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Update 3 - Advice about NICU Baby and Grandparents
So its been another 3 weeks since the last update, and there have been a few minor updates with all parties. The conversation with my uncle went much better than I expected at the beginning. We also had my SO's grandma reach out (possibly accidentally), and we just had a "visit" from my parents this morning. So to go back in chronological order, onto the Uncle conversation. ***** Start Conversation***** My uncle had sent me a video on Facebook of a Valedictorian speech, where the main point was to make sure you have no regrets. One thing that was said in the video was to reconcile with people you have disrespected, so here are the responses since I received that video. Me: I appreciate the point you're trying to make but I have no regrets. They forced my hand when they told me that they will never respect our wishes in regards to [Daughter] if they disagree. They also made it clear that they will always hold someone elses opinion on a situation they are only getting third-hand knowledge of in higher regard than mine. And instead of listening to me over months of trying to work with them, they would rather blame it on [Fiance], when he has been the one for years advocating for me to strengthen my relationship with them. I wanted to cut them off years ago after they kept trying to interfere in my life and move me back into their basement once I finished school. Plus I don't believe they're actually this excited over the fact I had [Daughter], when they screamed at me when I told them I was pregnant and told me I fucked up my life and it would be better if I didn't have her. So keep in mind that the way they talk and interact with you is very different than how they talk and interact with me. I'm betting my dad hasn't told you that he needed to take medication so he would stop trying to physically attack me any time I disagreed with him. That's also the reason the bathroom door on the main floor got repainted - he had to patch the door after he "missed" punching me in the face and put a hole through the door instead. This decision has been a long time coming, and this was the final straw. I'm not going to put my daughters life in danger to appease them, and I'm not going to let her see them treat me like this and grow up thinking its normal or acceptable. Uncle: Thank you for the update I know it is tough to navigate through life and its challenges. Hopefully one day you can forgive them. Adults can be so outspoken and set in their ways. I am very sorry that things have gone badly. I know you and [Fiance] will do a fine job of raising [Daughter]. Hoping that you can find some common ground with your mother and father. I know you both are frustrated with them, unfortunately posting to Facebook for the world to see has deeply hurt them. Your mother was upset and crying , your dad was also taken back, and hurt. Too bad there was not another way to have sent the message to them? But this is between you and them to work through. If you ever need someone to talk to, I am good listener. You have a beautiful baby And are blessed that she is getting healthier by the day. Take care Me: Honestly, we have been trying to say that stuff to them for months and they refused to listen to it. For my whole life they have given personal information out about me that I was not okay with, and I had started getting messages from other family members about it which is why I put that message out. I was tired of being bombarded by other people who only got one side of the story when I need to be thinking about my daughter, and I dont really have the time or energy to be responding to everyone individually. Like I said in the message, they forced my hand to get it to this point. They never once tried to see things from our point of view, it was always about their wants and demands. I tried to explain to them our decisions multiple times so they understood why we were saying things, and they would just ignore it and tell us we were being mean and purposely trying to exclude them, and that we were overreacting. When I tried to explain what the doctors told us, what other NICU parents with similar situations had recommended, and what studies have told us, they told me that they will never listen to anything from the computer, and the random person down the street who had a preemie 30 years ago has more "trustworthy" knowledge than we do. They then went on to accuse [Fiance] of controlling me and that I need to be safe because apparently I'm unsafe around him. If they didn't want this made "public", they should have thought of that before they made everything we went through with the NICU public and then had their coworkers start trying to harass me about it. They were the ones who made it public first. I wanted nothing more than to have the support of my parents, but instead they chose to use this moment to attack us even further on every aspect of everything we went through from the start of my pregnancy, the whole time in the NICU, to now. But at this point, neither one of us trusts them, and after they accuse my [Fiance] and the father of my child of being abusive, I'm not really sure how they expect us to "come back from this", and honestly, why would I want to? [Fiance] will never want to be around them since they hold such a low opinion of him, and they obviously hold a low one of me too. Plus they obviously don't seem to care about [Daughter]'s well-being otherwise they wouldn't have fought everything we are doing to keep her safe. They have never once even apologized for their actions or even acknowledged they might be in the wrong - they have only ever blamed us and tried to browbeat us into doing what they wanted. They never once thought about how hard it was for us to have to make these decisions and be willing to deal with the consequences of them all in the name of keeping [Daughter] safe. And even if they apologized now, why would I think it was sincere rather than them just trying to get access to something they wanted, as they've made it clear all along that was their intention. I'm really am sorry that you had to be involved in this, because I would have much rather this situation not have gotten to this point, and I tried to avoid it at every turn, but eventually enough is enough. They also didn't seem to realize just how many concessions we were making for them, from picking a place to live that was easier for them to get to, and get into. When they would come to visit, I would have to change [Daughter]'s schedule completely around so that she wasn't needing to feed or I wasn't pumping because it would make them uncomfortable. They also didn't seem to consider that when we had to take infant CPR, they should too, if they wanted to look after her. Or that the stress from all of this could and would drop my milk supply by half, which I am still having to try to recover 3 weeks later. Their choice to lash out at every opportunity causes real effects and for that they need to face real consequences because just talking to them doesn't seem to make a difference. Uncle: Hopefully one day your parents will realize the error in their ways. I think they still think you are just a child in their eyes. But they need realize you are an adult and can make your own decisions. In time they will realize their errors and apologize. How they treat [Fiance], I think that they are overprotective parents. As parent you never stop caring and looking out for your children... sometimes almost smothering them. I know as a parent I am guilty of this......you care for kids and forget they are capable of making their own decisions. Blaming [Fiance] Maybe an easy out as they cannot control you. I know your dad can be stubborn and outspoken Very set in his ways Remember... he is old school -70 years old So hard to teach an old dog new tricks. I know your mom is Also set in her ways But more than willing to accept change. Hopefully at some point in time you can talk to one of them. They do love you It is not a sign of weakness To maybe meet for a coffee With one them? Set some ground rules You are adult and they need know and understand this. Hopefully they understand Me: Yes, they 100% still view me as a child, and I think they always will. It makes their version of reality easier, but that doesn’t make it any more acceptable. We have gone out of our way for years to not point out hard truths to them, but enough is enough and we finally had it. We did blast them about their behaviour, and it wasn't pretty. It was a long time coming, and while yes, it did hurt them, they dont seem to comprehend how much their behaviour towards me over the years has hurt me and messed with my head. While I agree they have been overprotective, it has only been when it suited them. I have been talking to them for years about how overbearing they are, and how they need to take a step back, but always brush it off. They tell me I'm exaggerating things, or imagining them. They always tell me how terrible I'm doing in life, and how I should be doing better, even though I've already got and done more than they had at my age. I know they are blaming [Fiance] as an easy out, but even though we have been together almost 10 years, they have barely ever bothered to even get to know him. The majority of the time they ignore him. A lot of the things they think they know about us is just their own projection. They think we are hermits who dont do anything, meanwhile we go out and do more things than they do, we just cant talk to them about it. Either its things my parents will talk badly about, or won't understand, so to save their ego's, we don't talk about it. I agree that they both are very stubborn and set in their ways, but it also means that if they refuse to update or acknowledge that they might not know everything, then they are not safe for my daughter to be around. This 100% has become a battle with my parents ego's. They cannot accept that their daughter, who in their mind is still a child, has the audacity to know more, and expect them to follow her rules. While my mom says she's willing to accept change, she won't. She said she would follow our rules for [Daughter], and then at every opportunity broke them. While I do think that they love me, until they can set their ego's aside and not just try to browbeat me back into line, there is no feasible way for there to be a relationship. Not when they have also made it abundantly clear they expect me to be their retirement plan and caretaker. Even after [Daughter] was born, my mother told me their "helping us" was being given with strings so I would come help her for a few weeks to recover from her knee surgery. Even though I live in a different city, might be working, and have a fragile daughter now. I am also well aware that if we somehow reconcile, and they keep up this behaviour, it will show my daughter that not only is this treatment acceptable for her, but it will also undermine me to her. She will not listen to anything I say if the grandparents go out of their way to "prove me wrong" and undermine me as well. Plus I don't trust that they wont try to treat her that way too. Honestly, I can't do that. I can't take the risk of going out anywhere to bring any germs back to [Daughter]. If any of the 3 of us gets sick, it will result in [Daughter] being back in the hospital since she has no way to fight anything off. Until she is over 1 year of age, we have to isolate with her because any germ could kill her at this point. Once fall to spring comes, it is RSV season, and the majority of infant deaths from RSV are in preemies. We are not willing to take the risk of getting sick and passing it to her after we already had to watch her turn purple and be within seconds of death over 100 times. While I am not happy things turned out this way, I can't really see any other way for this to go. I have put the ball in their court every time, and its their own choices that have put them where they are now. Their chose their ego's and need for control over a relationship with their daughter and granddaughter. Uncle: Hopefully at some point in time Both you and your parents can come to an agreement Life is too short Things can change in a heartbeat Just.my thoughts I will keep this between us.. Me: I agree, but again, the ball is in their court. I don't think that they will be willing to set aside their ego's and need for control on this, and unless they do, there is no way for us to move forward and have a relationship. While I appreciate you saying you'll keep this between us, I'm okay with you giving them the overview of all this. It isn't anything I haven't already said to them over the years - they have just refused to listen to it. But they do need to realize that there are consequences to their actions and things that they say. They don't just magically disappear from the other person. I really am sorry that you had to get involved in this, and I'm sorry that they chose to use you as a mediator. I was well aware of the risks of me saying anything, and since I had already been alienated from most of the extended family, I didn't feel like there was much more to lose. I thought if they got some actual public shaming for their behaviour they might snap out of it and realize that they are being completely selfish asshats rather than just blaming the "snotty child with an attitude who isn't showing respect to her elders and is acting full of herself". Uncle: I understand and It is fine that I am involved I just want you, [Fiance] and [Daughter] to have a relationship with your parents. I chose to get involved and they did not choose me to be a mediator, I know first hand how important it is to have a family. Your mom and dad do not know that I am discussing this with you, as they would be pissed at me. I hope we can keep between us? Me: Of course. I would never want to jeopardize anyone elses relationship with my parents. I also know they need support from others as well. I just dont want them to speak badly of me to any more people without me getting to defend myself. I just feel like they have very unrealistic expectations in their mind for me. They are too self-conscious in their own lives and have always expected me to make up for it, and until they are willing to work on and correct those things, we are at a stalemate. We are both mourning the fact that as well as going through the hardest moment in our lives, we had to cut both of our families out in the last 6 months due to their behaviour. We didnt want to do this, but we also cant keep pretending they are people they very clearly arent. They were adding to our stress and making the situation worse when our tanks were already empty. Uncle: I understand I think you are right Give it sometime apart They may come to their senses... Me: I hope so but I wont hold my breath. Like you said, theyre stubborn haha Good luck with them, and hopefully this situation doesnt cause too much trouble for you. I appreciate you reaching out to me, and I'm glad they still have people to talk to. Uncle: I will approach gingerly It will take some time But they will come around It is no problem at all We will chat soon *****End conversation****** Then last week, I got a phone call from my SO's grandma. She is very much a JustYes, but as she is in her 80's, and in close contact with the rest of the family, we didn't want to risk ruining her connections with them by putting her in the middle. She is the only person we both wanted to reach out to during this whole time. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get to the phone in time when she called, but she left a message stating she missed my call, but that she was glad I had reached out to her, and to call her back. We are unsure if she was confused on who called her, if she used that as an excuse to reach out, or if one of the robo dial scams happening locally used my number, as I did not reach out and call her. I waited for my SO to get up and showed it to him before responding (his family, his choice on response). He decided to send her a text and some pictures of our daughter, saying "Hey, no we didn’t try to phone you. But "AshIzzyB" said there is a scam using local phone numbers, so be careful of that. Did want to reach out and text a few different times, but got spooked in general when the rest of the family hears about it instantly because there have been conflicts between us and my parents, specifically my mom, when she's tried to sabotage my relationship multiple times. She keeps trying to involve herself in my financial decisions which I feel deeply uncomfortable with given her abilities in that area. I have tried for a few years to get that point across that certain things were a no go, including having 3-4 conversations about it that last week saying not to, and she went ahead and "secretly" did it anyways. Going 6 months without their drama has proven to be a positive decision. Like I've said, I've wanted to reach out multiple times, but don’t want to spread more drama or make you uncomfortable around the rest of the family by putting you in the middle. Half of the extended family that she wants to bring near us are active drug addicts, so it makes it risky and uncomfortable for us to be around it. But I do trust you, and I do hope everything is going well for you, especially during COVID." Unfortunately, the conversation didn't last very long, with short, one sentence responses from her. So far we havent heard anything from the rest of his extended family, so there's that. Either she hasn't told them, or she has and they have just chose to not reach out again. As for this morning, at 9am, as my SO was looking after my daughter, and I was finishing making breakfast, our doorbell started ringing like crazy. Since we were not expecting any person or package to show up, we both were a little surprised but didn't bother to open the door. Then my phone started ringing using the ringtone I had set for my mother. I went to check it, and I had messages saying "Another gift for [Daughter], check your doorstep". I waited about 20 minutes to make sure they were gone, and then peeked through the blinds to see if their vehicle was still there. When it was confirmed they were gone, I went to go grab the gift. It was a "personalized" photo frame from one of her coworkers that had my daughters name, and birthdate and time on it. It also had a stock picture of some random baby, and a phrase on it, that made me irrationally angry. It said "From the moment you were placed into my arms, you were always in my heart". While I understand that the phrase was probably chosen from a bunch of pre-selected common phrases for parents, this one was just like another slap in the face to me. I had to wait 2 weeks to be able to hold my daughter, so that phrase just reminds me of one of the "first" moments of my daughters life that I did not get to have. And when I did get to hold her, I had to ask permission to be able to. Frame aside, I am angry about this visit. The fact we havent spoken in 6 weeks, and the first attempt at contact is the day after my mom's birthday, which I didn’t acknowledge this year. The fact that the visit was most likely planned to be an ambush when they expected me to open the door. The fact that the only reason for this visit was so that they would look okay to their coworker, as the "gift was delivered". The fact there was no attempt at a reconcilliation or apology. While I am happy that my uncle is on my side, I am disappointed in both of our families. Our daughter though, is doing fantastic. She has already rolled over stomach to back 3 times, she has started to suck her thumb/eat her hands and drool. If we hold her around her ribs, she is already trying to stand and walk, and if we move with her, she can "walk" a 20 foot distance in one go. If she has something to lean against, she can sit upright without us holding her in place. She is also already starting to talk to us, making vowel and consonant sounds, and even stringing some together like mini words or phrases. She is also able to hold and shake a rattle, although she's still working on being able to aim to grab it. Her eyes were also recently checked, and they are perfect. No Retina of Prematurity for her either.
