the spaceport. The wail was coming from there, echoed by similar screeches from across Solovei.
The alarm. Realization settled home like a hammer, smacking him straight upside the head. He was frozen, his mind perfectly blank. There was only one thing it could be—and if he thought back through the chaos of the reconstruction process, he’d heard this noise before.
Through all of it, one singular truth shone clear in his mind, unbothered by the chaos and the adrenaline and the thought-destroying noise of it all.
Whatever time they’d had left, it’d just run out.
Next Part
submitted by TAHaywood to redditserials [link] [comments]


2020.08.29 11:31 TheWayForwardMachine TFW you want to write a 20 page email to the VP of Engineering

Hey. We're new to Dexcom, just moved from Libre (+miaomiao) to the G6 and I think "underwhelming" is a word that would not suffice even if I wrote it in mile high letters made from actual fire and placed it on top of Mt Everest.
First of all. I have some minor tech background. Like 30 years as a developer, architect, CTO. In various unrelated sectors like finance, healthcare, data analysis and other non-important fields. And obviously I've only been involved in backend, frontend, mobile applications and embedded software so what do I know.
I know this: Dexcom has some serious issues with code quality, with UX design, with documentation, with following the actual development guidelines on the iOS platform and... you know. Small stuff. And it is frustrating beyond belief to sit and stare at this janky piece of software that is so unintuitive that I would not hesitate to call it downright dangerous.
Now don't get me wrong, Libre is awful on it's own and I'm not even going to go into the issues I have with the TI-component that they use in the sensor and so far I would say that the Dexcom hardware is far better. But the software is an absolute and utter mess. As parents we rely on being able to have some level of trust that behaviour is somewhat consistent. But when you see the amount of obvious flaws and bugs that plague especially the follower app it's hard not to feel like someone really should be looking for another job. Perhaps making web pages as a hobby.
And I'm sure Dexcom reps don't bother to actually monitor a forum like this but if they do: seriously, what are you doing? The argument that you need to validate new OS versions is one of the worst I have heard, you have beta access along with all other developers and if you aren't able to setup a validation test process with the amount of time that we are given then you really should retool not only your software development but your QA in the most fundamental way. When telling customers NOT to keep their phones up to date you are effectively putting them at risk since updates tend to include patches that may be necessary to keep their phones secure which means that rather than make the effort to provide updates in a timely fashion, something that I would argue is the least you can expect from a provider that claims that they are the tech leader. I notice that Dexcom has a ton of career opportunities posted on the site so hopefully they are somewhat aware of the issue and I suppose that is at least something.
I'm really glad that my kid got his diagnosis at a time when these tools started to become available but I think we should require the same quality from them as we require from other combinations of hardware and software that surround us. Hell, if my Tesla behaved like the Dexcom, it would have stopped showing remaining energy every 20 minutes and then crashed every other mile.
So yeah, I guess you could say that I am mildly annoyed. And I will probably write that email as well. I just have to get my blood pressure down to the point where I don't sound like Ignatius.
submitted by TheWayForwardMachine to dexcom [link] [comments]


2020.08.21 22:42 DetectiveLearner Linux Desktop for Budding Data Scientist

What will you be doing with this PC? Be as specific as possible, and include specific games or programs you will be using.
What is your maximum budget before rebates/shipping/taxes?
When do you plan on building/buying the PC? Note: beyond a week or two from today means any build you receive will be out of date when you want to buy.
What, exactly, do you need included in the budget? (ToweOS/monitokeyboard/mouse/etc)
Which country (and state/province) will you be purchasing the parts in? If you're in US, do you have access to a Microcenter location?
If reusing any parts (including monitor(s)/keyboard/mouse/etc), what parts will you be reusing? Brands and models are appreciated.
Will you be overclocking? If yes, are you interested in overclocking right away, or down the line? CPU and/or GPU?
Are there any specific features or items you want/need in the build? (ex: SSD, large amount of storage or a RAID setup, CUDA or OpenCL support, etc)
What type of network connectivity do you need? (Wired and/or WiFi) If WiFi is needed and you would like to find the fastest match for your wireless router, please list any specifics.
Do you have any specific case preferences (Size like ITX/microATX/mid-towefull-tower, styles, colors, window or not, LED lighting, etc), or a particular color theme preference for the components?
Do you need a copy of Windows included in the budget? If you do need one included, do you have a preference?
Extra info or particulars:
submitted by DetectiveLearner to buildapcforme [link] [comments]


2020.08.20 19:01 sstoneb Help me upgrade for remote teaching with a virtual background.

What will you be doing with this PC? Be as specific as possible, and include specific games or programs you will be using.
I'm a high school teacher. My first two months, and possibly more, will be 100% remote and we're supposed to hold synchronous/"live" classes using Zoom. I would like to be able to use Zoom's virtual background feature (without a greenscreen) while also running various other programs to screenshare including simulations, slide presentations (typically LibreOffice Impress), many Chrome tabs, etc.. Maybe even using my screenshare AS the virtual background or sharing a mirrored iPad screen, which would both mean running some extra stuff at the same time as well. Being able to run OBS Studio on top of the rest to fine-tune my screensharing would be even better.
My current desktop CPU is an AMD A10 3.8GHz which I bought in 2013. In a pinch, I could teach with what I have right now and just forget about the virtual background. But it would be nice to have that option, and I'm also anxious to have improved performance on startup, when multitasking, and when editing media with software like GIMP and VirtualDub.
I've always built my PCs from parts but I go so long between purchases that most of the technology has changed by the time I try to shop again and it leaves me feeling lost.
What is your maximum budget before rebates/shipping/taxes?
$400. That may not be feasible, but since I only need mild improvements I'm hoping I can keep the cost down that low.
When do you plan on building/buying the PC? Note: beyond a week or two from today means any build you receive will be out of date when you want to buy.
"Soon". I could make a purchase immediately. I want it assembled and all my software working by early September if not earlier.
What, exactly, do you need included in the budget? (ToweOS/monitokeyboard/mouse/etc)
Which country (and state/province) will you be purchasing the parts in? If you're in US, do you have access to a Microcenter location?
United States. I live near the Boston/Cambridge MicroCenter.
If reusing any parts (including monitor(s)/keyboard/mouse/etc), what parts will you be reusing? Brands and models are appreciated.
Micro ATX case. SATA hard drive(s). VGA/HDMI monitor. Keyboard and mouse.
Will you be overclocking? If yes, are you interested in overclocking right away, or down the line? CPU and/or GPU?
No.
Are there any specific features or items you want/need in the build? (ex: SSD, large amount of storage or a RAID setup, CUDA or OpenCL support, etc)
I have no specific hardware requirements. I just want to be able to do the virtual backgrounds without a greenscreen.
What type of network connectivity do you need? (Wired and/or WiFi) If WiFi is needed and you would like to find the fastest match for your wireless router, please list any specifics.
Wired is fine. I have a USB wifi dongle on my current system but I'll probably string an ethernet cable to my router for teaching.
Do you have any specific case preferences (Size like ITX/microATX/mid-towefull-tower, styles, colors, window or not, LED lighting, etc), or a particular color theme preference for the components?
I'd like to continue using my current microATX case if possible, but I can go to a new case as long as it's still within budget. I don't care what the components look like.
Do you need a copy of Windows included in the budget? If you do need one included, do you have a preference?
No. I already have a license and will reactivate after the hardware change.
Extra info or particulars:
Well... a friend gave me a hand-me-down graphics card that says "radeon hd 6950" on it. I've never had a dedicated graphics card and know basically nothing about them. It's pretty large but I think I can fit it in my case if I move the drives to higher bays. Some quick searching indicates the card needs a 500+ W power supply, though, so I would only care about incorporating the card if I need a new power supply anyway. My worry would be that, even if it physically fits in there, the card might not be intended for a mATX case and could lead to cooling trouble from the crowding. If my new CPU requires a bigger heatsink, that could also mean that the graphics card wouldn't fit, depending on how things are oriented. But you fine folk probably know way more about that than I do.
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2020.08.12 18:00 daprice82 Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Jul. 29, 2002

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
PREVIOUSLY:
1-7-2002 1-14-2002 1-21-2002 1-28-2002
2-4-2002 2-11-2002 2-18-2002 2-25-2002
3-4-2002 3-11-2002 3-18-2002 3-25-2002
4-1-2002 4-8-2002 4-15-2002 4-22-2002
4-29-2002 5-6-2002 5-13-2002 5-20-2002
5-27-2002 6-3-2002 6-10-2002 6-17-2002
6-24-2002 7-1-2002 7-8-2002 7-15-2002
7-22-2002

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Most of you know the homie SaintRidley has been recapping the Observers from the 1980s (and if you don't know, now you know). Anyway, he got blasted by storms in Iowa the other day and has intermittent internet and asked me to pass along word that he won't be able to post the latest issue of the 1988 Rewind this week. Hope everything's okay with ya dude!

  • Dave opens the issue with some high praise, a rare thing for the top story. But this week's episode of Raw was the first time WWE showed real effort in months, with a clear plan to build a Raw vs. Smackdown storyline and to make the brands as distinct as possible. Raw felt like a completely new show, starting multiple new storylines that hint at long-term booking (we're so used to WWE disappointing us nowadays that it's kinda cute to go back in time and see someone buy into the false hope of improvement like this). They also had a super hot crowd, which helped a lot. The ratings also saw a spike this week, due to fans wanting to see what Raw looks like with Bischoff in charge. The announcers were moved away from ringside and stationed near the stage, similar to the old Nitro set. During the matches, the arena was darkened to give it a more old-school feel. Things felt more spontaneous and less predictable than they have in ages. The European title was done away with, unified with the IC title. Dave feels the belt was useless the last few years anyway.
  • The show featured DX reuniting, but ended with Triple H turning heel and giving Shawn Michaels a pedigree. Dave expects it to lead to Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels at Summerslam, but we'll see. This also necessitated Triple H moving back over to Raw, and in exchange, they moved Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman over to Smackdown at the end of the show. Eddie Guerrero had a match with The Rock and also had a segment where they went back and forth on the mic. It was the most confident Eddie has ever been on the mic and he held his own with Rock and came out of the night looking to be a bigger star than ever. The show wasn't all good though. They had a segment where they put D-Lo Brown and Shawn Stasiak in the ring and Bischoff berated them for being boring and buried them for trying to wrestle, which Dave thinks sucked. The DX reunion followed by Triple H's heel turn blew through potentially weeks of storyline progression in only one hour, but that's typical these days. But Dave thinks of all the potential revenue they could have made on DX merch if they'd been given a chance to have even a short few-week run, but alas. He also thought the announcers playing dumb (like Jim Ross having to pretend not to know who the Island Boyz were during their debut, despite the fact that he's written about them a million times in his weekly WWE.com column). Also too much backstage stuff, which is fine for TV, but sucks for the live crowd when they bought tickets to watch half the show on the TitanTron. But overall, it was the best Raw in a long time and the first sign that maybe WWE's latest reboot is going to mean real change. And that's the top story. Raw was actually good for once and it's the biggest news of the week.
WATCH: Triple H turns on Shawn Michaels - 2002
  • daprice82 Editor's Note: No one is going to care, but I have a story about this Raw. At the time, my girlfriend (now-wife) and I were in Peoria, IL for the 2nd annual Gathering of the Juggalos! We were 19 years old and drove there from Memphis in my shitty ol' Chevy Blazer and spent the weekend woop-wooping it up. Well, that Monday afternoon, we left Peoria to drive home. We got maybe 30 miles out of town when I realized that my previously full gas tank was almost empty. Pulled into a gas station, confused, but filled the tank again, and drove on. Watched the tank slowly drain as I drove along and within 30 minutes, I was on E again. I was losing gas somehow. Pulled off an exit and stopped at the single nicest truck stop I've ever seen. This place had everything. It was a gas station, connected to a Subway, with a lounge area that had recliners, full showers, washers and dryers, etc. If you're gonna be stranded somewhere, it was the best option. I ended up calling my dad and he drove 7 hours to come pick us up. So while we waited, my girlfriend and I spent the rest of the day into the night, hanging out in this lounge, sleeping in the recliners, and watching TV. And low and behold, they had the TV on Raw that night. I remember I was dozing in and out and I remember waking up when I heard the DX music hit and groggily staring at the TV like "wtf?" And then I saw Triple H turn on Shawn and was like "Whoa!" and then I fell back asleep and that's all I remember.
  • WWE announced that it's re-evaluating its quarterly and annual business efforts due to lower-than-expected revenue this year, stemming from PPV buyrates and live attendance plummeting. To keep the company in the black, WWE is making $20 million in budget cutbacks. Most of the cuts are coming from administrative expenses, but the developmental program is going to be hit hard (more on that in a bit). For next quarter, WWE is predicting an overall profit of $1.5 to $2 million. But that is a bit misleading because that figures in the $3.5 million settlement from the PTC lawsuit. If not for that settlement, this quarter would be the first money-losing quarter since 1997 (assuming you don't count the Q1 of 2001, when they had all the massive XFL start-up costs). Plus, they're running twice as many house shows now than they were the same quarter last year, and the numbers are still that bad. There's a ton of year-to-year comparisons here, which is super fun if you're a numbers person but TL;DR - business ain't great.
  • So what about Japan? Business there is an interesting story also. NOAH has surpassed NJPW in average attendance per show for the first half of 2002, which shows just how staggering of a collapse NJPW has had. The biggest success story of the year has been AJPW, which was on death's door a little over a year ago, with the entire roster jumping ship to form NOAH and the company lost its television deal. It's a miracle they survived at all, much less become as hot as they have this year. The reason, of course, is Keiji Muto (and to a lesser extent, Satoshi Kojima), both of whom jumped ship from NJPW at the beginning of the year and immediately gave the promotion a huge shot in the arm, spiking live attendance by nearly 70% and tripling merch sales. Meanwhile, NJPW is still stinging from those losses, plus they ran Riki Choshu out of the company, made Tadao Yasuda IWGP champion which was a huge flop, they have no good foreign talent, their junior division is stale as can be, and current champion Yuji Nagata is still trying to get his momentum back after a humiliating MMA loss to Mirko Cro Cop on New Year's Eve.
  • So about those developmental cutbacks. WWE cut ties with Les Thatcher's HWA promotion and also dropped the contracts of several developmental stars there. Among the names cut: Steve Bradley, EZ Money, Jon Heidenreich, Mike Sanders, BJ Payne, Horace Hogan, and several others you probably never heard of. HWA wrestlers Lance Cade and Charlie Haas are being reassigned to OVW, which will now be WWE's only developmental territory. Others, like Shannon Moore, Victoria, and Barry Buchanan are expected to debut on the main roster soon and were kept. In 2001 fiscal year, WWE spent $1.1 on developmental costs and had relationships with 4 promotions: HWA, OVW, UPW, and IWA Puerto Rico. Now we're down to one, with Jim Ross reportedly ordered to cut that developmental budget in half. Dave doesn't like this. With WWE being the only game in town and in need of new stars more than ever, he feels they should be expanding their developmental system rather than shrinking it. Creating new stars is vital to the future of WWE and limiting themselves to one promotion with a pool of only a dozen or so people seems short-sighted. He also disagrees with some of the people who got cut. Not everyone in developmental is going to be a star, but some of them at least deserved a shot (namely Steve Bradley, who had been there for 3-4 years, is still in his twenties, is a good worker and strong promo, but never got a chance on the main roster because he doesn't have the right look). Why some of those people were released while Jackie Gayda and Chris Nowinski are stinking up the ring on Raw is beyond Dave. He also thinks Les Thatcher had a pretty impossible job. He was given a roster full of wrestlers that were mostly leftovers from WCW. Young guys who came out of WCW's Power Plant and worked a fast-paced WCW style that doesn't apply to modern day WWE. Then they had Thatcher, Danny Davis, and Jim Cornette train these guys. A bunch of old school veterans training these young guys in the ways of 80s wrestling. So now they learn a whole new style....which also doesn't apply to modern day WWE. It's a broken system. Anyway, everyone who was cut has 90-day non-competes. Word is TNA is only interested in Mike Sanders, out of the names released.
  • WWE Vengeance is in the books headlined by one of those classic matches that can single-handedly make a show. The Rock defeated Kurt Angle and Undertaker in a triple threat match to become the first 7-time WWE champion, although Angle was clearly the one who had another star-making performance. Dave nitpicks the fact that Rock pinned Angle (rather than the champion Undertaker) to win the title, but he'll wait and see if it leads to anything storyline-wise first before criticizing it too much (it leads to nothing, turns out it was just a cheap way to get the title on Rock without Taker having to do a job). But it was an excellent match that gets 4.5 stars. Most of the other matches were good too, though some of the booking was weird and doesn't seem to make long-term sense. They teased a feud between the Raw and Smackdown announcers, which Dave thinks is fine so long as it stays verbal. None of us needs to see Jim Ross or Michael Cole in matches. Dave also gives Tazz credit for improving greatly in his commentary role over the last year. He sucked when he first started but he's the best color commentator they got now. They had the first face-to-face meeting between Angle and Lesnar, which is a subtle tease to what Dave expects to be a big time feud in the future. John Cena pinned Chris Jericho in a match that exposed how green Cena still is and Jericho wasn't able to carry him to anything good and the crowd couldn't have cared less about the rookie. RVD beat Brock Lesnar by DQ to retain the IC title. RVD was super over since they were in Michigan. Bad finish but I guess they didn't wanna give Brock the IC title since he's almost definitely winning the world title from Rock in a month. There was a forever long segment with Bischoff and Stephanie trying to woo Triple H to sign with their respective shows. Anti-Americans won the tag titles from Edge and Hogan. That's basically it.
  • We have a section called "Treatment of Minorities Within Pro Wrestling" by Todd Martin (presumably the same Todd Martin from the PWTorch?). The piece touches on wrestling's past portrayals of race and the false impression that things have gotten better due to the success of people like The Rock, when in reality, the racism is just more subtle. Martin takes a look at WWE's hiring processes. Very few minorities have come up through the developmental program, but it's hard to say if that's WWE's fault. Maybe there's just not many minorities trying to break into the business that way, there's no statistical evidence either way. But you can look at the wrestlers they chose to hire from WCW and how they fared in the WWE system. Midcard comedy wrestlers like Shawn Stasiak got a chance but not midcard comedy wrestlers like Norman Smiley. Nepotism got Horace Hogan a contract, but it didn't do anything for Stevie Ray. Examples like that. Or the Luchadores. Martin argues that, with all the talented Hispanic wrestlers WCW turned into stars, it's inexcusable that so few of them have even gotten so much a developmental offer from WWE. And the only ones who did were the ones fluent in English, which you can argue for. Can't argue size either. Someone like La Parka dwarfs over Crash Holly or Spike Dudley, but WWE has no interest. Wrestlers like Psicosis, Juventud, La Parka, Silver King, and others helped carry WCW through some of its most successful years and none of those guys even got a glance from WWE. Martin asks if Booker T's current jive-talking gimmick is any better than his early GI Bro or Ebony Experience gimmicks? Especially when they have him on TV hotwiring cars and doing stereotypical criminal shit like that? In regards to Eddie Guerrero's current Mexican stereotype gimmick, even Jim Ross recently said that it's taking Hispanic relations back 25 years. If the Booker T or Guerrero characters were portrayed on a normal network TV show with a majority-white cast, they would be seen for the racist caricatures that they are. Martin ends the piece by saying he doesn't believe WWE's decision makers are overtly racist. It's just that the company has created a hierarchy of implicit beliefs about how different types of people are portrayed and they may not even realize that they've built such a system.
  • Dave adds his own "editor's note" to the end of this piece and says he chose to publish it because of the detailed research and data used and found it a fascinating article that deserves discussion. Dave disagrees with some of it though and argues that some of it is just a difference in philosophy. For example, WWE tried the Lucha Libre experiment before with the Superastros show and crowds were dead for it. WWE and WCW had very different fanbases and presented different products because of it. So it may not be so much racism in that case as it is WWE fans have never shown any interest in that style of wrestling. He also argues against some of the examples Martin used (for instance, Stevie Ray was considered by WWE but he was already in his 40s and was never the caliber of worker as his brother, which is why they passed). But that being said, Dave thinks other parts of the piece make some interesting points that are well worth a read.
  • TNA week 5 felt like a whole new product due to the heavy influence of Vince Russo. We'll get into that later, but for now, buckle in, we've got a few paragraphs of TNA drama to get through. The first 4 shows presented a product with an emphasis on hard work and long-term angles. This week featured the classic Russo recipe of crash TV and constant, edgy swearing, in an attempt to market "to that 15-30 age group male demo that hates women because they can't get dates and enjoys seeing them harassed and abused." The show ended with a big injury angle to Scott Hall, which is all well and good and might get people interested in next week's show, except it came on the heels of multiple other "serious injury" angles during the same show and by the time Hall did it, it was something like the 3rd stretcher job of the night and it felt meaningless. Same with every promo being filled with curse words. The whole show was yet another example of why Vince Russo needs someone to filter his worst instincts. In this case, that should be Jerry Jarrett, but he was away from creative dealing with budget and legal issues all this week (gonna hear a LOT more about that soon). On that note, just based on very rough, preliminary PPV buyrate figures, production costs, etc. Dave estimates this company is already about half a million dollars in the red, and that's not counting the significant startup costs they have yet to recoup, with estimates that the company is currently losing about $120,000 or more per week.
  • As of this week, TNA's budgets have been slashed. They've also moved tapings to the smaller and cheaper Nashville Fairgrounds location and signed a 3-month lease. It's reported that switching buildings will save $27,000 per week. They're also eliminating pyro, cut new deals with the production crew, and will be flying in fewer stars, relying mostly on people that can drive. They also don't plan to use managers, will cut back on the TNA girls, and will be using Ken Shamrock and Scott Hall on alternate weeks, since they're the two highest paid guys and it's expensive to have them both on the same show. The Fairgrounds building has been used for wrestling tapings before and never looks good on TV, but TNA is insisting they can dress it up to look good. The budget cuts are expected to be so heavy that TNA's new break-even point for PPV buys will be 20,000 per week instead of 50,000. Dave thinks 20,000 is a much more attainable goal, but if it comes at the expense of the product looking minor league and low budget, it's gonna fail. The building also has no air conditioning and with TV lights, it's going to be brutally hot during summer months. Jerry Jarrett has been posting frequently on the wrestlingclassics.com message board and admitted that they weren't anywhere close to the 50,000-buys-per-week they needed. Here's a post Jerry wrote explaining their plans for the company and the new, Russo-iffic direction:
Jeff (Jarrett) and I are wrestling purists just as many fans here. The difference is that we have put up everything we have in our effort to present an alternative to sports entertainment. Our plan was simple. We believed that there were 50,000 wrestling fans who would pay $10 per week, or $40 per month to have an alternative to sports entertainment. This was based on the fact WWE has from 300,000 to one million fans of sports entertainment who will pay $35 per month to see their product. We were well aware that production values, talent, storylines, content, etc. were all factors that could negatively effect the buy rate. We still thought the market would support us enough to make the plan successful. We are finding that many of the wrestling purists did exactly as I did ten years ago, and that is, go on to something else. We are finding that there are many fewer fans who really want an alternative to sports entertainment than we anticipated. Therefore, we can either attempt to attract a few of the WWE fans, or pack up and go home. We have risked everything in our venture. Therefore, not because of our personal taste, but out of necessity, we are compromising our wrestling purist instincts and attempting to create a broader fan base. ECW did a great job of creating a product for the hardcore wrestling fan. The simple fact was that the base of their fans was not sufficient to keep them in business."
  • Ray Gonzalez, one of the top stars in Puerto Rico, shockingly announced he's leaving WWC and most expect him to jump to IWA. Gonzalez claimed WWC was late in paying him, which he says breached his contract (reportedly paying him $800-$1000 per week). As a result, his lawyers sent WWC a letter saying because of this, he was quitting the company. Gonzalez no-showed WWC events this weekend. This is going to badly hurt WWC's upcoming Anniversary show because Gonzalez was a major part of multiple top angles that the card was built around. Gonzalez has been the top heel in WWC and arguably has kept the company alive the past 5 years, and is most responsible for getting Carly Colon (Carlito) over as a big star. IWA has already started advertising a mystery wrestler to be the top heel in upcoming shows this weekend, and it's no secret that Gonzalez is expected to debut for the company and be that guy. Dave also mentions several other WWC wrestlers who no-showed events last week because they were late in being paid. Many of them are as much as 10 weeks behind on pay, but this week, they were summoned to the office where Carlos Colon paid them about 5 weeks worth of what they're owed. Lots of death-of-ECW vibes going on here lately.
  • Lots of rumors that AJPW star Genichiro Tenryu will be showing up at the NOAH show this week to challenge GHC champion Yoshinari Ogawa. Needless to say, this would be a big deal if it happens because AJPW and NOAH basically hate each other. No word on whether this is an angle or not, but given how much Motoko Baba hates NOAH, it seems unlikely. Of course, it also remains to be seen if Tenryu will even show up or if it's all just rumors. Tenryu is currently feuding with Muto over who should have become president of the company, so this could be just a kayfabed angle to make it look like Tenryu is really anti-AJPW (looks like it was just a work, he doesn't end up going to NOAH until 2005).
  • Dave recaps AJPW's latest Buddokan Hall show, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the company, which featured Keiji Muto wrestling 3 different matches under 3 different gimmicks. All told, Muto worked a total of about 36 minutes between the 3 matches and was banged up like hell the next day. There were also a lot of old legends on the card, like Abdullah The Butcher, Mil Mascaras, Dos Caras, and more. Stan Hansen and Motoko Baba came out to give speeches about the company, with Ms. Baba breaking down crying when talking about her husband, and more. I managed to find most of this show on Dailymotion, enjoy:
WATCH: AJPW 30th Anniversary show
  • While we're on the topic, Dave saw a recent AJPW match with Tenryu defending the Triple Crown title against Satoshi Kojima in a match that many are calling the match of the year. Dave saw it and gives it 4.75 stars and calls Kojima possibly the best wrestler in the business when it comes to carrying the audience on an emotional roller coaster ride. He doesn't agree or disagree that it's the best match of the year, but he sure loved it.
WATCH: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Satoshi Kojima - AJPW Triple Crown match 2002
  • Mitsuharu Misawa suffered a dislocated shoulder in a recent match. Popped it back in, worked the next day, still in pain, went to the hospital because that's what happens when you wrestle again right after dislocating your shoulder. Anyway, the doctors were like, "Hey, maybe don't do that for a minute" but he's Misawa so he vows he won't be missing any dates and then he hit the doctor with an emerald flowsion. Dave doesn't say this, I'm just assuming.
  • NJPW continues to decline. They held back-to-back shows at the 10,500-seat arena in Sapporo this week. The first night only drew 4,100 fans which was the smallest crowd they have drawn in that city in years. Second night was better, but still only 6,000 fans to see Yuji Nagata retain the IWGP title over Bas Rutten. In another era, this win would have been huge for Nagata but nobody cares when a wrestler beats an MMA guy in a worked match anymore because Inoki pretty much beat that horse to death.
  • There's talk of bringing back Chyna to work the August Tokyo Dome show for Antonio Inoki's UFO MMA promotion, presumably just to make an appearance (oh, if only). There's also talk of bringing her in for NJPW's September tour and having her beat male prelim wrestlers every night. Needless to say, there's a whole lot of people in the company against that idea. Especially because her loss to Joey Buttafuoco in a celebrity boxing match a few months ago actually got a lot of coverage in Japan, so coming off that and showing up to beat male NJPW wrestlers isn't a popular idea. But Inoki gonna Inoki, so we'll see.
  • Latest on the ECW bankruptcy proceedings. The trustee has filed a motion demanding that the InDemand PPV company pays them $724,456.40. That total is the money they owed ECW, minus $25,000 because ECW failed to produce the March 2001 PPV they were contractually obligated to produce. This case is a textbook example of why trying to run a PPV-only company like TNA is going to be so difficult. InDemand is still holding onto ECW PPV money from over a year ago. Anyway, of the $724k, a big chunk of it will go to attorneys, back taxes, commission fees, etc. Video game maker Acclaim, who owned a percentage of ECW, is expected to get a big chunk as well. Whatever is left over will be used to pay off existing creditors but there's not gonna be much. A lot of those creditors are just never going to get paid. It's also expected that Acclaim will end up owning the video tape library rights, since WWE hasn't yet made a bid to acquire it.
  • Former Crockett/WCW wrestler Chris Champion suffered a major stroke and is in critical condition. Champion also wrestled as Yoshi Kwan for a bit in WCW. A lot of people expected him to be a major star in the 90s, but it just never panned out, usually due to his own personal issues (I looked it up, he ended up surviving this go round, but he died in 2018 after suffering more strokes).
  • If you're wondering what Jim Crockett Jr. is up to these days, he works in real estate in Dallas. When Shaun Assael interviewed Crockett for his book on Vince McMahon, everyone in Crockett's office was shocked because they had no idea that their coworker was once the 2nd biggest wrestling promoter in the U.S. throughout most of the 80s. That's how much he's left the wrestling business behind.
  • Just gonna paste this quote here: "For whatever this is worth in case this becomes a major historical question down the line, the actual idea to make David Arquette WCW champion came from Tony Schiavone." Dave notes that Schiavone didn't have any decision-making power to make it happen, but he was the one who made the suggestion at a production meeting. According to those there, when Schiavone made the suggestion, Vince Russo's eyes lit up like it was the best idea he'd ever heard and the rest is history. (Vince Russo has confirmed this story himself. Last I heard, Tony admits he was involved in coming up with the idea but he refuses to take sole credit for it).
  • The Chicago-Sun Times interviewed Greg Gagne's son JP who is a pitcher for Notre Dame. In the interview, he talked about how famous wrestlers used to stay at his house all the time growing up and said that his friends love the story of how he once rode Space Mountain at Disney World with Ric Flair. Hehe.
  • Shane Douglas is now the booker for XPW and is involved in an angle where owner Rob Black's wife Lizzie Borden is leaving him for Douglas (don't get too close to her Shane, you might lose a thumb! More on that in a couple weeks...). Also, at the first show with Douglas as booker, there was a scaffold match where Douglas came out and shot the guy on the scaffold with a tranquilizer, causing him to plummet to the ring below, which then exploded. Don't worry, I wouldn't write all that without having a video for ya:
WATCH: Shane Douglas XPW tranquilizer gun scaffold spot
  • Notes from TNA PPV Week 5: Sabu debuted to face Malice in a surprise ladder match. It was fine. Sabu won, which earned him a contract to face Ken Shamrock for the NWA title next week in another ladder match. Don't worry, we have more ladders to come. Jeff Jarrett is being booked like the Stone Cold of TNA and Dave ain't here for it. Francine and Jasmine St. Claire had a shower scene together backstage, later leading to Jasmine in a wet t-shirt. K-Krush cut a promo complaining about being fired by WWE, just in case you weren't aware that most of this roster is full of WWE rejects, they make sure you know it. A 4-way match with a bunch of the young guys completely fell apart with everyone except Christopher Daniels looking totally lost and confused. Dave says rarely do matches even in OVW fall apart as badly as this one did. Another little person match that Dave says was one of the worst matches of the year and was highlighted by one of them breaking a watermelon over the other's head. Negative 3 stars. Even worse, the match went waaaay longer than it was supposed to, which cut into the time for AJ Styles vs. Low-Ki and a match that should have been great ended up being a huge disappointment. Plus a drunk guy in the crowd took away everyone's attention and they couldn't get the audience back. Jerry Lynn attacked AJ with a ladder afterwards because whooohoo ladders! Francine and Jasmine ripped each other's clothes off like every other time you've seen it in WWE. Then Blue Meanie DDT'd her and she did a stretcher job. Brian ChristopheLawlewhatever he is this week cut a long promo trashing his father to continue getting fans interested in a match they can't possibly deliver. Why not just challenge Austin or Rock while you're at it, Dave wonders. Fuck it, if you're gonna do dumb shit, at least go big. Scott Hall vs. Christopher in the main event was bad because Hall just returned from working IWA in Puerto Rico for several days and was pretty much on a drunken bender the whole time. And then Hall did a stretcher job to end the show, which was kinda lessened by Francine having done the same thing 30 minutes earlier. And there we go. After only 5 shows, this shit is already WCW 2000 all over again.
  • Despite all the publicity they got, TNA also barely made any mention of the angle last week with the Tennessee Titans football players. Apparently the players caught some shit from the Titans GM for it and since they aren't coming back and they can't do a match or anything with them, TNA decided to just forget it happened.
  • In case you're wondering why TNA hasn't made a play for Scott Steiner yet, apparently he and Jeff Jarrett had been friends for years, especially during the WCW days, but they recently had a falling out of some kind. Hence, TNA has no interest in using him.
  • The reason WWE is running back-to-back tapings for Raw and Smackdown next month in Seattle is to test the market. WWE did a site check last month at Safeco Field for next year's Wrestlemania, but there's question as to whether the Seattle market will be able to sell out a big stadium like that, so the decision was made to do this. If they have a double-sellout both nights, that'll pretty much guarantee that Seattle gets Wrestlemania. If the shows do poorly, they may reconsider and select a new city (I guess these shows end up doing okay).
  • The Rock is set to star in another major movie, this time a $100 million budget production based on the video game SpyHunter. The hope is to have the movie out around Christmas 2003, in order to cross-promote it with the new video game coming out around that time. This adds more to Rock's Hollywood plate and it's looking like he's going to be around wrestling even less next year (this movie ends up stuck in developmental hell for years and never gets made, but Rock ends up doing the voice for the video game in 2009 instead).
  • Dave isn't sure why yet, but the long-planned Hogan vs. Vince match at Summerslam is now off. Dave suspects they may be holding off until Wrestlemania, which is great if they have a long-term plan and now that they're doing the Bischoff vs. Stephanie storyline, Vince is planning to take himself off TV for a little while anyway. So we'll see. In the meantime, the whole mess last week with Triple H talking Vince out of getting slapped by John Cena because "nobody should be laying hands on Vince until the Hogan match" ended up being for nothing.
  • Notes from Smackdown: in talking about Stephanie McMahon trying to be a babyface, Dave says she's basically the wrong person for this gimmick but she's a McMahon, so what are ya gonna do? He also jokes that "when this thing goes down and I write the book, I think my title will be "Wrestling Promoters Should Be Banned From Having Children: Unless They Don't Allow Them To Work In Their Promotion." I dunno, seems wordy to me. They also did the bit with Stephanie as GM and all the wrestlers backstage watching on the monitors, leading Dave on a Cornette-style rant about how WWE can't even be bothered to separate heels and faces in different locker rooms and it takes you out of the show when they're all sitting around backstage together watching the TV and carrying on conversations. Sure, kayfabe is already dead, but can we at least try to create an illusion of it within the show itself? This was also the last Smackdown before the PPV and there was some discussion over the finish of the Rock vs. Angle match. Paul Heyman and Michael Hayes wanted Rock to lose clean to the ankle lock, since he was winning the title on Sunday anyway and Angle was doing the job. Pat Patterson and Triple H argued against it, saying Rock shouldn't be tapping to anyone, even though Angle's gimmick right now is that he can make everyone tap (even Hogan last month). So instead, we got the Undertaker run-in DQ finish and Dave says this kinda shit is why WWE is unable to create long-term storylines. There was also a bunch of bickering with Heyman, Triple H and Hayes over the finish of the Jericho/Cena match as well, which Jericho was apparently upset about.
  • In an online chat this week, Goldberg didn't rule out going to WWE but said he hasn't met with anyone in the company. He also said that if WWE had kept Vince Russo, then there's zero chance he would have gone. When asked about Japan, he only said he's considering all offers. Goldberg is said to have no interest in the WWE schedule and is content with the idea of working a few big shows a year in Japan. That's all well and good but Dave says the reality is that the biggest money opportunity for Goldberg is in WWE, where there's several dream matches that would do huge PPV business and earn him far more money than he can ever make in Japan. WWE also gives you the kind of celebrity exposure in America that can open up acting roles. But the problem is, giving Goldberg a reduced schedule could cause some issues in the locker room. Then again, Rock and Hogan are already working reduced schedules.
  • This week's episode of WWE Confidential was the best of the series yet, focusing on the Bischoff and McMahon relationship. It was weird to see these two, out of character, reminiscing about a time when they legitimately would have gladly killed each other. They even showed Bischoff's 1990 WWF audition tape.
  • Various WWF notes: Kevin Nash did an interview and said he has spoken to Steve Austin since the walkout and gave his opinion on why Austin left. "I think Steve was burned out. He's got a broken neck, bad knees and a bad back. I know what it feels like when I wake up every morning. And he's had a couple multi-million years. Maybe it just isn't worth it to him anymore." Bischoff did a radio interview and noted he's been in L.A. constantly pitching TV ideas and said there's no interest in wrestling anywhere in Hollywood right now. Vince and Linda McMahon have purchased a new vacation condo in Boca Raton, FL. It's an 8-bedroom 10,000 sqft. condo on the 7th and 8th floors of the Excelsior hotel. The double-unit condo recently appraised for 14 million.
  • DDP did an interview and admitted that the stalker angle was the most disappointing thing he's ever done in wrestling because he wanted so badly for it to work and it flopped. DDP also said that Steve Austin hasn't called him since he was forced to retire and admitted he was kind of hurt by it. He said he knows Austin is going through a lot right now, but they're friends and if Austin can't take the time to care about what's going on in his life, then he can't be bothered to waste time worrying about whatever Austin is going through either.
NEXT WEDNESDAY: Mainstream stories about wrestling deaths in the works, TNA files lawsuit accusing marketing firm of defrauding the company, Observer Hall of Fame preview, TNA in deep financial trouble, and more...
submitted by daprice82 to SquaredCircle [link] [comments]


