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Here is a HYPOTHETICAL EXAMPLE of a marketing plan for tZERO Group, Inc. to white label power NFT Marketplaces for customers wishing to offer NFT Securities which are regulatory-compliant for their customers.

2023.06.04 21:52 HawkEye1000x Here is a HYPOTHETICAL EXAMPLE of a marketing plan for tZERO Group, Inc. to white label power NFT Marketplaces for customers wishing to offer NFT Securities which are regulatory-compliant for their customers.

HYPOTHETICAL EXAMPLE of a marketing plan for tZERO Group, Inc. to white label power NFT Marketplaces for customers wishing to offer NFT Securities which are regulatory-compliant for their customers:
👀👇
Marketing Plan for tZERO Group, Inc. (HYPOTHETICAL EXAMPLE):
Objective: Establish tZERO as the leading provider of regulatory-compliant white-label NFT marketplace solutions for customers offering NFT Securities.
Target Market:
Branding and Messaging:
Regulatory Expertise:
Educational Content:
Digital Marketing:
Industry Partnerships:
Thought Leadership:
Customer Support and Training:
Case Studies and Success Stories:
Metrics and Monitoring:
By executing this marketing plan, tZERO can position itself as the go-to provider for customers seeking regulatory-compliant white-label NFT marketplace solutions. By showcasing expertise in compliance and providing educational resources, tZERO can attract clients who prioritize regulatory adherence in their NFT Securities offerings.

Full Disclosure: Nobody has paid me to write this HYPOTHETICAL EXAMPLE of a marketing plan for tZERO Group, Inc. which includes my own independent research and inputs using artificial intelligence (AI), forward estimates, projections and/or opinions. I am a Long Investor owning 13,108 of $TZROP — tZERO’s Preferred Equity 10% of Adjusted Gross Revenues (Gross Profits) Quarterly Dividend (Subject to Approval by tZERO’s Board of Directors) Digital Security. This message is for information purposes only and should not be construed as financial, investment and/or tax advice and/or a recommendation to buy or sell $TZROP either expressed or implied. Do your own independent due diligence research before buying or selling $TZROP or any other investment.
submitted by HawkEye1000x to tZEROFreeMarketForces [link] [comments]


2023.06.04 21:29 HotEntranceTrain The Future of AI Trading

AI is transforming the trading and investing world. AI refers to the use of artificial intelligence, predictive analytics and machine learning to analyze historical market and stock data, get investment ideas, build portfolios and automatically buy and sell stocks. AI trading offers hedge funds, investment firms and stock investors a number of advantages, such as:
AI trading is not a single concept, but rather a range of different types and applications. Some of the key trends and developments in AI trading and investing are:
AI trading technology is revolutionizing the way investors trade, providing them with unparalleled access to market insights and decision-making tools. However, AI trading also comes with some challenges and limitations, such as:
AI trading technology is providing investors with an advantage in the competitive and complex trading landscape. However, AI trading is not a magic bullet that guarantees success. Investors still need to have a clear understanding of their goals, risk appetite, time horizon, budget and preferences. They also need to keep abreast of the latest trends and developments in AI technology, as well as the market dynamics and regulations. AI trading is a powerful tool that can augment human intelligence, but not replace it.
submitted by HotEntranceTrain to AItradingOpportunity [link] [comments]


2023.06.04 20:59 Joadzilla What will stop AI from flooding the internet with fake images?

Google, Adobe, Microsoft, and other tech companies are trying new ways to label content made by AI.
https://www.vox.com/technology/23746060/ai-generative-fake-images-photoshop-google-microsoft-adobe
On May 22, a fake photo of an explosion at the Pentagon caused chaos online.
Within a matter of minutes of being posted, the realistic-looking image spread on Twitter and other social media networks after being retweeted by some popular accounts. Reporters asked government officials all the way up to the White House press office what was going on.
The photo was quickly determined to be a hoax, likely generated by AI. But in the short amount of time it circulated, the fake image had a real impact and even briefly moved financial markets.
This isn’t an entirely new problem. Online misinformation has existed since the dawn of the internet, and crudely photoshopped images fooled people long before generative AI became mainstream. But recently, tools like ChatGPT, DALL-E, Midjourney, and even new AI feature updates to Photoshop have supercharged the issue by making it easier and cheaper to create hyperrealistic fake images, video, and text, at scale. Experts say we can expect to see more fake images like the Pentagon one, especially when they can cause political disruption.
One report by Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, predicted that as much as 90 percent of content on the internet could be created or edited by AI by 2026. Already, spammy news sites seemingly generated entirely by AI are popping up. The anti-misinformation platform NewsGuard started tracking such sites and found nearly three times as many as they did a few weeks prior.
“We already saw what happened in 2016 when we had the first election with a flooding of disinformation,” said Joshua Tucker, a professor and co-director of NYU’s Center for Social Media and Politics. “Now we’re going to see the other end of this equation.”
So what, if anything, should the tech companies that are rapidly developing AI be doing to prevent their tools from being used to bombard the internet with hyperrealistic misinformation?
One novel approach — that some experts say could actually work — is to use metadata, watermarks, and other technical systems to distinguish fake from real. Companies like Google, Adobe, and Microsoft are all supporting some form of labeling of AI in their products. Google, for example, said at its recent I/O conference that, in the coming months, it will attach a written disclosure, similar to a copyright notice, underneath AI-generated results on Google Images. OpenAI’s popular image generation technology DALL-E already adds a colorful stripe watermark to the bottom of all images it creates.
“We all have a fundamental right to establish a common objective reality,” said Andy Parsons, senior director of Adobe’s content authenticity initiative group. “And that starts with knowing what something is and, in cases where it makes sense, who made it or where it came from.”
In order to reduce confusion between fake and real images, the content authenticity initiative group developed a tool Adobe is now using called content credentials that tracks when images are edited by AI. The company describes it as a nutrition label: information for digital content that stays with the file wherever it’s published or stored. For example, Photoshop’s latest feature, Generative Fill, uses AI to quickly create new content in an existing image, and content credentials can keep track of those changes.
AI-labeling tools like Adobe’s are still in their early stages, and by no means should they be considered a silver bullet to the problem of misinformation. It’s technically possible to manipulate a watermark or metadata. Plus, not every AI generation system will want to disclose that it’s made that way. And as we’ve learned with the rise of online conspiracy theories in recent years, people will often ignore facts in favor of believing falsehoods that confirm their personal beliefs. But if implemented well — and especially if these labels are seen as more neutral than traditional social media fact-checking — AI disclosures could be one of our only hopes for navigating the increasingly blurry distinction between fake and real media online.
Here is how some of these early AI markup systems could work, what the limitations are, and what users can do to navigate our confusing post-truth internet reality in the meantime.
The devil is in the metadata
When you look at an image on social media or a search engine today, odds are you don’t know where the photo came from — let alone if it was created by AI. But underneath the hood, there’s often a form of metadata, or information associated with the digital image file, that tells you basic details, like when and where the photo was taken. Some tech companies are now starting to add specific metadata about AI to their products at the moment of creation, and they’re making that information more public in an effort to help users determine the authenticity of what they’re looking at.
Google recently said it will start marking up images made by its own new AI systems in the original image files. And when you see an image in Google Search that’s made by Google’s AI systems, it will say something like “AI-generated with Google” underneath the image. Going a step further, the company announced it’s partnering with publishers like Midjourney and stock photography site Shutterstock to let them self-tag their images as AI-generated in Google Search. This way, if you come across a Midjourney image in Google Search, it will say something like “Image self-labeled as AI-generated.”
Google Search public liaison Danny Sullivan said that this kind of AI labeling is part of a broader effort to give people more context about images they’re seeing.
”If we can show you a helpful label, we’re going to want to do that,” said Sullivan, “but we’re also going to want to try to give you background information that we can determine independent of the label.”
That’s why Google is also adding an “About this image” feature next to image search results — whether they are AI labeled or not — that you can click and see when the image was first indexed by Google, where it may have first appeared, and where else it’s been seen online. The idea is, if you searched for, say, “Pentagon explosion” and saw a bunch of images in the results, you would be able to see a fact-checked news article debunking the piece.
“These tools are really designed to help people understand information literacy more and bake it into the search product itself,” said Sullivan.
Other major industry players have also been working on the issue of how to label AI-generated content. In 2021, a group of major companies including Microsoft, Adobe, the BBC, and Intel created a coalition called the C2PA. The group is tasked with helping to create an interoperable open standard for companies to share the provenance, or history of ownership, of a piece of media. C2PA created its first open standard last January, and since then, Adobe and Microsoft have released features using that standard.
For example, if you’re a photographer at a news outlet, you can mark when a specific picture was taken, who took it, and have that be digitally signed by your publisher. Later, your editor could make changes to the photo, signing it again with a seal of authenticity that it’s been verified by the C2PA standard. This way, you know that the photo was taken by a person — not generated by AI— and know who has made edits to it and when. The system uses cryptography to preserve the privacy of sensitive information.
“Now you can read the entire lineage of the history of a piece of digital content,” said Mounir Ibrahim, EVP of public affairs and impact at Truepic, a visual authenticity app that is a member of C2PA. “The purpose of us is to help content consumers ... decipher the difference between synthetic and authentic.”
Knowing the history and provenance of an image could potentially help users verify the legitimacy of anything from a headshot on a dating app to a breaking news photo. But for this to work, companies need to adopt the standard.
Right now, it’s up to companies to adopt the C2PA standard and label verified content as they wish. The organization is also discussing potentially standardizing the look of the C2PA content credential when it shows up on images, Ibrahim said. In the future, the C2PA credential could be similar to the little padlock icon next to the URL in your browser window that signifies your connection is secure. When you see the proposed C2PA icon, you would know that the image you’re seeing has had its origins verified.
So far, two big C2PA members, Adobe and Microsoft, have announced tools that integrate C2PA standards into their products to mark up AI-generated content. Microsoft is labeling all AI-generated content in Bing Image Generator and Microsoft Designer, and Adobe is using C2PA standards in its new AI Firefly product’s content credentials.
“The biggest challenge is we need more platforms to adopt this,” said Ibrahim.
While the C2PA-style metadata labels work behind the scenes, another approach is for AI systems to add visible watermarks, as OpenAI has done with the rainbow bar at the bottom of DALL-E images. The company says it’s also working on a version of watermarking for its text app, ChatGPT. The challenge with watermarks, though, is that they can be removed. A quick Google search turns up forms of people discussing how to circumvent the imprint.
Another imperfect option is technology that can detect AI-generated content after the fact. In January, OpenAI released a tool that lets you cross-check a block of text to determine whether it’s likely written by AI. The problem, though, is that by OpenAI’s own assessment, the tool is not fully reliable. It correctly identified only 26 percent of AI-written texts in OpenAI’s evaluations, although it’s notably more accurate with longer than shorter text.
“We don’t want any of our models to be used for misleading purposes anywhere,” said a spokesperson for OpenAI in a statement. “Our usage policies also require automated systems, including conversational AI and chatbots, to disclose to users that they are interacting with our models.”
At the end of the day, even if these early AI flagging and identification systems are flawed, they’re a first step.
What comes next
It’s still early days for tech platforms trying to automate the identification of AI-generated content. Until they identify a dependable solution, however, fact-checkers are left manually filling in the gaps, debunking images like the Pope in a puffy jacket or fake audio of politicians.
Sam Gregory, executive director of human rights and civic journalism network Witness, who works with fact-checkers largely outside of the US, said that while he thinks technical solutions to AI identification like watermarking are promising, many fact-checkers are worried about the onslaught of misinformation that could come their way with AI in the meantime. Already, many professional fact-checkers are dealing with far more content to check than humanly possible.
“Is an individual going to be blamed because they couldn’t identify an AI-generated image? Or is a fact-checker going to be the one to take the strain because they’re overwhelmed by this volume?” said Gregory. The responsibility to address AI misinformation “needs to lie on the people who are designing these tools, building these models, and distributing them,” he added.
In many cases, Gregory says, it’s unclear exactly what social media platforms’ rules are about allowing AI-generated content.
TikTok has one of the more updated policies around “synthetic media,” or media that is created or manipulated by AI. The policy, which was revised in March 2023, allows synthetic media but requires that, if it shows realistic scenes, the image must be clearly disclosed with a caption, sticker, or otherwise. The company also doesn’t allow synthetic media that contains the likeness of any private figure or anyone under 18. TikTok says it worked with outside partners like the industry nonprofit Partnership on AI for feedback on adhering to a framework for responsible AI practices.
“While we are excited by the creative opportunities that AI opens up for creators, we are also firmly committed to developing guardrails, such as policies, for its safe and transparent use,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement. “Like most of our industry, we continue to work with experts, monitor the progression of this technology, and evolve our approach.”
But many other platforms have policies that might need some updating. Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, and YouTube both have general rules against manipulated media that misleads users, but those could be clarified regarding what uses are acceptable or not, according to Gregory. Meta’s fact-checking policies state that manipulated media containing misinformation is eligible for fact-checking by its third-party partners, as it did with the fake Pentagon AI explosion claims.
“AI is bigger than any single person, company, or country, and requires cooperation between all relevant stakeholders,” Meta said in a statement. “We are actively monitoring new trends and working to be purposeful and evidence-based in our approach to AI-generated content.”
Technological solutions to help people fact-check content themselves, like AI detection systems and watermarks, couldn’t come sooner.
But NYU’s Tucker says we need to test these solutions to see whether they’re effective in changing people’s minds when they encounter misleading AI content, and what the disclosures need to look to be impactful. For example, if the disclosures that an image or video is AI-generated are too subtle, people could miss it entirely. And sometimes, labels don’t work as expected. For example, Tucker co-authored a study last year showing that high- or low-quality news credibility labels had limited effects on people’s news consumption habits and failed to change people’s perceptions.
Still, there’s hope that if AI disclosures are seen not as politicized fact-checks but as neutral context about the origins of an image, they could be more effective. To know whether these labels are resonating with people and changing their minds will require more research.
There is an urgency to figure out these problems as AI-generated content floods the internet. In the past, tech companies had time to debate the hypothetical risks of AI misinformation because mainstream generative AI products weren’t yet out in the wild. But those threats are now very real.
These new tools that label AI-generated content, while far from perfect, could help mitigate some of that risk. Let’s hope tech companies move forward with the necessary speed to fix problems that come with AI as quickly as they’re being created.
submitted by Joadzilla to gamefaqs261 [link] [comments]


2023.06.04 13:39 GaryGiesel 50-odd Falsehoods about F1

Gave myself a little challenge to come up with a bit of a list of some of the common misconceptions that people have about F1, and I managed to pretty quickly come up with 50… The tone is very firmly tongue-in-cheek (and some of the falsehoods aren’t 100% false…) but hopefully there’s something in here that will make people think a bit.
submitted by GaryGiesel to F1Technical [link] [comments]


2023.06.04 13:31 boredLeopard4587 Best Massage Chair Reddit in 2023: A Comprehensive Guide

If you are looking for the best massage chair Reddit in 2023, you might be wondering how to choose the right one for your needs and preferences. There are many factors to consider when buying a massage chair, such as your budget, space, health conditions, and personal taste. You also want to find a massage chair that has good reviews and feedback from Reddit users who have tried it.

In this guide, we will help you find the best massage chair Reddit in 2023 by giving you some tips on how to choose a massage chair and recommending some of the top-rated massage chairs that have received positive feedback from Reddit users. We will also answer some of the most frequently asked questions about massage chairs and provide you with some resources to learn more about them.