The new skyblock update is pay to win, and here's why.
Hey all, so I've seen a lot of threads and memes about the new update being pay to win, and a ton of people arguing with conflicting reasons as to why this is and is not true. I would like to condense all the info about how the new update is pay to win into one thread, and explain how at the end of the day, this is a death knell to any free to play skyblock player ever getting a #1 spot in any collection. In this, I won't be focusing on any of the new island upgrades or most of the gem upgrades. Yes, they are pay for advantage. Yes, they are unfair and give an advantage to paying players. But it is arguable whether they are pay to win or not and I'd be willing to have that argument with anyone if there was not another mechanic several times more blatantly biased towards paying players that renders all other conversations about this irrelevant until it is removed. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Let's talk about cookie boosters. You can buy one from Elizabeth in the community center for 325 Gems. Visiting the Hypixel store reveals that you can buy 675 Gems for $4.99, or 5 dollars. This gives approximately(rounding up to $5 and ignoring taxes) 135 gems the value of 1 dollar ingame, or 1 cookie the value of $2.41. One cookie gives: +20% skill XP +15 magic find Keeping coins and potion effects on death Permanent flight Access to /ah and /Bazaar Selling items directly to the trades menu AFK immunity(this will become important later) Ability to toggle certain potion effects ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Now, I'm going to ignore most of this because it isn't particularly relevant to the main point of the post, but just three of the cookies effects, +20% skill XP, +15 magic find, and AFK immunity have massive effect on gameplay and the ability to get to the top of any collection leaderboard. But this isn't in and of itself conclusive evidence of this being pay to win. After all, free to play players can just buy this from the bazaar, right? Well.... There's the problem. If there were no way to buy these from the bazaar, I suprisingly wouldn't actually have that big of an issue with the update. Yes, it would be a massive advantage to pay to play players, but these advantages are technically overcomable, however, the ability to sell these on the bazaar, as you may have already guessed, opens a much, much worse loophole. People can buy ingame coins for real life money. For those still confused on how? Simple. Buy 675 gems on the Hypixel store, convert those gems into cookies, and sell those cookies on the bazaar. Now currently, their prices are fluctuating quite wildly, so take any specific numbers here with a grain of salt, but here is approximately the real life value of skyblock coins now. One cookie equals approximately $2.41 and(playing devil's advocate, assuming we're using the lower value of instant sell) sells for 1,053,365 coins. This means that $1 now buys approximately 440,000 skyblock coins. That 50 million you worked for months for to get in your bank? A new player can now completely legally buy that for a bit over $100. Full superior is ~$100-150. This may seem like a lot, and it is to most people, but I guarantee to you many players will buy this level of gear with real money, explained further down. A new player can, with no prior experience in the game besides having unlocked bazaar, buy completely endgame equipment and skip almost all game progression assuming they have a couple hundred dollars lying around... or are willing to steal their parents credit card. I think everyone here can see the problem, even though they won't have any skills or slayers, this gear still gives them a huge advantage in game and immediately propels them into late midgame with no effort, and grinding skills and slayers from there will be far easier. Arguably the most efficient farming method in the game bar bazaar flipping is zealot grinding, which makes about 2 million coins per hour, varying wildly depending on how skilled and lucky you are doing it. A mininum wage job is now the most efficient money making method in skyblock. It is more efficient for you to make money in real life, and pay for coins in game, than for you to directly grind those items in game. And for people who think this won't have an effect on collections, just remember the catalyst upgrades, how anyone can now make infinite flycatchers for free, and instant t11 minions of their choice. No Great Potato War will ever happen again. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- How will this impact slayers, farming, etc? This WILL have an impact on other parts of the game besides just who has the most coins. Obviously t4 slayers cost an insane amount of money, and while pay to win players still have to put in some time investment into doing them, they now have to put no effort into the cost nor gear required to do them. Skill XP potions value will likely skyrocket in price as pay to play players can now afford to vastly overpay for them in order to catch up in one of the only areas they can't buy directly, skills. Farming XP potions were already incredibly overvalued before all this, costing anywhere from 60,000-250,000 coins to buy at the auction house, and I doubt they'll go down in price for free players after all this. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- But this won't cause any inflation! No new coins are being created! No, it won't cause inflation, but it will create a new item that only paying players can get and that all players need, meaning a large portion of the game's wealth now will start going towards them. The overall supply of money will not change, but the majority of players will now have to spend more money to get the same result as a minority, meaning they'll have less available money overall, leading to the same end result. Deflation is also not a good thing in economics, and while this isn't directly comparable, it's useful to note that inflation is not the only way people can have less available spending power, just one that's often thought of. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- But what about IRL traders? This update is worth it because it will stop them! This just means the money goes to Hypixel instead of dupers! Here's the thing... it won't stop them. The bots used to perform dupes cost almost nothing, so dupers have no feasible mininum price they can sell coins at. Hypixel meanwhile will either have to offer way higher prices, or drop their prices and crash the market even more than they already did. Dupers will always be able to offer a lower price than Hypixel, because they don't have the game's economy to worry about. People's other main argument is that the money is going to the game developers now instead of dupers, so it's morally better. While the game devs have to eat, I think people forget sometimes just how much money Hypixel makes. I've done enough math here already so I'll be general here, if you go onto Mineplex, InvadedLands, actually, basically any other minecraft server, go look at the ranks and see what percentage of players are donors. I bet you its around 10-20%, and possibly closer to 5% depending on the server. Now look on Hypixel. Donors make up around 50% of the players on any lobby you go into, often more. Why? People have supported Hypixel for years for their reliability and firm stance against pay to win. I personally bought my first rank VIP, then my second, VIP+ because I wanted to support the one minecraft server that had stood against the tide of pay to win and made so many of my favorite games without pay to win advantages for anyone. It was a donation, not a purchase. I did not buy either rank for the benefits, but because I wanted to support a server that I felt was unique in its stance against this issue. Safe to say, I won't be buying another rank here again. Hypixel has plenty of money, and is in no danger of bankruptcy. However, weirdly because of this update I feel this might change. Everyone I've spoken to has bought their rank primarily to support a server they like and with this update, Hypixel has given up any semblence of the moral high ground on this issue. Before, if you were revealed to be an irl trader, people on reddit, the forums, and ingame hunted you down if they saw anything suspicious, and would report you to Hypixel. There was very little chance of you getting away with it. And if you were a public figure, such as a YouTuber, the risk of getting caught vs the reward from irl trading was definitely never worth it. So while the practice existed, after Hypixel started to crack down on it the number of people actually benefitting from it while not getting caught by anyone, combined with Hypixels obvious automatic measures to counter IRL traders meant that there was an incredibly low chance of someone being able to buy IRL traded coins or gear and get away with it. Now however, that's all changed. With an official way of buying coins, there's no chance of getting caught. Effectively, Hypixel Skyblock is now no different from those old factions and prison servers people loved watching YouTubers like SalC1 dupe on. And people say this will cut down on duping and IRL trading. This will have the opposite. So many more people will now have no problem doing it, and the public pressure to do it will be so far less, that many more will now feel comfortable IRL trading even if just as a way to "rebel" against Hypixel making it pay to win. Now, awhile up I claimed that people would be willing to waste hundreds of dollars to get endgame gear. Let me now explain that and back up that claim. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Personal story time, skip if you want to, but if you do read, I can't thank you enough. This is not particularly factually informative, and you may be confused about why I'm writing about a completely different videogame in a skyblock subreddit, but please bear with me. I feel I have to write this for my past self, and I don't think my future self could live with me if I didn't. I don't remember exactly when I started playing goodgame empire. I remember I was atleast a year or two into the game sometime in 7th or 8th grade, so I'm going to assume I started playing around 11 or 12. This was around maybe 2014 or 2015. Goodgame Empire game was an online strategy MMO about building up your castles and armies to create a powerful empire you controlled. You teamed up with other players in alliances(think guilds in skyblock) that could hold up to 65 members. There were seveal resources in the game, but the important one for this story if food. You could build various buildings to increase production, and one of the resources used to build certain particularly powerful buildings were called "rubies". You could buy these for real world money, and many people did. For a long time, the main advantage this gave you was -40% food consumption for all your soldiers, which effectively meant anyone with them could field nearly double the armies of their opposition. This by itself made these players incredibly powerful, and they were called "ruby players" or sometimes "ruby whales". Different alliances tried to recruit them to their side and fought over them because of how useful they were. They would often spend dozens, hundreds, or sometimes thousands of dollars on the game. Some of these were adults, who would talk to me about how they were spending their most recent paycheck on some more soldiers in the game. Some of these... I prefer not to think about those ones. A few years after I started playing, the game became substantially more pay to win. There was always a pay for advantage aspect, but after directly buying troops became easy for paying players, "ruby whales" could singlehandedly sway any war they entered to their side due to having the capacity of dozens of players armies in one. As long as they had money left on their credit card, it was impossible to fight them. You didn't have to beat their skill, you had to beat their bank account. And there was always someone richer than you. A group of alliances always controlled the top of the leaderboard in the game. While technically the member limit of one alliance was 65, this didn't stop countless "sub"-alliances from forming, multiple different alliances all working in unison, all following one leader, creating mega-blocks of hundreds or thousands of, usuallly paying, players. At the beginning while it was nearly impossible to topple the top without incredible work and luck, you atleast needed some skill, even if you paid to get there. By 2018, you could get to the top of any leaderboard you wanted with enough cash. While goodgame empire was technically a "competitive" game and wars did exist between different alliances, in practice it had many of the same "noncompetitive" elements skyblock had and "events" in the game where you verse NPC targets where primarily how different players and alliances competed. I once trained a new player in the game who was a ruby spender but had almost no skill, after leaving the game for awhile and coming back, that new player was maxinum level, with the strength of nearly a leaderboard player. Yet when I talked to them again, they still had no clue how most game mechanics worked. They simply paid to get to their place. I wish I could say almost all the leaderboard players paid to get where they were in that game, for that would indicate placing at the top was possible with enough skill... all leaderboard players got where they were from rubies. I hated that game. It. Hurt. People. I knew so many people personally who were not only emotionally but financially addicted to that thing, who would spend their entire paychecks to win that one war... and as an alliance leader... I couldn't discourage them without giving us a disadvantage in anything we attempted. We needed those players. I ended up deciding it wasn't worth becoming a top alliance if we had to rely on ruby whales, and told them to stop spending so much on the game. "It was just a game" I said. It... didn't do much. Some stopped, most left the alliance and stayed in the game. So many people I knew in that game hated playing it, but couldn't leave due to the sunk cost fallacy. The game would delete your account, which sometimes contained hundreds of dollars, thousands of hours, and years of work, if you didn't log in for a couple months. To this day, I hate the company that made that game, Goodgame Studios, more than EA. Say all you want about microtransactions, they weren't... this. I stopped playing the game in late 2019 after I found a YouTuber by the name of Technoblade. You may have heard of him. I think the first video I found of him was conquering the world in the SMP he was a part of. Partly due to my YouTube channel starting to grow at the same time after years of stagnation, I decided to come back to Minecraft. After watching Technoblade's Skyblock and Great Potato War video(only one was out at the time), I was amazed. Not by what he accomplished, but the concept. "Wow, any player, if skilled, dedicated, and smart enough, could pull off something like that... I want to do that." And I did. I created my first Skyblock account in late 2019, and started playing B4dwars and training to get actively better at the game as well. It caused me to spend most of the last year, including quarantine, on Minecraft, and more particularly, Hypixel. I loved how it was the one free to play minecraft server that I could reach the top at if I was only skilled enough. I didn't have to pay to get the same overpowered weapons and armor everyone else did! Of all the games on the server, I chose B4dwars and Skyblock because in B4dwars you had no gameplay changing unlockable upgrades, so I'd have no mechanical disadvantage compared to someone with 600 stars, in addition to it not being as PvP based as most of the other minigames, while still having more strategy than any other. I chose Skyblock because of what I hoped to do in it, I wanted to become #1 in a collection. I spent the next few months as the best few months in the past couple years. I had just entered highschool, and while I probably spent too much time on the server, I had a blast playing with my friends and actually enjoying life again for a little while. Playing was so much different than before, it wasn't an endless grind only to lose to people who had a credit card. What you did, meant something. I started beating sweats in b4dwars, and climbing the mushrooms leaderboard... As I write this, I'm pretty close to hitting 30k on YouTube, which means YouTube Rank. However, I'll likely not get it when I reach that. My videos will barely hit the view requirement as is, and as demonstrated in the past Hypixel are willing to deny YouTube ranks to those who personally criticize them. I'm fine with that. I always got mad in the old days when I played Goodgame Empire because the main goodgame Empire youtuber at the time, who I won't say his name because I understand now it wasn't his fault, but lets call him Birch, had about 6k subs nearly never protested any of the new pay to win updates. He wasnt a paying player himself, but I always felt like he was too afraid to criticize the company that made the game because of his relationship to the game. My 13 year old self hated that. I want to be different, and now I feel that while I don't pretend to be at all important in the wider Hypixel community compared to some others, I have a voice and I would like to call out what's going on. This post will probably get a couple dozen upvotes, a few comments commending the effort, and a number of people who actually bother to read the post I can count on one hand. But I feel this still needs to be said. This isn't about game balance anymore. This is aboutthe players. Pay to win systems like this have ruined lives and countless people already have addictions to this kind of stuff. I know too many people who's lives were ruined by these types of games, and for what it's worth I'll do anything I can to try to stop Hypixel from becoming one. People will get addicted to this system if we allow it to get put in place, and if not for the balance of the game economy, we need to stop it for the sake of the players. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is great and all, but what can I really do? I can't change anything that's going to happen. YES YOU CAN! If your reading this, you likely have a reddit account, that's great! Crosspost this post, link resources, petitions, and share your own stories about why this is a bad idea! Go onto the forums! The Hypixel devs spend the majority of their time there, not here! Most of the players there don't see many of the problems with this update! We all know how toxic the forums are at times, but for what it's worth, they do matter to the devs. YOUTUBERS! Yes, I'm looking at you(cough cough, thirtyvirus, cough cough, cough cough, Dragoon, cough cough, Technoblade... Nullzee.. and all the other Skyblock YouTubers) I know many of you browse the subreddit from time to time. STAND UP FOR YOURSELVES. If this game becomes pay to win your going to lose a large portion of your audience who don't have money and aren't willing to play anymore. YOU CAN CHANGE THINGS. Many of you have far more reach than me, and can face far less consequences than the average player, than having far more impact than them. WHAT YOU SAY AND DO MATTERS. We can still change stuff right now, while this topic is still fresh. While I personally disagree with what much of Hypixel has done, I do believe they are much more connected than their community than other companies. If we voice our grievances, they WILL listen. Be loud, but respectful. Explain in detail why this system is wrong, and how to fix it! ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- How to fix it? There's so many different ways this system can be improved to still let Hypixel have their monetization, the players their new content, and the rest of the game their economy. Solution 1: Make cookies buyable from an NPC with coins in addition to gems, and make them unsellable, untradeable, and remove them from the bazaar and auction house. If this is too much work for the devs, they can simply make the buffs given directly to prevent loopholes to trade cookies. Solution 2: Make cookies untradeable as in solution one, but instead of having them sold from a different NPC from coins, let players earn gems in game. Many games let players acquire a small amount of premium currency for free, and it is proven this also increases paid sales for that currency. This will give players a fun new currency to earn, while also stopping the ability to buy coins Solution 3: Simply revert the changes. This is the most drastic, but most friendly to free to play players. Start this update over from Scratch. You can keep the election system, but rollback everything related to the new pay to win mechanics. Solution 4: Simply remove the ability to trade cookies. This is the worst solution for free to play players as it means they can't get the buffs they provide, but it would atleast be better than people being allowed to buy infinite money. Thank you to everyone who read this. I don't have much hope, but I do hope it spreads far enough to reach important YouTubers and other members who can spread this information and hopefully bring about some small change in Hypixel. If you have any questions or would like to debate any of the points brought up here, feel free to debate me in the comments. I do sleep, but I will try to answer them as soon as I can. I do understand some people have trouble getting through these walls of text I write, and while I'm still working on translating my last reddit essay, do tell me if you want a video form of this, and I'll try to start working on one.