2020.08.08 18:39 bigbear0083 Wall Street Week Ahead for the trading week beginning August 10th, 2020

Good Saturday afternoon to all of you here on stocks. I hope everyone on this sub made out pretty nicely in the market this past week, and is ready for the new trading week ahead.
Here is everything you need to know to get you ready for the trading week beginning August 10th, 2020.

Markets could be challenged by Washington stimulus talks and China tensions - (Source)

The debate in Washington over the next round of fiscal stimulus and rising tensions between the White House and China could act as brakes on the stock market in the coming week.
Stocks rallied in the past week but were more sluggish Friday, as investors watched stimulus talks between Democrats and the Trump administration stall out. Investors also were concerned that President Donald Trump’s executive order banning U.S. transactions with Tencent’s We Chat and Bytedance’s Tik Tok would accelerate the deterioration of relations between the U.S. and China and draw retribution.
Just ahead of Friday’s market close, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said just that he is recommending the White House move forward with executive orders on unemployment, student loans and rental foreclosures. He said a compromise could not be reached with Democrats, who wanted a $2 trillion package. Stocks edged higher after the announcement though details of the orders and how any assistance could be funded were unclear.
“It’s an attempt to bring the Democrats back to the table to negotiate a deal by threatening to use an executive order. They may be able to get some things down, but it won’t be enough to create the bridge they need while the economy continues to repair itself,” said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors.
The S&P 500 was up 2.4% for the week, ending at 3,351, after a 2 point gain Friday. The Nasdaq was down 0.9% Friday, ending at 11,010. It was up 2.5% for the week.
“Part of the reason stocks have held in there well and continue to melt up is that one of the things that is priced in is a fifth fiscal policy package of $1.5 trillion. if we don’t get one, I do think the market will retrace lower to reflect a lack of stimulus,” said Arone. “The recovery will stall out without one.”
As for China, it has so far not taken actions against U.S. companies, even with the Trump administration’s moves to block Chinese telecom giant Huawei from using U.S. parts. The latest steps, however, raised concerns that China could find ways to retaliate, and that the U.S. will bar Chinese IPOs.
“On balance, continued hostility toward China is going to be a continued net negative for U.S. companies that are revenue exposed to China,” said Julian Emanuel, head of equities and derivatives strategy at BTIG. “We know the exposure is very centered in the Nasdaq names.”
Emanuel said the stock market is entering a seasonally weak time, and while market psychology is still strong it could start to change. “The seasonals are starting to shift negatively. We all know September is a poor month and the degree of the escalation of the tensions between the U.S. in China is not a surprise, but the degree of the escalation over the last 48 hours is,” he said. “It’s not changing psychology, but it’s challenging bullish psychology.”
In the coming week, there are some final earnings of the season, including technology company Cisco and food company Sysco. Some travel companies including Royal Caribbean report, as does consumer goods company Tapestry. In the week after, big retailers roll out their reports in the final earnings burst of the quarter.
Economic reports could be important in the coming week, as investors watch consumer price index inflation data Wednesday and retail sales Friday. Retail sales should provide a window into the consumer, as workers returned to their jobs but also faced uncertainty because of reclosings.
CPI is important as the market has been assuming inflation will ultimately start to show gains because of the weakening dollar and ballooning budget deficits. CPI last month showed a 0.6% increase month over month.
The pro-inflation trade has become important and has driven investors into stocks, gold, and out of the dollar.

Watch this trade

The dollar could be the key to the fate of markets in the coming week. The U.S. currency was edging higher Friday but is still down about 3.5% over the past four weeks. Gold declined Friday, and Treasury yields moved lower.
“The dollar ... to me it just continues to be an important barometer that has a unique intersection of rates, inflation and risk assets,” said Arone. “With rising China, U.S. tensions and combined with the fact that there’s uncertainty about the fiscal policy package and the fact the dollar has declined so quickly, many are expecting it to catch a bid here and rebound.”
Part of the move in the dollar was based on the idea that huge government spending would increase the government’s deficit and Treasury issuance. Emanuel said the news on stimulus could have a big impact on the trade.
“We would make the argument the baseline expectation was a trillion dollars worth of stimulus to be implemented sometime in the month of August. Anything below that expectation is likely to cause the dollar to strengthen,” said Emanuel. “It’s a momentum and positioning trade as well as what has been ... the unwind of an asset diversification trade.”
The stalling of talks could shift the market’s view that the U.S. is willing to spend any amount to fight the impact of the coronavirus. “It’s changing the market psychology that the government’s propensity to spend infinitely is not as great as it was earlier in the week,,” Emanuel said. “The dollar rallying, from our perspective, is a direct threat to a lot of these momentum trades.”
Strategists said a strengthening dollar could be a headwind for stocks.
“Given the friction with China, to the extent the inflation numbers come in weaker than expected, the argument being that whole weaker dollar asset diversification has helped feed into increasing inflation expectations,” said Emanuel. “If the inflation data does surprise to the downside, given the rally in inflation ...it’s further potential for the unwinding of the short dollar trade and the unwinding of the long gold trade which in our view bleeds over into stocks.”

This past week saw the following moves in the S&P:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL S&P TREE MAP FOR THE PAST WEEK!)

Major Indices for this past week:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE MAJOR INDICES FOR THE PAST WEEK!)

Major Futures Markets as of Friday's close:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE MAJOR FUTURES INDICES AS OF FRIDAY!)

Economic Calendar for the Week Ahead:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ECONOMIC CALENDAR FOR THE WEEK AHEAD!)

Percentage Changes for the Major Indices, WTD, MTD, QTD, YTD as of Friday's close:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

S&P Sectors for the Past Week:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Major Indices Pullback/Correction Levels as of Friday's close:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!

Major Indices Rally Levels as of Friday's close:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Most Anticipated Earnings Releases for this week:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Here are the upcoming IPO's for this week:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Friday's Stock Analyst Upgrades & Downgrades:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART LINK #1!)
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART LINK #2!)
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART LINK #3!)

Individual Investors Still Don't Believe

As mentioned in a prior post, in the past week the S&P 500 has moved within 2% of its 2/19 high, but at the same time, less than a quarter of AAII respondents are optimistic for the future of stocks over the next six months. That begs the question- if there have been past times that sentiment and price action have been so detached from one another. Since the start of the AAII survey in 1987, there have been 10 periods (including the current one) in which the S&P 500 was within 2% of an all-time high but bullish sentiment was less than 25% without another occurrence in the prior three months. The most recent prior occurrence was not even a full year ago. Back in October, sentiment was only slightly higher as the S&P 500 was 1.84% from its all-time high. Prior to that, there were some scattered instances throughout 2013, 2015, and 2016 but before that, you would have to go back to 1993 to find another similar period. The one occurrence in 2013 stands out as it was both the lowest sentiment reading of these prior occurrences and the only one that occurred with the S&P 500 right at an all-time high.
As for where things stand after such instances, sentiment has tended to reverse higher in the following six months as the S&P 500 has tended to move higher. The S&P 500 has actually tended towards better than average returns over the next three months, although performance six months out has been modestly worse than average, even as it has been higher more often than not. Additionally, as shown in the second chart below, of the more recent occurrences of the past decade, they haven't marked any major top or bottom for the S&P 500 with occurrences clustered both coming off of lows and in the middle of longer-term uptrends.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Silver Takes the Gold

Gold and silver prices were already on a tear heading into this week, but they've only seen their gains accelerate even more. With more than a day and a half of trading left in the week, front-month gold futures have rallied, but silver has been the real show stopper with a gain of 16%!
Taking a look at a one-year chart of silver over the last year, things have really gone parabolic this week as the front-month futures contract is trading more than 40% above its 50-day moving average (DMA) and 62% above its 200-DMA.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
Were it not for the move in silver, gold's move would be getting all the attention. Prices for gold have also seen a major surge in the last month, rising from under $1,800 to the current level of $2,060 per ounce. While not as extended as silver, gold currently trades 14% above its 50-DMA and 26% above its 200-DMA.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
With gold 25.7% above its 200-DMA and silver 62.2% above, the average spread of the two commodities currently stands at 44.3%. In the 40+ year history of the two futures contracts, there have only been a handful of prior periods where the average spread of the two commodities was larger or even above 35% for that matter with the most recent occurring back in early 2011. This recent rally in the two commodities has certainly been one for the ages.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Big Moves Off 52-Week Lows

Within the US equity market, we've seen some major moves in individual stocks off their 52-week lows over the last few months. Look at the table below. Within the Russell 1000, which tracks the performance of the largest companies in the US, stocks in the index are up an average of 87.6% from their respective 52-week lows. Looking at performance by individual sectors, stocks in the Energy sector are up an average of 136.8%, while the average Consumer Discretionary stock has rallied 131.4%. The Technology sector wasn't hit nearly as hard by the Covid-crash as other sectors, but stocks in the sector have doubled on an average basis relative to their 52-week lows. The only sector where stocks are up less than 50% on an average basis from their 52-week lows is Utilities at 46.33%.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
For many investors, the holy grail of stock picking is the proverbial ten-bagger. A ten-bagger is a stock that multiplies by ten times its original price. Usually, this happens over the span of years, but in the Covid-economy, we've actually seen a number of these ten-baggers play out in the span of months. While most of these examples are in the small-cap space, shares of Wayfair (W), which has a current market cap of $27.5 billion, have rallied from $21.70 on March 19th to its current price of $290.85 now. That's a gain of more than 1,200% in less than five months!
Within the entire Russell 1,000, 257 stocks have at least doubled off their 52-week lows, and in the table below we highlight the 34 stocks that are at least a quarter of the way to the ten-bagger club and have rallied more than 250%. As mentioned above, W tops the list, but Fastly (FSLY), which has barely been public for a year, is just shy of the club with a gain of 992%. Behind FSLY, Livongo Health (LVGO) is up 855%. Given that LVGO just got a takeover offer from Teladoc (TDOC), the 11th best-performing stock on the list, it may only make the ten-bagger club under the banner of the TDOC ticker.
In looking through the list of stocks shown, many of these names come from the Health Care, Technology, and Consumer Discretionary sectors and have been direct beneficiaries of the new Covid-economy. At the same time, six stocks from the Energy sector made the list as well as they recovered from their bombed-out levels after oil prices briefly traded in negative territory earlier this year.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Bullish Earnings Season So Far

At our Earnings Explorer tool available to clients on our website, we provide a real-time look at beat rates for both EPS and sales. Below is a snapshot from the website showing both the EPS and sales beat rates for US companies reporting earnings on a rolling 3-month basis. Currently, 64.61% of companies have exceeded consensus analyst EPS estimates over the last three months, while 63.75% of companies have beaten consensus sales estimates over the same time frame.
In looking at the chart, you can see a big spike in the EPS beat rate over the last few weeks. Since earnings season began on July 13th, nearly 80% of companies have posted stronger than expected EPS numbers. That's a huge beat rate and suggests that analysts were too bearish on Q2 numbers heading into July. The revenue beat rate held up much better than EPS beats throughout the first half of 2020, but it too is on the upswing this season.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
We also monitor how share prices are reacting to earnings reports. So far this earnings season, the average stock that has reported Q2 numbers has gained 1.31% on its earnings reaction day. That compares to a historical average one-day change of just 0.06% on earnings reaction days. As shown below, stocks that have beaten EPS estimates this season have gained 2.2% on earnings reaction days, while companies that have missed EPS estimates have fallen 1.89%. It's rare to see beats gaining more than misses decline, but that's what is happening this season.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Labor Market Continues Summer Momentum

After falling the most on record in April, the US labor market has rebounded with three consecutive months of job gains, adding back more than 9 million of the 22 million jobs lost in March and April. In July, the economy added back nearly 1.8 million jobs, ahead of Bloomberg consensus estimates for 1.5 million and lowering the unemployment rate from 11.1% to 10.2%, but lingering measurement issues could add 1% to that number, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, job gains were broad based across industries, with a third of the increase coming from the leisure and hospitality sector—the “scene of the accident” industries—while only information, and mining and logging posted declines in July.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
“March and April were historically brutal months for the labor market, but the labor market’s resiliency this summer has been a welcome development,” stated LPL Chief Investment Officer Burt White. “However, the next few months will be critical for the economy as schools reopen and additional fiscal stimulus still hangs in the balance.”
The July report also comes on the heels of a rise in COVID-19 cases across the Sunbelt region of the United States. Because of the date of the survey, it may not fully reflect the economic impact of some of the more recent high-frequency data that has captured some of the effect of rising cases. Still, the jobs report shows that the US economy is continuing to heal despite the long road ahead.