How to Choose a Massage Chair

When choosing a massage chair, you need to consider four main factors: your budget, space, health conditions, and personal taste. Here are some tips on how to evaluate these factors and find the best massage chair for you.

Budget

Your budget is one of the most important factors to consider when buying a massage chair. Massage chairs can vary widely in price, from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the quality, functionality, and design. You need to decide how much you are willing to spend on a massage chair and what features are essential for you.

Generally speaking, the more expensive a massage chair is, the more advanced and comprehensive its massage functions are. For example, some high-end massage chairs can offer full-body massage, zero-gravity recline, air compression, heat therapy, music synchronization, and voice control. However, these features may not be necessary for everyone and may not fit your budget.

If you are looking for a more affordable option, you can still find some good massage chairs that can provide basic massage functions such as kneading, tapping, rolling, and vibration. You can also look for discounts, coupons, or refurbished models to save some money.

Space

Another factor you need to consider when buying a massage chair is the space you have in your home or office. Massage chairs can take up a lot of space and may not fit in small rooms or tight corners. You need to measure the dimensions of the area where you want to place your massage chair and compare it with the dimensions of the massage chair you are interested in.

You also need to consider the clearance space around the massage chair for reclining and moving. Some massage chairs can recline up to 180 degrees or slide forward to save space. You need to make sure there is enough room for these functions without blocking any doors, windows, or furniture.

If you have limited space or want to move your massage chair around easily, you can opt for a portable or foldable massage chair. These types of massage chairs are usually lighter and smaller than regular massage chairs and can be stored away when not in use.

Health Conditions

The third factor you need to consider when buying a massage chair is your health conditions. Massage chairs can offer various benefits for your physical and mental health such as relieving stress, pain, tension, fatigue, improving blood circulation, posture, flexibility, mood, and sleep quality. However, some massage chairs may not be suitable for certain health conditions or may require medical consultation before use.

For example, if you have any injuries, inflammation, infections, fractures, or wounds on your body, you should avoid using a massage chair or consult your doctor first. If you have any cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure or heart disease, you should also be careful with using a massage chair or seek medical advice first. If you are pregnant or have any other medical conditions that may affect your sensitivity or response to massage therapy, you should also check with your doctor before using a massage chair.

You should also pay attention to the intensity and duration of the massage sessions. Some massage chairs can offer adjustable levels of intensity and speed for different parts of your body. You should choose the level that is comfortable and safe for you and avoid overdoing it. You should also limit your massage sessions to no more than 15 to 30 minutes per day or as recommended by your doctor.

Personal Taste

The last factor you need to consider when buying a massage chair is your personal taste. Massage chairs can come in different styles, colors,
materials
and designs that can match your personality and preferences. You should choose a massage chair that appeals to you aesthetically and functionally.

Some people may prefer a more traditional or classic look for their massage chair while others may like a more modern or futuristic look. Some people may prefer a more soft or plush feel for their massage chair while others may like a more firm or sturdy feel. Some people may prefer a more simple or minimalist design for their massage chair while others may like a more complex or sophisticated design.

You should also consider the user-friendliness and convenience of the massage chair. Some massage chairs can offer easy-to-use controls such as remote controls, touch screens, or voice commands. Some massage chairs can also offer smart features such as Bluetooth connectivity, USB ports, speakers, or memory functions. You should choose a massage chair that is easy to operate and customize according to your needs and preferences.

Best Massage Chair Reddit in 2023: Recommendations

Now that you know how to choose a massage chair, here are some of the best massage chairs Reddit in 2023 that we recommend based on our research and experience. We have selected these massage chairs based on their features, quality, performance, reviews, and feedback from Reddit users who have tried them.

Osaki OS-4000T Zero Gravity Massage Chair

This massage chair is one of the most popular and best-selling massage chairs on the market. It offers a full-body massage with zero-gravity recline, air compression, heat therapy, and six pre-programmed modes. It also has a user-friendly remote control, a built-in speaker, and a timer function. It is available in four colors: black, brown, charcoal, and cream.

Reddit users who have tried this massage chair have praised its comfort, quality, and functionality. They have also reported that it helps with pain relief, relaxation, and stress reduction. Some of the drawbacks that they have mentioned are its weight, size, and noise level.

This massage chair is suitable for people who are looking for a comprehensive and advanced massage chair with zero-gravity recline and heat therapy. It is also suitable for people who have moderate to high budgets and enough space in their homes or offices.

Snailax shiatsu Neck & Back Massager

This massage chair is another great option for a full-body massage with zero-gravity recline, air compression, heat therapy, and four pre-programmed modes. It also has a computerized body scan, a three-stage foot massage, and a spinal decompression feature. It is available in two colors: charcoal and chocolate.

Reddit users who have tried this massage chair have complimented its comfort, quality, and performance. They have also reported that it helps with pain relief, relaxation, and blood circulation. Some of the drawbacks that they have mentioned are its weight, size, and customer service.

This massage chair is suitable for people who are looking for a full-body massage chair with zero-gravity recline and heat therapy. It is also suitable for people who have moderate to high budgets and enough space in their homes or offices.

Human Touch WholeBody 7.1

This portable and foldable massage chair is a great option for those who are looking for a relaxing massage without breaking the bank. It features a variety of massage modes, including shiatsu, kneading, tapping, and rolling, as well as heat therapy. The chair is also adjustable to fit different body types and can be used on any chair, sofa, bed, or car seat.
submitted by boredLeopard4587 to AskConsumerAdvice [link] [comments]