Resident Devil - Everything you need to know about hell, devils and the fun of bureaucracy. A complete rework of the 9 layers.
I have issues with hell. The way d&d does it, it’s too combat-centric, not enough focus on the lawfulness of devils beyond vague references to “laws” that we rarely see in action, and too similar to a Christian hell, in a way that doesn’t fit a pantheon-style religion. Alternative take on hell. Christian hell is owned by God, and Satan is trapped in it, but ForgRealm hell is owned by devils. Also, evil creatures know it exists for a fact, you can travel to it, see it. They know that once they die they will be tortured and punished forever. Why would they do it? In such a world, you would expect bad guys to, at the very least, convert on their death bed so they can get a ticket to heaven. Many would limit their evil and try to do good acts or at least buy divine forgiveness in some way. There is a big difference between hell as a possibility you need to believe in, and hell as an actual location you know you’ll end up into. 1st change: bad people are rewarded in hell, and the eviler you are, the greater will be your reputation once you die. Cultists especially have the favour of arch-devils and find themselves high on the social ladder. This gives your bad guys a practical reason to be evil and makes the idea of selling your soul more tempting. Hell is still a bad place, it’s not happy fun times. Bad people are promised a reward, power and wealth are dangled in front of their eyes, but once they die, they will have to compete with every other person that ever died. I see hell as a sort of ultra-capitalist nightmare: the smartest, ruthless and luckiest have a chance at incredible power millions others get crushed trying. Imagine The wolf of wall street but every single person in NY is Jordan Belfort. Forever. Or at least they try: for every soul with a modicum of initiative, there are a thousand that gave up and become grey, empty husks that serve those still trying. These are most of the heavy labour in hell. We have Hell as an enormous city, spread on the 9 layers. It is its own society with jobs, politicians, farmers, guards. I think a metropolis reflects lawfulness and organization much better than the Mad Max-style wasteland we see in Forgotten Realms. 2nd, the devils. What we see in the monster manual is extremely combat-focused, could you see a gelugon making a Faustian deal with someone? A bone devil cleverly tricking someone? In this version, each devil has two forms, a humanoid one and a combat one, and can change between the two with an action. The combat form is what we see in the monster manual, and devils consider shameful using it: it means trickery and diplomacy have failed. Violence makes you little better than a demon, it’s distasteful and gross. Devils do it only as a last resort. Check out the Darkest Dungeon Crimson Court, to get a visualization of how this would work. This isn’t just a shape-changing spell, it’s a true second form. The humanoid form depends on the devil power: Imps turn into weird, misshapen people, mid-level devils become regular, good looking folks, while archdevils are attractive, statuary, charming, nearly divine. 3rd: Mortal souls in hell become devils: as they gain power, they change shape and turn into devils. Those that lose power, the weak-willed or imprisoned, slowly waste away and degrade until their identity disappears and they become mindless drones, larvas or are just turned to dust and become part of hell. How does this work? You die. Based on your deeds and how much you advanced the cause of evil, how smart and connected you are, you are given a position in Hell. Paperwork is everything, everybody is regimented and you will have to learn an incalculable amount of laws, then learn ways to break them without getting caught. You get a role, and you get to know your boss, your boss boss, and so on for ten thousand steps on the ladder. You get to know your coworkers, your neighbours and your underlings. Each one of them is trying to screw you over at all times, and you’ll need to do the same to survive. Bribery, wits, charm, backstabbing and bargains will be necessary to accumulate wealth and influence and scale the social ladder. The number of moving wheels and schemes going on at the same time is so massive, nobody can keep track of all of them, so just do your best. Succeed, you’ll become rich and powerful, and then you’ll have to protect what you gained from those below trying to replace you and from those above that fear you’ll replace them. Fail, you’ll be punished, taken advantage of, betrayed and crushed until you manage to climb again. Succeed too much, your boss will betray you, scared you may steal their place. Basically, it sucks, but it uses your greed and lust and pride and every other sin to make you want to do it, even if it hurts you. The very definition of a deal with the devil. Question:You mention death often, can you die in hell? Answer: No, if you get "killed", you'll reform. But it takes a toll on your sanity, die too often and only your body will reform, your mind lost forever. But what do the players care? You could send your players to hell, and have them try to thrive in it, or even just find a way out. Either way, they’ll have to work in, around and against the system and get involved in the web of politics. But you don’t have to. The players could simply be contacted by someone from hell that wants something to advance their position. Or by someone that wants the opposite: everybody in hell is treacherous, regular mortals are more reliable allies. Most players won’t trust a devil, but devils see the players as a tool: they have no reason to betray them, they are his best asset. And the job could very well not be evil. It could be a job that hurts other people in hell. It could hurt demons. It doesn’t have to be something that hurts the players. But it could be anyway, eventually. Later down the road. Hurting famous heroes would be seen well in hell. A devil could help the players reach high level, so he can then defeat them when they’re well known. Or it could use them as bait for another devil trying to do it. Q: But I thought devils didn’t eat/sleep/get sick etc. etc.? A: Yes. I say they should. It’s more interesting, it gives the players more chances to interact with them, both in and out of combat, and the devils more stuff to do, more personality, and more life to their world outside of combat. Maybe they don’t “need” it, they could survive without food, but they wouldn’t like it. Plus, you can have devils overindulge in gluttony and laziness, that’s sinning 101.
Layers of hell
1st – The jails of Avernus
The first and lowest layer, here is where the scum of hell is thrown. People caught breaking the law or those that antagonized powerful devils are imprisoned here. A desolate, rocky wasteland, the vegetation is rare and twisted, hidden pits and caves full of beasts, volcanoes, rivers of blood and magma. The sky is starless and covered in smoke. There are many prisons, some worse than others. In some, people are just locked up, in others, they are forced to work. There are many mines from which rare minerals and metals are collected. Some of them can be found only in hell and are sold all over the multiverse for exorbitant prices, or used to forge weapons and jewellery for devils. This layer is also used as training grounds by the armies of hell. Population: prisoners and their jailers. The jailers are also, in some way, prisoners: this is the most demeaning job, often seen as a punishment and embarrassment. Between a prison and the next, roaming bands of marauders and beasts, caravans carrying raw materials, surveyors and hellish rangers. It’s the least lawful part of hell, relatively easy to reach from the outside, having multiple portals to other planes. Often you'll meet invading armies, even angels and demons. Getting out: its prisoners have few chances of leaving. Sucking it up to a jailer could present an occasion, and prisons have their own internal hierarchies, both for guards and prisoners. In theory, it’s possible to serve your sentence, but in practice, it’s very hard: the prisons have their own rules, and every prisoner will accidentally break them, causing their sentence to keep increasing. They are very unfair prisons, as you’d expect. Archdevil: Zariel, The Bald Angel. Fallen angel, battle maniac, pretty poor etiquette. She’s a bit of an underdog, in hell. She mostly focuses on the military part of Avernus, repelling intruders and keeping down any rebellion from desperate prisoners. Locations 1) The maze of the lost god: A single-floor, incredibly wide prison run by strange alien creatures, it has no cells, jus an impossible, multi-dimensional labyrinth, patrolled by eldritch guardians and its inmates, fighting each other to survive. All you need to be free is to find the exit. Allegedly, it was built and controlled by a devil so ancient, no memory of it is left, some say it still lives somewhere in the maze. Some say it’s no devil, but a fallen god, the maze a punishment for some ancient crime. 2) The roaring plains: You wanna play Descent Into Avernus? This is the place. It’s your classic mad-max Avernus, with giant cars and machines. 3) The black mirror: a fortress made of black, mirror-like material. Anything reflected in it gains life and tries to trap its original in this prison. The jailers are the images of its inmates, that means they know every secret, fear and weakness of their prisoners.
2nd – The farms of Dis
Devils and souls don’t need food, they want it. They love feasting and tasting the best, rarest foods. These farms aren’t here for quantity, they don’t make white bread and wheat. They are luxury farms, growing whatever is popular at the moment and satisfy the whims of the archdevils. High-quality grapes and olives to special qualities of fruits, strange cross-breeds, but also magically produced plants, carnivore ones, cursed vegetables and poisonous flowers. Rare animals with excellent pelts, deadly pets and voracious beasts that are extinct everywhere else. These farms must be the highest quality, but also to keep up with the infinite regulations and the ever-changing whims of the powerful. To work here means risking limbs and health every day, but also having to work with care and having to learn everything about flora and fauna, alchemy and more. The layer is a series of villages with greenhouses and menageries, usually built around larger fortresses or the laboratory of some high ranking botanist or druid. Between the villages are fields, forests in which strange, twisted creatures are raised naturally and pastures. Population: Farmers, with botanists and alchemists and supervisors organizing them. Rangers roam the wilds between villages keeping order between the beasts. Getting out: growing a rare plant or developing a special cross-breed could elevate someone enough to get them in the next layer. Producing excellent food for a powerful devil is also a ticket to joining their entourage. There are constant competitions between farmers that inevitably end up in sabotages and conflicts. This means the farmers slow each other down and damage their products, causing the ire of their superiors. Having your project stolen is a constant risk. Archdevil Dispater, the Iron Duke. Dispater is paranoid, and Dis is the safest layer of hell: sparse population, too weak to bother him. Also, animals are much worse at scheming and plotting than people. Dispater has very little interest in the farms and spends his days hiding in his fortress. Locations 1) The fire farms: a very rare flower grows in this vast field, red like ruby and hot to the touch. The flower needs two things to grow: blood and magma. The field is volcanic, with regular eruptions, toxic fumes and terribly hot. The poor souls that work here are miserable at best, and routinely burn alive. 2) The forest of sin: the trees in this thick, twisted forest are made of people, cut them and they will bleed and cry. Their wood is popular as a construction material in hell. 3) The Rafflesia god: This looks like a regular Rafflesia flower, except it’s a hundred km wide. It’s an experiment by a powerful devil, and it’s kept alive by feeding it hundreds of thousands of souls over centuries. The flower is beyond stinking, its aroma will melt your flesh. People that die to it are reborn as melted zombie-plants and become the flowers guardians. Some say the plant has acquired a mind of its own and is looking for a way to spread to other layers.
3rd – The slums of Minauros
The largest layer by population and the one in which most people begin their unlife in hell, Minauros is a massive slum that spans the horizon. Houses range from holes in the ground to almost decent stone building, some even have a roof with no holes. And they’ll need them: the plane is highly toxic, with poison clouds and acid rain, eruptions and floods of swampy, acidic water, and all the twisted beasts living in it. Life in Minauros is a fight to scrap together something, anything. Jobs are plenty, but the people needing them are a hundred times more, and not having a job is a crime. As a result, people are poor and compete with each other. What they use is spent in building shelters, improving their reputation and bribery: the plane has an extremely strict building code, and nobody can follow it, so everybody has to bribe or trick the officials. People form(illegal) gangs to help each other, with unofficial “slumlords” controlling different areas. Some parts of the plane are much nicer than others, usually the ones with less acid, and everybody tries to move to them. As a result, the plane is packed to the brim, with people living in minuscule houses. stuffed worse than university students sharing an apartment. Population: moderately evil people start here, minuscule cogs in the machine, irrelevant to the people in power. The devils patrolling and keeping order here consider it a boring but safe job, ideal for those that don’t feel like working too hard or getting in trouble. Getting out: accumulating enough money is one way, but it’s very hard: bribes, shelter and gang protection will eat up all you can make with the little jobs you can manage to find. Joining a gang can give you a ticket out, but it’s a serious crime and will make you plenty of enemies, so it’s a big risk. Some people that manage to rise in the ranks of a gang decide to stay here, preferring to rule in this hole than taking a risk in the next layer. Archdevil: Mammon, the snèk. In a layer where money is everything, Mammon is the perfect ruler: rich beyond belief, his enormous villa is a constant punch in the eyes of every other resident, and his outrageous displays of wealth are more egregious here than anywhere else. His palace is a lure: many wish to go work there, it has the best-paying jobs in the layer, but also the most back-breaking and miserable. Many more try to steal from it, and Mammon loves to spy them as they try. He has a plethora of traps ready for any intruder. Locations 1) The house of doors: This Escher-esque building is a maze of doors, staircases and rooms, thousands of times larger inside than outside and impossible to navigate for any outsider. (Intelligence check DC 30 to find your way through it without a guide). It is the hideout of a powerful crime guild. 2) The statue of a blind devil: allegedly depicting a son of Asmodeus, rejected, exiled and forgotten thousands of years before. Praying to this statue will bring wealth and fortune, but sooner or later there will be a price to pay. 3)The merry ones: a mysterious band of devils that steals from the rich and lends to the poor at a reasonable interest rate. For hell standards, they are very nice, and many hate them for it. There is a massive bounty on them.