Are Recessions Good For Stocks?

This isn’t like any recession we’ve ever seen, as it was sparked by a horrible pandemic and happened because people were told to stay inside. The impact was the worst contraction in gross domestic product (GDP) last quarter that anyone who is reading this has ever seen. But what is quite surprising is the fact the Nasdaq has made 30 all-time highs so far in 2020, while the S&P 500 Index has gained four consecutive months, all while the unemployment rate remains above 10%.
Why is this happening? There are two main schools of thought. One is that stocks are forecasting a better economy later this year and into 2021; remember, stocks tend to lead the economy and could be doing so once again. Another school of thought is that the massive fiscal and monetary policy are boosting equity prices, while not helping the overall economy quite as much.
Here’s the catch. It actually isn’t abnormal to see stocks gain during a recession. “This is one that might surprise many people, but stocks have actually gained during 7 of the past 12 recessions,” explained LPL Financial Chief Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “There’s no question the difference between what is happening on Wall Street compared with Main Street is about as wide as we’ve ever seen, but maybe it shouldn’t be as big of a surprise that stocks have been strong.”
As shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, the S&P 500 actually gained 1.3% on average when looking at the 12 previous recessions going back to World War II, with a very impressive median advance of 5.7% (the average is skewed lower due to 2008). We continue to expect this recession to end soon, if it isn’t over already. In fact, when the end of the recession is officially declared at a later date, we could have yet another recession that saw stock market gains.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
Here are the most notable companies (tickers) reporting earnings in this upcoming trading week ahead-
  • $NIO
  • $MELI
  • $CGC
  • $GOLD
  • $RCL
  • $DKNG
  • $MAR
  • $INO
  • $CSCO
  • $NVAX
  • $TLRY
  • $MARK
  • $PRTK
  • $JMIA
  • $DUK
  • $SPG
  • $ON
  • $HUYA
  • $AMAT
  • $SDC
  • $OXY
  • $GBDC
  • $SEAS
  • $ICPT
  • $PRPL
  • $LYFT
  • $BIDU
  • $SOHU
  • $FOLD
  • $CEVA
  • $DOYU
  • $SYY
  • $SDGR
  • $GOOS
  • $TTOO
  • $SOGO
  • $TNK
  • $NBEV
  • $GRWG
(CLICK HERE FOR NEXT WEEK'S MOST NOTABLE EARNINGS RELEASES!)
(CLICK HERE FOR NEXT WEEK'S HIGHEST VOLATILITY EARNINGS RELEASES!)
(CLICK HERE FOR MOST NOTABLE EARNINGS RELEASES FOR MONDAY, AUGUST 10TH, 2020!)
Below are some of the notable companies coming out with earnings releases this upcoming trading week ahead which includes the date/time of release & consensus estimates courtesy of Earnings Whispers:

Monday 8.10.20 Before Market Open:

(CLICK HERE FOR MONDAY'S PRE-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Monday 8.10.20 After Market Close:

(CLICK HERE FOR MONDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES LINK #1!)
(CLICK HERE FOR MONDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES LINK #2!)

Tuesday 8.11.20 Before Market Open:

(CLICK HERE FOR TUESDAY'S PRE-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Tuesday 8.11.20 After Market Close:

(CLICK HERE FOR TUESDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Wednesday 8.12.20 Before Market Open:

(CLICK HERE FOR WEDNESDAY'S PRE-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Wednesday 8.12.20 After Market Close:

(CLICK HERE FOR WEDNESDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Thursday 8.13.20 Before Market Open:

(CLICK HERE FOR THURSDAY'S PRE-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Thursday 8.13.20 After Market Close:

(CLICK HERE FOR THURSDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Friday 8.14.20 Before Market Open:

(CLICK HERE FOR FRIDAY'S PRE-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Friday 8.14.20 After Market Close:

([CLICK HERE FOR FRIDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!]())
(NONE)

NIO Inc. $13.42

NIO Inc. (NIO) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 6:00 AM ET on Tuesday, August 11, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.35 per share on revenue of $485.92 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.24) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 77% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for revenue of $476.00 million to $499.00 million. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 22.22% with revenue increasing by 121.13%. Short interest has decreased by 8.9% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 237.2% from its open following the earnings release to be 182.1% above its 200 day moving average of $4.76. On Monday, August 3, 2020 there was some notable buying of 9,895 contracts of the $15.00 call and 9,777 contracts of the $10.00 put expiring on Friday, August 14, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 17.9% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 20.5% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

MercadoLibre Inc -

MercadoLibre Inc (MELI) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:00 PM ET on Monday, August 10, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.10 per share on revenue of $762.54 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.13 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 77% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 67.74% with revenue increasing by 39.85%. Short interest has increased by 16.4% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 62.7% from its open following the earnings release to be 70.8% above its 200 day moving average of $698.91. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Friday, August 7, 2020 there was some notable buying of 1,657 contracts of the $1,500.00 call expiring on Friday, August 14, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 11.9% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 11.3% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Canopy Growth Corporation $16.63

Canopy Growth Corporation (CGC) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:00 AM ET on Monday, August 10, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.29 per share on revenue of $75.99 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.35) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 54% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 26.09% with revenue increasing by 12.34%. Short interest has decreased by 3.2% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 2.2% from its open following the earnings release to be 7.2% below its 200 day moving average of $17.91. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Thursday, August 6, 2020 there was some notable buying of 22,063 contracts of the $20.00 call expiring on Friday, August 14, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 13.4% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 12.2% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Barrick Gold Corporation $28.87

Barrick Gold Corporation (GOLD) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:00 AM ET on Monday, August 10, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.19 per share on revenue of $2.86 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.21 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 72% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 111.11% with revenue increasing by 38.63%. The stock has drifted higher by 3.4% from its open following the earnings release to be 34.2% above its 200 day moving average of $21.52. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Friday, August 7, 2020 there was some notable buying of 7,850 contracts of the $30.00 call expiring on Friday, August 21, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 6.3% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 2.4% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. $52.10

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 8:05 AM ET on Monday, August 10, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $4.71 per share on revenue of $874.54 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($5.05) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 23% expecting an earnings miss. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 285.43% with revenue decreasing by 68.84%. Short interest has decreased by 5.1% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 20.6% from its open following the earnings release to be 33.1% below its 200 day moving average of $77.92. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Friday, August 7, 2020 there was some notable buying of 3,939 contracts of the $40.00 put expiring on Friday, September 18, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 10.6% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 4.1% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

DraftKings Inc. $34.09

DraftKings Inc. (DKNG) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:00 AM ET on Friday, August 14, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.15 per share on revenue of $52.30 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.10) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 50% expecting an earnings beat. The stock has drifted higher by 31.7% from its open following the earnings release. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. The stock has averaged a 15.5% move on earnings in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Marriott International Inc. $93.78

Marriott International Inc. (MAR) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:00 AM ET on Monday, August 10, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.44 per share on revenue of $1.74 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.48) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 5% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 128.21% with revenue decreasing by 67.20%. Short interest has decreased by 31.6% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 11.2% from its open following the earnings release to be 15.2% below its 200 day moving average of $110.63. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Friday, July 24, 2020 there was some notable buying of 3,103 contracts of the $70.00 put expiring on Friday, August 21, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 7.1% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 2.3% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Inovio Biomedical Corp $20.22

Inovio Biomedical Corp (INO) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:05 PM ET on Monday, August 10, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.18 per share on revenue of $2.08 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.17) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 68% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 40.00% with revenue increasing by 1,429.41%. Short interest has increased by 34.1% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 73.0% from its open following the earnings release to be 113.2% above its 200 day moving average of $9.49. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Friday, August 7, 2020 there was some notable buying of 7,778 contracts of the $13.00 put expiring on Friday, August 14, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 20.3% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 7.7% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Cisco Systems, Inc. $47.43

Cisco Systems, Inc. (CSCO) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:05 PM ET on Wednesday, August 12, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.74 per share on revenue of $12.10 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.78 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 71% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for earnings of $0.72 to $0.74 per share. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 10.84% with revenue decreasing by 9.89%. Short interest has increased by 1.2% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 9.2% from its open following the earnings release to be 6.2% above its 200 day moving average of $44.67. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Thursday, July 30, 2020 there was some notable buying of 8,008 contracts of the $30.00 put expiring on Friday, June 18, 2021. Option traders are pricing in a 5.8% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 5.7% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

DISCUSS!

What are you all watching for in this upcoming trading week?
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and a great trading week ahead stocks.
submitted by bigbear0083 to stocks [link] [comments]


2020.08.08 18:33 bigbear0083 Wall Street Week Ahead for the trading week beginning August 10th, 2020

Good Saturday afternoon to all of you here on smallstreetbets. I hope everyone on this sub made out pretty nicely in the market this past week, and is ready for the new trading week ahead.
Here is everything you need to know to get you ready for the trading week beginning August 10th, 2020.

Markets could be challenged by Washington stimulus talks and China tensions - (Source)

The debate in Washington over the next round of fiscal stimulus and rising tensions between the White House and China could act as brakes on the stock market in the coming week.
Stocks rallied in the past week but were more sluggish Friday, as investors watched stimulus talks between Democrats and the Trump administration stall out. Investors also were concerned that President Donald Trump’s executive order banning U.S. transactions with Tencent’s We Chat and Bytedance’s Tik Tok would accelerate the deterioration of relations between the U.S. and China and draw retribution.
Just ahead of Friday’s market close, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said just that he is recommending the White House move forward with executive orders on unemployment, student loans and rental foreclosures. He said a compromise could not be reached with Democrats, who wanted a $2 trillion package. Stocks edged higher after the announcement though details of the orders and how any assistance could be funded were unclear.
“It’s an attempt to bring the Democrats back to the table to negotiate a deal by threatening to use an executive order. They may be able to get some things down, but it won’t be enough to create the bridge they need while the economy continues to repair itself,” said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors.
The S&P 500 was up 2.4% for the week, ending at 3,351, after a 2 point gain Friday. The Nasdaq was down 0.9% Friday, ending at 11,010. It was up 2.5% for the week.
“Part of the reason stocks have held in there well and continue to melt up is that one of the things that is priced in is a fifth fiscal policy package of $1.5 trillion. if we don’t get one, I do think the market will retrace lower to reflect a lack of stimulus,” said Arone. “The recovery will stall out without one.”
As for China, it has so far not taken actions against U.S. companies, even with the Trump administration’s moves to block Chinese telecom giant Huawei from using U.S. parts. The latest steps, however, raised concerns that China could find ways to retaliate, and that the U.S. will bar Chinese IPOs.
“On balance, continued hostility toward China is going to be a continued net negative for U.S. companies that are revenue exposed to China,” said Julian Emanuel, head of equities and derivatives strategy at BTIG. “We know the exposure is very centered in the Nasdaq names.”
Emanuel said the stock market is entering a seasonally weak time, and while market psychology is still strong it could start to change. “The seasonals are starting to shift negatively. We all know September is a poor month and the degree of the escalation of the tensions between the U.S. in China is not a surprise, but the degree of the escalation over the last 48 hours is,” he said. “It’s not changing psychology, but it’s challenging bullish psychology.”
In the coming week, there are some final earnings of the season, including technology company Cisco and food company Sysco. Some travel companies including Royal Caribbean report, as does consumer goods company Tapestry. In the week after, big retailers roll out their reports in the final earnings burst of the quarter.
Economic reports could be important in the coming week, as investors watch consumer price index inflation data Wednesday and retail sales Friday. Retail sales should provide a window into the consumer, as workers returned to their jobs but also faced uncertainty because of reclosings.
CPI is important as the market has been assuming inflation will ultimately start to show gains because of the weakening dollar and ballooning budget deficits. CPI last month showed a 0.6% increase month over month.
The pro-inflation trade has become important and has driven investors into stocks, gold, and out of the dollar.

Watch this trade

The dollar could be the key to the fate of markets in the coming week. The U.S. currency was edging higher Friday but is still down about 3.5% over the past four weeks. Gold declined Friday, and Treasury yields moved lower.
“The dollar ... to me it just continues to be an important barometer that has a unique intersection of rates, inflation and risk assets,” said Arone. “With rising China, U.S. tensions and combined with the fact that there’s uncertainty about the fiscal policy package and the fact the dollar has declined so quickly, many are expecting it to catch a bid here and rebound.”
Part of the move in the dollar was based on the idea that huge government spending would increase the government’s deficit and Treasury issuance. Emanuel said the news on stimulus could have a big impact on the trade.
“We would make the argument the baseline expectation was a trillion dollars worth of stimulus to be implemented sometime in the month of August. Anything below that expectation is likely to cause the dollar to strengthen,” said Emanuel. “It’s a momentum and positioning trade as well as what has been ... the unwind of an asset diversification trade.”
The stalling of talks could shift the market’s view that the U.S. is willing to spend any amount to fight the impact of the coronavirus. “It’s changing the market psychology that the government’s propensity to spend infinitely is not as great as it was earlier in the week,,” Emanuel said. “The dollar rallying, from our perspective, is a direct threat to a lot of these momentum trades.”
Strategists said a strengthening dollar could be a headwind for stocks.
“Given the friction with China, to the extent the inflation numbers come in weaker than expected, the argument being that whole weaker dollar asset diversification has helped feed into increasing inflation expectations,” said Emanuel. “If the inflation data does surprise to the downside, given the rally in inflation ...it’s further potential for the unwinding of the short dollar trade and the unwinding of the long gold trade which in our view bleeds over into stocks.”

This past week saw the following moves in the S&P:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL S&P TREE MAP FOR THE PAST WEEK!)

Major Indices for this past week:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE MAJOR INDICES FOR THE PAST WEEK!)

Major Futures Markets as of Friday's close:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE MAJOR FUTURES INDICES AS OF FRIDAY!)

Economic Calendar for the Week Ahead:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ECONOMIC CALENDAR FOR THE WEEK AHEAD!)

Percentage Changes for the Major Indices, WTD, MTD, QTD, YTD as of Friday's close:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

S&P Sectors for the Past Week:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Major Indices Pullback/Correction Levels as of Friday's close:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!

Major Indices Rally Levels as of Friday's close:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Most Anticipated Earnings Releases for this week:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Here are the upcoming IPO's for this week:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Friday's Stock Analyst Upgrades & Downgrades:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART LINK #1!)
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART LINK #2!)
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART LINK #3!)

Individual Investors Still Don't Believe

As mentioned in a prior post, in the past week the S&P 500 has moved within 2% of its 2/19 high, but at the same time, less than a quarter of AAII respondents are optimistic for the future of stocks over the next six months. That begs the question- if there have been past times that sentiment and price action have been so detached from one another. Since the start of the AAII survey in 1987, there have been 10 periods (including the current one) in which the S&P 500 was within 2% of an all-time high but bullish sentiment was less than 25% without another occurrence in the prior three months. The most recent prior occurrence was not even a full year ago. Back in October, sentiment was only slightly higher as the S&P 500 was 1.84% from its all-time high. Prior to that, there were some scattered instances throughout 2013, 2015, and 2016 but before that, you would have to go back to 1993 to find another similar period. The one occurrence in 2013 stands out as it was both the lowest sentiment reading of these prior occurrences and the only one that occurred with the S&P 500 right at an all-time high.
As for where things stand after such instances, sentiment has tended to reverse higher in the following six months as the S&P 500 has tended to move higher. The S&P 500 has actually tended towards better than average returns over the next three months, although performance six months out has been modestly worse than average, even as it has been higher more often than not. Additionally, as shown in the second chart below, of the more recent occurrences of the past decade, they haven't marked any major top or bottom for the S&P 500 with occurrences clustered both coming off of lows and in the middle of longer-term uptrends.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Silver Takes the Gold

Gold and silver prices were already on a tear heading into this week, but they've only seen their gains accelerate even more. With more than a day and a half of trading left in the week, front-month gold futures have rallied, but silver has been the real show stopper with a gain of 16%!
Taking a look at a one-year chart of silver over the last year, things have really gone parabolic this week as the front-month futures contract is trading more than 40% above its 50-day moving average (DMA) and 62% above its 200-DMA.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
Were it not for the move in silver, gold's move would be getting all the attention. Prices for gold have also seen a major surge in the last month, rising from under $1,800 to the current level of $2,060 per ounce. While not as extended as silver, gold currently trades 14% above its 50-DMA and 26% above its 200-DMA.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
With gold 25.7% above its 200-DMA and silver 62.2% above, the average spread of the two commodities currently stands at 44.3%. In the 40+ year history of the two futures contracts, there have only been a handful of prior periods where the average spread of the two commodities was larger or even above 35% for that matter with the most recent occurring back in early 2011. This recent rally in the two commodities has certainly been one for the ages.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Big Moves Off 52-Week Lows

Within the US equity market, we've seen some major moves in individual stocks off their 52-week lows over the last few months. Look at the table below. Within the Russell 1000, which tracks the performance of the largest companies in the US, stocks in the index are up an average of 87.6% from their respective 52-week lows. Looking at performance by individual sectors, stocks in the Energy sector are up an average of 136.8%, while the average Consumer Discretionary stock has rallied 131.4%. The Technology sector wasn't hit nearly as hard by the Covid-crash as other sectors, but stocks in the sector have doubled on an average basis relative to their 52-week lows. The only sector where stocks are up less than 50% on an average basis from their 52-week lows is Utilities at 46.33%.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
For many investors, the holy grail of stock picking is the proverbial ten-bagger. A ten-bagger is a stock that multiplies by ten times its original price. Usually, this happens over the span of years, but in the Covid-economy, we've actually seen a number of these ten-baggers play out in the span of months. While most of these examples are in the small-cap space, shares of Wayfair (W), which has a current market cap of $27.5 billion, have rallied from $21.70 on March 19th to its current price of $290.85 now. That's a gain of more than 1,200% in less than five months!
Within the entire Russell 1,000, 257 stocks have at least doubled off their 52-week lows, and in the table below we highlight the 34 stocks that are at least a quarter of the way to the ten-bagger club and have rallied more than 250%. As mentioned above, W tops the list, but Fastly (FSLY), which has barely been public for a year, is just shy of the club with a gain of 992%. Behind FSLY, Livongo Health (LVGO) is up 855%. Given that LVGO just got a takeover offer from Teladoc (TDOC), the 11th best-performing stock on the list, it may only make the ten-bagger club under the banner of the TDOC ticker.
In looking through the list of stocks shown, many of these names come from the Health Care, Technology, and Consumer Discretionary sectors and have been direct beneficiaries of the new Covid-economy. At the same time, six stocks from the Energy sector made the list as well as they recovered from their bombed-out levels after oil prices briefly traded in negative territory earlier this year.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Bullish Earnings Season So Far

At our Earnings Explorer tool available to clients on our website, we provide a real-time look at beat rates for both EPS and sales. Below is a snapshot from the website showing both the EPS and sales beat rates for US companies reporting earnings on a rolling 3-month basis. Currently, 64.61% of companies have exceeded consensus analyst EPS estimates over the last three months, while 63.75% of companies have beaten consensus sales estimates over the same time frame.
In looking at the chart, you can see a big spike in the EPS beat rate over the last few weeks. Since earnings season began on July 13th, nearly 80% of companies have posted stronger than expected EPS numbers. That's a huge beat rate and suggests that analysts were too bearish on Q2 numbers heading into July. The revenue beat rate held up much better than EPS beats throughout the first half of 2020, but it too is on the upswing this season.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
We also monitor how share prices are reacting to earnings reports. So far this earnings season, the average stock that has reported Q2 numbers has gained 1.31% on its earnings reaction day. That compares to a historical average one-day change of just 0.06% on earnings reaction days. As shown below, stocks that have beaten EPS estimates this season have gained 2.2% on earnings reaction days, while companies that have missed EPS estimates have fallen 1.89%. It's rare to see beats gaining more than misses decline, but that's what is happening this season.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Labor Market Continues Summer Momentum

After falling the most on record in April, the US labor market has rebounded with three consecutive months of job gains, adding back more than 9 million of the 22 million jobs lost in March and April. In July, the economy added back nearly 1.8 million jobs, ahead of Bloomberg consensus estimates for 1.5 million and lowering the unemployment rate from 11.1% to 10.2%, but lingering measurement issues could add 1% to that number, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, job gains were broad based across industries, with a third of the increase coming from the leisure and hospitality sector—the “scene of the accident” industries—while only information, and mining and logging posted declines in July.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
“March and April were historically brutal months for the labor market, but the labor market’s resiliency this summer has been a welcome development,” stated LPL Chief Investment Officer Burt White. “However, the next few months will be critical for the economy as schools reopen and additional fiscal stimulus still hangs in the balance.”
The July report also comes on the heels of a rise in COVID-19 cases across the Sunbelt region of the United States. Because of the date of the survey, it may not fully reflect the economic impact of some of the more recent high-frequency data that has captured some of the effect of rising cases. Still, the jobs report shows that the US economy is continuing to heal despite the long road ahead.