2023.06.03 20:05 Rand0mness4 Trails of Our Hatred Ch. 5

Special thanks to u/SpacePaladin15 for allowing fanfiction and giving us Tilfish.
[First] [Prior] [Next]
.*~*.
Memory Transcription Subject: ? , run run run run run run.
Date: December 2, 2136
.~*~.
I'm tired. I'm so unbearably tired. I don't remember the fall or when my legs quit working, but I'm still denied the sweet release of sleep by the fires radiating from my muscles. It's sick and twisted, but I don't think I can move any more. I'm stuck here face down in the soil, unable or unwilling to do anything but wonder if a harvesting drone will roll over me and turn me into mist on the crops I'm lost in. My mouth itches. Some loose soil in my nose makes me hack, but there's nothing I can do but wheeze and pant. There's not a drop of moisture left in me. I'm all shriveled up. Everything's a haze.
I should've stopped for water. There was time. A few ponds that didn't look filmed over with vile algae blooms. The last town had a fountain on the outskirts. There were a few distant outbuildings that could've had a sink or a hose. Really, a few mouthfuls would've been enough to keep me from cramping up. Now I feel like I'm all dried out, like a stick of fruit jerky.
I should've taken a break. I've not been able to run in so long. I knew it was getting bad, but I ignored it. I'm paying for it now. I pushed way too far. Run until I black out. Wake up. Repeat. For days and days, or however long I've been free. I don't know. Every time I wake I can't tell if minutes have passed or days. I would push myself back to my feet and run. Because distance is all that matters. I made the right call avoiding the roads. The cameras. The soles of my feet are battered and wail in pain, but for every step I took was a minute longer I got to feel the sun kiss my scales and the gentle caress of the wind upon my neck. The cool soil seeping into my burning side. Fresh air in my lungs. Faint mist on my back.
I should've calmed down. I'm wasting what little time I have left stuck here in misery. I missed my chance to escape. My saviors were predators, but it would've been a better fate. And they're everywhere. Monsters and Predators alike. The whole planet is getting what it deserves. I made my choice, but now I'm squandering it. At least the soil is nice. Even as broken as I feel, it is only temporary. I know this is heaven. I wouldn't trade it for anything else. Even if my tongue is dried and bleeding.
I.
Just.
Need.
To.
Get.
Up.
no no no no no. Hurts. Hurts hurts hurts.
UP.
My body rebels. I settle on crawling. Dragging my tainted digits through the soil and forcing myself through the mud.
Puddle. Puddle Puddle Puddle.
I'm glad to be alive. I'm glad for this puddle. It's my whole world. I crawl to it as quickly as my body allows and beyond, but I'm too dehydrated to cry at the lancing pain in my joints. I slip and tumble into it face first, a cold shock making me freeze up. I don't even try to drink at first, my eyes closed as I lay partially submerged in this brackish water. It makes me feel slightly better as the cold gently eases my neck muscles, and I feel the rest of my body cramping up again.
Imagine drowning in a claw of water. I'm suddenly terrified that it's possible. I throw an arm out and dig it deep into the mud, clawing silt as I awkwardly pull myself in sideways. I roll, splashing the rest of the way in and feeling my poorly treated scales weep as the cold bleeds into them. I lay my head sideways and drink, gagging at the taste but unable to stop myself. I still can't cry, but my face is still trying to produce tears anyways.
In delirium, I notice the corner of a structure well above me. It's a pole, made of metal and towering well above me. Morning dew drips off of it and into my eye not currently submerged, and I blink it away.
Thank you pole. You're a life saver.
I don't plan on moving for a while, so I don't. The dew drips onto my snout several times, and my body rejoices at the cool water I've partially submerged myself in. The silt in my mouth is a necessary and tolerable evil from my desperate dive, and I angle my snout so that I can catch the fresh dew dripping from above instead. It tastes far better than the puddle, and for the first time in ever, I feel a smile creeping on my face.
.*~*.
I blink lazily, one eyelid operating a few seconds behind the other. I feel better. This blackout felt more natural, less forced. Like a gentle wave over my mind than the harsh crack of a baton. My mouth is still full of silt that I spit out, and a moment later I realize I can spit again. The bitter taste of blood in my mouth is faint now, and the joy of having a wet palate can't be described.
ow.
It hurts to move. I try again, but my flesh feels like it's been filled with concrete. My muscles are too tight on my bones. Stiffly, I try again, making little progress, but still progress. I edge out a claw at a time, barely getting my neck out of the pool before collapsing, the chilly waters leaving me shivering.
Where am I?
A very good question, I ask myself. I don't know. That's the cost of running without direction for so long. I think I'm in a field, judging by the crops looking over me and encompassing my wide vision of the vibrant sky overhead.
Yeah... that's it. I'm in a field. Brilliant observation skills.
I try again, but nothing new comes up. For the first time since I fled, I think about what I'm going to do. I'm free. I'm free. What am I going to do now that I'm free? How long do I have? I know the answer to that already. I have a long time. Everybody that knew me is dead and gone. I just need to be careful and not ruin this chance. I should try and find a town. Cities are too big, too many problems could come up. Too many exterminators. I could start over off the beaten path. Somewhere I can hide in plain sight.
This is Sillis. Being me shouldn't be an issue. I... I can get a labor job somewhere. Change my name. What can I do?
...
What can I do?
What is my name?
"Oh dear." I whispered quietly to myself, brows furrowing. Odd. How odd. I can move on from that. Makes starting a new life easier. Something that isn't four walls and a paper thin mattress. Something outside. I just... need to get... out of this darn puddle. No, still not happening. Ouch.
I splash my paw into the puddle in frustration, using about the full range of motion I seem capable of in a mild fit. I want to stay on the move, but the consequences of my poor decision making have come back to bite me right on the rear. At least I have some time to think.
I could try the lumber industry. That's usually away from people. I think I can figure out how to knock down trees, or at least fix up the machines that can. Maybe I can join a farm around here once I'm cleaned up. There's always something to do on a farm. Like counting shipments, or unloading shipments, or loading them. Maybe I can fix things around the property. Golly, I hope I know how to fix the automated machinery. That would really be nice.
Ooh! I could try and be a tram service maintenance operator. Wait, no no no. That requires background checks, I think. Darn it. Uuuh, road utility services? No, that'll take me into cities one way or another. There's a ton of work with drainage systems and water run off here. I could get good money for that since it's risky. Pollutants, constant thundering streams of water. I think I can go with that. There would be a lot of rural investigations that I could apply for. If not, I'm certain the underground construction projects would bear fruit. I'll miss the sun but nobody would bother me too much... no, still too many people. Drainage systems it is!
A faint whistle catches my ear and I freeze, tilting my head as something green flies just overhead. It clips several stalks and leaves as it passes, but seems unbothered as the severed branches fall to the ground and leaves gently cascade after. I follow its path with an eye and it vanishes between some tall plants, leaving me alone just as quickly as-
Nope, the same thing floats by again, darting between crops once more directly above me. It's odd, I can't hear wing beats or buzzing, or see anything keeping it airborne as it passed, and I wait with baited breath to see if it shows itself again. I don't know what I feel, but it isn't terror. It's... something. Curiosity? This time I hear a chirrup, but it's close. I don't see it float by, and painfully I crane my neck and look at the other side of the puddle.
It's an insectoid of some kind, strangely wide and flat. It looks pretty similar to the leaves on the many trees that I've seen since I got out, with uneven, tapered sides. It has a few pairs of legs, and it scuttles to the puddle and dips the front of its body towards the surface. It really does look like a large leaf, but my observation is cut short when the bug abruptly stops moving within barely a claw of the water, a pair of forward facing compound eyes snug against the stem near the tip of its body. It chirps again, and I see narrow maw under the front of this creature, a slim set of fangs briefly glinting in the sun before its mandibles hide them.
"Oh dear." I manage to whisper.
With remarkable dexterity it hops across the body of water and splashes down on top of me, and several legs grip my ribs and arms. My tail flicks under the water's surface, but I don't move as the thing's maw looms over my snout. A smaller set of feelers touch my scales and let it guide where it can't see, and it pecks at my nostril once. I smell ozone and feel a different fire burn in my core, and relax.
This isn't ideal. It really isn't. But it's still better that what once was. You won't hurt me for too long. You're better than they ever were.
Trading my cell for this... it's not that scary. Somehow, despite this predator straddling me and chewing on my snout, I'm not scared of it. I have alarms shrieking in my ears and ozone burning my nostrils and wrists. Bubbly poison twisting my insides and making me gag. I'm terrified of that, but that's long gone. That broken visage cuts deep, but it leaves me feeling empty. I'm alone with this thing pecking at my skull, occasionally chirping or hissing softly as it chews over my scales.
It's little mandibles flutter over my cheek and squish it, the fangs behind it pricking at my scales but never really puncturing. It's odd, almost exploratory. I hear a faint plip as some dew from the pole overhead drips onto the creature, and it leans back slightly to presumably look up. It lowers back down on me, and I wince as it gets a little rougher. It halts for a moment, mandibles still dancing over my scales, before I feel a set of legs slip past my arms and latch onto my back.
I grit my teeth, expecting it to finally lunge down and bite into my flesh as the rest of it's body tenses, but with a start it lifts me up with strength I didn't think it had. My back scrapes along the mud as it lifts me and drags me partially out of the muck. It lowers me down just as quickly as it started, leaving a bit of my upper body out of the water and in the warm air. I blink as it lowers its body down onto my own, legs tightening its grip on me as it presses itself against me. It chirrups again and resumes nibbling on my neck, and my mind absently puzzles over this change of events.
It's roosting on me. Is it my body heat? I feel cold, but maybe it's colder. I wish I knew what you were. I'm glad you're not really biting me. It tickles, stop!
I couldn't help but squeak out a laugh, despite the very present danger I was in. The bug tensed for a moment but didn't sink its fangs into my neck, and after a moment it resumed licking at me. Slowly, it's legs tightened on my body and it pressed itself against me further, and it hissed softly. I closed my eyes when it's maw pressed against me, but once again no bite split me open and drained my lifeblood. It's mandibles tickled my scales some more as the creature flattened out, the ridges of its body laying in the mud as it settled down. I was all but buried under the thing that was almost as big as me, and my tail swished lightly in the water.
Once again, I find myself stuck. I wasn't going anywhere anyways, but now I'm very stuck. Hopefully it doesn't get peckish. This thing could definitely eat me if it wanted to. It's funny that I'm supposed to fear it. All those training exercises failed. Every test and experiment. Maybe it enforced the wrong behavior. I think I might've been respectfully afraid of this creature once, but that part of me is all burned up. If it existed at all.
.~*~.
I've missed the novelty of clouds. Sillis has an overabundance of them, but so far I've been lucky that none of the ones passing overhead were angry. It's almost odd that no rain has come, but I'm glad. I faintly remember that the rains could become acidic if there's too long a pause between storms. Too much smoke or warp residue building up in the atmosphere.
So far I've counted two absolutely towering thunderheads and small storm systems roll by in all their stunning glory, and dozens of smaller offsets in their wake. Hundreds of individual clouds dot the skies, not quite blanketing it yet. It's pleasant, even within the grasp of a large, sleeping predator that's fully enveloped me. I can feel it's diaphragm shifting ever so slightly on my chest, and it twitches occasionally.
I don't mind. For now, things are peaceful. I'm enjoying that. At least, until something crunched a few rows over.
That sounds a lot bigger than this predator.
The creature shifts slightly but doesn't wake as whatever else is out there stalks through the crops. It has to be a predator, from how quiet it moves. Every little rustle and faint step happen far from each other, and my mind immediately jumps to an ambush hunter. Carefully, I move my head to catch a glimpse of the thing, trying not to disturb the slumbering creature that is currently resting it's mouth on my neck. My scales fade into a dirty black that matches the soil, and I squint to hide my eyes from whatever is out there.
There's movement on my left, something tall shifting between the crops a few rows down. I hear a rumbling noise- a deep based growl, and the back of my skull itches.
"...D-1?"
No no no no no. I don't want to go back. I want to be free.
I know what the thing is. It's a new predator. A sapient one. The same ones that freed me. The same ones that wanted to herd me onto a ship. I can't do this. Sapient predators are cruel, far crueler than the average ones. A normal predator wasn't personal about the kill. It could be reasoned with. Where did that come from? A sapient predator was ruthless for entertainment.
I owe them my life.
They'll just take it.
There's a rustle from a different direction, and a behemoth steps out of the crops far closer to me than I would prefer. It is armored like the many I've seen before, but I realize instead of a firearm it wields a bulky tool of some kind tightly in its paws. It dawns on me that it's colors are different, green and blue instead of solid blue, and there's a colorful flag of some kind pressed on the garments of its arm.
"Copy." It rumbled quietly.
"Crikey, you spooked me there!" the other predator whispered, changing course. Thankfully the closest one broke off to meet it, and they stopped one row over. It was best I stay still. Their hearing was better than they let on. "Okay, did you get it done?"
I can't see them clearly, but some non verbal communication must have occurred because the one predator continues speaking.
"Good. Look, trouble is coming. A fellow seppo noticed the ordinance went missing. He's suspicious. There'll be heat soon. Have you made any progress with the other front?" A pause. "Same. I've dealt with several of his goons, but none knew anything good."
"I'll have him tonight."
"...D-1?"
"An exterminator account and reversed polarity on some switches works wonders."
"...you seppos are terrifying."
"We're a world power for a reason."
"...yeah. Do you have the drive? Nice. You keep this up and we'll have everything we need from this planet before Christmas. We're going to make things right." There's an odd grunt, and one of them starts rumbling quietly in what translates as amusement. "Involved in peace. What do they really think this accomplishes?"
"Don't care. We find our whales and move on."
"Come on, we can have some more fun if we're careful! Don't act like that doesn't entertain you after that bomber plot of yours!"
"S-4," there's an undertone in that growl that makes my scales shrink, "remember the prize."
"...God, you're a hard ass. Fine. I'm certain you're carrying that giant wrench for peaceful reasons and not to crack open any skulls out here. I'll check the smuggling routes. Rig up something to keep these bugs under our thumb. You keep being you. I need to move before they notice I'm gone."
Faint footsteps leading away, and I sighed. While brief, just being around them made my scales crawl-
The crops right beside me parted, and the other predator stepped out. It's covered foot splashed into the puddle, and stirred the predator enveloping me. Much to my horror the thing chirruped and hissed, releasing me and spinning around. The apex predator looked down at the smaller thing and regarded it.
:)
The drawing on the mask was comical, and not at all what I was expecting. Most humans didn't wear masks, so blinding terror didn't sweep me away. I almost laughed at the absurdity of concealing one's face, only to make a lazy drawing of a face overtop of it.
The smaller predator didn't find it nearly as confusing or entertaining as I did, and hissed. The apex didn't falter, but surprisingly held its ground despite being threatened by a lesser predator.
Most predators would make a threat back and assert itself. Or lash out. What is this one up too? It's not acting submissive so it isn't backing down. But it isn't retaliating either. Does it need to? It's using it's own size as a deterrent.
My thoughts are interrupted when my toothy cover abruptly spins and flees, gaining air under its body and become airborne. It slashes through a row of crops and is gone, just like how it arrived. The apex still hasn't moved. It takes a few steps forward, nearing me. I can't tell if it's looking at me or not so I close my eyes tight, hoping that my eyes hadn't given me away. There's a thump right beside me and I flinch. I can feel it's presence. It has stopped walking.
It knows. Somehow it sees me. It knows it knows it knows.
Something warm grazes my neck and I flinch again, despite myself. I can't do it. I don't want to die with my eyes closed. I want to see the sun and the clouds and the crops, not this faux darkness.
I open my eyes and it's right there, crouched over me. I can't bother with wasting my energy by screaming. It saw through my camouflage and had a paw to my neck. I wished it to be merciful and just strike me down with the wrench it brought, but it doesn't. Instead it plunges its paw into the water, under my rump. It rips me out of the water and I gasp as its other paw slips down under my shoulders and lifts, but my mind catches up a moment later when it pressed me against it's chest instead of its mouth, forsaking my exposed stomach. It's grip loosens slightly and it adjusts, an arm under my shoulder blades and legs. I can feel the muscles rippling in it's grip, and how easily it could fold me over backwards and squish me. I've seen it first hand.
But it's so gently. So unbelievably gentle. I don't remember the last time I was touched like this. Something in a dark recess of my mind wavered, and I realized I'd curled my tail around the creature's arm without meaning to. It holds me a little closer, nowhere near enough to hurt, and my scales start to change to match the colors it wears. It's not looking at me, the mask is angled too far up. We're moving at a blinding pace suddenly, the rows of crops blurring in my vision. It doesn't stop. This apex runs like a machine, each breath consistent and calculated to a rhythm I notice. Its breathing labors but it keeps going, warm jets of air spitting out the bottom of its mask and onto my soggy, damp form.
It's so warm. I didn't realize the chill of the water until now but I'm shivering. My body takes over for my confused mind and curls into the predator's grasp, trying to get as much warmth from the human's rough garments as I can. I don't know what's come over me. I don't know where it's taking me. I don't care. I can't escape it, and if this thing kills me it was at least kind enough to be gentle.
The skies are so beautiful. I try and focus on them but all I can really see is the predator's mask. I can see the bottom of it's jaw, the taught muscles there. I dread what its face looks like in this moment under that mask. Its digits tighten on my shoulder and side in response to me curling into it, and absently I wonder how this predator is the same as the ones from days ago with their thundering bellows and ruthless firepower.
The apex thunders out of the field and I'm assaulted by new sights. There's a few dozen of them roving around a clearing by several vehicles.
I also spot an Exterminator's van, and my claws unsheathe. The predator winces and I realize I've nailed him with them, but he doesn't throw me down or bark at me. He sprints by the van without stopping, but I see several Tilfish locked inside and doomed to a terrible fate worse than being eaten.
"Ambulance!?" It barks sharply, out of breath. It skids to a stop beside one of the transports, clutching me firmly.
"Just left with the patient. Where the hell did this one come from?" An unmasked predator growled, eyes beady and looking over me. Mine made an odd jerking motion and continued.
"Get Doc."
"I will. What hospital are we calling?" The thought of a clinical space makes me flinch. White walls. White floors. Cold tiles. Needles. Beeping. Humming. Frying.
"None. Operational security."
The other predator screwed its face up and departed, and abruptly mine was sitting down on the back of one of the trucks. Gently I was plopped down on its lap, and I watched transfixed as it peeled its armor off, then its outer garment. There's an image of a veiled human on the back with its eyes closed, head craned down. Its hands are clasped together in thought, and the meaning of it goes over my head.
The predator is a lot smaller than I thought it was. It gently lifts me and set me in the garment, before it starts wiping me down with it. I'm too sore to fight it, and the cloth is exceptionally warm from the creature's body heat. It pulls me closer and holds me in a way that makes my chest hurt, and it looks out at an approaching predator. It rumbles softly.
"You're going to be okay."
My body relaxes despite my mind's warnings. I'm wrapped up in this garment it wore. I can't escape it. But it's warm. The material soaks up the water on my skin, and wipes away the grime and muck I've accumulated over the days. Slowly, my scales begin to shift again, bleeding back to my normal tan coloration.
"Did something finally bite you Sunshine? I haven't seen you run like that in- oh-kay." The approaching predator flinched when it got close and tensed up.
It wants to eat me. This one- Sunshine- it won't let it without a fight. Are they going to eat me? Sunshine won't. Right?
"I thought there was only one victim." The predator rumbled after a moment, creeping closer. I shrank into the material and took on it's color, only for a warm paw to settle on my arm.
"You're fine." Sunshine whispered. It looked up at the approaching predator and jerked its head awkwardly. "There is. Look at it. Do you see it too?"
Gently, it lifted my arm. I was too stiff to pull it back, not that I could've against its powerful grip. I was completely exposed to this other predator.
"Relax. Please." Sunshine whispered once more. The growl was soft, and I looked up at the mask above me. The grip on my arm was careful, I realized. I could pull away right now. Slowly, my scales lightened. The other predator leaned in closer and I flashed white and yellow briefly, but Sunshine propped me up a bit and started gently poking at sore parts of my body. My ribs. My neck. "Here. And... and here."
The other predator's eyes seemed to get bigger. Something deeper changed in its face. "Holy shit." It made to move forward and I reeled back, pressing myself further into Sunshine. The predator immediately froze and slunk back.
"He can help." Sunshine rumbled softly.
Oh dear. Oh dear.
It touched me. It's diminutive nails didn't rend into my scales as it touched my ribs, prodding them softly. Sunshine adjusted how it sat so that the other predator could have better access to me, and I couldn't help but focus on the skies again as it assessed what part of me it wanted.
Sunshine won't let it eat me.
I don't know where the thought came from, but it was firm. I believed it entirely. Even though Sunshine was a sapient predator, it wouldn't let it happen. Maybe it claimed me as its own already. I... I had doubts I would be eaten. The thoughts were there, but Sunshine had a perfect chance already. Unless it wanted to flaunt its catch first, which the Arxur did- but it was gentle. Sunshine was better than an Arxur.
"Malnourished, deep sores. Ulcers. There's bruising up and down the rib cage. Jesus- sorry."
"They're old. Persistent. Its feet."
"What about..." The predator got quiet. I felt my scales shift in worry as it gingerly lifted one of my legs. It remained quiet, but its face stretched further. "What happened?"
It was looking at me. Asking me. I shrank further into the fabric, but there was nowhere to go. The silence was unbearable, and I started trembling.
The silence continued.
"A runaway." Sunshine rumbled after forever. I didn't understand what that meant. My translator didn't pick it up quite right. Run-away? Like fleeing? Was that what these predators called their prey? No... no that didn't seem right. It was possible, but...
"Could have been kidnapped." Another word I didn't understand, but my translator worked on the other predator. Stealing a person by force? Using fear outside of the law? How did predators have such a word? "We need to get it to the hospital. Figure out what happened and how it ended up in this field."
NO NO NO NO NO
Sunshine's arms draped over me before I could escape, my attempt no better than a drunk Mazic trying to fit through a Venlil sized door. I couldn't stop the whine in my throat, but its soft digits down my back froze me. A subtle noise filtered out behind the mask, and it settled me back down in its garment. It picked up an edge lined with little metal teeth and draped it over me, blocking my sight from the other predator. I felt safe, suddenly. Sunshine's firm grip on my body didn't feel threatening. It felt like a promise, as it carefully pulled me against it's bulk. I was warm, despite my terror.
"Zuda will handle it. No hospitals. This stays with us."
"Sunshine," the other predator protested, "we need to figure out what happened!"
"Think, Doc." Sunshine growled, and this was no doubt a warning. I felt relief that the difference between the two growls was so obvious.
"What?"
"Think. Use your head."
There was a period of silence. "You don't... that can't be right." I didn't understand what conclusion it made.
"The injuries are uniform. Too clean to be anything else."
They can't know. How can they know?
"We need confirmation!"
"We already have it." Sunshine stated, and slowly the fabric was lifted off of my head. I blinked, and noticed that the other predator had changed a different shade.
That's odd. Are you predators like me?
That's terrifying. I'm not a threat. I'm me.
"It reacted to the van and mention of a hospital, Doc. Nobody outside the UN hears of this. Operational security."
It... does Sunshine know? How do they know?
"What the fuck is this planet, Sunshine?" The other predator lamented.
Sunshine didn't respond. He looked around at the surrounding encampment, and I realized it was shrinking. They were leaving. A few other predators were subtly watching as they worked, but I doubted they could hear the conversation with how quiet it was. I realize there's a few Venlil in their ranks, unbothered by their presence and even wearing garments similar to the predators around them.
A digit tapped the end of my snout and I flinched, looking up at Sunshine. It's paw retracted as the other predator withdrew a medical kit with a paw print on it and began to unclasp it. "You're safe. We're... we're going to help."
You know. You know what I am. And you're helping me anyway. Why are you helping me? I'm weak. I'm dangerous. But not to you. You're an apex. Is that why? Does your species stick together, unlike the Arxur? Do you uplift those around you, no matter if they're prey or dangerous? The Venlil are not afraid of you. You must not eat them. What do you eat? It has to be meat. But, it must be something that they can handle. Does what makes me dangerous fall away under your hierarchy? I hope it does. It doesn't seem real. I guess to you, what makes me a threat is meaningless.
I believe Sunshine. I really do. When the other predator comes forward with a healing gel, I surrender.
I am safe.
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2023.06.03 19:44 NamelessNanashi [The Gods of Dragons: Beginning] Ch 15 - Burn Baby Burn