4th – The great town of Phlegethos
This is a proper town, with well-built houses. It has sewage, stores and everything else you could want. Roads are paved, and you don’t have to walk through acid, shit-covered mud like those losers in the layer above. The town is more pleasant than the previous layers, but it’s a honey trap: the town offers plenty of entertainment: good food and booze, love, gambling, drugs, betting and everything else you can think of. This has two effects: first, it causes people to lower their guard, become sloppy and make mistakes, allowing others to take advantage of them, and secondly, it causes addiction. If the previous layers were upfront with their difficulty, this is the first that will stab you in the back, make you feel like you’re safe and pull the rug from under your feet. A lot of people reach this layer from the third, just to be kicked back, poorer than they were before. From blackmail to robbery, addiction and scams, everything here will lure you into a false sense of security and crush you when you least expect it. For those that make it, those smart enough to avoid the scams or become scammers themselves, this is a relatively nice plane. This causes people to mellow out and dampen their ambition. This layer weeds out the weak-willed form the ambitious, the “good enough.” from the “never enough!”, and only the second type can become someone, in hell. Population: rather large, most people here have normal jobs and families, they get used to this life and slowly lose their will, becoming part of the system until they couldn’t move forward if they wanted. Gangs are replaced by more refined organizations that prefer trickery, loopholes and charm over violence and threats. Getting out is not hard, if you want to. Those that can remain ambitious for long enough will inevitably get noticed, and their only real enemy is each other. Getting sent back is a lot easier, and many fall up to the third or second layer from here. Archdevil: Belial and Fierna, the dinamic duo. They’re just kinda there. Belial plots against more powerful devils while Fierna hangs around with Glasya learning to become independent. This is the actual lore by the way. They both enjoy seeing people think they’ve found happiness and having everything taken from them, a constant occurrence in this layer. They are father and daughter, and they are devil, so it’s up to you where you want to go with that. Fierna is the official ruler, and Belial is trying to pull a “shadow government” deal. Locations 1) The palace of calm, a marble building that offers peace and tranquillity, silence and relaxation. Many devils need some time to wind down and reduce stress. Sometimes, without realizing it, the clients of the house come out with a strange, hidden parasite. 2) The golden belly, a massive, bloated creature sitting in the middle of town. Enter inside its mouth, and you will find a strange bank willing to lend any amount of money to anybody without any insurance. 3) The first tower, an apparently endless spire of black obsidian, it is said that if you walk all the way to the top, you’ll find an incredible treasure. The tower is filled with traps and monsters. There is no evidence anybody has ever done it.
5th – The lower town of Stygia
The 5th layer starts to be pretty serious, you gotta be determined and smart to get here. Here, life is harder than in the 4th, and competition harsher, but rewards are better. This is where the cool jobs are found: doctors, lawyers, painters and sculptors, herbalists, banks, map-makers etc. Many citizens here have personal servants and some financial security, and everything is a bit more luxurious than in the previous layers. They aren’t rich by any mean, but they do pretty well for themselves. Population: Most locals are highly skilled workers, clever and ruthless, even those at the bottom of the ladder. The guild leaders control of the layer, constantly trying to fight each other and keep their underlings in check. Since the arch-devil in charge was iced, they mostly run the show. Getting out: Excellence in your art or craft is everything here. Your services will be sold by people in the lowest layers, you’ll be put in charge of people and give real responsibilities. This means being better than everybody else, but also making sure everybody else is worse than you. But careful, get too good and the others will team up to stop you. There are many guilds and corporations in this layer. Archdevil: Elsa Levistus, the cool dude Levistus is a pretty chill ruler, as far as archdevils go, even if he often gives his people the cold shoulder, it’s better than getting iced. The only thing that makes him lose his cool is when people make fun of the fact he’s locked in a giant block of ice. Anyway, he’s kind of a loser and doesn’t do much, except harass his servants with telepathy and give an icy stare at his visitors. Locations 1) The Ward: A clinic that studies all sorts of maladies and disorders. It doesn’t heal anybody, quite the opposite: it studies them and wants to keep its patients sick for as long as possible, in a controlled way. It contains an incredible amount of information on all sorts of afflictions, even the rarest or ancient ones, and its library is a treasure trove for any doctor. Gaining access to it is extremely difficult. The hospital pays well to anybody that will bring them new patients and new aliments. 2) The house of art: a great hall where the artists' guild resides. Painters, sculptors and musicians, creating art all day. They have their own internal hierarchy, in-fighting and traditions. Often they compete with each other, sometimes violently. They are always looking for inspiration and will pay well to experience new things. 3) The blackest market: working outside a guild is extremely dangerous here, if you are discovered you will be punished harshly. The blackest market is your best bet: a hidden, relatively safe and very illegal market that has lasted for a long time, despite it being openly criminal.
6th –The garrison of Maladomini
War. Pretty big deal, I've heard. Devils do it, sometimes. This where they manage that. It’s the army, that means officials screaming at recruits, hazing, People being made to run and march. It’s what you would expect, and probably the part you already have in your own campaign. Competition is still very harsh, with officials backstabbing each other, giving intentionally wrong orders to make others fail or lying about their failures and accomplishments, but it’s mitigated by the real risk of losing against demons, angels etc. that forces the devils to be a bit less egocentric. Being low in numbers, devils rely a lot on espionage, diplomacy and sabotage, keeping open conflict as a last resource. When it’s necessary, they make ample use of mercenaries. Geographically, the layer is made of flesh, the mountains are bones, lakes of pus, giant warts and sores. Pretty gross. Population: The strongest and more aggressive people end up here when they die. The skillset required here is a bit different from the rest. Still, they are devils, not demons. You will not find dumb brutes, ogres and thugs here. It’s more about resilience and discipline than raw strength. Soldiers are required to learn countless tactics and procedures and must be professional and precise at all times. Getting out: why would you? Not happy about fighting for the greater glory of hell? Where is your patriotism soldier? Give me ten thousand push-ups, with no arms. Oh, you can’t? disobeying a direct order? Maybe a year in the otyugh pit will straighten you. The only way out is by getting enough medals and awards, or by becoming an officer. Some people can grease enough wheels to get special exemptions Archdevil: Glasya, the fanservice. Daughter of Asmodeus, she took control of the layer after the previous ruler, the hag countess, exploded, and the layer is now made of her flesh. Glasya is a strong independent woman that, uhm, plots. Generically. Well, I’m sure she’s up to something. Locations 1) The Stinkers: a series of long and narrow tunnels of flesh filled with repugnant smells and parasitic worms. Forcing recruits to run through them naked is a traditional hazing ritual. A third of the recruits never come out. 2) The jawdoors: large, toothed mouths that open in the ground. Inside the mouths are portals that bring to other layers, and the armies use them for rapid deployment. Sometimes the mouths are just mouths and will chew you up. They move, open and close regularly, and scouts need to be sent inside them to find the right portals. Scout duty is not popular. 3)The lost legion: this battalion of devils was banished centuries ago after their leader had her reputation destroyed by another official, and since then have roamed the layer, hiding from other soldiers, stealing supplies. They are waiting for a chance to get revenge and fix their reputation.
7th – The administratum of Malbolge
In hell, pencil-pushers are kings, and Malbolge is their castle. An enormous layer-spanning office, Malebolge is one of the slowest, over-regulated places you’ll find. Everything needs paperwork, in enneaplicate (9 copies). Everything needs approval from multiple different authorities (that hate each other), and your documents will be covered in enough signs and stamps, they’ll make the original text unreadable. Making it invalid and forcing you to start again. But there is a difference from regular bureaucracy: in Malbolge, it’s entirely malicious. Every single clerk, official and administrator hates you and wants to obstacle you, just on the principle of it. Devils here are rewards not for doing more work, but for doing less of it, while still following all laws. Accountants are being actively paid to ruin your day and waste your time. Geographically, Malbolge is a maze of thousands of corridors patrolled by floating guardian and offices where ancient devils work tirelessly, dark archives hidden behind broken staircases, enormous libraries where strange beasts roam, and more corridors, more offices, with no end. Working here is a maddening, terrible exercise in patience and organization, and most get crushed by it, but the potential is endless: these people make and write the laws of hell, control the flow of paperwork and give out permits. This is the heart and brain of hell. Population: A few unique types of devils exist here: low-level employees, with little to no fighting power, writing, reading and shifting between folders. Thousand-eyed and thousand-armed floating devils, able to read a lifetime worth of documents in minutes, inkmancers able to control words, deleting and rewriting documents at great speed but also hunting for them, being able to perceive what’s in a book without opening it. The majority of souls that get here are swiftly overwhelmed, accidentally break the law and get sent to the first, or are simply suffocated by the work and turn into husks. Getting out:Well, you’ll need a permit. It should take only a few million years, if done regularly. If you are clever, you can reduce this time: loopholes, bribery, diplomacy and favours are your way out. But be careful to not get caught or sold out. Archdevil: Baalzebul, the slug Baalzebul used to be an angel, then fell and became a demon, then made Asmodeus angry and got turned into a slug. Not being able to gain a humanoid form, as mentioned before, is very shameful, so he hates Asmo a lot. He also hates Mephistopheles a lot. Baalze is a perfectionist, he pretends every document is clear, precise and on time. Dot the i's and cross the t's kind of guy. He also seeks perfection by rebuilding the various offices and corridors, tearing them down and starting new ones constantly, to the point many are left unfinished and abandoned, to the dismay of the people that needed them to work. His requirements are so high, it’s impossible to fulfil them, causing his servants to break the law all the time. Locations 1)The forlorn wing: this rather large wing of the administratum is extremely ancient. So ancient, the books and documents in it have grown strong enough to take control of it. Pens and books roam the halls, ink elementals walk the corridors, paper humanoids lurk in the shadows and cultists of the book god kidnap devils to sacrifice them on altars of pens to their leather-bound lords. 2)The shredder: a gigantic contraption of cranks and gears, hissing pistons and clunking levers made to destroy documents. It absorbed so much diabolic energy it became sentient, and now runs around the building devouring and shredding anything in its path. If destroyed, it reforms somewhere else after a few days. Countless important documents have sadly been lost to it. And a few thousands clerks, but who cares. 3)Old Jeff: it takes a lot to be considered “old” by devils. Jeff is even older than that. Nobody remembers it ever being young. It is said it knows the law more than anybody else and is a master at finding loopholes and going around contracts. Many come to seek its help, but it always asks for something in exchange. His requests usually make no sense, maybe it is just senile, or it’s part of some strange scheme only it knows.
8th – The noble quarters of Cania
The nobility of hell, the lords of Cania are rich, influential and some of the worst people to have ever lived. Most of them worked for centuries to get there, surviving the horrors of the other layers, so unlike mortals nobles, they tend to all be very skilled, intelligent and experienced. Balls and parties are the backdrop of backstabbings, blackmail and assassinations on a scale that would put any mortal court to shame. The layer itself is very cold, with frequent snow and storms that cover the luxurious towns. Most nobles have isolated villas they use when they need privacy, hidden between glaciers and icebergs. Population: The nobles manage most of the industries in the lower layers, and each one has hordes of servants and slaves. Marriages are made and broken daily, usually for political reasons, and it’s said that at any moment, you can find at least a dozen marriage ceremonies going on. Plenty of people realize they aren’t good enough to thrive in this layer, and decide to simply survive. They become leeches, using more powerful nobles as protection and scavenging what they leave behind. Getting out: showing incredible cunning or charm, sometimes, will attract the attention of Asmodeus himself. Other times, apparently unremarkable people are invited. Only he knows the reasons for his actions. A carriage of red ruby will appear at your door, carrying an invitation written on the skin of an angel to his court. This and nothing else will open the doors of Asmodeus Court to you. Archdevil: Mephistopheles, the classic The most devilish devil, he’s exactly how you would expect him, red skin, black wings, horns, trident, cunning and charming but also prone to anger outbursts worse than a Disney villain. He wants to take over hell and replace Asmodeus. He likes fire. He doesn’t like his layer. Locations 1)The Face-off: this dingy, hidden store sells masks, both literal: protections from magical identification and scrying, and metaphorical: fake identities, both stolen and made up. When everything is documented, a false identity can be extremely powerful. 2)The Ring: Here are held daily races. Horse races, bull races, giant lizards, humans, dwarves, anything they capture can be forced to race here, and devils love betting on them. 3)Franco’s Bistrò: this cafè is owned by a half-fallen angel named Franco. The angel is more or less evil, but not too convinced, and still likes peace and tranquillity. His cafè is a relaxing place, where nobody is allowed to fight or murder, and many use it as a safe haven to do business. Even outsiders, like your players, would be relatively safe here.