Are Recessions Good For Stocks?

This isn’t like any recession we’ve ever seen, as it was sparked by a horrible pandemic and happened because people were told to stay inside. The impact was the worst contraction in gross domestic product (GDP) last quarter that anyone who is reading this has ever seen. But what is quite surprising is the fact the Nasdaq has made 30 all-time highs so far in 2020, while the S&P 500 Index has gained four consecutive months, all while the unemployment rate remains above 10%.
Why is this happening? There are two main schools of thought. One is that stocks are forecasting a better economy later this year and into 2021; remember, stocks tend to lead the economy and could be doing so once again. Another school of thought is that the massive fiscal and monetary policy are boosting equity prices, while not helping the overall economy quite as much.
Here’s the catch. It actually isn’t abnormal to see stocks gain during a recession. “This is one that might surprise many people, but stocks have actually gained during 7 of the past 12 recessions,” explained LPL Financial Chief Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “There’s no question the difference between what is happening on Wall Street compared with Main Street is about as wide as we’ve ever seen, but maybe it shouldn’t be as big of a surprise that stocks have been strong.”
As shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, the S&P 500 actually gained 1.3% on average when looking at the 12 previous recessions going back to World War II, with a very impressive median advance of 5.7% (the average is skewed lower due to 2008). We continue to expect this recession to end soon, if it isn’t over already. In fact, when the end of the recession is officially declared at a later date, we could have yet another recession that saw stock market gains.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
Here are the most notable companies (tickers) reporting earnings in this upcoming trading week ahead-
  • $NIO
  • $MELI
  • $CGC
  • $WKHS
  • $GOLD
  • $RCL
  • $DKNG
  • $MAR
  • $INO
  • $CSCO
  • $NVAX
  • $TLRY
  • $MARK
  • $PRTK
  • $JMIA
  • $DUK
  • $SPG
  • $ON
  • $HUYA
  • $AMAT
  • $SDC
  • $OXY
  • $GBDC
  • $SEAS
  • $ICPT
  • $PRPL
  • $LYFT
  • $BIDU
  • $SOHU
  • $FOLD
  • $CEVA
  • $DOYU
  • $SYY
  • $SDGR
  • $GOOS
  • $TTOO
  • $SOGO
  • $TNK
  • $NBEV
  • $GRWG
(CLICK HERE FOR NEXT WEEK'S MOST NOTABLE EARNINGS RELEASES!)
(CLICK HERE FOR NEXT WEEK'S HIGHEST VOLATILITY EARNINGS RELEASES!)
(CLICK HERE FOR MOST NOTABLE EARNINGS RELEASES FOR MONDAY, AUGUST 10TH, 2020!)
Below are some of the notable companies coming out with earnings releases this upcoming trading week ahead which includes the date/time of release & consensus estimates courtesy of Earnings Whispers:

Monday 8.10.20 Before Market Open:

(CLICK HERE FOR MONDAY'S PRE-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Monday 8.10.20 After Market Close:

(CLICK HERE FOR MONDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES LINK #1!)
(CLICK HERE FOR MONDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES LINK #2!)

Tuesday 8.11.20 Before Market Open:

(CLICK HERE FOR TUESDAY'S PRE-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Tuesday 8.11.20 After Market Close:

(CLICK HERE FOR TUESDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Wednesday 8.12.20 Before Market Open:

(CLICK HERE FOR WEDNESDAY'S PRE-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Wednesday 8.12.20 After Market Close:

(CLICK HERE FOR WEDNESDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Thursday 8.13.20 Before Market Open:

(CLICK HERE FOR THURSDAY'S PRE-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Thursday 8.13.20 After Market Close:

(CLICK HERE FOR THURSDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Friday 8.14.20 Before Market Open:

(CLICK HERE FOR FRIDAY'S PRE-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Friday 8.14.20 After Market Close:

([CLICK HERE FOR FRIDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!]())
(NONE)

NIO Inc. $13.42

NIO Inc. (NIO) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 6:00 AM ET on Tuesday, August 11, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.35 per share on revenue of $485.92 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.24) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 77% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for revenue of $476.00 million to $499.00 million. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 22.22% with revenue increasing by 121.13%. Short interest has decreased by 8.9% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 237.2% from its open following the earnings release to be 182.1% above its 200 day moving average of $4.76. On Monday, August 3, 2020 there was some notable buying of 9,895 contracts of the $15.00 call and 9,777 contracts of the $10.00 put expiring on Friday, August 14, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 17.9% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 20.5% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

MercadoLibre Inc -

MercadoLibre Inc (MELI) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:00 PM ET on Monday, August 10, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.10 per share on revenue of $762.54 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.13 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 77% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 67.74% with revenue increasing by 39.85%. Short interest has increased by 16.4% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 62.7% from its open following the earnings release to be 70.8% above its 200 day moving average of $698.91. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Friday, August 7, 2020 there was some notable buying of 1,657 contracts of the $1,500.00 call expiring on Friday, August 14, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 11.9% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 11.3% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Canopy Growth Corporation $16.63

Canopy Growth Corporation (CGC) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:00 AM ET on Monday, August 10, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.29 per share on revenue of $75.99 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.35) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 54% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 26.09% with revenue increasing by 12.34%. Short interest has decreased by 3.2% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 2.2% from its open following the earnings release to be 7.2% below its 200 day moving average of $17.91. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Thursday, August 6, 2020 there was some notable buying of 22,063 contracts of the $20.00 call expiring on Friday, August 14, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 13.4% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 12.2% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Workhorse Group Inc. $16.52

Workhorse Group Inc. (WKHS) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 9:00 AM ET on Monday, August 10, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.12 per share on revenue of $1.00 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.07) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 64% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 20.00% with revenue increasing by 16,566.67%. Short interest has increased by 138.0% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 417.9% from its open following the earnings release to be 234.5% above its 200 day moving average of $4.94. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. The stock has averaged a 7.2% move on earnings in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Barrick Gold Corporation $28.87

Barrick Gold Corporation (GOLD) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:00 AM ET on Monday, August 10, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.19 per share on revenue of $2.86 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.21 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 72% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 111.11% with revenue increasing by 38.63%. The stock has drifted higher by 3.4% from its open following the earnings release to be 34.2% above its 200 day moving average of $21.52. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Friday, August 7, 2020 there was some notable buying of 7,850 contracts of the $30.00 call expiring on Friday, August 21, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 6.3% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 2.4% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. $52.10

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 8:05 AM ET on Monday, August 10, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $4.71 per share on revenue of $874.54 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($5.05) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 23% expecting an earnings miss. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 285.43% with revenue decreasing by 68.84%. Short interest has decreased by 5.1% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 20.6% from its open following the earnings release to be 33.1% below its 200 day moving average of $77.92. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Friday, August 7, 2020 there was some notable buying of 3,939 contracts of the $40.00 put expiring on Friday, September 18, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 10.6% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 4.1% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

DraftKings Inc. $34.09

DraftKings Inc. (DKNG) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:00 AM ET on Friday, August 14, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.15 per share on revenue of $52.30 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.10) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 50% expecting an earnings beat. The stock has drifted higher by 31.7% from its open following the earnings release. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. The stock has averaged a 15.5% move on earnings in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Marriott International Inc. $93.78

Marriott International Inc. (MAR) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:00 AM ET on Monday, August 10, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.44 per share on revenue of $1.74 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.48) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 5% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 128.21% with revenue decreasing by 67.20%. Short interest has decreased by 31.6% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 11.2% from its open following the earnings release to be 15.2% below its 200 day moving average of $110.63. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Friday, July 24, 2020 there was some notable buying of 3,103 contracts of the $70.00 put expiring on Friday, August 21, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 7.1% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 2.3% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Inovio Biomedical Corp $20.22

Inovio Biomedical Corp (INO) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:05 PM ET on Monday, August 10, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.18 per share on revenue of $2.08 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.17) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 68% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 40.00% with revenue increasing by 1,429.41%. Short interest has increased by 34.1% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 73.0% from its open following the earnings release to be 113.2% above its 200 day moving average of $9.49. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Friday, August 7, 2020 there was some notable buying of 7,778 contracts of the $13.00 put expiring on Friday, August 14, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 20.3% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 7.7% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Cisco Systems, Inc. $47.43

Cisco Systems, Inc. (CSCO) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:05 PM ET on Wednesday, August 12, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.74 per share on revenue of $12.10 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.78 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 71% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for earnings of $0.72 to $0.74 per share. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 10.84% with revenue decreasing by 9.89%. Short interest has increased by 1.2% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 9.2% from its open following the earnings release to be 6.2% above its 200 day moving average of $44.67. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Thursday, July 30, 2020 there was some notable buying of 8,008 contracts of the $30.00 put expiring on Friday, June 18, 2021. Option traders are pricing in a 5.8% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 5.7% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

DISCUSS!

What are you all watching for in this upcoming trading week?
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and a great trading week ahead smallstreetbets.
submitted by bigbear0083 to smallstreetbets [link] [comments]


2020.08.07 23:36 bigbear0083 Wall Street Week Ahead for the trading week beginning August 10th, 2020

Good Friday evening to all of you here on StockMarket. I hope everyone on this sub made out pretty nicely in the market this past week, and is ready for the new trading week ahead.
Here is everything you need to know to get you ready for the trading week beginning August 10th, 2020.

Markets could be challenged by Washington stimulus talks and China tensions - (Source)

The debate in Washington over the next round of fiscal stimulus and rising tensions between the White House and China could act as brakes on the stock market in the coming week.
Stocks rallied in the past week but were more sluggish Friday, as investors watched stimulus talks between Democrats and the Trump administration stall out. Investors also were concerned that President Donald Trump’s executive order banning U.S. transactions with Tencent’s We Chat and Bytedance’s Tik Tok would accelerate the deterioration of relations between the U.S. and China and draw retribution.
Just ahead of Friday’s market close, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said just that he is recommending the White House move forward with executive orders on unemployment, student loans and rental foreclosures. He said a compromise could not be reached with Democrats, who wanted a $2 trillion package. Stocks edged higher after the announcement though details of the orders and how any assistance could be funded were unclear.
“It’s an attempt to bring the Democrats back to the table to negotiate a deal by threatening to use an executive order. They may be able to get some things down, but it won’t be enough to create the bridge they need while the economy continues to repair itself,” said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors.
The S&P 500 was up 2.4% for the week, ending at 3,351, after a 2 point gain Friday. The Nasdaq was down 0.9% Friday, ending at 11,010. It was up 2.5% for the week.
“Part of the reason stocks have held in there well and continue to melt up is that one of the things that is priced in is a fifth fiscal policy package of $1.5 trillion. if we don’t get one, I do think the market will retrace lower to reflect a lack of stimulus,” said Arone. “The recovery will stall out without one.”
As for China, it has so far not taken actions against U.S. companies, even with the Trump administration’s moves to block Chinese telecom giant Huawei from using U.S. parts. The latest steps, however, raised concerns that China could find ways to retaliate, and that the U.S. will bar Chinese IPOs.
“On balance, continued hostility toward China is going to be a continued net negative for U.S. companies that are revenue exposed to China,” said Julian Emanuel, head of equities and derivatives strategy at BTIG. “We know the exposure is very centered in the Nasdaq names.”
Emanuel said the stock market is entering a seasonally weak time, and while market psychology is still strong it could start to change. “The seasonals are starting to shift negatively. We all know September is a poor month and the degree of the escalation of the tensions between the U.S. in China is not a surprise, but the degree of the escalation over the last 48 hours is,” he said. “It’s not changing psychology, but it’s challenging bullish psychology.”
In the coming week, there are some final earnings of the season, including technology company Cisco and food company Sysco. Some travel companies including Royal Caribbean report, as does consumer goods company Tapestry. In the week after, big retailers roll out their reports in the final earnings burst of the quarter.
Economic reports could be important in the coming week, as investors watch consumer price index inflation data Wednesday and retail sales Friday. Retail sales should provide a window into the consumer, as workers returned to their jobs but also faced uncertainty because of reclosings.
CPI is important as the market has been assuming inflation will ultimately start to show gains because of the weakening dollar and ballooning budget deficits. CPI last month showed a 0.6% increase month over month.
The pro-inflation trade has become important and has driven investors into stocks, gold, and out of the dollar.

Watch this trade

The dollar could be the key to the fate of markets in the coming week. The U.S. currency was edging higher Friday but is still down about 3.5% over the past four weeks. Gold declined Friday, and Treasury yields moved lower.
“The dollar ... to me it just continues to be an important barometer that has a unique intersection of rates, inflation and risk assets,” said Arone. “With rising China, U.S. tensions and combined with the fact that there’s uncertainty about the fiscal policy package and the fact the dollar has declined so quickly, many are expecting it to catch a bid here and rebound.”
Part of the move in the dollar was based on the idea that huge government spending would increase the government’s deficit and Treasury issuance. Emanuel said the news on stimulus could have a big impact on the trade.
“We would make the argument the baseline expectation was a trillion dollars worth of stimulus to be implemented sometime in the month of August. Anything below that expectation is likely to cause the dollar to strengthen,” said Emanuel. “It’s a momentum and positioning trade as well as what has been ... the unwind of an asset diversification trade.”
The stalling of talks could shift the market’s view that the U.S. is willing to spend any amount to fight the impact of the coronavirus. “It’s changing the market psychology that the government’s propensity to spend infinitely is not as great as it was earlier in the week,,” Emanuel said. “The dollar rallying, from our perspective, is a direct threat to a lot of these momentum trades.”
Strategists said a strengthening dollar could be a headwind for stocks.
“Given the friction with China, to the extent the inflation numbers come in weaker than expected, the argument being that whole weaker dollar asset diversification has helped feed into increasing inflation expectations,” said Emanuel. “If the inflation data does surprise to the downside, given the rally in inflation ...it’s further potential for the unwinding of the short dollar trade and the unwinding of the long gold trade which in our view bleeds over into stocks.”

This past week saw the following moves in the S&P:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL S&P TREE MAP FOR THE PAST WEEK!)

Major Indices for this past week:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE MAJOR INDICES FOR THE PAST WEEK!)

Major Futures Markets as of Friday's close:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE MAJOR FUTURES INDICES AS OF FRIDAY!)

Economic Calendar for the Week Ahead:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ECONOMIC CALENDAR FOR THE WEEK AHEAD!)

Percentage Changes for the Major Indices, WTD, MTD, QTD, YTD as of Friday's close:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

S&P Sectors for the Past Week:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Major Indices Pullback/Correction Levels as of Friday's close:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!

Major Indices Rally Levels as of Friday's close:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Most Anticipated Earnings Releases for this week:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Here are the upcoming IPO's for this week:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Friday's Stock Analyst Upgrades & Downgrades:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART LINK #1!)
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART LINK #2!)
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART LINK #3!)

Individual Investors Still Don't Believe

As mentioned in a prior post, in the past week the S&P 500 has moved within 2% of its 2/19 high, but at the same time, less than a quarter of AAII respondents are optimistic for the future of stocks over the next six months. That begs the question- if there have been past times that sentiment and price action have been so detached from one another. Since the start of the AAII survey in 1987, there have been 10 periods (including the current one) in which the S&P 500 was within 2% of an all-time high but bullish sentiment was less than 25% without another occurrence in the prior three months. The most recent prior occurrence was not even a full year ago. Back in October, sentiment was only slightly higher as the S&P 500 was 1.84% from its all-time high. Prior to that, there were some scattered instances throughout 2013, 2015, and 2016 but before that, you would have to go back to 1993 to find another similar period. The one occurrence in 2013 stands out as it was both the lowest sentiment reading of these prior occurrences and the only one that occurred with the S&P 500 right at an all-time high.
As for where things stand after such instances, sentiment has tended to reverse higher in the following six months as the S&P 500 has tended to move higher. The S&P 500 has actually tended towards better than average returns over the next three months, although performance six months out has been modestly worse than average, even as it has been higher more often than not. Additionally, as shown in the second chart below, of the more recent occurrences of the past decade, they haven't marked any major top or bottom for the S&P 500 with occurrences clustered both coming off of lows and in the middle of longer-term uptrends.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Silver Takes the Gold

Gold and silver prices were already on a tear heading into this week, but they've only seen their gains accelerate even more. With more than a day and a half of trading left in the week, front-month gold futures have rallied, but silver has been the real show stopper with a gain of 16%!
Taking a look at a one-year chart of silver over the last year, things have really gone parabolic this week as the front-month futures contract is trading more than 40% above its 50-day moving average (DMA) and 62% above its 200-DMA.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
Were it not for the move in silver, gold's move would be getting all the attention. Prices for gold have also seen a major surge in the last month, rising from under $1,800 to the current level of $2,060 per ounce. While not as extended as silver, gold currently trades 14% above its 50-DMA and 26% above its 200-DMA.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
With gold 25.7% above its 200-DMA and silver 62.2% above, the average spread of the two commodities currently stands at 44.3%. In the 40+ year history of the two futures contracts, there have only been a handful of prior periods where the average spread of the two commodities was larger or even above 35% for that matter with the most recent occurring back in early 2011. This recent rally in the two commodities has certainly been one for the ages.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Big Moves Off 52-Week Lows

Within the US equity market, we've seen some major moves in individual stocks off their 52-week lows over the last few months. Look at the table below. Within the Russell 1000, which tracks the performance of the largest companies in the US, stocks in the index are up an average of 87.6% from their respective 52-week lows. Looking at performance by individual sectors, stocks in the Energy sector are up an average of 136.8%, while the average Consumer Discretionary stock has rallied 131.4%. The Technology sector wasn't hit nearly as hard by the Covid-crash as other sectors, but stocks in the sector have doubled on an average basis relative to their 52-week lows. The only sector where stocks are up less than 50% on an average basis from their 52-week lows is Utilities at 46.33%.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
For many investors, the holy grail of stock picking is the proverbial ten-bagger. A ten-bagger is a stock that multiplies by ten times its original price. Usually, this happens over the span of years, but in the Covid-economy, we've actually seen a number of these ten-baggers play out in the span of months. While most of these examples are in the small-cap space, shares of Wayfair (W), which has a current market cap of $27.5 billion, have rallied from $21.70 on March 19th to its current price of $290.85 now. That's a gain of more than 1,200% in less than five months!
Within the entire Russell 1,000, 257 stocks have at least doubled off their 52-week lows, and in the table below we highlight the 34 stocks that are at least a quarter of the way to the ten-bagger club and have rallied more than 250%. As mentioned above, W tops the list, but Fastly (FSLY), which has barely been public for a year, is just shy of the club with a gain of 992%. Behind FSLY, Livongo Health (LVGO) is up 855%. Given that LVGO just got a takeover offer from Teladoc (TDOC), the 11th best-performing stock on the list, it may only make the ten-bagger club under the banner of the TDOC ticker.
In looking through the list of stocks shown, many of these names come from the Health Care, Technology, and Consumer Discretionary sectors and have been direct beneficiaries of the new Covid-economy. At the same time, six stocks from the Energy sector made the list as well as they recovered from their bombed-out levels after oil prices briefly traded in negative territory earlier this year.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Bullish Earnings Season So Far

At our Earnings Explorer tool available to clients on our website, we provide a real-time look at beat rates for both EPS and sales. Below is a snapshot from the website showing both the EPS and sales beat rates for US companies reporting earnings on a rolling 3-month basis. Currently, 64.61% of companies have exceeded consensus analyst EPS estimates over the last three months, while 63.75% of companies have beaten consensus sales estimates over the same time frame.
In looking at the chart, you can see a big spike in the EPS beat rate over the last few weeks. Since earnings season began on July 13th, nearly 80% of companies have posted stronger than expected EPS numbers. That's a huge beat rate and suggests that analysts were too bearish on Q2 numbers heading into July. The revenue beat rate held up much better than EPS beats throughout the first half of 2020, but it too is on the upswing this season.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
We also monitor how share prices are reacting to earnings reports. So far this earnings season, the average stock that has reported Q2 numbers has gained 1.31% on its earnings reaction day. That compares to a historical average one-day change of just 0.06% on earnings reaction days. As shown below, stocks that have beaten EPS estimates this season have gained 2.2% on earnings reaction days, while companies that have missed EPS estimates have fallen 1.89%. It's rare to see beats gaining more than misses decline, but that's what is happening this season.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Labor Market Continues Summer Momentum

After falling the most on record in April, the US labor market has rebounded with three consecutive months of job gains, adding back more than 9 million of the 22 million jobs lost in March and April. In July, the economy added back nearly 1.8 million jobs, ahead of Bloomberg consensus estimates for 1.5 million and lowering the unemployment rate from 11.1% to 10.2%, but lingering measurement issues could add 1% to that number, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, job gains were broad based across industries, with a third of the increase coming from the leisure and hospitality sector—the “scene of the accident” industries—while only information, and mining and logging posted declines in July.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
“March and April were historically brutal months for the labor market, but the labor market’s resiliency this summer has been a welcome development,” stated LPL Chief Investment Officer Burt White. “However, the next few months will be critical for the economy as schools reopen and additional fiscal stimulus still hangs in the balance.”
The July report also comes on the heels of a rise in COVID-19 cases across the Sunbelt region of the United States. Because of the date of the survey, it may not fully reflect the economic impact of some of the more recent high-frequency data that has captured some of the effect of rising cases. Still, the jobs report shows that the US economy is continuing to heal despite the long road ahead.

Are Recessions Good For Stocks?

This isn’t like any recession we’ve ever seen, as it was sparked by a horrible pandemic and happened because people were told to stay inside. The impact was the worst contraction in gross domestic product (GDP) last quarter that anyone who is reading this has ever seen. But what is quite surprising is the fact the Nasdaq has made 30 all-time highs so far in 2020, while the S&P 500 Index has gained four consecutive months, all while the unemployment rate remains above 10%.
Why is this happening? There are two main schools of thought. One is that stocks are forecasting a better economy later this year and into 2021; remember, stocks tend to lead the economy and could be doing so once again. Another school of thought is that the massive fiscal and monetary policy are boosting equity prices, while not helping the overall economy quite as much.
Here’s the catch. It actually isn’t abnormal to see stocks gain during a recession. “This is one that might surprise many people, but stocks have actually gained during 7 of the past 12 recessions,” explained LPL Financial Chief Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “There’s no question the difference between what is happening on Wall Street compared with Main Street is about as wide as we’ve ever seen, but maybe it shouldn’t be as big of a surprise that stocks have been strong.”
As shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, the S&P 500 actually gained 1.3% on average when looking at the 12 previous recessions going back to World War II, with a very impressive median advance of 5.7% (the average is skewed lower due to 2008). We continue to expect this recession to end soon, if it isn’t over already. In fact, when the end of the recession is officially declared at a later date, we could have yet another recession that saw stock market gains.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

STOCK MARKET VIDEO: Stock Market Analysis Video for Week Ending August 7th, 2020

(CLICK HERE FOR THE YOUTUBE VIDEO!)