--- Table of Contents ---
Autumn 4986, 16 Aoimoth
Shon and Nangran hobbled their horses at the base of a steep hill deep in the woods north of Hamerfoss. They'd left at fourth bell, before any of the other Squires had woken for their morning run, and it had still taken them hours of riding through narrow trails to reach this place. At least they hadn't run into any monsters. The snow that had dusted the landscape during the night lay thick here, crunching underfoot and occasionally flopping noisily to either side as it fell from the tall evergreen branches.
Shon adjusted the strap of his sword across his chest and reached his left hand back to brush shaking fingers over its hilt. He'd been glad when the Paladins insisted he take it with him. To them, it marked Shon as a representative of Hengist and the Temple. To Shon, it was a sign of his hard work and resolve. Having it was a comfort.
Nangran started up the hill, and Shon hurried to follow. The smith hadn’t spoken a word since they set out, not even to try and ease Shon’s anxiety, for which Shon was grateful. Master Daunas had tried to sound confident as Shon saddled his borrowed horse, and The Major General had offered him encouragement as they mounted. Neither realized how much that just drove home the desperation of the situation in Shon’s mind.
The smith pulled his heavy cloak tighter, and Shon looked away. He hadn’t bothered to wear his cloak. He'd never really felt chilled in the winter like others seemed to. Now that he knew why, he wished he had. Cold continued to swirl around him, enhanced by his worries. If he could just block those emotions, the power would never have been a problem to begin with.
The trees thinned the higher they climbed, disappearing almost entirely as they crested the top of the hill. The clearing looked over the treetops, offering an unimpeded view of the horizon. Forest all around, with flatland to the south and rocky mountain peaks to the north. Only a handful of small trees grew in the clearing, and in the middle stood a little ramshackle hut only slightly larger than an outhouse.
Nangran threw his arm out, stopping Shon from walking past him, "Don't touch anything. And don't be surprised if he says no right off."
Shon nodded, trying to swallow down his fear so it wouldn't be seen in his eyes. Dropping his hand, Nangran started forward again, finishing, "Be honest, but not insulting." The instructions, -or perhaps advice?- seemed like common courtesy, which made Shon wonder why quiet Nangran had bothered to say anything.
As they drew closer to the little shack, Shon could make out a sign on the door. He squinted to read it and had just made out 'No Soliciting' when the door swung open, banging against the wall and sending birds into flight. An old man, so thin he looked like a skeleton with yellow skin pulled tight across its bones, stormed out. Wearing nothing but a loincloth, he was shaking a thick stick at them that glinted with red rubies in the low autumn light.
"I already paid my dues for this decade! So you can take your request and shove it-" Shon’s hand instinctively reached for his sword, but Nangran just crossed his arms over his barrel chest. The old -virtually naked- man stopped yelling mid-rant and lifted one shriveled arm to shade his eyes as he squinted at them, "Eh? Flintchest, what’re you doing way out here with a blasted mage in tow?"
Rather than answer, Nangran started forward again, he didn't much care for talking, let alone shouting. Looking from Nangran to the loincloth man, Shon slowly lowered his arm, but still took position to the left and just behind the Smith as they approached the crazy man with the glittering club.
"No mage." Nangran said as he came right up to the strange old man, "Squire." he glanced over his shoulder at Shon and finished, "Sorcerer."
The old man spat on the ground and moved his squint to Shon. Running his eyes from the top of his black head to the tip of his polished boots and back, exaggerating the movement before he stopped at the Squire’s cold blue eyes.
He spat again, then barked "Where's your familiar?" scanning first the ground at Shon's feet then the sky above his head.
Shon blinked at him, furrowing his brow in confusion at the question. The mage snapped his fingers impatiently, "Your familiar! All Sorcerers have a familiar."
Nangran came to his rescue, "Just woke last night," he said shortly.
The mage spat again but didn't argue, "Well, come in then." Shon looked sideways at Nangran, but the Smith had already begun following the skinny old man into the shack. Shon hurried to catch up.
Inside, Shon's eyes were assaulted with a sparkling rainbow of colors. The room they'd entered was considerably larger than the outside would suggest, with plush carpet and a stuffed high-back armchair in front of a blazing fire in the opposite wall. Shelves full of exotic plants, glowing glass jars, and glittering stones filled every available space, reflecting off one another and setting streaks of light to dance on the floor and walls like sun rays through crystal.
There was too much to take in, so Shon focused on their host. The old man was slipping into a thick robe of deep purple velvet. He'd hung the club on the wall beside the door, which looked just as decrepit on this side as it had on the outside.
"Make a habit of greeting visitors half-naked and swinging an old fireball wand?" Nangran asked as he slipped out of his cloak.
"Keeps the conversations short." the old man replied tersely, tying his belt and turning to his guests. With boney knuckles on boney hips and glare firmly planted on his wrinkled face, he snapped, "Don't bother getting comfortable, Flintchest; you'll be leaving soon enough."
The Smith ignored him, hanging his cloak on the hook that had presumably held the mage's robe. "Got a favor to ask," he said, but the old man was already shaking his head,
"More like a favor to cash in. That's the only reason you're in here and not smoking in a hole outside."
Nangran ignored the threat and motioned from Shon to the old man and back. "Archmage Ivelm." The mage looked Shon up and down again as Nangran made the introductions, “Squire Shon.”
"Not much longer, I'd say." Ivelm said to Nangran as he finished his second examination, "It's to the Guild with this one. Too much magic." he turned his head and spat in a brass can by the door. It rang out with a loud ‘ting!' and Ivelm sniffed, looking down at Nangran again, "What do you want, Flintchest?"
"Need a seal. So the boy doesn't freeze Hamerfoss more than it already is." the smith crossed his arms, watching the mage and somehow still seeming completely at ease.
"Eh?!" Ivelm exclaimed, leaning far forward. Shon had to try hard not to crinkle his nose as the old man brought his face close enough that Shon could smell Ivelm's breath. Garlic, the mage ate a lot of garlic…
"So… you don't want to be a mage, do you?" he demanded, glaring down his nose at him. Shon shook his head and would have answered with a 'no ser.' except the mage continued, "Rather swing around some hunk of metal like a brute?"
Shon blinked stupidly, and Nangran cleared his throat, "Watch what you say about my swords, old man."
Ivelm ignored the smith as soundly as Nangran had ignored the Archmage, and continued to Shon, "The powers of the universe are at your fingertips. Blood blessed with the strength of the elements, and you wanna throw it all away," he threw his arms into the air, still uncomfortably close, "And for what? Some illusion of an honorable death by the sword?"
Shon didn't know what to say. He looked past the affronted mage's face, only an inch from his own, to Nangran. But the smith gave no sign he was going to help. Shon’s future depended on convincing this strange old man, this Archmage, to help…
Shon wasn't the type to try and convince anyone of anything, but the least he could do was explain himself. Shon stepped back from the mage to address him from a more comfortable distance. "I chose to dedicate my life to perfecting my art, and my art is martial combat," he said. Ivelm wrinkled his nose, his mouth twisting as if he were going to spit again, but Shon continued, "magic would be better served in the hands of someone who wants it badly enough to work for it. Like I've worked for my martial skills."
Ivelm leaned away from Shon, his eyebrows lifted into his frizzled gray hair. Shon looked to Nangran, hoping for some sign that this was a good response. The smith smiled from behind the mage.
"Soooo…" Ivelm drew the word out, "You think only those who dedicate themselves to strict study and practice should wield the power of the universe?" he leaned forward again, turning his head and fixing one eye on Shon like a bird. As if trying to catch him in a lie.
Shon nodded, confused, then asked, "Isn't that what it takes to effectively wield magic? Focused study?"
Ivelm didn't answer the question, instead turning his face to examine Shon with the other eye, scanning him up and down yet again. The old man had looked him up and down so much Shon wouldn't be surprised if the next question were about his hair or boots.
But Ivelm didn't ask another question. Instead, he stood straight and spat into the brass can with another ringing 'ting!' "I like this one," he said, turning his back on Shon and facing Nangran, "But it's too much." he shook his head, lifting his hands in helpless surrender, "Too much power, and ice at that. Stubborn element that one. And it's so finicky to block just elemental magic..."
Ivelm continued talking but Shon heard very little of it. A hole had opened in his gut, and it felt like his heart was racing his stomach to fall into it. But Nangran just rolled his eyes at the mage, interrupting, "Used to be the name in new magic items... made shackles to hold Archmages." he squinted at Ivelm, who had frozen mid-head shake, "Must've gotten rusty out…"
Ivelm snapped his fingers under the Smith's nose to stop him talking, "The mind does not rust, Flintchest!" he huffed, one bare foot tapping under his robe, "Not like your swords and shriveling muscles." Nangran just stared stubbornly, his thick, muscled arms still crossed over his broad chest.
The mage continued to tap his foot, his nose in the air. But as the silence stretched, Ivelm looked down at the smith, who continued to say nothing. The silent battle of wills ended when Ivelm threw his arms up in disgust and shook a finger under Nangran's nose, nearly hitting it, declaring, "I'll show you. I'll make a gem especially for this lad, and you'll see the mind only continues to grow sharper!"
He spun on his heel back to Shon, who had just made out the smith's returned smile from behind the mage when the old man snapped his fingers in Shon's face, making him jump. "Well, what are you waiting for? Come here so I can take some measurements!" Ivelm swung around again and marched across the room to a large workbench with plants and gems scattered across it. Shon scrambled after him, praying his thanks to Hengist and suddenly feeling light enough to float. His anxieties dropping away and melting like snow in summer.
***
It was already noon, and no one had come to see Her. She jumped up to grab the bars of Her window, pulling Herself up to peak out but seeing nothing but new snow and tree trunks. She was full to bursting with nervous energy, amplifying every sound and sensation. Footsteps sounded outside Her door, and She dropped from the window, sprinting across the room and resting Her ear on the wood.
“Ran, recheck the lab. Brom, with me.” Archmage Morndancer spoke with his strange alternation between draconic and common as he passed Her door without stopping. She could easily make out the swish of their robes on the stone hall leading away. Three people, Brom, Ran, and Archmage Morndancer. And yet the scurrying of too many feet to be only the two apprentices and Archmage Shaloon, sounded from the floor above. There were strangers in her tower again. Many strangers. Something was happening, something big…
She ran to Her window again, just for something to do, seeking some way to burn off some of the anxiety of not knowing what was going on around her.
A roar from down the hall, a roar of pain, sent ice washing through her veins. She slammed into the door at full speed. Pounding on the wood, She called out, “Brom?! Ran?!” Nothing. Then a yip cut short, followed by barking and yowling.
She shook the handle with both hands, rattling the door on its hinges, “BROM! RAN!” Something was happening to Her treasures, something terrible… The door handle began to glow, the metal warping and sagging as it melted. The knowledge that She would be in more trouble than She had ever been in before was nothing compared to Her terror. She wrenched the handle back with all Her might, splashing molten metal across Her bed, lighting fires that flared in her panic, and sending smoke to curl up to the ceiling.
She didn’t care. She shouldered the door open and ran.
“Red?!” She passed the first open door but couldn’t stop as Ran called out to Her. Reaching Her treasures' room, She tried to stop but slipped, slamming into the ground with a sticky splash. A final whining bark started a buzzing in Her ears as She stared, transfixed, at Her hands. They were painted red. Warm and sticky. The overpowering stench of iron nearly made Her gag as She looked up to see Morndancer toss aside a glittering golden wolf pup, the body flopping limply over the corpse of its mother and siblings.
Her world went red.
***
The last sample was taken care of, but something roared with enough ferocity to shatter glass.
Morndancer's head snapped around in time for him to fall back, shielding his face with his hands as the Firewyrm exploded. White-hot fire engulfed Her and spread out to the stone floor and walls. His robes began to smoke, the new fire protection spells woven into them being overpowered by the sheer ferocity of the blaze.
Brom had no such spells, and he had only managed a single step towards the girl before he fell to the ground, writhing for only a moment before lying still. The Archmage heard Ran scream from the hall before the journeyman stumbled past the door, flailing wildly. Barely discernible as human inside the flames.
The Firewyrm moved towards him, stepping through Brom’s head, turned to ash, and blown up to dance in the air on the same heatwaves causing the girl's hair to wave wildly about Her. She didn't seem to notice, Her face was expressionless and her eyes glowed as red as the scales across Her cheek. Morndancer tried to snap his fingers, but the golden collar around Her neck melted, Her clothes burning off and leaving Her naked and terrible in the flames.
His robe was burning now, and only the pain of that could pull his eyes from the Firewyrm as he pointlessly tried to beat the fires off. He fell back, hitting the wall, which drooped, sagging and dripping molten stone onto his head and face. Then he fell further back, into a gate that opened behind him.
Shaloon pulled him through the portal and into the library three stories up. The Firewyrm roared again and the tower walls shook with the force of it. The gate closed, but Morndancer continued to burn. He could hear screaming. Was it him? Was he screaming? Fire burst up the spiral stairs in the middle of the room, and apprentices, both their own and many sent from the central and western Talon, scrambled about in a panic, some even leaping from the windows.
Shaloon cursed, holding out her hand and summoning her sword again. She had to draw the circle five times before a second gate finally formed, and she dove through it, pulling Morndancer along with her as it quickly closed. An apprentice reached through, and his arm fell at Morndancer’s feet, miles away in the sitting room of his manor back in Smildna.
He laughed. Shaloon slapped him, and he laughed. Ronni, his daughter, burst through the door, her own daughter, only a year old, perched on her hip, and still, he laughed. “What’s wrong?! What happened to him?!” he barely registered his daughter's words and continued to laugh, rolling around on the ground in mirthful madness.
“The Firewyrm She…” Shaloon started, but Morndancer yelled over her in draconic,
She is true! She is pure! She is rage! The children will come and raise the grandchildren! We have only to await the coming of those Chosen!” the room faded around him, becoming washed out and gray then finally black as he continued to laugh and shout, “They take those who slew them and use them to raise themselves anew…
He couldn’t feel his burns or the hands trying to settle him. He saw only darkness and stars. And the eyes of his Master boring into his soul from the outer planes.
***
Shon couldn't remember ever feeling so drained in his life. He'd been tired before, exhausted even, but it had never felt quite like this. The eccentric Archmage Ivelm had ordered him to 'empty his energy' into stone after stone. Measuring the weight, color, and temperature of each. Making notes in chalk directly on his table and talking to himself. Shon was shocked the first time he saw the smooth rock handed to him change from a translucent white to an onyx as black as his hair, but by the time they'd gone through the twentieth stone, Shon had decided to stop counting.
Ivelm, however, seemed to get more and more excited with each one. Giving Shon reason to suspect the mage may be taking the energy for himself. After what felt like hours, Ivelm finally stoppered the potion he'd mixed with the most recent jewel, glowing a soft pale blue, and stepped back from the workbench, bony hands on bony hips.
"It can be done." Ivelm swiveled to face Nangran, "He's strong, I don’t know how he managed not to manifest until now, but it's all focused in one elemental direction." he rubbed his chin and looked at the ceiling, completely ignoring Shon's arched eyebrow. "It has a bit of divine flavor as well. But I suppose that shouldn't be surprising for a training Paladin." The mage stopped musing and glared down his nose at Nangran, who had made himself comfortable in the oversized wingback chair by the fire, "It will have to be a lot bigger than a piece of jewelry would allow."
The smith just hummed and sipped at his mug. When had he gotten a mug? Shon looked from one old man to the other. It was apparent Ivelm wanted Nangran to ask him for details, but the ever stoic smith said nothing.
Shon was tired. His limbs felt heavy, and the weight of his simple uniform felt more like platemail. He was just about to ask what the Archmage meant, to hurry them along, when Ivelm threw his hands in the air and said, "You'll need to find somewhere to put it. I would recommend that." he pointed at the hilt of Shon's sword over his shoulder, continuing, "If the lad is insisting on swinging a metal stick around instead of harnessing the ultimate powers of the universe then that same stick might as well sap the power literally as well as figuratively." Shon arched an incredulous eyebrow but Ivelm wasn't paying attention, finishing, "I can get it down to about an inch and a half orb. At the smallest. If you want something different, say so now."
Nangran set his mug on the ground and stood with a grunt and a groan. Shon just wanted to go home and sleep for a week, so when the smith reached for the hilt of his sword for a closer look Shon hardly noticed, until the squat smith jerked it down to eye level. Shon swung his arms like a drowning man and stepped wide to prevent himself from falling over.
"Quit wigglin'," Nangran grumbled, studying the sword's pommel with a professional eye. "One and a half'll do, preferably in a tear…"
The mage snorted and continued to ignore the struggling half crouched Shon, his voice dripping sarcasm as he addressed the smith, "Shall I wrap it in silk for you as well?"
"Na." Nangran let go of the sword, and Shon stood straight, lifting his leg to shake out the knee. "Drop it off when you’re done." the Mage snorted again but didn't counter.
None of them were interested in extending the visit, so Nangran grabbed his heavy cloak and shrugged it on while Shon waited by the door. "It will be at least a fortnight," Ivelm called from his position by the workbench, not about to walk them out.
Nangran grunted his confirmation and opened the battered and decrepit door, letting the wind and early autumn snow blow in on their way out. Shon followed numbly, his eyes unfocused as he walked, and ran right into the much shorter man. Nangran hardly moved as Shon bounced off of him. He was squinting into the distance, one large hand shading his eyes. Shon stared at Nangran for a moment before following the direction of his gaze over the tree line.
Smoke. A LOT of smoke. The black clouds billowed violently into the sky, occasionally lit from below by sparks shot high into the air.
"Elm!" Nangran shouted. Shon had never heard the man call so loudly. The Archmage must have also been shocked because the door to his hut swung open and he stuck his head out to look to either side, eyes wide.
"Flintchest, what?" but he soon saw what, "But, that's the old chemist's tower… What?" he stood in shocked confusion for a heartbeat before turning back into the hut. Shon looked from the shack to Nangran, but before he could say anything, the mage was back, struggling with two long rods, one blue with what looked like waves painted all around, the other black and studded with diamonds.
"Don't just stand there!" Ivelm snapped at the two as he finally managed to slip the blue rod into a sheath at his side. He then pointed the diamond rod at the space between two close-growing trees. Shon heard him say something unintelligible, and one of the diamonds shot out of the tip of the rod to hover between the trees before expanding into a portal.
Beyond the magical gate, Shon could hear the fire roar. It sounded how he imagined the burning hells might sound, but as he followed the two men through, he realized his imagination was tame by comparison.
The smell of burning flesh and hair choked him as they stepped clear of the gate's magic. The heat smashed into them like a wall, and all three brought their arms up to shield their faces. Around them were the charred remains of what looked like humans, their faces buried in the mud as if they'd been trying to run from the blaze. Shon had to swallow the bile that rose in his throat and focused instead on the fire Ivelm had said was a tower.
It was completely engulfed in bright flames of all colors. Squinting through the light, he could see the stone walls melting like wax. The arch of the doorway sagged in the middle, and Shon's eyes went wide. Someone was in there.
He would've had to shout over the roar of the flames, but it didn’t matter; Ivelm was already raising the blue wand, jerking his fingers in strange ways and mouthing words impossible to hear. Water shot out the tip of the wand with the force of a ballista and hissed against the glowing stones.
It wasn't possible. It must be a trick of the flickering flames. But the figure turned its face to them, long hair whipping about as it took steps in their direction.
"Don't just stand there, boy!" Ivelm screamed. "They must have a fire-resist spell; those things don't last forever!"
Nangran grabbed Shon’s upper arm, pulling him a step closer to the fire and down so he could shout in his ear, "Freeze a path."
Shon swallowed. He was so tired, literally drained. He didn't know what to do or how to do it. But the figure in the fire reached out to them only to pull away from a drop of molten rock. Shon fell to his knees, placing his hands on the ground and pleading silently to Hengist. He didn’t know what to do, didn’t know how to control the power. He tried picturing a path of snow between himself and the tower base, concentrating on it until the mental image overlaid the real world, as he did when imagining phantom fighters during practice.
Ice snaked its way from Shon's fingers towards the burning tower along his mental path, powered by the fear that he wouldn't be fast enough to save the person inside. The water from Ivelm's wand helped carve the way, and Shon grunted physically as he struggled to push mentally. His breathing came heavy and ragged. He could feel the fire melting the edges of the ice as if it were a part of him. Still, he fought back and forced it to continue to form into solid sheets moving closer and closer to the figure still trapped in the tower.
Wherever the ice formed solid, it stayed. The fire drawing back from it until, finally, it reached the doorway. He urged the ice to climb up the doorframe, to hold it in place and keep it from falling, from moving at all.
Shon was seeing double. He struggled to focus on the figure and flinched as they stepped onto the frozen path. The ice hissed and melted under their bare unsteady feet, he could feel it... feel them, their heat, on his ice.
It was a young woman. Or an older girl. She was naked; her clothes burned away by the fire. Her long hair was being blown forward by the heat of the burning tower, obscuring her face. As she moved closer, Shon could make out strange red stripes snaking around her body, standing in stark relief against her pale skin.
Ivelm stepped in front of him then, throwing Nangran's cloak around her shoulders as she crumpled to the ground. Nangran himself knelt beside Shon, resting one massive hand on the Squire's back. "You can stop, lad…" his voice trailed off, and Shon felt an emptiness open in his chest. No one could have survived that, not if they hadn't already made it to the entrance like the girl. As if to punctuate the thought, Shon managed to focus his eyes only to see the tower's entrance wall fold and collapse in on itself, the stones flowing like soft wax.
--- Table of Contents ---
Sorry for the double post today. I wanted to keep Ch 14 & 15 together.
Thanks for making it this far, you are the real MVP
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2023.06.03 19:08 Dhylan The media is lying to us about the debt legislation