9th – Asmodeus court, formerly known as Nessus
Asmodeus court is the top of the top, the best of the best. As luxurious as physically possible, the entire layer is dotted with villas, gardens, fields, meadows, scenographic mountains, beautiful lakes, everything exists for the pleasure and gratification of the locals. Nobody works here, people spend their time in balls and parties, trying to show off and impress others. They buy the most expensive dresses, have the best food imported, find the greatest bards to play for them. Everything is a dick-measuring contest. On top of that, people routinely pretend to be other people to damage their reputation, sometimes for years on end. Everybody has false identities on top of false identities, lies on top of lies, and the machinations are so convoluted nobody can keep up, except Asmodeus himself. Or so he says. Many think that’s just his own lie. Population: Only the very best get to live here: the richest, smartest, evilest people to have ever lived, and the most powerful, wisest devils, people that survived the other 8 layers, tricking and crushing millions of others, and finally they get to the top, living in absolute luxury with everything they ever wanted in reach. With the small caveat that they will have to spend every minute defending their position and will have very little time to enjoy it, and they are still small cogs in a much larger game. But there is an additional trick. A trick so dastardly, so terrible, only a handful of people in the multiverse know about it, a handful of archdevils, archangels, and a few gods. The curse of lies. I mentioned the false identities and multi-layered lies, well, the longer you stay here, the harder it gets to distinguish reality from falsehood. Eventually, your real identity will be lost in your own lies, and you’ll be reduced to a mask, playing the game of politics and unable to stop, not knowing who you really were, or if you ever were somebody to begin with. You will be overwhelmed, and your original name erased, and nobody will realize it. The vast majority of the people living here have succumbed to this curse. They would be unable to leave if they wanted, but it hardly matters, since they’re unable to want it. They have no real needs, all they have is lying, tricking others and playing the game. This is Asmodeus greatest failsafe: the people here are the best, and that makes them the most dangerous. By getting them in his court, he makes them harmless. This weakens devils as a faction since countless of their best and brightest have been effectively made useless, but Asmodeus puts his safety above everything else. Curse of lies: Will DC 20 + 1 for every year spent here, rolled every year. If failed, the victim becomes detached from reality and unable to distinguish their lies from reality, they also become unable to leave the layer. The only way to break the curse is to use 3 wish or miracle spells: the first to get the victim out of the layer, the second to remove the curse and the third to restore their mind. Getting out: Very easy. Once you arrive here, you are at the bottom. You can leave whenever you feel like, You’ll probably do it often to manage various business and the people working with you. But while you’re away, others will plot against you, you won’t want to leave, so you can keep an eye on your rivals, until the curse kicks in. Archdevil: geez, I dunno, who could it be? Locations 1) The jade palace: owned by a fallen Lun dragon, this enormous palace is a very clean, tranquil place, ideal for meditation and study. The dragon allows (paying) customers to use it when they need a break from the endless parties and balls. Its many corridors hide tons of relics and artefacts, books and scrolls that haven’t been seen in the mortal world for millennia. 2) The Chaos Haus: this place, run by a mysterious female devil named Sudemosa, offers the only oasis of chaos and freedom in hell. Anybody can come here and relax, forget the world outside and do whatever they want. No laws, no rules. Complete anarchy. Allegedly, everything that happens here is a secret, even to Asmodeus. 3) The Palace of Wise Souls: an enormous palace with minarets and onion domes with ivory walls, in its centre, a large hall with a marble throne. On the throne sits a judge, tens of thousands of years ancient. It is said to be the second wisest creature in the multiverse, and for an enormous price, it offers suggestions and advice. It is said that its advice is always right and incredibly far-sighted. If you are wise, you can get hired at the palace and work as an administrator. People not rich enough to afford the judge can ask these other, less wise but still wise, people for advice, for a more reasonable price.
Getting your players involved
How do you get to use this stuff in your campaign? Some hooks. 1) A man died, carrying some important secret to the tomb. Attempts at contacting him fail, apparently his soul is imprisoned in hell. The players must go down there and find him. 2) A woman, a botanist, hires the players to help her look for a rare plant. She's talented but dodges personal questions. Things get out of hand when devils start attacking the group. 3) Acid rain falls on the region, and small horned humanoid covered in rags crawl out of small temporary portals, steal stuff and run back to where they came from. 4) A long-dead ancestor appears in the dreams of a player, asking to... borrow money? 5) A devil starts kidnapping people with difficult family situations and interviewing them, apparently, it wants to write a novel about mortal lives. A second devil wants to hire the players to rescue the people and destroy the manuscript. 6) The players find a wounded, scared devil crying in the woods, hiding from other devils hunting it. It's the opposite of a fallen angel: a risen devil. But it will need help with it. 7) A devil appears, saying the soul of the king and the country belong to it, thanks to a deal made with an ancestor of the king 66 generations before. The only way to break the pact is hidden somewhere in the 7th layer, says another devil. 8) A very wealthy and posh devil starts helping the player. She says she wants them to become very famous and wealthy before she defeats them, so they have to win for now. 9) A devil, dressed in extremely wealthy clothes and jewels, appears to the players. He seems desperate and begs for their help. He promises a great evil can be stopped if they help him. 10) The players accidentally break a hell law, and an extremely annoying clerk starts following and pestering them, saying they have to pay a fine and sign papers. If they don't want to pay, they'll have to find the correct office in hell and submit a formal complaint. 11) The players start receiving tips about a diabolic cult in the area. The tips are correct, and the players are able to obstacle the cult, but soon they learn the tips come from a devil. The same worshipped by the cult. The devil is trying to make his own operation fail to not look too good and attract attention, so the players are, effectively, helping him. 12) The leader of the local church summons the players in secret, and begs their help: he became leader by making a pact with a devil, and asks their help in breaking the contract. If they don't help, the devils will take thousands in the region. 13) A dumb Imp follows the players, trying to trick them, he is pretty pathetic and harmless.
Some basic tools for your toolkit so you stop losing money on expired options
Since it's a holiday and we're all bored anyway I'm going to give you some very basic things to think about before you open a position. Who am I? I'm just a random dude with some business and finance education. I have had limited success and failures (over the past two years I've been up 90% and down 60%), but the key is that I haven't cashed out of the game yet. So, if you're looking for ways to justify your gambling addiction, read on. If you want to be the one retard who learns something today and not the 9 retards posting stupid shit in the comments, read on. Today I've picked a nice mix of glaring WSB faults and interesting things:
Risk and reward expectations
Stock and Options packages (ETFs and multilegs)
Research aka Due diligence (DD)
Let's dive in friendos! Risk and reward expectations - Generally investment managers, financiers, and traders gauge their performance for a quarter or year based on how they did relative to the market. So if the S&P 500 only grows 6% in a year, a trader is successful if they made 9% gain that year. If the S%P 500 grows 20% like in 2019, you could literally just park your money in stocks and sell a year later for 20% gain, no skill involved. Historically, the market has grown 10%a year. I mention this in bold because most newcomers here really need to have their risk/reward expectations reframed. Usually the rewards are directly related to the risk that you lose everything. Doubling your money with a yolo call position is incredibly risky and you are likely to lose all of your money. This isn't a beabull thing (which is fucking stupid anyway. Imagine gambling/investing based on a fucking animal mascot). Pouring your money into shares of an S&P 500 index is much more safe and likely to preserve your money. I think there is a big contingent of big brained smarties on this board who want much more risk and reward than buying shares, but don't want to fuck in the dark on WSB meme options. If you are ok making 5-10% a week instead of 5-10% a year, read on. Stock and options packages - Stocks get packaged up by companies and resold to you in two ways: mutual funds and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). These are pretty much the same thing - a bundle of stocks that you buy into - except ETFs are... exchange-traded aka sold as shares. Why do companies do this? To hedge against the risk we talked about before! We need to digress for a second into different kinds of risk. If you had 0 toleration for risk, if you wanted a virtual guarantee of not losing money, how can you invest? You can buy US Treasury bonds. The rate of return on US treasury bonds is literally called the risk-free rate in finance and is about 1.6%/year or something right now. Pitiful. In our desire to see bigger returns we must take on bigger risks. There is firm specific risk related to the operations and financing of a specific firm ($BABA, $MSFT, $ADI). Let's say we didn't want to deal with this risk. We just want to take advantage of their growth of an industry, sector, or the market as a whole, without getting burned by the mistakes of any one individual firm. Then we can diversify awayfirm-specific risk and deal only with market risk by purchasing shares of every company in an industry, sector, or market. So State Street Global Advisors purchases a weighted average of the S&P 500 and sells that package to you as $SPY. Any one success or failure in the S&P 500 doesn't make SPY move much; it moves the way the market moves in general. Ok, so, there are indexes/ETFs for everything. Whole market, biotech, manufacturing, industrial power, you name it. These are incredibly successful products - $SPY, $TQQQ, $PEY - because they are less risky and move slower than the individual stocks in the funds. What's the deal with options packages? Options packages hedge risk in exchange for lower returns and are available on Robinhood (but never take the pre-built offered packages). Take a second at this point to go to investopedia and get a handle on spreads - you'll see things like Bull/Bear Put/Call credit/debit spread. With these risk hedges, Options spreads on index ETFs are the right risk and return for me. Lets do an example with a single stock share: So let's say you have a belief that $MSFT is going up, but you don't want to risk everything on straight calls that could expire worthless in a week. You have some options (pun intended). You can reduce your risk by changing the rules - open a bull put (credit) spread so that you don't need $MSFT to go up, you just need it to not go down. Or you can lower the cost of your calls (and the reward) by opening a bull call (debit) spread. What I love about these is that the only cost/collateral RH requires is that difference between strikes in a spread. For instance, I have a SPY bull put spread right now with strikes at 330 and 329 - RH required $100 in collateral and gave me 12 dollars credit when I opened it (the difference between selling to open the 330 put and buying to open the 329 put), and I think I can close it out this week for a cost of 5 dollars, netting me 7$ on my 100. That doesn't sound flashy except that 7% a week is literally rich people insaneo gains on a relatively safe bet. If you've read this far, my secret volatility play this week is opening a condor tomorrow on $ADI and closing it after earnings. EPS is estimated to be pretty low, but the firm's operating cycle is absolutely solid, so I think it'll move sideways on the news and we're going to make money on the IV crush. $1 spreads on the low and high ends, with strikes roughly 6% out of the money. Open it for 30 bucks credit tomorrow, close it for 15 bucks debit on Thursday. Due Diligence - DD is more art than science, and it's going to look different for stocks than for options, but in either case often the only difference between sweating nervously for a week while you look for a way to not lose so much, and relaxing confidently in your purchase, is 15 minutes of research. The price of a share is related to the performance of the firm, even in 2020. If you're trying to do DD on a specific firm as an amatuer, you want to look at 3 things - Quarterly/annual reports of earnings, analyst opinions, and the sector as a whole. Let's take $MSFT for example: Big revenue growth each year for the past decade, analysts say that Azure and Teams are solid products, and the tech sector is growing, so there's room for $MSFT to go up without having to take market share from competitors. That info took me 5 minutes to find, and with it I'm very confident that purchasing shares of $MSFT is a good idea. You can usually go to a company's website to find their financial information in a government tax filing form called a 10-k, but that can be pretty dense. You're looking for a page called the Balance Sheet. Anyway, hope you had a good read and learned something. If not, fuck off and lose all your money and disappear unnoticed in a few weeks like 99% of the people on this board.
Thoughts On The Market Series #1 - The New Normal?
Market Outlook: What to Make of This “New Normal”
By ****\* March 16, 2020 After an incredibly volatile week – which finished with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rallying over 9% on Friday – I suppose my readers might expect me to be quite upbeat about the markets. Unfortunately, I persist in my overall pessimistic outlook for stocks, and for the economy in general. Friday’s rally essentially negated Thursday’s sell-off, but I don’t expect it to be the start of a sustained turnaround. We’re getting a taste of that this morning, with the Dow opening down around 7%. This selloff is coming on the back of an emergency interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve of 100 basis points (to 0%-0.25%) on Sunday… along with the announcement of a new quantitative easing program of $700 billion. (I will write about this further over the next several days.) As I have been writing for many weeks, the financial bubble – which the Fed created by pumping trillions of dollars into the financial system – has popped. It will take some time for the bubble to deflate to sustainable levels. Today I’ll walk you through what’s going on in the markets and the economy… what I expect going forward and why… and what it means for us as traders. (You’ll see it’s not all bad news.)