STOCK MARKET VIDEO: ShadowTrader Video Weekly 8.9.20

(CLICK HERE FOR THE YOUTUBE VIDEO!)
Here are the most notable companies (tickers) reporting earnings in this upcoming trading week ahead-
  • $NIO
  • $MELI
  • $CGC
  • $WKHS
  • $GOLD
  • $RCL
  • $DKNG
  • $MAR
  • $INO
  • $CSCO
  • $NVAX
  • $TLRY
  • $MARK
  • $PRTK
  • $JMIA
  • $DUK
  • $SPG
  • $ON
  • $HUYA
  • $AMAT
  • $SDC
  • $OXY
  • $GBDC
  • $SEAS
  • $ICPT
  • $PRPL
  • $LYFT
  • $BIDU
  • $SOHU
  • $FOLD
  • $CEVA
  • $DOYU
  • $SYY
  • $SDGR
  • $GOOS
  • $TTOO
  • $SOGO
  • $TNK
  • $NBEV
  • $GRWG
(CLICK HERE FOR NEXT WEEK'S MOST NOTABLE EARNINGS RELEASES!)
(CLICK HERE FOR NEXT WEEK'S HIGHEST VOLATILITY EARNINGS RELEASES!)
(CLICK HERE FOR MOST NOTABLE EARNINGS RELEASES FOR MONDAY, AUGUST 10TH, 2020!)
Below are some of the notable companies coming out with earnings releases this upcoming trading week ahead which includes the date/time of release & consensus estimates courtesy of Earnings Whispers:

Monday 8.10.20 Before Market Open:

(CLICK HERE FOR MONDAY'S PRE-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Monday 8.10.20 After Market Close:

(CLICK HERE FOR MONDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES LINK #1!)
(CLICK HERE FOR MONDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES LINK #2!)

Tuesday 8.11.20 Before Market Open:

(CLICK HERE FOR TUESDAY'S PRE-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Tuesday 8.11.20 After Market Close:

(CLICK HERE FOR TUESDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Wednesday 8.12.20 Before Market Open:

(CLICK HERE FOR WEDNESDAY'S PRE-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Wednesday 8.12.20 After Market Close:

(CLICK HERE FOR WEDNESDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Thursday 8.13.20 Before Market Open:

(CLICK HERE FOR THURSDAY'S PRE-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Thursday 8.13.20 After Market Close:

(CLICK HERE FOR THURSDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Friday 8.14.20 Before Market Open:

(CLICK HERE FOR FRIDAY'S PRE-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Friday 8.14.20 After Market Close:

([CLICK HERE FOR FRIDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!]())
(NONE)

NIO Inc. $13.42

NIO Inc. (NIO) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 6:00 AM ET on Tuesday, August 11, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.35 per share on revenue of $485.92 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.24) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 77% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for revenue of $476.00 million to $499.00 million. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 22.22% with revenue increasing by 121.13%. Short interest has decreased by 8.9% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 237.2% from its open following the earnings release to be 182.1% above its 200 day moving average of $4.76. On Monday, August 3, 2020 there was some notable buying of 9,895 contracts of the $15.00 call and 9,777 contracts of the $10.00 put expiring on Friday, August 14, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 17.9% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 20.5% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

MercadoLibre Inc -

MercadoLibre Inc (MELI) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:00 PM ET on Monday, August 10, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.10 per share on revenue of $762.54 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.13 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 77% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 67.74% with revenue increasing by 39.85%. Short interest has increased by 16.4% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 62.7% from its open following the earnings release to be 70.8% above its 200 day moving average of $698.91. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Friday, August 7, 2020 there was some notable buying of 1,657 contracts of the $1,500.00 call expiring on Friday, August 14, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 11.9% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 11.3% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Canopy Growth Corporation $16.63

Canopy Growth Corporation (CGC) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:00 AM ET on Monday, August 10, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.29 per share on revenue of $75.99 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.35) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 54% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 26.09% with revenue increasing by 12.34%. Short interest has decreased by 3.2% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 2.2% from its open following the earnings release to be 7.2% below its 200 day moving average of $17.91. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Thursday, August 6, 2020 there was some notable buying of 22,063 contracts of the $20.00 call expiring on Friday, August 14, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 13.4% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 12.2% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Workhorse Group Inc. $16.52

Workhorse Group Inc. (WKHS) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 9:00 AM ET on Monday, August 10, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.12 per share on revenue of $1.00 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.07) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 64% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 20.00% with revenue increasing by 16,566.67%. Short interest has increased by 138.0% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 417.9% from its open following the earnings release to be 234.5% above its 200 day moving average of $4.94. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. The stock has averaged a 7.2% move on earnings in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Barrick Gold Corporation $28.87

Barrick Gold Corporation (GOLD) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:00 AM ET on Monday, August 10, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.19 per share on revenue of $2.86 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.21 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 72% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 111.11% with revenue increasing by 38.63%. The stock has drifted higher by 3.4% from its open following the earnings release to be 34.2% above its 200 day moving average of $21.52. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Friday, August 7, 2020 there was some notable buying of 7,850 contracts of the $30.00 call expiring on Friday, August 21, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 6.3% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 2.4% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. $52.10

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 8:05 AM ET on Monday, August 10, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $4.71 per share on revenue of $874.54 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($5.05) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 23% expecting an earnings miss. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 285.43% with revenue decreasing by 68.84%. Short interest has decreased by 5.1% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 20.6% from its open following the earnings release to be 33.1% below its 200 day moving average of $77.92. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Friday, August 7, 2020 there was some notable buying of 3,939 contracts of the $40.00 put expiring on Friday, September 18, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 10.6% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 4.1% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

DraftKings Inc. $34.09

DraftKings Inc. (DKNG) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:00 AM ET on Friday, August 14, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.15 per share on revenue of $52.30 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.10) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 50% expecting an earnings beat. The stock has drifted higher by 31.7% from its open following the earnings release. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. The stock has averaged a 15.5% move on earnings in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Marriott International Inc. $93.78

Marriott International Inc. (MAR) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:00 AM ET on Monday, August 10, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.44 per share on revenue of $1.74 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.48) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 5% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 128.21% with revenue decreasing by 67.20%. Short interest has decreased by 31.6% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 11.2% from its open following the earnings release to be 15.2% below its 200 day moving average of $110.63. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Friday, July 24, 2020 there was some notable buying of 3,103 contracts of the $70.00 put expiring on Friday, August 21, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 7.1% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 2.3% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Inovio Biomedical Corp $20.22

Inovio Biomedical Corp (INO) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:05 PM ET on Monday, August 10, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.18 per share on revenue of $2.08 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.17) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 68% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 40.00% with revenue increasing by 1,429.41%. Short interest has increased by 34.1% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 73.0% from its open following the earnings release to be 113.2% above its 200 day moving average of $9.49. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Friday, August 7, 2020 there was some notable buying of 7,778 contracts of the $13.00 put expiring on Friday, August 14, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 20.3% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 7.7% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Cisco Systems, Inc. $47.43

Cisco Systems, Inc. (CSCO) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:05 PM ET on Wednesday, August 12, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.74 per share on revenue of $12.10 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.78 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 71% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for earnings of $0.72 to $0.74 per share. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 10.84% with revenue decreasing by 9.89%. Short interest has increased by 1.2% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 9.2% from its open following the earnings release to be 6.2% above its 200 day moving average of $44.67. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Thursday, July 30, 2020 there was some notable buying of 8,008 contracts of the $30.00 put expiring on Friday, June 18, 2021. Option traders are pricing in a 5.8% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 5.7% move in recent quarters.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

DISCUSS!

What are you all watching for in this upcoming trading week?
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and a great trading week ahead StockMarket.
submitted by bigbear0083 to StockMarket [link] [comments]


2020.08.05 18:13 justhereforthehelp68 Router Recommendations Request

Hello, I'm looking for a new router for my home. It'll have less than 15 devices connected to it mostly through wifi but running ethernet where I can. Most likely will pick up an 8 port switch from thinkpenguin if I'm able to run mostly ethernet connections (due to home layout).

My priorities are listed below in order:

My budget is $600 usd. But I'm willing to push out more if someone has a recommendation.

I was considering this: https://store.vikings.net/libre-friendly-hardware/wndrrouter, but the router just seems a bit technically dated. Not to say I'm not still considering it, just want to make an informed decision.

I am also considering https://www.gl-inet.com/products/. I haven't poked around enough here to find one I'm in love with yet.

If this thing: https://amplifi.com/alien, was open source I would have probably bought it already.

Thank you so much for your help.
submitted by justhereforthehelp68 to privacy [link] [comments]


2020.07.28 00:24 OneWingedDevil28 Booking Will Ospreay in NXT (Part One: Allow Me To Introduce Myself)

Prologue
Early 2021. The black and gold brand is under a tight grasp from the Legado Del Fantasma, an ever-growing faction headed by NXT Cruiserweight Champion, Santos Escobar. Originally tailed by Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde, over the course of 2020, the faction recruited Gran Metalik and Humberto Carillo to increase their firepower and dominance over NXT. The Cruiserweight division called for a saviour. Someone who could end the tyrannical reign of Escobar. And on the final episode of NXT in 2020, the division received a Christmas Miracle as the One and Only, Ricochet, retuned to NXT, staking his claim on the Cruiserweight Championship, defeating Metalik and Mendoza on his track to Escobar.
New Japan Pro Wrestling started the year strong with a superb Wrestle Kingdom 15 event with matches such as Kazuchika Okada vs EVIL for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, Tanahashi vs Naito, Jay White vs Jon Moxley, Hiromu Takahashi vs Taiji Ishimori, Shingo Takagi vs KENTA and the match of the night for many, Will Ospreay’s final clash with the Golden Star, Kota Ibushi, for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Ospreay won the first match in their first Tokyo Dome clash. Ibushi got his revenge in the 2019 G1 Climax. And in the penultimate match of the event, Ibushi bested Ospreay yet again to get a huge much needed Tokyo Dome win as he walks away with the Intercontinental Championship.
Ospreay’s plan to use a win against Ibushi to propel himself as a competent Heavyweight competitor had failed. Understanding that his New Japan future was in limbo, Ospreay opted not to renew his contract, as wildfire speculation began to circle the wrestling world. AEW? WWE? Or somewhere different, such as a promotion back in his home country. Starting 2021, Will Ospreay was wrestling’s hottest free agent, as the Aerial Assassin carefully considered his next path.

Booking Will Ospreay in NXT (Part One: Allow Me To Introduce Myself)

NXT – 13th January 2021
Tonight, Ricochet finally gets his hands on the long-reigning Cruiserweight Champion, the leader of Legado del Fantasma, Santos Escobar. With intense anticipation, the Full Sail crowd rally behind Ricochet as he is somewhat prophesised to be the one to finally dethrone Escobar and strike a dagger through NXT’s biggest threat. Both men make their entrances, Ricochet feeling a form of sentiment as he soaks in the atmosphere of the NXT crowd. Ricochet is back home.
Ricochet vs Santos Escoobar © for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship
Ricochet gets off to an explosive start, initiating a break-neck pace to the match as he connects an early Corkscrew Moonsault Dive to the outside on an unsuspecting Escobar. Back inside the ring, Ricochet goes to the top rope, as the fans arise to their feet, but it’s too early to attempt a fatal 630, Escobar able to get up to his feet and halt Ricochet, before springing himself off the top rope and connecting a hurricanrana on Ricochet out onto the apron, both men able to get in just in time.
Both Escobar and Ricochet conduct an NXT TV classic, the face/heel dynamic engaging the crowd as the heavily favoured Ricochet falls victim to the innovative, hard-hitting offence of the current Cruiserweight Champion. Escobar lifts Ricochet for the Thrill of the Hunt, but Ricochet gets out of it, he goes for a superkick and Escobar moves out of the way, Ricochet connects with the ref. Shocked, Ricochet stands idle, giving Escobar opportunity to connect a low blow, as everyone knows how the story goes now. Escobar urges his faction down to the ring, Metalik, Mendoza, Wilde and Carillo all sprinting down. Wilde gets a chair as Mendoza and Escobar hold Ricochet down, he goes to strike him, but Ricochet gets out of the way just in time, he scoops up the chair and lobs it to the face of Wilde, connecting a dropkick to the chair.
Mendoza goes for a kick, but Ricochet catches it and throws the leg into Escobar, before throwing Mendoza out of the ring, where he retreats with Carillo and Metalik, Ricochet then connects a pitch perfect Tope Con Hilo as the fans inside Full Sail ramp up the noise to this fantastic climax. Ricochet slides back into the ring, but he falls straight into a THRILL OF THE HUNT! Fantasma goes for the cover, 1…2… RICOCHET IS JUST ABLE TO KICK OUT!
The match goes on, both men fighting valiantly over the Cruiserweight Championship as the Legado del Fantasma members recover on the outside. Ricochet and Escobar enter a striking exchange, Ricochet coming out on top and connecting a Vertigo, he slowly climbs to the top ropes, with Carillo trying to hold him down to give Escobar time to recover. Ricochet fends off Carillo, he ascends to the top rope, he goes for the 630, ESCOBAR MOVES OUT OF THE WAY! The few seconds Carillo helped out was just enough! Escobar lifts Ricochet, THRILL OF THE HUNT! He goes for the cover, 1…2…3!
Santos Escobar © def. Ricochet (22 minutes)
Escobar celebrates in the ring as he is flooded with boos, his reign continues just this week as his biggest threat yet was disposed in the form of Ricochet, his NXT return crashed by the Legado del Fantasma. After the match, Escobar orders the Legado del Fantasma lay Ricochet out with a vicious assault, they don’t hold back as Escobar grabs a microphone. Escobar chuckles to himself before stomping on Ricochet once again.

“Pathetic.” Escobar walks towards a downed Ricochet, “This is the guy you guys told me to worry about?! I don’t care that I won dirty, I don’t care what ANY of you have to say. Yet again, the Legado del Fantasma are SUPERIOR.” Escobar calls off the assault, calling everyone to pose together in the middle of the ring. “If you pendejo’s needed any confirmation of why I am the greatest lucha libre artist of all time, this is all you need.” Escobar lifts up his Cruiserweight Championship, “And I-“ the lights go down in Full Sail for a few seconds, before going back up.
“As I was saying before the crappy technical crew decided to intervene, I don’t care who is next in line for this championship, bec-“ the lights go down yet again, Escobar visibly groaning and throwing away his mic, as he waits for the technical crew to sort out the problem, which is portrayed as just a technical issue. The lights go back up, however, something has changed. There are only two men in the ring.
Mendoza, Wilde and Carillo are laid out, motionless outside of the ring. Inside the ring, is Gran Metalik and Santos Escobar. Concerned, Escobar looks at everyone who has been laid out, before deciding to finish his promo. “I don’t care who it is that is next in line, because it will result in the same outcome, and that is Santos Escobar having his hand raised as he retains the Cruiserweight Championship!” The camera pans towards Escobar holding up his title, as Gran Metalik behind him begins to take off his mask, the audience turning their attention towards him.
He takes off his mask… IT’S WILL OSPREAY! “MAMMA MIA!” IS ALL MAURO RANALLO CAN SAY, AS THE FULL SAIL AUDIENCE EXPLODE! Escobar chuckles, assuming the cheers are for him, before he turns around and recognises Ospreay! Escobar is speechless, he drops his title and lunges for Ospreay, who dodges, SUPERKICK! Ospreay gets Escobar up, STORM BREAKER! The fans are going wild for the arrival of the Aerial Asssassin in NXT! Ospreay grabs the Cruiserweight Championship, before approaching Santos Escobar, who is laid out on the canvas. “If you don’t know me already, allow me to introduce myself… I am Will Ospreay. And as of tonight, NXT is my territory.” Ospreay chucks the title down onto Escobar.
Ricochet slides into the ring, he has a face-to-face confrontation with Ospreay, as no words are exchanged, but no words are needed for this dream match-up. These two have faced off many times on the independent circuit, and now, they find themselves in the same locker room here at NXT. Ricochet goes to shake hands with Ospreay, who contemplates, before looking up and putting his middle finger to Ricochet, he slides out of the ring, his intentions clear. The black-and-gold brand have acquired wrestling’s hottest free agent!

NXT – 20th January 2021
Will Ospreay is wasting no time going after Santos Escobar, as tonight, they will face off for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship. Last week, Ospreay made his NXT debut, disguising himself as Gran Metalik during Santos Escobar’s promo after his successful defence of the championship against Ricochet, where the Legado del Fantasma played a significant role. Escobar claimed Ricochet was his biggest threat to the title, but now he faces someone even more menacing in the form of the Aerial Assassin. The challenger, Ospreay, makes his first ever NXT entrance, coming out to 'Elevated' the theme he has used for the duration of his decorated career. Escobar then makes his entrance, menacing and methodical, showing no signs of arrogance like last week. The Full Sail crowd are hype for Will Ospreay’s debut, as he looks to become the NXT Cruiserweight Champion.

Will Ospreay vs Santos Escobar © for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship
The match has a conservative start, Ospreay gaining the early upper hand, cheekily slapping Escobar in the back of the head, who then becomes aggressive and goes after Ospreay, who is able to effectively dodge his attacks, he goes for an early Os-cutter, but Escobar stops him, he goes for a buckle bomb, but Ospreay counters it into a stunning reverse frankensteiner, he teases a suicide dive, connecting the handstand rebound off the ropes and posing in the middle of the ring, showing off to the NXT crowd.
Escobar shows them why he is champion, though, getting back into the match after careful evaluation of Ospreay’s moveset. In significant moments of the match, Escobar connects a backbreaker of the top rope, Ospreay connects a beautiful Shooting Star Press, Escobar getting his foot just under the ropes during the pinfall attempt, Ospreay kicking out of a Thrill of the Hunt, and an excellent third act striking exchange ending in Ospreay gaining the upper hand as he connects a Cheeky Nandos.
He goes to the top ropes, however Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde begin to strut down the ramp, Ospreay shakes his head in denial, as he launches himself, but Escobar catches him, he goes for the Thrill of the Hunt, but Ospreay gets out of it, they both floor each other with stereo superkicks as Wilde and Mendoza reach the bottom of the ramp. Right as they’re about to head into the ring and sabotage the match, RICOCHET rushes down the ramp, he throws Mendoza into the apron, Wilde goes for a lariat, but Ricochet dodges, he superkicks Wilde who stays up, Ospreay connects a Sasuke Spaical on Wilde! Back inside the ring, he gets Escobar up, the fans all on their feet, STORM BREAKER!!!!! Ospreay goes for the cover, 1…2…3!
Will Ospreay def. Santos Escobar © (17 minutes)
We have a new NXT Cruiserweight Champion! Ospreay has came into NXT, and dethroned one of its most dominant champions in his first match, and he is a CHAMPION coming away from his first match! The fans applaud Ospreay, who celebrates after being handed the NXT Cruiserweight Championship while the Legado Del Fantasma assist Escobar in his recovery. However, Ospreay and Ricochet have yet another glance at each other, Ospreay giving Ricochet a reassuring nod, thanking him for the help on the faction. Ricochet responds by pointing towards the NXT Cruiserweight Championship, which Ospreay looks at and drapes it over his shoulder, as NXT concludes with Will Ospreay as champion, but perhaps another rivalry brewing for the Aerial Assassin.

NXT – 27th January 2021
The go home show before NXT hosts a Takeover in the Pacfic Northwest city of Seattle, there are many major talking points going into the show, most notably, the recent crowning of a new NXT Cruiserweight Champion last week, when Will Ospreay made a superb NXT debut when he defeated Cruiserweight Champion Santos Escobar. After the match, Will Ospreay and Ricochet both gave each other looks that implied that they could be meeting sometime soon, but only time can tell. During the show, Will Ospreay makes his way down to the ring, Cruiserweight Championship around his waist, he receives a heroes welcome as the Aerial Assassin grabs a microphone and takes a deep breath, glancing around the arena before he speaks.
“Two weeks ago, I introduced myself to the WWE Universe. Last week… I became your NEW NXT Cruiserweight Champion!” Ospreay holds up the belt, the fans cheering. “Santos Escobar, I told you that this is my territory, and you didn’t listen, and you couldn’t resort to your yes-men, you fell victim to the Aerial Asssassin. With this championship, I have all the tools I need to bring this division to new heights, I am going to change the infrastructure of this company and how it treats its cruiserweight division.
With that being said, this weekend is NXT Takeover: Seattle, and I do not have an opponent yet. And while I must admit, I don’t know enough of the locker room at hand to select an opponent, I think I’m in the right ballpark when I say that I know what match the fans want to see.” Ospreay puts his mic down as he contemplates his next words, glancing back and forth between the Cruiserweight Championship belt, before finishing his sentence. “Ricochet.” The fans pop for the call-out, as Ricochet eventually comes out, almost expecting Ospreay to call out his name. Ricochet trots down to the ring, entering and eying up one of his greatest rivals on the Indy circuit, as Ricochet goes to speak.
“Will, Will, Will. While I was expecting you to call me out, I just haven’t had time to really digest this yet. We’ve fought in Bingo Halls. We’ve fought in Japan, we’ve fought in broken rings, and now, we’re existing in the same locker room in the WWE.” The fans applaud as Ospreay nods. “And what better way to compliment our storied rivalry, then to face off at the best show in wrestling, NXT Takeover!” Ricochet takes a breath, “Considering how my last match for that belt turned out, and taking into account the fact that I helped you avoid the Legado del Fantasma, I think I’m more than obliged for a match for that championship.” Ricochet and Ospreay move towards each other, the intensity building as Ospreay holds his championship high.
“You want this belt?” Ospreay laughs. “I’ve done more in two weeks, than you’ve done in three years in this company!” Ricochet shoves Ospreay, Ospreay shoving back, the two nearly reaching a brawl before they split themselves up, the tension building ahead of the dream Takeover match this Saturday. It will be the two best Cruiserweights the world has to offer, Ricochet and Will Ospreay, will clash for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship this Saturday at NXT Takeover: Seattle.

NXT Takeover: Seattle – 30th January 2021
It is a night of great wrestling, the NXT brand shines in the spotlight with fantastic bouts all around, but the one that sticks out to many is the opener of the night, the Cruiserweight Championship clash between Ricochet and Will Ospreay. Arriving to the WWE earlier in the month, Will Ospreay looks to bring the division to new heights, after it was strained under the grasp of Legado del Fantasma for so long. Both men make their entrances, Ricochet in purple and black gear to compliment the championship’s colourway, while Will Ospreay comes out in his signature Assassin’s Creed inspired gear, this time, inspired from Edward Kenway, the pirate from Black Flag. The bell rings, and the next instalment of this dream match is underway. From Evolve, to New Japan, to PWG, to WCPW, to WWE. It’s Will Ospreay vs Ricochet.