Written by Eric Zuesse
Military spending consumes 53% of all the money that the Congress and President authorize the Government to spend, but instead of ANY of that 53% getting cut (like social programs for the poor are) in the debt-limit agreement, military spending was increased, and the ‘news’ media hide this fact from the voters.
For example, here is from the Republican Fox ‘News’, on this:
A new bipartisan House commission will be formed to tackle the federal budget’s scope once the battle over the debt ceiling bill falls back, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Wednesday. “This isn’t the end,” the California Republican said on Fox News about the debt ceiling bill vote. “This doesn’t solve all the problems. This is the first step. I’m going to announce a commission coming forward from the speaker, bipartisan, on both sides of the aisle. We only got to look at 11% of the budget to find these cuts. We have to look at the entire budget.” 
He promised Republicans that he’d be aiming to cut the Social Security and Medicare programs. He didn’t so much as even MENTION the 53% of “discretionary spending” (what Congress and the President authorize to be spent) that goes to America’s military.
And here is from the Democratic Party’s CNN ‘News’:
Here’s what we know about the deal, based on the bill text, White House sources and information circulated by House Republicans. The agreement would suspend the nation’s $31.4 trillion debt limit through January 1, 2025. This removes it as a potential issue in the 2024 presidential election. … Caps non-defense spending Under the deal, non-defense spending would remain relatively flat in fiscal 2024 and increase by 1% in fiscal 2025, after certain adjustments to appropriations were made, according to a White House official. After fiscal 2025, there would be no budget caps. The House GOP fact sheet says that non-defense discretionary spending would be rolled back to fiscal 2022 levels and top line federal spending would be limited to 1% annual growth for the next six years. The breakdown of non-defense discretionary spending for fiscal 2024, according to a source familiar with the deal, is that the cap would be about $704 billion, of which $121 billion would be for veterans’ medical care and $583 billion would be for other areas. 
That report likewise fails to mention that 53% of the budget is for the military — the portion of the budget that is being increased instead of decreased.
Furthermore, where their report stated “that the cap would be about $704 billion, of which $121 billion would be for veterans’ medical care,” it did not mention that in the U.S. Government’s counting, “veterans’ medical care” is NOT counted as being “military,” though it IS a military expense, and the normal international practice is to INCLUDE that category as BEING “Defense” expenditure. The reason why the U.S. Government does NOT is because if the U.S. Government were to spend its veterans’ medical care out of the “Defense” Department (the only department that is being counted by SIPRI and other international comparators of the various nations’ “defense” expenditures), then the reality would show up in those comparisons: that the U.S. alone spends around 50% of the entire world’s military expenditures.
For example: the CSIS (U.S.-and-allied Government-funded and megacorporate and billionaire funded think tank of the military-industrial complex) even notes in its “China Power” report, that “The United States funds its nuclear weapons through the Department of Energy and does not include these details in its defense budget” (whereas other nations do), and that “disaster relief in China is funded through the defense budget and is to be reimbursed by non-defense agencies. Likewise, perquisites for retired senior officers — including offices, assistants, and special access to hospital facilities — are all funded through China’s defense budget.” But America pays for those functions though non-military Departments — not the ‘Defense’ Department.
The Democratic Party’s NBC News headlined on May 29th, “What’s in the debt limit bill? Key provisions in the Biden-McCarthy deal to avert default” and reported:
The agreement includes spending caps for the next two years to set up the appropriations process. In fiscal year 2024, it limits military spending to $886 billion and non-military discretionary spending to $704 billion. In fiscal year 2025, those numbers rise to about $895 billion and $711 billion. 
But much of that “$704 billion” is ALSO going to the military. Furthermore: That $886B, which is the acknowledged portion of America’s military expenditures, constitutes not 53% of discretionary spending like in the recent past, but instead 56% of discretionary spending — and it is not only being protected from cuts, but the ‘news’-media are allowing the President and Congress to hide from the public that it’s the military that’s actually bleeding taxpayers, not the poor who are. And, on top of all this, congressional Republicans are now being public about their intentions to reduce the amounts of funding for the recipients of Social Security and Medicare. People like this (both the Republicans and the Democrats in Government) can be elected in a democracy? No: it is only a ‘democracy’; it is actually an aristocracy. The President and Congress don’t represent the public, in America.
The entire rest of the world is (according to SIPRI) spending $1,363T — which is actually only 91% as high as is America’s $1,500T military spending. So: America, according to the best available estimates, is actually spending well over half of the entire planet’s military costs. But the U.S. Government is increasing its official — Defense Department — military spending, to $886 billion, while keeping Social Security and Medicare as-is, and cutting only the 11% that’s left, which is money that’s going toward the poor, the neediest Americans. This is a banner year for the billionaires who own controlling interests in firms such as Lockheed Martin. In fact, over half of the 56% of the discretionary spending that’s going to the military, is now going to the ‘defense’ contractors: firms such as Lockheed Martin.
That $886 billion official ‘defense’ spending will increase, but portions of the $704B that are officially ‘non’-defense — the portions of it that go to the poorest — will get all of the cuts.
The U.S. media lie about all of this, by participating with the U.S. Government in hiding it from the public. The purpose of this article is to un-hide it — that it’s robbing the public to subsidize the super-rich. And the links here are to document it: to document the reality that the press are hiding.
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2023.06.03 18:43 Dan_Stainberg [Econ][Retro]Promoting Competition & Fair Markets Across Canada

[M]/ I accidentally mislabelled this pot as an [Event] instead of [Econ], so have to re-publish it. Plus a couple extra links in case someone wants to have a read. /[M]

Introduction

While being humorously "America junior" Canada has remained distinct in many respects, with its competition policy being arguably one of the starkest difference not just with the United States, but any other major economy. While remaining firmly on a more relaxed side when it comes to competition enforcement, Canada has take a step further, explicitly allowing greater market concentration in the name of market efficiency through the so-called "efficiencies defence" clause in the Competition Act.
Moreover, Canada trails many other developed countries when it comes its institutional design. Unlike other jurisdictions, such as the European Union, Canada is a highly judiciary-centred model, where even the enforcement body - Canada's Competition Bureau - first has to prove there's a formidable threat to competition, brining the matter the quasi-judicial Competition Appeal Tribunal, rather than act unilaterally, akin to the European Commission.
However, despite having CAT in place, the scope for private enforcement and complaints to the Tribunal has been pretty limited, which combined with a heavily restrained and underfunded enforcement agency made it Canada's competition regime to be arguably the most tolerant when it comes market concentration among the industrialised economies.

Taking competition off the leach

Following extensive consultations with stakeholders, finalised through an unanticipated round of bilateral talks with provincial and territorial governments, Ottawa is "releasing" the nation's competition enforcement institutions - a policy but at the centre of Canada's Fall Economic Update 2023. Namely, the Competition Bureau is being removed from under the jurisdiction of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada - previously Industry Canada - and granted full operational independence from the Government of Canada.
Aiming to give the CB real capacity to act on its own, a new funding mechanism is being introduced: in addition to direct funding from Ottawa, the House of Commons also gains right to order the Government of Canada to expand funding through a simply majority vote, including as component of a private member's bill or acting on upon recommendations of theStanding Committee on Industry and Technology (INDU).
Additionally, the Commissioner of Competition - the person leading the CB - is set to be reposing to INDU and the Parliament, directly bypassing the executive brach, with any changes to the position to be approved by the House at the same manner of the Privacy Commissioner. Notably, the Commissioner is being granted the right to sponsor amendments to the Competition Act that regulates CB's activities every parliament, including re-introducing changes that could not be passed due to the House being dissolved.
Under its newfound powers, the Competition Bureau also obtains partially adjudicative role, as opposed to a strictly investigative one. Namely, CB no longer has to bring their decision under the consideration of the Competition Appeal Tribunal, so long the opposed party reforms from contusing the decision. For its part, CAT is set to be the final decision-maker when it comes to any process relating to competition matters, including mergers and acquisitions, whenever there's a contradiction between the judgement made by the Bureau and the opposite party. Under the agreement with the provinces, CAT is set to be expanded on a two track-basis. First, the Tribunal is expanded to include an independent representative from each provinces, territory, and the Government of Canada - all appointed through a confirmatory vote in their respective legislatures every 5 years, aiming to achieve the greater possible degree of independence for the Tribunal, with one judicial member appointed from each provincial and territorial bar association, with the Chairman having no special powers, apart from nominal representation in the CAT.