Coronavirus’ Strain on the Global Economy
To start, let’s put things in perspective: This asset deflation was coming one way or another. Covid19 (or coronavirus) has simply accelerated the process. Major retailers are closing, tourism is getting crushed, universities and schools are sending students home, conventions, sporting events, concerts, and other public gatherings have been cancelled, banks and other financial service firms are going largely virtual, and there has been a massive loss of wealth. Restaurant data suggests that consumer demand is dropping sharply, and the global travel bans will only worsen the situation. Commercial real estate is another sector that looks particularly vulnerable. We are almost certain to see a very sharp and pronounced economic slowdown here in the United States, and elsewhere. In fact, I expect a drop of at least 5% of GDP over the next two quarters, which is quite severe by any standard. Sure, when this cycle is complete, there will be tremendous amounts of pent-up demand by consumers, but for the time being, the consumer is largely on the sidelines. Of course, the problems aren’t just in the U.S. China’s numbers look awful. In fact, the government there may have to “massage” their numbers a bit to show a positive GDP in the first quarter. Europe’s numbers will also look dreadful, and South Korea’s economy has been hit badly. All around the world, borders are being shut, all non-essential businesses are being closed, and people in multiple countries are facing a lockdown of historic proportions. The coronavirus is certainly having a powerful impact, and it looks certain that its impact will persist for a while. Consider global tourism. It added almost $9 trillion to the global economy in 2018, and roughly 320 million jobs. This market is in serious trouble. Fracking in the U.S. is another business sector that is in a desperate situation. Millions of jobs and tens of billions of loans are now in jeopardy. The derivative businesses that this sector supports will be likewise devastated as companies are forced to reduce their workforces or shut down due to the collapse in oil prices. This sector’s suffering will probably force banks to book some big losses despite attempts by the government to support this industry. In a similar way, the derivative businesses that are supported by the universities and colleges across America are going to really suffer. There are nearly 20 million students in colleges across the U.S. When they go home for spring vacation and do not return, the effect on the local businesses that colleges and university populations support will be devastating. What does this “new normal” mean going forward? Let’s take a look…
The new normal may become increasingly unpleasant for us. We need to be ready to hunker down for quite some time. Beyond that, the government needs to handle this crisis far better in the future. The level of stupidity associated with the massive throngs of people trapped in major airports yesterday, for example, was almost unimaginable. Instead of facilitating the reduction of social contact and halting the further spread of the coronavirus, the management of the crowds at the airports produced a perfect breeding ground for the spread of the virus. My guess is that more draconian travel restrictions will be implemented soon, matching to some extent the measures taken across Europe. This will in turn have a further dampening effect on economic activity in the U.S., putting more and more pressure on the Fed and the government to artificially support a rapidly weakening economy. Where does this end up? It is too early to say, but a very safe bet is that we will have some months of sharply negative growth. Too many sectors of the economy are going to take a hit to expect anything else. The Fed has already driven interest rates to zero. Will that help? Unlikely. In fact, as I mentioned at the beginning of this update, the markets are voting with a resounding NO. The businesses that are most affected by the current economic situation will still suffer. Quantitative easing is hardly a cure-all. In fact, it has been one of the reasons that we have such a mess in our markets today. The markets have become addicted to the easy money, so more of the same will have little or no impact. We will need real economic demand, not an easier monetary policy. It won’t help support tourism, for example, or the other sectors getting smashed right now. The government will need to spend at least 5% of GDP, or roughly $1 trillion, to offset the weakness I see coming. Is it surprising that the Fed and the government take emergency steps to try to stabilize economic growth? Not at all. This is essentially what they have been doing for a long time, so it is completely consistent with their playbook. Next, I would anticipate the government implementing some massive public-works and infrastructure programs over the coming months. That would be very helpful, and almost certainly quite necessary. But there’s a problem with this kind of intervention from the government…
What Happens When You Eliminate the Business Cycle
The Fed’s foolish attempt to eliminate business cycles is a significant contributing factor to the volatility we are currently experiencing. Quantitative easing is nothing more than printing lots and lots of money to support a weak economy and give the appearance of growth and prosperity. In fact, it is a devaluation of the currency’s true buying power. That in turn artificially drives up the prices of other assets, such as stocks, real estate and gold – but it does not create true wealth. That only comes with non-inflationary growth of goods and services and associated increases in economic output. Inflation is the government’s way to keep people thinking they are doing better. To that point: We have seen some traditional safe-haven assets getting destroyed during this time of risk aversion. That has certainly compounded the problems of many investors. Gold is a great example. As the stock market got violently slammed, people were forced to come up with cash to support their losing positions. Gold became a short-term source of liquidity as people sold their gold holdings in somewhat dramatic fashion. It was one of the few holdings of many people that was not dramatically under water, so people sold it. The move may have seemed perverse, particularly to people who bought gold as a safe-haven asset, but in times of crisis, all assets tend to become highly correlated, at least short term. We saw a similar thing happen with long yen exposures and long Bitcoin exposures recently. The dollar had its strongest one-day rally against the yen since November 2016 as people were forced to sell huge amounts of yen to generate liquidity. Many speculators had made some nice profits recently as the dollar dropped sharply from 112 to 101.30, but they have been forced to book whatever profits they had in this position. Again, this was due to massive losses elsewhere in their portfolios. Is the yen’s sell-off complete? If it is not complete, it is probably at least close to an attractive level for Japanese investors to start buying yen against a basket of currencies. The major supplies of yen have largely been taken off the table for now. For example, the yen had been a popular funding currency for “carry” plays. People were selling yen and buying higher-yielding currencies to earn the interest rate difference between the liability currency (yen) and the funding currency (for example, the U.S. dollar). Carry plays are very unpopular in times of great uncertainty and volatility, however, so that supply of yen will be largely gone for quite some time. Plus, the yield advantage of currencies such as the U.S. dollar, Canadian dollar, and Australian dollar versus the yen is nearly gone. In addition, at the end of the Japanese fiscal year , there is usually heavy demand for yen as Japanese corporations need to bring home a portion of their overseas holdings for balance sheet window dressing. I don’t expect that pressure to be different this year. Just as the safe-haven assets of yen and gold got aggressively sold, Bitcoin also got hammered. It was driven by a similar theme – people had big losses and they needed to produce liquidity quickly. Selling Bitcoin became one of the sources of that liquidity.
Heavy Price Deflation Ahead
Overall, there is a chance that this scenario turns into something truly ugly, with sustained price deflation across many parts of the economy. We will certainly have price deflation in many sectors, at least on a temporary basis. Why does that matter over the long term? Price deflation is the most debilitating economic development in a society that is debt-laden – like the U.S. today. Prices of assets come down… and the debt becomes progressively bigger and bigger. The balance sheet of oil company Chesapeake Energy is a classic example. It’s carrying almost $10 billion worth of debt… versus a market cap of only about $600 million. Talk about leverage! When the company had a market cap of $10 billion, that debt level didn’t appear so terrifying. Although this is an extreme example for illustrative purposes, the massive debt loads of China would seem more and more frightening if we were to sink into flat or negative growth cycles for a while. The government’s resources are already being strained, and it can artificially support only so many failing companies. The U.S. has gigantic levels of debt as well, but it has the advantage of being the world’s true hegemon, and the U.S. dollar is the world’s reserve currency. This creates a tremendous amount of leverage and power in financing its debt. The U.S. has been able to impose its will on its trading partners to trade major commodities in dollars. This has created a constant demand for the dollar that offsets, to a large extent, the massive trade deficit that the U.S. runs. For example, if a German company wants to buy oil, then it needs to hold dollars. This creates a constant demand for dollar assets. In short, the dollar’s status as the true global reserve currency is far more important than most people realize. China does not hold this advantage.
What to Do Now
In terms of how to position ourselves going forward, I strongly recommend that people continue with a defensive attitude regarding stocks. There could be a lot more downside to come. Likewise, we could see some panic selling in other asset classes. The best thing right now is to be liquid and patient, ready to pounce on special opportunities when they present themselves. For sure, there will be some exceptional opportunities, but it is too early to commit ourselves to just one industry. These opportunities could come in diverse sectors such as commercial real estate, hospitality, travel and leisure, and others. As for the forex markets, the volatility in the currencies is extreme, so we are a bit cautious. I still like the yen as a safe-haven asset. I likewise still want to sell the Australian dollar, the New Zealand dollar, and the Canadian dollar as liability currencies. Why? The Bank of Canada, the Reserve Bank of Australia, and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand have all taken aggressive steps recently, slashing interest rates. These currencies are all weak, and they will get weaker. Finding an ideal entry for a trade, however, is tricky. Therefore, we are being extra careful with our trading. We always prioritize the preservation of capital over generating profits, and we will continue with this premise. At the same time, volatility in the markets is fantastic for traders. We expect many excellent opportunities to present themselves over the coming days and weeks as prices get driven to extreme levels and mispricings appear. So stay tuned.
The “Fairytale” So Far - An Overview Of Current COVID-19 Statistical Understandings
Fairytales were arguably first created to terrify and traumatise children into conformity and submission to ‘fiat’ authority. Whether it‘s under the pretext of viruses, terrorism, evil empires or ‘racism’, the intent and effect are the same. Fear is the mind-virus, and truth is the vaccination, self-administered. https://swprs.org/a-swiss-doctor-on-covid-19/ “The only means to fight the plague is honesty.” (Albert Camus, 1947)
According to the latest immunological and serological studies, the overall lethality of Covid-19 (IFR) is about 0.1% and thus in the range of a strong seasonal influenza (flu).
In countries like the US, the UK, and also Sweden (without a lockdown), overall mortality since the beginning of the year is in the range of a strong influenza season; in countries like Germany, Austria and Switzerland, overall mortality is in the range of a mild influenza season.
Even in global “hotspots”, the risk of death for the general population of school and working age is typically in the range of a daily car ride to work. The risk was initially overestimated because many people with only mild or no symptoms were not taken into account.
Up to 60% of all persons may already have a certain cellular background immunity30610-3) to Covid-19 due to contact with previous coronaviruses (i.e. common cold viruses). The initial assumption that there was no immunity against Covid-19 was not correct.
The median age of the deceased in most countries (including Italy) is over 80 years (e.g. 86 years in Sweden) and only about 4% of the deceased had no serious preconditions. The age and risk profile of deaths thus essentially corresponds to normal mortality.
Up to 30% of all additional deaths may have been caused not by Covid19, but by the effects of the lockdown, panic and fear. For example, the treatment of heart attacks and strokes decreased by up to 60% because many patients no longer dared to go to hospital.
Even in so-called “Covid19 deaths” it is often not clear whether they died from or with coronavirus (i.e. from underlying diseases) or if they were counted as “presumed cases” and not tested at all. However, official figures usually do not reflect this distinction.
Many media reports of young and healthy people dying from Covid19 turned out to be false: many of these young people either did not die from Covid19, they had already been seriously ill(e.g. from undiagnosed leukaemia), or they were in fact 109 instead of 9 years old. The claimed increase in Kawasaki disease in children also turned out to be false.
In countries such as Italy and Spain, and to some extent the UK and the US, hospital overloads due to strong flu waves are not unusual. Moreover, this year up to 15% of health care workers were put into quarantine, even if they developed no symptoms.
The often shown exponential curves of “corona cases” are misleading, as the number of tests also increased exponentially. In most countries, the ratio of positive tests to tests overall (i.e. the positive rate) remained constant at 5% to 25% or increased only slightly. In many countries, the peak of the spread was already reached well before the lockdown.
Countries without curfews and contact bans, such as Japan, South Korea, Belarus or Sweden, have not experienced a more negative course of events than other countries. Sweden was even praised by the WHO and now benefits from higher immunity compared to lockdown countries.
The fear of a shortage of ventilators was unjustified. According to lung specialists, the invasive ventilation (intubation) of Covid19 patients, which is partly done out of fear of spreading the virus, is in fact often counterproductive and damaging to the lungs.
Contrary to original assumptions, various studies have shown that there is no evidence of the virus spreading through aerosols (i.e. tiny particles floating in the air) or through smear infections(e.g. on door handles or smartphones). The main modes of transmission are direct contact and droplets produced when coughing or sneezing.
There is also no scientific evidence for the effectiveness of face masks in healthy or asymptomaticindividuals. On the contrary, experts warn that such masks interfere with normal breathing and may become “germ carriers”. Leading doctors called them a “media hype” and “ridiculous”.
The virus test kits used internationally are prone to errors and can produce false positive and false negative results. Moreover, the official virus test was not clinically validated due to time pressure and may sometimes react positive to other coronaviruses.
At no time was there a medical reason30095-X/fulltext) for the closure of schools, as the risk of disease and transmission in children is extremely low. There is also no medical reason for small classes, masks or ‘social distancing’ rules in schools.
The claim that only (severe) Covid-19 but not influenza may cause venous thrombosis and pulmonary (lung) embolism is not true, as it has been known for 50 years that severe influenza greatly increases the risk of thrombosis and embolism, too.
A global influenza or corona pandemic can indeed extend over several seasons, but many studies of a “second wave” are based on very unrealistic assumptions, such as a constant risk of illness and death across all age groups.
The number of people suffering from unemployment, depressions and domestic violence as a result of the measures has reached historic record values. Several experts predict that the measures will claim far more lives than the virus itself. According to the UN 1.6 billion peoplearound the world are at immediate risk of losing their livelihood.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden warned that the “corona crisis” will be used for the permanent expansion of global surveillance. Renowned virologist Pablo Goldschmidt spoke of a “global media terror” and “totalitarian measures”. Leading British virologist Professor John Oxford spoke of a “media epidemic”.
More than 600 scientists have warned of an “unprecedented surveillance of society” through problematic apps for “contact tracing”. In some countries, such “contact tracing” is already carried out directly by the secret service. In several parts of the world, the population is already being monitored by drones and facing serious police overreach.
Gus meets with Hector and hints that he orchestrated the deaths of Leonel and Marco and Juan Bolsa out of revenge, infuriating the immobile Hector.
Walt and Jesse are now in full production in the new lab and are easily producing the 200 pounds of meth each week, as per their quota. Jesse finds that they're even overproducing, and is resentful when Walt refuses to allow him to remove the extra pounds from the shipment, particularly since he has calculated that Gus will net at least $96 million by the end of their three-month contract, while the two of them are receiving only a combined payment of $3 million despite doing all of the work. Walt, however, is unconcerned by this and simply brushes off Jesse's complaints as him being unappreciative.
Hank is still recovering in the hospital, and Steve Gomez shows up to tell him that the blue meth has made a comeback in several states, thus confirming Hank's suspicions that Heisenberg has not yet been captured. Hank is nevertheless dissatisfied, and reveals that the only reason he's still alive is because he got a warning call a minute before his would-be assassins attacked him. Instantly suspicious of Walt, Skyler asks him if they, and he, are safe. Walt assures her that they are.
Though Hank is now conscious and functioning, his legs are mostly paralyzed, and the prognosis is that he may not be able to walk again, even with months of physical therapy. His doctor tells Marie that the therapy he needs is unlikely to fall within their insurance plan, and they would most likely end up having to pay out of pocket, which could end up costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Walt meets with Gus at his distribution center to "clear the air." Hank's revelation that he received a phone call before the attack has led Walt to the conclusion that Gus was the one who diverted the Cartel assassins away from him and directed them towards Hank instead so that an attempted hit on a DEA agent would get the American and Mexican governments to crack down hard on the Cartel and close off the distribution of meth from across the border, thereby granting Gus complete control over the market from within the States. Despite having put Hank's life in jeopardy, Walt nevertheless expresses gratitude towards Gus for saving his own life and commends him for his strategy, saying that he'd have done the same in Gus' position. He also brings up the issue of not knowing what will happen when his three-month contract has expired. Gus promises him security for his family, and also brings up the possibility of extending their contract to a year, which would increase his earnings to $15 million. Walt considers it.
Saul encourages Jesse to purchase a nail salon with which he can use to launder the money he makes from the meth business. Jesse flatly refuses, especially since doing so would require him to report his income to the IRS and thereby pay taxes. Tired of having to adhere to the quotas and responsibilities within his new job, and wanting a larger cut of the profits, Jesse decides to steal the leftover pounds of meth that he and Walt produce in the lab to sell separately to the members of his rehab support group. He enlists Badger and Skinny Pete in this endeavor, and during a meeting, they pose as two new members and initiate a conversation within the group where they mention the blue meth, piquing everyone's interest in it.