Ricochet vs Will Ospreay (c) for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship
They soak in the atmosphere in Climate Pledge Arena, before circling the ring, both men with a spring in their step. Ricochet and Ospreay enter a collar and elbow tie up, Ricochet applying a wrist-lock, Ospreay rolls and floors Ricochet, head scissors, both men get up, Ricochet connects a hurricanrana, he goes for another, Ospreay somersaults, remaining on his feet, he goes for a basement dropkick on Ricochet, who moves out of the way, he goes for an Enziguri, Ospreay dodges and flips Ricochet, who lands on his feet, somersault off the ropes, he falls into a german suplex attempt from Ospreay, Ricochet counters it, he connects a dropkick, sending Ricochet out of the ring, he goes for the Tope Con Hilo but Ospreay slides back into the ring, the two reach deadlock in the opening exchange.
This blistering pace is maintained throughout the course of the match, as they demonstrate their amazing athleticism and in ring chemistry as the match flows seamlessly, keeping the crowd engaged. At one point, Ricochet is on the apron, Ospreay goes to sweep him off, Ricochet leaps over, he connects a kick on Ospreay, he goes for the Moonsault but Ospreay catches him, LAWN DART INTO THE RINGSIDE CHAIRS! Back inside the ring, Ospreay goes for an Os-cutter, but Ricochet stops him, he pushes him away and connects the Benadryller, he goes for the cover but Ospreay is able to kick out. Ricochet then goes up to the top ropes, Ospreay stops him before he can go for the 630, both men fight atop the top turnbuckle, ending in Ricochet connecting a top rope Spanish Fly.
Shortly later, both men enter a striking exchange, Ricochet sprints towards the corner, looking to build up momentum, however Ospreay gets him in position, CHEEKY NANDOS! He follows it up with a reverse frankensteiner, he goes to the top rope, but Ricochet moves out of the way, smart thinking by the Number One contender. Ospreay shrugs, he FLINGS HIMSELF ACROSS TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RING, CONNECTING A CORKSCREW SENTON BOMB! He gets Ricochet up, he goes for the Storm Breaker, but Ricochet fights out of it, he goes out onto the apron, he launches himself off the top rope, hurricanrana sends Ospreay outside of the ring, Ricochet goes for the Sasuke Special, Ospreay moves out of the way, he tries to deck him out onto the ringside flooring, Ricochet moves out of the way, he gets Ospreay up, PILEDRIVER ONTO THE RINGSIDE FLOORING!
He gets Ospreay back inside the ring, he goes for the 630 Senton, OSPREAY GETS HIS KNEES UP, WHICH MUST’VE NEAR BROKE RICOCHET’S BACK! Ospreay goes for the Storm Breaker, but Ricochet gets out yet again, superkick to the back of Ospreay’s head, he goes for the Vertigo, but Ospreay COUNTERS IT INTO A HEAD SCISORRS TAKEDOWN, HE LUNGES OFF THE ROPES, OS-CUTTER! He goes for the cover, 1…2…3!
Will Ospreay © def. Ricochet (25 minutes)
In perhaps their best match to date, Ospreay and Ricochet tear the house down in Seattle, a barn burner to start NXT Takeover as Will Ospreay retains his NXT Cruiserweight Championship. Ospreay celebrates, hurt and battered, but victorious, he was able to outsmart Ricochet tonight, who put in a great effort. After the match, in a contrast to their encounter a few weeks ago, this time, it’s Ospreay who extends a handshake offer to Ricochet. Ricochet contemplates, when he tried to shake Ospreay’s hand, he put up a middle finger. However, Ricochet shakes Ospreay’s hand, the two giving each other nods of recognition as Ospreay slides out of the ring, victorious here tonight at NXT Takeover: Seattle.
Coming away from their amazing singles clash at Takeover Seattle, Ricochet and Ospreay have a mutual respect for each other, so, when Ricochet is told that he is being entered into the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, he looks no further than the man who owes him a favour, that being Will Ospreay. On the 3rd February episode of NXT, Ricochet approaches Ospreay and asks, Ospreay reluctantly accepting his offer on the basis of the respect gained after the Takeover Seattle match. Named ‘The Assassins of the Sky’ Ricochet and Ospreay look to set the Dusty Rhodes Classic competition alight for an opportunity at Moustache Mountain’s NXT Tag Team Championships at NXT Takeover: Hollywood at WrestleMania weekend.

NXT – 10th February 2021 – Ricochet and Will Ospreay vs Grizzled Young Veterans (Round One)
Ospreay and Ricochet come across tough competition in the first round of the tournament, as they face the Grizzled Young Veterans, a team that made it to the finals of last years’ tournament where they fell to the Broserweights. The story of the match is the building dynamic between Ospreay and Ricochet, who seem off sync for the most part, but are able to endure through the match based on their individual skill. Nevertheless, the Grizzled Young Veterans begin to dominate, Gibson connects a Helter Skelter on Ospreay, he goes for the cover, Ricochet breaks it up with a 630 Senton, in a burst of energy, he connects a Sasuke Special on James Drake. Meanwhile, Ospreay connects a Storm Breaker on Gibson, he tags in Ricochet, who connects a final 630 to advance to the second round.
Ricochet and Will Ospreay def. Grizzled Young Veterans (11 minutes)
Earlier in the show, Tony Nese wins a Number One contendership match for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship. After the match, he stares down Ospreay, setting up their match for next week, Ospreay’s second defence of the championship. It is confirmed that in the next round, Will Ospreay and Ricochet will face Legado del Fantasma, a faction they are very familiar with, as they try to achieve revenge on the people responsible for taking Escobar’s championship away from him.

NXT – 17th February – Tony Nese vs Will Ospreay © for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship
Nese puts up a good fight, but it is ultimately a showcase match for Ospreay, who maintains momentum for the majority of the match. While Nese is able to kick out of a Pip Pip Cheerio and a Shooting Star Press, his valiant comeback isn’t enough, he goes for a Lawn Dart, but Ospreay gets out of it, he connects an Os-cutter, he pins Nese and retains the Cruiserweight Championship in a convincing match for the Aerial Assassin.
Will Ospreay © def. Tony Nese (7 minutes)
After the match, Ospreay’s celebrations are halted by Legado Del Fantasma, the team who are facing Ricochet and Ospreay next week. Mendoza, Wilde and Gran Metalik lead the beatdown, Metalik is about to hit Ospreay in the skull with a chair until Ricochet sprints down to the ring and fends them off, setting up the match next week and potentially a Cruiserweight Championship match in the future.

NXT – 24th February – Legado Del Fantasma (Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza) vs Ricochet and Will Ospreay (Round Two)
A thoroughly entertaining, grudge-based tag team match sees Will Ospreay and Ricochet begin to synergise more of a tag team as they get some quick, lightning-pace tandem offence in, the Legado Del Fantasma using dirty tactics and ringside assistance to get offence in on the match. However, when the ref ejects Metalik, Carillo and Escobar, it gives Ricochet and Ospreay the perfect opportunity as we truly see who the better team are from here on out, Ospreay and Ricochet picking apart Wilde and Mendoza, ending it with stereo shooting star presses, a beautiful spot, as they pin Wilde to advance to the Semi Finals.
Ricochet and Will Ospreay def. Legado Del Fantasma (10 minutes)
After the match, the rest of the faction come down ringside to aid Wilde and Mendoza, where Gran Metalik points to Ospreay and the belt, hoping for a championship match in the future, Ospreay accepting on the basis that he wants to prove to any doubters why Ricochet and Ospreay are in a different league to the Legado Del Fantasma. It is confirmed that in the semi-finals, Ospreay and Ricochet will face Tyler Breeze and Fandango, the team that go under the banner ‘Breezango’

NXT – 10th March 2021 – Breezango vs Will Ospreay and Ricochet (Semi Finals)
We see Ospreay and Ricochet merge together even more, they find somewhat of an equal team in the form of Fandango and Tyler Breeze, who put up a great fight and unlike the other teams, are able to actually keep up with the blitz-paced offence of Will Ospreay and Ricochet, as they look to advance to the finals of the 2021 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. The bout slowly builds to an exciting climax, as Will Ospreay connects a Storm Breaker on Tyler Breeze, and an Os-cutter on Fandango, as he picks up the pinfall, demonstrating fantastic individual ability as the team move onto the finals.
Ricochet and Will Ospreay def. Breezango (16 minutes)
Ospreay and Ricochet celebrate, but their celebrations can’t go on for long, as William Regal comes out and announces that on next week’s show, Will Ospreay will defend the NXT Cruiserweight Championship against Gran Metalik, the man he impersonated and disguised himself as upon his NXT arrival. Regal adds a stipulation where Ricochet cannot accompany Ospreay, and the Legado Del Fantasma cannot interfere with the match.

NXT – 17th March 2021 – Gran Metalik vs Will Ospreay © for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship
Metalik and Ospreay have a fast paced match where Metalik gets somewhat of a spotlight, even connecting the Brillo Dorada early, proving himself as a worthy competitor for Ospreay’s championship. Without the help of the Legado del Fantasma, it goes to show how much they rely on each other, as Ospreay dominates for most part of the match, and even Metalik’s comeback towards the end of the match isn’t enough, as Ospreay puts him away with a Stormbreaker for the 123, Ospreay retaining the championship yet again.
Will Ospreay © def. Gran Metalik (14 minutes)
With no signs of the Legado del Fantasma, Ospreay celebrates his victory, having knocked off an entire faction on his list of contenders. In his post-match celebrations, he is attacked by Imperium, the team him and Ricochet are facing next week. Speaking of, Ricochet tries to make the save, but Imperium get the better of him, laying both men out and standing tall ahead of next week’s final.

NXT – 24th March 2021 – Imperium vs Will Ospreay and Ricochet (Finals)
On the go home show before NXT Takeover: Hollywood, the two teams have a superb match, Ospreay and Ricochet forcing to synergise completely to keep up with the tag team known for their unity, Imperium. Barthel, Aichner, Ricochet, and Ospreay all go all out in their attempt to be crowned the winners of the 2021 Dusty Rhodes Tag Classic. For once in the tournament, Ricochet and Ospreay aren’t the favourites as they come up against one of the best tag teams in the world, the match builds to an epic crescendo, where Ricochet and Ospreay take Barthel out with stereo superkicks, Ospreay then connects a Storm Breaker, tags in Ricochet who connects the 630, Ospreay blocks Barthel while Ricochet gets the pin, 1….2…3!
Will Ospreay and Ricochet def. Imperium (24 minutes)
In an epic finale, Ospreay and Ricochet are crowned winners of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Classic. As confetti falls from Full Sail, the two proudly hold up the trophy, having found a friendship with each other over the course of the tournament. After the match, they are confronted by the NXT Tag Team Champions, Moustache Mountain, as the stage is set for a barn burner of a Takeover match at WrestleMania weekend.

NXT Takeover: Hollywood – 27th March 2021
Tonight, every NXT championship is on the line, with many great matches on offer, including the tag team bout between the 2021 winners of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, the unlikely duo of Ricochet and Will Ospreay, going up against the champions, Moustache Mountain. Both teams make their entrances, the atmosphere is lively in Staples Center as the bell rings and the match is underway.

Will Ospreay and Ricochet vs Moustache Mountain (c) for the NXT Tag Team Championships
With Ricochet and Ospreay fully synergised, this match takes on the role of a fully-fledged tag team match as both teams demonstrate their outstanding individual offence and also their tandem offense. While Moustache Mountain dominate the early stages thanks to them being the better tag team, Ricochet and Ospreay complete their objective of waring Bate and Seven out, so then they can apply their fast pace if they can make it to the later stages of the match, a comeback from the challengers culminates in a double Tope Con Hilo, exciting the crowd as the match remains fast-paced for the rest of its duration, the clash of styles making for a thrilling match that shows the appeal of tag team wrestling.
In notable spots of the match, Ospreay is able to kick out of the Tyler Driver, Seven spears Ricochet through the barricade, Bate connects a superplex on Ricochet out onto the apron and Bate goes for the 7 Star Lariat, Ospreay dodges, he goes for the Os-cutter, Trent moves out of the way, he goes for a powerbomb but Ospreay reverses it into a Frankensteiner! Later in the match, Ospreay connects the Storm Breaker on Bate, he tags in Ricochet who connects the 630, Ricochet covers while Ospreay stops Seven, Seven rams Ospreay into the pin attempt, breaking it up.
Later in the match, Moustache Mountain are able to counter each big move of their opponents, Bate takes Ospreay out when he leaps from the top rope, connecting a hurricanrana on Ospreay on the apron. Back inside the ring, Seven gets Ricochet up, BURNING HAMMER KNEE DROP COMBO! THEY PILE ON RICOCHET, 1…2…3!
Moustache Mountain © def. Will Ospreay and Ricochet (21 minutes)
In a superb tag team match, Moutsche Mountain retain the Tag Team Championships here at WrestleMania weekend in Hollywood. Moustache Mountain celebrate their win as Ospreay goes to aid Ricochet, the audience applauding both teams for their efforts tonight. The two teams exchange glances, Moustache Mountain shaking the hands of Ricochet and Ospreay before leaving, giving them a moment with the crowd.
Ricochet and Ospreay hug each other, with the vibe that they’re going off into their separate ways. Nevertheless, this tag team tournament was a huge learning experience for both men, as they went from rivals to best friends, tag team partners winning tournaments. Ricochet and Ospreay had a newfound respect for each other, but here at NXT Takeover: Hollywood, they were unable to come away with tag team gold despite their valiant effort.
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2020.07.02 03:20 BDBRINGA The Internet Was Not Meant For Us

I wanted to post this to popularopinion but it was removed without context. Trying my luck here because I'll be damned if nobody reads my 6 hour distraction from work today. Thank you in advance for taking a look.
(This is a Long post)

The Internet Is Not Meant For Us
There is very little respect for the average person onlinE, and we are desensitized to it. We wish great harm, pain, and suffering on to others who disagree with us without hesitation or consideration for the person (who could be, bots notwithstanding) on the other side. We have grown accustomed to a lack of empathy and disdain the idea of having patience for people with different views. If these sort of trends continue we will damn ourselves as a species, and it's how we've gotten to where are today.
We've invested so much in the fake microcosms we create for ourselves online that they bleed into how we see the world in person. We’ve grown accustomed to how we treat others online and it’s unlikely that this treatment will improve before it gets worse. There is little to no room for grace or forgiveness on the internet. Our Treatment of each other online has greatly affected us as a species, and it will continue to stymie significant social change if left unaddressed.
As Social creatures, humans are inherently incompatible with the internet as a medium. We need to be held, and we need to see faces. We need to be able to see the consequences of what we physically say to other people. We need the social pain that comes from hurting or belittling others.
Instead, we are Substituting the vital ingredients for survival with habits that exacerbate our disregard for human life. I have noticed this trend since the introduction of Facebook and it has only gotten more out of hand. There is a reason teen suicide rates are the highest they’ve ever been.
We are losing the ability and desire to think for ourselves due to Capitalism's influence on the web. We have been groomed by a system that values consumption and desTruction for profit. Capitalism subjugates the weak to bolster the elite.
...Snowpiercer, essentially.
The 1% are the most powerful they have ever been, and their influence seeps into what we see online. It is in the elite's interest for us to construct the biases that help uphold the veneer of a fair and uncomplicated world. They want us to hate each other. They want us to fall in line. To Work. Eat. Sleep. Mind our business. To not make too much noise. To not challenge convention (unless it brings monetary value). To get loans. To go to college. To raise a family; pay medical bills; owe money when we die that the next generation has to pay off (Snowpiercer (2013), essentially). The Internet has made us docile to this unending cycle. The only true way to maintain a sense of self unimpeded by the constraints of social convention is to divorce oneself from the pull of CApitalism, and by extension, the Internet.
The internet has made it far too easy to gain the dopamine we normally gain through achievement. Phone apps, games, and social media ensure that we are a click away from perpetual distraction. We have trained our brains to consume simple, often one-sided narratives. The individual is not trained to see grays anymore. We are not trained to think critically. We are not encouraged to engage with the challenging when a simpler more convenient alternative is often readily available. Mediocrity is both in such high supply and demand. We scroll listlessly, endlessly. This reliance on technology for information, communication, and entertainment keep us from the necessary challenge or accomplishment needed for growth. When I was bored as a child, I created worlds out of blocks and long-running narratives with action figures. If I’m bored today, I open my phone, click a video. It has been chosen for me, by data collected from me, to keep me docile and distracted.
We live in a series of invisible echo chambers that keep us locked in. If someone in a real-life community were hateful to others, this behavioR would be decried and corrected in favor of behavior that is constructive for the group. On the internet, the ignorant can readily find people who share their dysfunctional views (a village of village idiots). From ignorance comes hate. Any idea can be created, spread, or affirmed (frequently by AI too!), however unjust, foul, or cruel. On the internet, everyone is right...according to what they read. This is the Post Truth world.
The Consequences of Cancel Culture and Why You Should Care
Cancel culture is heinously cruel and toxic. It promotes paranoia and haTe, and teaches aggressive self-righteousness. It discourages free-thinking, empathy, and encourages a general disregard for human life. It has engineered a culture fueled by emotion and social pressure, and utilizes quasi-terroristic tactics to deliver indiscriminate judgment on the ignorant. It fractures already large social divides between ideological groups and makes any idea of class unity an impossibility.
Now look, I get it, there are evil shit heads in the world. As a ~~LibrA Sun~~ I get a chubby just thinking about justice. But this ain’t it. For one (1), the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. I feel like I really shouldn’t have to elaborate on this, but I think a lot of people (excluding prisoners) don’t really understand the lasting ramifications of what it would mean to be banned from society. For a potentially indefinite period of time. Really try to have empathy for what being on the other end of that stick might feel like. The greatest fear for many people is dying alone. Imagine living alone, cut off from the world (inb4 'sounds alright to me!'). No one wants to assoCiate with you. No one wants to date or hire you. No one wants to date you. Your family probably wants to disown you, considering the public pressure they now have to either get on the shun train or be shunned as well. Everywhere you go, you run the risk of being interacted with in bad faith. You become an eternal leper (at least until someone else does something more vile than you, and then hope your heinous crime doesn’t get reposted).
For two (2), it teaches us to be cynical and cruel to each other. We bar any notion of forgiveness to those willing to learn or change from their mistakes. We are not encouraged to have empathy for negative behavior. Instead we are encouraged to shame the guilty, making ourselves judge and jury over other human beings we have never met or know. Every canceLled person is a warning onto others.
Why is this a problem? It’s a behavior we want stopped after all. It sends a good message.
Some people are taught to hate. The children of bigots and rAcists are also victims of racism. They are born into a belief system that they are never challenged by (see: echo chambers). They do not have opportunities in early development to confront their biases or prejudices. They are not born evil. They are taught it. Human see, human do.
These people are not hopeless cases. They need empathy. They need grace. They need forgiveness. Does this mean you have to be the one to extend this kind of patience? Nope. But you certainly don’t have to contribute to the distribution of additional hate by deigning you can understand the life of an individual enough to pass judgment on them (JesuS quote here). You don’t get someone to see reason by yelling at them. You only make it harder for them to hear it.
Cancel Culture's message has consequences. It makes progressive social justice harder to achieve. When we value shame and judgment over empathy and grace, we make it harder for 1. voices to be heard, or 2. for people to change their negative behavior. Hell, I’ve been a proud lurker since Facebook came out in high school. I learned early in social media that you better get on board with what’s popular, or shut up (or go here!). As a conflict averse baby wuSs wuss (~~Libra Sun~~) the idea of anyone, yes even you not liking me because of my value system makes me want to curl up like a pillbug. And I promise you, there are a lot of me people like me out there (read: cowards).
Essentially, conflict keeps a lot of people at bay. Turns out, people don’t like the idea of someone yelling and screaming and shaming them for things they don’t know or for thoughts they have. The general lack of good faith we have for the ignorant and uninformed makes it very difficult to amass the following needed to, say, start a Class War (hypothetically speaking, of course). It also prevents constructive conversation inside, say, well-intentioned social movements that need to be less emotionally driven. Ideas should be able to be up for challenge without people having the ever looming threat of public disdain hanging over their head for questioning popular opinion.
Conclusion
I understand that people’s feelings aren’t as important as what needs to be done to accomplish real and significant change in the world...but you need numbers for a movement. A lot of people don't understand that most trump supporters (most everyone who’s not <1% at this point) are also at the end of the train with them . Both sides aren't looking at the real enemy. We’ve become so obsessed with being right and Capitalism has taken advantage of that by how the internet currently functions. They want us docile, uninformed, and angry at each other. Don't give that to them.
BUT HOW CAN I NOT HATE _____ THEY SAY SUCH STUPID SHIT IT JUST FLIPPING AGGRAVATES THE JEEBERS OUT OF ME I REALLY HAVE TO TYPE AND LET THEM KNOW IT WHAT ELSE DID I GET A LIBERAL ARTS DEGREE FOR
My guy. It’s the internet. It’s not real. None of this is real. It really astounds me how often people get mad in comment threads. You don’t even know who you’re talking to. It could be a 9-year old. Or a robot. You could be expending emotional energy suppressing your rage at someone you will never meet. They want u 2 b mad. We learned about trolls years ago folks.
Here’s a quick little rule I recommend following for yourself, just in case. op: If it’s not a real human face saying real spoken words to your real human face: don’t get mad. That’s it.
Tl;dr: Treat others the way you would like to be treated. If we keep up current trends online, we’re done for. Without class unity, nothing will change, and Capitalism will keep making us hate each other and ourselves. The only way to get class unity is for us to radically change how we interact online. Alternatively we get everyone to take LSD somehow.
Thank you for Reading this if u did i love u
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2020.06.24 06:05 Viewfromthe31stfloor Update on the City's response to COVID-19- latest email from Mayor's Community Affairs Unit