Levelling the Playing Field

The Government of Canada is set to follow though with the proposals of the Competition Bureau as it relates to amending the Competition Act, making all the adjustments recommend, with a notable exception of the Efficiencies Defence.
While not removing the clause completely from the Act, the government is restricting its use to solely to export-oriented companies, namely where over 60 per cent of the its revenue comes to exported products sold outside Canada. Moreover, efficiencies defence is set to be non-applicable whenever there's a possibly of creating a gatekeeper, capable in the long-run to support the creation of new market barriers to entry, defined as a player with more than 20 per cent of sales, including those made in Canada through importing products.
Unlike recommend, rather than allowing for CB to commission market studies, this power is being grated to the newly created Competition & Markets Commission of Canada (CMCC) comprised of the Chairman of the Competition Appeal Tribunal, Head Commissioner of the Competition Bureau, as well as provincial appointed a provincial, territorial, and federal consumer protection authority is set to set direction for the CMC. Being an intergovernmental agency, whose funded and responsible to the Parliament, CMCC aims to provide better policy diffusion between consumer protection - traditionally a provincial matter - and competition considerations, through issuing policy recommendations, as well as commissioning market studies, and playing a central advocacy role to incorporate market entry and concentration concerns thought the public policy space.
CMCC gains power to "red flag" both existing and future legislation and regulations issued by governmental bodies of those may result in increased market concentration, create conditions conducive to future market entry barriers or significantly restrict supply for any purposes other than public health, safety, or existing international commitments, and appeal the matter directly to the CAT or request further investigation by competition watchdog.
Notably, the new version of the Competition Act explicitly equates both monopolies and monopsonies as per their negative impact on the market, emphasising possible repercussions for local markets, be that an employer monopsony collaborations or exerting pressure on suppliers.
Additionally, the Act is set to be automatically reviewed every 5 years, or upon the request of the Commissioner for Competition, included acting on behalf of a provincial consumer protection agency. The Act also openly permits private action and direct legal acton from private actors to the Competition Appeal Tribunal when there's a perceive violation of the terms of the Act, with CAT being able to order the Competition Bureau to pursue further investigation of the matter. Additionally, the concept of a nation-wide "level playing field" is being inserted into the Act, that both the Competition Bureau and the Competition Appeal Tribunal is tasked to protect.
LPF is defined as "regulatory, institutional, legal framework that governments a marketplace an manner that is neutral or more favourable towards new entrants, and where consumer sovereignty is preserved"
Moreover, the Act reverses the roles when it comes to competition enforcement: it's set to be up to the defender to prove their actions shall not result in immediate or long-term lessening of competition, new entry barriers, or consumer harm, with the efficiencies gain remaining restricted to export-oriented companies.
The Act also introduces the so-called "Competition Override" committing the Government of Canada to prioritising competition considerations when conducting any public policy, including problem procurement, government subsidies, and issuing or amending legislation relating to consumer protection or federally regulated industries. The override can be used by the Competition Bureau to bring the Government of Canada to CAT, and directly challenge any decision or regulation, including those issued by other independent agencies on competition grounds. However, this can only be used after an extensive enquiry by the Competition & Markets Commission of Canada has been conducted, unless the Bureau is compelled to act by a prior Tribunal ruling.
The Competition Act also allows for direct federal-provincial cooperation, permitting the Competition Bureau and the CMCC to conduct enquiries on behalf of provincial governments, as well as brining respective public agencies directly into the CAT process, treating legal proceedings launched by provincial consumer protection agencies as essentially equivalent to those pursued by the Competition Bureau.
Those enjoying such legal equivalence include:

A Canadian Single Market at last?

However, as one of the most important changes is concerned with last minute changes to the Canadian Free Trade Agreement - an intergovernmental treaty negotiated to eliminated non-tariff barriers to trade between Canada's provinces and territories. The Competition Act is now directly referencing the CFTA as a framework for intergovernmental cooperation when it comes to competition enforcement, grating the Competition Bureau the right to directly petition both Ottawa and the Provinces to support and maintain a "level playing field, through promoting free and unrestricted movement of goods, services, capital, and labour within and across Canada".
The Act also permits unilateral action by the CB through CAT or any other legal means to protect and further develop the free movement of goods, services, persons, and capital, so long those remedies "do not result into changes to the division of powers between the Provinces and the Government of Canada or legal alteration of the Constitution of Act." The Act also exempts restrictions imposed on the grounds of public health safety, or environmental protection from being challenged by the Bureau.
While otherwise possibly interpreted as an infringement of provincial rights, the clause of the Competition Bureau being explicitly allowed to bring federal and provincial governments to courts over breaking either the Level Playing Field provision of violating freedom of movement for goods, services, and capital may provide the necessary incentive to expedite further liberalisation of internal trade. Effectively, allowing the Bureau to become an additional stimulant whenever the institutions outlined in the Canadian Free Trade Agreement fail to deliver.

Impact of Domestic Politics

Canada's has been going through a period of surpassingly sticky inflation, that has been in large part driven by increasing prices of food. Which in turn resulted in acquisitions the grocery sector been too monopolised, allowing retailers to extract exorbitantly high prices at the expense of already struggling households. Additionally, Canada received its fair share of negative coverage, thanks to its lacklustre productivity growth, that has also been partially attributed to far lower completive pressures in the economy. Moreover, with the Trudeau government making somewhat expensive commitments betting on repositioning Canada's during the global green transition some believed subsidy regime oversight was needed. It also may give the federal Liberals something to counter the conservative narrative, looking much tougher cracking down on "gatekeepers" across Canada.
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2023.06.03 15:34 Rhreddit1234 Moving Options IL to TX

So we are doing a interstate move from IL to TX. We are moving from a 3 bedroom house to a 2 bedroom apartment. We have significantly downsized our stuff. The big items we have are a king sized memory foam mattress, with two twin sized adjustable bases. We have an IKEA 8 square shelving unit we use as a tv stand/book shelf, a dining table with 6 chairs, a 3 seat sectional with ottoman (it is modular, so all the pieces come apart for ease of moving), a 65 inch TV, and a boxing bag (which might just get set on the curb). We also have probably 25 boxes of assorted stuff. In the past we have been able to fit comfortably in a 16 foot U-Haul.
So far we have gotten estimates of:
Moving Truck: $1,100 plus fuel and spouse having to drive behind me Moving Truck and Hire a Driver: Around $2,500 U-Pack: $2,100 A traditional moving service: who knows, bombarded by phone calls with no real info.
We have done the moving truck and we drive thing before but admittedly a pain, especially with a senior dog. We have done U-Pack before, not bad service, downside is having to deal with parking on both ends. Never done a traditional moving company, also seemed out of our budget and full of scams. Does anyone have an honest ballpark range on hiring a company like Allied or similar? I am a bit wary just with how unhelpful they have been.
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2023.06.03 14:12 vegicom Creamy Mushroom Alfredo Pasta Delicious & Easy Vegan Recipe

Creamy Mushroom Alfredo Pasta Delicious & Easy Vegan Recipe


This delicious vegan Alfredo pasta is not only low in calories, (the way you like your food) but it is high in nutrients. It’s so easy that even my little daughter can make it. Top to that, you need nothing for it but a few simple ingredients. Gosh, it’s so creamy and flavorful. I just simply love it!
You know, this delicious vegan Alfredo pasta is not only healthy for you and your dear ones, but it’s also good for the poor planet of ours. Don’t hesitate to customize the dish with your favorite veggies and seasonings. One way to make your vegan Alfredo pasta extraordinary is serving vegan ayran with it as a drink. Never think of Coke as a healthy beverage.
As a vegan, I love mushrooms, this fantastic low-cal source of protein for people like me. They’re filled with essential nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They give this delicious Alfredo pasta a rich and savory flavor, nothing else can do. Mushrooms are packed with antioxidants. These tough guys will protect you against threats from free radicals. By the way, who freed these radical elements?
Now, here are a few tips and tricks to make your Vegan Alfredo Pasta perfect:
  • Cook the pasta to al dente and give it a quick rinse with cold water. This stops the cooking process and keeps the pasta firm and ready to soak up all the creamy goodness later.
  • When combining the sauce with the pasta, give them a few minutes together. Let them mingle and get cozy, allowing the sauce to thicken and the flavors to meld together. It’s like a pasta party in your bowl!
  • When melting the vegetable butter, keep an eye on it. We want it to melt and get all nice and fragrant without burning. Nobody likes burnt butter, right?
  • Grating the garlic adds a burst of garlicky flavor throughout the sauce. It’s like a secret ingredient that takes the taste to the next level. Mmm!
  • Slicing the mushrooms just right is key. Go for thin slices to allow them to cook evenly and soak up all the flavors from the sauce. They’ll turn into a delightful texture bomb in your pasta.
  • Don’t forget to season your sauce with salt, black pepper, and red pepper. These spices add a lovely kick and complement the earthiness of the mushrooms. Adjust the amounts based on your taste preferences.
  • Don’t be afraid to adjust the thickness of the Alfredo sauce to your liking. If the sauce is too thick, add more plant-based milk or pasta water until you reach your desired consistency. If you want to make the delicious vegan Alfredo pasta more filling, add some vegan protein such as chickpeas, tofu, or tempeh.
  • To make the dish look more appealing, garnish it with freshly chopped parsley or a sprinkle of paprika. You can store the leftovers in the refrigerator for less than three days. Reheat in a saucepan with a splash of plant-based milk or vegetable broth to prevent the sauce from drying out.
  • Don’t hesitate to try different ingredients. This way you can find the perfect recipe that works for you. Have fun and enjoy your yummy Alfredo pasta!
  • Instead of buying vegan cream, you can make it at home
Remember, cooking is all about having fun and experimenting. Feel free to customize this recipe with your favorite veggies and seasonings. Get creative and make it your own!
Did you know you can make vegan cream to make your Alfredo pasta creamier in just a few minutes? Soak some cashews in hot water for 5-10 minutes. Then blend the cashews and water until creamy. That easy! You can also add flavors like maple syrup, vanilla, or cinnamon if you want to make a flavored creamer.
Cook and drain the pasta. Let it cool. Reserve some of the starchy pasta water to add to the sauce and help it coat the pasta better. Cook your pasta al dente according to the package instruction so that it's not too mushy or too hard.
Heat the vegetable butter in a heavy saucepan until it melts. Cut the butter into pieces before melting it. This will help it melt more quickly and evenly. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, occasionally stirring with a wooden spoon. The low heat will help keep the melted butter from burning. Remove from heat as soon as the butter is melted.
Peel the garlic cloves and slice them into tiny minced pieces. Add the garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, for 15 to 30 seconds. Keep the heat low and stir the garlic often to prevent it from burning. The garlic is done when it has released its perfume into the air and its color turns golden.
Clean the mushrooms by wiping off excess dirt with a damp towel or giving them a quick rinse and dry. Slice the mushrooms into similar-sized pieces. Add the mushrooms to the pan, leaving space between them. Cook the mushrooms for 3-5 minutes before turning. Stir and allow the mushrooms to finish cooking for a couple more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
You can add vegan cream to your pasta sauce to make it richer and creamier. Pour the cream into a small saucepan and bring it to a very gentle simmer, stirring constantly. Add around 100ml of the pasta cooking water and stir until well combined.
Add cheese powder and flour. Mix them well to prevent lumps. Season the sauce with black pepper and salt to taste. Some people like to add a little lemon juice to it. Vegetables such as tomatoes and spinach, or fresh herbs like basil, parsley, or oregano, are also good to try.
Drain the pasta in a colander. Then add the cooked pasta to the pot. Stir in the sauce and heat the pasta until it is well covered and warmed through. Transfer to a bowl, garnish with herbs and enjoy!
submitted by vegicom to u/vegicom [link] [comments]


2023.06.03 03:45 KingAli_97 Please help 😵‍💫

Hi!
I’m currently mattress shopping and after plenty of hours of testing out multiple diff options, i really liked this one. Wanted to see what the general opinion is on the quality of the mattress and if it is a good quality?
For context, I’m single, 5’9, 155lbs. I sleep on my stomach/side (very awkward position but I swear it’s the most comfortable). I go to the gym often so sore-ness is sometimes an issue.
Also in case you didn’t want to click the link, the specs are below
Mattress Type: Hybrid Overall Height: 14” Support Layers: Individually wrapped pocketed coil system, extra-firm stabilizing base foam layer, and Sereni Sleep® fire-retardant fiber Comfort Layers: Features 2” Copper-infused latex and HR foam in the comfort layer Edge Support: Foam encasement for improved perimeter consistency that creates a firmer edge
Thanks in advance!!!
submitted by KingAli_97 to Mattress [link] [comments]


2023.06.03 00:24 OdeToRocket Why you underperform the market - how to put it all together.

EDIT - I can't share the video so I guess I can't show how Portfolio managers quantify risk so wtf ever on that part; but I'm going to suggest from experience that this isn't really how money works through the system and how risk is actually managed.
Rather I'm going to suggest that there's a much simpler way to see what trading firms and clearing houses are actually doing to make a market.
I'm going to argue that because Market Makers buy the bid and sell the asking price, that if you buy the bid of the front month and sell the ask of the back month you get a P/L curve that looks like this:
http://opcalc.com/Sjn
I would then argue that if you adjust volatility you'll see how that P/L curve changes: example thus
http://opcalc.com/Sjt
Eventually you see this behavior pretty plainly in the charts and you don't really care anymore about doing the calculations and finding the curves.
For instance I expect the VIX to increase because of this:
https://www.tradingview.com/x/TnAHD6Y2/
I expect a ~16% or so increase. But in the above example the market makers roughly see a 9% increase.
This is more accurate because that is where they are neutral for the entirety of the time as they trace price across the curve.
If you go back to the previous link that showed the +16% volatility result, you see that we still have only about a limited downside of $420 on the SPY, but an upside of about $436.50; I adjusted this when I had more time to 9% which is more accurate and gets a topside target of about $435.50. It won't change the results below if you just run the numbers for $435.50 you'll see how the market maker derives the bid ask spread. Further proving the point that price is in response to market maker liquidity.
Mapping the curve onto the SPY we see this purple curve here:
https://www.tradingview.com/x/w3SXexdL/
Notice that the bottom of the curve is the prior support level around 423 which was the previous highs that broke out above.
You tell me...do you think it's a coincidence that I derive that price level from the method above?
Notice the $436 level is the past sticky spot (support that failed) of April 2022 which is now resistance.
https://www.tradingview.com/x/EA5HjP1g/
Do you think that is a coincidence? If you do, then stop trading you're just going to hurt yourself and you might as well go get a government pension.
Of course it's not a coincidence.
Generally speaking the Market Makers who want a breakeven price (that P/L curve where the profit/loss is $0), set those levels BASED on these targets.
They offer the market these prices and that's why price behaves as it does, generally, through its random walk.
Let's use July 21st as the example:
Here's what the market maker is offering to take the short side. You short, they buy and offer your to sell to you if price keeps going higher.
http://opcalc.com/Sjq
Here's what the market maker is taking:
http://opcalc.com/Sjs
Offering $135 profit vs Taking $144. A spread of $9.
The point so far is that you can map out where the MARKET MAKER'S LIQUIDITY is.
That's where price will seek. Market makers want to be market neutral. Price seeks their liquidity zones. These zones are identifiable in price and time, price action.
They are easily visible in Technical Analysis which only losers think big money trading firms don't use Technical Analysis....
These things are HIDDEN to you.
Obvious to me.
And it's why YOU underperform the markets. I would love to explain more. feel free to discuss.

PS. This also is not a coincidence:
https://www.tradingview.com/x/L1U4kyfB/
submitted by OdeToRocket to StockMarket [link] [comments]


2023.06.02 21:16 chnky18 Are we making a mistake with wrong firmness level?

My wife and got a tempurpedic pro-adapt in medium firmness with adjustable base. It's been 2 weeks and so far my wife is miserable. Part of it is we have not found the right head/feet level to sleep at. We didn't do split king since it was so much more but she likes to sleep on stomach sometimes and I am an only side sleeper. We are both around 240# each. The test in stores said to go with firm but we thought that was way too hard. Salesman said mattress in store are worn in to give an idea of what it will feel like down the road. My wife feels like the medium is too hard and is talking about going with the soft. Will we regret this decision based on our weight?
submitted by chnky18 to Mattress [link] [comments]


2023.06.02 19:00 handsoftime3-6-9 Maybe lay off the chiropractic treatments for a while - or am I overthinking?