Marie becomes increasingly frustrated about being unable to find a means to pay for Hank's physical therapy, as their insurance will not cover the therapists. Skyler finally offers to pay their bills directly using Walt's drug money. She fabricates a story of Walt being a compulsive blackjack gambler, saying that this has been the cause of their recent marital problems. She explains that Walt took to gambling to pay his medical bills after his cancer diagnosis, and after some losses, his winnings have netted them an amount with seven figures. Marie is left shocked and appalled, but agrees to take their money to pay for Hank's therapy.
Walt expresses surprise in Skyler's ability to come up with such an elaborate story on the fly. Skyler tells Walt that she believes he is somehow responsible for the attack on Hank, and that she is "not forgetting that."
March 29, 2009: Fly
Walt, suffering from insomnia, stares up at his smoke detector's flashing light while trying to get back to sleep. Later, he arrives with Jesse at the superlab, where they begin making another batch of meth. At the end of the day, Walt calculates that their yield, while above what they are required to produce, falls short of what he expects. Jesse, who has been secretly taking small amounts for personal distribution, suggests it may be from other losses from spillage, but Walt insists there is another reason.
After Jesse leaves for the day, Walt sees a housefly in the lab which he fears could contaminate the meth-making process. He tries numerous means to swat it, even dangling precariously from the lab's catwalk, from which he slips and falls to the floor. When Jesse returns the next day, he finds Walt still in pain from the fall and demanding that they cannot start cooking until they get rid of the fly. Jesse worries about Walt's lack of sleep and suggests they go outside to figure it out. However, when Jesse leaves, Walt locks him out of the lab and goes back to find the fly. When Jesse disconnects the main power to the lab, Walt lets him back in so they can work together. Jesse gets some flypaper which they hang around the lab, as well as some sleeping pills that he secretly puts into Walt's coffee. He then recounts a story about his late aunt, who experienced auditory hallucinations as a result of her cancer spreading to her brain. Walt asserts that he is still in remission.
As they wait to catch the fly, the two talk about their families. Walt expresses that he should have died already and tries to think of the perfect moment to have done so: after he had enough money, after Holly was born, before his surgery and before Skyler knew what he'd been doing. He finally decides the perfect moment to die would have been the night Jane died, telling Jesse of his conversation with her father Donald. He tries to calculate the chances of meeting both father and daughter in different scenarios on the same night despite having never met either beforehand, but finds the odds too astronomical to calculate. Jesse is distracted when he sees the fly near the ceiling. As he tries to use a step-ladder to reach the fly, an increasingly-sleepy Walt seems poised to confess to Jesse about his role in Jane's death. Jesse tells him Jane's death was nobody's fault, but he still misses her. Jesse climbs back down and, seeing the fly land on the ladder, swats and kills it.
Jesse takes a sleeping Walt to a couch while he cleans up the superlab and prepares for their next batch. They later leave together, but Walt warns Jesse that if he has been skimming from their product, he will not be able to protect him if Gus finds out. Jesse denies taking anything and states that he isn't asking anyone to protect him. That night, Walt is again unable to fall asleep, and sees a fly landing on the smoke detector's flashing light.
March 30 - April 7, 2009: Abiquiu
Hank is frustrated with his physical therapy. Marie gives Skyler the therapy bill to pay as they previously discussed. Walt attempts to pay with his drug money, but Skyler insists the source must be "unimpeachable." Walt takes her to meet Saul, who laundered his money in the past. Skyler is put off by his flippant personality and his scheme to buy a laser tag facility. Instead, she suggests a more believable business investment: the car wash where Walt previously worked. Saul objects, as the owner of the laser tag facility would ask no questions about the deal, while the car wash owner, Bogdan, is an unknown factor. Skyler offers to help launder the money by managing the car wash. Walt worries that this would make her liable for his actions, but she reveals she never signed the divorce papers, and if married, cannot be made to testify against him.
Meanwhile, Walt warns Jesse about skimming some of their meth product, which he continues to deny doing. Jesse takes what he has stolen to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting to give to Badger and Skinny Pete to help peddle. The two reveal they can't bring themselves to sell meth to recovering addicts, so Jesse shows them how easy it is by striking up a conversation with Andrea, a newcomer to the meetings. He soon becomes attached to Andrea while surreptitiously attempting to sell her product. Andrea invites him to her home, where Jesse discovers she has a son, Brock. From him, Jesse learns Andrea has a younger brother named Tomás, although she initially refuses to talk about him. Later, Andrea suggests they use meth, but Jesse declines now that he knows she has a child, and the two argue. Andrea insists she wants to avoid having Brock suffer from the same fate as Tomás, who, as part of an initiation to a local drug gang, shot a rival dealer at a street corner. Jesse recognizes the murder is similar to that of Combo a few months prior.
Gus invites Walt to his home for a private dinner, telling Walt that he made many mistakes when he first began working in the drug business. He regrets that he did not have a mentor and warns Walt never to make the same mistake twice. Although Walt does not appear to understand what Gus is referring to, it later becomes apparent he is speaking of Walt's relationship with Jesse. The next day, Jesse travels to the corner where Combo was killed. He finds Tomás there, and confirms that not only is he working for a drug gang, but the gang works for Gus peddling the blue meth that he and Walt are making. Jesse quietly walks away, enraged.
April 8-14, 2009: Half Measures
Skyler pushes Walt to accept her plan of laundering his drug money through the car wash. They continue to disagree, but are able to negotiate a plan that allows Walt to have some family dinners at home as a ploy to make the Whites appear reconciled. Meanwhile, Jesse begins to plot against those who killed Combo. He buys blue meth from the gang responsible, indicating that the people who killed Combo work for Gus. Jesse tells Walt about his findings and asks him to make ricin so he can exact revenge. Although Walt appears troubled by the gang's use of children, he dismisses the plan and tells Jesse to do the same. Jesse says, "I’m doing it. With or without you."
Convinced Jesse is likely to do something rash that would endanger multiple people, including himself, Walt visits Saul and they hatch a plan to have Jesse sent to jail for a month to cool down. Meanwhile, Marie wheels Hank out of the hospital after winning a bet where she arouses him during a sponge bath. Mike makes an unannounced visit to Walt at home, telling him that he is not going to follow Saul's plan. He explains that Gus does not know of Jesse's intentions, but that if he follows through on them, he will find out and "take it as a problem." He then recounts an incident from his time as a cop, when he showed mercy by allowing a habitually abusive husband to live, only to have the man beat his wife to death shortly after. He tells Walt that he chose a "half measure" instead of killing the husband, and warns before leaving: "No more half measures."
Jesse plants a poison of his own making in burgers his friend Wendy, a local prostitute, will bring to the gang members. However, Mike and Victor get to Jesse first, thwarting his plan and forcing him to go for a ride. They bring him to a meeting with Gus, Walt, and the dealers he was targeting. Jesse is furious to realize Walt has revealed his plan to Gus, but Gus tells him that Walt is his only friend in the room. After several tense verbal exchanges, the dealers agree to stop using children, and Jesse agrees to "keep the peace." It is implied that Jesse intends to drop his plans for revenge, although his relationship with Walt is damaged. He refuses to speak to Walt in the car after the meeting, and later won't return his phone calls.
That night, Jesse hears about the death of Tomás, and rushes to the scene with his girlfriend Andrea. He realizes the dealers have killed Tomás because he is no longer of value to them, as they've agreed to stop using children. Jesse waits in his car near their territory, watching them and snorting meth for the first time since leaving rehab. He grabs a gun from under his seat, leaves the vehicle and starts walking towards the dealers. As Jesse draws his gun, the dealers begin to do likewise. Suddenly, Walt plows over both dealers with his car. He exits the vehicle with one still underneath, and another injured but reaching for his gun. Walt picks up the gun, shoots the dealer in the head, and tells Jesse to run.
April 15-16, 2009: Full Measure
After Walt kills the gang members and Jesse goes on the run, Walt meets with Gus and Mike to negotiate for his and Jesse's safety, and for the continuation of his employment. Walt suggests Gus has two options: (A) kill Walt right there on the spot and eventually track down and kill Jesse, or (B) consider the incident a "lone hiccup in an otherwise long and fruitful business arrangement," let him return to cooking, and both agree to forget about Jesse. Gus leaves, appearing to have chosen option B, but informs Walt that he will be choosing Jesse's replacement.
Walt arrives at the superlab to discover Gale Boetticher's car in the parking lot. Gale has been reinstated as Walt's lab partner, and Victor now shadows them everywhere, ensuring the two are never left alone. Gus informs Gale later that night of Walt's cancer. Gus says he intends to keep Walt on as long as possible, but must prepare for the "worst-case scenario." Walt, whose prior suspicions about Gale are soon reignited, correctly concludes that Gus is grooming Gale to replace him, and that he will be killed once Gale masters Walt's procedure.
Acting on Gus's request, Mike visits Saul to find out Jesse's whereabouts. Saul refuses, claiming attorney–client privilege, but relents after Mike physically threatens him. Saul then allows Mike to look at a notebook containing a fake address for a trailer park in Virginia.
Walt and Saul meet Jesse at a laser tag arcade; Victor is parked nearby and watches Walt and Saul enter. Walt informs Jesse of his situation, and explains that when Gale is confident enough to take over, they will be disposed of. Walt decides they must kill Gale. Jesse begs Walt, having made enough money from the venture to ensure his family are financially secure, to quit and go to the police or the DEA, but Walt refuses. He reasons that Gus can't stop production, and with Gale out of the picture, Gus would have no choice but to keep Walt. Jesse says he is not a murderer and can't kill Gale. Walt says he will do the job, and Jesse only needs to find Gale's address, as Walt is being heavily watched and can't manage it. Later that evening, Jesse calls Walt at home with Gale's address.
As Walt is leaving his home to kill Gale, Victor arrives and informs him of a chemical leak at the lab. Suspecting a setup, Walt nevertheless goes with Victor. Upon arriving at the laundromat, Walt sees Mike, confirming his suspicions. Pleading for his life, Walt offers to cook for free and take them to Jesse. Mike, upon hearing this, demands Jesse's location, but Walt says he needs to call him and set up a meeting. Walt calls Jesse, who is sitting in the darkened laser tag building about to smoke meth. Jesse asks "Did you do it?" Walt says no, he can't now, and tells Jesse he is about to be killed. He urges Jesse to reach Gale and kill him first. Victor and Mike wrestle the phone away and when Walt quotes Gale's address to them, they realize what he has asked Jesse to do. Victor hurriedly leaves; Mike stays with Walt and attempts to warn Gale, but Gale fails to notice his phone ringing.
Jesse arrives at Gale's house and pulls a gun on him. Gale pleads with Jesse, telling him that he doesn't have to do it. A tearful and shaking Jesse pulls the trigger as the screen cuts to black, with a gunshot being heard.
April 16-17, 2009: Box Cutter
Jesse has just shot Gale to death on orders from Walt to foil Gus' plot to kill and replace them. Gus' henchman Victor arrives at Gale's apartment and finds him dead, surrounded by neighbors who have just called police. Victor finds a stunned Jesse sitting in his car and forces him to return to the lab, where Gus' employee Mike Ehrmantraut is holding Walt hostage. Mike, who is concerned that Victor was seen at Gale's apartment, calls to inform Gus. Victor, who realizes his own position is precarious because witnesses saw him at Gale's, has watched Walt work and starts cooking meth himself to prove that he has value to Gus, and that Gus does not need Walt or Jesse. Walt grows concerned when Victor proves better at the process than he expected.
Meanwhile, Skyler observes his car in her driveway and, not wishing her son Walt Jr. to see it, parks it a few blocks away to conceal it. Concerned about Walt's apparent disappearance, she calls their lawyer Saul Goodman, but he has become paranoid because of Walt's falling out with Gus and is too busy checking his office for listening devices. Skyler hires a locksmith to break into Walt's condo, claiming she lives there. When he hesitates to do so without verifying her address, Skyler claims her purse was stolen and fakes a panic attack until he lets her in, but she finds little of interest. Elsewhere, Skyler's sister Marie struggles to maintain her composure while caring for her belligerent husband Hank, who is still bedridden after the attempt on his life.
Gus arrives at the lab but says nothing. Walt launches into a nervous, rambling monologue of excuses and justifications, trying to convince Gus he needs him and Jesse alive. He claims it is Gus who is ultimately responsible for Gale's death, not them, and insists Victor cannot produce the high-quality meth Gus needs. Gus maintains his silence, even while changing into hazmat gear and selecting a box cutter from a storage shelf, while Victor grins in anticipation. Never changing his demeanor, Gus suddenly slices Victor's throat, startling the others. Through the killing, Gus simultaneously punishes Victor while delivering a stern message to Walt and Jesse. Gus drops the body to the floor and coldly eyes the duo to ensure his message was received. He quietly returns to his street clothes, then walks out of the lab, pausing only to say, "Well, get back to work."
Later, Walt and Jesse dispose of Victor's body, the gun that killed Gale, and the box cutter in a barrel of hydrofluoric acid. During breakfast, Walt insists that Gale's death was necessary, but expresses concern that Gus will kill them at his next opportunity. Jesse doubts this, believing it will be too much trouble for Gus to find another drug manufacturer, and that both they and Gus understand the situation: neither can kill the other, so Gus might as well make them wish they were dead. The episode ends with police investigating Gale's apartment with the camera focusing on his lab notes, which have yet to be discovered.
April 18 - May 4, 2009: Thirty-Eight Snub
Walt buys a Ruger LCR .38 snubnosed revolver from a black market gun dealer. Walt plans to use the concealable gun to kill his employer, drug kingpin Gus. Since falling out of favor with Gus, Walt believes Gus will kill him if he does not act first; when the gun dealer asks why Walt needs the gun, he insists it is strictly for self-defense. Later, Walt practices drawing the weapon. Elsewhere, Gus' henchman Mike drinks coffee at a bar and discovers dried blood on his jacket sleeve belonging to Victor, whom Gus previously murdered. Although Mike is silent, he appears to harbor conflicted feelings about what happened to Victor. Meanwhile, Jesse has purchased expensive gadgets, like a sophisticated sound system and the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner, but remains miserable after having murdered Gale to save Walt and himself. After his friends Badger and Skinny Pete visit, Jesse has them arrange a wild party with dozens of people dancing, drinking and doing drugs to further distract himself.