As you are aware, the City is currently responding to the novel coronavirus, and we want to make sure that you are provided with the most up-to-date information.
Cómo ya sabe, la Ciudad de Nueva York está respondiendo al brote del coronavirus, y queremos asegurarnos que reciba información actualizada.
如您所知, 紐約市目前正在應對新冠病毒, 我們會確保向您提供最新的消息。
MAYOR DE BLASIO, COMMISSIONER GARCIA AND CHANCELLOR CARRANZA ANNOUNCE SUMMER MEAL HUBS
Meal Hub service will continue this summer for all New Yorkers from 7:30 AM to 1:30 PM Monday through Friday at 400 sites
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio, COVID-19 Food Czar and Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia and Chancellor Richard A. Carranza today announced grab-and-go Meal Hubs will continue to operate through the summer as the City continues to fight food insecurity during the COVD-19 crisis. Starting on June 29th, Meal Hub summer service will operate at approximately 400 sites across the city and continue regular service from 7:30 AM to 1:30 PM, Monday through Friday. Grab-and-go meals are available to any New Yorker who needs them. Vegetarian meals that are also halal will be available at all sites, and select sites serving halal chicken and kosher-certified meals will continue during the summer. A full list of sites will be available here.
“New Yorkers shouldn't have to choose between putting food on the table and paying their bills," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We’re continuing Grab-and-go meals through the summer to ensure no New Yorkers goes hungry.”
“The hundreds of Grab & Go sites across the city have been a crucial part of ensuring that no New Yorker goes hungry due to this crisis, and I want to thank the working people who will help them stay open throughout the summer,” said New York City Sanitation Commissioner and ‘COVID-19 Food Czar’ Kathryn Garcia. “These meals are available regardless of income, citizenship, or age, and I urge anyone in need to make use of them.”
“Serving over 20 million meals to New Yorkers throughout this crisis has been an honor, and our heroic food service workers have seen it as their duty,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “We are proud to continue this service throughout the summer for anyone who needs a meal during the week.”
After school buildings were closed on March 15th due to COVID-19, the grab-and-go Meal Hub program began in order to provide nutritious food to students who depend on school meals. As part of the City’s fight against the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, Meal Hub service expanded in early April to include all New Yorkers who need meals during this crisis.
To date, Meal Hubs have served approximately 30 million meals and are currently averaging approximately 550,000 meals a day. Meal Hub service will continue for the duration of this summer. In addition to meals, Meal Hubs are now community hubs for important updates on COVID-19, free books for young people, and access to menstrual hygiene products.
Starting on June 22nd, all Meal Hubs began offering take home pizza meal kits. Take home pizza meal kits can be cooked at home using an oven, microwave, or toaster oven. Meal Hub patrons can pick up pizza alongside to grab-and-go meal offerings, and this option will continue to be available throughout the summer. The DOE will exhaust all existing supplies of pizza in schools to prevent food waste and continue to order more meal kits as needed.
Site locations may change for Summer Meal Hub service. To find the closest open Meal Hub, please visit schools.nyc.gov/freemeals or text “NYC FOOD” or “NYC COMIDA” to 877-877.
"As New York City reaches an unemployment rate of 18% and New Yorkers struggle to pay their bills, the last thing our communities should have to worry about is whether they can put food on the table. I am grateful that the NYC Department of Education will continue the Grab & Go Meal Hub program into the summer – it is critical that New Yorkers maintain access to emergency food assistance throughout the duration of this pandemic and in our greatest moment of need," said State Senator Alessandra Biaggi.
"Neither COVID-19 nor hunger take a summer vacation. It is vital we make sure our children get fed this summer. I support efforts to adapt tools that can get meals to children while keeping them safe during the pandemic," said Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz.
"The effects of the pandemic are far-reaching and have impacted food security for many people across our city," said Council Member Adrienne Adams. “The continuation of grab-and-go meal hubs throughout the summer comes to us during challenging times and displays the administration’s commitment to the fight against hunger in New York City. I look forward to this continued support for all New Yorkers.”
"DOE Grab-and-Go Meal sites have without a doubt been an incredible lifeline for my constituents since the brink of this pandemic, and I'm thrilled that this program will continue even after the academic year has finished for the summer season," said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. "As New York City continues its path towards a full reopening, we must remain committed to preserving the services that have helped hundreds of families survive this crisis to help New Yorkers get back on their feet."
“As the City begins to reopen, it’s critical that all New Yorkers continue to have access to fresh, healthy food and the comprehensive support and resources offered at DOE meal hubs. I thank Commissioner Garcia, Commissioner Carranza, and Mayor de Blasio for their commitment to fighting food insecurity and ensuring New Yorkers are supported throughout the City’s recovery process,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen.
“Even as we enter Phase 2 of reopening the city, and we allow restaurants to reopen, food insecurity continues to be an issue for families across all five boroughs,” said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson. “Our office has been inundated with calls from residents seeking food assistance since the start of the pandemic and the grab-and-go Meal Hubs have been a great source of support for them. I commend the administration for their decision to continue to operate the Meal Hubs during the summer and for offering Halal and Kosher options to ensure all New Yorkers are able to take advantage of this program.”
"This virus exacerbated food insecurity issues in New York City, the financial stress created by Covid-19 continues to be all too real for many families," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "Extending grab-and-go Meal Hubs throughout the summer will offer families in need something to fall back on when they cannot make ends meet. This is important for children, seniors, and every vulnerable New Yorker in between. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio and Food Czar and Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia as well as Chancellor Richard A. Carranza for working together to make this happen."
"We have seen an unprecedented need for emergency food assistance in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak and expanding summer meal hubs will help ensure all New Yorkers have access to fresh, nutritious food to help get them through these trying times,” said Council Member Peter Koo.
"Covid-19 cases are at record lows in New York City, but the economic impact of the virus has yet to peak. Free meal service for all, including our halal and kosher eating communities, is an essential service," said Council Member Rory Lancman.
"Making sure our most vulnerable families and children are fed is arguably more important now during the recovery than before. No one should have to worry about putting food on the table while they try to restore financial stability. I'm pleased the City will continue the Grab and Go Meal Hubs through the summer,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.
"The extension of the Meal Hub program, coupled with the availability of halal and vegetarian options and other crucial resources, represents the City's enduring commitment to provide for all its residents. Today's announcement is an important step to ensuring that individuals and families have access to nutritious food options, and I applaud the Administration's efforts in ensuring that no New Yorker goes hungry," said Council Member I. Daneek Miller.
"COVID-19 has affected New York City in unimaginable ways, but one of the most urgent economic effects of the pandemic was food insecurity. Thankfully, the City stepped in to fill the need with the Meal Hub program. With so many New Yorkers still suffering from lost income and facing limited employment prospects in the coming months, the extension of this program through the summer is vital. I commend the Mayor, Chancellor Carranza, and Commissioner Garcia for keeping this service in place, and I send my heartfelt appreciation to the essential workers that prepare and distribute these meals at our schools," said Council Member Carlina Rivera.
MAYOR DE BLASIO AND CHANCELLOR CARRANZA ANNOUNCE CITYWIDE GRADUATION FOR THE CLASS OF 2020
Event will air on June 30th at 7:00PM on PIX11 and online
NEW YORK—Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza announced a citywide graduation celebration will be held on June 30. The graduation will bring the entire city together in celebration of the past accomplishments and bright future of the Class of 2020, featuring student spotlights, musical performances, and special guest speakers—including award-winning artist, and former NYC Public School student and teacher, Lin-Manuel Miranda.
“Graduating high school under normal circumstances is an extraordinary accomplishment, but I am especially impressed by the Class of 2020 and all they have been through to get to this point. In this time of great upheaval and many challenges, they will be leading the way to create a fairer, safer future for all. I could not be more proud to celebrate them with this special sendoff,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“Congratulations to the amazing Class of 2020! There’s never been a New York City graduating class like yours. There’s never been a senior year like this!” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “As Chancellor of all New York City Public Schools, and on behalf of all 150,000 staff who make our schools run: I am so proud of you.”
“We’re proud to help make this exciting event available to every New Yorker,” said Bart Feder, Vice President and General Manager of PIX11. “These resilient graduates will play a crucial role in the future of our city and nation, and they’ve earned this recognition”
The COVID-19 crisis disrupted the traditional celebrations honoring the accomplishments and hard work of the Class of 2020, and this special program will be broadcast to all of New York in recognition of all the Class of 2020 has achieved. The graduation celebration, produced by the City in partnership with New York’s Very Own PIX11, will air live on PIX11’s TV channel, website, and social media channels at 7:00PM on June 30th. It will also be livestreamed on the DOE’s and City’s social media channels, as well as at https://www.nycclassof2020.com/.
Kori Chambers, Marysol Castro and Mr. G from PIX11 will host the ceremony, which will feature:
· a musical performance from Brooklyn’s Phony Ppl as well as student musical performances;
· guest speakers including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Pitbull, Kenan Thompson, Nick Kroll, Angela Yee, Tina Fey, Andy Cohen, and more;
· a special valedictorian speech;
· and contributions from family members and educators who have supported our graduating seniors.
The citywide celebration of the Class of 2020 complements ceremonies and events being held in communities across the city. These celebrations are being done virtually, as drive-throughs, and in other unique ways that safely honor this year’s senior class.
MAYOR DE BLASIO ANNOUNCES ILLEGAL FIREWORKS TASK FORCE
As complaints skyrocket, NYPD, FDNY Fire Marshals and Sheriff's Office take action to disrupt fireworks supply chain
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today established a multi-agency task force to crack down on illegal fireworks sales. The task force will target suppliers, distributors and possessors of large quantities of illegal fireworks by conducting investigations and sting operations within and outside of New York City to disrupt supply chains. The FDNY will also launch a public safety campaign, including public service announcements and social media, to illustrate the dangers of illegal fireworks.
The task force will consist of 10 officers from NYPD Intelligence Bureau, 12 FDNY Fire Marshals and 20 members of the Sheriff’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
“Illegal fireworks are both dangerous and a public nuisance” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We’re cracking down on this activity at the source to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers and the ability of our neighbors to get some sleep.”
“For any number of reasons the use of illegal firework has skyrocketed this year and that has damaged the quality of life in our neighborhoods. The NYPD will continue to work closely with our city partners to address this dangerous issue,” said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.
“Fireworks are illegal in New York City for a reason: they are extremely dangerous and can cause fires and serious injuries,” said Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro. “Our Fire Marshals will work closely with their fellow law enforcement agencies to address this growing problem that is impacting New Yorkers in communities across our city.”
“Illegal fireworks pose a significant danger to New York families, and the Sheriff’s Office will use its investigative tools in the areas of contraband interdiction in conjunction with our law enforcement agency partners to vigorously suppress the sale and distribution of illegal fireworks,” said Sheriff Joseph Fucito.
MAYOR DE BLASIO AND MACY'S ANNOUNCE 4TH OF JULY CELEBRATION
NEW YORK—Today, Mayor de Blasio and Macy’s announced a fireworks plan in celebration of the 4th of July that will reach every borough for the first time ever. From June 29th to July 1st and on July 4th, a series of fireworks displays will launch from various land and water-based locations across New York City.
“These past few months have been some of the most difficult in our city’s history, and New Yorkers are looking for a break. This 4th of July Celebration with Macy’s will give all New Yorkers a safe and exciting way to enjoy the holiday together, even when we are apart,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“New York City is our hometown. Macy’s believes in giving back to the communities where we live and work, and this year, we are taking our Fireworks show on a trip across the city. In reimagining this year’s show, the idea of bringing elements to many parts of our hometown resonated with our team and partners in the City of New York,” said Susan Tercero, Eecutive Producer Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks. “These five-minute surprise displays will showcase Macy’s signature pyrotechnic design and scale, while encouraging spectators to continue following safety and social distancing measures. The multiple location spectacle will culminate with a full-scale television presentation of Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks, capturing the spirit of the city for all New Yorkers and the nation to enjoy, choreographed to a rousing score, and featuring the nation’s best musical performances.”
These smaller, unannounced displays will allow New Yorkers to celebrate all week long. Each show is brief and will be over before residents can gather at the source. With heights reaching up to 1,000 feet from some firing locations, staying close to home and following social distancing guidelines is the best way to enjoy the show.
New Yorkers and spectators across the country will have a front-row view to the displays by tuning to NBC’s national broadcast of Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular (8-10p.m. ET/PT, 7-9 p.m. CT/MT, check local listings). The Nation's most popular Independence Day special will include performances from some of America’s top musical acts and a presentation of the full Macy’s Fireworks show captured throughout the week, including a live grand finale.
For more information on the 44th Annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks, please visit macys.com/fireworks.
Resources and Updates you may find useful:
Recursos y Actualizaciones que les pueden ser útiles:
對您可能有用的資料和更新
New York City is now in Phase Two of reopening. Businesses that may start or expand operations include offices, in-store retail, outdoor dining, hair salons and barbershops, real estate, commercial building management, retail rental, repair and cleaning, and vehicle sales, leases, and rentals. https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-businesses-and-facilities.page
La Ciudad de Nueva York está ahora en la Segunda Fase de Reapertura. Las empresas que pueden comenzar o expandir sus operaciones incluyen oficinas, tiendas minoristas, restaurantes al aire libre, peluquerías, bienes y raíces, administración de edificios comerciales , alquiler minorista, reparación y limpieza , y ventas de vehículos, arrendamientos y alquileres. https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-businesses-and-facilities.page
纽约市现在处于重新开放的第二阶段。 店铺和商业包括办公室,店内零售,户外用餐,美发沙龙和理发店,房地产, 商业楼宇管理,零售租金,维修和清洁以及车辆销售与租赁都可以开张或者扩展业务了。https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-businesses-and-facilities.pag
Phase One guidance for:
Construction Businesses (PDF, June 21) Other Languages: Español 繁體中文 简体中文 Русский Kreyòl ayisyen 한국어 বাংলা Italiano Polski ײִדיש Retail Businesses (PDF, June 21) Other Languages: 繁體中文 简体中文 Русский Kreyòl ayisyen 한국어 বাংলা Italiano Polski ײִדיש Manufacturing Businesses (PDF, June 21) Other Languages: Español 繁體中文 简体中文 Русский Kreyòl ayisyen 한국어 বাংলা Italiano Polski ײִדיש Wholesale Trade Businesses (PDF, June 21) Other Languages: Español 繁體中文 简体中文 Русский Kreyòl ayisyen 한국어 বাংলা Italiano Polski ײִדיש
Free COVID-19 testing is now available to ALL New Yorkers https://www1.nyc.gov/site/coronavirus/get-tested/covid-19-testing.page
Prueba de COVID-19 gratis ahora está disponible para todos los Neoyorquinos https://www1.nyc.gov/site/coronavirus/get-tested/covid-19-testing.page
免费新冠病毒检测对所有纽约市民开放: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/coronavirus/get-tested/covid-19-testing.page
Information on Test & Trace Corps https://www1.nyc.gov/site/coronavirus/get-tested/test-trace-corps.page
Información sobre el Cuerpo de Exámen y Rastreo (Test and Trace Corps) https://www1.nyc.gov/site/coronavirus/get-tested/test-trace-corps.page
测试和追踪资讯https://www1.nyc.gov/site/coronavirus/get-tested/test-trace-corps.page
Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome Fact Sheet (PDF, May 11) Other Languages: Español Русский 繁體中文 简体中文 Kreyòl ayisyen 한국어 বাংলা Italiano Polski ײִדיש العربية Français اردو فارسى ελληνικά עברית हिन्दी 日本語 नेपाली Português ਪੰਜਾਬੀ (India) ਪੰਜਾਬੀ (Pakistan) Tagalog ไทย བོད་ཡིག Tiếng Viet
Latest guidance on evictions and housing court from the Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants https://www1.nyc.gov/content/tenantprotection/pages/covid19-home-quarantine (scroll to the bottom of the page to access the information in other languages)
Orientación actualizada sobre desalojos y el tribunal de la vivienda de la Oficina del Alcalde para Proteger a Inquilinos https://www1.nyc.gov/content/tenantprotection/pages/covid19-home-quarantine (deplácese hasta el final de la página de internet para acceder a la información en otros idiomas)
市长办公室保护房客的最新驱逐和住房法院指南https://www1.nyc.gov/content/tenantprotection/pages/covid19-home-quarantine (其它语言在页面底部)
Alternate side parking has been suspended until June 28, 2020.
Estacionamiento lateral alternativo está suspendido hasta el 28 de Junio del 2020. 纽约市暂停换边停车延长到6/28/2020。
COVID-19 Data/ Datos de COVID-19/新冠病毒数据:
The data reflects the most recent information collected about people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in NYC. It is updated daily: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-data.page
Los datos presentados a continuación reflejan la información más reciente recopilada sobre las personas que dieron positivo para COVID-19 en Nueva York: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-data.page
数据显示了目前收集的有关纽约市新冠病毒检测呈阳性的人的最新信息。 每天更新:
https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-data.page
Public health milestones: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-goals.page
Hitos de salud pública https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-goals.page
公共卫生里程碑: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-goals.page
Other Resources/Otros Recursos/其他資源
Through July 15th, 2020, health insurance enrollment is open for uninsured New Yorkers as part of a Special Enrollment Period: https://www1.nyc.gov/nyc-resources/get-covered.page
Hasta el 15 de Julio de 2020, la inscripción en el seguro de salud está abierta para los neoyorquinos sin seguro como parte de un Período de inscripción especial https://www1.nyc.gov/nyc-resources/get-covered.page
到2020年7月15日为止,作为特殊登记时期,医疗保险将向所以没有保险的纽约人开放保险登记: https://www1.nyc.gov/nyc-resources/get-covered.page
Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) file:///C:/Users/acanas/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/INetCache/Content.Outlook/3CV3FMHH/EIP_poster_200616.pdf
https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/159-million-economic-impact-payments-processed-low-income-people-and-others-who-arent-required-to-file-tax-returns-can-quickly-register-for-payment-with-irs-non-filers-tool
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2020.06.23 05:17 steroid_pc_principal An extractive summary of Bolton's new book