My local chiro is a sweet guy, "shirt off his back", model of honesty. He is old school. I think he was trained by Cleveland and sometimes talks about the glory days of the Palmers. From the way I have seen this type of practice described its like an "adjusting practice." There is nothing funny to me about the business model. He is not affiliated with anyone. He has an open floor plan office. He doesn't use lasers or claim to cure diabetes or sell supplements. He does everything by feel --occasionally uses that scope tool but not really and the visits are quick.
Its super affordable, esp if you go 3x a month. I think some people use Medicare but everyone else is self pay. No contracts. He makes up for it on volume, I'm sure.
When I first saw him a few years back I felt pain from yard work. I got a firm but cheap mattress at his suggestion. And either between that and the treatments -- did not really have a problem. I stopped going after a few months.
Fast forward to about 6 months ago -- I just thought -- hey maybe I'll start seeing the Dr. again. Not really a specific reason. So I have been going 3x a month. It's so cheap I don't really blink an eye. His attitude is basically like -- me and my family get adjusted every week, so maybe you should too. No pressure though.
I have no real complaints, a little back pain here and there but I attribute that mostly to being overweight and my mattress wearing out again 5 years later. The only thing that I can say the coincided with my life getting regular adjustments is -- for the past 6 months I really didn't get sick at all.
I'm wondering do I keep going for no specific reason? Or take a break? there is probably not a right or wrong answer just wanted to see what others thought.
submitted by handsoftime3-6-9 to Chiropractic [link] [comments]


2023.06.02 18:42 Adderalin test

Money Markets, T-Bills, and Box Spreads Oh My! My Guide to Fixed Income Trading

Why trade fixed income? Why not be all 100% in equities? Why not be in leveraged equities?
Well, you certainly can! However having some sort of fixed-income allocation can lead to greater risk-adjusted returns. Then for certain strategies, such as selling options to profit off theta and shorting volatility, stuffing your gains in a fixed income portfolio tends to be an excellent choice given how margin rules, house margin rules, etc., work on portfolio margin. You're already getting some significant returns on options trading:
Options selling is its own type of asset allocation just like you have long equity positions, real estate, etc., and finally... fixed income. Many people including myself find paring short options with fixed income allocations tends to have higher risk-adjusted returns and easier portfolios to manage and hedge than adding long equity components.
Imagine being long spy at 200% leverage and maxed out on BP selling puts despite buying long puts to hedge out the components = hello margin call, hello breaking SUT all the time. I know, as I previously was!

Bond Basics

This guide is written that you have the understanding on how bonds work, maturity dates, coupon rates, yield curve rates, duration (interest-rate) risk, etc.
If you don't understand how they work - bogleheads.org has a wonderful article called Bond Basics.
Now I want to cover the most important decisions in picking your fixed income allocation: duration, type, and fund vs individual trades.

Picking Duration

The next critical decision is picking how long you want your fixed income to expire. Longer duration = more credit risk. If interest rates keep rising you'll have higher mark-to-market losses on your fixed income the further out duration goes. A good rule of thumb is 1 years duration = 1% NLV loss if interest rates increase by 1%.
So an ETF like VGSH has 1.9 years of duration, meaning they buy 1-3 year treasuries and so they're on average always expiring in 1.9 years. This is why the fund lost 6.6% in November 2022. If we plot interest rates over a year the 2 year rate increased to 4.33% from 0.41%, or a 3.92% increase. Multiplying that by 1.9 duration = an estimated 7.4% loss by the rule of thumb, so the above ETF did well.
Duration is a temporary risk. The new bonds are yielding higher rates, so as the fund sells old bonds and buys new bonds they start getting paid the higher rates. Another rule of thumb is duration = how many years until you break even on average. It's not guaranteed that you'll break even by that time, but you probabilistically will - given there are no more interest rate increases.
You will want to match your duration to when you need your money:

Fixed-Income Type

The next critical decision is picking your type of fixed income. We have US Treasuries which are the safest and quoted for the risk-free rate. We then have municipal bonds which are slightly more risky (imagine investing in bonds that Detroit defaulted on.) Then followed that we have various other asset classes of bonds - corporate bonds (investment grade rated vs junk), mortgage backed securities, inflation protected securities (did horrible in 2022! did not perform to anyone's expectations.), and a bunch of other bond types.
Picking your fixed-income type is the second critical decision as what matters is known as default-risk. Higher risk of default > higher interest rate. My recommendations are either sticking to US Treasuries or Investment-grade corporate bonds. Any other assets - mortgage backed securities, TIPS, junk bonds, etc., don't have a higher risk-adjusted return unless you have stock picking skills (and why waste that gift on fixed income? Well unless you're Bill Gross.)

ETFs vs Individual Bonds

The last critical decision is picking ETFs vs Individual Bonds.
ETF Pros:
Individual Bond Pros:
Bogleheads.org has another great Wiki article on this decision: Bogleheads.org Individual Bonds vs a Bond Fund

My Favorite Bond ETFs

Here is a list of my favorite bond ETFs, their type & duration, and how much portfolio margin TD Ameritrade currently charges me:
ETFs I don't like:
Total Bond Market (BND). It invests in all bonds in market cap weighting, which market cap weighting is a great idea for stocks, or for investment grade corporate bonds, but I feel it's a terrible idea for anyone else fixed income purposes.
Why do I want to sprinkle some long duration bonds that life insurance companies are buying to hedge their 30-year term life insurance policies with? Why follow market psychology on if more buyers decide to pull out of high yield savings accounts and buy a bunch of t-bills bidding down the interest rate? That'll cause total bond to sell off long-term treasuries just when they've taken a loss to buy billions/trillions more of market cap sticking it in 1-year t-bills. This is why it under-performs greatly as it's rebalancing into bad trades. Since it's a fund and we have low FDIC limits total bond can't even follow the complete market of HYSAs, bank CDs, and the like!
Doing market cap weighted corporate bonds make a lot more sense to me. It feels natural like following the crowd with equities, likewise following the crowd for the bonds those equities issue. You get a slightly higher return, roughly the same risk adjusted return, and you have slightly higher market correlation with corporate bonds than total-bond-market. A total corporate bond market fund tends to do better than the total bond market.
Hell even Long-Term US Treasuries does better than Total Bond Market. One really nice thing about long-term treasuries is they're typically inversely correlated to the stock market, which has a "rebalancing effect." In true stock market crashes NOT driven by rising interest rates (2020 covid, 2008, etc.), these guys tend to shoot up as we tend to cut interest rates to help stabilize equities. This is one thing that hurts having investment grade bonds as stock crashes = panic about equities = possibly rising defaults.
Speaking of iBoxx... I box too! I love box spreads which brings me to the next part of the guide! :D

SPX Box Spreads as a Borrowing and Lending Mechanism

Now that we understand how fixed income trading works, we can get the same return by trading box spreads on the S&P 500 European options or another euro option index.
Why European? So you don't get assigned early and blow up your box trades. If you still don't understand why I suggest uninstalling portfolio margin until you understand this.
There is a great website to price out box spreads - Boxtrades.com
If you want to be a lender and gain interest, you buy the box. As of writing this guide long boxes in SPX expiring 6 months from now in 17 Nov 23 are trading around 5.39% APR. Lending this trade will look something like this:
Lend 97,595 today, receive 100,000 on November 17th, 2023 Example trade Buy 1 SPX 17NOV23 4000 CALL Sell 1 SPX 17NOV23 4000 PUT Sell 1 SPX 17NOV23 5000 CALL Buy 1 SPX 17NOV23 5000 PUT
You can also borrow money and not pay margin interest on debit balances. Borrow a giant box and you can stop paying TD Ameritrade margin interest! :D
Borrow 97,595 today, repay 100,000 on November 17th, 2023 Example trade Sell 1 SPX 17NOV23 4000 CALL Buy 1 SPX 17NOV23 4000 PUT Buy 1 SPX 17NOV23 5000 CALL Sell 1 SPX 17NOV23 5000 PUT

My updated experience trading box spreads

Ever since the website boxtrades.com was published - spreads have tightened considerably. They are very liquid now no matter what strikes.
They tend to trade at 0-30 basis points above US treasuries in a normal market, sometimes below treasuries when we're having a debt ceiling crisis lol.
They are very liquid for $50k or more orders. Under $50k my experience is you might have a 50 basis point spread against market makers. Above 50k the spread feels to be around 10-20 basis points for long or short. I like to wait 2-3 minutes trying to fill a box as either as a lender or seller (I've done both now!), and give up some edge if it doesn't fill in the next few minutes.
Need some money fast from box spreads? Let's say you have 1m invested but only need 100k. Remember you don't have to close your position or buy lots of contracts to have that flexibility (ie 10x 100k trades.) You can always put on a really wide box spread then short/borrow smaller spreads with different strikes in the same expiration! It will all net out! For instance I could have 2 5,000 point spreads for $1m and save on # contracts, then sell the 1,000 wide spread if I needed 100k cash.

Box Spreads vs T-Bills/other income

Box Spread Pros:
Box Spread Cons:

Boxtrades.com Website Issues

  1. Data is a day's old. It doesn't show real time data.
  2. They don't properly account for settlement dates in their interest rate calculations and are off by 1 day. So over 30 days a off by 1 day is a 1/30 = a 3.33% error band. At 5% interest that is a 0.165% error. I'd try to fill at least 30 days+ if you base your rates off the website's calculations. Or calculate interest rate manually given that fact. The proper interest calculation is settlement to settlement of when cash enters/leaves your account.

TD Ameritrade Box Spread Issues

  1. Your weekend NLV shows super high for expiring short boxes or super low for expiring long boxes as they're not debiting/crediting the cash you receive as you don't receive that until they officially settle on Monday. It's ok, you'll get the cash!
  2. Possibly blocked on withdrawals even if you have plenty of BP if Portfolio Margin Team isn't around when you make the withdrawal request. Make withdrawal requests before 4pm eastern when the PM margin team is present. The Reg-T margin staff don't seem to understand box spread trades.
  3. TOS shows you getting SPX AM settled boxes money on Friday of settlement. This is an annoying display bug. You don't get your money until Monday when they settle, as its T+1 from when the settlement value is recorded and the SET index can't be computed until Monday in the morning when the SPX has fully opened, which can be 1-2 hours after exchanges start trading. You'll pay margin interest if you time trades thinking box spread money is settled on Friday due to this display bug!

Box Spread FAQ

  1. Aren't they illiquid? No, not really, you're just not trying hard enough to get filled. For a 50k box the spread is 30-50 basis points, which is $150-$250 extra if it's a whole year out. Going past 50k the spread gets almost as tight as treasuries! What market maker wouldn't want to profit $150 risk free by filling both sides?
  2. Do I have to sell my entire position if I need cash? No, you can "borrow" against your long position by selling different strikes in the same expiration. It all nets out on expiration! Minimize your number of contracts then borrow smaller amounts if you need to.
  3. Counter Party Risk? The Options Clearing Corporation as explained earlier. Ironically box spreads seems safer right now than short-dated t-bills with the debt ceiling crisis!
  4. How wide boxes? Wider = less contracts and lower commissions. 1000 wide as quoted by boxtrades.com = really liquid since others are trading them. Market makers care about the total notional size of the order, so if you're certain you don't need the cash save the commissions.
  5. Can I trade boxes on Reg-T? No, not really, its a portfolio-margin trade. Depending on the broker they might reserve 30% of buying power easily for this trade, possibly 100% buying power. Ouch.
  6. How far out? See the part that talks about duration risk. Rule of thumb: 1 year = 1% NLV gain or loss if interest rates changed by 1%.
  7. Should I use PM settlement boxes? Unfortunately boxtrades.com only has AM settlement options data so you'd have the con of calculating your own interest rates. You have the same con of Friday expiring PM settled boxes showing NLV bugs on TD Ameritrade's website. Holding to expiration and not seeing NLV glitches = only trading monday-thursday PM settled boxes, which only trade up to 39~ days to expiration. I'm sticking with AM settled box trades.
  8. Can I withdraw cash from shorting the box? Yes, yes you can, up to your available cash to withdraw/buying poweas long as your other house margin rules are in check (SUT, beta testing to SPX, etc.) PM accounts + Short Box spreads make for excellent vehicles to borrow against stock vs pledged asset lines.
  9. Can I expire out of box spreads? Absolutely! I prefer doing that vs spending the orders to roll the trade early unless I want NLV screenshots for bragging purposes.

Resources

submitted by Adderalin to test [link] [comments]


2023.06.02 18:30 mystikekoez Touchpad Not Physically Clicking when screwed into Input Cover

EDIT: Title should say Touchpad Not Physically Clicking when Input Cover screwed into Bottom Case
Hey everyone, just received my 13th gen Intel framework laptop today, and after fully assembling the laptop, I am unable to physically click in on the touchpad. When I remove the input cover from the chassis, the touchpad clicks so it's not rubbing on any part of the cover. I did notice that the bottom case does look slightly bowed but I don't think that would affect the click-ability of the touchpad. Pressing down firmly on the center of the touchpad does not seem to make a difference as suggested by a knowledgebase article. I also tried adjusting the 4 phillips screws surrounding the touchpad - this touchpad seems to be the updated version with no adjustability as the touchpad is tack welded to the mounting bracket. I've went ahead and reached out to support in the meantime.
As an additional test, I tried clicking the touchpad while it's not mounted on the bottom case (just the ribbon cable connected) and Windows registers the clicks fine.
Any ideas?
submitted by mystikekoez to framework [link] [comments]


2023.06.02 18:20 Troll-e-poll-e-o-lee Fall 2024 hopeful. Should I even apply? 31M First Gen URM w/unusual path. 670 GMAT. Be honest w/my chances.