Later, while cooking meth at their lab, Walt waits for Gus to arrive so he can kill him. Instead, Victor's replacement Tyrus arrives with Mike, who informs Walt he will never see Gus again. That night, Walt drives to Gus' house and approaches with the gun, but before he can cross the street, Walt receives a call from Tyrus, who says simply, "Go home, Walter." The next day, as Walt approaches Mike at the bar, Mike tells Walt that he observed Walt tailing him to the bar. Mike then reveals he could tell that Walt was carrying a weapon in the lab. Walt suggests he and Mike are in the same danger, and Gus could easily kill Mike the same way he killed Victor. This visibly unnerves Mike, who appears to be aware of this. Walt asks that Mike get him in a room with Gus so he can kill him. In response, Mike punches Walt, knocking him to the floor, kicks him in the torso a few times and then leaves the bar.
Skyler calls Walt to ask about buying the car wash where Walt once worked, which they plan to use as a front business for Walt's drug money. When Walt fails to act on the purchase, Skyler starts doing her own detailed research about the business's expenses and revenues. She later approaches the car wash owner, Bogdan, about the proposed purchase, but he angrily rejects her, making sexist remarks and condemning Walt for having insulted Bogdan when he quit the car wash. Meanwhile, Marie continues struggling to deal with Hank's deepening depression as he copes with physical therapy from having been shot. The bed-ridden and bitter Hank constantly ignores or insults Marie and, even after celebrating a successful session with his physical therapist, he refuses to share any of that excitement with Marie.
After three straight days of partying, Jesse tries to keep hanging out with Badger and Skinny Pete, but they are exhausted and go home, along with all of the other guests in Jesse's house. Alone with his thoughts, a depressed Jesse breaks down and cries, sitting less than an inch away from his speakers at an extremely high volume.
May 5-6, 2009: Open House
Walt furiously notices a motion-detecting surveillance camera that has been installed in the lab.
Later that day, Skyler convinces Walt in a meeting with Saul to buy the car wash by mentioning how the owner insulted his manhood. She devises a plan to trick the owner into selling by having con artist Patrick Kuby pretend to be a water-tester who is shutting down the business out of concerns over contaminants. The owner promptly sells to her, agreeing to an even lower price than her original offer.
Jesse is still feeling numb from recent events, attempting to clear his head with nostalgic go-kart trips. He continues to open his house up for all-night drug-fueled orgies, deliberately throwing piles of money in the midst of the chaos.
Angry and frustrated by Hank's continuous cold shoulder, Marie resumes her kleptomania; she starts stealing objects from real-estate open houses, where she also makes up elaborate stories about who she is, but is eventually caught by a real-estate agent. A livid Hank pulls strings with a senior police officer to get her out of being charged. The same officer drops by the Schrader residence to seek Hank's help by giving him Gale's lab notes to look at. Hank initially shoves away the notebook, but begins to read it later that night.
May 7-17, 2009: Bullet Points
Mike rides in the back of a Los Pollos Hermanos refrigerator truck on a meth delivery run. The truck screeches to a halt as it is forced off the road by a pair of hijackers. Mike pulls out his gun and listens as the gunmen pull the driver from the cab and shoot him in the head. Mike takes cover as the gunmen raise Heckler & Koch MP5K submachine guns and shoot up the trailer. After firing two volleys, the gunmen break into the truck, only to be promptly shot dead by Mike. Only after he steps out of the truck does Mike find that one bullet has grazed his right ear.
Walt and Skyler prepare an elaborate story about Walt having a gambling addiction and a successful card counting method. They hope it will explain how they can pay for Hank's medical bills and purchase a car wash (that will actually be used to launder Walt's meth profits). Walt remains too distracted to put much effort into the charade and is worried how Walt Jr. will perceive him. During a family dinner at Hank and Marie's, Skyler and Walt tell everyone the gambling addiction story, but Hank and Walt Jr. turn out to be impressed by it.
Later, Walt is shocked to learn that Hank is investigating Gale's murder. Hank says that he believes that Gale was the elusive Heisenberg and expresses regret that he was not able to arrest him. When asked by Hank to read about a chemical process written in Gale's lab notes, Walt notices a line from a Walt Whitman poem and a dedication: "W.W. My Star, My Perfect Silence." When Hank chuckles at the initials matching Walt's, Walt jokingly admits admitted to being "W.W," and says "you got me," before telling Hank that "W.W." refers to the poet, Walt Whitman.
When Walt asks Hank about the investigation, he learns that the only leads are some fingerprints and an eyewitness spotted at the scene. Hearing about this evidence, Walt is spooked and worries that the police will connect Jesse to the murder.
Walt goes to Jesse's house and is disgusted by its condition, as it is now being used as a drug den by addicts and vagrants. Jesse is adamant nothing can connect him to Gale's murder, but when he is asked if he picked up the shell casing from the gun (which could have his fingerprints on it), it is revealed he did not. When he is further questioned about the murder, Jesse starts to panic due to the memory of it and pays two druggies to kick Walt out of the house. Walt later laments to Saul about how the meth business is falling apart because no one is acting professionally, and rejects an offer to go into hiding.
Jesse's detached complacence eventually leads to all of his meth money being stolen from his house, but Mike quickly recovers it and warns Jesse that he's on thin ice. Jesse is apathetic about the loss and recovery, leading Mike to tell Gus that Jesse's lack of professionalism is a problem for the organization, and they must intervene. Jesse does not show up to the lab the next day and Walter realizes that he has been kidnapped. The episode ends with Mike driving Jesse to an unknown destination. When he asks Jesse if he would like to know where they are going, the only reply is a simple "nope."
May 17-18, 2009: Shotgun
Walt is racing to Los Pollos Hermanos to confront Gus about Jesse's disappearance. Worried about what will happen, Walt leaves a voicemail for Skyler and his children, saying only that he loves them. Walt learns that Gus is not in, and Mike eventually calls, explaining that Jesse is with him and will not be harmed, and tells Walt to go back to work.
Over the course of the day, Mike drives Jesse to seven isolated drop-off spots all over New Mexico, where Gus's dealers leave the money from meth sales for pickup. Jesse assumes he was brought along to watch Mike's back, but Mike denies this and says he doesn't know why he was asked to take Jesse. While waiting in the car alone at the last drop-off spot, Jesse notices two robbers approach, one armed with a shotgun. He slams the car in reverse, rams into their car, and drives off. When Jesse returns, Mike hints that he is impressed. It is later revealed that Gus set up the entire scene so that Jesse would consider himself a "hero."
Meanwhile, Walt and Skyler officially buy the car wash. After Skyler hears the voicemail Walt left earlier, the two passionately make love and she offers to let Walt move back in, but Walt leaves for the lab without giving an answer. Jesse has returned to the lab and explains to Walt that he will be working in the lab and also helping Mike with pickups from now on. Walt Jr. excitedly reveals to his father that Skyler already set the date for Walt to move back in, which seems to unnerve him. Seeing Walt Jr. drink from a Beneke Fabricators mug—whose boss, Ted Beneke, had an affair with Skyler—upsets him further.
During dinner at Hank and Marie's, a brooding Walt gets increasingly tipsy on wine. Hank explains that he gave up investigating Gale further, having found a sense of closure in the death of the man he believed to be "Heisenberg," but lauds Gale's genius. A prideful Walt then insists that Gale was not a genius, and suggests that he was copying someone else's work. This convinces Hank to take another look at the case files, and he notices that the strictly vegan Gale had notes scribbled on a napkin from Los Pollos Hermanos.
May 19-20, 2009: Cornered
Two guards ride in the back of a Los Pollos Hermanos refrigerator truck which is suddenly forced off the road by cartel hitmen, led by cartel member Gaff. They shoot the driver in the head, lock the truck, and use a hose to redirect the truck's exhaust into the ventilation system. They eat the driver's lunch while the hidden guards die of carbon monoxide poisoning. Gaff and his men then open the truck, and find a marked container of fry batter that contains meth for distribution.
Skyler listens to Walt's voice message twice after researching Gale Boetticher's death on the internet. She wakes up a hungover Walt the morning after their dinner with Hank and Marie during which Walt suggested to Hank the genius who created the blue meth might still be out there. Skyler wants to talk to Walt about Gale. She suspects Gale's death is related to the meth operation, which leads her to pressure Walt to call the police due to the danger it presents their family. She suggests a hypothetical situation where one day an in-over-his-head Walt opens his front door and is shot in the face. Furious that Skyler does not understand the scope of his criminal operation, Walt responds that, in that scenario, he would be "the one who knocks." Skyler flees the house, taking Holly with her. She ponders escaping to Colorado, going so far as to drive to the Four Corners Monument, but ultimately reconsiders.
Walt receives the keys to the car wash from Bogdan, and avenges his past insults by making Bogdan leave behind his framed first earned dollar, which Walt uses to buy a soda. Walt tells Walt Jr. he is not moving back home and buys a new Dodge Challenger to cheer him up. Jesse returns to the lab and Walt expresses doubt that Jesse was hired to help Mike due to stopping an earlier robbery, considering the whole thing a ruse by Gus Fring to create a wedge between them. Jesse is later called away by Mike before he can help clean the lab. Infuriated, Walt pays off three women at the laundry to do it, but afterwards feels guilty as Gus punishes them by sending Tyrus Kitt to deport them back to Honduras.
Jesse and Mike scout a house selling the blue meth from the hijacked truck, but Jesse grows impatient and tricks one of the meth users into letting him into the house, where he knocks out the other. Mike notices the words "¿Estás listo para platicar?" written on the stolen container which translates to "Are you ready to talk?". Gus meets with Mike at a diner that night and decides to try and negotiate with the cartel. Outside of the diner, Jesse asks Gus, "Why me?" in reference to him being asked to help Mike during the previous several days. Gus responds by saying "I like to think I see things in people." Meanwhile, Skyler arrives home and demands that Walter return Junior's car, as buying lavish things threatens their cover story, saying "someone has to protect this family from the man who protects this family."
May 21 - June 4, 2009: Problem Dog
ASkyler tells Walt that she's negotiated the return of Walt, Jr's Dodge Challenger to the dealership, Walt angrily drives the Challenger to a parking lot, burns donuts, and strands the car on a cement parking divider, then stuffs the ownership papers in the gas tank, lights them afire, and blows up the car. Saul covers up the outburst, which costs Walt $52,000.
When Walt later drops off approximately $274,000 — his biweekly profits — to Skyler, she is stunned by the amount, unsure how she'll launder his annual meth-lab earnings of over $7 million, in mostly $50 bills no less, through their car wash. Meanwhile, Hank visits Los Pollos Hermanos with Walt, Jr. and manages to get Gus's fingerprints on a cup.
Walt convinces Jesse to use his new position as a henchman in the organization to kill Gus, and concocts a ricin poison in the lab that Jesse hides in one of his cigarettes. Mike brings Jesse along to a sitdown between Gus and the cartel. Jesse is told to make coffee for the meeting and contemplates poisoning the coffee, but he is interrupted before he can act. Mike is surprised when the cartel sends only one man to the meeting, who delivers to Gus an ultimatum. Gus, who had been prepared for a negotiation, rejects the ultimatum. Jesse contemplates shooting Gus as the cartel representative leaves, but decides not to. Mike later tells Jesse that Gus is impressed by Jesse's loyalty, but that he thinks it's "for the wrong guy."
Jesse returns to his Twelve-step program group. During his turn, he discreetly shares his feelings about killing Gale, saying he shot a "problem dog" that otherwise did nothing wrong. Jesse angrily disagrees when the group leader tells him not to judge himself, and reveals to everyone that he had used the group as a market to peddle meth. The group leader finally expresses disapproval of Jesse. Hank meets with Gomez and Merkert and explains his theory that Gus leads a large meth operation. Although Hank's investigation into Madrigal Electromotive GmbH — the German parent company of Los Pollos Hermanos — was stopped by its attorney, Hank reveals that Gus's fingerprints on the cup Hank had earlier obtained from Los Pollos Hermanos match fingerprints found in Gale's apartment.
June 5 - July 2, 2009: Hermanos
Gus is called to meet with the police and DEA, where he is asked about his fingerprints in Gale's apartment. He explains that Gale was a recipient years ago of a UNM college scholarship in chemistry that Gus created, and says that Gale had invited Gus to his apartment for dinner to ask him for money. Hank asks if Gus Fring is his real name, as there are no records of anyone with that name in his native Chile. Gus says he immigrated at the time of Pinochet's dictatorship, which he claims was notorious both for human rights violations and poor record-keeping. The investigators are satisfied with his answers, except Hank, who is still suspicious. Meanwhile, Skyler begins to hide Walt's meth money in a crawl space below the house.
Hank later asks Walt to drive him to a mineral show, but reveals en route that he's really going to Los Pollos Hermanos to plant a GPS tracking unit on Gus' car. Walt is nervous since he is already on poor terms with Gus and because Mike has appeared and is watching him, but Walt ultimately gives in to Hank. Walt pretends to plant the tracker and goes inside the restaurant, where Gus meets him at a register. Walt hastens to assure Gus that he didn't plant the tracker, showing it still in his pocket, but Gus tells him to "do it." Perplexed, Walt plants the tracker on his way back to his car and leaves with Hank. Later, Walt (on video) and Mike each assure Gus that Hank is acting on his own and not as part of the DEA's investigation, but Mike advises Gus that Hank may pose a problem if Gus and the cartel go to war. Walt warns Jesse about Hank's investigation and again urges him to kill Gus. While he is at Jesse's house, Walt intercepts a text message meant for Jesse and suspects that Jesse is becoming loyal to Gus.
Gus goes to see Hector in the nursing home and asks him, cryptically, if today is the day. Gus tells Hector to look him in the eyes, but Hector refuses. "Maybe next time," Gus says, and leaves.
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