CHAPTER 1 THE LONG MARCH TO A WEST WING CORNER OFFICE
I knew senior Trump campaign officials like Steve Bannon, Dave Bossie, and Kellyanne Conway from prior associations, and had spoken to them about joining a Trump Administration should one happen. Among these possibilities (and others like Tennessee Senator Bob Corker and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman), were there common, consistent attributes and accomplishments Trump sought? Obviously not, and observers should have asked: What is the real principle governing Trump’s personnel-selection process? Why not have Giuliani as Attorney General, a job he was made for? Romney as White House Chief of Staff, bringing his undeniable strategic planning and management skills? And Gingrich, with decades of creative theorizing, as White House domestic policy czar? Was Trump looking only for people from “central casting”? Much was made of his purported dislike of my moustache. ” Who knew Trump read so much history? Giuliani was later extremely gracious to me, saying after he withdrew from the Secretary of State melee, “John would probably be my choice. I arrived at Trump Tower the next day for my interview and waited in the Trump Organization lobby with a State Attorney General and a US Senator also waiting. I thought Trump listened carefully; he didn’t make or receive any phone calls, and we weren’t interrupted until Ivanka Trump came in to discuss family business, or perhaps try to get Trump vaguely back on schedule. I was describing why State needed a cultural revolution to be an effective instrument of policy when Trump asked, “Now, we’re discussing Secretary of State here, but would you consider the Deputy job?” I said I would not, explaining that State could not be run successfully from that level. ” Trump then said, “Not now, but at the right time and for the right position, I’m going to ask you to come into this Administration, and you’re going to agree, right?” I laughed, as did Trump and McMaster (although I felt somewhat uncomfortable on his behalf), and answered, “Sure,” figuring I had again dodged the bullet I had feared. ” Life at the White House developed its own rhythm, with Trump firing FBI Director James Comey later in May (at Kushner’s suggestion, according to Bannon), then meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (whom I had known for over twenty-five years at that point) and allegedly being less than cautious in discussing classified material, calling Comey a “nutjob,” according to the unbiased New York Times. ) I thought the Trump call had accomplished four things: (1) having the speech announce that the Iran deal was under continuous review and subject to US withdrawal at any time; (2) raising the connection between Iran and North Korea; (3) making it clear the Revolutionary Guard should be designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization; and (4) getting a renewed commitment that I could see him without other approvals. Trump said to me, just as Kelly entered, “Did I ask for this meeting or did you?” I said I had, and he responded, “I thought I had, but I’m glad you came in because I wanted to see you.
CHAPTER 2 CRY “HAVOC!” AND LET SLIP THE DOGS OF WAR
Minutes later, he tweeted again: If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history! These were clear, forceful statements, but Trump tweeted before consulting his national security team. While briefing Trump for a later call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, I stressed that we had the right formula: (1) a proposed three-way attack option with France and Britain, not just a unilateral US strike as in 2017; (2) a comprehensive approach, using political and economic as well as military means, combined with effective messaging to explain what we were doing and why; and (3) a sustained—not just a one-shot—effort. Trump wanted to withdraw most US troops from Syria and persuade Arab states to deploy more of their own forces there, as well as pay for the remaining US presence. With a full NSC meeting (the proper term only when the President chairs the meeting) coming that afternoon, I also told Trump we were essentially being sandbagged by Mattis on the range of target options. The Pentagon’s proposed response to Syria’s chemical-weapons attack was far weaker than it should have been, largely because Mattis had stacked the options presented to Trump in ways that left little real choice. Instead of three choices (light, medium, and heavy), Mattis and Dunford (who didn’t seem to be doing anything Mattis didn’t want, but who also didn’t seem very happy about the whole thing) presented five options. Had Trump insisted on one of the “riskier options,” several more days would have passed, and we were already close to one full week since Syria’s attack. Moreover, Mattis said without qualification that causing Russian casualties would mean we would be at war with Russia, notwithstanding our efforts to avoid such casualties and the Dunford-Gerasimov conversation. It was clear to me, however, that without something from the Arab nations, Trump would almost certainly withdraw the few remaining US forces in Syria, and sooner rather than later. Trump said he was thinking of tweeting that he had planned to attack but had called it off because there were no good targets anymore, although he would keep his “finger on the trigger. Trump then launched into possible Russian actions in retaliation for a Syria strike, such as sinking a US Navy vessel, which Mattis assured him was very unlikely, despite the presence of several Russian warships in the Eastern Mediterranean.
CHAPTER 3 AMERICA BREAKS FREE
Moreover, the US had just imposed substantial sanctions on Russia on April 6, as required by the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act,”2 which Trump detested because Russia was its target. After a difficult, sometimes testy, back-and-forth about the inevitable criticism from the High-Minded a withdrawal decision would cause, Pompeo said he would have State think more thoroughly about what would follow from our exit, something they had adamantly resisted doing thus far. ” Kelly had also told me that, in the course of the Pompeo negotiations, Paul said I was “the worst fucking decision” Trump had made. Looking at me, Trump said China was strictly enforcing sanctions against North Korea because they feared a trade war with us, which was only partially correct: In my view, China was not strictly enforcing sanctions. With the press cleared from the Oval, Trump and Macron spoke alone for much longer than expected, the bulk of which consisted, as Trump told me later, of his explaining to Macron that we were exiting the Iran deal. ”8 (Macron told Trump in a subsequent call that he was eager to rush to find a new deal, which didn’t produce any resonance from Trump. Briefing Netanyahu on his Iran thinking, Trump said that the whole deal was based on lies, Iran had played the United States for fools, and that Israel should feel free to flay the deal publicly, which of course Netanyahu was already busily doing. Trump said he would be making a statement on Iran shortly and asked, in an almost childlike way, if Xi wanted to know what he would say. Macron called and asked what Trump planned to say on Iran, but Trump wanted to be sure Macron would be circumspect. Trump mused that at some point he should meet with Iranian President Rouhani, flattering Macron as the best of the Europeans, and that he should tell Rouhani Trump was right. He said Russia, China, and North Korea were bigger threats, although his reasons were vague, and I was pleased to see Pompeo and Mnuchin both push back, given that Iran was one of the top four threats identified in the National Security Strategy Trump had approved before my arrival.
CHAPTER 4 THE SINGAPORE SLING
A few minutes after Trump made those remarks, the Vice President gave me a high five and said, “He’s got your back!” Trump himself said, “You’re clear, I fixed it!” There were also significant developments on the hostage front, where we were getting increasing indications that North Korea would release three US prisoners if Pompeo personally flew to the North to receive them and return them to America. Meanwhile, Trump was busy tweeting there was no division on his team: Unlike what the Failing and Corrupt New York Times would like people to believe, there is ZERO disagreement within the Trump Administration as to how to deal with North Korea… and if there was, it wouldn’t matter. Pompeo then told me Trump wanted to bring Kim Yong Chol to meet in the Oval Office, which Trump thought was “genius. I could tell from both Pence and Ayers that they were somewhat in shock, and Ayers said Trump wanted “to keep the meeting small”; it would just be Trump, Pompeo, and the interpreter on the US side, and Kim and his interpreter on theirs. Trump and Pompeo emerged from the Oval with Kim Yong Chol and walked him to the driveway where his cars were waiting, and then Trump spoke to the press on his way back to the Oval. Kelly said to me while Trump did a meet-and-greet with the Singapore US embassy staff, “The psychology here is that Trump wants to walk out in order to preempt Kim Jong Un. Trump complained that Kim Jong Un had been meeting with China and Russia to put us at a disadvantage, but he said Singapore would “be a success no matter what,” saying, “We just need to put on more sanctions, including on China for opening up the border. Trump was happy there would be no more war games and said he was glad he had been “overruled” in his previous efforts to cancel them because otherwise, he “wouldn’t have had something to give away!” Trump also said Kim Jong Un “has a vicious streak in him,” and that he could be “mercurial,” remembering an irritated look Kim Jong Un shot at one of his officials during the talks. When I showed Trump Kim Jong Un’s letter and explained our recommendation, however, Trump said immediately, “I should meet with Kim Jong Un. Despite plans for another Pompeo trip to North Korea, at the end of August, just before he was due to depart for Pyongyang, the North Koreans warned that Pompeo would not see Kim Jong Un on this trip, and shouldn’t even bother coming unless he was bringing completely new proposals, including the end-of-war declaration.
CHAPTER 5 A TALE OF THREE CITIES—SUMMITS IN BRUSSELS, LONDON, AND HELSINKI
Coming a month after June’s Singapore encounter with Kim Jong Un were three back-to-back July summits: a long-scheduled NATO meeting in Brussels with our partners in America’s most important alliance; Trump and Theresa May in London, a “special relationship” bilateral; and Trump and Putin in Helsinki, neutral ground to meet with our once and current adversary Russia. On Syria, Putin asked, regarding our desire to see Iranian forces withdraw, who would accomplish that? This was one of those moments where Putin pointed at me and said I should tell Trump directly that the Russians didn’t need Iranians in Syria, and that there was no advantage for Russia in having them there. As we met in the Oval beforehand, Trump said he would tell Stoltenberg the US was going to lower its “contribution” to NATO to Germany’s level and ask him to inform the other members before the July 11–12 summit. Trump conceded that Stoltenberg regularly gave him credit for his efforts to increase NATO spending by the European allies, but argued that the only reason expenditures had increased was because the allies thought Trump would otherwise withdraw the United States from NATO. A few minutes later, Merkel came over to speak with Trump at his seat, suggesting that Stoltenberg convene an informal “roundtable” where everyone would have a chance to react to what Trump had said. How could we defend ourselves from the Russians, Trump wondered, if the allies wouldn’t pay for it? Trump said he liked Hungary and Italy, but it wasn’t fair to the United States that they weren’t paying their allocated share. She stressed to Trump that, in Helsinki, he should go into the meeting from a position of strength, and Trump agreed, claiming that Putin asked for the meeting (the opposite of the truth), and assured her he would not give anything away. In fact, the US interpreter told Fiona Hill and Joe Wang later that Putin had talked for 90 percent of the time (excluding translation); she also said Trump had told her not to take any notes, so she could only debrief us from her unaided memory. Trump also said Putin didn’t seem to care much one way or the other about our leaving the Iran nuclear deal, although he did say Russia would stay in. Trump asked Putin to describe the one-on-one, and Putin said Trump had first raised the election-interference issue, and then said he hoped we could provide a common explanation of the matter (whatever that meant). A US reporter asked Putin why Americans should believe his denials of interference in our 2016 election, and Putin answered, “Where do you get this idea that President Trump trusts me or I trust him? He defends the interests of the United States of America, and I do defend the interests of the Russian Federation… Can you name a single fact that would definitively prove the collusion? This is utter nonsense.
CHAPTER 6 THWARTING RUSSIA
I wanted to launch US withdrawal from the treaty (which would be an important signal to China, among others), or possibly even mutual withdrawal, before my next meeting with Patrushev, in Moscow, in late October. ” None of us believed there was moral equivalence, and notwithstanding Mattis’s point, mutual withdrawal would give Trump something he could announce as a “success” with Russia, perhaps thereby reducing the pressure to make real concessions in other areas. On October 17, before my meeting with Patrushev in Moscow the following week, I briefed Trump on where things stood, including all the interagency work we had done, our preliminary diplomacy with NATO allies and others, and our likely schedule for withdrawal, kicked off on December 4 by Pompeo’s giving Russia notice to resume compliance or else. I explained that once we announced our intention to withdraw, the Russians would likely do the same, accusing us of violating the treaty, which was untrue but which could involve us in a series of recriminatory statements between Moscow and Washington. Instead, I suggested, why didn’t I ask Patrushev that the two countries withdraw mutually; this approach could spare us a lot of grief and allow us to announce an agreement with Russia on something of importance. I then called Pompeo, who said it was “horrific” Trump could make an announcement as significant as withdrawing from the INF just in response to a reporter’s question, a rare occasion of Pompeo’s being explicitly critical of something Trump did. We discussed our respective positions on the INF at length, but what really interested Putin was “What comes next?,” meaning what were we contemplating regarding deployment in Europe? Having made the point earlier that Russia and America were effectively the only two countries bound by the INF, I replied that I thought Putin had said at our last meeting that Russia understood the strategic implications of that fact, meaning China’s large and growing ballistic and hypersonic glide missile capabilities. Why go through the agony of renegotiating New START, adding, for example, reductions or limitations on tactical nuclear weapons, which were of major importance to the US given the large number of such weapons Russia had?5 In response to Putin’s questions, I said we had no intention of withdrawing from New START, but we were also essentially certain not to allow it simply to be extended for five years as Russia was asking (along with almost all Senate Democrats). ” I then pressed him to announce simultaneously the suspension of our treaty obligations because of Russia’s material breach, a concept separate from withdrawal, which would allow us to begin “violating” the treaty even as the 180-day clock was ticking, and Trump agreed. Trump said he didn’t want to look weak to Russia, and Merkel promised she would back us if we gave her sixty days. The Trump Administration had imposed substantial new economic sanctions on Russian citizens and entities in 2017, related to the Crimea annexation, adding to what Obama had done, as well as extending other sanctions; closed the Russian consulates in San Francisco and Seattle; expelled more than sixty Russian intelligence agents (operating in the US as “diplomats”) after Moscow’s attack on the Skripals;20 imposed sanctions for violating the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act, also required by the attack on the Skripals; sanctioned Russia’s Internet Research Agency, an arm of Russia’s cyber-offense machinery; and penalized over three dozen Russian officials for violations of US Syria-related sanctions.
CHAPTER 7 TRUMP HEADS FOR THE DOOR IN SYRIA AND AFGHANISTAN, AND CAN’T FIND IT
What Trump wanted, however, was very limited: when would Brunson be released to return to America, which he thought Erdogan had pledged? Erdogan said only that the Turkish judicial process was continuing, and Brunson was no longer imprisoned, but under house arrest in Izmir, Turkey. Trump allowed the negotiations to continue, but his instinct on Erdogan proved correct: only economic and political pressure would get Brunson released, and here at least Trump had no problem applying it despite Mnuchin’s happy talk. Trump said he was ready to leave Syria if Turkey wanted to handle the rest of ISIS; Turkey could do the rest and we would just get out. Trump said he would ask me (I was listening in to the call, as was customary) to immediately work on a plan for US withdrawal, with Turkey taking over the fight against ISIS. Over the weekend, Trump decided he wanted another call with Erdogan to make two points: first, don’t attack any US troops in Syria, and second, be sure to attack ISIS and not Kurds, both points being correct, but it was a little late to fill them in after his earlier call with Erdogan and the subsequent publicity. 17 So after greetings and opening remarks, Trump said that, first, he wanted Erdogan to get rid of ISIS, and that we would provide assistance if Turkey need it. ” Trump said he had told Erdogan not to attack US forces in Syria, and LaCamera and Caine were explaining what they were currently doing against ISIS when Trump asked, “Can you knock the shit out of them on the way out?” They both responded, “Yes, sir,” and Trump said, “That is my order; take it out from here. The US would continue to provide air cover and search-and-rescue capabilities for the international force, which Dunford and I believed would also allow us to keep control of the airspace over northeastern Syria. Did Mattis in particular want a flat-out Trump decision to withdraw, so Mattis could then resign on a matter of principle? Or was this an institutional Pentagon effort to have Trump be squarely responsible, not US failings during the course of the war, and especially not the collapse of the beloved counterinsurgency strategy that had failed in both Afghanistan and Iraq? Pompeo agreed with me that the briefing should have been held later in November, but we couldn’t stop it. ” Then Trump raised the first combat use of the MOAB (“Massive Ordnance Air Blast”), “without your knowledge,” said Trump to Mattis,30 complaining for the umpteenth time that the MOAB had not had its intended effect. 32 At my regular breakfast with Mattis and Pompeo, this one on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, I suggested we seek to answer three questions: Would the Afghan government collapse after we left, and, if so, how fast? How fast and in what ways would ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups react to withdrawal? And how fast could the various terrorist groups mount attacks on the United States? We scheduled another Oval Office meeting for Monday, and Mattis had barely begun before Trump was all over him.
CHAPTER 8 CHAOS AS A WAY OF LIFE
Kelly said that by mid to late July he thought he had gotten Trump off the idea of taking away people’s clearances, but Trump returned to it because his favorite media sources kept pounding away on it. Kelly opened the weekly White House staff meeting on August 27 by saying, “I’m in a bad place today,” because of ongoing disagreements with Trump over whether to fly US government flags at half-mast and who would attend which services. “What about Bolton?” Trump asked, “Could he take it over?” Kushner said he doubted I would be interested, but Trump replied, “John’s great. Can you ask him if he’d do it?” Kushner said whomever Trump selected would be in a fight with Kelly, and Trump replied, “John’s not afraid of fights. We needed to find a way out of this train wreck before Trump blamed us for the collapse of his border policy! According to Kushner, however, this latest encounter with Nielsen convinced Trump I should have control of the issue. “How else are we going to stop the caravans?” “Kirstjen Nielsen is working on this,” said Kelly, still loudly, and Trump shot back, “None of you other geniuses have been able to stop the caravans,” at which point Kelly stomped out of the Oval, Trump waving his hand dismissively at Kelly’s back as he left. (In a December conversation with Trump as he decided on Kelly’s successor, Trump acknowledged that this exchange with Kelly was the “shouting match” about which the press had spilled so many electrons. ” Personnel management issues, also critical to policy development, portended a series of dramatic changes following the November 2018 congressional elections. ” One story I was sure the media hadn’t heard from Mattis was one told by Trump on May 25, as Marine One flew back to the White House from Annapolis after Trump’s graduation speech to the Naval Academy. In an October 2019 interview, in the midst of the Ukraine impeachment crisis, Kelly said he had told Trump, “Whatever you do—and we were still in the process of trying to find someone to take my place—I said whatever you do, don’t hire a ‘yes man,’ someone who won’t tell you the truth—don’t do that. ”7 Trump flatly denied Kelly had made such a statement: “John Kelly never said that, he never said anything like that.
CHAPTER 9 VENEZUELA LIBRE
Under the vacancy clause of Hugo Chavez’s own Constitution, Guaidó said he would become Interim President on January 23, which was the anniversary of the 1958 military coup that overthrew the Marcos Perez Jimenez dictatorship, and oust Maduro to prepare new elections. ” I walked Trump back off the ledge, explaining that the military was still in its barracks, which was very significant, and that senior military figures had been talking to the Opposition for two days about what would be in it for them if they came over to the Opposition or retired. Trump then assured Guaidó he’d pull off Maduro’s overthrow, and offered as an aside that he was sure Guaidó would remember in the future what had happened, which was Trump’s way of referring to his interest in Venezuela’s oil fields. A drumbeat of diplomatic recognitions of Guaidó was picking up and we hoped it would demonstrate even to Maduro loyalists that his days were numbered, and also provide insurance against arrest for Guaidó and other Opposition leaders. 30 There were also hopes that key military officials would not follow orders to close the borders, but that, even if they did, Maduro would be placed in the impossible position of denying humanitarian supplies to his impoverished citizens. Trump asked the Colombians if he should have talked to Maduro six months earlier, and Duque said unequivocally it would have been a big victory for Maduro, implying it would be an even bigger mistake to talk to him now. It could swing from one extreme to another: things could go well, with the border effectively opened, which would be a direct challenge to Maduro’s authority, or there could be violence and bloodshed at the crossing points, potentially with Guaidó arrested or worse. Such actions would likely get little public attention but would be powerful messages to regime officials that we were prepared to ease their paths either out of Venezuela entirely or into the arms of the Opposition as co-conspirators rather than prisoners. 52 If Venezuela’s top court, packed by Maduro cronies and hacks, and led by one of his nominally strongest supporters, delegitimized Maduro’s sham legislature, it would dramatically undercut Maduro across the board in Venezuela. 55 Talks with several senior Venezuelan military leaders, including Defense Minister Padrino, were becoming increasingly operational: not about whether Maduro would be ousted but about how it would happen. I understood the tentative sequence was that the supreme court would declare the Constituent Assembly illegal; Maduro would then resign; the military would recognize Guaidó as Interim President; the National Assembly would be recognized as Venezuela’s only legitimate legislature; and the supreme court would remain in place.
CHAPTER 10 THUNDER OUT OF CHINA
By the time I joined the White House, trade discussions of all sorts with China had been under way for some time. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done! When had we started to worry about jobs in China? On Monday, I heard Navarro was trying to get a miscellaneous group of people into the Oval to tell Trump what a bad idea backtracking on ZTE was. ” That didn’t necessarily mean the United States Trade Representative would resume its traditional role as primary negotiator, because Trump also lashed out at Lighthizer: “You haven’t made one deal yet!” What did process matter anyway when Trump tweeted on his own, as he did on May 14: ZTE, the large Chinese phone company, buys a big percentage of individual parts from U. On the other hand, Trump came increasingly to view China as trying to influence the 2018 congressional elections against Republicans, and more important (to him), as working for his defeat in 2020. Toward the end of the trade issue, Trump proposed that for the remaining $350 billion of trade imbalances (by Trump’s arithmetic), the US would not impose tariffs, but he again returned to importuning Xi and China to buy as many American farm products as they could. ” Lighthizer for some reason worried that our trade war with China was hurting Europe, which only added fuel to the fire, provoking the familiar Trump refrain, “The EU is worse than China, only smaller,” as he decided to impose the next round of tariffs on Beijing, via Twitter, of course: Our representatives have just returned from China where they had constructive talks having to do with a future Trade Deal. Additionally, my friend President Xi said that he would stop the sale of Fentanyl to the United States—this never happened, and many Americans continue to die! Trade talks are continuing, and… …during the talks the U. This does not include the 250 Billion Dollars already Tariffed at 25%… …We look forward to continuing our positive dialogue with China on a comprehensive Trade Deal, and feel that the future between our two countries will be a very bright one! This was a huge decision, causing great angst in Trump’s economic team, which was pretty much where things stood when I resigned on September 10. Former Vice President Dan Quayle told me as far back as October 2018, after a trip to Hong Kong, that China had become increasingly aggressive, kidnapping from Hong Kong businessmen who had somehow crossed Beijing, many of whom were simply never heard from again. ” On August 13, after our discussion on F-16 sales to Taiwan (see below), Trump tweeted again: I know President Xi of China very well. Trump was particularly dyspeptic about Taiwan, having listened to Wall Street financiers who had gotten rich off mainland China investments.
CHAPTER 11 CHECKING INTO THE HANOI HILTON, THEN CHECKING OUT, AND THE PANMUNJOM PLAYTIME
Nonetheless, he saw no real Trump commitments, and at the end, Trump said he couldn’t lift sanctions until North Korea denuclearized, or he would look like a fool, which was true, and it was good Trump still remembered it. ” After Hanoi, we learned from press sources such as South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo that Kim Yong Chol had endured forced labor, although he was later rehabilitated; that Kim Hyok Chol, Biegun’s counterpart, had been executed, along with several others; that, in penance, Kim Jong Un’s sister had receded from public view for a time; and that Shin Hye Yong, Kim’s interpreter, was in a political prison camp for making an interpretation mistake. Trump pressed again, wondering what would happen if we had to fight North Korea, and whether South Korea would accept Japanese participation. Unfortunately, North Korea continued testing missiles, not the ICBMs Kim had promised Trump he would not test, but short- and medium-range missiles that threatened much of South Korea and Japan. As Moon rambled on about Kim Jong Un’s dissatisfaction with the joint US–South Korea military exercises, Trump observed that Moon seemed to have lost his relationship with Kim, who was now not traveling to South Korea as once envisaged. 14 Trump answered by saying that he would surprise Moon by giving his complete blessing to releasing the aid through the UN agencies, and asked Moon to let North Korea know that he had suggested it to him. , Abe and Trump had a joint press conference, with Trump saying again he was not worried by North Korea’s missile launches and Abe saying publicly, with Trump standing beside him, that he believed they had violated Security Council resolutions. The press just loved the split, but more important, it showed to North Korea that despite the efforts under way all day to show the solidarity of the US-Japan alliance, it was clear Abe and Trump had different views on North Korea. Trump said that in his bilateral meeting, he would stress the aid that the South was providing, and would tell Moon everything that happened between him and Kim. Moreover, high on Trump’s priority list for a successful North Korea nuclear deal was his insistence that Japan and South Korea pay a big part of the economic costs; Trump wasn’t giving the North any “foreign aid,” only the prospect of large, profitable private investment. Taking advantage of US election-year politics, will he try to entice Trump into a bad deal, the kind of approach that led Trump’s predecessors into major mistakes? Or will he conclude that no deal with Trump is possible and that he would be better served waiting to see whether a pliant Democrat with even less foreign-policy experience than Trump emerges as President? Whatever the answer, North Korea’s trajectory toward being a fully capable nuclear-weapons state will continue.
CHAPTER 12 TRUMP LOSES HIS WAY, AND THEN HIS NERVE
Pompeo briefed Trump on his recent visit to Iraq, which inevitably kick-started Trump into enumerating the Bush 43 Administration’s errors: “Worst President we ever had,” said Trump. ) After the Lincoln reverie, Trump moved to a short-form version of the soliloquy on John Kerry and the Logan Act: “The Iranians aren’t talking only because of John Kerry,” he mused, but Shanahan, seeing how successful Haspel had been by just ignoring Trump and interrupting, resumed talking about more boring things like risk, cost, and timing regarding the various options we might consider, including the use of force. They said publicly they knew Trump wanted to talk but was being frustrated by advisors like me, or that Trump wanted peace but his advisors wanted war. Although Trump hadn’t told me at the time, he had asked Abe to get involved between Iran and the US, and Abe had taken the request seriously. Would we be ready to alleviate the sanctions? And what would we want from Iran? Reducing its military activities in Syria and Yemen? After explaining again the effects on Iran of America’s reimposition of sanctions, Trump went after Kerry for violating the Logan Act and convincing Iran not to negotiate. government that Iran is responsible for today’s attacks in the Gulf of Oman…” On Friday morning, Abe gave Trump a personal readout of his trip, saying that he had seen no willingness from either Rouhani or Khamenei to have a dialogue with the United States as long as the economic sanctions remained in place. ” There were three significant aspects about the decision just reached: (1) we were hitting functioning military targets, as explained above, not merely symbolic ones; (2) we were hitting inside Iran, crossing an Iranian red line, and were certainly going to test their repeated assertions that such an attack would be met by a full-scale response; and (3) we were hitting targets likely entailing casualties, which question we had confronted, Trump having heard that the attacks he had ordered meant dead Iranians (and, possibly, dead Russians). Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD I suppose I really thought, “If he wants to put something out that foolish, who am I to object?” I believed Trump would own it so totally after those tweets that perhaps people would understand how idiosyncratic the whole thing had been. As for the two remaining sites, Dunford said they assessed that it would be fifty people per site “max” and tried to explain to Trump why, in the middle of the night Iran time, the numbers at the site were likely to be far smaller. After a Trump discourse on Kerry and the Logan Act, Macron asked directly what Trump would be willing to give up, thereby precisely demonstrating his mentality to make concessions to Iran without getting anything in return. Although Trump first ducked, they did discuss before the call ended the idea of a significant reduction in the oil and financial sanctions against Iran for a brief period, and Trump seemed to be clearly leaning in that direction.
CHAPTER 13 FROM THE AFGHANISTAN COUNTERTERRORISM MISSION TO THE CAMP DAVID NEAR MISS
Curiously, Pompeo had John Sullivan attend in his stead; perhaps he didn’t want to reveal what the actual state of play in diplomacy with the Taliban was before the Trump briefing, which would be consistent with his practice of sharing as little about the negotiations as he could. Within thirty minutes of the breakfast, I called Trump and said it was his decision whether to let Khalilzad and the State Department act with complete independence in the negotiations, but I thought it was dangerous for what Trump said he wanted. Specifically, while his instructions from Trump (or Pompeo, whomever) at that time were to get US forces to zero, he also had instructions from Trump to support counterterrorism capabilities consistent with what had been previously briefed to Trump in the Tank, essentially without an end date. Completely predictably, Trump asked, “Who pays them?” Esper, new to this movie script, promptly responded, “We do,” thereby launching Trump into the riff about how Mattis always said, “These soldiers are fighting bravely for their country,” until Trump asked who paid for them, and found out the total cost (including equipment and other supplies) was about $6. Pompeo tried to keep the whole thing between himself, Khalilzad, and Trump (although, as the meeting started, Trump said it had been a long time since he had seen Khalilzad). Why, I asked, given that we all knew the political risks on this deal were from most Republicans, let alone Democrats, didn’t Pompeo want allies? If he wanted all the credit for it, I could understand that, but there would be precious little “credit” when the agreement collapsed, which even Pompeo told me he thought was inevitable. We could repeat the phrase “conditions based” all we wanted, but in reality, this agreement would be regarded as pulling up stakes and getting out (which Trump probably would have preferred, even though none of the rest of us did), with all the attendant chaos that would likely follow. As to whether the military could live without the “protection” of a deal, Pompeo said he thought the US commander would prefer a deal but could live with it either way. “Hey, John,” Trump said to the screen in the Sit Room, “what do you think?” My instinct was that this meeting could stop the pending deal dead in its tracks while the Taliban and the Afghan government wrestled with its implications, or at least delay it for a significant-enough period because of the time it would take for the Afghan parties to figure out their positions. Pence asked, “Would you meet with Ghani first?” “Only if Ghani knows I’m also going to sit down with the Taliban later,” said Trump. Pompeo and I spoke after he was back at the State Department to see if his understanding was the same as mine, that not only the Taliban but also the Ghani meeting was canceled, and he agreed that’s what he’d heard Trump say.
CHAPTER 14 THE END OF THE IDYLL
Pompeo wanted a conference call with her and me to get everyone on the same page, but before the call could be arranged, Trump called Pompeo to say Haley’s talking points were fine and that he didn’t want to be hammered in the press for being too soft. Trump said he thought it would be terrible to meet with Putin in these circumstances, and that the press would only talk about the Ukraine issue. Trump called again to say he would do the bilateral if Putin would announce, when it ended, that he was releasing the ships and crews, thus in effect giving Trump credit for springing them. I said I would speak to Trump and see whether there would still be a bilateral meeting. The Russians didn’t put anything about the meeting in their press, and Trump related to me the next morning he had essentially told Putin he didn’t see how the two of them could meet at any length until the Kerch Strait incident was resolved and the ships and crews returned to Ukraine, which didn’t seem likely for some time. I briefed Trump in advance of the call that Zelensky might invite him to his inauguration (the date for which had not yet been officially set), and Trump said he would send Pence instead. ” Zelensky did invite Trump to his inaugural, and Trump responded he would “look at the date” and said, “We’ll get you a great representative for the United States on the great day. ” Zelensky then invited Trump to Ukraine, noting both would be in Warsaw on September 1 for the eightieth anniversary of Germany’s invasion of Poland, launching World War II, suggesting Trump could then come to Kiev, which Trump politely discouraged. With time drawing short, I suggested to Pompeo and Esper that I again see how Trump was leaning, and the three of us then coordinate our schedules to talk to Trump together, with which they agreed. ” Pence also pressed Trump to meet Zelensky at the UN General Assembly and said that “just between us girls,” he thought Trump was looking for a news peg to make what we hoped was the right decision. In light of the subsequent controversy, I should note that on Tuesday, Kupperman told me that Dan Walsh, one of Mulvaney’s deputies, had called him late Monday, returning with Trump on Air Force One from a North Carolina political rally Trump had departed for right after speaking with me.
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