Brief-ish background (more detail on some of the career description below).Grew up in the southwest. Not very good options as far as schools and career paths post college (it’s all operations and warehouses). Could have probably gotten into better undergrads but as a first-gen student (parents not from US), I didn’t really understand the importance of college choice for career path nor what career paths were out there.
Post graduation I worked at an insurance firm since it was the first role I was offered. Didn’t really like it but stayed about a year.
Worked at an investment management firm as a broker. Stayed for 21 months. The role was a call center environment and was not a good fit for what I was looking for. Struggled to get a promotion. Was ultimately fired
Took a job not long after doing the same thing at another broker. Was there for about 10 months. Was also fired over a weird reason elaborated further below but the broker sold their practice to a larger broker-dealer which I think factored in the decision.
After this I was feeling pretty down and lacking confidence in finding a career in business. I decided to try my hand at Computer Science and studied math and computer science at a local community college. Took a night shift job to cover cost of living after a semester. COVID hit and I decided it was best to not take hard math and computer science classes in an online environment.
After much deliberation, I explored and decided to attend a Masters in Finance program as a mini-MBA. I found a program that would suit me well and still had in-person options. Graduated in a year.
Accepted a job offer at a regional bank (in the S&P 500) working in Corporate Finance; specifically Corporate Profitability Analytics. The role is more data related and has me using SQL, Power BI, and other data related software/programs in addition to Excel. Currently 1.5 years in. Have been doing well and hoping to be able to gain a promotion soon although the company is sort of cheap when it comes to this sort of thing. While I don’t mind my current work, it is niche and not something I find particularly interesting outside of the skillset I’ve been able to gain.
If I weren’t considering applying to an MBA I’d probably start searching for other opportunities, however, I also realize that with my pre-MSF experience, the job hopping doesn’t look good and there will be more benefit to sticking with the company for almost 3 years at the start of the program and having a promotion under my belt.
MBA Info
· Why I want an MBA:
· Short-term I’m hoping to pivot into management/strategy consulting for my longer-term goal of being able to be a leader in my community. I would want to pivot into starting my own non-profit firm where I help members of low-income communities and URM owned businesses grow with the knowledge I gain from my consulting experience. I also think consulting would help with my eclectic nature and help with preventing the need to job hop given constantly being in new environments (probs wont mention this in an application though)
· Why I want one now:
· My current role is pretty niche in the banking industry. I’m afraid of being pigeonholed and the skillset I’m gaining, while desirable, isn’t necessarily one I see that aligns with my long-term goals.
· Target schools:
· Planning to apply through Consortium. Columbia (reach), Tuck, Yale, NYU, UVA, Rochester (safety school). Also open to applying outside of Consortium or changing the schools I apply to if better fit is recommended.
Background
· Work experience (starting from most recent)
· Nov 2021-Present; Corporate Financial Analyst at regional bank in S&P 500*.*
· I work in Corporate Profitability Analytics. While my title is a Financial Analyst, skillset wise, I would say my role is closer to a data analyst. I utilize SQL, Power BI, Excel, and other software to help develop, design and refine models to allow the bank to conduct data driven research in regards to the profitability of the bank. I develop and maintain reports and dashboards to disseminate information to executives and other relevant stakeholders and field questions and concerns related to the information.
· Oct 2020 – Aug 2020; Masters in Finance student at a state school
· This served as a mini-MBA for me. In my previous roles prior to this program, I was a bad fit as the roles were far too customer service oriented and led to me being fired from 2 of the roles and me quitting before I could be fired from another.
· December 2019 – July 2020 Bi-Lingual Fraud Representative at a large Credit Card Company (Capital One/DiscoveAmex type)
· This was a role I took on while I was considering a career switch into Computer Science/Financial Engineering. The role was a night shift and allowed me to work while taking classes.
· Left the role on my own terms as I wanted time to prepare for my Masters in Finance program
· Aug 2019 – March 2019; Math/Comp Sci student at community college
· Attended a local community college where I was majoring in Math/Computer Science as I was considering a career switch during a crisis of confidence. Took math, programming and engineering classes while attending. COVID struck during second semester and decided that taking a STEM heavy course load online was not optimal for me.Around this time, I decided to look into MBA’s and Masters in Finance programs. One MBA program (Rochester) really wanted me to apply there, but overall, I felt the MSF suited me better for my experience and where I was at in life. It would allow me to keep the MBA in the back pocket for any other potential switches.
· Oct 2018 – Jul 2019; Licensed Investment Professional at a Broker-Dealer
· Worked as a Series 7 and Series 63 licensed contractor. The company is large and serves a specified client base but did not have a large broker-dealer segment. Took a hands-on approach in all aspects of wealth and asset management: consulting and educating investors in mutual fund options and other products to help meet financial goals.
· Consistently led entire department in relationship management and engagement metrics: survey responses, survey scores, and new business development through sales referrals to advisory consultants in a fast-paced environment
· Consistently led entire department in operations and efficiency metrics while exceeding accuracy requirements and adhering to legal compliance through attention to detail
· Ended up being fired after a client complained to a friend of his in the Board of Directors that I wouldn’t help them with something that was not possible. The company ended up being bought out by a larger broker-dealer during that same month and they had been letting contractors expire w/out being renewed. I am under the impression they were downsizing regardless. I understand this section is speculative and would most likely omit it from any actual application.
·
· Nov 2016 – Aug 2018; Licensed Investment Professional at a top Broker-Dealer (PIMCO/Vanguard/Schwab type)
· Similar functional duties as other broker-dealer. In addition to those duties, demonstrated leadership and ability to work collaboratively through training and development of new hires, presentation of materials and investment methodology for new hires in multiple meetings, coaching, and mentorship of peers
· Voluntarily cross-trained and developed skills from higher level departments in order to liaison with those departments and assist in their service levels and learn new skills
· Consistently led the department in efficiency metrics such as calls taken and average handle time while maintaining high accuracy
· Ended up being placed on a performance improvement plan without warning and subsequently fired by my manager not long after. This happened after she found out I was looking into other companies as I was feeling dissatisfied with my lack of promotion. I had talked about seeking other roles within the company that would be less customer service oriented and she said she was supportive of that. When I would apply to jobs that were more in line with what I was looking for in the company, I would get great feedback from the interviewers. They would then ask my current manager for feedback and after that I would seemingly get rejected. I understand this section is speculative and would most likely omit it from any actual application.
· Aug 2015 – Jul 2016 Workers Compensation Insurance Adjuster at a top firm (Travelers/Hartford/Zurich type)
· Under minimal supervision interpreted and applied insurance contract policies exercising sound judgment in order to quickly reach outcome of fraud investigation while still maintaining high quality and meeting regulatory audits and requirements.
· Knowledgeable point of reference and correspondence for witnesses, agents, other insurance companies, medical providers, attorneys, and others.
· Utilized discipline, self-motivation and strong organizational skills to properly handle multiple tasks for proper case management of existing claims as a full caseload was often 100+ claims.
· Worked with internal partners on a special project to help conduct and report data driven risk analysis by identifying patterns and industry trends and researching strategies to reduce negative trends; provided qualitative feedback/analysis as an adjuster.
· Consistently led the department in client survey feedback in both number of survey responses and survey scores (never received less than a 9). Won the monthly competition 7 of the 8 months it was in place.
· Left on my own terms. Realized early on into the job that the insurance industry was not interesting to me nor where I wanted to be. Once I received a job offer from an Investment Management company, I put in my two weeks.
· Extra curriculars and other experience:
· I’m a religious individual. During undergrad I was very involved with my church in its ministry and even interned there. Since graduating, I have been heavily involved in youth ministry in poor areas that are heavily minority. I have a particular calling to kids of these backgrounds because I used to from a similar background and know many of them don’t see enough positive male role models who have been able to overcome many of the trappings that growing up in less-than-optimal conditions can provide. In this role, I am able to connect with youth and facilitate conversation about life, faith, and development with them.
· I also serve as a member of the Finance Council and Development Advisory Board of a local church. In these roles I take part in creating and monitoring budgeting and finances of the church as well as developing ideas to raise revenue and seek out potential tithing partners.
· Undergrad school/major:
· State School ranked outside of top 200. Double majored in Political Science and Business Economics
· Chose to attend there due to full-ride scholarships. Did not realize the importance of choosing certain colleges for certain career paths
· Other education/coursework:
· Masters in Finance at state school w/top 50 business program
· Graduated with a 3.5 GPA
· Race/nationality:
· Primarily Hispanic (mixed w/other minorities but not sure how it classifies)
· Sex:
· M
Stats
· GMAT Score: Include breakdown
· 670 (42q/40v). Looking/probably need to retake as it may expire soon. Think I can score 700+ since I took this before taking math/computer science classes at community college
· Undergrad GPA:
· 3.41 for Bachelors. (3.6 at community college)
· Grad School GPA
· 3.5
submitted by Troll-e-poll-e-o-lee to MBA [link] [comments]


2023.06.02 17:52 PritchettRobert506 [HIRING] 20 Jobs in Omaha Hiring Now!

Company Name Title City
EMCOR Group Commercial Maintenance Technician Omaha
2020Companies Shoe Salesperson Omaha
Four Points Federal Credit Union Executive Assistant Omaha
Physicians Mutual Director, Compliance Omaha
Malbar Vision-Maple Optometric Technician Omaha
Apex Staffing Storeman Omaha
DispatchHealth Management Field Based Radiologic Technologist (Omaha, NE) Omaha
Big Lots Retail Store Associates and Stockers - 4544 Omaha
UniFirst Corporation Warehouse UnloadeLoader Omaha
Nesco Resource, LLC Warehouse Associate Omaha
Buckle Freight Coordinator Omaha
SpartanNash Company Warehouse Maintenance Mechanic Omaha
Mattress Firm, Inc Warehouse Associate Omaha
SpartanNash Warehouse Order Selector Omaha
Gpac Shipping Manager Omaha
Nesco Resource, LLC Warehouse Omaha
LovelySkin Warehouse Fulfillment Associate Omaha
R+L Carriers Forklift OperatoFreight Handler Part-Time, Starting at $21.50 hr Omaha
Sherwin-Williams Floorcovering - Lead Warehouse Specialist Omaha
Aramark Uniform Services Shuttle Loader-Unloader / Warehouse Omaha
Hey guys, here are some recent job openings in omaha. Feel free to comment here or send me a private message if you have any questions, I'm at the community's disposal! If you encounter any problems with any of these job openings please let me know that I will modify the table accordingly. Thanks!
submitted by PritchettRobert506 to OmahaJobs [link] [comments]


2023.06.02 16:40 rawrimawombat_ Latex toppers

I'm looking to buy a mattress and would prefer natural materials, less chemicals and it seems like Sleep on Latex is a highly regarded brand here. I'm 5'3" and 115 pounds and a side sleeper, I get a lot of pressure points on my hips and shoulders. I trained myself not to sleep on my stomach since I'd wake up with tons of back pain.
I'm assuming the Sleep on Latex medium will be too firm for me based on reviews, therefore leading me to look into toppers. Does anyone have thoughts on the flobeds toppers? There's the normal solid layer, shredded, and egg crate type. I really like the idea of the shredded but honestly I have zero clue, I feel like maybe it'll give the softness without as much bounce? Or any other brand, I'm tired of decision making haha.
I move around a lot at night if that makes a difference...
submitted by rawrimawombat_ to Mattress [link] [comments]


2023.06.02 13:17 Theo_011 Uncover hidden gems: 3 promising penny stocks poised for soaring success in 2023!

Paysign (PAYS)

Paysign ($PAYS) is a fast-growing microcap stock that effectively makes its mark in the payment solutions sector. The company specializes in payment processing for plasma donation centers, generating a whopping 90% of its sales from this niche. Since its debut in 2011, the company has witnessed remarkable growth, boasting a 40% market share of all plasma collection centers in the USA.
Furthermore, Paysign offers potent processing services and prepaid cards under its brand, catering to various target audiences. Hence, this versatility underscores Paysign’s adaptability in the ever-evolving payments sphere.
Paysign operates a robust business that has seen amazing revenue growth of 26.8% over the past five years. The company’s most recent year-over-year results have been even more impressive, with its top-line growth at more than 27%. Additionally, Paysign’s EBITDA growth totaled more than 830% over this period, a mind-boggling figure considering the current economic climate. On top of that, the company exited the first quarter this year with an eye-catching $6.4 million in cash, representing a 360% bump from December 2015.

VAALCO Energy (EGY)

Texas-based VAALCO Energy ($EGY) operates a small-cap hydrocarbon exploration business. Its upstream operations are primarily based in the Etame Marin block off the shores of Gabon. Energy markets have been erratic, but the geopolitical uncertainty we’ve seen of late demonstrates that things change quickly in this sector.
Nevertheless, despite the slowdown in its top-line growth, VAALCO operates a remarkably-profitable business that continues to impress. Year-over-year growth in both gross profit and EBITDA margins came in at a spectacular 63.6% and 41%, respectively. Also, EGY stock offers investors a healthy 4.8% dividend yield and a balance sheet that’s relatively pristine.
Furthermore, the addition of TransGlobe Energy brings a level of stability and consistent cash flow to the company’s typically-unpredictable offshore business. TransGlobe boasts a relatively stable track record of steady production and revenue, which can help mitigate the inherent risks associated with VAALCO’s core offshore operations.

Sirius XM (SIRI)

Sirius XM ($SIRI) stands out as a leading under-the-radar stock to wager on. As a top broadcasting company, it offers satellite and online radio services, a niche sector that took a major hit during the pandemic.
However, for the bold contrarian, Sirius XM presents as an intriguing long-term growth prospect. Over the long term, it could see a marked improvement in auto sales, particularly driven by a shift toward electrification. Unfortunately, the past few quarters have hurt Sirius’ business, as auto sales have declined amid high prices. However, a return to pre-pandemic life has led to almost a 60% increase in Vehicle Miles Traveled from April 2020 to March 2023, a positive long-term catalyst for SiriusXM.
Additionally, Sirius recently increased its full-year adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow guidance, another positive for the firm. Moreover, its stock trades at just 1.5 times forward sales estimates, 54% lower than its 5-year average.
submitted by Theo_011 to pennystocks [link] [comments]


2023.06.02 09:16 bedbugstore How to treat Bed Bugs if you Find in Hotel Room?

How to treat Bed Bugs if you Find in Hotel Room?

https://preview.redd.it/bt6fgcsd2k3b1.png?width=6912&format=png&auto=webp&s=04e4ac6132a2557a5fef68c6b501edfb1e6ecd78
If you are traveling and staying in a hotel, and the next morning you feel bites, ensure your room has bed bugs. What do you do next? No one wants bed bugs, but unfortunately, the bed bugs problem in hotels increases more frequently.
However, bed bugs haven’t based on cleanliness or luxury levels they are shown in small motels, and roadside motels, also sometimes they have shown in five-star hotels and resort rooms.
Finding bed bugs in a hotel room can be a disturbing experience. These tiny, blood-sucking pests are notoriously difficult to eliminate and can quickly turn a pleasant trip into a nightmare. However, it’s essential to stay calm and take appropriate steps to address the situation effectively.
In this blog post, we will guide you through what to do if you discover bed bugs treatment in your hotel room, empowering you to protect yourself and prevent any potential issues from escalating.

What to do?

Confirm the Presence of Bed Bugs:
The first step is to ensure that what you’re seeing are indeed bed bugs. Adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed, reddish-brown in color, and have a flat, oval-shaped body. Look for them in the seams and crevices of the mattress, headboard, and nearby furniture.
You may also notice small dark stains or shed skin. If you suspect bed bugs but are unsure, try capturing a specimen in a sealed plastic bag or take clear photos as evidence.
Protect Your Belongings:
While it’s important to prevent bed bugs from hitching a ride back home with you, avoid throwing your belongings all over the room. Instead, place your luggage in the bathroom or on a hard surface away from the bed and upholstered furniture.
Bed bugs are less likely to be found in these areas. Additionally, consider using plastic bags to wrap your suitcase, providing an extra layer of protection.
Inform the Hotel Staff Immediately:
Once you’ve confirmed the presence of bed bugs, notify the hotel staff immediately. Remain calm and politely explain the situation, providing them with clear evidence if available.
Request a room change that is not adjacent to or directly above or below the infested room, as bed bugs can easily travel through walls. Alternatively, you may choose to leave the hotel altogether and find alternative accommodation.
Preserve Evidence:
To protect your rights and ensure a smooth resolution, it’s essential to preserve evidence. Take photos or videos of the infestation, showing the bugs, their shed skins, and any stains or bites on your body. This evidence can be valuable if you need to file a complaint or seek compensation later on.
Inspect the New Room:
If the hotel offers you a different room, thoroughly inspect it before settling in. Bed bugs can quickly spread to adjacent rooms, so it’s crucial to ensure that the new accommodation is free of infestation.
Check the mattress, headboard, furniture, and even the luggage rack for any signs of bed bugs. If you notice any issues, notify the hotel staff immediately and consider changing hotels if necessary.
Take Preventive Measures:
Whether you stay in a new room or move to a different hotel, there are a few preventive measures you can take to minimize the risk of bed bugs following you.
Keep your luggage elevated and away from the bed, preferably on a luggage rack. Avoid placing your clothes or personal items on upholstered furniture, and consider using large plastic bags to store your belongings.
Follow-up Actions:
After your trip, take precautionary measures to ensure you haven’t brought any unwanted guests back home. Thoroughly inspect your luggage, clothing, and personal items before bringing them inside your house.
Wash your clothes in hot water and dry them on high heat to kill any potential bed bugs. If you’re concerned about infestation, consider contacting a professional pest control company for assistance.
Conclusion:
Discovering bed bugs in a hotel room can be distressing, but it’s crucial to handle the situation calmly and effectively. By confirming the presence of bed bugs, notifying the hotel staff, protecting your belongings, and following preventive measures, you can minimize the chances of an infestation following your home.
When you go for travel you can take bed bug travel protection which includes natural bed bug spray, bed bug uv light, and hand-held bed bug hot steamer that helps to prevent bed bugs and bed bug bites.
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